Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Lt 109, 1899

Brethren and Sisters in Africa


August 8, 1899

Portions of this letter are published in 1BC 1092; 12MR 42; CTr 72. +Note

Dear Brethren and Sisters in the Faith in Africa:

I learn that you do not yet believe that John Wessels should have left Africa for Australia. Well, I am sorry your mind has not been in harmony with the mind of God. If John Wessels had left Africa one year ago, he would have been doing the very thing the Lord designed he should do. It was the voices of his brethren in the conference, and of his relatives and family connections that held him. He promised me he would come. Had it not been for this promise, which we depended on him to fulfill, the work here would have been one year ahead, which would have been just as the Lord purposed it should be. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 1

I did not say that John should come against his own judgment and his own will, but I asked him to follow the convictions of his conscience, and in this I did just what I know it was my duty to do. If you had done the same, and had not urged and persuaded and put your will in opposition to the will of God, John would have followed his convictions of a year ago which finally led him to prepare to come. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 2

God forbid that you should ever repeat this kind of work. In view of the manifest will of God I wrote to John, asking him to come. I was instructed to do this. I would have made no call for him to come had I not had sufficient reason to do so. It was necessary that he should be convicted himself, and he was convicted. But the influences brought to bear on him led him at last to stay. He tied up his means in buildings that ought not to have been erected; and other buildings which he could have erected with his means, but which were not built, which would have given character to the work, are witnesses against you who used your influence to make it appear a necessity for John to stay in Capetown. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 3

I cannot see how you dared to interpose your wishes and your way between John and the Lord. The money John has tied up in the building in Africa was needed here one year ago, where there is nothing to represent the work. That building will stand as a witness against you. Your unbelief has retarded the work one year, and that means two years in reality, for if we had had a proper building for our sanitarium, the work would have advanced in a way which would have been like multiplying the talents put out to usury. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 4

The perilous condition of the Wessels family, in which I have the most sincere interest, is kept before me. The Lord says of the family, They are in peril. I saw Philip in danger. The Lord presented him before me as not understanding himself. He has not humbled his heart before God. He has not been converted anew. It is hard for him to die to self, to have a realizing sense as to why he has taken his position with the disloyal, and so greatly dishonored God. In so doing he has absorbed means which might have been blessed by God in creating facilities to advance the work of God. This he might have done if he had kept the faith and walked in the light of the Lord, instead of investing his means, and the means of his mother and others who were sustaining him, in worldly enterprises which were separating his soul from God. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 5

The influences that surrounded him were not of a character to give him true ideas of himself, as he was when trying to keep the Sabbath, and as he was when separated from the truth. Had his mother and Brother Lindsay had clear perceptions of their duty, they would have seen that when helping relative or friend to invest means where the Lord could in no way be glorified, they were working in a way which God could not approve. They must render an account for the means thus used. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 6

I cannot but write the things which have been presented before me. Brother Philip Wessels’ relatives assisted him to continue in a business in which he was transgressing the fourth commandment, and God could not prosper him in his disobedience, neither could he prosper those who invested their means to sustain him in the path of transgression he had chosen. Those who have helped Philip in his worldly investments need spiritual enlightenment, that they may be able to look into things unseen, grasping with firm hold things that are as yet intangible. This great lack of true faith is evidence of the want of daily conversion. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 7

Philip could have used his capital of means where it would have brought him rich returns, great satisfaction, and heavenly blessings in this life. As he put his means into this work, he would have grown strong spiritually, in the place of losing his faith and drawing back from the truth. He would have set in operation a work for the Master by seeing that our publications were translated into Dutch and in other languages. Humble and obedient, he would have done all possible to co-operate with Christ as a laborer together with God. His backsliding has had an influence upon the whole family. He could have used his means to bring the truth before many people. This was his work. He could have exerted his influence to strengthen the whole Wessels family. The Lord sees that his influence has led away from Christ. O how could he do it! how could he do it! 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 8

Peter Wessels has taken hold of worldly business. He placed his means where it would not be used for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God in our world. As he engaged in this enterprise, he mingled more and more with the world in associations. He will catch the spirit of the world and lose his hold on God. His love for Jesus and the truth is not increasing. Christ declares, “He that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad.” [Matthew 12:30.] 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 9

I have been shown the different members of the Wessels family. John loves business, and to engage in worldly enterprises would be his temptation. He has at times been strongly tempted. I knew the position of every member of the family. I knew that the prospect was not favorable for their long continuance in the love of the truth, for they were cherishing false principles and false ideas in regard to their true spiritual condition. This made my soul very sad, and the Lord instructed me to write to John Wessels, asking him to break away from his kindred, and come to Australia, where he could use his means as the Lord’s entrusted goods should be used, and at last have the eternal satisfaction of hearing the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:21.] 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 10

I saw Philip and other members of the family putting their money in a bag full of holes, and I was instructed to call upon them to put the Lord’s money in the bank of heaven, where it would accomplish a work for Him in saving souls. Thus they would put their means into bags without holes, beside the throne of God. In this way they would return to the Lord His own. All that we have is the Lord’s, and we may use it in the way He designs it shall be used. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 11

I present to you what has been pointed out to you before. The Wessels family have been binding themselves up in worldly enterprises. The enemy has been working his hardest to cheat them out of the inheritance of the saints in light, and he has been succeeding better than they have any idea of. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 12

Paul wrote to Timothy by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself. ... They that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” [1 Timothy 6:3-5, 9, 10.] 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 13

Words pass from one to another of the Wessels family that answer the description here given. I greatly fear that the love of money will result in the loss of your souls. I knew that if John stayed in Africa, under the existing state of things, he would lose his faith, as have other members of the family. This is why I was persistent in calling upon him to break the net which in the hands of the enemy seemed to be enclosing the souls of so many of the family. I knew that if John should break away, a great victory would be gained. You who exerted your influence directly contrary to the word of God might better undo as fast as possible the work which has been done. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 14

Let John free. Your influence bound him in Capetown, and bound his means there also. Now go to work and unshackle him. Let him have the means the Lord desires him to invest in the work here, to set in operation a sanitarium that must be built. All here will do to the very utmost of their power to advance this work. John can help us, and as you have handicapped him and bound him and his means, when one year ago he should have come to Australia, bringing his means with him, it is your duty among you to hire means, that he may have his means. He should be released in some way. We want John for his own soul’s sake, as well as for the sake of the family, and we want him to have his means in his own power, to place where the Spirit of the Lord shall indicate. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 15

Please read carefully the sixth chapter of First Timothy. It is an appeal from the Lord to the Wessels family. The Lord calls upon Philip and Peter to clear the King’s highway. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. What example are you setting those of the family who are tempted and lame? You can both help them if you will be true to your profession of faith. Philip, for Christ’s sake, cease to halt between two opinions. If the Lord be God, serve Him, if Baal, then serve him. Your influence and Peter’s can be of no help unless you make straight paths for your feet. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 16

In regard to John, he is just where he ought to have been a year ago. I could not write anything to John that would compel him to come to Australia. The Lord does not compel men and women to pursue a course which is for their present and eternal good. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 17

We cannot possibly serve God and mammon. We must choose for ourselves either one or the other. When Christ spoke to Peter, James, and John, saying, “Follow me,” they obeyed, not questioning whether it was for their temporal interest to do this. [Matthew 4:19.] How essential it is that those to whom the Lord speaks have faith in Him, and are obedient. The Lord knows what is best for us, and we are never to reason in regard to personal advantage. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 18

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a land which he should afterward receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” [Hebrews 11:8.] In order to appreciate the obedience of Abraham, we must read his history attentively. “The Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I shall show thee.” [Genesis 12:1.] In the country where Abraham was dwelling, the people were idolaters. The influences surrounding him were not favorable to his receiving right traits of character. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 19

Living in the midst of pleasure lovers, surrounded by influences which corrupt the senses and stupefy and dull spiritual perception, there was danger of Abraham’s perception becoming so confused that he would not have a sense of the sacredness of truth and of the knowledge of the true God. So the Lord told him to leave his father’s house. “And Abraham obeyed and went out, not knowing whither he went.” [Hebrews 11:8.] His obedience pleased the Lord. He saw in Abraham one to whom He could entrust capabilities for His service. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 20

There is often wisdom in the separation of families and brethren. Frequently one can exert a more healthful, wholesome influence if he is not mingling with other members of the family. Association becomes so familiar that the words of one may have little weight on the others, although he may give right advice and counsel. The Lord sees what man cannot see. He knows when it is best for families to separate and some members live by themselves. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 21

One member of the family, in changing his position and going where the Lord may call him, may be led to view matters in a clearer light. If he remains, the many speeches of tongues that are not anointed with the holy oil, may so confuse right sentiments and right principles that nothing will remain sure and clear in his mind. Let him change, and go out from his father’s house and from his kindred, into a land which the Lord will show him. Abraham, not knowing whither he went, took his possessions with him, that he might use all he possessed as the Lord required. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 22

Abraham was tested, to see whether he would hear the voice of God and obey. The Lord saw that it was not for his best spiritual interest to remain in his country and among his relatives where he could not exert that influence over them that would be a blessing. He told him to leave them. Abraham was a rich man, but in the greatest simplicity he obeyed God, and went out, a sojourner into a strange country. As he left his home and his kindred, God assured him that he would have earthly greatness and prosperity in the land of Canaan. Why did not Abraham make use of all his means to bring about this prosperity? Why did he not invest his means to enrich himself with wealth and influence above any man with whom he was brought in contact? Abraham did not do anything to glorify himself. He did not aim at power. He did not aspire to greatness by building up cities and calling them by his name. He was content. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 23

The record tells us that Abraham took Lot, his nephew, with him, and for a time they lived together. But their families were large, and there was a quarrel between the herdsmen of Abraham and the herdsmen [of Lot] over their cattle. “And Abraham said to Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, or between thy herdsmen and mine, for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right, and if thou depart to the right hand, I will go to the left.” [Genesis 13:8, 9.] 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 24

Lot’s choice was the land of Sodom. Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and he pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom sinned before the Lord exceedingly. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 25

Here is brought to view another separation. It makes a great difference when and how a separation takes place. It was Lot’s privilege to inquire, to be very careful where he should go, very careful in regard to the society he chose for his family. But without reference to the inhabitants he chose a land which was beautiful in situation, which promised great returns. Lot went in rich, and came forth with nothing as the result of his choice. It makes every difference whether men place themselves in positions were they will have the very best help of correct influences, or whether they choose temporal advantages. There are many ways which lead to Sodom. We all need anointed eyesight, that we may discern the way that leads to God. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 26

Privileges, large and full and abundant, were granted to the Jewish nation. They were entrusted with all the advantages and benefits of a goodly land. But all who receive God’s gifts must consider the Giver, and use the entrusted goods economically, acting as He would in their place. Privileges mean responsibilities. The more one has entrusted for his use, the more deeply should he feel his responsibility. The people for whom the Lord manifested such deep and decided interest, delivering them from Egyptian slavery and caring for them in all their travels, often acted out their natural selfishness and hereditary tendencies to wrong. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 27

By their murmuring and complaining and fierce jealousy, they often brought the displeasure of God upon then. They thought that Moses meant to finally enrich himself with their cattle and goods. God talked with Moses face to face, as a man talks with his friend, and He told Moses He would destroy the people. But Moses pled with the Lord to spare the rebellious people, though they afflicted his soul continually. “If thou wilt not save Israel,” he said, “blot out my name from the book of life.” [Exodus 32:32.] Again and again Moses entreated the Lord for the people who had shown such little gratitude; but only two of the adults who left Egypt were permitted to enter the promised land. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 28

Above every nation upon the face of the earth, the children [of Israel] enjoyed the favors and blessings of God. They should have yielded corresponding returns to God. They should have rendered to Him cheerful and devoted loyalty. These were the fruits which God required of them for the greatness, the theocracy, and the blessings which they enjoyed. The covenant advantages were to be theirs if they were obedient. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 29

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak thou unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily, my sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” [Exodus 31:13.] God has given men six days in which to work for a livelihood, and if they disregard His holy Sabbath, they show open contempt for His law, and are numbered with the unbelievers as transgressors. They are not sanctified by the Lord, for they are not rendering to Him His due. They refuse the sign which would distinguish them as the people of God. God declares, “Six days may work be done, but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” [Verse 15.] This shows all the light in which God regards His Sabbath. The question of Sabbathkeeping is a life and death question. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 30

In the days of Christ the Jewish rulers tried to fasten on Him the charge of breaking the Sabbath. Could they have made good their charge, they would have had no need to hire false witnesses to testify against Christ. But Christ declared to them that all His works were in strict obedience to the law of Jehovah. He preserved the sign by which God’s chosen people were distinguished from all people on the face of the earth. “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” [Verses 16, 17.] God gave His chosen people special charge to keep holy His memorial, the seventh day Sabbath, which proclaimed Him the Creator of heaven and earth. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 31

It is not a light matter even to mingle with worldlings in business interests, for all money is the Lord’s talent, to be improved and returned to Him again. God will not sanction any such union, and when one who has had great light and unmistakable evidences shall withdraw himself from the people of God and openly transgress the law of Jehovah, he has divorced himself from allegiance and loyalty to God; but God’s claims are binding still. And unless he repents and is converted, and takes up the work of honoring his Redeemer, God’s hand will surely be against him. He has violated the terms of the covenant, and however much men may praise and honor Him, the Lord does not honor him, for he is a transgressor of His holy law. Obedience to the law of God means everything to us, and God requires that the Sabbath be kept holy. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 32

O how much more safe and honorable it would be for all who have had the light to walk in the light as Christ their Saviour has given them example, than to follow their own way! “How much owest thou unto the Lord?” God calls for men, honest men, to fill the places of His appointment as stewards, and they are to return to Him the fruits of His vineyard. Some have not had the light and advantages that others have had who know the truth. They will not have to answer for the light they never had. But those who have received the light are required to reflect that light by precept and example upon all with whom they are associated. They are to be decidedly, intensely, in earnest in the work of drawing their fellow men from the pit of destruction. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 33

The Lord never excuses idleness or pleasure-loving in any man. The Majesty of heaven came to our world to save lost, fallen humanity. His efforts included not merely the outcasts, but those in places of high honor. Ingeniously He worked to obtain access to the higher class who knew not God and who did not keep His commandments. There is a variety of hard work to be done in the vineyard of the Lord. There are different kinds of ploughing to be done, that the ground may produce a harvest of different kinds of fruit. God intends that in and through Christ by the discipline of work His people shall learn how to gain the true riches. All can, if they choose, perfect a character after the divine likeness, a character which is a sample of the character of Christ. Each may take with him into the future life the preciousness of a complete character gained in and through Jesus Christ. This is the only treasure any one can take with him to the heavenly courts. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 34

God has set His seventh day Sabbath at the end of every six working days, that men may stop and reflect what they have gained during the week of preparation for the pure kingdom which admits no sin, no transgression. Those who know the truth should each week reckon with their souls to see whether the week that has ended has brought spiritual gain or loss. The mind as much as the body is to be withdrawn from worldly business. It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord. To him who keeps the Sabbath aright, God says, I put my sign upon you as one who is obedient. Them that honor me I will honor. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 35

God demands that every power of the human agent shall be subservient to Him. But eternal interests are neglected for earthly and temporal things. God will accept of no divided sacrifice. Christ cursed the fig tree because, notwithstanding its pretentious appearance, it bore no fruit, and under His curse, it became a seared, withered, blasted tree, left to symbolize the Jewish nation. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 36

The salvation of one soul means the saving of many souls, for through that one soul Christ can work, letting heaven’s light shine into the heart to be imparted to others. This God expects and requires of all His servants. Not one is excused. He who buried his one talent in the earth, that it should not be used to the advantage of the work of God, would have buried ten talents had he been entrusted with them. The warning is given to every soul not to hide his talents of intellect or of money in any business that does not tend to the saving, but the peril of the soul. Work while it is day, for the night cometh in which no man can work. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 37

The Lord gives men cleverness, tact, skill, and wisdom to be employed in His service of soul-saving. First a man is to consecrate his own soul to God; and when he thus gives himself up, he understands that all he has is the Lord’s. The soul is to be cleansed and disciplined to righteous, holy practices. It is to advance the cause of God in our world by bearing fruit in every good and noble work, and is thus fitted for the grand review. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 38

God calls for men and means. Those who cannot see the signs of the times in this wicked and adulterous generation will be found with those who perish under the plagues poured from the vials of God’s wrath. Everyone in our world is a steward to some valuable trust on God’s estate. God has given time, sense, and opportunity, all to be used to His glory. He has given His own Word and His Holy Spirit. The unfaithful steward did not utilize the advantages given him to glorify his lord. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 39

Today God looks at His vineyard and sees that unwise methods and arrangements are consuming time and money. He calls upon everyone to use his God-given capabilities aright. Your mind was not made for trifling. You are on probation. God is testing you, to see whether you will prove worthy to wear a crown of immortal glory. He calls upon you to do the work which Christ came to our world to do. Deny self, take up the cross, and follow in His footsteps. The people need your God-given ability. You have no time to barter for money. All you have was entrusted to you to be used in blessing His chosen ones, who are helping you to find the strait gate and the narrow way through which you must pass if you would have eternal life. 14LtMs, Lt 109, 1899, par. 40