Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 11, 1887

Burke, Dr.

Basel, Switzerland

March 10, 1887

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 177. +Note

Dr. Burke

Dear Brother:

I learn that you are not satisfied because you think that you do not stand in that exalted position that you should at the Health Retreat. I am sorry to hear that this is your feeling; and I also hear that you do not keep these feelings under control, but that you speak of them to your patients. The wrong of this matter I have faithfully written out to come before the physicians. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 1

Has Dr. Gibbs done you any wrong? Or is it the case that strife for supremacy would lead you to speak one word that would give color to outsiders that there was a disagreement between you two—men of the same faith, and the same profession, working to the same end? Cautions and warnings have been given you to keep you from injuring yourself and doing a wrong to those connected with you in your work. If the great aim is to stand highest and not on an equal, how can you expect the blessing of God upon your labors or upon your soul? 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 2

We are nearing the judgment, when every case shall stand before God in its true bearing, when every secret thing that men have done, with the motive, will appear, that governed their life. The end of all things is at hand, and all our works will be judged. If our ambition is to be first, then we shall be last; if we are willing to suffer something for Christ’s sake, if we are striving for spirituality, then the Lord will honor all such ambition to excel. But if we are seeking to satisfy an unholy, selfish ambition, God will humble the one who does this. But the Lord has spoken through His apostle, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and He shall lift you up.” [1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10.] God knows us all by name. He knows what spirit is in us and will finally reward us as our works have been. If you speak to the disparagement of your associates with your patients, you are exerting an influence which, in the place of building up, is doing injustice to them. None need to be in darkness in regard to the spirit which he possesses. All these are the special attributes of Satan and close the gate of heaven against all who do these things. For this class will be without the holy city. Is heaven of any value to us? Then let us put away all sins, that we may stand approved of God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” [Galatians 5:22, 23.] And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 3

There are lessons of the highest importance that not one in twenty of those who claim to be children of God have yet learned. Shall not we learn them before our destiny is forever settled? Shall we cherish and cultivate the very things which Satan originated in heaven, which resulted in his fall, and which, through his temptations, have successfully accomplished the fall of thousands? Shall we separate ourselves from God and take the enemy’s side? Many professed believers in the truth are doing this when circumstances arise to tempt them. They do not resist temptation, but fall an easy prey to the devil. What we need is practical godliness. This is the only antidote against the snares of the devil. God’s Word is full of instruction that His children should love one another and not strive with one another. They are called into liberty and should stand fast in their liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. But He would have them be careful that they do not use this liberty unlawfully, indulging in corrupt practices; and they were to avoid anything which would create contention and dissension and differences of feeling. He would have them by love serve one another. They are to maintain Christian affection—Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed of one another. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 4

The very best thing for you to do is to take up your work right where it is, and do it in all fidelity as to God, and not let Satan have the least advantage over your mind or your spirit. You can show your true value far more by your works than by your assertions, or by tearing another down to build yourself up. The knowledge, the skill, the fidelity will be exerting its influence and will speak louder than words possibly can. Merit and moral worth cannot be hidden. It will appear, and the less you seek to make it appear in words, the better it will be for you. If a man feels required to extol his knowledge to stand in the highest place, and that knowledge, when tested, is found not to be all that he represented it to be, he will be left in a lower place than if he had kept silent and let his works praise him. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 5

There is nothing to hinder you from linking up as fellow physician with Dr. Gibbs, unless it is your own idea of superiority and your desire to be first. The least manifestation of this spirit is an offense to God. To let your words, in hints or plainly spoken, undermine a physician associated with you is a cruel business and will surely receive the displeasure of God. A word spoken to another to demerit goes a long ways and does an evil work. It exerts a most discouraging influence upon those you should encourage. You have been longer in the faith than Dr. Gibbs and should be prepared to help him in the Christian warfare. Oh, we have greater lessons to learn in Christ’s school, to wear Christ’s yoke, to lift the burdens of Christ, to learn of Him who was meek and lowly of heart. Then the rest of spirit comes in. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 6

The greatest detriment to our churches, that which brings them into weakness and disfavor with God, is unhappy jealousies and differences. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like of the which I tell you before as I have also told you in time past that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” [Verses 19-21.] Then let every soul examine himself and see if he is approaching the committal of any such sins. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 7

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Unsanctified hearts will be revealed in unsanctified actions. Not the least countenance should be given to sin, the greater or the lesser sins, but as children of God we are laid under the strongest obligation to refrain, abstain, denying the promptings of the natural heart. If there are differences of opinion, keep not these prominent, but think and dwell upon those subjects where all can agree. Selfishness, self-esteem, self-importance will ever urge the dwelling upon things that will create contentions and place self in the foreground and regard the ideas and opinions of others with disregard and contempt. And to speak of these opinions with others, making them as contemptible as possible so as to make your own ideas appear wise and consistent, is quite the opposite of Christian charity and is more like the workings of Satan than the movings of the Spirit of God. It is a breach of the law of God which we claim to vindicate. Love to God comprises our duty to God; love to our neighbor our duty to one another. Mutual love must be cherished at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. This is the credential that we bear to the world, that God has sent His Son Jesus to die to bring back the moral image of God in man. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one for another. This love, cultivated, becomes an abiding principle and is effectual in rooting out dissensions and divisions among brethren. Where envying is kept up and jealousies, there is every evil work. All this must be cleansed from the soul temple, and then God will work in much greater power for His people. But He cannot do this where those evil things exist; for should God bless, each party would be confirmed in his conviction that he was right and his brother wrong. In the place of love, there would be contention over the very blessings bestowed. In the place of acting like Christians and guarding one another’s interest, there would be a tearing and rending one another like brute beasts. Such a spirit is wholly in harmony with Satan and is in accordance to his mind and purposes, fulfilling his will, doing his pleasure; for he knows the sure result is separation from God. Then <Satan> obtains control over their minds and affections, and he works deceivingly. And while professing to be children of God, <unless they become sanctified through the truth,> they are to all intent and purposes children of the wicked one; for they act out his spirit and do his will. It is mutual strife <actuated by the devil> in the place of mutual love. <If this is> persisted in, [it] will prove the <sure> ruin <of the soul.> Christian churches are ruined by their own unchristian course <of action> to one another. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 8

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” [John 15:5.] We have stated what kind of fruit the branches that are in the living Vine will bear—love, joy, peace, etc. We have specified the kind of fruit produced upon the branch that is not of the true Vine. Here is distinctly specified that the fruit which the true and flourishing branches bear is the best. Christians should be building up one another in the most holy faith, in place of biting and devouring one another. What can be expected if this thing is done? Can the God of love bestow His grace upon them while the spirit of love has departed and the evil spirit which seeks to destroy should prevail? If Christians could let all their differences and quarrels be swallowed up in striving to overcome the defects in <our individual> characters, fighting sin in the place of making the most of their differences of opinion, we should see harmony, love, and unselfish workings, and the peace and power of God would be manifested in behalf of His people. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 9

The esteem and applause of men are of greater value to some minds; for they labor for this much more intensely than they do to examine themselves whether they be <sanctified> in the love of God. Satan is constantly seeking to crowd into their hearts vainglory, that he may steal away their humility and meekness, love and patience, <and set them picking plans in others.> And if they think that they are not to stand as the first in every calling and work, they are dissatisfied and imagine they are looked upon as inferior. They are then exercised by another spirit than that of meekness and love. They think due respect is not paid to them, self-glory they do not receive. They begin to envy and be jealous; then they begin to demerit the one whom they envy. If they can make it appear that he is at fault in anything, it is magnified, and they seek to injure his reputation. Satan stands by with his angels, active agents to suggest thoughts to tempt and do miserable things, which are hateful in the sight of a holy God, but well pleasing to the devil. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 10

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” [Galatians 6:1.] Here is a special direction to deal tenderly with those overtaken in a fault. “Overtaken” must have its full significance. It is something different to be led into sin unawares, not intending to sin, but to sin through want of watchfulness and prayer, and not discerning the temptation of Satan and so falling into his snare, is very different from the one who plans and deliberately enters into temptation and plans out a course of sin, covering his sin skilfully that he shall not be detected. The treatment cannot be the same in both cases. More effective measures are needed to check the premeditated sin, but the apostle directs the treatment to be given to those who are overtaken or surprised or overcome by temptation. Ye which are spiritual, who have evidenced that you have a connection with God, let him restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, not crush all hope and courage out of the soul, but restore him in meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted. Faith and reproofs will be needed, and kindly counsel and supplications to God, to bring them to see their danger and sin. The original word is, set in joint, as a dislocated bone; therefore the efforts should be made to set them in joint and bring them to themselves by convincing them of their sin and error, that they shall not be separated from the true Vine or, like a limb, cut off. They are to be loved because Christ loved us in our errors and in our weakness. There should be no triumphing in a brother’s fall. But in meekness, in the fear of God, in love for their soul’s sake, seek to save them from sin. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 11

The apostle saw the working of the human mind, that self and pride will come in and hinder this plan of operation. And he exhorts, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” “For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” [Verses 2, 3.] Many have altogether too high an opinion of their own ability. They are lifting up themselves, extolling self, while they censure and condemn their brethren, in the place of following the Bible rule in dealing with the erring. They feel sufficient to dictate, look upon themselves as wise and capable of great things, able to tell others what to do, full of confidence in their own ways and wisdom, when the genuine truth is they are not acquainted with themselves and do not know half what they should know or what they think they know. They are really elevating themselves. While such deceive others by exalting their requirements and their self-sufficiency, they deceive their own soul and will meet with the greatest loss themselves. They are not free from blunders or mistakes, and fall under temptations, while they self-confidently think themselves standing securely. The exhortation of the apostle, (Philippians 2:3-5): “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” If we expect compassion from Jesus Christ to ourselves, we must show the same to one another. If there is such a thing as mercy and compassion with the followers of Christ, if any sanctified, holy pity, then let it appear. The hardest heart, the most unpitying, must be moved by these words the apostle urges upon them. “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” [Verse 2.] I have been instrumental in bringing to you the gospel of Christ. You claim to be my children in the gospel, Then make my heart full of joy and comfort by living in love. If the gospel of Christ has indeed benefited you, then reveal this in striving for harmony and love. Do nothing through strife or vainglory. Do not do anything that will create feelings of discord and strife. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 12

There is nothing which will weaken the strength of a church like pride and passion. If one engaged in the work of God does things in contradiction to another engaged in the same work, that is strife and variance. If we do this to be esteemed or to exalt self, it is vainglory and death to spirituality and to Christian love and unity of action. Let there be no spirit of opposition among Christians. Christ has given us an example of love and humility and has enjoined upon His followers to love one another as He has loved us. We must in lowliness of mind esteem others better than ourselves. Be severe upon our own defects of character; be quick to discern our own errors and mistakes; and make less of the faults of others than of our own. We must feel a special interest in looking upon the things of others, not coveting them, not to find fault with them, not to remark upon them and present them in a false light; but to do strict justice in all things to our brethren and all with whom we have any dealings. A selfish spirit, laying out plans for our own selfish interest, grasping a little gain, or to labor to show a superiority or rivalry, is an offense to God. The Spirit of Christ will lead His followers to be concerned not only for their own success and advantage, but equally interested for the success and advantage of their brethren. This will be loving our neighbor as ourselves. And an opposite spirit from this creates differences and alienations and want of love and harmony. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 13

Now we have the pattern presented which we are to copy. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” [Verse 5.] We are not in favor with God, unless we obey His Word. We must bear the resemblance to Christ. If we are branches of the living Vine, we shall bear the same qualities of fruit as the parent stalk. If we have not the Spirit of Christ, we are none of His, and will be engaged in difference and strife, rather than in unity and peace. What was the Spirit of Christ? He was meek and lowly, pure and undefiled. “Come,” says Christ, “unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] The special lessons that we are to learn of Jesus are His meekness, His lowliness, His humility. We must walk in the same spirit, in the same steps with the Lord Jesus who humbled Himself on our account, that we might be exalted to become sons and daughters of God. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 14

Oh, how out of place is all this strife for supremacy! Jesus alone is to be exalted. Whatever may be the ability or the success of any one of us, it is not because we have manufactured these powers ourselves; it is the sacred trust given us of God to be wisely employed in His service to His glory. All is the Lord’s entrusted capital. Why, then, should we be lifted up? Why should we call attention to our own defective selves? What we do possess in talent and wisdom is received from the Source of wisdom, that we may glorify God. The apostle now would call our attention from ourselves to the Author of our salvation. He presents before us His two natures, divine and human. Here is the description of the divine, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. He was the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person. Now of the human: He was made in the likeness of man and found Himself in fashion as a man. He was in all things like unto us. He voluntarily assumed human nature. It was His own act and by His own consent. He clothed His divinity with humanity; He was all the while as God, but He did not appear as God. He veiled the demonstrations of deity which had commanded the homage and called forth the admiration of the universe of God. He was God, while upon earth, but He divested Himself of the form of God and in its stead took the form and fashion of a man. He walked the earth as a man. He for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. He laid aside His glory and His majesty. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 15

He was God, but the glories of the form of God for a while He abandoned. Though He walked among men with poverty, scattering His blessings wherever He went, at His word legions of angels from heaven would surround their commander and do Him homage. But He walked the earth unrecognized, unconfessed by His creatures. The atmosphere was polluted with sin and curses in the place of the anthem of praise. It was poverty, humiliation. As He passed to and fro from His mission of mercy to relieve the sick, to lift up the depressed, scarce a solitary voice called Him blessed, and the very greatest of the nation passed Him by with disdain. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 16

Contrast this with the riches of glory, the wealth of praise pouring forth from immortal tongues—millions of rich voices in the universe of God in anthems of adoration. But He humbled Himself and took mortality upon Him. As a member of the human family, He was mortal. But as a God, He was the Fountain of life to the world. He could in His divine person ever have withstood the advances of death and refused to come under its dominion; but He voluntarily laid down His life, that in so doing He might give life and bring immortality to light. He must bear the sins of the world and endure the penalty which rolled like a mountain upon His divine soul. He died not through being compelled to die, but by His own free will. This was humility. The whole treasures of heaven were poured out in one Gift to save fallen man. He brought into His human nature all the life-giving energies that human beings will need and must receive. Wondrous combination of man and God! He might have eternally kept human nature withstanding the inroads of disease by His divine nature pouring in vitality and undecaying vigor to the human. But He humbled Himself to man’s nature. He did this that the Scripture might be fulfilled. The plan was entered into by the Son of God, knowing all the steps that He must descend in His humiliation to make an expiation for the sins of a condemned, groaning world. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 17

What humility was this! It amazed angels. The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot take it in. The Eternal Word consented to be made flesh. God became man. It was a wonderful humility. But He stepped still lower. The Man must humble Himself as a man to bear insult, reproach, shameful accusations, and abuse. There seemed to be no safe place for Him in His own territory. He had to flee from place to place for His life. He was betrayed by one of His disciples. He was denied by one of His most zealous followers. He was mocked; He was crowned with a crown of thorns; He was scourged; He was forced to bear the burden of the cross. He was not insensible to this contempt and ignominy. He submitted; but oh, He felt its bitterness as no other being could feel it. He was pure, holy, undefiled, yet arraigned as a criminal. The adorable Redeemer stepped down from the highest exaltation. Step by step He humbled Himself to die; but what a death it was!—the most shameful, the most cruel, the death upon the cross as a malefactor. He did not die as a hero in the eyes of the world, loaded with honors as men in battle; but He died as a condemned criminal, suspended between the heavens and the earth to die a lingering death of shame, exposed to the tauntings and revilings of a debased, crime-loaded, profligate multitude. “All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: They shoot out the lip, they shake the head.” Psalm 22:7. He was numbered with the transgressors; He expired amid the derision; and His kinsmen according to the flesh disowned Him. His mother beheld His humiliation, and He was forced to see the sword pierce her heart. He endured the cross, despised the shame. He made it of small account, in consideration of the results that He was working out in behalf of not only the inhabitants of this speck of a world, but the whole universe—every world which God had created. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 18

Christ was to die as man’s substitute. [Man] was a criminal under the sentence of death for transgression of the law of God as a traitor, a rebel; [hence] a substitute must die as a public malefactor, because He stood in the place of the traitors with all their treasured sins upon His divine soul. It was not enough that Jesus should die in order to fully meet the demands of the broken law, but He dies a shameful death. The prophet gives to the world His words, “I hid not My face from shame and spitting.” [Isaiah 50:6.] 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 19

In consideration of this, can man have one particle of exaltation? As they trace down the life and sufferings and humiliation of Christ, can they lift their proud heads as though they were to bear no trials, no shame, no humiliation? I say to the followers of Christ: Look to Calvary, and blush for shame at your self-important ideas. All this humiliation of the Majesty of heaven was for guilty, condemned man. He went lower and lower in His humiliation, until there were no lower depths that He could reach in order to lift man up from His moral defilement. All this was for you, who are striving for the supremacy—striving for human praise, for human exaltation, you who are afraid you shall not receive all that deference, that respect from human minds that you think is your due. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 20

Is this Christlike? “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 2:5.] He died to make an atonement; He died also to set a pattern for every one who would be His disciple. Shall selfishness come into your hearts? and will those who set not before them the pattern Jesus extol your merits? You have none, except as they come through Jesus Christ. Shall pride be harbored?—after you have seen Deity humbling Himself and then as man debasing Himself till there was no lower point to which He could descend? Oh, be astonished, ye heavens! and be amazed, ye inhabitants of the earth, that such returns should be made to our Lord! What contempt! what wickedness! What formality! what pride! what efforts made to lift up man and glorify self, when the Lord of glory humbled Himself, agonized, and died the shameful death upon the cross in our behalf! 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 21

Who is learning the meekness and lowliness of the Pattern? Who is striving earnestly to master self? Who is lifting his cross and following Jesus? Who is wrestling against self-conceit? Who is setting himself in good earnest and with all his energies to overcome satanic envyings, jealousies, evil surmisings, lasciviousness, cleansing the soul temple from all defilements, and opening the door of the heart for Jesus to come in? Would to God that these words would have that impression upon minds, that all who may read them would cultivate the grace of humility, be self-denying, more disposed to esteem others better than themselves, having the mind and spirit of Christ to bear one another’s burdens. Oh, that we might write deeply upon our hearts, as we contemplate the great condescension and humiliation to which the Son of God descended that we might be partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust! All haughtiness and self-exaltation must be put away from every soul, and we learn the meekness and lowliness of Christ, or we shall find no place in the kingdom of God. The life must be hid with Christ in God. The anchor of every soul is to be cast into the Rock cleft for us—that Rock which bears up a ruined world. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 22

Let us keep these things in our minds. The pride of talent, the pride of intellect cannot exist in the hearts that are hid with Christ in God. There will be no strivings to let self stand forth conspicuous. Unless Deity and humanity combined had stood in the gap to stay the sentence of a broken law, its penalties would have fallen without abating a jot of its severity upon the sinful. It fell on Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, to give man another trial. Then let us humble ourselves and adore Jesus. But never, never exalt self in the least degree. God forbid that you may foster in yourself independence. Make haste that none of you may occupy that fearful position of him for whom Christ died in vain. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 23

Will my brethren consider that there is no royal road to heaven? The cross, the cross, lies directly in the path we must travel to reach the crown. Those who will not humble themselves even as this little child, said Jesus Christ, shall have no part in the kingdom of heaven. If the motive of all our life is to serve and honor Christ and bless humanity in the world, then the dreariest paths of duty will become bright ways, a path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. If we are children of God, there will be countless opportunities of serving Him by active ministry to those for whom He died. Jesus looks upon the wants, the necessities of every soul, and He ministers unto them by standing close beside the one whom He uses as an instrument to help and bless others. All contentions, all envy, are grievous to Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 11, 1887, par. 24