Brother D: My prayers are ascending to God for you, and my love for your soul leads me to write to you again. I feel deeply grieved over your case, not that I look upon you as persecuted, but as a deceived, misguided man, who has not Christ's likeness in his soul, and who is deceiving himself to his certain ruin.
If you had the cause of God at heart you would see that your brethren have done only their duty in their action toward you. You speak of going to ----- and showing that you can be a man. All that is asked of you by those in responsible places at the office is that you show yourself a man just where you are; that you do not degrade yourself by associating with sinners; and that you do not unite with them in evil practices. Cease sympathizing with yourself, and remember the world's Redeemer. Consider the infinite sacrifice He has made in behalf of man, and then think of His disappointment that, after He has made such a sacrifice in man's behalf, man should choose to ally himself with those who hate Christ and righteousness, and should become one with them in the indulgence of perverted appetite, thus bringing eternal ruin to his soul.
But you have heard me say all these things; you have read them, as I have written to you, and yet they have not affected your heart and life. You have set your heart against good and opened it to evil. You have placed yourself in the enemy's way and have had no hold upon God to enable you to resist his temptations. Suppose you do sever all connection with ----- through a revengeful spirit, because your brethren have told you the truth; whom will it injure, you or them? You will grieve them by so doing, but the work will go on just the same. God is raising up workers on every hand; He is not dependent on you or any other man to do His work. If your heart is not pure, if your hands are not clean in His sight, He cannot work with you. He wants you to have truth in your heart and life, interwoven with your character.
I counsel you to humble your heart and confess your wrongs. Consider the solemn charge David gave to Solomon on his dying bed: "I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself." Take this charge to your own heart. Let no one flatter you in wrongdoing. While it is a disgrace to sin, it is no disgrace, but rather an honor, to confess one's sins. Maintain true individuality, and cultivate manly dignity. Put away pride, self-conceit, and false dignity; for these can be maintained only at the most terrible consequences to yourself.
It is not the boisterous song, the merry company, or the stimulating drink that can make you a man in the sight of God, or cheer your heart in sickness and sorrow. True religion alone can be your solace and comfort in trouble. The discipline you received at the office has not been more close and severe than God's word has imposed upon you. Will you call God unjust? Will you tell Him to His face that He is arbitrary because He declares that the wrongdoer shall be separated from His presence?
How plainly the picture is drawn in the word of God of His dealing with the man who accepted His invitation to the wedding, but who did not put on the wedding garment which had been purchased for him, the robe of Christ's righteousness! He thought his own defiled garments good enough to come into the presence of Christ, but he was cast out as one who had insulted his Lord and abused His gracious benevolence.
My brother, your righteousness will not be sufficient. You must put on the robe of Christ's righteousness. You must be like Christ. Consider the severe test that Christ endured in the wilderness of temptation on the point of appetite. He was emaciated by that long abstinence on your account and on mine; He fought and conquered Satan, that He might give us vantage ground, bringing us divine strength to conquer appetite and every unholy passion.
I ask you to look at this matter as it is. When you unite with the despisers of God in drinking beer or wine or stronger drink, imagine Jesus before you, suffering the keenest pangs of hunger that He may break the power of Satan and make it possible for man to conquer in his own behalf. Remember, when, with the godless who reject the truth and refuse salvation, you are lifting the mug of foaming beer, that Jesus is there looking on, even that Jesus whom you claim as your Saviour, in whom your hopes of eternal life are centered. Oh, how can you, how can you be so weak in moral perception as not to see the influence of these things upon yourself and others! You violate the most solemn pledge and then talk of being persecuted!
When those who feel compelled to do something to break the power that Satan is exerting over our youth tell you in sorrow that if you do not change your habits they cannot retain you in connection with the work of God as a translator, how can you stand before them defiantly, without any evidence of sorrow for your course? How does that Saviour who gave His life for you regard your attitude? And yet you think you are persecuted. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." When you stand before this grand and awful tribunal, from whose decisions there will be no appeal and where there will be no misinterpretation, no misconception, then you will be silent. You will not have one word to say in vindication of your course. You will stand guilty, condemned, and hopeless, unless you now put away your sins, make diligent work of repentance, and clothe yourself in the robe of Christ's righteousness.
What other course could have been pursued toward you than has been taken? I have the tenderest feelings of pity and love for your soul, but false words of sympathy to sustain you in rebellion and in defiance of those whom God has placed in responsible positions in His work shall never be uttered by me. I have too much regard for you to tell you, as some will surely do, that it will be well with you when you are taking such a course, disgracing your manhood, defacing the moral image of God in your soul, deceiving your own heart, and dishonoring Him who redeemed you with the price of His own blood.
Christ has said: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." Are you overcoming? or are you being overcome by your own lusts and appetites and passions?
In order to be safely trusted with the translation of our most important works, to handle sacred things, ought you not to have the fullest connection with God and complete consecration to His service? Ought you not to be where you can have the holy angels to minister to you, to give you wisdom and knowledge as God gave to Daniel, to inspire you to give the correct ideas, in order that you may do the work of translating correctly? If you choose to open your heart to Satan's suggestions, if you choose the society of those who are the enemies of Christ, do you expect God to work a miracle to keep you from yielding to Satan's power? Evil angels are gathering about your soul, but they are invited guests. They make propositions, and you accept them. Until you have the resolution to obey God's will you cannot have His guidance.
Jesus expects all who claim to be His soldiers to do service for Him. He expects you to recognize the enemy and to resist him, not to invite him to your confidence and thus betray sacred trust. The Lord has placed you in a position where you may be elevated and ennobled, and be constantly gaining fitness for His work. If you do not obtain these qualifications you alone are to blame.
There are three ways in which the Lord reveals His will to us, to guide us, and to fit us to guide others. How may we know His voice from that of a stranger? How shall we distinguish it from the voice of a false shepherd? God reveals His will to us in His word, the Holy Scriptures. His voice is also revealed in His providential workings; and it will be recognized if we do not separate our souls from Him by walking in our own ways, doing according to our own wills, and following the promptings of an unsanctified heart, until the senses have become so confused that eternal things are not discerned, and the voice of Satan is so disguised that it is accepted as the voice of God.
Another way in which God's voice is heard is through the appeals of His Holy Spirit, making impressions upon the heart, which will be wrought out in the character. If you are in doubt upon any subject you must first consult the Scriptures. If you have truly begun the life of faith you have given yourself to the Lord to be wholly His, and He has taken you to mold and fashion according to His purpose, that you may be a vessel unto honor. You should have an earnest desire to be pliable in His hands and to follow whithersoever He may lead you. You are then trusting Him to work out His designs, while at the same time you are co-operating with Him by working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. You, my brother, will find difficulty here because you have not yet learned by experience to know the voice of the Good Shepherd, and this places you in doubt and peril. You ought to be able to distinguish His voice.
The Exercise of the Will
Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or unto disobedience.
You are a young man of intelligence; you desire to make your life such as will fit you for heaven at last. You are often discouraged at finding yourself weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits and customs of your old life in sin. You find your emotional nature untrue to yourself, to your best resolutions, and to your most solemn pledges. Nothing seems real. Your own instability leads you to doubt the sincerity of those who would do you good. The more you struggle in doubt, the more unreal everything looks to you, until it seems that there is no solid ground for you anywhere. Your promises are like ropes of sand, and you regard in the same unreal light the words and works of those in whom you should trust.
You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but your promises or your faith are of no value until you put your will on the side of faith and action. If you fight the fight of faith with all your will power, you will conquer. Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions, are not to be trusted, for they are not reliable, especially with your perverted ideas; and the knowledge of your broken promises and your forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in yourself, and the faith of others in you.
But you need not despair. You must be determined to believe, although nothing seems true and real to you. I need not tell you it is you yourself that has brought you into this unenviable position. You must win back your confidence in God and in your brethren. It is for you to yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ; and as you do this, God will immediately take possession and work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Your whole nature will then be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ, and even your thoughts will be subject to Him. You cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire; but you can control the will, and you can make an entire change in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, your life will be hid with Christ in God and allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from God that will hold you fast to His strength; and a new life, even the life of living faith, will be possible to you. But your will must co-operate with God's will, not with the will of associates through whom Satan is constantly working to ensnare and destroy you.
Will you not without delay place yourself in right relation to God? Will you not say, "I will give my will to Jesus, and I will do it now," and from this moment be wholly on the Lord's side? Disregard custom and the strong clamoring of appetite and passion. Give Satan no chance to say: "You are a wretched hypocrite." Close the door so that Satan will not thus accuse and dishearten you. Say, "I will believe, I do believe that God is my helper," and you will find that you are triumphant in God. By steadfastly keeping the will on the Lord's side, every emotion will be brought into captivity to the will of Jesus. You will then find your feet on solid rock. It will take, at times, every particle of will power which you possess; but it is God that is working for you, and you will come forth from the molding process a vessel unto honor.
Talk faith. Keep on God's side of the line. Set not your foot on the enemy's side, and the Lord will be your helper. He will do for you that which it is not possible for you to do for yourself. The result will be that you will become "like a cedar in Lebanon." Your life will be noble, and your works will be wrought in God. There will be in you a power, an earnestness, and a simplicity that will make you a polished instrument in the hands of God.
You need to drink daily at the fountain of truth, that you may understand the secret of pleasure and joy in the Lord. But you must remember that your will is the spring of all your actions. This will, that forms so important a factor in the character of man, was at the Fall given into the control of Satan; and he has ever since been working in man to will and to do of his own pleasure, but to the utter ruin and misery of man. But the infinite sacrifice of God in giving Jesus, His beloved Son, to become a sacrifice for sin, enables Him to say, without violating one principle of His government: "Yield yourself up to Me; give Me that will; take it from the control of Satan, and I will take possession of it; then I can work in you to will and to do of My good pleasure." When He gives you the mind of Christ, your will becomes as His will, and your character is transformed to be like Christ's character. Is it your purpose to do God's will? Do you wish to obey the Scriptures? "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
There is no such thing as following Christ unless you refuse to gratify inclination and determine to obey God. It is not your feelings, your emotions, that make you a child of God, but the doing of God's will. A life of usefulness is before you if your will becomes God's will. Then you may stand in your God-given manhood, an example of good works. You will then help to maintain rules of discipline instead of helping to break them down. You will then help to maintain order instead of despising it and inciting to irregularity of life by your own course of action. I tell you in the fear of God: I know what you may be if your will is placed on the side of God. "We are laborers together with God." You may be doing your work for time and eternity in such a manner that it will stand the test of the judgment. Will you try? Will you now turn square about? You are the object of Christ's love and intercession. Will you now surrender to God and help those who are placed as sentinels to guard the interests of His work, instead of causing them grief and discouragement?