Dear Brother and Sister L: My heart is burdened on your account. What you need is the converting grace of God in your hearts. You need the spirit of Jesus. You should learn meekness and lowliness of heart in the school of Christ. You do not feel your need of deep, inward piety, and on this account you are being self-deceived. You are delaying the decisions which you ought to make at once, for your own good and for the good of others. God requires every man to do his duty. He demands the whole heart, the entire affection. He would not have us profess a knowledge of Jesus Christ and the truth, and yet bear no fruit. For small or great, learned or unlearned, rich or poor, the requirement is just the same.
Every one is called upon to act according to the ability God has given him. He must render his service faithfully or he will sully his conscience, and imperil his soul. No one can afford to lose heaven. Remember the words of Christ to all His followers: "Ye are the light of the world." God depends on those who know the way, to show it to others. He has entrusted to men the treasure of His truth. It is faith and trust and confidence in God that we need. Inward grace will be revealed in the outward actions. We need that spirit which will show to others that we have been learning in the school of Christ and that we copy the pattern given us. We want a heart that is not lifted up unto vanity, a mind not settled on self. Each should have a constant desire to bless others. God notices our humble efforts, and they are precious in His sight. You both need home piety, sweet, satisfied contentment, without faultfinding, pettishness, scolding, or severity. Let kindness and love be the rule of your household. Whoever does not let the light of truth shine in his home dishonors the Saviour.
The truth as it is in Jesus does much for the receiver, and not only for him, but for all who are brought within the sphere of his influence. The truly converted soul is illuminated from on high, and Christ is in that soul "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." His words, his motives, his actions, may be misinterpreted and falsified; but he does not mind it because he has greater interests at stake. He does not consider present convenience; he is not ambitious for display; he does not crave the praise of men. His hope is in heaven, and he keeps straight on, with his eye fixed on Jesus. He does right because it is right, and because only those who do right will have an entrance into the kingdom of God. He is kind and humble, and thoughtful of others' happiness. He never says, "Am I my brother's keeper?" but he loves his neighbor as himself. His manner is not harsh and dictatorial, like that of the godless; but he reflects light from heaven upon men. He is a true, bold soldier of the cross of Christ, holding forth the word of life. As he gains in influence, prejudice against him dies away, his piety is acknowledged, and his Bible principles are respected.
Thus it is with everyone who is truly converted. He bears precious fruit, and in so doing walks as Christ walked, talks as He talked, works as He worked, and the truth as it is in Jesus, through him, makes an impression in his home, in his neighborhood, and in the church. He is building a character for eternity, while working out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is exemplifying before the world the valuable principles of truth, showing what the truth will do for the life and character of the genuine believer. He is unconsciously acting his part in the sublime work of Christ in the redemption of the world, a work which, in its character and influence, is far-reaching, undermining the foundation of false religion and false science.
I fell obliged to write thus because I know your brethren will never say these things to you. I do not want you or your wife to lose the heavenly mansions; for they are worth everything to us, and we should put forth energy and zeal proportionate to the value of the object of which we are in pursuit. Eternal life is worth persevering, untiring effort.
The Lord wants you and your family to be Christians in every sense of the word and to show in your characters the sanctifying power of the truth. If you had formed such characters, your works would stand the test of the judgment; should the fires of the last day kindle upon your works as they now are, they would prove to be only hay, wood, and stubble. Do not think this severe; it is true. Self has been mingled with all your labors. Will you come up to the high standard? It will be like learning the first principles of what constitutes a Christian character. Christ said to the apostle Peter: "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." You, likewise, must be converted before you can do acceptable work for the Master.
My brother, if you will, you can be a strong man in God. You have talents of ability that God has entrusted to your keeping to be sanctified to His service. But if you do not yield up all to Christ, your ability will prove dangerous both to yourself and to others, leading them to walk apart from the truth and away from Christ.
The members of the church in ----- need very much done for them. They must have fervent zeal for Christ, must be more humble, more patient, more kind, more teachable, more Christlike in every respect. In their character they should manifest to the world the sanctifying power of grace. God forbid that you should, by precept or example, bar the way to this essential work. Will you work with Jesus? Will you be true to the Lord who has bought you? Will you put into the background all matters of minor importance? You must be baptized into a larger faith, a larger charity. You need greater reverence for things of eternal importance. It is impossible for me to impress upon your mind too strongly the extent and power of the influence which flows from the example of individual piety and from the exhibition, by the church, of the sanctifying influence of the truth upon the character.
A much greater ingathering could be realized in ----- if the church would come into a right position before God, each seeking to set his own heart and his own house in order. Talk less, and let true inward piety shine forth in good works. Be kind; cultivate love and gentleness. Pray more; read your Bibles more. Be diligent students in the school of Christ. Then the members of the church will not be finding fault with their brethren and sisters; this is Satan's work.
I hope you will be strengthened and established in the faith. The work will surely go forward, whether we advance with it or not. It will be victorious, but the question is: Shall we be victorious with it? May God help you both to feel the need of a deep work of grace in your hearts. Remember that Jesus has bought you with the sacrifice of His own life. "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."