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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists

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    Address to the Missionary Workers

    [Delivered before the Swiss Tract and Missionary Society, Sunday, September 13.]

    “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” Luke 10:25-28.HS 149.1

    If any are in perplexity to know whether they will be saved or not, they will find the query settled here. The world's Redeemer has plainly specified the conditions of eternal life. Both the conditions and the promise are positive. Christ must be the center. We must love him with every power of our being, and our neighbors as ourselves. And if we do love our neighbor as ourselves, we shall labor earnestly to present to him the truth in its beauty and simplicity.HS 149.2

    It was thus that the foundation of the Christian church was laid. Many people had assembled where John was baptizing in Jordan. As Jesus walked among them, the observing eye of John recognized him as the Saviour, and with kindling eye and earnest manner he cried, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Two of John's disciples, whose attention was thus directed to Jesus, followed him. Seeing them following him, he turned and said, “What seek ye? They said unto him,” “Master, where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see.” And when they had come and seen where he dwelt, he opened to them the great plan of salvation. The words which he there spoke to them were too precious to be kept to themselves, and they immediately went and found their friends, and brought them to Jesus.HS 149.3

    At this very time Nathanael was praying to know whether this was indeed the Christ of whom Moses and the prophets had spoken. While he continued to pray, one of those who had been brought to Christ, Philip by name, called to him and said, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Notice how quickly prejudice arises. Nathanael says, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip knew the strong prejudice that existed in the minds of many against Nazareth, and he did not try to argue with him, for fear of raising his combativeness, but simply said, “Come and see.”HS 149.4

    Here is a lesson for all our ministers, colporteurs, and missionary workers. When you meet those, who, like Nathanael, are prejudiced against the truth, do not urge your peculiar views too strongly. Talk with them at first of subjects upon which you can agree. Bow with them in prayer, and in humble faith present your petitions at the throne of grace. Both you and they will be brought into a closer connection with heaven, prejudice will be weakened, and it will be easier to reach the heart.HS 149.5

    There is a great work to be done here in Europe. From the light that has been given me concerning the people in this part of the country, and perhaps all through Europe, there is danger, in presenting the truth, of arousing their combativeness. There is little harmony between present truth and the doctrines of the church in which many of the people have been born and brought up; and they are so filled with prejudice, and so completely under the control of their ministers, that in many cases they dare not even come to hear the truth presented. The question then arises, How can these people be reached? How can the great work of the third angel's message be accomplished? It must be largely accomplished by persevering, individual effort; by visiting the people at their homes.HS 149.6

    In doing this kind of work, none should feel like the Pharisee when he came to the temple to pray and said, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men.” Let it be kept in mind that Jesus died for all, and that he loves others just as much as he loves you. Let the heart be softened with the love of God; and then, with quivering lip and tearful eye, open to the people the treasures of truth. Present the truth as it [is] in Jesus; not for the sake of contention, not for the love of argument, but with meekness and fear; and it will reach the hearts of the honest. That which makes the truth so objectionable to many is that it is not presented in the spirit of Christ.HS 150.1

    There is with many a great lack of love in laboring for others. Especially in this field, far more could be accomplished by manifesting this love in your labor, than by presenting the strongest arguments. But the two should be combined. There are many who are in darkness; and when the truth, which involves a cross, is presented, they draw back, as did Nathanael. If by kindness and love these can be prevailed upon to trace down the chain of prophecy, they will, as they find link after link uniting in a perfect whole, see new beauty and harmony in the word of God; and the more they study it, the more precious it will become to them.HS 150.2

    “But,” says one, “suppose we cannot gain admittance to the homes of the people; and if we do, suppose they rise up against the truths that we present. Shall we not then feel excused from making further efforts for them?” By no means. Even if they shut the door in your face, do not hasten away in indignation, and make no further effort to save them. Ask God in faith to give you access to those very souls. Cease not your efforts; but study and plan until you find some other means of reaching them. If you do not succeed by personal visits, try sending them the silent messenger of truth. There is so much pride of opinion in the human heart that our publications often gain admittance where the living messenger cannot.HS 150.3

    I have been shown how reading matter on present truth is sometimes treated by many people in Europe and in other countries. A person receives a tract or paper. He reads a little in it, finds something that does not agree with his former views, and throws it aside. But the few words he did read are not forgotten. Unwelcome though they are, they remain in the mind until an interest is awakened to read further on the subject. Again the paper is taken up; again the reader finds something in it that is opposed to his long-cherished opinions and customs, and he angrily flings it aside. But the rejected messenger says nothing to increase his opposition or arouse his combativeness; and when the force of his anger dies away, and the paper is again brought out, it tells the same simple, straightforward story, and he finds in it precious gems. Angels of God are near to impress the unspoken word upon his heart; and, although loath to do so, he at last yields, and light takes possession of his soul. Those who are thus unwillingly converted, often prove to be among the most substantial believers; and their experience teaches them to labor perseveringly for others.HS 150.4

    The Piedmont valleys have been mentioned. I have been shown the poverty that exists there; and yet in these valleys there are some of the most precious souls that are to be found anywhere. I have seen places there where our tracts and papers were scattered. A divine power seemed to accompany them. I have seen persons upon their knees with the tracts before them, the tears rolling down their cheeks as they read, for an answering chord had been touched in their hearts. They knew that what they read was truth, and that they ought to obey it. Whether these scenes have already taken place or are still in the future, I cannot say.HS 150.5

    There is a mighty power in the truth. It is God's plan that all who embrace it shall become missionaries. Not only men, but women and even children can engage in this work. None are excused. All have an influence, and that influence should be wholly for the Master. Jesus has bought the race with his blood. We are his; and we have no right to say, “I will not do this or that;” but we should inquire, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” and do it with a cheerful, willing heart.HS 151.1

    Success does not depend so much upon age or circumstances in life as upon the real love that one has for others. Look at John Bunyan inclosed by prison walls. His enemies think that they have placed him where his work for others must cease. But not so. He is not idle. The love for souls continues to burn within him, and from his dark prison-house there springs a light which shines to all parts of the civilized world. His book, “The Pilgrim's Progress,” written under these trying circumstances, portrays the Christian life so accurately, and presents the love of Christ in such an attractive light, that hundreds and thousands have been converted through its instrumentality.HS 151.2

    Again, behold Luther in his Wartburg prison, translating the Bible, which was sent forth as a torch of light, and which his countrymen seized and carried from land to land to separate from the religion of Christ the superstitions and errors with which Romanism had enshrouded it. Thus, in a variety of ways, God has worked mightily for his people in times past, and thus he is ever willing to work with those who are laboring for the salvation of souls.HS 151.3

    The trouble with the workers now is that they have not enough faith. They are too self-sufficient, and too easily disturbed by little trials. There is in the natural heart much selfishness, much self-dignity; and when they present the truth to an individual, and it is resented, they too frequently feel that it is an insult to themselves, when it is not themselves, but the Author of truth, who is insulted and rejected. In this work there is the greatest necessity of hiding self behind Jesus. The nearer one comes to Jesus, the less will he esteem himself, and the more earnest will he be to work for others in the spirit of the Master.HS 151.4

    There is much work to be done right here in Switzerland. Take heed first to yourselves, dear fellow-laborers, and afterward to the doctrine. As surely as you allow your natural temperaments and dispositions to control you, just so surely will they appear in your labors, to mar the work of God. If you should bring souls into the truth, they would imitate your defects of character. Let the reformation begin with yourselves; let the converting power of God first be felt upon your own hearts, and then you will be better able to lead others to Christ.HS 151.5

    Whether you labor in public or private, you must expect to meet difficulties. Jesus found it difficult to reach the crowd; and when he labored personally, many turned from him because of the perversity of the human heart. When the rich young man, spoken of in our text, came to Christ to know what he should do to be saved, he turned away sorrowfully when told to go and sell all that he had, and he should have treasure in heaven. He had great possessions. Property was his idol; and he was sorrowful because he could not retain his idol and have heaven too.HS 151.6

    Jesus demands of those who would be his followers an entire surrender of all that they have, all that there is of them. In this he does not ask more than he has given. Did he not leave all his riches, his glory, his honor, in order to save men? Did he not strip himself of his robes of royalty, and humiliate himself to take man's nature, that through his poverty and humiliation we might be made rich? Should we then be unwilling to give all that we have and are to him, and to suffer, if need be, humiliation and reproach for his sake? God forbid.HS 152.1

    It is impossible to describe the feelings I have for this people. Oh that every one present would kindle his taper from the divine altar! If Christ has given you light, let it shine to others. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Will you not begin from this time to work upon the Bible plan, and live to do your neighbor good, to be a blessing to those around you? Do not make one crooked path for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way.HS 152.2

    If we walk in the light, our wisdom will increase day by day. We should know more of the truth tomorrow than we know today. We cannot afford to be dwarfs in Bible knowledge, or in the religious life; but we should grow up unto the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. Heaven is full of light and strength, and we can draw from it if we will. God is waiting to pour his blessing upon us as soon as we draw nigh to him and by living faith grasp his promises. He says that he is more willing to give his Holy Spirit to those that ask him than earthly parents are to give good gifts unto their children. Shall we take him at his word?HS 152.3

    Here are the great cities in England and on the continent with their millions of inhabitants that have not yet heard the last warning message. How are these to be warned? If the people of God would only exercise faith, he would work in a wonderful manner to accomplish this work. Hear the words of Christ: “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” Precious promise! Do we believe it? What marvelous results would appear if the united prayers of this company were to ascend to God in living faith! Jesus stands ready to take these petitions and present them to his Father, saying, “I know these persons by name. Send answers to their prayers; for I have graven their names on the palms of my hands.”HS 152.4

    There are young men here who might become successful missionary workers, and to whom Christ says, “Go work today in my vineyard.” Do not, young friends, rob God by withholding from him your time or your talents. Do not be satisfied with reaching a low standard. There are heights of knowledge to which you may attain. The adversary of souls will work through his agents to turn you from the path of right. He will present before you many and great temptations; but at such times remember Joseph. When tempted, he said, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” For his steadfastness to principle he was unjustly cast into prison. By this he was humbled, but not degraded; and, continuing to live in the fear of God, he forgot his troubles in ministering to the wants of his suffering companions.HS 152.5

    There was Daniel, who stood before King Nebuchadnezzar, and who, when about to receive what was considered a favor, purposed in his heart that he would not accept it. He had an intelligent knowledge of the effect that the king's meat and wine would produce upon the human system; and he determined to adhere to the teachings of God forbidding their use by the Israelites, rather than receive the approbation of the king. The result was that God gave him great wisdom and understanding in all mysteries, so that at the end of the years of trial, when examined, he stood higher than any of the wise men in the kingdom.HS 153.1

    Again, when wicked men, inspired by envy and hatred, sought to remove him from the favor of King Darius, they could find no occasion against him except “concerning the law of his God.” Therefore they laid a snare for him by prevailing upon the king to decree that whosoever asked a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of the king, should be cast into the den of lions. But the firm adherence to principle which Daniel had cultivated from a youth does not fail him now. Notwithstanding the decree of the king, he goes to his chamber three times a day, as is his custom, and with his windows open toward Jerusalem, prays to the God of heaven. Because of his faithfulness to God, he is cast into the den of lions, according to the king's decree; but does God forsake him? No, indeed. Holy angels are sent to minister unto him, and to close the lions’ mouths that they shall do him no harm.HS 153.2

    Remember, brethren, in every perplexity, that God has angels still. You may meet opposition; yea, even persecution. But, if steadfast to principle, you will find, as did Daniel, a present helper and deliverer in the God whom you serve. Now is the time to cultivate integrity of character. The Bible is full of rich gems of promise to those who love and fear God.HS 153.3

    To all who are engaged in the missionary work I would say, Hide in Jesus. Let not self but Christ appear in all your labors. When the work goes hard, and you become discouraged and are tempted to abandon it, take your Bible, bow upon your knees before God, and say, “Here, Lord, thy word is pledged.” Throw your weight upon his promises, and every one of them will be fulfilled.HS 153.4

    There is a much greater work to be done in this country than has yet been accomplished. I am thankful to see so large a number present at this meeting. But shall not your numbers be more than doubled during the coming year? Let each answer for himself what he will do. All heaven is interested in the salvation of man. It is for you to say whether you will be co-laborers with Christ or not; whether you will, without fainting, suffer the reproach that he endured; whether you will, without faltering, press the battle to the gates. Oh, must Christ, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, bear the heavy cross, wear the thorny crown, and drink the bitter cup, while we recline at ease and glorify ourselves, forgetful of the souls whom he died to redeem by his precious blood? No; let us do while we have the strength; let us work while it is day; let us devote ourselves to the service of God, that we may have his approbation and at last receive his reward.HS 153.5

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