We must have greater wisdom than we have yet manifested in regard to the manner in which we treat those who in some points of faith honestly differ from us. It is unbecoming in anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ to be sharp and denunciatory, to stoop to ridicule the views of another. The spirit of criticism unfits men for receiving the light that God would send them, or for seeing what is evidence of the truth. Should the Lord reveal light after his own plan, many would not respect or comprehend it; they would ridicule the bearer of God's message as one who set himself up above those who were better qualified to teach.
The first step on the road to the Inquisition was that of ridicule
The papal authorities first ridiculed the reformers, and when this did not quench the spirit of investigation, they placed them behind prison walls, loaded them with chains, and when this did not silence them or make them recant, they finally brought them to the fagot and the sword. We should be very cautious lest we take the first steps in this road that leads to the Inquisition. The truth of God is progressive; it is always onward, going from strength to a greater strength, from light to a greater light. We have every reason to believe that the Lord will send us increased truth, for a great work is yet to be done. In our knowledge of truth, there is first a beginning in our understanding of it, then a progression, then completion; first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear. Much has been lost because our ministers and people have concluded that we have had all the truth essential for us as a people; but such a conclusion is erroneous and in harmony with the deceptions of Satan; for truth will be constantly unfolding.
Men should dig in the mine of truth
The greatest care should be exercised lest we do despite to the Spirit of God by treating with indifference and scorn the messenger, and the messages, God sends to his people, and so reject light because our hearts are not in harmony with God. When Christianity is truly received, it will always transform the heart and mould the character. Let those who have been accounted worthy to be expositors of God's word, who have been intrusted with the care of the flock of God, like humble, wise men, open their Bibles with grateful hearts and study its precious utterances. The messenger of God should not only search the Scriptures, but he should also urge the people to study the word of truth. As the miner seeks for gold in the rocks and the mountains, so men should dig in the mine of truth, that they may find out what God has revealed concerning the salvation of man.
We need to lay down our prejudices which have for the years bound us about
If you come to the Bible to find texts simply to prove your theory or vindicate your opinion, you will not be enlightened by the Spirit of God; but if you come with fasting and humiliation of soul, with love for man and God in your heart, your prayers will be answered, and light will break upon you. We every one need to seek the Lord with our whole heart and in humble prayer. We need to lay down the prejudices that have for years bound us about. If you have been in the truth for many years, and some brother who is much younger in years and in the faith is called upon to teach, your age, your position, your intelligence, and understanding of the Scriptures, will not give you license to treat this brother with indifference and disrespect. Timothy learned many things of Paul. Although a young man, he obtained knowledge of the word of God by patient industry. He put his powers to the task of understanding the word of God, and he was richly rewarded. Paul writes to Timothy: "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.... Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." Grave responsibilities were laid upon Timothy, who was a mere youth. The injunction comes sounding down to our time concerning him and other youthful disciples of Christ, "Let no man despise thy youth."
Self must not assume prominence, or the Lord cannot use us
Samuel was chosen as a servant of God even from his childhood. God could communicate to him his word, although he had to pass by the ancient Eli, who had not been careful to do the will of God or to carry out his instruction. It will not answer to think that unless messages shall come from old and honored servants of God, they cannot be authoritative and God-given. With all deference to the youthful agent, Eli accepted the word of God from the lips of the child Samuel. Great care should be manifested by those who have acted a prominent part in the work, that they may not think that light cannot come to God's people except through them. When they are meek and lowly of heart, without prejudice or self-exaltation because they have been highly privileged, they will be one with youthful men whom God has educated to act a special part in his work. These young men would find a great blessing in depending upon the experience of older brethren, if those who have been long in the work do not stand upon their dignity, if self does not assume prominence, and the younger brethren seem insignificant. But if this is the case, the Lord cannot use them in the work.
You should remember that the Master of assemblies is always with you
There is a witness ever present with you who reads the motives, who knows the thoughts and purposes of the heart. It is safe to be always kind and courteous, to manifest a hearty friendship and love for your brethren. In counsels or assemblies where differences of views are to be discussed, you should remember that the Master of assemblies is with you. Unfairness, hard speeches, and efforts to turn others away from an impartial decision, will all be recorded in the books of heaven. If, upon a candid investigation, your cherished ideas should be weakened by a comparison with the law and the testimony, do not let a willful, hard,
stubborn spirit rise up in opposition to that which you see to be evidence against your views. If a brother differs with you, do not become provoked; treat him with candor; do not overwhelm him with assertions. Do not handle the word of God deceitfully, presenting detached passages of Scripture which you think favor your ideas, and withholding other passages which seem to weaken your position. Let God speak in his word. If you think your brother believes an error, you should deal with him considerately, manifesting tenderness, patience, and courtesy. You should reason with him from the word of God, comparing scripture with scripture, considering carefully every jot of evidence. In no case should his words be made a matter of ridicule, for "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
You have before you the example of Christ
Paul charged Timothy: "Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
"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. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if any man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." Let every man obey these directions. You have before you the example of Christ. Although the homage and service of all was his due, yet he sought not honor of men; he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." All the world belonged to him; but when he was rejected in towns and cities, he did not assert his right to his own, he went to another village to teach the truth whether men would hear or whether they would forbear. Let every soul be careful lest he prove himself to be among those who despise and wonder and perish, who turn from Christ in the person of his saints, and bring upon themselves the condemnation that fell upon the Jews.
The rulers in Jesus' day sought to hold Him up to ridicule before the people
The teachers of the people in the time of Christ were fully satisfied with themselves. They held counsels and strengthened one another in their ideas and opinions, and Satan was in their assemblies controlling their decisions. They strove to make the people afraid of hearing the words of Christ. They threatened to turn those who would heed his doctrine out of the synagogue, and this was regarded by the people as the greatest curse that could fall upon them. The scribes and Pharisees had formed their plans, and they did not intend to change their course of life or their manner of teaching. They would hear Christ, but they refused to let his teachings have any weight with them. They feigned to be his friends in order to draw him out on different subjects. They questioned him concerning difficult problems, that whatever he might answer, they would be able to turn his words against him.
On one occasion the scribes and the Pharisees "brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last."
Although Jesus gave evidence of his divine power, yet he was not permitted to teach his lessons without interruption. The rulers sought to hold him up to ridicule before the people.
They would not allow him to state his ideas and doctrines in a connected way, but, although frequently interrupted, light flashed into the mind of hundreds, and when the rulers heard the words of Jesus, that were clothed with power and held the people spell-bound, they were angry, and said, "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil." Jesus met these charges with quiet dignity, fearlessly and decidedly claiming that covenant rights were centered in himself, and were not received through Abraham. He declared, "Before Abraham was, I am." The fury of the Jews knew no bounds, and they prepared to stone him, but the angels of God, unseen by men, hurried him out of their assembly.
Satan is seeking to keep from our knowledge the very things that God would have us know
There are men among us who profess to understand the truth for these last days, but who will not calmly investigate advanced truth. They are determined to make no advance beyond the stakes which they have set, and will not listen to those who, they say, do not stand by the old landmarks. They are so self-sufficient that they cannot be reasoned with. They consider it a virtue to be at variance with their brethren, and close the door, that light shall not find an entrance to the people of God. It will require heavenly wisdom to know how to deal with such cases. Light will come to God's people, and those who have sought to close the door will either repent or be removed out of the way. The time has come when a new impetus must be given to the work. There are terrible scenes before us, and Satan is seeking to keep from our knowledge the very things that God would have us know. God has messengers and messages for his people. If ideas are presented that differ in some points from our former doctrines, we must not condemn them without diligent search of the Bible to see if they are true. We must fast and pray and search the Scriptures as did the noble Bereans, to see if these things are so. We must accept every ray of light that comes to us. Through earnest prayer and diligent study of God's word, dark things will be made plain to the understanding.
ST, May 26, 1890