Your thoughts, plans, and efforts are for yourselves. You live for self; you do not cultivate disinterested benevolence, which, if exercised, would increase and strengthen until it would be your delight to live for others' good. You would feel that you had an object in life, a purpose that would bring you returns of greater value than money. You need to have a more special interest for humanity, and in so doing you would bring your souls into closer connection with Christ and would be so imbued with His Spirit and would cleave to Him with so firm a tenacity that nothing could separate you from His love.
Christ is the living Vine and if you are branches of that Vine, the life nourishment which flows through it will nourish you, that you will not be barren or unfruitful. You have, as a family and as individuals, professedly connected yourselves with the service of Christ; and yet you are weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting. All of you need to have an entire transformation before you can do those things which unselfish, devoted Christians should do. Nothing but a thorough conversion can give you a correct sense of your defects of character. You all have the spirit and love of the world to a great extent. Says the apostle John: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Your selfish spirit narrows and dwarfs your minds to your own interests. You need pure and undefiled religion. The simplicity of the truth will lead you to feel a sympathy for others' woes. There are those who need your sympathy and love. To exercise these traits of character is a part of the life-work which Christ has given us all to do.
God will not excuse you for not taking up the cross and practising self-denial in doing good to others with unselfish motives. If you will take the trouble to make the self-denial required of Christians, you may, by the grace of God, be qualified to win souls to Christ. God has claims upon you to which you have never responded. There are many all around us who hunger for sympathy and love. But, like many others, you have been nearly destitute of that humble love which naturally flows out in pity and sympathy for the destitute,
the suffering, and the needy. The human countenance itself is a mirror of the soul, read by others, and having a telling influence upon them for good or evil. God does not call upon any of us to watch our brethren and to repent of their sins. He has left us a work to do, and He calls upon us to do it resolutely, in His fear, with an eye single to His glory.
Everyone, whether he is faithful or otherwise, must give to God an account of himself, not of others. Seeing faults in other professors and condemning their course will not excuse or offset one error of ours. We should not make others our criterion nor excuse anything in our course because others have done wrong. God has given us consciences for ourselves. Great principles have been laid down in His word, which are sufficient to guide us in our Christian walk and general deportment. You, my dear friends, as a family, have not kept the principles of the law of God. You have never felt the burden of the duty devolving upon man to his fellow men.
"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 neighbour as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said,
"A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him
on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."
Here the conditions of inheriting eternal life are plainly stated by our Saviour in the most simple manner. The man who was wounded and robbed represents those who are subjects of our interest, sympathy, and charity. If we neglect the cases of the needy and the unfortunate that are brought under our notice, no matter who they may be, we have no assurance of eternal life; for we do not answer the claims that God has upon us. We are not compassionate and pitiful to humanity, because they may not be kith or kin to us. You have been found transgressors of the second great commandment, upon which the last six commandments depend. Whosoever offendeth in one point, is guilty of all. Those who do not open their hearts to the wants and sufferings of humanity will not open their hearts to the claims of God as stated in the first four precepts of the Decalogue. Idols claim the heart and affections, and God is not honoured and does not reign supreme.
You have, as a family, made a sad failure. You are not, in the strictest sense, commandment keepers. You may be quite exact in some things, yet neglect the weightier matters --judgement, mercy, and the love of God. Although the customs of the world are no criterion for us, yet I have been shown that the pitying sympathy and the benevolence of the world for the unfortunate in many cases shame the professed followers of Christ. Many manifest indifference toward those whom God has thrown among them for the purpose of testing and proving them, and developing what is in their hearts. God reads. He marks every act of selfishness, every act of indifference toward the afflicted, the widows, and the fatherless;
and He writes against their names: "Guilty, wanting, lawbreakers." We shall be rewarded as our works have been. Any neglect of duty to the needy and to the afflicted is a neglect of duty to Christ in the person of His saints.
When the cases of all come in review before God, the question, What did they profess? will not be asked, but, What have they done? Have they been doers of the word? Have they lived for themselves, or have they been exercised in works of benevolence, in deeds of kindness and love, preferring others before themselves, and denying themselves that they might bless others? If the record shows that this has been their life, that their characters have been marked with tenderness, self-denial, and benevolence, they will receive the blessed assurance and benediction from Christ: "Well done" "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Christ has been grieved and wounded by your marked selfish love and your indifference to the woes and needs of others.
Many times our efforts for others may be disregarded and apparently lost. But this should be no excuse for us to become weary in well-doing. How often has Jesus come to find fruit upon the plants of His care and found nothing but leaves! We may be disappointed as to the result of our best efforts, but this should not lead us to be indifferent to others' woes and to do nothing. "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." How often is Christ disappointed in those who profess to be His children! He has given them unmistakable evidences of His love. He became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. He died for us, that we might not perish, but have eternal life. What if Christ had refused to bear our iniquity because He was rejected by many and because so few appreciated His love and the infinite blessings He came to bring them? We need to encourage patient, painstaking efforts. Courage is now
wanted, not lazy despondency and fretful murmuring. We are in this world to do work for the Master and not to study our inclination and pleasure, to serve and glorify ourselves. Why, then, should we be inactive and discouraged because we do not see the immediate results we desire?
Our work is to toil in the vineyard of the Lord, not merely for ourselves, but for the good of others. Our influence is a blessing or a curse to others. We are here to form perfect characters for heaven. We have something to do besides repining and murmuring at God's providences, and writing bitter things against ourselves. Our adversary will not allow us to rest. If we are indeed God's children we shall be harassed and sorely beset, and we need not expect that Satan or those under his influence will treat us well. But there are angels who excel in strength who will be with us in all our conflicts if we will only be faithful. Christ conquered Satan in our behalf in the wilderness of temptation. He is mightier than Satan, and He will shortly bruise him under our feet.
You have, as a family and as individuals, excused yourselves from earnest, active service in your Master's cause. You have been too indolent and have left others to carry many of the heavier burdens which you could and should have borne. Your spiritual strength and blessing will be proportionate to the labour of love and the good works which you perform. The injunction of the apostle Paul is: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Keeping the commandments of God requires of us good works, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and devotion for the good of others, not that our good works alone can save us, but that we surely cannot be saved without good works. After we have done all that we are capable of doing, we are then to say: We have done no more than our duty, and at best are unprofitable servants, unworthy of the smallest favour from God. Christ must be our righteousness and the crown of our rejoicing.
Self-righteousness and carnal security have closed you about as a wall. As a family you possess a spirit of independence
and pride. This element separates you from God. It is a fault, a defect which must be seen and overcome. It is almost impossible for you to see your errors and wrongs. You have too good an opinion of yourselves, and it is difficult for you to see and remove by confession the mistakes in your lives. You are inclined to justify and defend your course in almost everything, whether it be right or wrong. While it is not too late for wrongs to be righted, bring your hearts near to Jesus by humiliation and prayer, and seek to know yourselves. You must be lost unless you arouse yourselves and work with Christ. You encase yourselves in a cold, unfeeling, unsympathising armour. There is but little life and warmth in your association with others. You live for yourselves, not for Christ. You are careless and indifferent to the needs and conditions of others less fortunate than yourselves. All around you there are those who have soul hunger and who long for love expressed in words and deeds. Friendly sympathy and real feelings of tender interest for others would bring to your souls blessings that you have never yet experienced and would bring you into close relation to our Redeemer, whose advent to the world was for the purpose of doing good and whose life we are to copy. What are you doing for Christ? "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."