We are looking forward to the change from mortality to immortality; but what more can we have than it is now our privilege to have? We may have Jesus abiding in our hearts by faith. He died on Calvary's cross, that He might abide in you, and you in Him. We may have the presence of Christ with us, as had Daniel in Babylon. God gave him wisdom in all knowledge, and he had understanding in all mysteries. But we may be as was Daniel. The Source of Wisdom is open to us. We may come to God, we may grow in wisdom.
There is no need of our being ignorant. James says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." The exhortation is given, "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." How is it possible that we may grow in grace? It is possible to us only as we empty our hearts of self, and present them to heaven, to be moulded after the divine Pattern. We may have a connection with the living Channel of Light; we may be refreshed with the heavenly dew, and have the showers of heaven descend upon us. As we appropriate the blessing of God, we shall be able to receive greater measures of His grace. As we learn to endure as seeing Him who is invisible, we shall become changed into the image of Christ. The grace of Christ will not make us proud, cause us to be lifted up in self, but we shall become meek and lowly in heart. It was the grace of Christ that made Moses the meekest man on earth. As we learn of the divine Master, we shall manifest this precious attribute. How long did it take Moses to learn the lesson of meekness, and become fitted to be a general to lead the armies of Israel out of Egypt? He went through a long discipline. For forty years he tended sheep in the land of Midian, learning how to be a good shepherd to the flock. In his position of shepherd he was called upon to care for the weak, to guide the wayward, to seek for the wandering. This was an essential training for him who was to be the leader of Israel; for in the care of the flock of God he would be called upon to nourish the weak, to instruct the wayward, and to bring the lost one back to the fold. This is the work of the follower of Christ. We are to watch for souls as they that must give an account, to do all in our power that those with whom we associate may grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.
We are to realize to what we are called in Christ; for by faith we are to attain unto His righteousness. Since this is the standard for our attainment, how can any of us be satisfied with our present attainments? If we have been dwelling upon things seen and temporal, let us turn our attention to the things unseen and eternal. Let us not wait for a revival in the church, or for special conviction; but, realizing our need, and knowing that all heaven is at our command, let us now yield our hearts to God. Let us not think that we may wait until some Conference meeting, until a large company is called forward, to seek God's blessing. It is best for us to be awake individually, today yielding our hearts to God. Decide now to dedicate yourself to Him, not only as a congregation, but as individuals; decide to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Do not wait one for another. Do not look about you to see if your neighbour is going to make the surrender, but, realizing that each one of us must give an account of himself to God, that we have a living Saviour, who is our substitute and surety, draw nigh to God.
The word of the Lord says, "Draw nigh to God, and" perhaps He will draw nigh to you? No, the promise is, "He will draw nigh to you." God does not do anything for man without his cooperation. He draws you by the tender cords of His love, and as you respond to this drawing, you draw nigh to Him. As you are seeking His face, the angels minister unto you. He has at His command ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of angels. They are constantly ascending and descending; for are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation? They are ministering in the cities, towns, and villages. They receive their commission from God, whose eye beholds all things; and when a soul is in discouragement, He sends help from heaven, even before the prayer for help is uttered. Before we ask, He commissions His ministers to go forth with divine aid. During the sleepless nights I have passed through the months of my illness, I have taken indescribable comfort in these thoughts. As soon as my mind was fixed on Jesus, the clouds of darkness were transformed, and all was light in the Lord. My soul was melted with His love. Fix the eyes upon Jesus, and say, "Lead me, guide me." Your prayer will ascend before the Father as fragrant incense; for the merit of Christ will make it of value before God.
When Christ's righteousness is your plea, you will be accepted in the Beloved. Jesus encourages us to present His merit at the throne. He says, "If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Oh, educate the soul to believe the promises of God. Would He make such promises if He did not love us? We are His purchased property; bought at an infinite price. Would you know the manner of love that has been bestowed upon you? I point you to the cross of Calvary. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Christ died in behalf of the world. Our Heavenly Father has valued us at the price of Jesus, and, having been bought at such a cost, what right have we to spend our God-given capabilities in the service of the world and sin? What right have we to fritter away our time, to use our talents in aiding the work of the powers of darkness? "Set your affections on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
It means something to be a Christian, a joint heir with Jesus Christ. To what?--To an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. But are we preparing for such an inheritance when the mind is all full of lightness and trifling and folly, when we devote our God-given time to that which has no substantial value? We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to His disciples, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. . . . When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
We are to commune with God through the agency of the Holy Spirit; and when we pray, the Spirit helpeth our infirmities. The plough-share of truth must go deep. We are full of self, satisfied with our condition. Jesus says, "Thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." We must fall on the Rock and be broken, and then the Spirit of God will take possession of us, and mould us after the divine Pattern.
Then make the surrender at once. Don't wait till you get home, but make it manifest that you realize what is required of you. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." You are to set your affections upon God. In order to do this it is not necessary to sound a trumpet before you, to make a proclamation to the world that you have turned from darkness to light, and that you do not wish anyone to come near you to cast a cloud of darkness over you. Religion means the making of a daily consecration of yourself to God; it means meekness and lowliness of heart; it means to take everything that comes to you as a blessing, to let praise flow back to God. The Lord says, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me." As we praise God, the soul becomes strong in spiritual power.
At morning, noon, and night we should meditate upon the goodness and love of God, that we may know God; for this is life eternal. The Father has given the best gift, the greatest treasure of heaven, to us, and we are of value to God, and should render praise to Him. But when we surround ourselves with a dark atmosphere, we forget that the Father knows our trials, and has sent them to us in love. The praise that should reach Him never comes to His throne; for our affections are not centred upon Him.
We should lay hold upon God with all our strength, and love Him with undivided heart. Do not look to see what others are doing, but be yourself a co-partner with Him, a labourer together with God, a partaker of the divine nature. We are to consecrate ourselves to God, to help others, to surround ourselves with a fragrant atmosphere. Our words are to be cheerful and kind; we are to come heart to heart as members of the family of Christ. We are to be one, as Christ is one with the Father. Let us seek for this oneness, and by and by we shall see Him as He is, and enjoy His presence through the ceaseless ages of eternity. We shall have the life that measures with the life of God. It will take all eternity to comprehend the science of redemption, to understand something of what it means that the Son of the infinite God gave His life for the life of the world. Then shall we not seek for glory, honour and eternal life? Shall we not make it our first business? We can have but a short lifetime here, but the life to come is eternal. We may attain unto this through daily consecration of ourselves to God, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, through following the example of Christ, who was tempted in all points like as we are, yet who sinned not, that He might be able to succour those who are tempted. Let us come to the throne of infinite love, and there wait and watch to see the fulfilment of the promises of God. Make your appeal to heaven, knowing that what God hath said He will do, and will make His light shine through you to others. You may not know that you are giving light to others, but God will know it. To those on the right hand the Lord will say: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." They did not know that they were doing good to others; for it was the Spirit of Christ that wrought with them, and others took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus, and learned of Him. Let us have personal religion, and become rooted and grounded in love.
While the Conference was assembled at South Lancaster, Mass., a faithful old sister was dying, and she sent in this message to those assembled, "The anchor holds." This is what we want, a hope that we can cast like an anchor, entering into that which is within the veil. We want to be able to bear testimony that the anchor holds in the time of sickness, trial, or bereavement. In our darkest hours we want to be able to see matchless charms in Jesus, to set our affections on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, that our life may be hid with Christ in God, that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also may appear with Him in glory.
Originally published in The Signs of the Times, January 16, 1893.