I cannot too strongly urge all our church members, all who are true missionaries, all who believe the third angel's message, all who turn away their feet from the Sabbath, to consider the message of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The work of beneficence enjoined in this chapter is the work that God requires His people to do at this time. It is a work of His own appointment. We are not left in doubt as to where the message applies, and the time of its marked fulfilment, for we read: "They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." Verse 12. God's memorial, the seventh-day Sabbath, the sign of His work in creating the world, has been displaced by the man of sin. God's people have a special work to do in repairing the breach that has been made in His law; and the nearer we approach the end, the more urgent this work becomes. All who love God will show that they bear His sign by keeping His commandments. They are the restorers of paths to dwell in. The Lord says: "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight,
. . . then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth." Verses 13, 14. Thus genuine medical missionary work is bound up inseparably with the keeping of God's commandments, of which the Sabbath is especially mentioned, since it is the great memorial of God's creative work. Its observance is bound up with the work of restoring the moral image of God in man. This is the ministry which God's people are to carry forward at this time. This ministry, rightly performed, will bring rich blessings to the church.
As believers in Christ we need greater faith. We need to be more fervent in prayer. Many wonder why their prayers are so lifeless, their faith so feeble and wavering, their Christian experience so dark and uncertain. Have we not fasted, they say, and "walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?" In the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah Christ has shown how this condition of things may be changed. He says: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" Verses 6, 7. This is the recipe that Christ has prescribed for the fainthearted, doubting, trembling soul. Let the sorrowful ones, who walk mournfully before the Lord, arise and help someone who needs help.
Every church is in need of the controlling power of the Holy Spirit, and now is the time to pray for it. But in all God's work for man He plans that man shall co-operate with Him. To this end the Lord calls upon the church to have a higher piety, a more just sense of duty, a clearer realisation of their obligations to their Creator.
He calls upon them to be a pure, sanctified, working people. And the Christian help work is one means of bringing this about, for the Holy Spirit communicates with all who are doing God's service.
To those who have been engaged in this work I would say: Continue to work with tact and ability. Arouse your associates to work under some name whereby they may be organised to co-operate in harmonious action. Get the young men and women in the churches to work. Combine medical missionary work with the proclamation of the third angel's message. Make regular, organised efforts to lift the church members out of the dead level in which they have been for years. Send out into the churches workers who will live the principles of health reform. Let those be sent who can see the necessity of self-denial in appetite, or they will be a snare to the church. See if the breath of life will not then come into our churches. A new element needs to be brought into the work. God's people must realise their great need and peril, and take up the work that lies nearest them.
With those who engage in this work, speaking words in season and out of season, helping the needy, telling them of the wonderful love of Christ for them, the Saviour is always present, impressing the hearts of the poor and miserable and wretched. When the church accepts its God-given work, the promise is: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward." Christ is our righteousness; He goes before us in this work, and the glory of the Lord follows.
All that heaven contains is awaiting the draft of every soul who will labour in Christ's lines. As the members of our churches individually take up their appointed work, they will be surrounded with an entirely different
atmosphere. A blessing and a power will attend their labours. They will experience a higher culture of mind and heart. The selfishness that has bound up their souls will be overcome. Their faith will be a living principle. Their prayers will be more fervent. The quickening, sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon them, and they will be brought nearer to the kingdom of heaven.
The Saviour ignores both rank and caste, worldly honour and riches. It is character and devotedness of purpose that are of high value with Him. He does not take sides with the strong and worldly favoured. He, the Son of the living God, stoops to uplift the fallen. By pledges and words of assurance He seeks to win to Himself the lost, perishing soul. Angels of God are watching to see who of His followers will exercise tender pity and sympathy. They are watching to see who of God's people will manifest the love of Jesus.
Those who realise the wretchedness of sin, and the divine compassion of Christ in His infinite sacrifice for fallen man, will have communion with Christ. Their hearts will be full of tenderness; the expression of the countenance and the tone of the voice will show forth sympathy; their efforts will be characterised by earnest solicitude, love, and energy; and they will be a power through God to win souls to Christ.
We all need to sow a crop of patience, compassion, and
love. We shall reap the harvest we are sowing. Our
characters are now forming for eternity. Here on earth
we are training for heaven. We owe everything to grace,
free grace, sovereign grace. Grace in the covenant
ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our
redemption, our regeneration, and our adoption to heirship
with Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others.