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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903) - Contents
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    Ms 67, 1903

    Sermon/Fishers of Men

    Healdsburg, California

    May 30, 1903

    Portions of this manuscript are published in RC 237, 255; CG 21, 435; PM 283; 4MR 109.

    Baccalaureate sermon at the close of the Healdsburg College school year, delivered by Mrs. E. G. White in the church at Healdsburg, California, May 30, 1903.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 1

    “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 2

    “Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [Luke 5:1-8.]18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 3

    Prostrating himself, and clinging to the Saviour’s knees, Peter begged Jesus to depart from him. He acknowledged that he was a sinful man. With great force there came to his mind the conviction that He was in the presence of the long-looked-for Messiah; and although he said to Christ, “Depart from me,” he did not really desire to see Him go away; for he still held fast to the Saviour’s knees. [Verse 8.]18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 4

    “For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” [Verses 9, 10.]18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 5

    “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.” [Verse 11.] Thus were these fishermen called by the God of heaven to their lifework.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 6

    The Secret of Success in Soul-saving

    Every one who in living faith follows Jesus, with an eye single to His glory, will see of the salvation of God just as surely as these discouraged, despondent fishermen saw their boats filled by the miraculous draught. It was because Christ was in the ship that they were successful in their efforts to catch fish. The indwelling presence of the Saviour is equally necessary in the work of winning souls.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 7

    In order to save humanity, Christ, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, laid aside His kingly crown and royal robe, clothed His divinity with humanity, and came to this earth as our Redeemer. For thirty-three years He lived the life of a man among men, meeting the temptations that we must meet and overcoming through the strength imparted from above. His divinity was not manifested in any display of pomp and royal power. He could have surrounded Himself with legions of heavenly angels, thereby inducing every one to believe on Him; but this would not have been in accordance with God’s purpose. Christ came to stand at the head of humanity and to demonstrate that through the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible for man to withstand Satan’s temptations. With His long human arm the Saviour encircled humanity, while with His divine arm He grasped the throne of the Infinite.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 8

    What does Christ’s sacrifice mean to us? We may endeavor to meet the enemy’s temptations in our own strength, doing the best we can to overcome; but we shall meet with disappointment after disappointment. This was the condition in which Christ found the disciples after their night of unrewarded toil. They were annoyed and perplexed. Directing them to “launch out into the deep,” Christ said, “Let down your nets for a draught.” [Verse 4.]18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 9

    Long had the fishermen toiled that night; often had they been disappointed in their expectations, as time and again the net was drawn up empty. When the Divine Presence was with them, and they, at His bidding, once more cast their net into the sea, what an abundance they gathered in! They were unprepared to handle so large a draught. Their facilities were not nearly sufficient to meet the emergency. The sight of the miraculous draught of fish swept away the unbelief of the Galilean fishermen, and they were ready to respond to Christ’s invitation to follow Him and to learn to be fishers of men.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 10

    The breaking net, the sinking ship, the surprise and gratitude of Peter and his companions, their willingness to follow the Saviour and to do His bidding—all these are object lessons. Thus it is in the work of soul-saving. However long and faithfully we may toil in our human strength, we can hope for no real results; but as soon as we welcome Christ into the heart, He will work with and through us to the salvation of souls.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 11

    God has promised to co-operate with those who choose to labor in harmony with His purposes. We are to do our utmost to fulfil our part faithfully, in order that He may demonstrate to the world what He can do through us. At our baptism, we pledged ourselves that, being dead to the world, we would henceforth remember that our life is “hid with Christ in God” [Colossians 3:3], and that we had taken our position on the exalted platform of truth, there to work in unison with the Hand that never fails.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 12

    Paul declares, “Ye are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] It is God that gives success to human endeavor. Without His blessing, our efforts amount to naught. We are simply channels through whom God’s blessings flow to our fellow beings. From every one in whose heart Christ is an abiding Presence will go forth a power that will influence others to accept the Saviour as their Redeemer.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 13

    It is the privilege of every Christian constantly to live up to his baptismal covenant. “Ye are dead,” says the apostle Paul of those who have been baptized, “and your life is hid with Christ in God.” [Colossians 3:3.] To enable us to keep this covenant, there is placed at our command every facility, every power of heaven.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 14

    And what a reward is set before those who are faithful! The promise is, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” [Verse 4.] In comparison with this reward, of how much value is all the honor and the glory that this world can offer? The end of all things earthly is death, eternal death. Can we afford to choose to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”? [Hebrews 11:25.] Shall we not resolutely turn from every worldly influence and by faith behold the One altogether lovely, the Chiefest among ten thousand—He who died in order that we might live in the earth made new?18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 15

    To the students of the Healdsburg school who claim to be dead to sin and to the world, I would say, Keep yourselves from everything that would stain the soul. Strive to grasp eternal realities. Realize that God is your heavenly Father and that you are His little children. In comparison with Him, we are all little children. We may attain to the loftiest heights of intellectual learning, so-called, but this will not make us complete men and women. We may reach the highest positions of worldly honor; but in God’s sight we never become men and women until we are made complete through Christ Jesus, our Saviour.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 16

    A Message to Parents

    Fathers and mothers, you are under obligation to God to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that His light shall ever shine about them, lighting the pathway to the kingdom above.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 17

    Parents should make a wise use of every spare moment of time in training their children to honor God in the homelife. Parents stand in the place of God toward their little ones. As they desire God to be kind to them, so they are to be kind to their children. But a tender, compassionate parent never allows his child to act contrary to the will and way of God. He teaches him to be obedient to parents and to God.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 18

    Parents are not to provoke their children to wrath by a harsh, dictatorial, overbearing spirit. They are simply to teach them the law of the Lord. Concerning Abraham, God declared, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” [Genesis 18:19.]18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 19

    Every one upon whom rests the responsibility of a home should realize that God is calling for obedience to His law.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 20

    The father and the mother should be the first teachers of their children. Upon the mother the burden of the home school often rests the most heavily. The father should take this fact into consideration, remembering that through the day he is not usually called upon to deal, in patience and love, with the little trials and variances of the children. With what kindness and tenderness should he treat the woman of his choice!18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 21

    The husband is to respect his wife, and the wife is to respect her husband. Not a word should pass from his lips, or from hers, that would in any wise disturb the harmony of the household or fall harshly upon the ears of the children.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 22

    Parents who honor each other will be honored by their children.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 23

    The youth who are educated aright in the home will respect their father as the priest of the household and will regard their mother as the princess of the home. In every way possible will they lighten her burdens, giving her opportunity to preserve her strength and nerve-power, which she so much needs in her work for them.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 24

    Parents are not commissioned by the Lord to devote precious time to the work of clothing their children in fashionable attire. The children of many Sabbath-keeping parents cannot be distinguished from the children of worldlings, because of conformity to worldly dress. Christian believers are to clothe their children neatly and teach them lessons of cleanliness, tidiness, and simplicity.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 25

    Families who spend much time in dressing for display may be likened to the fig tree that Christ saw from afar. This fig tree flaunted its flourishing branches in the very face of justice; but when Christ came to look for fruit, He searched from the topmost twig to the lowest boughs and found nothing but leaves. It is fruit that He hungers for; fruit He must have.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 26

    The Object in View in Establishing Schools

    Now cruel it is to leave children to choose their own way and to form a character without the direction of wise counsel! Yet, from the light that I have, I know that many parents who claim to be Christians have neglected their duty for so long a time that not a few of our young people have swung from the barriers of truth and are in great danger of being swept downward to ruin by the temptations of the enemy.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 27

    Long ago this condition of affairs was presented to me by the Lord, and I was instructed to direct our people to establish schools for the education and training of our children and to urge the youth to attend these schools. In our educational institutions must be teachers who fear God and keep His commandments. The children, separated from their former wicked, corrupt associations, and placed under wise instructors in Christian schools, will have a favorable opportunity to form right habits of character and to grow up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 28

    This is the work that has been and is still being done in our Healdsburg school. Sometimes it requires years for a student to learn to dress and to act as a child of the heavenly King; sometimes the influences of the world are almost irresistible; but through the grace of God every one may become Christlike in word and deed. Those who are numbered as Christ’s disciples will follow His example of self-denial and self-sacrifice.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 29

    In the life of a Christian, the things of this world, the idols of pride, extravagance, and self-indulgence, are to have no place. God did not form the eye to be used for selfish purposes. He gave us the power of vision in order that we might behold and admire the Saviour in His works, which He has created for our pleasure.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 30

    As children prepare to attend one of our schools, wise parents will help them to understand that in school life they are to strive to form a character that will fit them to associate with the unfallen beings of the universe. And this they can do only through the overcoming power that Christ will give them. Without His grace, no one can form a Christlike character.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 31

    The Training of Missionaries

    Parents, teach your children to become workers with you in the church. Educate them in such a way that they will delight to be workers together with God. Impress upon their minds the thought that as they grow older, their opportunities for service will enlarge, and their power and ability will increase proportionately. Let them understand that those who give themselves to God will become channels of blessing to others who know Him not. Teach them how to have power to prevail with God. If this were done faithfully by every parent, we should see consecrated workers everywhere.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 32

    I hope that many of those who are receiving an education in our schools will go forth as missionaries accepted of God. I have faith to believe that He will work upon the hearts of teachers and students and that they shall be clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 33

    To us is given the commission, “Go out into the highways, and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.” [Luke 14:23.] Are we preparing for evangelistic house-to-house work?18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 34

    When school closes, there will be opportunity for many to go out into the field as evangelistic canvassers. The faithful colporteur finds his way into many homes, where he leaves precious reading matter containing the truth for this time.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 35

    The Value of Our Denominational Literature

    We should treat, as a sacred treasure, every line of printed matter that comes from our publishing houses. Even the fragments of a pamphlet or of a periodical should be regarded as of value. Who can estimate the influence that a torn page, containing the truths of the third angel’s message, may have upon the heart of some seeker after truth? Every page that comes from the press is a ray of light from heaven, to shine into the byways and the hedges, shedding light upon the pathway of truth. Let us remember that somebody would be glad to receive every page that we can spare.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 36

    In the miracle of feeding the multitude with the few loaves and fishes, the food was increased as it passed from Christ to those who accepted it. Thus it will be in the distribution of our publications. God’s truth, as it is passed out, will multiply greatly. And as Christ was careful to instruct the disciples to gather up the fragments that remained, that nothing should be lost, so we should treasure every fragment of literature containing the truth for this time.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 37

    The Ministry of Song

    I am glad that a musical element has been brought into the Healdsburg school. Instruction is singing is greatly needed in every school. Much more interest should be manifested in voice culture than is now generally manifested. Students who have learned to sing, with melodious voices, sweet gospel songs in such a way that the words are easily understood can do much good as singing evangelists. They will find many opportunities to use the talent that God has given them, carrying melody and sunshine into many lonely places darkened by sin and sorrow and affliction, by singing to those who seldom have the privileges of any kind of gospel ministry.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 38

    Students, go out into the highways and the hedges. Endeavor to reach the higher as well as the lower classes. Enter the homes of the rich and the poor. As you go from house to house to sing, ask, “Would you be pleased to have us sing? We should be glad to hold a song service with you and to offer a few words of prayer to ask God to keep us.” Not many will refuse you entrance.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 39

    Such ministry is genuine missionary work. God desires every one of us to be converted and to learn to engage in missionary effort in earnest. He will bless us in this work, and we shall see of His salvation.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 40

    Our High Calling

    Educate yourselves to speak in the language of Canaan, the language spoken in the heavenly school by the members of the royal family. Sternly determine to put away all foolish talking and jesting, all selfish amusements. By faith grasp the promises of God, and determine that you will be Christians here below, while preparing for translation. Those who do this will see of the salvation of God.18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 41

    Students, if you strip yourselves of every hindrance to progress in the Christian life, your mind will be worked by the Holy Spirit of God, and you will become fishers of men. The salvation of God will go forth from you as a lamp that burneth. Kindling your taper from the divine altar, you will have the privilege, wherever you may be, of shedding light upon those who are in darkness. If you continue steadfast in His service, He will open wide the gates of the heavenly city, and say, as you enter in, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:23.]18LtMs, Ms 67, 1903, par. 42

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