January 15, 1893 — The Source of Our Strength
An address delivered at the close of the Australian Bible School, December 13, 1892.
I am thankful that our school enterprise in Melbourne has proved so successful in its beginning. If we had had to carry it forward in our own strength, we should not have had so good results as are now seen at the close of the first term. But we have prayed earnestly that the blessing of God might rest upon the school, and we have been assured that angels of God were ministering unto both the teachers and the students. A larger number of students should have come to the school than have come; but those who have been willing to make the venture have done well. Will not the Lord bless those that place themselves in a position to receive light and knowledge? Surely He will look with favour upon those who are seeking to understand the sciences and his Word. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;” and as they are seeking to love and to fear God, will He not manifest his rich grace to them, as He did to Daniel?
Daniel was carried to Babylon, and was a captive in the king’s court. Temptations and trials were upon every hand. He was allured on every side to follow the habits and customs of Babylon; but he knew that they were not at all after God’s order. Study the history of Daniel. His part and that of his companions was to take their position in distinction from the Babylonians, who were indulging appetite, and who did not have the love and fear of God before them. No power or influence could sway these Hebrew youth from what they believed to be right. The king’s table was set before them, provided with everything for the indulgence of appetite; but they had grace to adhere to the simple practices that they had been taught, and they would not indulge in wine or in the luxuries of the king’s table.
They were in the courts of Babylon to be educated. The king was desirous that their talents should be developed. These captives were placed on test for responsible positions in the courts of Babylon. They opened their minds to be taught of God, and closed their minds and hearts to every temptation and influence that would becloud the mind and corrupt the morals. And “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” The God of Israel is a mighty working agent, and He works in behalf of every one who seeks to know and do his will. There is light always coming from heaven to those who seek for light and knowledge. We may get out of the channel of light if we choose, and place ourselves under influences that will separate us from righteousness, and thus meet with a terrible loss. But those that place themselves where they can catch the rays of divine light as they come from heaven, from the throne of God, will have light. God will never deny Himself.
It was the God of heaven that gave Daniel and his fellows wisdom, so that they could stand true to principle before kings and nobles. When Nebuchadnezzar had set up the great golden image in the plain of Dura, he sent forth the herald to command all to bow down before it, declaring that those who should dare to disobey were to be cast into the fiery furnace. But the three Hebrew captives, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, would not bow down: they said, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
Heaven was very near to these faithful men; they were cast into the fiery furnace, but He in whom they had trusted did not forsake them. Nebuchadnezzar the king exclaimed in amazement, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” How did he know who the fourth was like? The captives had not kept their lips sealed; they had told the Babylonians of their God. Whenever they had an opportunity, they honoured God. They were not ashamed to give Him glory; and from the very description they had given, the king understood that the One with the three captives was the Son of God. “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.” Then they came forth from the midst of the fire, and it was found that not even the smell of fire had passed upon them.
When Daniel was cast into the den of lions because of his fidelity to God, the Lord sent his angel to deliver him; and He will deliver us if we put our trust in Him and obey Him. Heaven is very much nearer to us than we think. When we place ourselves in the right relation to God, angels of heaven are beside us. We are to hide in Jesus, and he that touches you, he that harms or distresses you, touches Christ; for Christ identifies his interest with that of his people. Christ suffers in the person of his saints. We must remember that the God of Daniel is our God, and that we can be faithful under all circumstances. We can go to Him in confidence, and through his grace preserve our integrity.
The best recommendation you can carry with you of this school and its influence is a well-ordered life and a godly conversation. Wherever you may be, maintain the principles that you have been studying here. Wherever you go, carry on the good work of searching the Scriptures, and the Lord Jesus will always be at your right hand to help you. He is a merciful high priest pleading in your behalf. He will send his representative, the Holy Spirit; for He says, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” By the Spirit the Father and the Son will come and make their abode with you. There is no excuse for wavering or sinning. But in order to be upright, you must keep all these rich and full promises in memory’s hall. Clear the mind of all objectionable, foolish things; retain the precious truths that you have heard here. And “when the enemy shall come in like a flood,” these precious, golden words of promise will come into your mind and strengthen your soul. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood” that would sweep you from the Rock, “the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” What is that standard? What weapon did Jesus present to the enemy in his temptation in the wilderness?—The Word of God. He said, “It is written.”
Now, you are to remember what is written, and when the enemy comes, and tempts you to seek this or that place of amusement where you cannot take Jesus with you, just say firmly, “No, I cannot go there. Make up your mind, and know how to say “No” squarely. “When sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”
When you shall come to the school next term,—and you all need to come again,—if you have practiced what you have learned, you will come advanced in spiritual knowledge. You will advance in light if you walk in the light. Jesus said, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” But those that walk in the light know just where they are going. They are going step by step by the side of Jesus in the direction of the home that is prepared for the righteous. They are keeping in view that better country; and as they walk toward the heavenly city, they have the heavenly agencies working in their behalf, that their steps may be sure, and that they may constantly advance in grace. You are not to be dwarfs, you are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Then you will attain more and more unto the perfect stature, that it may be said by the heavenly host, “Ye are complete in Him.” O, what an expression! And the Lord loves you as He loves his Son. Is not that wonderful?
When you go from this place, carry Jesus with you; and wherever you go, practice the truth, let your light shine, improve the talent lent you of God, and you may come back with a double talent. Why?—Because you have exercised the power you have. What makes the black-smith’s arms strong?—It is wielding the heavy sledge.
Christ said to the woman of Samaria, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The water given us of Christ is a living stream from which we may refresh others. There are many to whom you can talk about the precious things you have heard here. Do not let these truths leak out of your hearts, but see how much good you can do with them.
You do not know how many prayers have been offered for this school, how much anxiety we have felt about the first term, because the school is in its infancy. How thankful I am that you have availed yourselves of these opportunities. You are just prepared to make wise improvement of the second term, and it will be of double value to you because you have had the advantage of the first. Try to influence every one you can to come to school next term. God helping us, every one of us can be an agent for good. We expect that a good work will be done by our youth if they connect with God, and seek counsel of Him.
I thank God with heart and soul and voice that He has not disappointed our expectations in this term of school. Had we been disappointed, it would not have been because God was at fault, but because we ourselves had departed from his wisdom. But we have relied upon the God of Israel, and He has made successful our first efforts to educate the youth of this country for his work.
January 15, 1893 — The Source of Our Strength