The announcement in our last issue, that we had in view a plan by which those zealous for service could probably use as much time as they could gather from the absolute necessities of life, brought a shower of Postal Cards to our office. These, should they lead to nothing more, have proved already a blessing to your fellow servant, the Editor, refreshing his heart as he perceived from your earnest words how deeply the truth had taken hold of your hearts as well as of your intellects.
When one's heart is absorbed with the truth, he not only seeks by every means and every sacrifice to promulgate it, that others may be blessed with it, but he will look for fruit from his labor; he cannot help it. And thus it is that you and I as we labor for the cause we love, desire as the Apostle expresses it, to "know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord;" to see some of the fruit. Yet we must learn to labor on steadily whether fruit appears or not, knowing that though the germination be tedious and the growth and ripening slow, the ultimate success of the labor is assured by the all-wise Master in whose service we engage. If we go forth earnest in the service, and fully consecrated, he will surely use us; and if done for him only, our labor cannot be in vain. "He that goeth forth and weepeth [feeling the importance and cost of the work in self-sacrifice] bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again bringing his sheaves." Psa. 126:6.
Sometimes the blessing comes in an unlooked for way, even as in the present case your cards were refreshing messengers to us. And again, the blessing of consecrated service, is sure to be greater upon ourselves than upon others. He that watereth others, shall himself be abundantly refreshed. To the extent that you have been a laborer for the Master and have sacrificed anything for the spread of his truth, we feel sure you have received present pay of this sort, as well as persecutions (2 Tim. 3:12) besides the laid up hopes and promises "reserved in heaven for you."
This, your experience and mine, was the experience of others before us in the service; and to us, as to them, God sometimes grants a glimpse of the fruit of labor when we feel faint and discouraged. Thus it was with the Lord; after considerable labor and teaching "many went back" and followed him as disciples no more, and Jesus said unto the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Then came the refreshing evidence that the truth had taken fast hold of some, when Peter answered "Lord to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:66-69.) Not only was Jesus' heart cheered by Peter's zeal, but Peter also was blessed, "Blessed art thou Simon." Matt. 16:16,17.
Elijah felt lonely, and that his efforts to refute the false teachers of Baal were yielding no fruit, and prayed that he might die; but God who knew all about it, encouraged him with the assurance that seven thousand of Israel were still faithful to the truth, who doubtless had been helped and strengthened by Elijah's labors.
Paul, the great Apostle, whose writings have been, and yet are God's storehouse of wisdom and instruction, from which the faithful throughout the age have been supplied with "meat in due season," appears to have written almost all of his epistles with a view to correct some doctrinal errors into which he saw the various companies of God's children liable to fall, or to help them out of errors into which they had already fallen. Little did he suppose probably that his zeal and efforts to assist the saints and guard them with truth, were to be so widespread in their influence as God's guideposts to the Pilgrims of eighteen centuries.
So with us dear friends; we must not gauge our sacrifices and efforts by the little we are permitted to see of the results, but must press on. In fact while interest in the work enters largely into our sacrifice, we must beware and remember that our sacrifice was made to God, and not in any particular interest of our own, in the work; and while we take an absorbing interest in the work, as the development of his plans, we should remember that our consecration was to the Lord; that in accepting it, the Lord made no promise to show us any fruit of labor, and hence whatever we enjoy in this way is God's favor more than promised. In order that we may ever feel our own insufficiency, and that all the needed power and wisdom for the work is in him who is at the helm "working all things after the counsel of his own will, we are not permitted to see much fruit from our own individual labor. Otherwise success in his labor might enkindle pride and self-sufficiency, and make us unfit for further service. But we thank God that we are given so clear a view of the grand results at the end, worked out by the various agencies operating under divine supervision.
Seeing the final results, portrayed in God's Word, should lead us to diligence and sacrifice that we at that time may find, that by the favor of God our labors and tears, and weariness, and endurance of the reproaches of Christ, (Luke 6:22,23.) were not in vain, and that in the accomplished results we shall have some share, and then more fully than now appreciate the privilege of being co-workers with God and with our Lord Jesus in the greatest and grandest work of God—Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restitution of the race.
Ah, yes; the Master saw little fruit of his sacrifice when he died, and you and I must expect a similar experience. But of him it is written, "He shall see the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. (Isa. 53:11.) The grand results will abundantly prove the wisdom of God, and the cost, though great, will prove none too great when actually seen as God already foresees it. Then, too, all who now sacrifice for and suffer with Christ shall be satisfied fully. If they have had travail and have made sacrifices, not for error, but for the truth; not for sects, but for Christ, they shall receive great reward (Matt. 5:11,12); they shall be satisfied when they enter into the joys of their Lord.
Recently, in looking over our list of English readers, the smallness of the number suggested the fact that each of the about three hundred had cost an outlay of about forty dollars. (The outlay, of which these are as yet the only fruitage, amounted to nearly eleven thousand dollars, aside from the willing labor connected with it.) And the thought came, How many of these appreciate the truth? How many, as they see what it costs in reputation to hold the truth, regret that they ever received it? How many—how few—appreciate the truth at forty dollars—at what it cost to bring it to their ears?
These were discouraging thoughts; and then we thought of the great cost—of the Master's sacrifice—of what the expense of our salvation had been; not in silver and gold, but the precious blood of Christ, and the precious cost as well, in self-denial to him who made himself of no reputation, and, though rich, became poor for our sakes, that he might redeem and bless us. As we saw how few there are who appreciate the first great cost, or endeavor to do a part in the same direction, we said to ourselves, Ah! it is because they and we all see but imperfectly. The world, the flesh and the adversary paint things in false colors before men's minds, and it is only as the truth shines in and gets possession of us that we are able even to approximate its value.
The mail then brought us three English letters, one from a new reader, who had just received a copy of "Food," and two from older readers, one of which, from dear Brother Riley, was just in time for the last TOWER, which contains some extracts from it. We said, as we read Bro. R.'s letter, and saw how firmly the truth had taken hold of him, What is such fruit worth? Our answer, as we considered our own estimation of the value of the truth—beyond price, preferred to millions of money and oceans of respect and influence—was, one such heart made glad and brought nigh to the Lord and refreshed by his glorious plans, as seen in the unfoldings of his word of truth, is well worth the entire expenditure, made in England, of time and labor and money. If no other one there had been reached and blessed, doubtless Bro. R. would refuse such a price in exchange for it. And who can tell how many shall yet believe through the words and efforts of these already blessed.
Then came the memory of sacrifices which we knew some had made [and we know probably of but few of the sacrifices and sacrificers—God alone knows them all]; the sick sister who, not being able to give time or money, cast into the Lord's treasury two long switches of her hair to be sold, and the funds used in the spread of the truth; and the sister who, in the same interest, sold a gold watch chain, in which she had once prided. Under the influence of truth that pride had given place to zeal for the truth. We remembered also the brother in Kentucky who, having no money to spare, sent a watch, and a sister who, from the same motives, sent a gold ring; and many others who we know are denying themselves many things which they once prided in, such as costly apparel, etc., that they may have means which they can and do use in the blessed service. Let all such remember, as they hear of [R786 : page 1] hearts made glad by the truth, that they have had a share in the work of blessing. [R786 : page 2] If we may not see much fruit from our individual labor, thank God for what we are permitted to see of fruit to our united efforts. As memory called up these and other sacrifices, and the many whom we know to be using the spare moments and holidays in spreading the truth, or attempting to spread it (which is as highly appreciated by him who looks upon our hearts—who accepts our endeavors rather than our results); and as we noted the many and earnest answers to the proposed new plan of labor mentioned in our last issue, which have come, and are still coming to hand, we thanked God and took courage afresh.
We need scarcely tell you that "a book of remembrance"—a special record—is made in our office of those whose zeal for the Master and his Word is thus evidenced; and who can doubt that such and a much more perfect record is kept by the Master. They are his and found on his side in this day, when he is selecting his jewels. As he tests each one, can we doubt that he measures their love for him by the spirit of sacrifice for the truth which actuates them? Then let us value more and more our privilege of showing our love for him by gladly bearing reproach, and dishonor, and weariness, and inconvenience in the cause of truth—the cause of God.
If we could properly estimate truth, it would make us careful lest we should lose it, and we should value less its price in self-denial, and appreciate more the privilege of communicating it to others, even at the cost of further self-denial. Sacrifices of time, and money, and reputation would be considered "light" matters and would "work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," while we would be prepared thereby to look not at the things which are seen, our sacrifices, etc., but at the things which are not seen—the exceeding great reward in reservation for the overcomers.