22 N. Fourth St., Camden, N. J., Feb. 5, 1901.
Elder F. A. Chick – My Very Dear Brother In Christ: – Ever since you visited us in December, I have felt that I ought to write to you and tell you how much I enjoyed your visit, but my pride, that evil with which all men are cursed, kept me from doing it, because it made me feel that I had nothing to write that would be of any satisfaction to the ones who read it. Now that I have begun this letter, I still feel weak, and must look to the God of our salvation to guide my.pen, if I would write anything that will be of any comfort to one of his dear children. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of our salvation, the author and finisher of our faith. A sermon of which he is not the context, will not be blessed with the unction of the holy Spirit, and consequently will not make the deaf to hear nor the blind to see, finding no lodgment in the hearts which God has sanctified to himself. Our God is a jealous God, and will not give his glory to another. A letter of which he is not the sole theme will be but a smattering of ink upon a sheet of paper. The words will not stand forth ns though written in gold; they will not rejoice the afflicted, nor lift up the heavy laden, neither will they come as a harbinger of peace with tidings of great joy to one of God’s children. Thus it will be with this letter; if I talk not of Christ, and ascribe all glory and honor to his holy name, I may as well lay aside my pen, for nothing that I could write would be of any comfort to you, or any one else that belongs to our Father’s family.
In the thirty-second chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses says, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness to our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. They have corrupted themselves; their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.” Now we see that Moses starts out by declaring that his doctrine will drop as the rain, and that his speech will distill as the dew. “What does Moses mean by my doctrine? Does he mean some theory that he has worked out, some scheme which he has evolved out his brain as a result of much study and intellectual strength, by which he would teach others how to live in order to be worthy of the favor of God? It is true that the word doctrine, in English, is derived from a Latin word implying something that may be taught, but the original word in Hebrew which is translated “doctrine,” in this instance, implies something that has been received rather than something that may be taught, so that Moses seems to be saying to the heavens and to the earth, “Give ear,” for “I will declare what I have received at the hands of the Almighty, and what God himself has revealed unto me,” and in doing this, “my speech shall distill as the dew.” Following this he gives four reasons why his speech will distill as the dew: “Because I will publish the name of the Lord,” is the first one; “Ascribe ye greatness to our God,” is the second one; “He is the Rock, his work is perfect,” is the third, and the fourth and last is, “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children.” These four constituents of Moses’ doctrine are what caused it to drop as the rain and distill as the dew. Even so to this day every sermon which we hear preached must have in it these four elements in order to be called a gospel sermon, and in order to give comfort to any one of our heavenly Father’s children. In other words, a sermon must publish the name of the Lord, declaring that he and he alone can save us from our sins, and that “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Such a sermon must also ascribe greatness to our God, for he is great in truth, great in justice, great in mercy, great in works which are all wonder-working, and in short, all greatness must be ascribed to him. Not only this, but every gospel sermon must say, “He is the Rock: his work is perfect.” It must declare him as the only foundation upon which a poor, lost and ruined sinner can rest in security, “all other ground is sinking sand.” Also, it must say the work of Christ is a perfect work. The sufferings and death of Christ are a perfect atonement for the sins of all his people. His redemption is perfect, and in that redemption man’s work has no part nor parcel.
Now a sermon may do all of the above, and yet fall short of the truth unless it comes up to the fourth requirement of a gospel sermon. It must declare, “They have corrupted themselves.” That is, it must preach that man is wholly and entirely corrupt, that the flesh is not and cannot be capable of any good thing; “All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field.”
A sermon that publishes the name of the Lord, ascribes greatness to our God, declares him as a Rock and his work as perfect, and declares man as corrupt, and capable of no spiritual good, is and always will be a gospel sermon. Such a sermon is the only one that God will ever bless with the unction of his holy Spirit, and such a doctrine alone will drop as the rain and distill as the dew in the hearts of God’s little ones. A sermon that contains three of the above elements, and not the fourth, will always fall short of the truth, and nothing but the whole truth will do.
Now, my dear brother, I will not tire you any longer with my scribbling. In looking over this, I find I have not written in the strain in which I intended to write, but have written simply as my mind has been led, and such as I have, give I to thee.
And now, with love to you and all the dear kindred in Christ, I remain your unworthy brother in hope of eternal life,
HORACE H. LEFFERTS.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No.5
March 1, 1901