12. Stephen N. Haskell, "The Sermon"


Biographical Sketch

Simply entitled "The Sermon," Elder S. N. Haskell preached it on Sabbath, February 4, 1893, at the Ministerial Institute which preceded the General Conference session that year. It is not known for certain whether this sermon was given in the "Dime" Tabernacle in Battle Creek, Michigan, or in the chapel of the Review and Herald Publishing Company whose building was diagonally across the street from the Tabernacle. Because of the overflow crowd of delegates and visitors who had come in especially for the Institute and General Conference session, at least the Sabbath School service that morning was held in the chapel. It seems likely that church may also have been held in the same place. The sermon, as printed here, has been condensed somewhat from the way it was published originally in the 1893 General Conference Daily Bulletin.

Stephen N. Haskell was born in Oakham, Massachusetts, in 1833. In 1850 he married Mary How, an invalid about twenty years older than himself. He began preaching for non-Sabbath-keeping Adventists in 1853. Later that same year he started keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. In 1869, in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, he assisted several ladies including his wife, in forming the Vigilant Missionary Society. This is sometimes thought of as a forerunner of our present Adventist Book Centers.

S. N. Haskell was ordained to the ministry in 1870. During his years of service he was president of several conferences (including once when he was president of the California and Maine Conferences at the same time!). He also founded South Lancaster Academy (now Atlantic Union College) in 1882.

In 1885 Elder Haskell was in charge of the first group of Seventh-day Adventist missionaries who went to open the work in Australia. From 1889 to 1890 he made a round-the-world tour on behalf of Adventist missionary work. His first wife died in 1894, and in 1897 he remarried, this time to a Bible worker named Hetty Hurd. Stephen and Hetty did evangelistic and Bible work in Australia and the United States. In addition, he also authored several books including The Story of Daniel the Prophet, The Story of the Seer of Patmos, and The Cross and Its Shadow. Elder Haskell died in California in 1922.

S. N. Haskell has been described as a "deliberate" speaker. An acquaintance of Elder Haskell’s, Rowena Purdon, recalled:

He in manner and speech was always a typical old-fashioned New Englander. His subjects and predicates were not always in harmony; his Yankee dialect never left him; but his earnest kindly smile always made friends (Rowena Elizabeth Purdon, That New England School, p. 22).

She also told about when Elder Haskell was learning to preach:

He once said in a sermon at a campmeeting in South Lancaster, "If a young man asks me what book he should study if he wants to become a preacher, I tell him, aside from the Bible, an algebra." Then he explained that [as a young man in his] . . . soap-selling days he often let his horse take its own time while he worked algebra problems and eventually mastered the subject. Perhaps it was the schoolteacher instinct in [his wife] Mary, who, realizing that he needed the logical thinking in his sermons that the subject might give him, suggested the idea. We shall never know, but we are sure that her experience and her strong influence were what God saw that her husband needed to aid him to become a great preacher-missionary (Ibid., p. 21).

It must have worked. Elder Haskell's sermons built faith even in times of crisis. During the height of the "holy flesh" movement in Indiana at the turn of the century, Elder and Mrs. Haskell were sent to the Indiana Camp meeting. One new convert to Adventism commented to Haskell's wife, Hetty, on the contrast between Elder Haskell's presentations versus those given by the ones caught up in the fanaticism. "You can tell by the sound whether a bell is cracked or not. Much of the preaching sounds cracked; but when you General Conference workers speak it sounds firm."

Years later, in 1910, Elder Haskell was still preaching solid sermons that people wanted to hear. At a series of talks at the California camp meeting his wife, Hetty, recalled, "In the early morning meetings [he] gave Bible studies on the Spirit of the Lord, and it seemed as if every man, woman, and child on the ground was present at these meetings."

After Elder Haskell's death, Review and Herald editor, Elder F. M. Wilcox, offered the following tribute: "His knowledge of the Bible was extensive and unique. His preaching abounded with practical illustrations and precious principles drawn from its sacred pages. . . ."

By Stephen N. Haskell

Preached on February 4, 1893

You will find my text in 2 Cor. 8:9: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

All that we know about the divine attributes, is through Christ and by Christ. He is the author and finished of the faith that is revealed for the salvation of the human family, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. And his plan of saving man is revealed only as he sees fit and necessary for the salvation of the human race.

All the universe of God is interested in the unfolding of this divine plan. It is not merely myself and my influence, yourself and your influence, but there are principles involved which all heaven is interested in. When the plan is worked out, and those that will accept the gospel of Jesus Christ will be saved throughout all eternity, the justice of God will be demonstrated. Satan will be destroyed, and there will be a triumph of the truth that will never again be marred by sin and Satan.

But, we are saved by grace through faith, and that is the gift of God. But what is that grace? This is answered in these words which I have read: "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." What is it? "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." How does grace save us? Why, the grace of Christ as it was manifested by Christ, in his becoming poor that we might be rich, is his leaving the throne of the Father, the royal courts above, and coming to this earth all scarred with sin, and taking upon himself our nature; divinity, God, and by Christ, placed in humanity, and became like us to be tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, that he might connect fallen humanity with God himself. And by this he becomes the ladder that Jacob saw, that through his merits and what he brings to us of the divine help, we can ascend to reach the heavenly courts. It is all through Jesus Christ. It is grace.

And it is this same quality, that we are to manifest in our lives, becoming poor that we may benefit others, following our Lord and Master. The idea that we can be partakers of this grace and not bear any of its fruits, is the greatest mistake ever made. We cannot be saved unless we have the grace of Christ, and if we have his grace, then it will bring to each soul a sacrifice of one's self, a self-abnegation, that others may partake of the joy and blessings granted us through Christ. Merely professing the name of Christ, does not save us, but it is when the character becomes changed; it is when we partake of the divine nature, and that nature is in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; this is what saves us.

A little way from this, we shall experience a time such as has never been experienced by the human family. It will be the great test that will decide the destiny of the entire race, because soon the Lord will come, and when he appears in the clouds of heaven and takes his people to himself, then the great problem of salvation will have been worked out, and those who are found in harmony with this plan are saved in the plan of God, and are saved eternally.

Those who are outside of the plan of God are lost and lost eternally; and we have reached the period in the world's history when that line of separation is being drawn, and the great question with every one of us is, On which side will we be? God proposes to accomplish a great work in this world in giving the light of the truth to the human race, and in this generation. He has committed that truth and that word to his people; hence it becomes each one of us to inquire, What does God require at my hands?

In Matt. 5:16, the Saviour, speaking of his people and their relationship to the world, says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." How extensively will the light shine? As extensively as mankind are found upon the earth. God never designed that his people should be in one spot, and not mingle with the people of this world. He designed that his people should be scattered throughout the length and breadth of the earth, that their influence might be felt by those who sit in darkness.

When the Jews lost this idea and centered all their interests in themselves, then God let persecution come upon them, and they were scattered and sent unto different nations of the earth, so they should carry the light to those who sat in darkness. The apostles partook somewhat of the same spirit. They and many of the early Christians hovered about Jerusalem. At first God wrought for them wonderfully there. Thousands were converted, – 3,000 in one day; afterward 5,000. But did God design that they should remain there in Jerusalem? O, no. He gave them the light of the Gospel that they should carry it to others, that they might go to earth's remotest bounds, and there let the light shine; and by the light shining in the face of Jesus Christ,—the light that accompanied the Gospel, – others would be led to acknowledge those precious gleams, and thus glorify God.

And that is God's plan to-day. There will be a time of persecution such as there was in the days of the early apostles. The people will be glad to scatter out and let their light shine. That is in the very nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We understand that there will not be one tribe on the face of the earth when the Son of man comes, but that in that tribe there will be some individuals that will be letting their light shine. Notice one expression the Saviour uses, as recorded in Mark 13:26, 27: "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven." Where will the saints be when the Lord comes?

"From the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven." There will be thousands in every portion of the earth that will have the precious rays of light, and will be led to glorify God. There is one expression in regard to this that is forcibly expressed by our Saviour in the book of Acts, and I wish to call your attention to it. When the Saviour promised that he would pour upon the disciples his Holy Spirit, he told them it was not for them to know the times and seasons which the Father had put in his own power, but, referring to the day of Pentecost, said: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

The expression the Saviour uses here is the same as that in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel of Mark. They were to tarry in Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high. But what were they to know? Why, that they were to receive power. Power to know the exact time of the revelation of Jesus Christ? O, no; but power to take up the gospel, and go to the uttermost part of the earth with it. Well, says one, I thought we would know just when the Lord would be revealed. But until the time comes for the Lord to reveal it, this is not for us to know. The Lord has committed to his people a work and we have power to do that work. The time in which we now live is the time for the outpouring of God’s Spirit.

What then is our duty? Are we to fold our hands, and huddle together and take it easy and live easily, and wait in that way? Our work is to take up the gospel and go to the uttermost parts of the earth, and be found there giving the light to individuals that have had no knowledge of the truth. We are to be co-workers with our Lord Jesus Christ, to partake of his Spirit who left the heavenly glory, who left the royal courts above, and came to this earth to save us. This si the grace of Christ.

Then what will we do if we are possessors of this grace? Why, I expect we will leave our homes. I expect we will be glad to leave our homes, and devote them to the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ, and be the means of carrying the truth to the uttermost parts of the earth. It is our duty and I say our privilege, brethren, to be connected with our Lord, so that we can live and carry the light of the truth to the uttermost parts of the earth, and thus be co-workers with the Saviour.

What are we to be a light of? A light to the world, and a light to the people living in the uttermost parts of the earth. If our interest is circumscribed, we may offer a few prayers – and that is all good; we may send out a few periodicals, – and that is all good; but how many of us will give ourselves, will give up our interests, and let our interests and our lives be so interwoven in the work of the Lord, that our practice will be in direct harmony with the work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Brethren, we call for volunteers, – not men to be drafted, – but volunteers; men and women that will say: "Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth."

Here is something that Sister White has written upon this point, since going to Australia:

"I feel deeply over the little burden many carry for the missionary work in the foreign fields and in the home missions. There are thousands of places to be entered where the standard of truth has never been raised, where the proclamation of the truth has never been heard in America. And there are thousands who might enter the harvest field who are now religiously idle, and as a result, go crippling their way to heaven, expressing their doubt whether they are Christians. Their need is a vital union with Jesus Christ. Then it can be said of them, 'Ye are laborers together with God.'

"I think how the angels must feel seeing the end approaching, and those who claim to have a knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, huddle together, colonize, and attend the meetings, and feel dissatisfied if there is not much preaching to benefit their souls and strength the church, while they are doing literally nothing. Souls are perishing for the light of truth which these have. It is their duty to put that knowledge to use to save souls. If their temporal, financial prospects are not as prosperous by moving to localities where the truth has not been proclaimed, will they not be doing just the work that Jesus has done to save them?

"I do not urge any one to change their location to please their own ideas, for Christ lived in our world, all seared and marred with the curse, that humanity might touch humanity, to save souls from eternal ruin. Jesus did not leave the royal throne, the royal crown, and come to our world to please himself. "For our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich." What is the character of these riches? Is it houses and lands and bank stocks in this world? Or is it the unsearchable riches of Christ presented before their minds that shall attract their hearts, that they shall count all things but loss and dross that they may win Christ? We join the Lord's army, fight the battles with the power of darkness, set up the standard of the cross in every place where we can possibly find access. My heart is pained when I think how little our churches sense their solemn accountabilities to God. What self-denial have our churches as a whole manifested? They may have given donations in money, but have withheld themselves.

"The heavenly agencies are waiting to co-operate with human agencies in the grand work of reflecting light to the world. Wherever there is even one soul converted on the earth there is a response of joy circulated through heaven. We are not the ones to make the first movement toward Christ; it was our Redeemer who made the first movement toward us. "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." He touched your hearts by his grace, you responded and drew toward Jesus. Man could not make the first movement. [Christ's] love is expressed for fallen man. [It] led him to make an offering of his soul for sin.

"What, then, is the duty of every enlightened soul? How should he feel as he looks upon the infinite sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God? There are not many ordained ministers; this makes it necessary for you to deny self. If ministerial hands have not been laid upon you in the world, Christ has laid his hands upon you and said, "Ye are my witnesses; go trade on the talents I have given you. Ye are the light of the world?" There will be an antagonism between the church and the world, but the church is to shine. Let yourselves become the consecrated living channels of light to the world, whatever may be the consequences to you financially.

"Let those who truly love God step out from where there are large churches of Sabbath- keepers, and the cause they knew not be searched out. Where is the fruit borne by the branches in these large churches? "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taken away." Does not this statement from the lips of the Great Teacher alarm you who have taken such an easy position, having no burdens, gratifying self, lifting no cross, and no following Jesus?

"I have been alarmed for some years as I have seen the line of demarkation between the church and the world almost obliterated. The design of God in the formation of the church was that the very action of the separation from the world would itself be sufficient to attract attention. Their formation in church capacity has a meaning in it which the world can read. They are to consider themselves a peculiar people of God, an object to be rendered conspicuous, detached from other objects, standing apart. The sons and daughters of God are to stand a distinct, pure, holy people from the world. And if these signs are not seen in the members of the church, it is the duty of the church faithfully to investigate the matter for if there is not a decided transformation of character from a life of sin to a life of holiness, then why? For if sin is practiced in daily life, there is no real value in all their profession, and they will not act in harmony with God as his agents in the regeneration of the world.

"If the professed followers of Christ, even in part, act the same as the world, they may have their names on the church books, but they are not joined to Christ. Therefore the same spirit has to a limited or large degree a controlling power upon the minds, heart, will, and temper.

"Christians in deed and in truth will consecrate the solemn import of the words of Christ, "He that will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, and so shall he be my disciple." It is a solemn statement that I make to the church, that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history, and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner. They are professedly serving God, but they are more earnestly serving mammon. This half-and-half work is a constant denying of Christ, rather than a confessing of Christ. So many confirm themselves in lustful practices, and are full of deception through and through in their professed Christian life. Living as sinners, claiming to be Christians.

"The end is near. Every soul will have in the judgment exactly the character of morals he cultivated in this life, just such a spirit and character as he cherished in his home life, in association with his neighbors and with members of his family. And according as he has appreciated the words of Christ and has obeyed them, will be the judgment pronounced upon him.

"I lay down my pen and lift my soul in prayer, that the Lord would breathe upon his backslidden people, which are as dry bones, that they may live. The end is near, stealing upon us so stealthily, so imperceptibly, so noiselessly, like the muffled treat of the thief in the night. Who will consent even now after wasting much of his lifetime, to give his will as clay into the hands of the potter, and co-operate with God in becoming in his hands molded a vessel unto honor? O, how must the clay be in the hands of the potter, how susceptible to receive divine impressions. No earthly, no selfish motives should be suffered to live, for if you give them place, you cannot be hewn into the divine image.

"When this work is comprehended, it will bring even the thoughts into captivity to Christ. This is beyond our comprehension, but thus it will be. We must let Christ work for us. Is there any excellency that appears in our characters or our conduct? It is all from God, the power of the potter over the clay.

"Oh, that those whom the Lord has blessed with the treasures of truth would awake and say from the heart, "Lord what wilt thou have me to do?" We want men and women to settle in Australia who have a solid, Christlike influence. Oh that many may be uprooted from where they are to become workers with Jesus Christ." [GCDB Feb 4, 1893]

The living agents are needed to communicate the light of truth, and the result will be those who are now ignorant of the truth, will, through the grace of Christ, become precious in the sight of the Lord, and will exert an influence to the glory of God.

Brethren, we are living in the most solemn time that has ever been seen since Adam fell, and the question comes home to us, What relation will we sustain to God? Will we rest satisfied because our surroundings are pleasant? May God forbid, but rather may our hearts be stirred, and we begin to inquire of God, What way, what course, where is the light, and where is the path he would have us follow? The time will come when we will find ourselves scattered throughout earth's remotest bounds. There is scarcely any day that passes but that I feel I would about as soon sleep as live. But I know that God will carry his people through, every one that trusts him. There is not power enough in all the devils that were cast our of heaven to stop that soul.

We have not yet received that Spirit that he wants to give us. There must be a change in our hearts or we shall never enter the heavenly kingdom; there must be a realizing sense of the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ and what he wants to impart to the human race. The light of truth that shines so freely about every one of us he wants to shine in every dark portion of the earth. The time has come when God himself, by his providence, is holding in check the powers of the earth, that the light may extend and reach those that sit in dankness. Where is our interest in this matter? Is it deepening day by day, or is it to us a tale that sounds pleasant for the time being, and that is all?

How much light do you think could be imparted by the number that is present here this morning? Why it seems to me that there are enough here to almost lighten up the world. It is not we who do the work, but it is God that does the work. It is not what we can do, but it is God that does the work, and he invites man that is so sinful, to partake of his nature; he invites us to sustain that relation to him that he can do the work – not that God cannot do the work without human agency, but he has ordained that the work should be carried forward through human agency, so that when every soul is saved in the kingdom of God, there will be mutual joy throughout all the redeemed host.

O what a grand anthem of praise will ascend tot he Author and Finisher of our faith when we meet in the air. When the saints meet in the air, from every kingdom and tribe will be one shout fo praise and glory that will ascend to God and the Lamb forever and ever: "Thou hast redeemed us with thy blood out of every nation, out of every kindred." How can we say, "Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood," unless we have had an interest in every nation and kindred and tongue and people? The work is almost over; we are down in the very last time; we are near the end. It is coming so noiselessly, so stealthily, and shall we sleep over it? May our hearts be so stirred, that we shall not rest satisfied until we know that we individually are in harmony with God's providence and work.

The time has come for a new departure, for an advance step to come into our hearts. Our own way will not answer the time that we have just entered upon. Those that have known the truth for years, have looked forward tot he time when the final struggle would be nearer; that time has come. God has come near to us. He will pour his Spirit upon us, and the work will go; and when the last soul is gathered, Christ will appear in the clouds of heaven, and we will say, "Praise God." From the uttermost parts of the earth unto the uttermost parts of heaven they will come. Shall we be among the number? May this be our happy lot.

From the General Conference Bulletin, Feb. 2-4, 1893.