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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1858
(Vol. 11, #3)
Bro. Smith: As I consider the responsibilities and dangers of the people of God. I am led to fear for many, and I wish to set before them the following, which I consider a most solemn warning.
As it became evident a few years since that the burden of the Third Message would be in the West, a brother, who had much of this world's good, resolved to move West with his family, and thus introduce the work in the West.
He went with one intention, his wife with another. His intention was to proclaim the truth, but her intention was to have all their means laid out in house and lands, that the means not only be secured, and kept from the cause of God, but that her husband's time be also employed in building, planting, sowing &c. He was convicted of his duty to dispose of a portion of his means to advance the cause of God, but it was a great sacrifice for him to make, for he loved this world, and he was easily persuaded by his wife and daughter, to gratify their desire and love of their earthly treasure, and retain it. He disobeyed the call of God, to gratify his wife and daughter, and was too willing to excuse or cover up his love of the world, under a show of duty to his family.
At a certain time, the Lord gave me a view of their situation. I saw their worldly-mindedness, that instead of living out their faith after they went into a new country, they were getting a firmer grasp of this world, until it was a proverb to those around them. They professed to be looking for the glorious appearing of Jesus, professed to be God's peculiar people, that he was purifying unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, yet purchasing their large attractive lands, thus plainly declaring by their works, that this world was their home, that here was their treasure.
I was shown the wife of our brother, that she was engrossed in the spirit of this world, and loved and worshiped it; that she must unfasten her grasp, that she was a stumblingblock in her husband's way, she was holding him back, and was unwilling that he should sell and give alms, also unwilling that he should go out to talk the truth to others. I saw that unless she got out of her husband's way, cut loose from the world, and distributed to the necessity of God's cause, the Lord would visit the family with judgment, and move her out of the way. She heeded not the message. Her whole mind was occupied in fitting up and making improvements to stay here. In the midst of this, affliction came. She was prostrated by disease, and taken away.
A few weeks after her death we visited the place with the message to the Laodiceans. We entered the dwelling of the afflicted family, and labored and prayed for them. They were in a low, worldly-minded, discouraged state. A heavy burden rolled upon me. The father was struggling for freedom, for liberty. The Lord graciously met with us, and let a little of his light shine upon us. But still we knew there was much to be done. As our brother would come up to the point to give up the world, and get it out of his heart; as he would lay his farm upon the altar, and say he would sell a part, or all of it, then the daughter would act the same part the mother had done, to pull him back, and she would plead for their treasure here. O what agony of spirit I felt. We had a season of prayer. The sufferings of the Son of God were held up before me. His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, as the sins of the whole world were laid upon him, his shameful death upon the cross, all to save guilty man. He, for their sakes became poor, that they through his poverty might be made rich. Then to see how little those for whom this sacrifice was made, were willing to suffer for the truth, I could hardly endure the realizing sense of these things.
Before I left that place I was shown in vision that God had taken the mother away in anger, and unless the father and daughter submitted to God, unless they cut loose from this world and had their affections weaned from it, God would step over the threshold again in judgment. I was astonished at what was shown me in vision. I saw that this brother loved this world more than he ever thought he did, and that it was a snare to him, it deceived him. I saw that he was so close and snug in deal, it really carried him beyond the bounds of strict truth and honesty. Said the angel, The deceitfulness of riches causes many, many of its possessors to stumble over their riches to perdition, while only a few with the unrighteous mammon will make friends, and finally be received into everlasting habitations.
I saw that the brother did not give his hired help a decent chance to serve God. It was hurry, hurry, work, work, as though they had not a dollar at their command. There was but little chance for them to pray. I saw that God seeth not as man seeth, for God despised such snug dealing and covetousness, and without an entire reform, it was impossible for him to be saved; that he was straining every nerve to save a little means, that would be no blessing to himself or others; that he did not possess a noble generous disposition. I saw that it was right to economize, but it had been stretched into meanness without any goodly object, only to add to their treasure which would shortly eat their flesh as it were fire, unless they, as faithful stewards, made a right disposal of their Lord's goods. I saw that he had hardly allowed himself time to pray, and that it had been a mere dry form without the power.
I saw the daughter's covetousness, that her life was all wrapt up in selfishness. She had suffered no lack. Every want had been supplied. She had lived for herself, and her heart seldom beat in sympathy for other's woes or wants; that such closeness, such selfishness, covetousness, was seldom seen, and that this, without an entire reformation, would prove her ruin; and if her father left her a few thousands, whether he lived or died, it would be enough to ruin her and displease God.
I saw that the father had not been pitiful to the unfortunate, those who labored for him, not even to the poor orphan. There had been such snug dealing practised toward them, that God could not look with any pleasure, until full restitution should be made; for he regarded it with abhorrence. All this I related to him, while my soul was bowed with deep anguish.
Last Summer I was again shown this brother's case, that he was not moving fast enough, that he was not using his means to advance the cause of God as fast as he should. The next news I heard was, that he was dead, and had left his large property to his daughter. Nothing was bestowed upon the cause of God. Last Tuesday, [March 30th,] I saw that Satan's wish had been gained. While he lived, his brethren had plunged into the world beyond their means, and stood ready to hire the use of his money to advance their own interests, and thus it was kept from the cause of God. And I saw that Satan had it just as he wanted it at his death, that nothing be left to the cause of God, but his daughter be cursed with it, and placed in a situation where it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for her to enter the kingdom of heaven. I saw that it was the design of Satan to keep all the means from the ranks of the truth that he could and to use it as a stumblingblock for souls. He is willing that those who profess the truth, and are snug, selfish and covetous, should have means in their possession, for they idolize it. They nourish it, and it will prove their ruin; for they lay up treasure upon earth, and lose their treasure in heaven.
As I have seen that the reward of covetousness thus far upon this family should be a warning to the church, I cannot withhold from the people of God what has been shown me respecting them. Ellen G. White.