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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1870
(Vol. 35, #12)
The world is increasing in sin. The ungodly are rapidly filling up the cup of their iniquity, preparing for retribution from the God of justice. The degeneracy of the race is rapid and fearful. As it was in the days of Noah, thus shall it be when the Son of Man shall be revealed.
Previous to the destruction of the old world by a flood, its inhabitants were reeking in corruption. Sin and crime of every description prevailed. The state of the world now is fast reaching the point when God will say to it, as he did anciently: "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." One of the grievous sins existing in this degenerate age of corruption is adultery. This shameful sin is practiced to an alarming extent. The Sabbath and the marriage institution were ordained of God in Eden to be preserved sacred and holy. Both of these institutions of divine appointment have been disregarded and set at naught by men and women, whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil.
But if the transgressors of the seventh commandment were to be found only among those who do not profess to be Christ's followers, the evil would not be a tenth part as great as it now is. But the crime of adultery is largely committed by professed Christians. Both clergymen and laymen, whose names stand fair upon the church record, are alike guilty. Many who profess to be the ministers of Christ are like the sons of Eli who ministered in the sacred office, and took advantage of their office to engage in crime and commit adultery, causing the people to transgress the law of God. A fearful account will such have to render when the cases of all shall pass in review before God, and they be judged according to the deeds done in the body.
Many of this class whose hearts are carnal, take the position that the law of God is abolished. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." They have not been transformed by the renewing of their minds. They are lawless. The profess to be holy, while they are servants of sin. Many of those who teach that the law of God is abolished are lascivious men, fornicators, and adulterers. They are forward to rate against the law of God, and curse the bondage of the law. Their bitter speeches illy compare with the words of Paul: "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."
Paul in his epistle to Timothy describes the very men who are under the bondage of the law. They are the transgressors of the law. He names them lawless, disobedient, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, adulterers, liars, and all who depart from sound doctrine. 1 Tim. 1:9, 10.
The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. But it is not pleasant to those who take pleasure in unrighteousness to see their moral deformity. They do not prize this faithful mirror, because it reveals to them their sins. Therefore, instead of instituting a war against their carnal minds, they war against the true and faithful mirror, given them by Jehovah for the very purpose that they may not be deceived, but that they may have revealed to them the defects in their character. Should the discovery of these defects lead them to hate the mirror, or to hate themselves? Should they put away the mirror which discovers these defects? No; the sins which they cherish, which the faithful mirror shows them as existing in their characters, will close before them the portals of Heaven, unless they are put away, and they become perfect before God.
Listen to the words of the faithful apostle: "By the law is the knowledge of sin." These men who are zealous to abolish the law, had far better manifest their zeal in abolishing their sins. Adultery is one of the terrible sins of this age. This sin exists among professed Christians of every class; but is found to exist to the greatest extent among those who war against the law of Jehovah.
Christians are called to lay their bodies a living sacrifice upon the altar of God. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
If the bodies professedly laid upon the altar of God should pass that scrutiny that was given the Jewish sacrifice, how few would stand the test, and be pronounced perfect before God, preserved unto holiness, free from the taints of sin or pollution. No lame sacrifice could God receive. No injured or diseased sacrifice would God accept. The offering given to God was required to be sound, in every respect without blemish, and valuable.
None can glorify God in their body, as he requires, while they are living in transgression of the law of God. If the body violates the seventh commandment, it is through the dictation of the mind. If the mind is impure the body will naturally engage in impure acts. Purity cannot exist in the soul of one who yields his body to impure acts. If the body is serving lust, the mind cannot maintain consecration to God. To preserve a sanctified mind, the body must be preserved in sanctification and honor. The mind will then serve the law of God, and yield willing obedience to all its claims. Then, with the apostle, such can yield their members as instruments of righteousness unto God. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof." The freedom which the apostle describes as the privilege of Christ's followers will never be experienced by those who delight to trample under foot the law of God. The freedom and blessedness expressed in the following words, will be experienced by that class who yield obedience to the law of Jehovah: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." The apostle charges the Galatians to "walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh." He farther states: "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
But those who would delight to have the law done away, would delight in sin. Their carnal hearts are not in unison with that law which the apostle declares to be holy, just, and good. Paul inquires, "Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said referring to one of the ten commandments, Thou shalt not covet." Saul did not commence a raid against the law in order to justify a life of sin; but when his mind was enlightened in regard to the claims of the law of God, he saw himself a sinner, a transgressor of the law. His sins were brought before him, and what was the result? Did he commence a tirade against the law which showed him that he was a transgressor? Is it in his heart to crucify that law? Oh no! he crucified the carnal mind which rises in enmity against the law of God. "Sin revived," says Paul, "and I," not the law, "died." Oh! when will professed Christians awake to see the brink of the precipice they are standing upon in refusing to acknowledge the claims of the law of God?
The Lord made man upright; but he has fallen, and become degraded, because he refuses to yield obedience to the sacred claims which the law of God has upon him. All the passions of man, if properly controlled and rightly directed, will contribute to his physical and moral health, and insure to him a great amount of happiness. The adulterer, the fornicator, and the incontinent, do not enjoy life. There can be no true enjoyment for the transgressor of God's law. The Lord knew this, therefore he restricts man. He directs, commands, and he positively forbids.
But many are so far deceived by the devil that they think that they themselves can excel the great God in providing ways and means for human happiness. They charge their unhappiness to the prohibitions contained in the law of the ten commandments; and if they can in any way feel released from the claims of the law of God, they will be free and happy indeed.
Many will not search the Scriptures for themselves. They remain in willing ignorance of the origin and perpetuity of the law of the ten commandments. They trust to the researches of others to settle this matter for them. Blind leaders say, "You need not keep the law of God, for it is not binding. It is a yoke of bondage." And the willingly ignorant are blind, led by the blind. Neither are guiltless. God has provided for them in his law a mirror, that they may see their true character. Does it improve their condition to break this faithful looking glass, because it reveals to them their defects? The work they should engage in is to put away sin, and every impurity, and work righteousness. Their remaining in willing ignorance of the claims of the law of God will not shield them from the penalty to be inflicted in consequence of its violation.
The Lord well knew that the happiness of his children depends upon their submission to his authority, and living in obedience to this holy, just and good rule of government. Man may pass on awhile, and conceal the fact that he is an adulterer; yet God has his eye upon him. He marks the man. He cannot conceal his crimes from God. He may apparently conduct himself properly before his family, and before the community, and be esteemed as a good man. But does he deceive himself in thinking there is not knowledge with the Most High? He is exposing his corruption to the view of the Majesty of Heaven. He who is high and lifted up, and the train of whose glory fills the temple, sees and knows, even the thoughts, and the intents and purposes of the heart of the transgressor who is debasing himself in the sight of the pure, sinless angels, who are recording all the acts of the children of men. And not only is his seen, but it is marked by the recording angel.
The transgressor of God's law may pass on for a time without exposure; but, sooner or later, he will find himself overtaken, exposed, and condemned. Whoever dares to violate the law of God will experience for himself that "the way of the transgressor is hard." The opposition and willing ignorance in regard to the law of God, is the reason so few feel that they are under moral obligation. They despise the law which was the instrument that slew Paul. They cannot say with him, I die; but they earnestly strive to live, while they cry, Death to the law!
This is virtually their testimony. The commandment came, sin revived; the law died, and the carnal mind lived. This is the order with the transgressor. Their spiritual powers are benumbed. Eternal things are not discerned. Their works are carnal, and their example is corrupting.
Sin does not appear as sinful, unless viewed in the truthful mirror God has given them as a test of character. When men and women acknowledge the claims of the law of God, and plant their feet upon this platform of eternal truth, they will stand where the Lord can give them moral power to let their light so shine before men that they may see their good works, and glorify our Father who is in Heaven.
Their course will be marked with consistency. They will not justly earn the charge of hypocrisy and sensualism. Then man can preach Christ with power, being imbued with his Spirit. They can utter truths which will melt and burn their way to the hearts of the people. They have moral force, for they are in harmony with the moral law, and their words proceed from pure hearts, and from clean lips. Ellen G. White. Battle Creek, March 4, 1870.
(Vol. 35, #15)
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matt. 6:33, 34.
We feel a deep interest for the people of God. We are anxious that they should rightly estimate the important truths for these last days, and have correct views in reference to the characters they must develop in order to obtain the redemption promised the faithful and perfect. We would that all felt a deeper interest in regard to their own salvation and that of their fellow men. We wish that all would regard the work of repentance, faith, and devotion, as essential to the formation of their religious characters.
It is apparent that but few have any just sense of the solemnity of the time in which we live, and the important work to be accomplished in this time. The Judgment is just before us, and yet personal, selfish interest in temporal things, engages the time and attention, and eternal things are not discerned. Eternal interests are made secondary. This is the great cause of the lack of spirituality, of courage, of godliness, and of living faith, among God's people. They do not seem to possess that faith and confidence in God that should be expected of men and women who profess to be Christians waiting for the appearing of their Lord. They are not willing to surrender all for Christ, and thus comply with God's requirements. They hesitate to invest much in his work and in his cause. When we consider that that God who gave us life, and who has surrounded us with his rich blessings, has the first claim upon our attention, we shall withdraw our love and affection from this world and from all earthly treasures, and center them upon God. Our best and holiest affections should be devoted to him. When controlled by his Spirit, there will be no danger of their being perverted or misplaced. Their influence will lead others to purity and a holy life.
Eternal things should awaken our interest, and should be regarded, in comparison with temporal things, as of infinite importance. God requires of us to make it our first business to attend to the health and prosperity of the soul. We should know that we are enjoying the favor of God, that he smiles upon us, and that we are his children indeed, and in a position where he can commune with us, and we with him. We should not be at rest until we are in that position of lowliness and meekness that he can safely bless us, and we be brought into a sacred nearness with God, where his light may shine upon us, and we reflect that light to all around us. But we cannot do this unless we are earnestly striving ourselves to live in the light. This God requires of all his followers, not merely for their own good, but also for the benefit of others around them.
We cannot let our light shine out to others, so as to attract their attention to heavenly things, unless we have the light in us. We must be imbued with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, or we cannot manifest to others that Christ is in us the hope of glory. We must have an indwelling Saviour, or we cannot exemplify in our lives his life of devotion, his love, his gentleness, his pity, his compassion, his self-denial, and purity. This is what we earnestly desire. This should be the study of our lives, How shall I conform my character to the Bible standard of holiness?
If we are put to great inconvenience in regard to our temporal arrangements in order to attain this exalted position, which God requires us to meet, we should not hesitate or complain. Christ sacrificed his majesty, his splendor, his glory, and his honor, and for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He condescended to a life of humiliation. He was subjected to scorn. He was despised and rejected of men. He bore insult and mockery, and a most painful death in the most shameful manner, in order that he might exalt and save the fallen sons and daughters of Adam from hopeless misery. In view of this unparalleled sacrifice and mysterious love manifested for us by our Redeemer, shall we withhold from God our entire service, which at the best is so feeble? Shall we use selfishly, for business, or pleasure, the time which is necessary for us to devote to religious exercises, to the study of the Scriptures, and to self-examination and prayer? Said the divine Teacher, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." We must devote time to the study of the Scriptures. A mere casual reading of them is not enough. We should investigate, and pray that our understanding may be quickened to comprehend the teachings of the precious word of God. Our Saviour continues his words, "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." The life principle is found in Christ.
We cannot obtain a growth in grace and a knowledge of the divine will unless we give especial attention to these essential duties. Our spiritual strength will languish without these precious aids. We should greatly dishonor God, if we devoted the strength of brain, bone, and muscle, to the meager object of obtaining the things of the present life, which cannot secure to us the life which is to come, which will measure with the life of God.
I feel deeply in this matter. The truths you have been listening to from God's servants so attentively, are realities to me. They are not idle tales. The scenes of this earth's history are rapidly passing, and our probation is soon to close. Many of us who profess to be Christians are unready, and have not the preparation required to meet that fearful day, when in Heaven it shall be said, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." It is for us to bend all our energies to obtain the necessary preparation for that important time. We profess that we are preparing for a better country. Our faith says that we are merely passing through this land as pilgrims and strangers. We are not fellow citizens here. We are not dwellers upon the earth; because as a snare shall the day of the Lord come upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. We have not built our hopes here, in this world. Our actions have testified to our faith, that in Heaven is our enduring substance. Our manners and our actions should all be living preachers to testify that the things of this life are of minor consequence; that they must pass away, and that the things of the kingdom of God, the treasures that are reserved for the faithful overcomers, outweigh every earthly consideration, and every earthly treasure.
To live thus, demands vigor of spirit to fight the fight of faith. Practical religion carries with it energy and perseverance. Its operations are manifested in meekness, love, humbleness of mind, in self-denial and disinterested benevolence. Our Heavenly Father weighs the purposes and intentions of the heart. If the greater amount of your strength, anxiety, and interest, is employed to serve yourselves and your families, and for the purpose of carrying forward your worldly enterprises, how can you testify to an unbelieving world that the truths you believe are a reality? How do you show to others that your faith is genuine, and that you really believe that the end of all things is at hand?
It is impossible for men to have this belief and not express it and show this faith by their works. It is impossible for them to feel the worth of souls for whom Christ died, and to believe in his speedy coming, if their interest is devoted to acquiring, and their strength wholly spent in caring for, the things of this world.
"For we are made a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men." God requires us to rise above the world, and breathe the atmosphere of Heaven. Then can you give to Jesus the unreserved devotion of your heart, and the entire obedience of your life. It is not enough for you to pray with your families, and devote a little time to religious exercises in meeting. Is this all that God claims? He requires the whole heart--the undivided affections. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself."
Men and women put forth energy in serving themselves. They are earnest, and frequently endure much suffering, in laboring very hard to attain some earthly benefit, some worldly object. They exhaust themselves in the pursuit of worldly treasures so that it is impossible for them to render to God the service he requires, and will accept. It is almost impossible for some to keep from falling asleep when the exercise is changed from the service of self and the world, to the service of God. Some seem to have no power to keep their eyes open in meeting. Satan seems to mesmerize them when important truths are presented. Their vitality was exhausted in laboring for temporal things. They left their strength in the harvest field or in their several avocations to secure the things of this life. But few realize that, in thus doing, they are sustaining an eternal loss. God does not accept their lame, sickly, inefficient sacrifice. Therefore, you hear these men complaining of doubts and of darkness. They have no real happiness. They have no experience in the things of God, and can relate no deep and earnest exercises of mind. They suppose that they are Christians. They know not that their Redeemer liveth by actual experience. His love and grace do not brighten into higher, holier perfection their Christian character, giving them a glorious triumph amid the buffeting of Satan and the sorrows and trials of this life. This might be their experience if they would comply with the requirements of God's word.
Eternal things should be of the first importance, and of as much greater consequence than earthly things, as Heaven is higher than the earth. Yet how often is the strength exhausted in obtaining earthly treasures. Men and women who profess to be followers of Christ, do not take time to seek the Lord. He has promised that if they would seek him, he would be found of them. Oh! that Christ's professed followers would live in such a manner before the world that they would be constrained to acknowledge their sincerity because their works testify to their faith. When unbelievers see that Christ's professed followers deny their faith by their unconsecrated lives, the truths they profess and advocate, seem to them like idle tales.
Missionaries are wanted. We wish you all possessed a living, missionary spirit. You need not, in order to become missionaries, go to California or to Europe. You have work to do in your own families and in your neighborhoods. If your works have not been in accordance with your faith where you are best known, so that you are in good repute with those that are without, you are not the men upon whom God will place the burden of a work for more distant localities and foreign missions. Do you feel the importance and the burden, so that you will introduce the truth to your best friends and those with whom you associate from day to day? Are you missionaries in your neighborhoods, and in your own families? Are you seeking to have a deep work of reformation going forward where you are best known? Is your life such as to give you influence at home with your families and workmen? You can hang up the charts, and show them the truth, as it is there illustrated. You can teach them, if you have a mind thus to do, by explaining prophetic history, and tracing down prophecies, that the end of all things is at hand. You can impress them with the sacredness of the law of God, and show them its claims upon them.
Many have been converted to the truth by working with men who judiciously gave them precept backed up by example. We are not to use the truth as a club to beat our neighbors with. We should follow the injunction of the inspired apostle, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." By wisdom and meekness you may win souls to Christ and to the truth. But some, instead of doing this work, make their own business of the highest consequence. They are conversing upon their temporal business, and they are urging all to energy, that they may obtain the greatest amount of labor. This is their first great burden of interest from morning until noon, and from noon until night. All through the day their deportment and actions say to their workmen, My farm is my God and of more value to me than the truth or the salvation of your souls. The day's record passes above, and "wanting" is written against that man's name. He professes to be a servant of Jesus Christ, but has served only his own interest. He is an unfaithful servant. You are surrounded with men and women who will appear in the judgment against you. They will say, "You believed these things, and why did you not tell me? Your houses and lands were of more interest to you, than my soul's salvation.
It is displeasing to God for any who profess to love him to work so hard with their hands and brains in their own business as to unfit themselves to render to God that service which comes from a fervent spirit. Christians should not make it a practice to urge their families to work until their energy is exhausted, and there is no vitality left to devote to the service of God, who requires soul, body, mind, and strength. If you employ the powers of your entire being to serve your own interest, what have you reserved to offer to God? Is it not a lame sacrifice? "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
Time is well spent that is devoted to the instruction of your children. You may be living, acceptable missionaries for God, and yet be mechanics, merchants, and farmers. You can engage in the work of your Master with all your souls, and let your light shine to others. May the Lord arouse you, is my prayer, to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added. How do you prove God? Have you not made all the provisions it was possible for you to make? Have you not looked far into the future to arrange for your supposed future wants? Have you not taken thought for the morrow, and is not your salvation made secondary? You do not attend to things of eternal moment; but are looking years into the future, to provide for your families.
But what says our Lord? "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek;) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
The words of our Saviour here quoted need no comment. They are sufficiently plain to be understood by all who sincerely desire to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, and attain to Christian perfection. It is not necessary to possess a powerful intellect to comprehend the words of important instruction which fell from the lips of the divine Teacher. Those thus endowed may overlook the valuable lesson here given, because of its simplicity and clearness, while a follower of Christ, even if feeble in intellect, may be better prepared to grasp these precious words of Christ, and comprehend his illustrations drawn from the objects he is familiar with. He tries to follow the teachings of Christ, and his heart is set on heavenly things. The bent of his mind and heart proves his sincerity. The simple faith and trust in God of this man is more acceptable to God than the brilliant intellect and the most eminent talents with lack of sincerity, and faith and trust in God. The Master, in the reckoning day, will not ask, How much have you known? or professed?, or talked? but, How much have you loved? and where was your heart? Was it above, or beneath? A heart set upon Heaven is a heart set upon God. Learning is no proof of the grace of God in the heart. If the affections and heart are upon earth's treasure, they are constantly tempting the Devil to tempt them. The heart that is earnestly seeking and contemplating heavenly things, is fortified against lustful ambitions and worldly desires.
The men of the world are dwellers upon the earth. They know no other conversation but earthly. They are blinded by the god of this world. Moles are ever burrowing in the earth. They cannot see. So is the understanding of world loving men darkened. Many professed Christians are no better. Their affections are on earthly things. They view the truth and heavenly things from the worldling's standpoint. They mistake gain for godliness, sin for grace, the world for God, and their own wills for the will of God. There are more of this class than many suppose. Moses esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."
How can God be glorified in the life of that professed follower of his, who does not set his affections on things above, but condescends to keep company with, and enjoy the society of, his open enemies? The aspirations of the heart are for earthly gain. The things which are seen, and which are temporal, engross the attention, and God is forgotten.
Christians should be careful that they keep the heart with all diligence. They should cultivate a love for meditation, and cherish a spirit of devotion. Many seem to begrudge moments spent in meditation, and the searching of the Scriptures, and prayer, as though the time thus occupied was lost. I wish you could all view these things in the light God would have you; for you would then make the kingdom of Heaven of the first importance. To keep your heart in Heaven, will give vigor to all your graces, and put life into all your duties. To discipline the mind to dwell upon heavenly things, will put life and earnestness into all our endeavors. Our efforts are languid, and we run the Christian race slowly, and manifest indolence and sloth, because we so little value the heavenly prize. We are dwarfs in spiritual attainments. It is the privilege and duty of the Christian to be "increasing in the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." As exercise increases the appetite, and gives strength and healthy vigor to the body, so will devotional exercises bring an increase of grace and spiritual vigor.
The affections should center upon God. Contemplate his greatness, his mercy and excellences. Let his goodness and love and perfection of character captivate your heart. Converse upon his divine charms, and the heavenly mansions he is preparing for the faithful. He whose conversation is in Heaven, is the most profitable Christian to all around him. His words are useful and refreshing. They have a transforming power upon those who hear them, and will melt and subdue the soul.
We allow the trials and sorrows of earth to so overcome us that we have but little strength to press through the clouds of darkness to the eternal reward. The contemplation of heavenly things will revive our drooping faith, increase our courage and perseverance, and render our trials and sufferings far more easy. It will enable us to bear them with patience and joy. Says Paul: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." When a Christian draws his life from above, and strengthens his soul with the contemplation of things that are unseen, God is honored, because he takes him at his word. He believes the promise, and it is accounted unto him for righteousness.
If such an amount of time is required to make preparations for the wants of the body for this short life, how much time do you consider will be required for spiritual exercises, in order to perfect Christian character, that you may be counted worthy of the better life which is eternal? Do you think a fitness for a pure and holy Heaven comes along naturally, without special effort on your part? Great preparation has been made by our heavenly King, in our Father's house, for the saints of God; and a great preparation have we to make to attain purity of character and a moral fitness for the home of sacred bliss to which we shall be introduced if we are found worthy. Therefore let us aspire after the heavenly life. Withdraw your thoughts from worldly things; for they will benumb your affections and pollute your soul. Learn daily of him who has invited you to be meek and lowly, and you will find rest to your soul. Christ is our consolation and our strength. We are not required to labor, or to employ our thoughts, more than we now do; but to change the current of these thoughts and labors, and employ as many serious thoughts every day upon our salvation, and how we may show ourselves approved unto God, and have our conversation upon his excellent glory and the life to come, as we now devote to worldly affairs and things that are of no profit. A transformation is required of us, a renewing of the mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. By Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 35, #17)
We have been listening to pointed truths pressed home to the heart by the Spirit of God. Some professed followers of Christ may be inclined to say, as did the disciples at a certain time as they listened to the earnest truths which fell from the lips of the divine Teacher, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it?" Many may think that the way is made too straight; when we talk of self-denial, and sacrifice for Christ's sake, they think we dwell too much on these points. You would prefer to hear us speak of the Christian's reward. We know that those who are faithful will inherit all things; but the great question with us should be, "Who may abide the day of his coming; and who shall stand when he appeareth?" Who shall be counted worthy to receive the exceeding great and precious reward that shall be given to the overcomers? Those who shall be partakers of Christ's sufferings, will be sharers with him of his glory.
Without holiness, the word of God tells us, no man can see the Lord. Without purity of life it is impossible for us to be fitted and prepared to dwell with the holy and sinless angels in a pure and holy Heaven. No sin can be there. No impurity can enter the pearly gates of the golden city of God. And the question for us to settle is, whether we will turn from all sin and comply with the conditions God has given us, that we may become his sons and daughters. Separation from the world he requires of us in order to become members of the royal family.
The light has been given us showing us the path plain and distinct that we might not err therein, if we will only study the chart which points out the way. But while many of us profess to be Christians, we fail to make the word of God the man of our counsel; we fail to make it our guide; we do not study its pages and acquaint ourselves with the principles contained in its sacred record.
If we would only study the truths of God's word, and do his will, we should know of the doctrine; we should not be ignorant of the important truths for this time. We believe without a doubt that Christ is soon to come; and believing this we feel a necessity upon us to plead with men and women to prepare for the coming of the Son of Man. We do not want that any of you should be of that number who shall call for rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. We want you rather to be of that number who shall enter in through the gates into the city, who shall have an abundant entrance, and shall have right to the tree of life, and shall eat of its immortal fruit and pluck of its healing leaves. We want you to be of that company that shall bow before the throne of God crying, "Worthy, worthy, worthy, is the Lamb that was slain for us." We want you to be praising God with immortal tongues, and be saved with an everlasting salvation; and, therefore, we warn you to flee from the wrath to come. We plead with you to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. It is perfection that is required; and nothing short of perfection will enable you to see the King in his beauty.
When you are all ready, having overcome your sins, having put away all your iniquity from you, you are in a condition to receive the finishing touch of immortality. Many are waiting and expecting that a more favorable opportunity than the present time will come when they can put away sin more easily than now; and when it will not require so great humility and sacrifice on their part, and they will not have to make the effort they are required to make at the present time to perfect holiness in the fear of God. I fear that while they are thus waiting for the better time, their probation may close and they be found in their sins. For the sentence is to go forth: "He that is unjust let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous let him be righteous still; and he that is holy let him be holy still." This may be spoken in Heaven in your case, and the work for you will have been done, and you lost, eternally lost.
It will not be safe for you to wait for a better time to come. It is while it is called today. If any man will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. It is to listen today to the invitation of mercy. It is to yield your pride, your folly, your vanity, and make an entire surrender of your heart to God. Come to him with your talents and all the influence you have, and lay all these without reserve at the feet of Him who died on Calvary's cross to redeem you. His head wore the crown of thorns; and they were pressed into his sacred temples, and sent the blood trickling down his face and beard. He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him. He was smitten and afflicted, and it was for you and me he thus suffered. And while you stand without moral courage to take your position, and to gird the armor of righteousness about you, you are manifesting cowardice which should make you ashamed. He has made provision whereby you can stand amid the perils of this age.
Your grasp should be fastened upon the eternal, and you realize that you have the strength that is mighty to cling to, which will be to you a stronghold and fortress in the day of trouble, affliction, and peril. But will that better time and that more favorable opportunity ever come to those who would say to the Spirit of God, as did Felix, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee? Is the opportunity ever to come when we can leave sin any more easily than at the present moment? Is the time coming when we can take hold of the truth any more easily than now? Satan has come down with great power, and is working with great activity to weave his net around unguarded souls and thereby take them captive in his snares, that they may not be partakers of the glories that are to be revealed at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Are we willing that Satan should carry out his purposes? Many yield themselves willingly to his influence, and by their course of action tempt the devil to tempt them. It is for us to make an effort to turn from iniquity, to the living God. In Christ's sermon on the mount, in the lesson he there gave his disciples, he says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." Perfection in our position is what the Son of God requires. "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" The life he speaks of here, is that life which measures with the life of God, the life that is to be eternal, a life forevermore in the kingdom of glory, without sorrow, without pain, without sickness, without distress, and without death.
As he thus presents eternal life to his followers, is it not of more consequence to them than the life of this world? Your attention should not be turned in the direction of anxiety, fear, and solicitude, in regard to your meat and drink, and the clothing you are to put upon these bodies. Is not the better life to be sought after with far greater carefulness, and we engage in the work with greater earnestness than we should in making unnecessary preparations for this life? While we are engaged almost wholly in the preparation for this life, we are losing the opportunity of gaining eternal life. But can we not invest more in this enterprise of everlasting life than in the things of this short life? We may gather, and gather, and lay up our treasures upon earth, but they are only a snare to us. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
Why does the Saviour, the prince of life, who has given his own life for us, say, Lay not up treasures upon earth? He explains: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." While you are laying up treasure here, you will be forgetting the treasure above, forgetting that you are only passing through this world as strangers and pilgrims; therefore you are not to lay up your treasure upon earth, but lay up your treasure above. It is safe there, and nothing will ever deprive you of your treasures.
But here you build your happiness, here you study how you can have fine and goodly houses, how you can add field to field, and treasure to treasure; and while you are doing this, brain, bone, and muscle, are taxed to the utmost to secure your earthly treasure, and you have no time to serve God, you have no time to spend in seeking for Heaven, you have no time to devote to repentance, and the separating of your sins from you, and becoming perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.
This perfection we must reach. Should I tell you that you need not be very earnest, you need not be very active, the Lord is pleased to have you enjoy the things of this life, therefore you may be as calm and moderate in religious things as you choose, and while you are thus doing you will be gaining everlasting life, I should be telling you things not written in this book.
I want to exhort you to pray always. There is no resting spot here; there is no period when you can relax your efforts, no period when you can safely cease striving, agonizing, to enter in at the strait gate. It is positively dangerous to fasten your affections upon the things of this world, and devote your time to your own sinful gratification. You idolize self, and make this world your God. There is no period when you can do this with safety. While you are thus engaged disease may be feeling after your heartstrings, and death may be on your track. Your probation may close and you be unsaved. Do you think when the Lord shall come in the clouds of heaven, in the glory of his Father, with the holy retinue of angels, that he will give to you probation, that you may have another opportunity to form your characters for Heaven? Is it to give you time to obtain moral fitness to enter the kingdom of glory? No opportunity is granted you then. It is then too late. No atoning blood then pleads in your behalf to wash away the stain of sin. Just as you then are, you will remain. Just as you fall, so you must come up in the resurrection. And if you are living when the Son of Man is revealed, just as you are then found when he shall appear, if unready, so you must remain. The impure cannot then obtain perfection of Christian character. No work of purification can then be performed.
Opportunity is now given you to improve and become perfect this side of the Judgment. You must obtain a moral fitness here to meet your God. You should be right, just right, if you wish to obtain an entrance in through the gates of the holy city of God. Should your probation close today and you be brought just as you are this moment to the gate of the city, and it should open before you, and the rays of light that emanate from the throne of God should beam forth upon you, could you endure it? Could you bear it, in your sins and in your iniquity and imperfection? Could you enjoy that sacred and divine light? Not for a moment. You would drop as powerless as the Roman guard, who watched around the sepulcher of Jesus Christ, when the angels there descended to resurrect the Son of God. As that light fell upon the Roman guard, they became as dead men. They fell to the earth. They could not endure the light from Heaven, which was reflected from one mighty angel. Neither can you unless you have a fitness for it here. Could you be brought through the gates into the holy city, your probation closed and sins upon you, pride, folly, envy, evil surmisings, lustful passions, covetousness and these evil things, and gaze upon sinless angels, who never have fallen, never been in disobedience and transgression, and behold in every countenance the light of the glory of God as it shineth in the face of Jesus Christ, and see the redeemed saints that have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, how would you feel? You hear a voice inquire, Who are these? And the answer is given, These are they which have come up through great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
You look around and see those that have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. You then behold yourself. Impurity is upon you. Your garments are defiled with pollution of the world. Sin has left its disgusting impress upon your countenance. You cannot endure the glory and light. And you would say, Anywhere but here to be pained with this glory and beauty and loveliness. You could not endure it. You were not worthy. No, you were not ready for it, and you could not dwell there. You would rather be anywhere else. You would prefer that rocks and mountains should fall upon you and hide you from the unbearable glory that you behold everywhere.
Says Christ, Agonize to enter in at the strait gate; for many I say unto you shall seek to enter in and shall not be able. It requires an effort; and while we may talk, and plead, and entreat men and women, some may feel as amused as though it was a mere idle tale. They may feel as did those to whom Noah preached warning them that the flood was coming upon the earth. They could laugh and ridicule. They would say, How can God destroy this world that he has made so beautiful? We do not believe it. Nevertheless the waters of the flood came, notwithstanding their unbelief, and they were washed away, and the world was cleansed of its moral pollution.
Now, as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the day when the Son of Man shall be revealed. These things will seem to many like idle tales, nevertheless they are true, and without preparation, without readiness, without moral fitness, you can have no place in the kingdom of glory. By Ellen G. White. (To be continued.)
(Vol. 35, #18)
We see beauty, and loveliness, and glory in Jesus. We behold in him matchless charms. He was the majesty of Heaven. He filled all Heaven with splendor. Angels bowed in adoration before him, and readily obeyed his commands. Our Saviour gave up all. He laid aside his glory, his majesty, and splendor, and came down to this earth and died for a race of rebels, who were transgressors against his Father's commandments. Christ condescended to humble himself that he might save the fallen race; he drank the cup of suffering, and in its place offers us the cup of blessing; yes, that cup was drained for us; and although many know all this, yet they choose to go on in sin and folly; and still Jesus invites them. He says, Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely. Provision is made that those who have been faithful may be crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality; that they may dwell in his presence, and never know sorrow and sighing more. He has engaged to crown you with glory, and yet you turn away from his offers of mercy!
What ingratitude is manifest for all his matchless love. He invites all to come to him. Will you come?
The truths of God's word must be brought to bear upon us, and we must lay hold upon them. If we do this, they will have a sanctifying influence upon our lives; they will fit us that we may have a preparation for the kingdom of glory; that when our probation shall close, we may see the King in his beauty, and dwell in his presence forevermore.
And now the question is, are we willing to make the sacrifice? "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." Who said this? Thus said God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, he who lends you life and breath; he speaks to you. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." What a promise is this!
And do you think that by embracing the truth of God you are degrading yourself? that you are lowering yourself by embracing the truth of heavenly origin? The truth elevates the receiver every time. It sanctifies his taste, it refines his judgment, it elevates him, and by enabling him to perfect holiness, it brings him nearer to the character of the heavenly angels. It brings purity of character and purity of life, and gives a fitness that we may join the heavenly company in the kingdom of glory. Without this fitness, we can never see the heavenly abode. And yet many say of the truth, that it takes from them everything that they desire to keep. Let me say, It takes from you nothing that it is best for you to retain.
What does the Lord require? He requires the whole heart. He says, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself. What chance does this give you to love and serve self? What allowance for the affections to be diverted from God, to have your interest upon the world and worldly things? No; it is an entire surrender that is required. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and I will receive you.
It is the strength of the entire being that God requires. He requires of you a separation from the world and the things of the world. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." It is separation from the love of the world that is required; and what is given you in its place? "I will be a father unto you." Do you have to separate in your affections from friends? Does the truth require you to stand alone in your position to serve God, because others around you are not willing to yield to the claims that Christ has upon them? Does it require a separation in feeling from them? Yes; and this is the cross which you must bear, which leads many to say, I cannot yield to the claims of the truth. But says Christ, If any man love father, or mother, or brother, or sister, more than me, he is not worthy of me. Whosoever will come after me, and will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me. Here is the cross of self-denial and sacrifice; to separate in your affections here from those who will not yield to the claims of truth. Is this too great a sacrifice to make for him who sacrificed all for you? Here are the conditions specified by God. If we comply, he says to us, I will be a father unto you, and will receive you, and ye shall be sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King, and heirs of an immortal inheritance that is incorruptible, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you. What a relationship is this? Do you call this degrading? Do you call this a position that shall lower you or detract from your dignity and bring you down to a low level in life? Do you call this humiliation? Do you call this a great sacrifice, to become members of the royal family and children of the heavenly King, elevated by the truths of God, fitted up for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory? What is this, in truth? It is true exaltation. It is that which will ennoble every time. The truth of God is ennobling, it is elevating, it is refining, it is sanctifying. Tell me not of any exaltation out of Jesus Christ.
When man was plunged in hopeless misery, when death was his portion, Christ left the majesty, splendor, and glory, of the heavenly kingdom, and humbled himself to a life of unexampled suffering and humiliation, and an ignominious death, that he might become a steppingstone for man, that he might climb up upon his merits, and by virtue of his blood become enabled so to serve God, that he could accept his efforts to keep his broken law, and through obedience, man could thus be brought back again and reinstated in Eden, and share again in the glory that was at first given to the holy pair as they stood in the perfection of beauty, and in their holy innocence, in the garden of Eden. This was to be given back to Adam and his faithful children, who through the merits of the blood of Christ should be washed and sanctified and made worthy to be brought back to eat of the immortal fruit of the tree of life that Adam and Eve forfeited all right to by disobedience. If we then refuse to accept of Christ as our Saviour, are we in an exalted position? No, indeed; we are just where Adam and Eve were after their transgression, degraded, fallen, and without a Saviour; just where they would have remained had they not accepted Jesus Christ as their Redeemer.
Sinners, without God you are in this helpless condition, without hope in the world, in sin, in the bonds of iniquity and vileness and corruption; and yet your words imply that you consider it a great condescension to grasp the chain of truth that is let down from Heaven to earth, that you may take hold upon it and be brought nearer to Heaven and Jesus Christ. Do you call this condescension? Do you call this a humiliation? There are no other means of true exaltation. There is no provision made for man only through Jesus Christ whereby he may be exalted. You may talk of the honors of this world. But look at Moses. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Here he had the privilege of living in kings' houses. He was a mighty warrior, and went forth with the armies of the Egyptians to battle; and when they returned from their successful conquest, they everywhere sung of his praise and his victories. The highest honors of the world were within his grasp; but he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy these honors and the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward. He could look right through the cloud of affliction, persecution, and trials, and see the ransomed people of God, by faith, crowned with glory, honor, and everlasting life. He chose in this present life to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. He esteemed the riches of the coming kingdom of glory greater than the riches of Egypt.
In like manner we have fixed our minds upon the exceeding great and precious reward; and, in order to obtain it, we must have a perfect character. The angels of God are watching the development of character. Angels of God are weighing moral worth; and we are to obtain a fitness here to join the society of sinless angels. Do you expect that when Christ comes he will give you that fitness? Not at all. You must be found of him without spot, without blemish, or wrinkle, or anything like it. Now is the watching and trying time. Now it is the time to obtain a preparation to abide the day of his coming, and to stand when he appeareth. Do you say that you cannot do it because around you are so much sin and iniquity and corruption? I refer you to Enoch. He lived just previous to the world's being washed from its moral pollution, by a flood. He was on the earth at the time when corruption was teeming on every hand; and yet he bore the impress of the divine. He walked with God three hundred years; and he was not, for God took him, that is, translated him to Heaven. The flaming chariots of God were sent for this holy man, and he was borne to Heaven. Enoch had the witness that he pleased God. And this witness we can have.
Enoch represents those who shall remain upon the earth and be translated to Heaven without seeing death. He represents that company that are to live amid the perils of the last days, and withstand all the corruption, vileness, sin, and iniquity, and yet be unsullied by it all. We can stand as did Enoch. There has been provision made for us. Help has been laid upon One that is mighty; and we all can take hold upon his mighty strength. Angels of God, that excel in strength, are sent to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. These angels, when they see that we are doing the very utmost on our part to be overcomers, will do their part, and their light will shine around about us, and sway back the influence of the evil angels that are around us, and will make a fortification around us as a wall of fire. Ample provisions have been made for us when we are burdened, and weary, and cast down, and in distress.
Help has been laid upon One who is mighty. The great Burden Bearer, who took our nature that he might understand how to sympathize with our frailty, and with our temptations, knows how to succor those that are tempted. And does he say, Carry your burdens yourself? No; but, Come unto me ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. But you say, It is this yoke that I have dreaded to wear, and this burden I have endeavored to shun. But Christ says the yoke he has prepared for you to wear is easy if you submit your neck to it, and the burden is light if you cheerfully and resolutely lift it. "Come unto me," says Christ, "and I will give you rest." How much lighter than the burden of sin and iniquity that you take along. How much lighter than the conscience which is constantly stinging and reproaching you. A violated conscience is hard to be endured. How much easier is the yoke of Christ than all this!
The trouble is, the meekness is lacking; the lowliness is not there. We are not willing to come right down to the simplicity of the gospel. We want honor one of another. We are not willing to suffer affliction with the people of God, as was Moses. We are not willing to have our names cast out as evil. And although all Heaven is inviting us to break away from the influence of earth, and fix our eye upon things of immortal worth, yet we keep them fixed upon the bubbles of earth. We are unwilling to have our affections elevated. We are like a prostrate vine, its tendrils clinging to worthless stubble. Let your tendrils entwine around the throne of God. You are unwilling that the soul should be uplifted to God. You allow your mind to be diverted with the things right around you here; and while you are doing this, the heavenly glory is eclipsed, it is lost sight of.
The Majesty of Heaven is standing before the Father, pleading, My blood, my blood; spare the sinner a little longer for my sake. What are you doing for him while he is pleading? Seeking your pleasure, following in the ways of folly, corruption, sin, and iniquity; and yet he is pleading his blood before the throne of his Father! Oh! can you not be entreated to come? We entreat you to come. Come now, just as you are. Come, turn and live. Come to the Burden Bearer.
Mothers, who have so many burdens to bear, you see your children going astray, and you feel your lack of wisdom and strength to lead them the right way. Jesus says to you, "Come." Sisters, who have your burdens to bear, of care and perplexity, so much so that you often feel that life is a burden, let me say to you, The Burden Bearer, the Majesty of Heaven, has invited you to come unto him. Come, he says, unto me, and lay your burdens upon me.
Will you come? You may tell your sorrows to one another; but the case of others might not be like yours, so they could not appreciate your burden of sorrow should you tell them of it. And then you hug it again to your heart, and your dry and tearless eye does not discover your burden to those around you. But you open the Bible, and there you read, Come unto me, ye that are heavy laden, and ye shall find rest to your souls; and you say, Oh! here is the promise such as I need. And again you read, We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and you say, Here I come to thee, Father, with my burden of anxiety, and will lay it at thy feet. You come to God in prayer, and you say, Here Lord, my anguish is so great I cannot form my prayer into words, but, Lord, thou understandest it all, and I lay my burden upon thee, the Burden Bearer. I will lay it on thee, and thou hast promised to take it. Take my burden of cares, I cannot carry it any longer; now, Lord, bear it for me. Now since you have thus carried your burden to the Lord, leave it there; do not take it away with you. Many come to the Lord in this way, and they never really lay their burden upon him; for they gather it all up again, and carry it away with them. You are not to do this. Leave your burden there, leave it with the Burden Bearer, he has promised to take it. Then come away and say, I will not gather my burden up again, but when I have left it with Jesus, I will not begin to worry about it again. And then let the anguish of your soul be exchanged for rejoicing in the Lord. You are not to go with your heads bowed down in darkness, and crying, Oh, my troubles and perplexities! No; there is something better for you to dwell upon. It is the immortal treasure, the exceeding great reward; it is to talk of the matchless charms of the loving Saviour, and his undying love for sinners. Think of this, and you will not consider that you have had any trials worth speaking of. Go to Calvary, and behold the agony of the Son of God upon the cross, and your little trials will sink into insignificance.
May the Lord help you. I will detain you no longer, but would say, We invite you to come to Christ. We invite you to lay your burden upon the Burden Bearer. We want you to get your eye fixed upon the immortal charms of the heavenly land, and when your eye is fastened upon these, you will be willing to make any sacrifice, and count all things else but loss. You can then say with Paul, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Bear cheerfully the cross of Christ, instead of shunning every cross you can. Try to imitate his life of self-denial and sacrifice, and do good to others that are around you, that at last you may be partakers of his glory, and have a crown placed upon your brow; and you will cast your crowns at his feet, and bow in adoration before him, and fill Heaven with rich music and songs to the Lamb.
Do not talk to me of the honors and treasures of this life. I have my eye fixed upon the eternal substance, the immortal inheritance. I must see the King in his beauty. I love my Lord and Saviour, and it is my life to honor and glorify him upon the earth. Take his smiles away, and everything is dark and gloomy to me. But let me have his smiles, and everything would be a Heaven to me. The darkest place on earth would be a paradise. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men!" Sinners, we long for you to be saved and join the songs of victory in the kingdom of glory. We love you. Think you, if we did not, we should be entreating and begging you to come to Christ and be saved in God's appointed way? We hope to meet you in the Judgment with your names recorded in the Lamb's book of life, there to remain as long as God shall exist, and enjoy the blessings of everlasting life throughout eternal ages. By Ellen G. White. (Concluded.)
(Vol. 35, #24)
I have been thinking what a contrast would be seen between the gathering that we are having here today, and such gatherings as they are generally conducted by unbelievers. Instead of prayer and the mentioning of Christ and religious things, we should have the silly laugh and the trifling conversation. Their idea would be to have a general high time. It would commence in folly and end in vanity. We want in these gatherings to have them so conducted, and to so conduct ourselves, that when we return to our homes we can have a conscience void of offense toward God and man; a consciousness that we have not wounded nor injured in any manner those with whom we have been associated, or had an injurious influence over them.
Here is where very many fail. They do not consider that they are accountable for the influence they daily exert; that in all their associations in life, they must render an account to God for the impressions they make, and the influence they cast. If this influence is such as shall have a tendency to draw the mind away from God, and attract it into the channel of vanity and folly, and lead persons to seek for their own pleasure, in amusements and foolish indulgences, they must give an account for this. And if these persons are men and women of influence, if their position is such that their example will affect others, then the greater sin will rest upon them for neglecting to regulate their conduct by the Bible standard.
The occasion we are enjoying today is just according to my ideas of recreation. I have tried to give my views upon this subject, but they are better illustrated than expressed. I was here on this ground about one year since, when there was a gathering similar to this. Nearly every thing passed off very pleasantly then, but still there were some things objectionable. There was considerable jesting and joking indulged in by some. All were not Sabbathkeepers, and there was an influence manifest that was not as pleasant as we could wish.
But I believe, that while we are seeking to refresh our spirits and invigorate our bodies we are required of God to use all our powers at all times to the best purpose. We may associate together as we are here today, and do all to the glory of God. We can and should conduct our recreations in such a manner that we shall be better fitted for the more successful discharge of the duties devolving upon us, and our influence be more beneficial upon those with whom we associate, especially upon an occasion like this, which should be of good cheer to all of us. We can return to our homes improved in mind, and refreshed in body, and prepared to engage in the work anew with better hope and better courage.
We are of that class who believe that it is our privilege every day of our lives to glorify God upon the earth; that we are not to live in this world merely for our own amusement, merely to please ourselves. We are here to benefit humanity and be a blessing to society. And if we should let our minds run in that low channel that many who are seeking only vanity and folly permit their minds to run in, how can we be a benefit to our race and generation? how can we be a blessing to society around us! We cannot innocently indulge in any amusement which will not fit us for the more faithful discharge of ordinary life duties.
We want to seek the elevated and lovely. We want to direct the mind away from those things that are superficial and of no importance, and that have no solidity. What we desire is, to be gathering new strength from all that we engage in, from all these gatherings for the purpose of recreation, from all these pleasant associations. We want to be gathering new strength to become better men and better women. We want from every source possible to gather new courage, new strength, new power, that we may elevate our lives to purity and holiness, and not come down upon the low level of this world. We hear many who profess the religion of Jesus Christ speak often like this: "We must all come down upon a level." There is no such thing as Christians' coming down upon a level. As we embrace the truth of God, and the religion of the Bible, this is not coming down, it is coming up upon a high and elevated level, a higher stand point where we may commune with God.
For this very reason Christ humiliated himself to humanity, and took upon himself our natures, that by his own humiliation, and suffering and sacrifice, he might become a steppingstone to fallen men, that they might climb up upon his merits, and through his excellence and virtue receive from God an acceptance of their efforts to keep his law. There is no such thing here as coming down upon a level. It is the elevated and exalted platform of eternal truth that we are seeking to plant our feet upon. We are seeking to be more like the heavenly angels, more pure in heart, more sinless, more harmless and undefiled.
We are seeking for purity and holiness of life, that we may at last be fitted for the heavenly society in the kingdom of glory; and the only means to attain this elevation of Christian character is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way for the exaltation of the human family. Some talk of humiliation, and of the sacrifice they make because they adopt the truth of heavenly origin! Surely this is not accepted by the world, it is not received by the unbeliever. They may talk of those that have embraced the truth, and sought the Saviour, and represent them as leaving everything, and giving up everything, and making a sacrifice of everything that is worth retaining. But do not tell me this. I know better. My experience proves this to be otherwise. You need not tell me that we have to give up our dearest treasures, and receive no equivalent. No, indeed! That God, that Creator, that planted the beautiful Eden for our first parents, and has planted for us the lovely trees and flowers, and everything that was beautiful and glorious in nature for the human race to enjoy, designed that they should enjoy it. Then do not think that God wishes us to yield up everything which it is for our happiness here to retain. All he requires us to give up is that which would not be for our good and happiness to retain.
That God who has planted these noble trees and clothed them with the rich foliage, and given us the brilliant and beautiful shades of the flowers, and whose handy and lovely work we see in all the realm of nature, does not design to make us unhappy; he does not design that we shall have no taste, and take no pleasure in these things. It is his design that we shall enjoy them. It is his design that we shall be happy in the charms of nature, which are of his own creating. It is right that we should choose such places as this grove for seasons of relaxation and recreation. But while we are here, it is not to devote our attention to ourselves merely, and fritter away precious time, and engage in amusements which will encourage a disrelish for sacred things. We have not come here to indulge in jesting and joking, in the senseless laugh and foolish talking. We here behold the beauties of nature. And what then? Fall down and worship them? No, indeed. But as you behold these works of nature's let your mind be carried up higher to nature's God; let it be elevated to the Creator of the universe, and then adore the Creator who has made all these beautiful things for your benefit, for your happiness.
Men and women will delight in lovely paintings; but where do the artists get their ideas of these things to put upon the canvas? From nature's beautiful scenery. Persons are ready to worship the talent which can produce a beautiful drawing; but where do those who devote their life to this work obtain their designs? From nature, only from nature; and yet these individuals will devote the entire strength of their being, and will bestow all their affections upon their tastes in this direction. Yet art can never attain the perfection seen in nature. Many withdraw their minds from the beauties and glories of nature that our Creator has prepared for them to enjoy, and devote all the powers of their being to perfection of art; yet all these things are only imperfect copies from nature. The Maker of all these beautiful things is forgotten. I have seen many who would go into ecstacies over a picture of a sunset; but at the same time, they could have the privilege of seeing an actual and glorious sunset almost every evening in the year. They can see the beautiful tints with which nature's Master and invisible Artist, with divine skill, has painted glorious scenes on shifting canvas, and carelessly turn from the heavenly wrought picture to paintings of art, traced by imperfect fingers, and they will almost fall down and worship them. What is the reason of all this? It is because the enemy is almost constantly seeking to divert the mind from God. But when you present God, and the religion of Jesus Christ, will they receive them? No, indeed. They cannot accept of Christ. What! they make the sacrifice they would have to make to receive him? Not at all. But what is required? Simply their heart's holiest and best affections for him who left the glory of the Father and came down to die for a race of rebels. He left his riches, his majesty, and his high command, and took upon himself our nature, that he might make a way of escape--to do what? To humiliate you? To degrade you? No, indeed. To make a way of escape for you from hopeless misery, and to elevate you to his own right hand in his kingdom at last. For this, the great, the immense, sacrifice was made. And who can realize this great sacrifice? Who can appreciate it? None but those who understand the mystery of godliness, who have tasted of the powers of the world to come, who have drank from the cup of salvation that has been presented to us. This cup of salvation the Lord offers us, while with his own lips he drained, in our stead, the bitter cup which our own sins had prepared, and which was apportioned us to drink. Yet we talk as though that Christ who has made such a sacrifice, and manifested such love for us, would deprive us of everything that is worth having!
But what good would be deprive us of? He would deprive us of the privilege of giving up to the natural passions of the carnal heart. We cannot get angry just when we please, and retain a clear conscience and the approval of God. But are we not willing to give this up? Will the indulgence of corrupt passions make us any happier? It is because it will not, that there are restrictions laid upon us in this respect. It will not add to our enjoyment to get angry, and cultivate a perverse temper. It is not for our happiness to follow the leadings of the natural heart. Will we be made better to indulge them? No. They will cast a shadow in our households, and will throw a pall over our happiness when indulged in. Giving way to your own natural appetites will only injure your constitution, and tear your system to pieces. Therefore God would have you restrict your appetite, have control over your passions, and hold in subjection the entire man. And he has promised to give you strength if you will engage in this work.
The sin of Adam and Eve caused a fearful separation between God and man. And here Christ steps in between fallen man and God, and says to man, You may yet come to the Father; there is a plan devised through which God can be reconciled to man, and man to God; and through a mediator you can approach God. And here he stands to mediate for you. He is the great High Priest who is pleading in your behalf; and it is for you to come and present your case to the Father through Jesus Christ. Thus you can find access to God; and if you sin your case is not hopeless. "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
I thank God that we have a Saviour. And there is no other way whereby men and women can be exalted except through Jesus Christ. Then let no one think that it is a great humiliation on his part to accept of Jesus Christ; for when we take that step, we take the first step toward true exaltation; we take hold of the golden cord that links finite man with the infinite God, and elevates us that we may be fitted for the society of pure and heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory.
Be not discouraged; be not faint-hearted. Although you may have temptations; although you may be beset by the wily foe; yet, if you have the fear of God before you, angels that excel in strength will be sent to your help, and you can be more than a match for the powers of darkness. Jesus lives. He has died to make a way of escape for the fallen race; and he lives today to make intercession for us, that we may be exalted to his own right hand. Have hope in God. The world is traveling the broad way; and as you travel in the narrow way, and have principalities and powers to contend with, and the opposition of foes to meet, remember that there is provision made for you. Help has been laid upon One that is mighty; and through him you can conquer.
Come out from among them and be separate, says God, and I will receive you, and ye shall be sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. What a promise is this? It is a pledge to you that you shall become members of the royal family, heirs of the heavenly kingdom. If a person is honored by, or becomes connected with, any of the monarchs of earth, how it goes the rounds of the periodicals of the day, and excites the envy of those who do not think themselves so fortunate. But here is One who is king over all, the monarch of the universe, the originator of every good thing; and he says to us, I will make you my sons and daughters; I will unite you to myself; you shall become members of the royal family, and children of the heavenly King.
And then says Paul, "having therefore these promises dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." Why should we not do this, when we have such an inducement, the privilege of becoming children of the Most High God, the privilege of calling the God of Heaven our father? Is not that enough? And do you call this depriving you of everything that is worth having? Is this the giving up of everything that is worth possessing? Let me be united to God and his holy angels, for this is my highest ambition. You may have all the possessions of this world, but I must have Jesus; I must have a right to the immortal inheritance, the eternal substance. Let me enjoy the beauties of the kingdom of God. Let me delight in the paintings which his own fingers have colored. I may enjoy them. You may enjoy them. But we may not worship them. But through them we may be directed to Him and behold his glory who has made all these things for our enjoyment.
Again I would say, Be of good courage. Trust in the Lord. Do not let the enemy rob you of the promises. If you have separated yourselves from the world, God has said that he will be your father, and you shall be his sons and daughters. Is not that enough? What greater inducement could be presented before you! Is there any great object in being a butterfly, and having no substance nor aim in life? Oh! let me stand on the platform of eternal truth. Give me immortal worth. Let me grasp the golden chain that is let down from Heaven to earth, and let it draw me up to God and glory. This is my ambition. This is my aim. If others have no higher object than to dress up with bows and ribbons, and fantastic things here, if they can delight in outward display and satisfy their souls with it, let them enjoy it. But let me have the inward adorning. Let me be clothed with that meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. And I recommend it to you, young ladies and young men, for it is more precious in his sight than the gold of Ophir. It is this which makes a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Just so with you, my sisters, and you, young people; it will make you more precious in the sight of Heaven than fine gold, yea, than the golden wedge of Ophir. I recommend to you, Jesus my blessed Saviour. I adore him. I magnify him. Oh! that I had an immortal tongue that I could praise him as I desire; that I could stand before the assembled universe and speak in praise of his matchless charms. And while I adore and magnify him, I want you to magnify him with me.
Praise the Lord, even when you fall into darkness. Praise him even in temptation. "Rejoice in the Lord always," says the apostle; "and again I say rejoice." Will that bring darkness and gloom into your families? No, indeed; it will bring a sunbeam. It will be the gathering of rays of eternal light from the throne of glory, and scattering them around you. Let me exhort you to engage in this work, scatter this light and life around you, not only in your own path, but in the paths of others with whom you associate. Let it be your object to make those around you better; to elevate them; to point them to Heaven and glory and lead them to seek, above all earthly things, the eternal substance, the immortal inheritance, and the riches which are imperishable. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 36, #5)
The Campmeetings in Iowa and Illinois have been meetings of deep interest to me. As we say those who had come, some from quite a distance, at the expense of time, and of money, I inquired whether all would return to their homes, having gained the object for which they came. The objects of these meetings, are, to separate from business cares, and burdens, and devote a few days of time exclusively to seeking the Lord. The time should be occupied in self-examination, close searching of heart, and penitential confession of sins, and renewing our vows to the Most High God. If any came to these meetings for less worthy objects, we hope the character of the meetings was such as to bring the minds of all to the proper objects of the meetings.
In Marion the Lord was indeed merciful to us, and gave us strength to speak the words he gave us, with clearness to the people. There was not a dissenting voice in the meeting. The people came to work, and they did work. The conference meetings were characterized with spiritual testimonies, one following the other in quick succession. The promptness which marked these meetings gave us comfort and strength. We felt rather sad to see several sick upon the ground, which was very unpleasant for the sick, and wearisome to those who had the care of them. Some were sufferers through the extra labor of preparing for the meeting. They were liberal souled people, and wanted nothing done with stinginess. Some made large provisions; and were thoroughly wearied out when they came to the meeting, and as soon as they were released from the pressure of work, exhausted Nature caused them to feel that she had been abused. Some of these persons had never before attended a camp-meeting, and were not informed in regard to what preparations they were required to make. They lost some of the precious meetings they had purposed to attend.
Now these made a mistake in making so large preparation. Nothing should be cooked, or taken to the camp-meeting, unless it be the most healthful articles, cooked in a simple manner, free from all spice and grease. Much cooking is unnecessary. Pies will not keep in hot weather. Cake will keep better, but is not the most healthful food for the stomach at any time, and is not at all proper food for campmeetings. Those who are exercising every day, can better take care of food, even if it is not of the very best quality for health. Those who come to attend meetings, especially for the worship of God, to increase in spirituality, should not indulge the appetite, and cannot do it with safety. Pies and cake are not the proper food for those to eat who wish to preserve health at the camp-meeting.
I am well convinced that none need to make themselves sick preparing for camp-meeting, if they observe the laws of health in their cooking. If they make no cake, or pies, but cook simple graham bread, and depend on fruit, canned or dried, they need not get sick in preparing for the meeting, and they need not be sick while at the meeting, from eating the unhealthful food they exhausted their strength to prepare. None should go through the entire meeting, without some warm food. There are always stores upon the ground where this may be obtained.
When we commenced the camp-meeting in Nora, Ill., I felt it my duty to make some remarks in reference to their eating. I related the unfortunate experience of some at Marion, and told them I charged it to unnecessary preparations made for the meeting, and also eating the unnecessary preparations while at the meeting. Some brought cheese to the meeting, and ate it; although new, it was altogether too strong for the stomach, and should never be introduced into it. Cake was brought into our tent. I ate a small piece, and my stomach refused to retain it; it was spiced with cinnamon. If my stomach would not acknowledge this as food, but rebelled against it, what condition must these be in who partook of this food every day. I stated to our brethren and sisters, something like the following: They must not be sick upon that encampment. If they clothed themselves properly in the chill of morning, and at night, and were particular to vary their clothing according to the changing weather, so as to preserve proper circulation, and should strictly observe regularity in sleeping, and in eating of simple food, and should eat nothing between meals, they need not be sick. They might be well during the meetings, and be able to appreciate, with clear minds, the truth, and might return to their homes refreshed in body and in spirit. I stated that if those who had been engaged in hard labor from day to day should now cease their exercise, and yet eat their average amount of food, their stomachs would be overtaxed. It was the brain power we wished to be especially vigorous at this meeting and in the most healthy condition to hear the truth and to appreciate it, and to retain it, and practice it after their return from the meeting. If the stomach was burdened with too much food, even of a simple character, the brain force would be called to the aid of the digestive organs. There is a benumbed sensation experienced upon the brain. There is an impossibility of keeping the eyes open. The very truths which should be heard, understood and practiced by them, they lose entirely through indisposition, or because the brain is almost paralyzed in consequence of the amount of food taken into the stomach.
I recommended them to take something warm upon the stomach every morning, at least. They could do this without much labor, they could make graham gruel. If the graham was too coarse they could sift it. While the gruel is hot they could add milk to suit themselves,this will make a most palatable and healthful dish for the campground, and if your bread is dry you can crumb it into your gruel, and it will be enjoyed. I do not approve of eating much cold food for the reason that the vitality must be drawn from the system to warm the food until it becomes of the same temperature as the stomach before the work of digestion can be carried on. Another very simple, yet wholesome dish is beans boiled and baked, and a portion of them may be diluted with water, add more cream and make a broth, the bread can be used the same as in the graham gruel. Dried corn can be easily prepared, left to soak over night, scald it up in the morning, add milk, which is easily obtained, and you have warm, healthful food, free from spice and grease.
I am gratified to see the progress many have made in the health reform, yet sorry to see so many behind. I stated that if any one became sick upon the encampment I designed to inquire the cause, and make a note of it, for I was not willing the reputation of our meeting should suffer by being reported as the cause of making people sick. These meetings can be made a blessing to the bodily health, as well as to increase the health of the soul, if a proper course be pursued at these important gatherings. I am happy to state that no one was sick, to my knowledge, so that they were deprived of the meetings.
The meeting at Marion was good, souls there were convicted and converted to the truth. We felt assured that Jesus indeed came up to the feast, and made glad the hearts of his people.
At Nora there was an apparent lack of union with some who came to the meeting. They possessed a spirit of faultfinding, of jealousy, which brought sadness of heart upon us, and we were fearful at times that many would leave that meeting with their impenitent hearts bound in darkness and unbelief, unsubdued by the grace of God. But as the meetings progressed testimonies were called out from those who had the burden of the meeting as the occasion required. And as the pointed, solemn truths of God's word were made clear to the understanding of all who had any desire to learn, there seemed to be a decided change with many for the better. Confessions were made by brethren one to another, and a ready response was made to these penitential acknowledgments of their wrongs. The prayer and conference meetings were conducted by Bro. Littlejohn. He labored with unabated interest in all these social meetings, making appropriate remarks as the occasion required. The instructions thus given by our brother in faithfulness upon so many points, we think will not be soon forgotten. There was especially a work wrought for the church at Monroe. Hearts had been enstranged, false reports had been circulated to the injury of brethren, many had been found guilty of carrying a reproach to the door of their neighbors, and some had willingly taken up the reproach against their neighbor which had been left at their door, and in their turn they carried the reproach to others. Thus had God been dishonored, and his precious cause reproached. But there was a good work begun with that church. If this work had commenced at an earlier stage of the meeting, some, who returned to their homes unblessed because of their wrongs, might have so humbled their hearts before God and returned to him with broken hearts and contrite spirits, that they might have gone to their homes rejoicing that the truth had made them free indeed. We are sorry that any returned to their homes destitute of the approving love of God.
We are confident that a large number of our brethren and sisters present at that meeting were greatly benefited, and returned to their homes to take a nobler stand for God, and work from altogether a higher standpoint than they had ever done before. Many bore testimony that they had never seen the force and power of truth, and the necessity of perfecting Christian character as they had during these meetings. Our earnest prayer to God is that they may go forward growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, until they attain to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. By request of the church at Monroe we united in prayer with them that the cementing spirit of God might bind the hearts of these believers in bonds of closest union and Christian fellowship. Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 36, #7)
The last evening we enjoyed upon the Nora campground, the Lord blessed me with unusual freedom in speaking to the people, of the necessity of having Jesus in their company as they returned to their homes. I spoke of the importance of coming to such meetings with a mind to work for their own salvation, and that of others. They should have the object before them of earnestly seeking for a deeper work of grace, and a more thorough knowledge of the truth, that they may "be ready always, to give an answer to every man that asketh, a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear," "having a good conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ." "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good. And an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
There can be no influence so detrimental to a camp-meeting, or any gathering for religious worship, as much visiting and careless conversation. Frequently men and women assemble in companies, and engage in conversation upon common subjects; which do not relate to the meeting. Some have brought their farms with them, and others their houses, laying their plans for building. Some are dissecting the characters of others, and have no time or disposition to search their own hearts, to discover the defects in their own characters, that they may correct their wrongs, and perfect holiness in the fear of God. If all who profess to be followers of Christ would improve the time out of meeting in conversing upon the truth, and dwelling upon the Christian's hope, and in searching their own hearts, and in earnest prayer before God, pleading for his blessing, there would be a much greater work accomplished than we have yet seen. Unbelievers, who falsely accuse those who believe the truth, would be convinced, because "of their good conversation in Christ." The words and actions are the fruit which we bear; "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
God gave direction to the Israelites to assemble before him in the place which he should choose, and observe special days, at set periods, wherein no unnecessary work was to be done; but the time was to be devoted to a consideration of the blessings of God bestowed upon them. At these special seasons they were to bring gifts, freewill offerings, and thank offerings, unto the Lord, according as the Lord had blessed them. They were directed to rejoice--the manservant and maidservant, the stranger, the fatherless and widow--that God had by his own wonderful power brought them from servile bondage to the enjoyment of freedom. And they were commanded not to appear before the Lord empty. They were to bring tokens of their gratitude to God for his continual mercies and blessings bestowed upon them. These offerings were varied, according to the estimate which the donors placed upon the blessings they were privileged to enjoy. Thus the characters of the people were plainly developed. Those who placed a high value upon the blessings God bestowed upon them, brought offerings in accordance with their appreciation of his blessings. Those whose moral powers were stupefied and benumbed by selfishness and idolatrous love of the favors received, rather than of fervent love of their bountiful Benefactor, brought meager offerings. Thus their hearts were revealed. Besides these special religious feast days of gladness and rejoicing, the yearly passover was to be commemorated by the Jewish nation. The Lord covenanted that if they were faithful in the observance of his requirements, he would bless them in all their increase, and in all the works of their hands.
God requires no less of his people in these last days, in sacrifices and offerings, than he did of the Jewish nation. Those whom God has blessed with a competency, also the widow and the fatherless, should not be unmindful of his blessings. Especially should those whom God has prospered render to God the things that are God's. They should appear before him with a spirit of self-sacrifice, and bring their offerings in accordance with the blessings God has bestowed upon them. But many whom God prospers manifest base ingratitude to him. If his blessings rest upon them, and he increases their substance, they make these bounties as cords to bind them to the love of their possessions, and they allow worldly business to take possession of their affections, and their entire being, and neglect devotion and religious privileges. They cannot afford to leave their business cares, and come before God, even once a year. They turn the blessings of God into a curse. They serve their own temporal interests, at the neglect of God's requirements.
Men, with their thousands, remain at home, year after year, engrossed in their worldly cares and interests, and feel that they cannot afford to make the small sacrifice of attending the yearly gatherings to worship God. He has blessed them in basket and in store, and surrounded them with his benefits on the right hand and on the left, yet they withhold from God the small offerings he has required of them. They love to serve themselves. Their souls will be like the unrefreshed desert without the dew or rain of heaven. The Lord has brought to them the precious blessing of his grace. He has delivered them from the slavery of sin, and the bondage of error, and has opened to their darkened understandings the glorious light of present truth. And shall these evidences of God's love and mercy call forth no gratitude in return? Will those who profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand be blind to their own spiritual interest, and live for this world, and this life alone? Do they expect their eternal interest will take care of itself? Spiritual strength will not come without an effort on their part.
Many who profess to be looking for the appearing of our Lord are anxious, burdened, gain-seekers for this world. They are blind to their eternal interest. They labor for that which satisfieth not. They spend their money for that which is not bread. They strive to content themselves with the treasures they have laid up upon the earth, which must perish. And they neglect the preparation for eternity, which should be the first and only real work of their life.
Let us all who possibly can, attend these yearly gatherings. All should feel that God requires this of them. If they do not avail themselves of the privileges God has provided for them to become strong in him, and in the power of his grace, they will grow weaker and weaker, and have less and less desire to consecrate all to God. Come, brethren and sisters, to these sacred convocation meetings, to find Jesus. He will come up to the feast. He will be present, and he will do for you that which you need most to have done. Your farms should not be considered of greater value than the higher interests of the soul. All the treasures you possess, be they ever so valuable, would not be rich enough to buy you peace and hope, which would be infinite gain, if it cost you all you have, and the toils and sufferings of a lifetime. To have a strong, clear sense of eternal things, and a heart of willing obedience to yield all to Christ, are blessings of more value than all the riches, and pleasures, and glories of this world.
These campmeetings are of importance. They cost something. The servants of God are wearing out their lives to help the people, while many of them appear as if they did not want help. For fear of losing a little of this world's gain, some let these precious privileges come and go, as though they were of but little importance. Let all who profess to believe the truth, respect every privilege that God offers them to obtain clearer views of his truth, and his requirements, and the necessary preparation for his coming. A calm, cheerful and obedient trust in God is what he requires.
You need not weary yourselves with busy anxieties and needless cares. Work on for the day, faithfully doing the work which God's providence assigns you, and he will have a care for you. Jesus will deepen and widen your blessings. You must make efforts if you have salvation at last. Come to these meetings prepared to work. Leave your home cares, and come to find Jesus, and he will be found of you. Come with your offerings as God has blessed you. Show your gratitude to your Creator, the giver of all your benefits, by a freewill offering. Let none who are able come empty-handed. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Ellen G. White.