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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1875
(Vol. 45, #1)
Should all whom God has prospered with earthly riches carry out his plan in faithfully giving a tenth of all their increase, and if they should not withhold their trespass offerings and their thank offerings, the treasury would be constantly replenished. The simplicity of the plan of systematic benevolence does not detract from its merits, but extols the wisdom of God in its arrangement. Everything bearing the divine stamp unites simplicity with utility.
If systematic benevolence was universally adopted, according to God's plan, and the tithing system carried out as faithfully by the wealthy as it is by the poorer classes, there would be no need of repeated and urgent calls for means at our large religious gatherings. There has been a neglect, in the several churches, of keeping up the plan of systematic benevolence, and the result has been an impoverished treasury and a backslidden church.
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offering. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the store house, 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."
God has been robbed in tithes and in offerings. It is a fearful thing to be guilty of withholding from the treasury, or of robbing God. Ministers who preach the word at our large gatherings feel the sinfulness of neglecting to render to God the things that are his. They know that God will not bless his people while disregarding his plan of benevolence. They seek to arouse the people to their duty by pointed, practical discourses, showing the danger and sinfulness of selfishness and covetousness. Conviction fastens upon minds, and the icy chill of selfishness is broken. And when the call is made for donations to the cause of God, some, under the stirring influence of the meetings, are aroused to give who otherwise would do nothing. As far as this class is concerned, good results have been realized. But under pressing calls many feel the deepest who have not had their hearts frozen up with selfishness. They have conscientiously kept their means flowing out to advance the cause of God. Their whole being is stirred by the earnest appeals made, and the very ones respond who may have given all their circumstances in life would justify.
But these wholehearted, liberal believers, prompted by their zealous love for the cause, in their desire to do promptly for the cause, judge themselves capable of doing more than God requires them to do, for their usefulness is crippled in other directions. These willing ones sometimes pledge to raise sums when they know not from what source they are coming, and some are placed in distressing circumstances to meet their pledges. Some are obliged to sell their produce at great disadvantage. Some have actually suffered for the conveniences and necessities of life, in order to meet their pledges.
There was a time at the commencement of our work when such sacrifice would have been justified, when God would have blessed all who thus ventured out to do for his cause. The friends of truth were few, and means were very limited. But the work has been widening and strengthening until there are means enough in the hands of believers to amply sustain the work in all its departments without embarrassing any, if all would bear their proportional part. The cause of God need not be crippled in the slightest degree. The precious truth has been made so plain that many have taken hold of it, who have in their hands means which God has intrusted to them for the purpose of using to advance the interests of the truth. If these men of means do their duty, there need not be a pressure brought upon the poorer brethren.
We are in a world of plenty. If the gifts and offerings were proportionate to the means which each has received of God, there would be no need of the urgent call for means at these large gatherings. I am fully convinced it is not the best plan to bring a pressure upon the point of means at our campmeetings. Men and women who love the cause of God as they do their lives will pledge upon these occasions when their families must suffer for the very means that they have promised to give to advance the cause. Our God is not a taskmaster, requiring the poor man to give means to the cause that belong to his family to keep them in comfort and above pinching want.
The call for means at our large campmeetings has been attended hitherto with apparently good results so far as the wealthy are concerned. But we fear the result of the continued effort to thus replenish the treasury. There will be, we fear, a reaction. Greater effort should be put forth, by responsible men in the different churches, to have all follow the plan of God's arrangement. If systematic benevolence is carried out, the urgent calls for means at the campmeetings for various enterprises will not be necessary.
God has devised a plan by which all may give as he has prospered them, and which will make giving a habit without waiting for special calls. Those who can do this, and will not because of their selfishness, are robbing their Creator, who has bestowed upon them means to invest in his cause to advance its interests. Until all shall carry out the plan of systematic benevolence, there will be a failure in coming up to the apostolic rule. Those who minister in word and doctrine should be men of discrimination. They should, while they make general appeals, become acquainted with the ability of those who respond to their appeals, and should not allow the poor to pay large pledges. After a man has once consecrated a certain sum to the Lord, he feels that it is sacred and consecrated to a holy use. This is true, and therefore our preaching brethren should be well informed of whom they accept pledges.
Each member of the different families in our churches who believe the truth may act a part in its advancement by cheerfully adopting systematic benevolence. "Let every one of you lay by him in store [margin, by himself at home], . . . that there be no gatherings when I come." The burden of urging and pressing individuals to give of their means was not designed to be the work of God's ministers. The responsibility should rest upon every individual who enjoys the belief of the truth. "Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." Every member of the family, from the oldest down to the youngest, may take part in this work of benevolence.
The offerings of little children may be acceptable and pleasing to God. In accordance with the spirit that prompts the gifts will be the value of the offering. The poor, by following the rule of the apostle in laying by every week a small sum, help to swell the treasury, and the gifts are wholly acceptable with God; for they are making just as great sacrifices as their more wealthy brethren, and even greater. The plan of systematic benevolence will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things, and especially will it prove a blessing to the rich in guarding them from indulging in extravagances.
Every week the demands of God upon each family are brought to mind by each of its members fully carrying out the plan, and as its members have denied themselves some superfluity in order to have means to put into the treasury, lessons of value in self-denial for the glory of God have been impressed upon the heart. Once a week, each is brought face to face with the doings of the past week--the income that he might have had if he had been economical, and the means he has not because of indulgence. His conscience is reined up, as it were, before God, and either commends or accuses him. He learns that if he retains peace of mind and the favor of God, he must eat, and drink, and dress, to his glory.
Systematic action in giving in accordance with the plan keeps open the channel of the heart in liberal gifts. We place ourselves in connection with God, that he may use us as channels that his gifts may flow through us to others. The poor will not complain of systematic benevolence; for it touches them lightly. They are not neglected and passed by, but are favored with acting a part in being co-workers with Christ, and will receive the blessing of God as well as the wealthy. In the very process of laying aside the littles as they can spare them, they are denying self and cultivating liberality of heart. They are educating themselves to good works, and are meeting the design of God in the plan of systematic benevolence as effectually as the more wealthy who give of their abundance.
In the days of the apostles, men went everywhere preaching the word. New churches were raised up. Their love and zeal for Christ led them to acts of great denial and sacrifice. Many of these Gentile churches were very poor; yet the apostle declares that their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. Their gifts were extended beyond their power. Men periled their lives and suffered the loss of all things for the truth's sake.
The apostle suggests the first day of the week as a proper time to review the course of Providence and the prosperity experienced, and in the fear of God, with true gratitude of heart for the blessings he has bestowed, decide how much, according to his own devised plan, shall be rendered back to him.
God has designed that the exercise of benevolence should be purely voluntary, not having recourse even to eloquent appeals to excite sympathy. "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." He is not pleased to have his treasury replenished with forced supplies. The loyal hearts of the people of God, rejoicing in the saving truth for this time, will, through love and gratitude to him for this precious light, be earnest and anxious to aid with their means in sending the truth to others. The very best manner to give expression to our love for our Redeemer, is to give and make offerings to bring souls to the knowledge of the truth.
The plan of redemption was entirely voluntary on the part of our Redeemer, and it is the purpose of Christ that all our benevolence should be freewill offerings. E. G. W.
(Vol. 45, #5)
"I am doing a great work," says Nehemiah, "so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"
God's people, in this important time for the church, should not relax their watchfulness or vigilance for one moment. Satan is upon our track. He is determined to overcome God's commandment keeping people, with his temptations. If we give no place to the devil, but resist his devices steadfast in the faith, we shall have strength to depart from all iniquity. Those who keep the commandments of God will be a power in the land, if they live up to their light and their privileges. They may be patterns of piety, holy in heart and in conversation. We shall not have ease, that we may cease watchfulness and prayer. As the time draws near for Christ to be revealed in the clouds of Heaven, Satan's temptations will be brought to bear with greater power upon those who keep God's commandments, for he knows that his time is short.
The work of Satan will be carried on through agents. Ministers who hate the law of God will employ any means to lead souls from their loyalty. Our bitterest foes will be among this class of persons. Their hearts are fully determined to make war against those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. This class feel that it is a virtue to talk, to write, and act out, the most bitter hatred against us. We need not look for fair dealing, or for justice, at their hands. Many of them are inspired by Satan with insane madness against those who are keeping the commandments of God. We will be maligned and misrepresented, all our motives and actions will be misjudged, and our characters will be attacked. The wrath of the dragon will be manifested in this manner. But I saw that we should not be in the least discouraged. Our strength is in Jesus, our advocate. If we, in humility and humble trust, hold fast to God, he will give us grace and heavenly wisdom to withstand all the wiles of Satan, and to come off victors.
It will not increase our influence, or bring us into favor with God, to come down from our great work to their level in meeting their slanders. There are those who will resort to any species of deception and gross falsehood, to gain their object and deceive souls, and to cast stigma upon the law of God and those who love to obey his commandments. They will repeat the most inconsistent and vile falsehoods, over and over, until they make themselves believe that they are truth. These are the strongest arguments they have to use against the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. We should not allow our feelings to control us, and divert us from the work of warning the world.
The case of Nehemiah is a forcible illustration. He was engaged in building the walls of Jerusalem, and the enemies of God were determined that the walls should not be built. "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, and conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it."
In this case, a spirit of hatred and opposition to the Hebrews formed the bond of union, and created the mutual sympathy among different bodies of men, who otherwise might war against each other. This will illustrate what we frequently witness in our day in the existing union of men of different denominations to oppose the present truth, whose only bond seems to be that which is dragonic in its nature, manifesting hatred and bitterness against the remnant who keep the commandments of God. This is especially seen among those who seem to be famous in hating and slandering each other, when they can spare time from their efforts to misrepresent, slander, and in every way abuse Seventh-day Adventists. "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them."
We are in constant danger of becoming self-sufficient, relying upon our own wisdom, and not making God our strength. Nothing disturbs Satan so much as our not being ignorant of his devices. If we feel our dangers, we shall feel the need of prayer as did Nehemiah, and, like him, we shall obtain that sure defense that will give us security in peril. If we are careless and indifferent, we shall surely be overcome by Satan's devices. We must be vigilant. While, like Nehemiah, we resort to prayer, taking all our perplexities and burdens to God, we should not feel that we have nothing to do. We are to watch as well as pray. We should watch the work of our adversaries, lest they gain advantage in deceiving souls. We should, in the wisdom of Christ, make efforts to defeat their purposes, while, at the same time, we do not suffer them to call us from our great work. Truth is stronger than error. Righteousness will prevail over wrong.
The Lord's people are seeking to heal the breach which has been made in the law of God. "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
This disturbs the enemies of our faith, and every means is employed to hinder us in our work. And yet the brokendown wall is going steadily up. The world is being warned, and many are turning away from trampling under their feet the Sabbath of Jehovah. God is in this work, and man cannot stop it. The angels of God are working with the efforts of God's faithful servants, and steadily the work advances.
We shall meet with opposition of every description, as did the builders of the walls of Jerusalem; but if we watch and pray, and work as they did, God will fight our battles for us and give us precious victories. Nehemiah "clave unto the Lord and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments which the Lord commanded Moses, and the Lord was with him."
Messengers were sent repeatedly, soliciting a conference with Nehemiah, but he refused to meet them. Bold threats were made of what they proposed to do, and messengers were sent to harangue the people engaged in their work of building. They presented flattering inducements, and promised them a freedom from restraint, and wonderful privileges, if they would unite their interest with them, and cease their work of building the walls of Jerusalem.
But the people were commanded not to engage in controversy with their enemies, and to answer them not a word, that no advantage of words might be given them. Threatenings and ridicule were resorted to. They said, "Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he will even break down their stone wall." Sanballat "was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews." Nehemiah prays, "Hear, O our God; for we are despised; and turn their reproach upon their own head."
"And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. Then sent Sanballet his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand."
We shall receive the most fierce opposition from that class who oppose the law of God. But like the builders of the walls of Jerusalem, we should not be diverted and hindered from our work by reports, by messengers desiring discussion or controversy, or by intimidating threats, the publication of falsehoods, or any of the devices Satan may instigate. Our answer should be, We are engaged in a great work, and we cannot come down. We shall sometimes be perplexed to know what course we should pursue, to preserve the honor of the cause of God, and to vindicate his truth.
The course of Nehemiah should have a strong bearing upon our minds, as to the manner of meeting this kind of opponents. We should take all these things to the Lord in prayer, as Nehemiah made his supplication to God while his own spirit was humbled. He clung to God with unwavering faith. This is the course we should pursue. Time is too precious for the servants of God to devote to vindicating their character blackened by those who hate the Sabbath of the Lord. We should move forward with unwavering confidence, believing that God will give to his truth great and precious victories. In humility, meekness, and purity of life, relying upon Jesus, we shall carry a convincing power with us that we have the truth.
We do not understand the faith and confidence we may have in God, the great blessings which faith will give us, as is our privilege. An important work is before us. We are to obtain a moral fitness for Heaven. Our words and our example are to tell upon the world. Angels of God are actively engaged in ministering to the children of God. Precious promises are upon record on condition of our obedience to God's requirements. Heaven is full of the richest of blessings, all waiting to be communicated to us. If we feel our need, and come to God in sincerity and in earnest faith, we shall be brought into close connection with Heaven, and shall be channels of light to the world.
The warning needs to be often sounded, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
(Vol. 45, #10)
The conflict of Christ with Satan in the wilderness will be regarded with sacred interest by every true follower of Christ. We should have feelings of the deepest gratitude to our Redeemer for teaching us by his own example how to resist and overcome Satan. Jesus did not visit scenes of gaiety and feasting to attain the victory so essential to our salvation; but he went into a desolate wilderness. Many do not even contemplate this scene of Christ in conflict with the fallen chief. They do not enter into sympathy with their Redeemer. Some even doubt whether Christ really felt the pangs of hunger in his abstinence from food during the period of forty days and forty nights.
He who suffered death for us on Calvary's cross, just as surely suffered the keenest pangs of hunger as that he died for us. And no sooner did this suffering commence than Satan was at hand with his temptations. We have a foe no less vigilant to contend with. Satan adapts his temptations to our circumstances. In every temptation he will present some bribe, some apparent good to be gained. But in the name of Christ we may have complete victory in resisting his devices.
It is more than eighteen hundred years since Christ walked upon the earth as a man among men. He found suffering and wretchedness abounding everywhere. What humiliation on the part of Christ! For, though he was in the form of God, he took upon himself the form of a servant. He was rich in Heaven, crowned with glory and honor, and for our sakes he became poor. What an act of condescension on the part of the Lord of life and glory, that he might lift up fallen man.
Jesus did not come to men with commands and threatenings, but with love that is without a parallel. Love begets love; and thus the love of Christ displayed upon the cross woos and wins the sinner, and binds him, repenting, to the cross, believing and adoring the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. Christ came to the world to perfect a righteous character for many, and to elevate the fallen race. But only a few of the millions in our world will accept the righteousness and excellency of his character, and fulfill the requirements given to secure their happiness.
His lessons of instruction and his holy life, if followed, would stay the tide of physical and moral wretchedness that has so defiled the moral image of God in man that he bears scarcely a resemblance to the noble Adam as he stood in Eden in his holy innocency. Every prohibition of God is for the health and eternal well-being of man. In obedience to all the requirements of God, there will be peace and happiness unaccompanied with shame or reproaches of conscience.
But very few of the Christian world are following their Master in a course of humble obedience, progressing in holiness and perfection of Christian character. Intemperance and licentiousness are greatly increasing, and are practiced to a large extent under the cloak of Christianity. This deplorable state of things is not because men are obedient to God's law, but because their hearts rise in rebellion to his holy precepts.
Repentance toward God, because his law has been transgressed, and faith in Jesus Christ, are the only means whereby we may be elevated to purity of life and reconciliation with God. Were all the sins, which have brought the wrath of God upon cities and nations, fully understood, their woes and calamities would be found to be the results of uncontrolled appetites and passions.
More Than One Fall.--If the race had ceased to fall when Adam was driven from Eden, we should now be in a far more elevated condition physically, mentally, and morally. But while men deplore the fall of Adam, which has resulted in such unutterable woe, they disobey the express injunctions of God, as did Adam, although they have his example to warn them from doing as he did in violating the law of Jehovah. Would that man had stopped falling with Adam. But there has been a succession of falls. Men will not take warning from Adam's experience. They will indulge appetite and passion in direct violation of the law of God, and at the same time continue to mourn Adam's transgression, which brought sin into the world.
From Adam's day to ours there has been a succession of falls, each greater than the last, in every species of crime. God did not create a race of beings so devoid of health, beauty, and moral power as now exists in the world. Disease of every kind has been fearfully increasing upon the race. This has not been by God's especial providence, but directly contrary to his will. It has come by man's disregard of the very means which God has ordained to shield him from the terrible evils existing. Obedience to God's law in every respect would save men from intemperance, licentiousness, and disease of every type. No one can violate natural law without suffering the penalty.
What man would, for any sum of money, deliberately sell his mental capabilities? Should one offer him money if he would part with his intellect, he would turn with disgust from the insane suggestion. Yet thousands are parting with health of body, vigor of intellect, and elevation of soul, for the sake of gratifying appetite. Instead of gain, they experience only loss. This they do not realize because of their benumbed sensibilities. They have bartered away their God given faculties. And for what? Answer. Groveling sensualities and degrading vices. The gratification of taste is indulged at the cost of health and intellect.
Christ commenced the work of redemption just where the ruin began. He made provision to reinstate man in his Godlike purity if he accepted the help brought him. Through faith in his all-powerful name--the only name given under Heaven whereby we may be saved--man could overcome appetite and passion, and through his obedience to the law of God, health would take the place of infirmities and corrupting diseases. Those who overcome will follow the example of Christ by bringing bodily appetites and passion under the control of enlightened conscience and reason.
If ministers who preach the gospel would do their duty, and would also be ensamples to the flock of God, their voices would be lifted up like a trumpet to show the people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins. Ministers who exhort sinners to be converted should distinctly define what sin is and what conversion from sin is. Sin is the transgression of the law. The convicted sinner must exercise repentance toward God for the transgression of his law, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
The apostle gives us the true definition of sin. "Sin is the transgression of the law." The largest class of Christ's professed ambassadors are blind guides. They lead the people away from the path of safety by representing the requirements and prohibitions of the ancient law of Jehovah as arbitrary and severe. They give the sinner license to overstep the limits of God's law. In this they are like the great adversary of souls, opening before them a life of freedom in violation of God's commandments. With this lawless freedom the basis of moral responsibility is gone.
Those who follow these blind leaders close the avenues of their souls to the reception of truth. They will not allow the truth with its practical bearings to affect their hearts. The largest number brace their souls with prejudice against new truths, and also against the clearest light which shows the correct application of an old truth, the law of God, which is as old as the world. The intemperate and licentious delight in the oft repeated assertion that the law of the ten commandments is not binding in this dispensation. Avarice, thefts, perjuries, and crimes of every description, are carried on under the cloak of Christianity. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 45, #12)
Health and Happiness.--And why should not men do these things if the law forbidding them is abolished? No message from earth or Heaven can forcibly impress the intemperate and the licentious who are deluded with the theory that the law of ten commandments is abolished. Many professed ministers of Christ exhort the people to holiness of life, while they themselves yield to the power of appetite, and the defilement of tobacco. These teachers, who are leading the people to despise physical and moral law, will have a fearful record to meet by-and-by.
Health, truth, and happiness, can never be advanced without an intelligent knowledge of, and full obedience to, the law of God, and perfect faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord uses no other medium through which to reach the human heart. Many professed Christians acknowledge that in the use of tobacco they are indulging a filthy, expensive, and hurtful practice. But they excuse themselves by saying that the habit is formed, and they cannot overcome it. In this acknowledgment they yield homage to Satan, saying, by their actions, if not in words, that "although God is powerful, Satan has greater power." By profession they say, "We are the servants of Jesus Christ," while their works say that they yield subjection to Satan's sway, because it costs them the least inconvenience. Is this overcoming as Christ overcame? or is it being overcome by temptation? And the above apology is urged by men in the ministry, who profess to be Christ's ambassadors.
Many are the temptations and besetments on every side to ruin the prospects of young men, both for this world and the next. But the only path of safety is for young and old to live in strict conformity to the principles of physical and moral law. The path of obedience is the only path that leads to Heaven. Alcohol and tobacco inebriates would, at times, give any amount of money if they could by so doing overcome their appetite for these body and soul destroying indulgences. And they who will not subject the appetites and passions to the control of reason, will indulge them at the expense of physical and moral obligations.
The victims of a depraved appetite, goaded on by Satan's continual temptations, will seek indulgence at the expense of health and even life, and will go to the bar of God as self-murderers. Many have so long allowed habit to master them that they have become slaves to appetite. They have not the moral courage to persevere in self-denial, and to endure suffering for a time through restraint and denial of the taste, in order to master the vice. This class refuse to overcome as did their Redeemer. Did not Christ endure physical suffering and mental anguish on man's account in the wilderness?
Many have so long allowed appetite and taste to control reason that they have not moral power to persevere in self-denial, and endure suffering for a time, until abused nature can take up her work, and healthy action be established in the system. Very many with perverted tastes, shrink at the thought of restricting their diet, and they continue their unhealthful indulgences. They are not willing to overcome as did their Redeemer.
What a scene of unexampled suffering was that fast of nearly six weeks, while Jesus was assailed with the fiercest temptations! How few can understand the love of God for the fallen race in that he withheld not his divine Son from taking upon him the humiliation of humanity! He gave up his dearly beloved to shame and agony, that he might bring many sons and daughters to glory.
When sinful man can discern the inexpressible love of God in giving his Son to die upon the cross, we shall better understand that it is infinite gain to overcome as Christ overcame. And we shall understand that it is eternal loss if we gain the whole world, with all its pleasure and glory, and yet lose the soul. Heaven is cheap enough at any cost.
On Jordan's banks the voice from Heaven, attended by the manifestation from the excellent glory, proclaimed Christ to be the Son of the Eternal. Satan was to personally encounter the Head of the kingdom which he came to overthrow. If he failed, he knew that he was lost. Therefore, the power of his temptations was in accordance with the greatness of the object which he would lose or gain. For four thousand years, ever since the declaration was made to Adam that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, he had been planning his manner of attack.
He put forth his strongest efforts to overcome Christ on the point of appetite at a time when he was enduring the keenest pangs of hunger. The victory gained was designed, not only to set an example to those who have fallen under the power of appetite, but to qualify the Redeemer for his special work of reaching to the very depths of human woe. By experiencing in himself the strength of Satan's temptation, and of human sufferings and infirmities, he would know how to succor those who should put forth efforts to help themselves.
No amount of money can buy a single victory over the temptations of Satan. But that which money is valueless to obtain, which is integrity, determined effort, and moral power, will, through the name of Christ, obtain noble victories upon the point of appetite. What if the conflict should cost man even his life? What if the slaves to these vices do really die in the struggle to free themselves from the controlling power of appetite? they die in a good cause. And if the victory be gained at the cost of human life, it is not too dearly earned if the victor can come up in the first resurrection, and have the overcomer's reward.
Everything, then, is gained. But life will not be sacrificed in the struggle to overcome depraved appetites. And it is a certainty that unless we do overcome as Christ overcame we cannot have a seat with him upon his throne. Those who in the face of light and truth destroy mental, moral, and physical health, by indulgence of any kind, will lose Heaven. They sacrifice their God given powers to idols. God deserves and claims our first and highest thoughts and our holiest affections.
At an infinite cost, Christ our Redeemer has purchased every faculty and our very existence, and all our blessings in life have been purchased for us with the price of his blood. Shall we accept the blessings, and forget the claims of the Giver? Can any of us consent to follow our inclination, indulge appetites and passions, and live without God? Shall we eat and drink like the beast, and no more associate the thought of God with every good we enjoy than the dumb animals?
Those who make determined efforts in the name of the Conqueror to overcome every unnatural craving of appetite will not die in the conflict. In their efforts to control appetite, they are placing themselves in right relations to life, so that they may enjoy health and the favor of God, and have a right hold on the immortal life.
Thousands are continually selling physical, mental, and moral vigor for the pleasure of taste. Each of the faculties has its distinctive office, and yet they all have a mutual dependence upon each other. And if the balance is carefully preserved, they will be kept in harmonious action. Not one of these faculties can be valued by dollars and cents. And yet, for a good dinner, for alcohol, or tobacco, they are sold. And while paralyzed by the indulgence of appetite, Satan controls the mind, and leads to every species of crime and wickedness. God has enjoined upon us to preserve every faculty in healthful vigor, that we may have a clear sense of his requirements, and that we may perfect holiness in his fear. By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be continued.)
(Vol. 45, #13)
Strange Fire.--Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, who ministered in the holy office of priesthood, partook freely of wine, and, as was their usual custom, went in to minister before the Lord. The priests who burned incense before the Lord were required to use the fire of God's kindling, which burned day and night, and was never extinguished. God gave explicit directions how every part of his service should be conducted, that all connected with his sacred worship might be in accordance with his holy character. And any deviation from the express directions of God in connection with his holy service was punishable with death. No sacrifice would be acceptable to God which was not salted nor seasoned with divine fire, which represented the communication between God and man that was opened through Jesus Christ alone. The holy fire which was to be put upon the censer was kept burning perpetually. And while the people of God were without, earnestly praying, the incense kindled by the holy fire was to arise before God, mingled with their prayers. This incense was an emblem of the mediation of Christ.
Aaron's sons took the common fire which God did not accept, and they offered insult to the infinite God by presenting this strange fire before him. God consumed them by fire for their positive disregard of his express directions. All their works were as the offering of Cain. There was no divine Saviour represented. Had these sons of Aaron been in full command of their reasoning faculties they would have discerned the difference between the common and sacred fire. The gratification of appetite debased their faculties and so beclouded their intellect that their power of discernment was gone. They fully understood the holy character of the typical service, and the awful solemnity and responsibility assumed of presenting themselves before God to minister in sacred service.
Some may inquire, How could the sons of Aaron have been accountable when their intellects were so far paralyzed by intoxication that they were not able to discern the difference between sacred and common fire? It was when they put the cup to their lips that they made themselves responsible for all their acts committed while under the influence of wine. The indulgence of appetite cost those priests their lives. God expressly forbade the use of wine that would have an influence to becloud the intellect.
"And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations; and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses."
The special injunction of God to the Hebrews in reference to the use of intoxicating liquors should be regarded in this dispensation. But many who are holding the highest responsibilities in our country are, in too many cases, liquor and tobacco slaves.
Jurors in our courts, by whose verdict the innocence or guilt of their fellow men is decided, are many of them liquor drinkers and tobacco inebriates. And, while under the influence of these, which becloud the intellect and debase the soul, judgment is given upon the liberty and life of their fellow men.
Perverted judgment in many cases clears from all punishment the greatest criminals, when the safety of society demands they should receive the full penalty of the law which they have violated.
The men who are legislating and those who are executing the laws of our government, while they are violating the laws of their being in debasing appetites, which stupefy and paralyze the intellect, are not fitted to decide the destiny of their fellow men. Those only who feel the necessity of keeping soul, body, and spirit, in conformity to natural law, to the end that they may preserve the right balance of their mental powers, are fitted to decide important questions in reference to the executions of the law of our land. This was the mind of God by decrees to the Hebrews that wine should not be used by those who ministered in holy office.
Here we have the most plain directions of God, and his reasons for prohibiting the use of wine; that their power of discrimination and discernment might be clear, and in no way confused; that their judgment might be correct, and they be ever able to discern between the clean and unclean. Another reason of weighty importance why they should abstain from anything which would intoxicate, is also given. It would require the full use of unclouded reason to present to the children of Israel all the statutes which God had spoken to them.
Anything in eating and drinking which disqualifies the mental powers for healthful and active exercise is an aggravating sin in the sight of God. Especially is this the case with those who minister in holy things, who should at all times be examples to the people, and be in a condition to properly instruct them.
Notwithstanding they have this striking example before them, some professed Christians will desecrate the house of God with breaths polluted with the fumes of liquor and tobacco. And the spittoons are sometimes filled with the ejected spittle and quids of tobacco. The effluvia is constantly arising from these receptacles, polluting the atmosphere. Men professing to be Christians bow to worship God, and dare to pray to him with their lips stained by tobacco, while their half paralyzed nerves tremble from the exhausting use of this powerful narcotic. And this is the devotion they offer to a holy, and sin-hating God. Ministers in the sacred desk, with mouth and lips defiled, dare to take the sacred word of God in their polluted lips. They think God does not notice their sinful indulgence. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." God will no more receive a sacrifice from the hands of those who thus pollute themselves, and offer with their service the incense of tobacco and liquor, than he would receive the offering of the sons of Aaron, who offered incense with strange fire.
God has not changed. He is as particular and exact in his requirements now as he was in the days of Moses. But in the sanctuaries of worship in our day, with the songs of praise, the prayers, and the teaching from the pulpit, there is not merely strange fire, but positive defilement. Instead of truth's being preached with holy unction from God, it is sometimes spoken under the influence of tobacco and brandy. Strange fire indeed! Bible truth and Bible holiness are presented to the people, and prayers are offered to God, mingled with the stench of tobacco! Such incense is most acceptable to Satan! A terrible deception is this! What an offense in the sight of God! What an insult to him who is holy, dwelling in light unapproachable!
If the faculties of the mind were in healthful vigor, professed Christians would discern the inconsistency of such worship. Like Nadab and Abihu, their sensibilities are so blunted that they make no difference between the sacred and common. Holy and sacred things are brought down upon a level with their tobacconized breaths, benumbed brains, and their polluted souls, defiled through indulgence of appetite and passion. Professed Christians eat and drink, smoke and chew tobacco, and become gluttons and drunkards, to gratify appetite, and still talk of overcoming as Christ overcame!! By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be Continued.)
(Vol. 45, #14)
Sin of Presumption.--There are many who fail to distinguish between the rashness of presumption and the intelligent confidence of faith. Satan thought that by his temptations he could delude the world's Redeemer, to make one bold move in manifesting his divine power, to create a sensation, and to surprise all by the wonderful display of the power of his Father in preserving him from injury. He suggested that Christ should appear in his real character, and by this masterpiece of power, establish his right to the confidence and faith of the people, that he was indeed the Saviour of the world. If Christ had been deceived by Satan's temptations, and had exercised his miraculous power to relieve himself from difficulty, he would have broken the contract made with his Father, to be a probationer in behalf of the race.
It was a difficult task for the Prince of Life to carry out the plan which he had undertaken for the salvation of man, in clothing his divinity with humanity. He had received honor in the heavenly courts, and was familiar with absolute power. It was as difficult for him to keep the level of humanity as it is for men to rise above the low level of their depraved natures, and be partakers of the divine nature.
Christ was put to the closest test, requiring the strength of all his faculties to resist the inclination when in danger, to use his power to deliver himself from peril, and triumph over the power of the prince of darkness. Satan showed his knowledge of the weak points of the human heart, and put forth his utmost power to take advantage of the weakness of the humanity which Christ had assumed in order to overcome his temptations on man's account.
God has given man precious promises upon conditions of faith and obedience; but they are not to sustain him in any rash act. If men needlessly place themselves in peril, and go where God does not require them to go, and self-confidently expose themselves to danger, disregarding the dictates of reason, God will not work a miracle to relieve them. He will not send his angels to preserve any from being burned if they choose to place themselves in the fire.
Adam was not deceived by the serpent, as was Eve, and it was inexcusable in Adam to rashly transgress God's positive command. Adam was presumptuous because his wife had sinned. He could not see what would become of Eve. He was sad, troubled, and tempted. He listened to Eve's recital of the words of the serpent, and his constancy and integrity began to waver. Doubts arose in his mind in regard to whether God did mean just as he said. He rashly ate the tempting fruit.
Spiritualism.--Spiritualists make the path to hell most attractive. Spirits of darkness are clothed by these deceptive teachers in pure robes of Heaven, and they have power to deceive those not fortified with Bible truth. Vain philosophy is employed in representing the path to hell as a path of safety. With the imagination highly wrought, and voices musically tuned, they picture the broad road as one of happiness and glory. Ambition holds before deluded souls, as Satan presented to Eve, a freedom and bliss for them to enjoy which they never conceived was possible. Men are praised who have traveled the broad path to hell, and after they die are exalted to the highest positions in the eternal world. Satan, clothed in robes of brightness, appearing like an exalted angel, tempted the world's Redeemer without success. But as he comes to man robed as an angel of light he has better success. He covers his hideous purposes, and succeeds too well in deluding the unwary who are not firmly anchored upon eternal truth.
Riches, power, genius, eloquence, pride, perverted reason, and passion, are enlisted as Satan's agents in doing his work in making the broad road attractive, strewing it with tempting flowers. But every word they have spoken against the world's Redeemer will be reflected back upon them, and will one day burn into their guilty souls like molten lead. They will be overwhelmed with terror and shame as they behold the exalted one coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Then shall the bold defier, who lifted himself up against the Son of God, see himself in the true blackness of his character. The sight of the inexpressible glory of the Son of God will be intensely painful to those whose characters are stained with sin. The pure light and glory emanating from Christ will awaken remorse, shame, and terror. They will send forth wails of anguish to the rocks and mountains, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him who sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"
Spiritualists claim superior light and power. They have opened the door and invited the prince of darkness in, and have made him their honored guest. They have allied themselves to the powers of darkness which are developing in these last days in signs and wonders, that if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. Spiritualists claim that they can do greater miracles than Christ did. Satan made the same boasts to Christ. Because the Son of God had linked himself to the weakness of humanity, to be tempted in all points like as man should be tempted, Satan triumphed over him, and taunted him. He boasted of his superior strength, and dared him to open a controversy with him.
Spiritualists are increasing in numbers. They will come to men who have the truth as Satan came to Christ, tempting them to manifest their power and work miracles, and give evidence of their being favored of God, and of their being the people who have the truth. Satan said to Christ, "If thou be the Son of God, command these stones that they be made bread." Herod and Pilate asked Christ to work miracles when he was on trial for his life. Their curiosity was aroused, but Christ did not work a miracle to gratify them.
Spiritualists will press the matter to engage in controversy with ministers who teach the truth. If they decline, they will dare them. They will quote Scripture, as did Satan to Christ. "Prove all things," say they. But their idea of proving is to listen to their deceptive reasonings, and to attend their circles. But in their gatherings, the angels of darkness assume the forms of dead friends, and communicate with them as angels of light.
Their loved ones will appear in robes of light, as familiar to the sight as when they were upon the earth. They will teach them, and converse with them. And many will be deceived by this wonderful display of Satan's power. The only safety for the people of God is to be thoroughly conversant with their Bibles, and be intelligent upon the reasons of our faith in regard to the sleep of the dead.
Satan is a cunning foe. And it is not difficult for the evil angels to represent both saints and sinners who have died, and make these representations visible to human eyes. These manifestations will be more frequent, and developments of a more startling character will appear as we near the close of time. We need not be astonished at anything in the line of deceptions to allure the unwary, and deceive, if possible, the very elect. Spiritualists quote, "Prove all things." But God has, for the benefit of his people who live amid the perils of the last days, proved this class, and given the result of his proving.
2 Thess. 2:9-12: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 45, #16)
John upon the Isle of Patmos, saw the things which should come upon the earth in the last days, Rev. 13:13; 16:14: "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty."
The apostle Peter distinctly points out the class which will be manifested in these days. 2 Pet. 2:10-14: "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption, and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children."
God, in his word, has placed his stamp upon the heresies of spiritualism as he placed his mark upon Cain. The godly need not be deceived if they are students of the Scriptures and obedient to follow the plain path marked out for them in the word of God.
The boastful spiritualist claims great freedom, and in smooth, flowery language seeks to fascinate and delude unwary souls to choose the broad path of pleasure and sinful indulgence, rather than the narrow path and the straight way. Spiritualists call the requirements of God's law bondage, and say those who obey them live a life of slavish fear. With smooth words and fair speeches they boast of their freedom, and seek to cover their dangerous heresies with the garments of righteousness. They would make the most revolting crimes be considered as blessings to the race.
They open before the sinner a wide door to follow the promptings of the carnal heart, and violate the law of God, especially the seventh commandment. Those who speak these great swelling words of vanity, and who triumph in their freedom in sin, promise those whom they deceive the enjoyment of freedom in a course of rebellion against the revealed will of God. These deluded souls are themselves in the veriest bondage to Satan and are controlled by his power, and yet promising liberty to those who will dare to follow the same course of sin that they themselves have chosen.
The Scriptures are indeed fulfilled in this, that the blind are leading the blind. For by whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. These deluded souls are under the most abject slavery to the will of demons. They have allied themselves to the powers of darkness and have no strength to go contrary to the will of demons. This is their boasted liberty. By Satan are they overcome and brought into bondage, and the great liberty promised to those they deceive is helpless slavery to sin and Satan.
We are not to attend their circles, neither are our ministers to engage in controversy with them. They are of that class specified whom we should not invite into our houses, or bid them Godspeed. We have to compare their teachings with the revealed will of God. We are not to engage in an investigation of spiritualism. God has investigated this for us, and told us definitely that a class would arise in the last days who would deny Christ who has purchased them with his own blood. The character of spiritualists is so plainly described that we need not be deceived by them. If we obey the divine injunction, we shall have no sympathy with spiritualists, however smooth and fair may be their words.
The beloved John continues his warning against seducers: "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Anti-christ that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father (but he that acknowledgeth the Son, hath the Father also)."
In Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians, he exhorts us to be on our guard, and not depart from the faith. He speaks of Christ's coming as an event to immediately follow the work of Satan in spiritualism in these words: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
In the epistle of Paul to Timothy, he foretells what will be manifested in the latter days. And this warning was for the benefit of those who should live when these things should take place. God revealed to his servant the perils of the church in the last days. He writes, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron."
The faithful Peter speaks of the dangers to which the Christian church would be exposed in the last days, and more fully describes the heresies which would arise and the blaspheming seducers who would seek to draw away souls after them. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
Here God has worked out for us the proof of the class mentioned. They have refused to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God, and they have no more reverence for the eternal Father than for his Son, Jesus Christ. They have neither the Son nor the Father. And like their great leader, the rebel chief, they are in rebellion against the law of God, and they despise the blood of Christ.
We may rejoice in every condition of life, and triumph under all circumstances, because the Son of God came down from Heaven and submitted to bear our infirmities, and to endure sacrifice and death in order to give to us immortal life. He will ever bear the marks of his earthly humiliation in man's behalf. While the redeemed host and the pure angelic throng shall do him honor and worship him, he will carry the marks of one that has been slain. The more fully we appreciate the infinite sacrifice made in our behalf by a sin-atoning Saviour, the more closely do we come into harmony with Heaven.
We have characters to form here. God will test us and prove us by placing us in positions to develop the most enduring strength, purity, and nobility of soul, with perfect patience on our part, and entire trust in a crucified Saviour. We shall meet with reverses, affliction, and severe trials; for these are God's tests. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and purge his people as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.
The cross of Christ is all covered with reproach and stigma, yet it is the hope of life and exaltation to man. No one can comprehend the mystery of godliness so long as he is ashamed to bear the cross of Christ. None will be able to discern and appreciate the blessings which Christ has purchased for man at infinite cost to himself, unless he is willing to joyfully sacrifice earthly treasures that they may become his followers. Every self-denial and sacrifice made for Christ enriches the giver, and every suffering and reproach endured for his dear name increases the final joy and immortal reward in the kingdom of glory. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 45, #18)
Jesus would convince his enemies that his teachings and miracles did not supplant the law, detract from its dignity, or lessen its claims. His works were in strict accordance with both the moral and the ceremonial law. Christ was the angel who went before Moses, and guided the travels of the children of Israel in the wilderness. God had said to Israel, "Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries." Ex. 23:20-22. This angel, Christ, gave Moses the ceremonies and ordinances of the Jewish law to be repeated to the people.
The rebellion of Israel against the law and authority of God, caused their destruction. The honor God had given them of being thus conducted by his Son, increased their sin. The charges of the Jews that Christ did not regard the law of Moses, was without the least foundation. Christ was a Jew, and, to the hour of his death upon the cross, observed the law binding upon the Jews. But when type met antitype, at the death of Christ, then the offering of the blood of beasts became valueless. Christ made the one great offering in giving his own life, which all their former offerings had foreshadowed, which terminated the value of all the sacrificial offerings of the Jewish law.
Since the fall, no immediate communication could exist between God and man, only through Christ, and God committed to his Son, in a special sense, the case of the fallen race. Christ has undertaken the work of redemption. He purposes to maintain the full honor of God's law, notwithstanding the human family have transgressed it. He will redeem from its curse all the obedient who will embrace the offer of mercy by accepting the atonement so wonderfully provided. Through his mediatorial work, Christ will fully vindicate the holiness and immutability of his Father's law.
Adam and Eve at their creation had knowledge of the original law of God. It was imprinted upon their hearts, and they were acquainted with the claims of law upon them. When they transgressed the law of God, and fell from their state of happy innocence, and became sinners, the future of the fallen race was not relieved by a single ray of hope. God pitied them and Christ devised the plan for their salvation by himself bearing the guilt. When the curse was pronounced upon the earth and upon man in connection with the curse was a promise that through Christ there was hope and pardon for the transgression of God's law. Although gloom and darkness hung, like the pall of death, over the future, yet in the promise of the Redeemer, the star of hope lighted up the dark future. The gospel was first preached to Adam by Christ. Adam and Eve felt sincere sorrow and repentance for their guilt. They believed the precious promise of God, and were saved from utter ruin.
Paradise was lost to Adam and the curse was pronounced upon the earth because of the transgression of the Father's law, and death came because of sin. Adam found by sad experience that it was easier to transgress the commandments of God than to resist and press back the tide of moral wretchedness that was pressing in upon him. Those who lived before the flood were favored in having a knowledge of the law of God communicated to them by Adam who had conversed with God and angels in Eden. He lived among them nearly one thousand years, and by his teachings, example, and humble obedience to all God's requirements, exalted the law of God. He sought to turn his posterity from transgression to a life of obedience and faith in a Saviour to come.
The knowledge of the law of God was preserved from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Abraham and from Abraham to Moses, for the benefit of all who should live upon the earth. The blessings upon the patriarch Abraham for obedience are repeated to Isaac in these words: "And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statues, and my laws."
Enoch first received instruction from Noah, and he observed the law of God, and served him with singleness of heart. He became so pure in character that the Lord communicated his will to him, and through holy vision revealed the great events connected with Christ's second appearing, and also the wickedness that would prevail just prior to the end. Enoch was a faithful preacher of righteousness, and sought to turn men from the transgression of the law to faithful obedience. He walked with God three hundred years, giving to the world a faithful example in a pure and spotless life, which was in marked contrast with that rebellious and self-willed generation who boasted of their open disregard of God's holy law. His testimony was not regarded because men loved sin better than holiness. Enoch was borne by angels to Heaven without seeing death.
In the destruction of the inhabitants of the old world by the flood is clearly represented the faith of all those who continue to transgress the law of God. Enoch's translation to Heaven represents the commandment keeping people of God who will be alive upon the earth when Christ shall come the second time, and who will be glorified in the sight of those who hated them because they would keep the commandments of God. These also will be translated to Heaven without seeing death, as Enoch and Elijah were.
The great wickedness of the people before the flood had reached unto Heaven. And the Lord made known to Noah that he would destroy man, whom he had created, from off the earth by the waters of the flood, because of their continual transgression of his law. Noah warned the people. He believed the word of God, and faithfully preached to that sinful generation, and made every effort to turn them from transgression to obedience. But he was unsuccessful. Only his own family at last received his message. The terrible judgments of God in their destruction should have been sufficient warning to all who should afterward live upon the earth, that God will surely punish those who disregard his law. But as the people multiplied upon the earth, men became bold in their transgression of God's law. Idolatry existed and increased to a fearful extent, until the Lord left the hardened transgressors to follow their evil ways, and he chose Abraham from an idolatrous family, and made him the depositary of his law for future generations.
The Lord communicated his will to Abraham through angels. Christ appeared to him, and gave him a distinct knowledge of the requirements of the moral law, and of the great salvation which would be accomplished through himself. Abraham was appointed of God to preserve the truth amid the prevailing sins and corruptions which were increasing. But the descendants of Abraham departed from the worship of the true God, and transgressed his law. They mingled with the nations who had no knowledge or fear of God, and gradually imitated their customs and manners, until God's anger was kindled against them, and he permitted them to have their own way and follow the devices of their own corrupt hearts. He had conferred special blessings upon Abraham because he was faithful in keeping his commandments, and had chosen his family as his peculiar treasure.
God revealed to Abraham his purposes through vision. He was shown in a figure that his posterity would become bondmen to an idolatrous nation, because of their transgression of the law of God, and that they would be punished for their apostasy.
But when they humbled themselves before God, and acknowledged his dealings, and cried unto him earnestly for deliverance from the oppressive yoke of the Egyptians, their cries, and their promises to serve God and to be obedient to his law if he would break from off them the oppressive yoke of bondage, reached Heaven. God answered their prayers in a most wonderful manner, and Israel was brought forth from Egypt and taken to himself as his peculiar treasure.
After the Lord had made a covenant with Israel in a most solemn manner to be a peculiar treasure unto him, they were brought forth out of their tents and from their encampments to meet with God. And the Lord graciously condescended to come down upon Mount Sinai, not to give a new law, but to speak, with an audible voice in the hearing of all the people, his law which already existed. The presence of God made the mountain sacred, and neither man nor beast was permitted to touch the mountain on penalty of death. The Hebrews were instructed that everything that was connected with God must be regarded with the greatest reverence. They were greatly exalted in thus being made the depositaries of his law. "And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount.
The Lord made the occasion of speaking his law a scene of awful grandeur and sublimity, in accordance with its exalted character. The ten commandments were spoken amid thunder and flame, and in great power and glory. The voice of the Lord was like a trumpet, waxing louder, and louder, and in a full volume rolled down the mountain. The earth trembled and quaked, and the very mount seemed to be moving from its foundation. The best of Israel shook with fear, and fell upon their faces before the Lord. The awe-inspiring voice, and the terrible glory displayed upon the mount were to them most impressive.
God accompanied the declaration of his law with the most sublime exhibitions of his power, that the Hebrews might never forget the scene, and that they might be impressed with profound veneration for the Author of the ten commandments. In this, the Lord shows to all men the sacredness and importance of his law. The law of ten precepts was by no means given exclusively to Israel, to be confined to them as a people, but the Hebrews were made the depositaries of the law which was to be handed down to us. The entire history of the children of Israel was "written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come." No Hebrews could so fully estimate the sacredness and exalted character of God's law as those who accepted Christ as their Redeemer. He was the foundation of the entire Jewish system. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 45, #19)
The fact that the holy pair in disregarding the prohibition of God in one particular, thus transgressed his law, and as the result suffered the consequences of the fall, should impress all with a just sense of the sacred character of the law of God. If the experience of our first parents in the transgression of what many who profess to fear God would call the lesser requirements of the law of God, was attended with such fearful consequences, what will be the punishment of those who not only break its most important precepts, as clearly defined as is the fourth commandment, but also teach others to transgress?
All will yet understand, as did Adam and Eve, that God means what he says. Men who pass on indifferently in regard to the especial claims of God's holy law, and who turn from and reject the light given upon the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and seek to ease their consciences by following traditions and customs, will be held responsible by God, and in a greater degree, than if Christ had not come to the earth, and suffered on Calvary. The fact that the redemption of man from the penalty of the transgression, required this wonderful sacrifice on the part of Christ, gives unmistakable proof of the unchanging nature of the law of God.
God gave a clear and definite knowledge of his will to Israel by especial precepts, showing the duty of man to God and to his fellow men. The worship due to God was clearly defined. A special system of rites and ceremonies was established, which would secure the remembrance of God among his people, and thereby serve as a hedge to guard and protect the ten commandments from violation.
God's people, whom he calls his peculiar treasure, were privileged with a twofold system of law; the moral and the ceremonial. The one, pointing back to creation to keep in remembrance the living God who made the world, whose claims are binding upon all men in every dispensation, and which will exist through all time and eternity. The other, given because of man's transgression of the moral law, the obedience to which consisted in sacrifices and offerings pointing to the future redemption. Each is clear and distinct from the other. From the creation the moral law was an essential part of God's divine plan, and was as unchangeable as himself. The ceremonial law was to answer a particular purpose of Christ plan for the salvation of the race. The typical system of sacrifices and offerings was established that through these services the sinner might discern the great offering, Christ. But the Jews were so blinded by pride and sin that but few of them could see farther than the death of beasts as an atonement for sin; and when Christ, whom these offerings prefigured, came, they could not discern him. The ceremonial law was glorious; it was the provision made by Jesus Christ in counsel with his Father, to aid in the salvation of the race. The whole arrangement of the typical system was founded on Christ. Adam saw Christ prefigured in the innocent beast suffering the penalty of his transgression of Jehovah's law.
The law of types reached forward to Christ. All hope and faith centered in Christ until type reached its antitype in his death. The statutes and judgments specifying the duty of man to his fellow men, were full of important instruction, defining and simplifying the principles of the moral law, for the purpose of increasing religious knowledge, and of preserving God's chosen people distinct and separate from idolatrous nations.
The statutes concerning marriage, inheritance, and strict justice in deal with one another, were peculiar and contrary to the customs and manners of other nations, and were designed of God to keep his people separate from other nations. The necessity of this to preserve the people of God from becoming like the nations who had not the love and fear of God, is the same in this corrupt age, when the transgression of God's law prevails and idolatry exists to a fearful extent. If ancient Israel needed such security, we need it more, to keep us from being utterly confounded with the transgressors of God's law. The hearts of men are so prone to depart from God that there is a necessity for restraint and discipline.
The love that God bore to man whom he had created in his own image, led him to give his Son to die for man's transgression, and lest the increase of sin should lead him to forget God and the promised redemption, the system of sacrificial offerings was established to typify the perfect offering of the Son of God.
Christ was the angel appointed of God to go before Moses in the wilderness, conducting the Israelites in their travels to the land of Canaan. Christ gave Moses his special directions to be given to Israel. "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ."
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." These words were called out by witnessing a representation by the Jews of water flowing from the flinty rock. This commemoration of bringing water from the rock in the wilderness moves the heart of the Son of God to tenderest compassion and pity for their darkened understanding; for they will not see the light which he has brought to them. Christ tells them that he is that rock. I am that living water. Your fathers drank of that spiritual rock that followed them. That rock was myself. It was through Christ alone that the Hebrews were favored with the especial blessings which they were continually receiving, notwithstanding their sinful murmurings and rebellion.
In consequence of continual transgression, the moral law was repeated in awful grandeur from Sinai. Christ gave to Moses religious precepts which were to govern the everyday life. These statutes were explicitly given to guard the ten commandments. They were not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ. They were to be binding upon man in every age as long as time should last. These commands were enforced by the power of the moral law, and they clearly and definitely explained that law.
Christ became sin for the fallen race, in taking upon himself the condemnation resting upon the sinner for his transgression of the law of God. Christ stood at the head of the human family as their representative. He had taken upon himself the sins of the world. In the likeness of sinful flesh he condemned sin in the flesh. He recognized the claims of the Jewish law until his death, when type met antitype. In the miracle he performed for the leper, he bade him go to the priests with an offering in accordance with the law of Moses. Thus he sanctioned the law requiring offerings.
Christians who profess to be Bible students can appreciate more fully than ancient Israel did the full signification of the ceremonial ordinances that they were required to observe. If they are indeed Christians, they are prepared to acknowledge the sacredness and importance of the shadowy types, as they see the accomplishment of the events which they represent. The death of Christ gives the Christian a correct knowledge of the system of ceremonies and explains prophecies which still remain obscure to the Jews. Moses of himself framed no law. Christ, the angel whom God had appointed to go before his chosen people, gave to Moses statutes and requirements necessary to a living religion and to govern the people of God. Christians commit a terrible mistake in calling this law severe and arbitrary, and then contrasting it with the gospel and mission of Christ in his ministry on earth, as though he were in opposition to the just precepts which they call the law of Moses.
The law of Jehovah, dating back to creation, was comprised in the two great principles, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." These two great principles embrace the first four commandments, showing the duty of man to God, and the last six, showing the duty of man to his fellow man. The principles were more explicitly stated to man after the fall, and worded to meet the case of fallen intelligences. This was necessary in consequence of the minds of men being blinded by transgression.
God graciously spoke his law and wrote it with his own finger on stone, making a solemn covenant with his people at Sinai. God acknowledged them as his peculiar treasure above all people upon the earth. Christ, who went before Moses in the wilderness, made the principles of morality and religion more clear by particular precepts, specifying the duty of man to God and his fellow men, for the purpose of protecting life, and guarding the sacred law of God, that it should not be entirely forgotten in the midst of an apostate world.
Professed Christians now cry, Christ! Christ is our righteousness, but away with the law. They talk and act as though Christ's mission to a fallen world was for the express purpose of nullifying his Father's law. Could not that work have been just as well executed without the only beloved of the Father coming to this world and enduring grief, privation, and the shameful death of the cross? Ministers preach that the atonement gave men liberty to break the law of God, and to commit sin, and then praise the free grace and mercy revealed through Christ under the gospel, while they despise the law of God.
They cast aside the restraint of the law, and give loose rein to the corrupt passions and the promptings of the natural heart, and then triumph in the mercy and grace of the gospel. Christ speaks to such: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven." What is the will of the Father? That we keep his commandments. Christ, to enforce the will of his Father, became the author of the statutes and precepts given through Moses to the people of God. Christians who extol Christ, but array themselves against the law governing the Jewish church, array Christ against Christ.
The death of Jesus Christ for the redemption of man, lifts the veil and reflects a flood of light back hundreds of years, upon the whole institution of the Jewish system of religion. Without the death of Christ all this system was meaningless. The Jews reject Christ, and therefore their whole system of religion is to them indefinite, unexplainable, and uncertain. They attach as much importance to shadowy ceremonies of types which have met their antitype, as they do to the law of the ten commandments, which was not a shadow, but a reality as enduring as the throne of Jehovah. The death of Christ elevates the Jewish system of types and ordinances, showing that they were of divine appointment, and for the purpose of keeping faith alive in the hearts of his people. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 46, #1)
The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself, and this consecration to God and separation from the world is plainly declared and positively enjoined in both the Old and New Testaments. There is a wall of separation which the Lord himself has established between the things of the world and the things he has chosen out of the world and sanctified unto himself. The calling and the character of God's people are peculiar. Their prospects are peculiar, and these peculiarities distinguish them from all people. All of God's people upon the earth are one body, from the beginning to the end of time. They have one head that directs and governs the body. The same injunctions rest upon God's people now, to be separate from the world, as rested upon ancient Israel. The great Head of the church has not changed. The experience of Christians in these days is much like the travels of ancient Israel. Please read 1 Cor. 10, especially from the 6th to the 15th verse.
"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. . . . Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."
1 John 3:1: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
1 John 2:15-17: "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. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
2 Pet. 2:20: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
James 4:4: "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
Titus 2:12-14: "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Rom. 12:2: "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
John 17:14, 15, 17: "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. . . . . . Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."
Luke 6:22, 23: "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward is great in Heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."
John 15:16-19: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
1 John 4:4, 5: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them."
1 John 2:5, 6: "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk even as he walked."
1 Pet. 2:9: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
As we read the word of God, how plain that God's people are peculiar and distinct from the unbelieving world around them. Our position is interesting and fearful; living in the last days, how important that we imitate the example of Christ, and walk even as he walked. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." The opinions and wisdom of men must not guide or govern us. They always lead away from the cross.
The servants of Christ have not their home or their treasure here. Would that all of them could understand that it is only because the Lord reigns that we are even permitted to dwell in peace and safety among our enemies. It is not our privilege to claim special favors of the world. We must consent to be poor and despised among men until the warfare is finished and the victory won. The members of Christ are called to come out and be separate from the friendship and spirit of the world, and their strength and power consists in their being chosen and accepted of God.
The Son of God was the heir of all things, and the dominion and the glory of the kingdoms of this world were promised to him. Yet when he appeared in this world it was without riches or splendor. The world understood not his union with the Father; and the excellency and glory of his divine character were hid from them. He was therefore "despised and rejected of men," and "we did esteem him smitten of God and afflicted."
Even so the members of Christ are as he was in this world. They are the sons of God and joint heirs with Christ; and the kingdom and dominion belong to them. The world understand not their character and holy calling. They perceive not their adoption into the family of God. Their union and fellowship with the Father and the Son are not manifest to the world, and while they behold their humiliation and reproach, it does not appear what they shall be. They are strangers. The world knows them not, and appreciates not the motives which actuate them.
The world is ripening for its destruction. God can bear with sinners but a little longer. They must drink the dregs of the cup of his wrath unmixed with mercy. Those who will be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ to the immortal inheritance will be peculiar, yes, so peculiar that God places a mark upon them as his, wholly his. Think ye that God will receive, honor, and acknowledge, a people so mixed up with the world that they differ from them only in name? Read again Titus 2:13-15. It is soon to be known who is on the Lord's side--who will not be ashamed of Jesus. Those who have not moral courage to take their position conscientiously in the face of unbelievers, and leave the fashions of the world, and imitate the self-denying life of Christ, are ashamed of him, and do not love his example. E. G. W.
(Vol. 46, #4)
Sister White writes to the Signs of the Times as follows concerning the Campmeetings that have been held the present season in the West:
We arrived upon the campground at Newton, Iowa, June 4. The meeting had been in session one day. Our meetings were excellent from the commencement to the close. The people listened with respectful attention, and we can but hope that the seed of truth sown in the many discourses given will find a lodgment in some hearts, and bear fruit to the glory of God.
Sabbath was a marked day on account of the special manifestation of the Spirit of God. After addressing the people for one hour and a half we invited those who felt that they were sinners, and those who were backslidden from God, to come forward to the front seats. About fifty responded to the invitation given. Some came forward in whom we had felt an especial interest for years. They had been backward in taking their position wholly on the Lord's side because of the suggestions of the enemy in keeping before them the course of some who professed the faith, but in their works denied it. Satan's temptations to them were, if they should profess to be followers of Christ and pursue the course these unconsecrated ones had, they would be in a worse condition than they then were.
We are sorry to admit that there are those who profess the truth, who are not sanctified by the truth, and such give to the world a bad example, and bring the religion of Christ and the precious truth into disrepute. The demands of the word of God are only met when we love God with all the heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
We entreated those who had been disgusted with the course of those who professed Christ but did not follow him, to come out on the Lord's side themselves, and show to the halfhearted and to the world a better way, that making the tree good is the only sure way of securing good fruit. The heart must be renewed before the life can be correct. A profession of Christ without internal rectitude is no better than a whited sepulcher, beautiful without but within full of corruption.
We felt deeply grateful to God to see so many young men coming forward for the first time, and thus showing that they, from this good day, will forsake a life of sin, and choose a life of righteousness, walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Several came forward who had long professed the Christian life, but who were convinced at this meeting that they were transgressing the law of God, in trampling upon the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
The Spirit of the Lord seemed to indite the prayers offered, and when opportunity was given for those to speak who desired to do so, nearly all expressed their feelings. What a scene was this! What an encouragement to the laborers in the vineyard of the Lord! Jesus said: "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Should there not be more joy among those who rejoice in a Saviour's love upon the earth?
Sunday the Lord assisted his servants in speaking to the people. The crowd was attentive and respectful, and we sincerely hope that their understanding may be enlightened to see the claims of truth, and that they may have a heart to obey.
Monday morning the work commenced just where it closed on Sabbath evening. Again we invited those who wished to seek God, and those who were backslidden, to come forward. More responded to this call than on Sabbath. This exercise was more interesting, if possible, than the first, the special blessing of God attending the meeting. We left the ground very weary, but cheerful in God, knowing that Jesus had indeed come up to the feast, and had graced our meeting with his presence.
We complied with the earnest invitation of our brethren in Ladora and vicinity to call upon them, and speak to the people Wednesday night. We had great need of rest, but how could we have a heart to refuse these entreaties? We felt that it was unfavorable for us, and then also that we could not have the privilege, as do many of our fellow laborers, of visiting. After the exercises of the meeting are over, there comes the writing of important reports and testimonies, which deprive us almost entirely of the privilege of conversation with our brethren and sisters.
After a long and interesting evening meeting, we rode five miles to the depot; and then, after midnight, lay down for a couple of hours of rest upon quilts and blankets, brought from his home by the brother who took us to the depot, and which we spread upon the depot floor. Thus with scarcely any rest, we were obliged to travel most of the next day till we arrived, weary and worn, at the Illinois Campmeeting.
Illinois Campmeeting.--Here, as in Iowa, the prayer and conference meetings were of special interest. On Sabbath afternoon, several mentioned the benefits which they had received from the health reform. Dr. Pottinger gave a very interesting testimony as follows:--
"My brethren may have thought they were meeting with only half a brother, when they saw me using tobacco, The truth found me in the gutter. I was addicted to two fatal habits, drinking and tobacco-using. I have left off the former, and gained a complete victory over it, and so far as refraining from the use of tobacco is concerned, I could refrain from its use. But I have feared the result upon my system, as I am somewhat disposed to paralytic affections, and physicians have assured me that entire abstinence from tobacco would cost my life. But I am preparing to make a trial of the matter. I am waiting till my system shall rally a little from the reaction caused by leaving off tippling, then I shall take hold in earnest to rid myself of tobacco."
There were quite a number of our French brethren present, and this added much to the interest of the meeting. These French brethren and sisters are gaining an experience; and if they remain humble and true to their faith, God will use them as instruments in bringing others to the knowledge of the truth. There are a number whose lives are indeed a living epistle, known and read of all men. They show the transforming power of the truth upon their daily life.
It was under very discouraging circumstances that Eld. Bourdeau presented the truth to them. The opposition from prejudiced minds was very bitter. But some honest souls were interested, and when brought up to face the mirror, to compare their lives with the law of God, they were deeply convicted of sin. One brother who is now rejoicing in the truth, and can say with Paul, "I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died," when he came to view his life in the light of the holy law, saw his sins to be so exceedingly sinful, that he thought they were too great to be forgiven. He was in great agony of mind. He called together his neighbors and friends, and confessed to them the sins and wrongs of his life, and entreated their forgiveness. He tried to right every wrong. This wonderful work of the power of God in convicting the sinner, was a thing so new to his friends and neighbors that they thought he was out of his mind, and feared that he would die. Several physicians were consulted, and medicine was prescribed freely. But drugs, which would be useless to cure the diseased body, were utterly powerless to cure the sinsick soul. While suffering the most intense remorse of conscience for his sins, the Lord did not leave him to perish. The light of health reform was forced upon his mind, and he refused to take the drugs prescribed, for he was strongly convinced that they were poison, and ruinous to his constitution.
Eld. Bourdeau and his wife felt the deepest anxiety as to the result of this case. Some charged Eld. B. with making this man crazy. Eld. B.'s life was in danger, and he and his wife wept and prayed many hours while others slept. They prayed that God would work in such a manner as to honor the cause of truth and glorify his name. The French brother came out all right. He had that repentance which needeth not to be repented of. He was indeed a new man, converted and thoroughly transformed. He had "put off the old man with his deeds;" and "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him."
At this meeting we were attentively cared for by brother and sister Hobbs. These self-sacrificing souls showed especial hospitality on this occasion. May the Lord bless them and their dear children for this labor of love. On Wednesday Bro. Hobbs took us nine miles to Somonauk, where we took the cars for Lena, Wis. Here we were met by brother and sister Bates and Bro. Brown, who took us by private conveyance to the Monroe Campground. E. G. White.
(Vol. 46, #15)
One of the signs of the "last days" is the disobedience of children to their parents. 2 Tim. 3:2. And do parents realize their responsibility? Many seem to lose sight of the watchcare they should ever have over their children, and suffer them to indulge in evil passions, and to disobey them. They take but little notice of them until their own feelings are excited, and then punish them in anger.
Many parents will have to render an awful account at last for their neglect of their children. They have fostered and cherished their evil tempers by bending to their wishes and will, when the wishes and will of the children should bend to them. They have brought God's frown upon them and their children by these things. Children are left to come up instead of being trained up. The poor little children are thought not to know or understand a correction at ten or twelve months of age, and they begin to show stubbornness very young. Parents suffer them to indulge in evil tempers and passions without subduing or correcting them, and by so doing they cherish and nourish these evil passions until they grow with their growth, and strengthen with their strength.
Parents stand in the place of God to their children, and they will have to render an account, whether they have been faithful to the charge committed to their trust. Parents, I fear some of you are rearing children to be cut down by the destroying angel, unless you speedily change your course, and be faithful to them. God cannot cover iniquity even in children. He cannot love unruly children who manifest passion, and he cannot save them in the time of trouble. Will you suffer your children to be lost through your neglect? Unfaithful parents, their blood will be upon you, and is not your salvation doubtful with the blood of your children upon you? children that might have been saved had you filled your place, and done your duty as faithful parents should.
God says: "I know Abraham, that he will command his household after him," and God gave him the honor of being the father of the faithful. It is the duty of parents to have their children in perfect subjection, having all their passions and evil tempers subdued.
Parents, correct your children. Commence while they are young, when impressions can be more easily made, and their evil tempers subdued, before they grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength.
You should correct your children in love. Do not let them have their own way until you get angry, and then punish them. Such correction only helps on the evil, instead of remedying it. After you have done your duty faithfully to your children, then carry them to God and ask him to help you. Tell him that you have done your part, and then in faith ask him to do his part--that which you cannot do. Ask him to temper their dispositions, to make them mild and gentle by his Holy Spirit. He will hear you pray. Through his word he has enjoined it upon you to correct your children, to "spare not for their crying," and his word is to be heeded in these things.
It certainly must bring God's displeasure upon parents when they leave him to do what he has left and commanded them to do. God corrects us when we disobey, and go astray from him; and parents are bound by the word of God to correct their children when they disobey them, and show evil tempers. Check the very first manifestation of passion. Break the will (but do it with feelings of tenderness, and with discretion), and your children will be far happier for it, and you will be happier. Your effort will be remembered of God, and he that is so particular as to observe the falling of the sparrow; he that noted and commended Abraham's faithfulness, will not pass by your efforts. He that never slumbers nor sleeps will be ready to aid you with his Spirit and grace, and will reward your feeble efforts.
Children are the lawful prey of the enemy, because they are not subjects of grace, have not experienced the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, and the evil angels have access to these children; and some parents are careless and suffer them to work with but little restraint. Parents have a great work to do in this matter, by correcting and subduing their children, and then by bringing them to God and claiming his blessing upon them. By the faithful and untiring efforts of the parents, and the blessing and grace entreated of God upon the children, the power of the evil angels will be broken, a sanctifying influence will be shed upon the children, and the powers of darkness will be compelled to give back.
When the destroying angel was to pass through Egypt, to destroy the firstborn of man and beast, Israel was commanded to gather their children and families into their houses with them, and then mark their doorposts with blood, that the destroying angel might pass by their dwellings, and if they failed to go through with this process, there was no difference made between them and the Egyptians.
The destroying angel is soon to go forth again, not to destroy the firstborn alone, but "to slay utterly old and young, both men, women and little children" who have not the mark. Parents, if you wish to save your children, separate them from the world, keep them from the company of wicked children; for if you suffer them to go with wicked children, you cannot prevent them from partaking of their wickedness and being corrupted. It is your solemn duty to watch over your children, to choose their society at all times for them. Teach your children to obey you, then can they more easily obey the commandments of God, and yield to his requirements. Don't let us neglect to pray with, and for, our children. He that said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not," will listen to our prayers for them, and the seal or mark, of believing parents will cover their children, if they are trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.--E. G. White, in Signs of the Times.
(Vol. 46, #18)
Several speakers had addressed large and attentive congregations at the campmeeting at Rome, N. Y., on first-day, September 12, 1875. The following night I dreamed that a young man of noble appearance came into the room where I was, immediately after I had been speaking. This same person has appeared before me in important dreams to instruct me from time to time during the past twenty-six years. Said he, You have called the attention of the people to important subjects, which, to a large number, are strange and new. To some they are intensely interesting. The laborers in word and doctrine have done what they could in presenting the truth, which has raised inquiry in minds and awakened an interest. But unless there is a more thorough effort made to fasten these impressions upon minds, your efforts now made will prove nearly fruitless. Satan has many attractions ready to divert the mind; and the cares of this life, and the deceitfulness of riches all combine to choke the seed of truth sown in the heart, and in most cases it bears no fruit.
In every effort, such as you are now making, much more good would result from your labors if you had appropriate reading matter ready for circulation. Tracts upon the important points of truth for the present time should be handed out freely to all who will accept them, without money and without price, which might eventually result in a hundredfold returns to the treasury. You are to sow beside all waters.
The press is a powerful means to move the minds and hearts of the people. And the men of this world seize the press, and make the most of every opportunity to get poisonous literature before the people. If men, under the influence of the spirit of the world, and of Satan, are earnest to circulate books, tracts, and papers of a corrupting nature, you should be more earnest to get reading matter of an elevating and saving character before the people.
There should be more earnest efforts made to enlighten the people upon the great subject of health reform. Tracts of four, eight, twelve, sixteen, and more pages, containing pointed, well written articles on this great question, should be scattered like the leaves of autumn. Small tracts on the different points of Bible truth applicable to the present time should be printed in different languages and scattered where there is any probability that they would be read. God has placed at the command of his people advantages in the press, which, combined with other agencies, will be successful in extending the knowledge of the truth. Tracts, papers, and books, as the case demands, should be circulated in all the cities and villages in the land. Here is missionary work for all.
There should be men trained for this branch of the work who will be missionaries, and will circulate publications. They should be men of good address, who will not repulse others or be repulsed. This is a work to which men would be warranted to give their whole time and energies as the occasion demands.
Those who distribute tracts gratuitously should take other publications to sell to all who will purchase them. Persevering efforts will result in great good. Very many souls have been converted to the truth by reading papers and tracts alone, who would not have been reached without them. God has committed to his people great light. This is not for them to selfishly enjoy alone, but to let its rays shine forth to others who are in the darkness of error.
You are not as a people doing one-twentieth part of what might be done in spreading the knowledge of the truth. Very much more can be accomplished by the living preacher with the circulation of papers and tracts than by the preaching of the word alone without the publications. The press is a powerful instrumentality which God has ordained to be combined with the energies of the living preacher to bring the truth before all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples.
Many minds can be reached in no other way. Here is true missionary work in which labor and means can be invested with the best results. There has been too great fear of running risks, and moving out by faith, and sowing beside all waters. Opportunities have been presented which have not been grasped and made the most of. There has been too great fear of venturing. True faith is not presumption, but it ventures much. Precious light and powerful truth need to be brought out in publications without delay. There is much lost in waiting to originate matter while there is already in print that which is valuable and appropriate for this time. These delays risk too much. Opportunities are lost which might be improved. Said he, Your husband and yourself can do much in the preparation of publications. You have a better knowledge of the wants of the people than many others. God has brought you in close connection with himself, and has given you an experience in this work which he has not given many others.
He has connected you with this powerful agency--the publishing department. Others cannot take your place in this, and do the work God has appointed you to do. Satan has been making special efforts to discourage your husband by controlling the minds of some who ought to be helpers. They have cherished temptations. They have been murmurers, and have been jealous without cause. God will not leave nor forsake his servant while he clings by faith to his wisdom and strength. He has upheld him through the ministration of angels that excel in strength. His strength has not come from natural causes, but from God. He will be beset with the enemy on the right hand and on the left. Satan will lead the minds of some to be distrustful of his motives, and to murmur against his plans, while he is following the leadings of the Spirit of God. In God he must trust, for he is the source of his strength. The enemy, through agents, will harass and vex his patience, for the infirmities of human nature are upon him, and he is not infallible. But if he clings in humble confidence to God, and walks softly before him, God will be to him a present help in every emergency.
Your husband must not be discouraged in his efforts to encourage men to become workers, and responsible for important work. Every man whom God will accept, Satan will attack. If they disconnect from Heaven, and imperil the cause, their failures will not be set to his account or to yours; but to the perversity of the nature of the murmuring ones, which they would not understand and overcome. These men whom God has tried to use to do his work, and who have failed, and brought great burdens upon those who were unselfish and true, have hindered and discouraged more than all the good they have done. And yet this should not hinder the purpose of God in having this growing work, with its burden of cares, divided into different branches, and laid upon men who should do their part, and lift the burdens when they ought to be lifted. These men must be willing to be instructed, and then God can fit them and sanctify them, and impart to them sanctified judgment, that what they undertake they can carry forward in his name.
Your husband must be humble and trustful, and walk carefully and tremblingly before God, for the ground whereon he treadeth is holy. God has strengthened him for great emergencies. He has given him strength, and light, and power like a running stream. This is not of himself, but of God. He has an inexhaustible fountain to draw from. He must not forget that he is mortal, and subject to temptations, and weariness. His mind should have periods of rest, which will result in great good to himself as well as to the cause of God which he represents. He can with a mind invigorated do a greater amount, with greater perfection, than he can accomplish by steady labor and constant effort with a wearied mind.
Eld. Andrews is God's chosen servant to do a special work; but he made a mistake in keeping the Sabbath History from the people in order to present a perfect work, and in allowing his mind to be diverted from the work God would have him do. He should have given this important work much sooner, and then improved it as he could do so. The enemy has been permitted to gain a march upon us in consequence of long delays on our part. He will throw hindrances in our path, and if we will be hindered he will exult. Long delays must not be permitted. Satan must be met in his bold advances, and be repulsed.
Eld. Haskell has done a good work in the tract and missionary department. He needs to ever connect closely with Heaven, that he may be led and taught of God. He has made some mistakes, but not intentionally. His zeal and concentrated efforts in one direction led him to lose sight of other important considerations. He has pressed the subject of giving means in some cases too far. Some of the poor have done more than they should, while those who have been entrusted as God's stewards with a large amount of means, have done but little. God's servants must discriminate, and work cautiously, judiciously, and ever give right counsel to the liberal, conscientious souls who are poor. God will have his servants connect so closely with him that they may have the mind of Christ. Ellen G. White. Oakland, Cal., October 20, 1875.
(Vol. 46, #22)
[We give in the following the substance of an appeal made by Mrs. W., April 16, 1875, on the dangers of delaying obedience, addressed to a man and his wife who were hearing lectures and were hesitating on the point of obedience according to the conviction of their minds. And we are sorry to say that these persons have taken the course that they were warned to avoid. For the benefit of others in similar danger, the appeal is now given. J. W.]
Dear Brother and Sister: I had hoped to meet you again before we crossed the plains, but this may not be. I have thought much of our interview at your house, and have prayed that you both may have strength to walk in the path of obedience. You have had light, but Satan will not let you pursue the narrow road, and become loyal and true to all God's requirements, without contesting every inch of ground. He has his agents in men who profess, as did Satan when he tempted Christ, to be ministers of righteousness. They would belittle in your minds God's holy commandments. Satan is at war with that law which is the foundation of God's government in Heaven and in earth. God has let his light shine upon you. Will you, dear friends, cherish the light? Men may come in the garb of holiness, having error and truth mixed together, and many be deceived. Satan quoted Scripture to Christ, showing that he could use Scripture to work his deception upon minds. Those who are acquainted with their own hearts know the necessity of being closely connected with God in order to have divine wisdom to discern the wiles of Satan and to cling, with firm, unyielding grasp to Jesus.
There is no nook or corner of the world, however secluded, where error and sin have not found their way. Error is often presented in a specious garb, so that it requires more than human wisdom to detect the falsehood under the pretension of truth. If error was never mingled with truth, it would not be so subtle in its influence upon the mind. If error stood forth alone in its true, hideous form, souls would not be deceived. But there are many who see attractions in error, and will eagerly feast upon it, although it poisons the mind. Error always injures the soul and deforms the character. Error may, at first sight, appear plausible, but its tendency is to corrupt the heart, and to ensnare its victims. We often hear it stated that it matters not what one believes if his life is only right. But the life is molded by the faith. If light and truth, are within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing the truth, we virtually reject it, and choose darkness rather than light. Said Christ to the Jews, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
I beseech you, my brother and sister, to inquire of God, as those who are willing to know the right way, What is truth? Do not willingly cheat your own souls of the light which you may have if you will. Like the noble Bereans, search the Scriptures daily, and see whether these things are so. And be true to your convictions of truth and of duty. Many infidels are compelled to be such because they cannot consent to accept truth the living out of which would require a sacrifice on their part. Convenience is consulted by many who profess Christ. There is a desire to climb up some other way--one that will require less sacrifice.
Said Christ, "He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." To follow Jesus fully requires a thorough conversion. Halfway converts make halfhearted Christians. Again, said Christ, "He that is not for me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." The plain words of truth spoken by our Saviour sifted his followers down to a few faithful ones who laid the foundation of the Christian church. Many of the wealthy, honorable, and noble ones of the world were charmed with the teachings of Christ, and had a desire to follow him. But when the truth in its practical bearings was brought home to their hearts and lives, they drew back, and walked no more with Jesus. The young ruler was desirous of following Christ. "Sell all that thou hast," said the Master, "and come, follow me, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven." He could not comply with the terms. His poor, selfish heart loved his possessions better than the kingdom of God, and he turned from following his Saviour. He turned from his heavenly treasure, went back to his idolatrous love of his earthly treasures, and lost eternal riches.
Jesus requires the entire surrender of the soul to him without compromise. Those who are thoroughly converted will never be among those who cowardly plead, "I pray thee have me excused." The living Christian loves duty, and enjoys even the severities which he must bear, if he is a soldier of the cross of Christ.
We feel the greatest anxiety for souls who are in the valley of decision. We feel a dread of Satan's attacks upon these poor souls. He watches his opportunity to bring his powers to bear when he sees that there is a possibility of hindering souls from deciding to be wholly on the Lord's side.
While the Spirit of God is convicting you of the truth, do not stop to cavil, but believe. Do not find fault, but listen to evidence. Yield your pride to humility, and exchange your prejudice for candor. Confer not with flesh and blood, but surrender all to God. Take the Bible as your guide, and earnestly inquire, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" When you once yield your natural independence and self-will for a childlike, submissive obedience, and are willing to be taught, you will hear the voice of the true Shepherd saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it." Christ does not propose to teach the self-conceited and self-willed. It is only the meek whom he pledges to guide in judgment, and to whom he will teach his way.
If you are in search of truth, obedience will not be difficult. If you really want to know the Master's will, you will thankfully receive it. We are learners in the school of Christ. A genuine love for Jesus will of necessity create a love for the truth. Treasure up the truth in your heart. Seek knowledge. Make this your daily prayer: "With my whole heart have I sought thee; O let me not wander from thy commandments. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." We are not safe only as we mold our daily life after the divine Pattern.
I entreat you, my dear friends, to move guardedly; for you are making decisions for eternity. Walk in the light while you have the light. Let no one influence you to turn from the truth. You can never be sanctified through error. Christ prayed to his Father in behalf of his disciples: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." It is a time and age of the world when error prevails, and with nearly all is accepted as truth. Error is no less error because it has been instilled into minds from their very youth. Error is taught in schools, and preached from the pulpit. Theories are advanced which have no foundation in the word of God.
You made the remark, "My parents were godly, and they kept Sunday, and will be saved. If I keep the day which they kept, why will not I be as safe as they?" Your relatives and friends may have lived up to the light they had. They are not accountable for the light which shines in your day, which they did not have. If you have greater light than your fathers, and you live up to that light as faithfully as your fathers did to the light which shone upon them, you will be saved by obeying as they will be saved by obedience to the light which the Lord permitted to shine upon them. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin." We are responsible for the light which shines upon our path. This is our day of visitation and privileges. God is setting before us solemn truth. Will we accept it? Reject not present light, and do not lightly esteem God's gracious opportunities.
If God in mercy has permitted light to shine out of darkness, and has removed the mist from your eyes that have been long blinded to the claims of his holy law, I beseech you to cherish the light and walk in it, lest it become darkness. We are living in the perils of the last days. It is not safe to be careless and indifferent now. With humble hearts and perfect submission to the will of God, we should pray earnestly to be kept from error and that we may be guided into all truth. Truth sanctifies. Error corrupts. The soul can be kept pure and strengthened only by walking in the light as Christ is in the light.
My heart has been drawn out in love to you. I have longed to see you moving out understandingly upon the truth, committing the keeping of your souls to God. In faith, press through the moral darkness of error and unbelief, and yield your souls' best and holiest affections to him. He has claims upon you which you cannot resist and be guiltless. I entreat of you to yield yourselves to God in faith. He can and will receive you with all your peculiarities of temperament, and with all your trials and temptations, and with all your duties, your cares, and burdens of responsibility, and will bear you and also your every burden, and will bring all your powers under the control of his grace. God will come to your help, and will aid you in your warfare. His messages of truth and warning are sent to save you, but not to flatter and amuse you. While truth deals in an unsparing manner with your sins, it has the deepest compassion for your soul.
Every taxing duty becomes easy, and every sacrifice becomes a pleasure, to those whom the truth makes free. What a victory is gained when the carnal life ceases, and the spiritual life begins. The Lord guides. The Lord keeps. The love of God, and obedience to all his commandments, bring all the powers of the soul into obedience to his will. What can constrain the heart and affections like love--sanctified love. That love which brings the soul into connection with Heaven is more earnest, fervent, and enduring for earthly relatives than any other. There is nothing in the heart at war with God's requirements. The mind, submissive and obedient, will love to do all his commandments. Evil will be abhorred, and the good will be chosen. There will be no self-denial or self-sacrifice that is grievous, for the heart delights in doing for Christ, and seeking to save souls from error and from the transgression of the holy law of God. When God has control of the affections, the mind will not be selfish, nor shrink from sacrifices.
The committing of the soul to God is essential for our salvation. You cannot follow a course of your own choosing, and be at war with the law of God, living in disobedience to his requirements, and yet be in harmony with God. Entire obedience to the will of God will bring courage, hope, peace, and happiness, to the soul. There will be seen watchfulness, diligence and prayer, self-denial, self-crucifixion and active benevolence. John thus describes the faithful whom he saw in vision upon the isle of Patmos:--
"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
What an example have the martyrs for Jesus left us in their lives of self-denial and sacrifice. They were faithful and true to principle. Although prisons, tortures, inquisitions, gibbets, and the stake threatened them, they counted not their lives dear unto themselves. Their love for the truth was here manifested. They chose to obey the truth at the expense of great suffering. The world was not worthy of these heroes of faith. They died for their faith. The pure gold was refined from all dross through trial and suffering. As these shall enter the portals of glory they will shout in triumph: We overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony. We were faithful unto death, and now receive a crown of life. Shouts of triumph will come from lips that never triumphed before. Those who were too timid to praise God vocally were not too timid to die for their Lord. They struggled and fought the good fight of faith. They were steadfast to the end. They will unite their glad voices in the universal songs of triumph and victory, praising God that they were accounted worthy to receive the heavenly benediction "well done" from the Master they loved, and for whom they suffered. His own right hand will place upon their brows crowns of immortal glory that fade not away.