1849 | 1850 | 1851 | 1852 | 1853 | 1854 | 1855 | 1856 | 1857 | 1858 | 1859 | 1860 | 1861 | 1862 | 1863 | 1864 | 1866 | 1867 | 1868 | 1869 | 1870 | 1871 | 1872 | 1873 | 1874 | 1875 | 1876 | 1877 | 1878 | 1879 | 1880 | 1881 | 1882 | 1883 | 1884 | 1885 | 1886 | 1887 | 1888 | 1889 | 1890 | 1891 | 1892 | 1893 | 1894 | 1895 | 1896 | 1897 | 1898 | 1899 | 1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903 | 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914 | 1915 | 1939 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | Passing Away | Index to Titles
The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1878
(Vol. 51, #8)
We have had many fears that students who attend Battle Creek College will fail to receive all the benefit they might, in the way of religious culture, from the families that furnish them rooms. Some families do not enjoy the sweet influences of the religion of Christ, although they are professed Christians. The influence which this class of persons exert over the students is more objectionable than that of those who make no pretensions to godliness. These irreligious, irresponsible formalists may stand forth before the world in pretentious leaves, while, like the barren fig tree, they are wholly destitute of that which alone our Saviour values,--fruit to his glory. The work wrought on the heart by the grace of God, they know nothing about. These persons exert an influence which is detrimental to all with whom they associate. There should be committees, to see that the homes provided for the students are not with mere formalists, who have no burden for the souls of the dear youth.
Very much may be done for those who are deprived of the softening, subduing influences of the home circle. The spirit manifested by many shows that the language of the heart is, "Am I my brother's keeper?" I have no burden or responsibility aside from my own family. I have no special burden or interest for the students who occupy rooms in my house. I would ask these persons if they have burdens and feel responsibilities for their own children. I am sorry to see so little anxiety on the part of some parents that all the influences surrounding their children should be favorable to the formation of Christian character; but those who do have soul-burdens for their own loved ones should not selfishly confine their interest to their own family. Jesus is our example in all things; but he has given us no example of such selfishness as we see manifested by many who profess to be his followers. If we abide in Christ, and his love abides in us, we shall love those for whom Christ died; for he has commanded his followers to love one another as he has loved them. Do we who profess his name obey this injunction? If we fail in this point we shall in others also. Had Christ studied his own profit, convenience, and pleasure, the world would have been left to perish in its sin and corruption.
A strange indifference in reference to the salvation of souls seems to have taken possession of many professed Christians. Sinners may be perishing all around them, and they have no particular burden in the matter. Will Christ say to these indifferent ones, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord"? The joy of Christ consists in seeing souls redeemed through the sacrifice he has made for them.
Young men and women who are not under home influences need some one to look after them, and to manifest some interest for them; and those who do this are supplying a great lack, and are as verily doing a work for God and the salvation of souls as the minister in the pulpit. This work of disinterested benevolence in laboring for the good of the youth is no more than God requires of every one of us. How earnestly should the experienced Christian work to prevent the formation of those habits that indelibly mar the character. Let the followers of Christ make the word of God attractive to the youth. Let your own characters, softened and subdued by the beauties of holiness, be a daily, hourly sermon to the youth. Manifest no spirit of grumbling; but win them to holiness of life and obedience to God. Some professors, by their sourness, repel the young. The hearts of youth are now like impressible wax, and you may lead them to admire the Christian character; but in a few years the wax may become granite.
I call upon the professed Christians of Battle Creek as a church and as individuals, take up your God given responsibilities. Walk with God yourselves; and exert an influence over the young which shall preserve them from falling under the manifold temptations made attractive to seduce the young of this generation. Satan is getting the start of God's professed people. They seem to be asleep to the dangers of the young, and the ruin that threatens them. Satan exultingly displays his victories gained over the youth; and those who profess to be soldiers of the cross allow him to take his victims from under the very rooftree, and appear wonderfully reconciled.
The cases of many are looked upon as hopeless by those who did not reach out a helping hand to save them. Some of these might have been saved; and even now, if proper interest was manifested in them, they could be reached. What have any of us that we did not receive? We are debtors to Christ for every ability, every grace, every good thought, and every proper action. Of ourselves we have nothing of which to boast. In lowliness and humility, let us bow at the foot of the cross; and let all our words and acts be such as shall win others to Christ, and not drive them farther from him.
I address you who reside at the great center of the work. You cannot be careless, irreverent formalists all to yourselves. Many witnesses are looking upon you, and many pattern, after your course. An irreligious life not only seals your own condemnation, but ruins others also. You who live where such weighty interests are to be maintained, should be minute men, faithful sentinels, never off guard. One incautious moment spent in selfish case or in self-gratification may give the enemy an advantage which years of hard labor may not recover. Those who choose Battle Creek for their home should be men and women of faith and prayer, true to the interests of those around them. There is no safety only as they walk with God.
There will be diversity of character among the youth who attend the College at Battle Creek. They have been differently educated and trained. Many have been left to follow the bent of their own inexperienced minds. The parents have thought they loved their children, but have proved themselves their worst enemies. They have let evil go unrestrained. They have allowed their children to cherish sin, which is like cherishing and petting a viper, that will not only sting the victim who cherishes it, but all with whom he is connected.
Some of these petted children are among the students who attend our College. Teachers, and all who are interested in the students and would help them, have an unenviable task in seeking to benefit this class of untamed youth. They have not been in subjection to their parents at home, and have no idea of having a head at school or in the homes where they board. What faith, and patience, and grace, and wisdom are required to deal with these neglected, much to be pitied youth. The deceived parents may even take sides with the children against school and home discipline. They would restrain others from doing the duty God requires of them, and which they have grossly neglected. What wisdom from God is needed to deal justly and love mercy under these trying circumstances. How difficult to balance in the right direction minds that have been warped by this mismanagement. While some have been unrestrained, others have been governed too much; and when away from the vigilant hands that held the reins of control harshly, leaving love and mercy out of the question, they have felt that they would not be dictated to by any one. They despise the very thought of restraint.
Should not those who have the difficult task of educating these young people and molding their characters have the faithful prayers of the children of God? Care, burdens, and weighty responsibilities must fall to the lot of the conscientious, God fearing teacher, as well as that of the burden bearing fathers and mothers in Israel who reside in Battle Creek. All sincere Christians, who value souls for whom Christ died, will make earnest efforts to do all in their power to correct even the wrongs and neglects of the natural parents. The teachers will feel that they have a duty devolving upon them to present their pupils before the world and before God with symmetrical characters and well balanced minds. But the teachers cannot bear all this burden, and should not be expected to be alone responsible for the good manners and elevated morals of their pupils. Every family that provides rooms for them should have rules to which they must conform. It will not be doing them or their parents a kindness to allow them to form lawless habits and break or deface furniture. If they have exuberant spirits and pent-up energy, let them do vigorous manual labor, until weariness prepares them to appreciate rest in their rooms.
The rooms of some of the students last year bore an unfavorable record of the roomers. If students are coarse and rude, their rooms, frequently make this fact apparent. Reckless sport, boisterous laughter, and late hours should not be tolerated by those who rent rooms. If they allow this conduct in the students, they do them a serious wrong, and make themselves, in a great degree, responsible for the misconduct. The rooms of students should be frequently visited, to see if they are favorable to health and comfort, and to ascertain if all are living in accordance with the rules of the school. Any remissness should be pointed out, and the students should be faithfully labored with. If they are insubordinate and will not be controlled, they are better off at home, and the school is better off without them. Our College should not become depraved for the sake of a few lawless students. The colleges in our land are many of them places where the youth are in danger of becoming immoral and depraved through these evil associations.
The associations of our students is an important matter, and should not be neglected. Many who come to our College are professed Christians. Especial interest should be manifested in these, and they should be encouraged in their endeavors to live a Christian life. They should be guarded, as far as possible, from the temptations that meet the youth whichever way they may turn. To those who have had years of experience, the temptations which overcome these young people may seem so light and trivial that they will withdraw their sympathies from the tempted and tried ones. This is wrong. Their own life and early experience may have been even more varying than those of the youth they would censure for their weakness.
Many who profess to be followers of Christ are weak in moral power. They have never been heroes of the cross, and are easily attracted from their allegiance to God by selfish pleasures of amusements. These persons should be helped. They should not be left to chance in choosing their companions and roommates. Those who love and fear God should bear the burden of these cases upon their souls, and should move discreetly in changing unfavorable associations. Christian youth who are inclined to be influenced by irreligious associates should have for companions those who will strengthen good resolutions and religious inclinations. A well-disposed, religiously inclined youth, and even a professor of religion, may lose his religious impressions by association with one who speaks lightly of sacred and religious things, and perhaps ridicules them, and who lacks reverence and conscientiousness. A little leaven may leaven the lump. Some are weak in the faith; but if placed with proper roommates, whose influence is strong for the right, they may be balanced in the right direction, obtain a valuable religious experience, and be successful in the formation of Christian character.
I would that our brethren and sisters would watch for souls as they that must give an account. My mind has been deeply exercised upon this subject. I would urge upon those who profess Christ the necessity of putting on the whole armor; then work for our youth who attend Battle Creek College. They may not need sermons and long censorious lectures as much as they need genuine interest. Let them know by your works that you love them, and have a care for their souls. If you would manifest for the tender youth now coming to Battle Creek, who are thrown into the very arms of the church; one-half the care you have for your temporal interests, you might bind them to you by the strongest bonds of sympathy; and your influence over them would be a power for good. E. G. White.
(Vol. 51, #11)
Our influence is of some consequence; it is active, constantly telling on one side or the other. We are builders, every one of us; and we are either building up the cause of God or we are building up the cause of Satan. There are many more engaged in building up the cause of Satan than we have the least idea of. Many who profess Christ do not have him enshrined in their hearts. Christ does not abide in them, and they do not abide in Christ. They are merely cumberers of the ground, destitute of fruit; and the curse which Christ pronounced upon the fig tree will fall upon them as surely as it fell upon the barren fig tree. What a time we are living in! the very remnant of probation! Surely these golden moments should be improved. Where are the stewards of God, to whom he has intrusted means for them to use in his cause, to extend the light of truth to those who are now in darkness? Where are the missionaries who feel the burden of the work, and who will go into other countries, and to people of other tongues, to make them ready for the great day just upon us?
Money is needed now. One dollar now, when it is actually needed, is worth as much as one hundred dollars will be by-and-by, when means are flowing into the treasury. The call comes from Europe for means to publish tracts and papers in the Italian language. Who has the ready money, and will help now, just now, when Europe is stretching forth her hands, crying, Help us to get the light of truth before these who are ready to perish? We are trying to sell our property that we may have means to use now. Oh! why will not those who have money at interest use it at this time? Why will they withhold from the cause of God the very means God has placed in their hands to be used in time of need? I feel intensely upon this subject. Men are robbing God; and with self-complacency they look up and say, "Wherein have we robbed thee?" The answer comes from him, "In tithes and in offerings." There are men in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers who are holding fast their earthly treasure. It is their god, their idol; and they love their money, their farms, their cattle, and their merchandise better than they love their Saviour, who for their sakes became poor, that they, through his poverty, might be made rich. They exalt their earthly treasures, considering them of greater value than the souls of men. Will such have the "Well done" spoken to them? No; never. The irrevocable sentence, "Depart," will fall upon their startled senses. Christ has no use for them. They have been slothful servants, hoarding the means God has given them, while their fellow men have perished in darkness and error.
My soul feels to the very depths on this point. Will the men of means sleep on until it is too late? until God shall reject them and their treasures, saying, "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you." What a revelation will be made in the day of God, when hoarded treasures, and wages kept back by fraud, cry against their possessors, who were professedly good Christians, and flattered themselves that they were keeping the law of God, when they loved gain better than they loved the purchase of Christ's blood, the souls of men!
Now is the time for all to work, those to whom are intrusted the five talents and those who have only one. Those with limited talents are responsible to God for their limited trust. To every man is given his work, and of every man the Master will require improvement of the talents intrusted to him. What will many answer in the day of God, when he inquires, What have ye done for me, who gave my riches, my honor, my command, and my life to save you from ruin? The do-nothings will be speechless in that day. They will see the sin of their neglect. They have robbed God of the service of a life time. They have not influenced any for good. They have not brought one soul to Jesus. They felt content to do nothing for the Master; and they meet no reward, but eternal loss. They perish with the wicked, although they professed to be followers of Christ.
None should mourn that they have not larger talents. When they use to the glory of God the talents he has given them, they will improve. It is no time now to bemoan our position in life, and excuse our neglect to improve our abilities because we have not another's ability and position, saying, O if I had his gift and ability, I might invest a large capital for my Master. If such persons use their one talent wisely and well, that is all the Master requires of them.
Look into our churches. There are only a few real workers in them. The majority are irresponsible men and women. They feel no burden for souls. They manifest no hungering and thirsting for righteousness. They never lift when the work goes hard. These are the ones who have but one talent, and hide that one in a napkin, and bury it in the world; that is, they use all the influence they have in their temporal matters. In seeking the things of this life, they lose the future, eternal life, the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. What can be said and done to arouse this class of church members to feel their accountability to God? Must the mass of professed Christian commandment keepers hear the fearful words, "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth"?
Every man and woman and child should be a worker for God. Where there is now one who feels the burden of souls there should be one hundred. What can we do to arouse the people to improve what influence and means they already have to the glory of the Master? Let those who have one talent use that well, and in so doing they will find it doubled. God will accept "according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." There always has been, and there always will be, diversity of gifts. It is not the great gifts alone that God requires and accepts, but he calls for the smaller talents, and will accept them if men will use them to his glory. Have we not become servants of the Master by his grace? It is not, then, our own property that is intrusted to us, but the Lord's talents. The capital is his, and we are responsible for its use or its abuse.
I hope efforts will be made in every church to arouse those who are doing nothing. May God make these realize that he will require of them the one talent with improvement; and if they neglect to gain other talents besides the one, they will meet with the loss of that one talent and their own souls also. We hope to see a change in our churches. The Householder is preparing to return and call his stewards to account for the talents he has intrusted to them. God pity the do-nothings then! Those who hear the welcome applaudit, "Well done, good and faithful servant," will have well done in the improvement of their abilities and means to the glory of God. Who will come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty? Satan is active, persevering, a faithful general in his work, leading on his armies. He has his faithful sentinels everywhere. What are the servants of Jesus Christ doing? Have they the armor on? Are they vigilant and faithful to meet and resist the strong forces of the enemy? or are they asleep, expecting another to do their work?
Vigilant men are wanted in every church. Every member should be awake and active, feeling that he is responsible for the prosperity of the church. The reason there is so much dissension in the churches is because they do so little for God. Satan gives them a work to do for him in finding fault, murmuring, and talking discouragement. You will ever find that those who invest least in the cause of God are the ones who will express great concern as to how those at the head of the work are using the means in their trust. Those who do least have the least faith. They are like Judas, who grudged the money that would comfort, and bless, and honor the Redeemer. But let the church come up individually, every one doing what he can, and all that God requires, and these petty difficulties will not exist. The mind will be so engrossed in the greatness of the work, in devising plans for its advancement, that they cannot spend time to investigate their brother's work or motives.
Let all awake; for the time is at hand when it will be said, "He which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Just now is the time to seek purity and holiness of character, and obtain white robes, that we may be prepared for a seat at the marriage supper of the Lamb. E. G. White.
(Vol. 51, #12)
We are receiving letters every week from Europe saying that the missionary work there is greatly hindered in its advancement from want of sufficient means. We would gladly send them the needed help ourselves; but we have become very much crippled for means, and find it beyond our power at present to do much for the relief of this branch of the cause. But there are many in the church who are amply able to answer this pressing need, and to them we would say, One dollar rightly invested now in the cause is worth many when times are better, and money is flowing into the treasury. Now is the time for our wealthy brethren to head the list with a liberal subscription, and then zealously circulate it, receiving pledges according to each one's ability. This will furnish means to meet the present emergency, without pressing too heavily upon any one. Much may be done by individual effort. Let our brethren make this a matter of personal interest.
Europe is stretching out her hands to us for help, and the way is opened to do a good work there if the press can be established, and publications go forth from it in the German, French, and Italian languages. Bro. Ribton says that Italy needs publications in her own language, in order for our ministry to be successful there. These repeated and urgent calls stir our inmost soul; yet we are unable to personally aid the European mission as we would like to do. Now is the time to invest the means which God has intrusted to his stewards for this very work. Time is short; hoarded wealth will soon be worthless. When the decree shall go forth that none shall buy or sell except they have the mark of the beast, very much means will be of no avail. God calls for us now to do all in our power to send forth the warning to the world.
We want the brethren to awake to the service of their Master in this missionary work. Let them not set their hearts upon their possessions, and hold them with a miserly grip; but invest their means and use their influence to promote the cause of God, thereby sending treasure to Heaven before them. Love of the world is a great hindrance to a Christian life. It strengthens its hold upon the heart almost imperceptibly, and eclipses the value of Heaven and the virtue of the atonement, in the mind. It supersedes the love of God and his truth, and becomes the very root of all evil.
There is danger among us of shirking our God given responsibilities, and drifting into a state of indifference regarding the cause of God in all its various branches and departments. Many do not give the pecuniary support they are amply able to furnish to the home and foreign mission field. They have had warnings from God, but have neglected to profit by them. They made some impression upon them at first; but that influence soon wore away, and they bore little fruit to God's glory. They have cherished the love of money till it has become an all-absorbing passion, and Heaven does not seem as valuable to them as their present earthly treasure. How can they keep the commandments as God requires them to be kept, yet place two-thirds of their affections upon the world? Such a life dishonors our holy faith, and is contrary to the injunction of Christ, who said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
Words and professions are of no value with God while the heart is corrupted by the inordinate love of gain. Christ said, "Ye are the salt of the earth; but and if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men." If we would imitate the example of Christ we should be self-denying, and ready to sacrifice our own comfort and pleasure for the good of others. It was not pleasant for Christ to leave the purity and bliss of Heaven, and the society of holy angels, and come to a world all seared and marred by the curse of sin, and die to save fallen man from the consequences of his iniquity. Are we willing to imitate the life and character of Christ? Are we willing to suffer, if need be, for his sake, to forego some of the comforts of life in order to save our perishing fellow creatures from eternal death? If so, we should be willing to give much from our abundance toward this purpose.
What a fearful mistake that young ruler made when he turned from the requirements of Christ, and decided to risk the consequence of being guided by his avaricious spirit. He chose to devote his life to gaining temporal wealth and power, rather than to follow Christ and resign his worldly possessions. Jesus pitied the young man; he saw in him precious material for a preacher of righteousness, if he would but overcome his selfish greed for gain. Said Jesus, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come and follow me."
Jesus only required him to go where he led the way. The thorny path of duty becomes easier to follow when we trace his divine footsteps before us, pressing down the briers. Christ would have accepted this talented and noble ruler, if he had yielded to his requirements, as readily as he accepted the poor fishermen whom he bade to follow him. The young man's ability to acquire property was not against him, provided he loved his neighbor as himself, and had not wronged another in acquiring his riches. That very ability, had it been employed in the service of God in seeking to save souls from ruin, would have been acceptable to the divine Master, and he might have made a diligent and successful worker for Christ. But he refused the exalted privilege of cooperating with Christ in the salvation of souls; he turned away from the glorious treasure promised him in the kingdom of God, and clung to the fleeting treasures of earth.
We fear this is the case with many who profess to keep the commandments of God. Love of gain has taken possession of their souls, and they refuse to answer the demands of God in applying their wealth to the spreading abroad of his truth to all tongues and all nations. Jesus touched the plague spot in the young ruler's heart, which, if not healed, would destroy his soul. He showed him that he was not keeping the commandments of God, since he did not love God supremely, and his neighbor as himself. Jesus offered to make him his companion and a laborer in bringing souls into the kingdom of Heaven. The young man had wealth, education, position, and influence, and was therefore qualified to work intelligently and successfully for the Master. But his love of the world prevented him from accepting the invitation of Christ.
The humble fishermen obeyed the call of Jesus, and forsook all to follow him. It may appear to some that it required little self-denial for them to do this, as their business was neither elevated nor lucrative; but it should be remembered that these men owned boats and nets, and obtained a good livelihood by their occupation. Also their life upon the water had its attractions, and it was a great sacrifice for them to leave the employment in which they had thus far spent their lives.
The young ruler represents a large class who would be excellent Christians if there was no cross for them to lift, no humiliating burden for them to bear, no earthly advantages to resign, no sacrifice of property or feelings to make. Christ has intrusted to them capital of talents and means, and he expects corresponding returns. That which we possess is not our own, but is to be employed in serving Him from whom we have received all we have.
The barren fig tree received the withering curse of God because it was a pretentious hypocrite, professing superiority over the other fig trees by displaying its luxuriant foliage, while it was as destitute of fruit as the leafless trees. The barren fig tree well represents those who profess to keep the commandments, as did the Jews, thus presenting the appearance of fruitfulness, yet whose religion, like that of the Pharisees, is a sham, bearing no fruit to the glory of God.
Redeem the time while you are spared to work. All your good works cannot save you; but it is nevertheless impossible for you to be saved without good works. Every sacrifice made for Christ will be for your eternal gain. What will you do to aid the mission in Europe? What will you do to relieve the present pressing need?
(Vol. 51, #23)
Eld. S. H. Lane, Dear Brother: We are pained to learn the condition of Bro. B., and to know that Satan is pushing him on to cause disaffection in the Indiana Conference under the pious guise of Christian holiness. Both you and ourselves fully believe that holiness of life is necessary to fit us for the inheritance of saints in light. We contend that this state must be reached in a Bible way. Christ prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and the apostles preached of purifying our hearts by obeying the truth.
The professed church of Christ is full of the spurious article, and one distinct feature of it is, the more one drinks into the spirit of popular sanctification, the less he prizes the present truth. Many of those who are the open opponents of God's Sabbath, the third angel's message, and the health reform, are among the sanctified ones. Some of them have even reached the almost hopeless position that they cannot sin. These, of course, have no further use for the Lord's prayer, which teaches us to pray that our sins may be forgiven, and but very little use for the Bible, as they profess to be led by the Spirit.
Now we do not doubt the sincerity of Bro. B. Satan has taken advantage of the weakness of his body, with which his mind is of course in sympathy. We do not doubt but he is led by a strong spirit, which he thinks is the Spirit of God; but God's Spirit will never lead one in a course that is contrary to his word, or that leads to separation from that people who are giving the last message of mercy.
Is Bro. B. preaching the Laodicean message? That is well; but let it be borne in mind that the person who has become so sanctified that he cannot sin is the veriest Laodicean. The true Witness appeals to such in these words: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." What a terrible deception! They think they are complete in Christ, and know not that they are wretched, blind, miserable, poor, and naked.
We would recommend that Bro. B. be treated at the Sanitarium, at Battle Creek, for the improvement of his health. It is hoped that this, in addition to the strong influence for the truth there, would greatly improve his physical, mental, and spiritual condition; for no matter what a man may preach under the spirit of strong delusion, he is sure to have some followers, however great may be the heresy. Unless he can be helped, loss will be sustained to himself and the Conference in Indiana.
We warn our brethren of the Indiana Conference and elsewhere. Our position has ever been that true sanctification, which will stand the test of the Judgment, is that which comes through obedience of the truth and of God.
The position which we have both taken in our writings is too plain to be misunderstood. Much of our most laborious labor for the past thirty years has been to meet that fanaticism which has grown out of the teachings of ultra holiness. God is leading out a people, but it has been Satan's effort all the way to induce certain ones to set up their judgment against that of the body, and thus lead them away from the body to certain ruin. Thus have self-deceived souls fallen all the way along during the history of the third angel's message. Those who are led by fanaticism will gradually feel in harmony with those who fully reject the truth, and unless they can be arrested in their course will, sooner or later, be in the ranks of our bitterest opponents. James White. Ellen G. White. Healdsburg, Cal., May 20.
(Vol. 52, #7)
"And Enoch walked with God." This is the path of safety to all who profess to follow Christ, but in a special manner to those who profess to be watchmen upon the walls of Zion. I am deeply convinced that there must be greater piety among those who teach the truth of God. Those who labor for the truth in word and doctrine should closely examine themselves for the purpose of purifying and improving their character. Many study books to perfect themselves in knowledge, while they neglect to become acquainted with themselves. Christ said, in the prayer just prior to his betrayal, "I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." If the minister would present those for whom he labors, perfect in Christ, he must himself be perfect. This work of becoming perfect through the merits of Christ requires much meditation and earnest prayer.
I have felt grieved at hearing some ministers talk of Christ's life and teachings in as commonplace a manner as though recounting the incidents in the life of some great man of the world. When I hear this sacred subject treated in such a manner, I feel a grief that I cannot express; for I know that although these men are teachers of the truth, they have never become acquainted with Christ and learned of him. Had they exalted views of Jesus Christ, they would not express themselves in the commonplace manner in which they do. They have not that elevation of thought which would give them a clear conception of the divine character of the world's Redeemer. They have little faith, little godliness, and bring down the standard of holiness to a level with their own narrow comprehension. This tends to lower the appreciation of the exalted character of Christ in the minds of the people.
It is not unusual for ministers, in their discourses, to treat of Christ as though he were a man like themselves. As a rule such ones place a high estimate upon themselves and that which they accomplish. While professedly servants of Jesus Christ, they are not partakers of his divine nature; they are wrapped up in self, and do not discern sacred things.
The ministers of Christ, who bear the message of truth to men, will never become self-sufficient or self-exalted if they have correct views of the character and work of Christ, the author of man's salvation. The unworthiness, weakness, and inefficiency of their own efforts in contrast with those of the eternal Son of God, will render them humble, distrustful of self, and will lead them to rely upon Christ for strength and efficiency in their work. Habitually dwelling upon Christ, his exalted character, and the all-sufficient merits of his sacrifice, increases the faith, sharpens the imaginative power, strengthens the longing desire to be like him, and creates holy earnestness in prayer, that makes it efficacious.
I see that great reformation must take place in the ministry before it shall be what God would have it. Ministers in the desk have no license to behave like theatrical performers, assuming attitudes and expressions calculated for effect. They do not occupy the sacred desk as actors, but as teachers of solemn truths. There are also fanatical ministers, who, in attempting to preach Christ, storm, halloo, jump up and down, and pound the desk before them, as if this bodily exercise profited anything. Such antics lend no force to the truths uttered, but, on the contrary, disgust men and women of calm judgment and elevated views. It is the duty of men who give themselves to the ministry to leave all coarseness and boisterous conduct outside the desk at least.
Awkward and uncouth gestures are not to be tolerated in the common walks of life, how much less, then, are they to be endured in the most sacred work of the gospel ministry. The minister should cultivate grace, courtesy, and refinement of manner. He should carry himself with a quiet dignity becoming his elevated calling. Solemnity, a certain godly authority, mingled with meekness, should characterize the demeanor of him who is a teacher of God's truth. Ministers should not make a practice of relating anecdotes in the desk; it detracts from the force and solemnity of the truth presented. The relation of anecdotes or incidents which create a laugh or a light thought in the minds of the hearers is severely censurable. The truth should be clothed in chaste and dignified language; and the illustrations should be of a like character.
The minister who has learned of Christ will ever be conscious that he is a messenger of God, commissioned by him to do a work both for time and eternity. It should not be any part of his object to call attention to himself, his learning, or his ability. But his whole aim should be to bring sinners to repentance, pointing them, both by precept and example, to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Self should be hidden in Jesus. Such men will speak as those conscious of possessing power and authority from God, being a mouthpiece for him. Their discourses will have an earnestness and fervor of persuasion that will lead sinners to see their lost condition, and take refuge in Christ. Such ministers will partake of the sympathy and love flowing from Jesus, the great fountainhead, and souls will be touched by their words, prejudice will melt away, and sinners will be converted.
Were the gospel ministry what it should and might be, the teachers of Christ's truth would be working in harmony with the angels; they would be co-laborers with their great Teacher. There is too little prayer among the ministers of Christ, and too much self-exaltation. There is too little weeping between the porch and the altar, and crying, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach." There are too many long doctrinal sermons preached, without one spark of spiritual fervor and the love of God. There is too much gesticulation and relation of humorous anecdotes in the pulpit, and too little said of the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to preach to men; we must pray with them and for them; we must not hold ourselves coldly aloof from them, but come in sympathy close to the souls we wish to save, visit and converse with them. The minister who conducts the work outside the pulpit in a proper manner will accomplish tenfold more than he who confines his labor to the desk.
Christ is constantly interceding in Heaven for poor sinners upon earth; if ministers would be co-laborers with him they must do the work on earth which corresponds with that which their Master is doing in Heaven. Jesus has opened the gates of Heaven for us, and we may make intercessions at the throne of grace, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting, and bear the cases of those for whom we are laboring before God. We may see the heavens opened, and the glorified Son of God, the High Priest of our salvation, pleading for sinners. Doctrinal discourses should be well savored with the Saviour's dying love to men. This will make the truth spoken tenfold more efficient. Let your own heart be filled with the Spirit of God and the love of Christ, and then let your hearers feel that you deeply appreciate their danger, and that you would sacrifice even life itself, if it were necessary, in order to turn their feet from the path of perdition into the path of life and peace. Those who forget self, and rely on God alone for success in the task of saving sinners, will have divine approval, and the fruit of their labors will tell gloriously in the harvest of souls.
Ministers should be instant in prayer; they should walk with God in spirit, as Enoch did of old. The divine light shining upon their countenance, and shown in their words, will illuminate the truths uttered by them, and the treasures of infinite mercy, and the Redeemer's boundless love, will be the theme of their hearts. The fervor and earnestness which characterized the work of Christ should also distinguish the efforts of his ministers. Their hearts should be subdued and filled with the Saviour's love, if they would break down the prejudice and melt the coldness of those who listen to their words. Converts seldom rise at once in spirituality above the level of their teachers. How important, then, that those teachers should habitually put their trust in God, and seek for the manifestations of his divine power upon their labors; that they should be meek, spiritual minded, and in constant communion with Heaven. Then those who are converted under their labors will partake of their spirit, and emulate their graces.
Divine power alone will reach and melt the sinner's heart, and bring him, a penitent, to Christ. Neither Luther, Melancthon, Wesley, Whitefield, nor any other great reformer and teacher, could of himself have gained such access to hearts as to accomplish the grand results these men did. But God spoke through them. Men felt the influence of a superior power, and involuntarily yielded to it. The ministers of the truth should ever represent the life and teachings of Christ; then will they have power over the hearts of men.
I feel constrained to say that ministers are greatly deficient in their labors, and in their spiritual attainments. God is ready to bestow his grace upon them, yet they pass on from day to day, possessing a cold and nominal faith, presenting the theory of the truth, but without that vital force which comes from connection with Heaven, and which would send the word preached home to the hearts of men. May God awaken ministers from their lukewarm state! Oh, that their lips might be touched by a live coal from the altar, that they might with heartfelt expostulations, warnings and tears, seek to arouse perishing souls to a sense of their danger. It is fearful to contemplate the carnal security which is taking possession of souls. While the ministers of the truth are half asleep over their work, souls are perishing around them in darkness and error.
Ministers of Christ, with your own souls aglow with love to God, and love for your fellow creatures, seek to arouse men from the stupor of death. Let your heart and mind be imbued with the spirit of your work. Let your entreaties and earnest warnings pierce the ears of the sinner. Let your fervent prayers and expostulations melt his ice bound heart, and cause him to go in penitence to the Saviour. There are sacred obligations resting upon you as embassadors of Christ, preaching the message of salvation to an erring world. Few in the ministry have a proper appreciation of their weighty responsibilities. They go on indifferently with their sacred work, and it is like the blind leading the blind. Ministers of Christ, will you awake to your obligations to God, and to your fellow men? You are not your own; you belong to God; your Redeemer paid the price of agony and blood for your redemption, and he has just and sacred claims upon you, and demands your full cooperation with him in the work of salvation. He has a right to all your powers, your means, and your time, and he requires your services to the fullest extent of your capabilities. He would employ them for his honor and glory, and for the salvation of souls. You dishonor him if you are not continually growing in grace, and in the knowledge of the truth.
Whatever sufferings or trials you may be called upon to bear, you should not permit a breath of murmuring to escape your lips. You should reflect that the Majesty of Heaven endured far more for your sake than it is possible for you to be required to bear. He has redeemed you by his boundless mercy, by his blood, and agonies, and death. When the Master calls you, "Go work today in my vineyard," let no selfish desire, no worldly ambition or projects, deter you from instant, cheerful, and unqualified obedience. The life of the gospel minister should be a living representation of the life of Christ. The Christianity that is manifested in the life and character, that beams out in divine loveliness from the countenance, and from every action, is a power that will attract sinners to the Saviour, and dispel the dreary shades of doubting and distrust. The corruptions existing in the ministry have made thousands of infidels. When men see the selfishness and sin of the professed teachers of Christianity, they are apt to lose confidence in Christianity itself.
God calls upon ministers who accept his truth, and bear, in his name, the most solemn message ever given to the world, to lift the standard of Bible truth, and exemplify its precepts in their daily lives. Such a course would charm into believing many who have intrenched themselves behind the breastworks of infidelity. The influence of a true Christian character is like the cheering rays of sunlight that pierce to the remotest corners of the dark places into which they are allowed to enter. The light emanating from the example of the true Christian minister should not be fitful and uncertain like the flash of a meteor, but it should have the calm and steady radiance of the heavenly stars.
The minister of Christ should be encircled by an atmosphere of spiritual light, because he is connected with the world of light, and walks with Christ, who is the light of the world. Arguments may be resisted; persuasion and entreaty may be scorned; the most eloquent appeals, supported by the rigor of logic, may be disregarded. But a living character of righteousness, a daily piety in all the walks of life, an anxiety for the sinner wherever found, the spirit of truth burning in the heart, beaming from the countenance, and breathing from the lips in every word, constitute a sermon which is hard to resist or to set aside, and which makes the strongholds of Satan tremble. Ministers who walk with God are clad with the panoply of Heaven, and victory attends their efforts.
Ministers who would labor effectively for the salvation of souls must be both Bible students, and men of prayer. It is a sin for those who attempt to teach the word to others to be themselves neglectful of its study. All who feel the worth of souls will flee to the stronghold of truth, where they may be furnished with wisdom, knowledge, strength, and divine power to work the works of God. They should not rest without the holy unction from on high. Too much is at stake for them to dare to be careless in regard to their spiritual advancement. Ministers of Christ, your coldness, your lack of prayer, of fervor, and of heavenly wisdom may turn the balance with a soul, and send it to perdition. Ye messengers of the truth, ye cannot afford to be indifferent in these last days! Our feet are on the borders of the eternal world, and every probationary moment is more precious than gold.
Ministers of Christ whom God has made the depositaries of his law, you have an unpopular truth. You must bear this truth to the world. Warnings must be given men to prepare for the great day of God. You must reach those whose hearts are calloused by sin and love of the world. Continual and fervent prayer, and earnestness in well doing, will bring you into communion with God; your mind and heart will imbibe a sense of eternal things, and the heavenly unction, which springs from connection with God, will be poured upon you. It will render your testimony powerful to convict and convert. Your light will not be uncertain, but your path will be luminous with heavenly brightness. God is all-powerful, and Heaven is full of light. You have only to use the means God has placed in your power to obtain the divine blessing.
Be instant in prayer. You are a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. You occupy a fearfully responsible position. I entreat you to redeem the time. Come very near to God in supplication, and you will be like a tree planted by the river of waters, whose leaf is always green, and whose fruit appears in due season. Ministers of Christ, you need divine power, which God is willing to give without stint, when the draft is made upon him. Only go to God, and take him at his word, and let your works be sustained by living faith in his promises. God does not require from you eloquent prayers and logical reasoning; but only a humble, contrite heart, ready and willing to learn of him. The praying minister, who has living faith, will have corresponding works, and great results will attend his labors, despite the combined obstacles of earth and hell. "Rouse to some work of high and holy love, And thou an angel's happiness shalt know; Shalt bless the earth; while in the world above, The good begun by thee shall onward flow In many a branching stream, and wider grow The seed that in these few and fleeting hours Thy hands unsparing and unwearied sow, Shall deck thy grave with amaranthine flowers And yield the fruits divine in Heaven's immortal bowers." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #7)
Vital godliness is a principle to be cultivated. The power of God can accomplish for us that which all the systems in the world cannot effect. The perfection of Christian character depends wholly upon the grace and strength found alone in God. Without the power of grace upon the heart, assisting our efforts and sanctifying our labors, we shall fail of saving our own souls, and of saving the souls of others. System and order are highly essential, but none should receive the impression that these will do the work without the grace and power of God operating upon the mind and heart. Heart and flesh would fail in the round of ceremonies, and in the carrying out of our plans, without the power of God to inspire and give courage to perform.
There should be discipline and order in our Sabbath schools. Children who attend these schools should prize the privileges they enjoy. They should be required to observe the regulations of the Sabbath school. And even greater care should be taken by the parents that their children should have their Scripture lessons learned perfectly than they take with their lessons in the common schools. If parents and children see no necessity for this interest, then the children might better remain at home; for the Sabbath school will fail to prove a blessing to them. Parents and children should work in harmony with teachers and superintendent, thus giving evidence that they appreciate the labor put forth for them. Parents should have an especial interest in the religious education of their children, that they may have a more thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
There are many children who plead a lack of time as a reason why their Sabbath school lessons are not learned. There are few who cannot find time to learn their lessons if they have an interest in them. Some devote time to amusement and sightseeing, while others devote time to the needless trimming of their dress for display, thus cultivating pride and vanity. The precious hours thus prodigally spent are God's time, for which they must render an account to him. The hours spent in needless ornamentation, or in amusements and idle conversation, will, with every work, be brought into judgment. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #18)
"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
"There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."
"The liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand."
"Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 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 the nations shall call you blessed."
God is abundantly able to fulfill his promises. Every earthly good comes from his hand. The resources of the Lord are infinite, and he employs them all in accomplishing his purposes. Faithful stewards, who wisely use the goods which God has intrusted to them to advance the truth and bless suffering humanity, will be rewarded for so doing. God will pour into their hands while they dispense to others. He is advancing his cause in the earth through stewards intrusted with his capital. Some there are who, notwithstanding they greatly desire wealth, would be ruined by its possession. God has tested individuals by lending them talents of means. It was in their power to abuse the gift or use it to the glory of God. If they have hoarded or wasted the Lord's money, the Master finally says to them, "Thou mayest be no longer steward." They have been tested and proved, and found unfaithful in using that which was another man's as though it was their own. God will not intrust such with the eternal riches.
Those who make a judicious and unselfish disposition of the Lord's goods, thus identifying their interest with that of suffering humanity, will be advanced; for they act the part which God designed they should in his own system of beneficence The first great principle contained in the moral law is supreme love to God. The second is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Every good thing upon the earth was given to man as an expression of the love of God. He makes man his steward, and gives him talents of influence and means to use for the accomplishment of his work in the earth. Our Heavenly Father proposes to connect finite man with himself. As laborers they may be his instruments in the salvation of souls. He has accepted those who have consecrated themselves to his service to preach the word to those who have not a knowledge of the truth. But these are not the only ones whom he uses to advance his work in the earth. Every man who professes to be illuminated by the Spirit of God in this time will be required to enlighten others. "No man liveth to himself," and yet loves God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Every one has his station of duty adapted to his capacity in the accomplishment of this great work. Those who walk in the light of truth will emit light to those around them. They are living witnesses for Christ. They will not be like the world, living in moral darkness, loving themselves and the things of the world, and seeking for earthly treasures. They will be "a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
It will cost much self-denial and self-sacrifice to imitate the pattern, Christ Jesus. In order to become like him, we must cultivate a benevolent disposition. Those who have the most of this world's goods often manifest a selfish penuriousness in giving to the cause of God. The most liberal donations frequently come from the poor man's purse, while those with whom God has intrusted an abundance, for the very purpose of supplying the wants of the cause, fail to see where means are most needed, and do not regard the cries of the needy who are in their very midst. These cries go up to Heaven, and are a powerful testimony in condemnation of the unjust, selfish course of the unfaithful stewards. The offerings of the poor, given through self-denial to aid in extending the precious light of saving truth, will not only be a sweetsmelling savor to God, and wholly acceptable to him as a consecrated gift, but the very act or giving expands the heart of the giver, and unites him more fully to the Redeemer of the world. He was rich; but for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. The smallest sums given cheerfully by those who are in limited circumstances are fully as acceptable to God, and even of more value in his sight, than the offerings of the rich who can bestow their thousands, and yet exercise no self-denial, and feel no lack.
The poor widow manifested love, faith, and benevolence combined, in contributing her two mites; for she gave all that she had, without questionings or doubts in regard to her uncertain future. Christ represents her little offering as the greatest gift of all that had been cast into the treasury that day. The rich gave of their abundance. They did not need to exercise faith, for they had means enough left to supply all their wants. It was not the value of the coin that was regarded by Christ, but the devoted purity of the motive which prompted the sacrifice. This small gift, with God's blessing upon it, could become instrumental in accomplishing important results. The widow's mite, cast into the treasury with thousands of other coins, would appear insignificant, and be lost to human vision, but not to the eye of God. The Source of all riches, the great Benefactor, would make this sincere, genuine offering of the highest value for good. The widow's mite has been like a stream, small at the source, but continuing to flow through all time, until it has widened, and deepened, and run in a thousand channels, contributing to the extension of the truth, and supplying the wants of the needy. The influence of this small gift has acted and reacted upon humanity in every age of the world, and in every country upon the globe. The tiny rills which have flowed into the treasury of the Lord from the liberal, self-denying poor, have formed a living fountain, and its streams flow forth refreshing the needy, and resulting in the salvation of thousands of souls.
Again, the example of the widow's mite cannot be estimated in its influence upon the hearts of those who are inclined to selfishly withhold from God the goods he has intrusted to them. Her liberality, her faith and sincerity, are a standing rebuke to the ease loving, selfish, doubting ones who have means with which they might do good if they would. They are provoked to good works by the unselfish gifts of the poorer brethren. That little deed of benevolence manifested by the widow was but a small light in the beginning; but it has been steadily burning brighter and brighter, and shedding its rays farther and with more intense radiance, and it will still continue to shine brighter and stronger, reaching to all countries and climes. The poor as well as the rich may enjoy the blessed privilege of knowing that they are God's stewards, and may identify their interests with Jesus Christ, and with suffering humanity, who are the purchase of his blood.
But God would not have rich or poor entertain the idea for a moment that he is dependent upon them, nor that their liberalities can in any case supply defects of Christian character. Liberality is but one of the traits which are characteristic of a Christian. The inspired apostle says, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing." Charity is thus defined: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth." The character of a tree bearing all these fruits may be readily discerned. For "by their fruits ye shall know them." As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be wide awake to discern with heavenly eyesight the devices of Satan. God has given us his word as a chart to mark out our way to the eternal shore. With the Bible for our guide, aided by our own reason kept clear by strictly temperate habits, we may be able to acquit ourselves like servants of the Master who have duties to perform and eternal interests to secure.
Benevolence is one precious trait of character which needs to be cultivated and strengthened by continual exercise. God is not dependent upon us. He could speak the word, and every mountain would be turned into gold. "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof." These words were spoken as a reproof to Israel, whose hearts were not right with God. They were multiplying their sacrifices, as though to make a compromise with God, while they were separating from him by wicked works. While they multiplied their victims upon the altar of sacrifice, they did not cultivate pure and vital godliness in the heart, which would move them to act constantly in reference to the two great principles of the moral law, love to God and love to man.
Gifts and offerings will not purchase salvation for any of us. The religion of the Bible is that development of our moral natures in which the soul holds converse with God, loves that which God loves, and hates that which God hates. God will not accept your offerings if you withhold yourself. He asks not only for that which is his own in the means intrusted to you, but for his own property in your body, soul, and spirit, purchased at the infinite price of the blood of the Son of God.
God might have made angels the ambassadors of his truth. He might have proclaimed the law from Sinai with his own voice. But he has chosen to take man into his counsel, and connect him with himself, that through the instrumentality of man the mysteries of the cross of Christ might be fully explained in an audible voice. Man has a work to do. And in this work, life will prove a blessing. The real value of life to him is indicated by the character of the work which employs his powers. If the powers which angels possess were given to man they would be of no use unless some new work was given him in which to engage them. All the riches intrusted to man are only a curse unless he employs them to relieve his own daily wants and those of the needy around him, and to glorify his Maker by advancing his cause in the earth. Objects which shall call benevolence into action must be placed before him, or he cannot imitate the character of the Great Exemplar. Man would have no gifts to bestow were they not first given to him. But our Heavenly Father has made every provision for man, that he may be fully tested and proved, and through the merits of Christ perfect a righteous character.
God has made man his brother's keeper, and will hold him responsible for this great trust. God has taken man into union with himself, and he has planned that men shall work in harmony with him. He has provided the system of beneficence, that man whom he has made in his image may be self-denying in character, like Him whose infinite nature is love. He has appointed man as his almoner to distribute the blessings he has given him. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." God has done for our good all that a kind Heavenly Father could do. He appeals to humanity whether he has failed in a single instance to do all that he could do for the highest interest of man. "Judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?"
God has reposed confidence in us in making us stewards of means and of his rich grace. How shall we show our appreciation of his care and love and unparalleled mercy, except in grateful returns to him of our talents of means and ability with faithfulness and integrity. We cannot possibly enrich the Lord by bestowing any favor directly upon him, for he is the giver of all our bounties. But he points us to the poor and suffering and oppressed, and to souls bound in chains of superstition and error, and assures us that if we do good to these he accepts the deed as though done to himself. Christ identifies himself with suffering humanity. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #19)
This meeting, the third of the kind which has been held in this State the present season, was held Oct. 24-29. At Topeka we left the cars and rode by private conveyance twelve miles across the broad prairie to the place of meeting. We found the settlement of tents in a grove. A wooden tent was prepared for us, and furnished with a stove, and everything to make us comfortable. It being late in the season for campmeetings, every preparation was made for cold weather that could be made. There were seventeen tents on the ground besides the large tent, which accommodated several families; and every tent had a stove.
Sabbath morning it commenced snowing. But notwithstanding this, not one meeting was suspended. About an inch of snow fell, and the air was piercing cold. Women with little children clustered about the stoves. It was a touching scene to see one hundred and fifty people assembled for a convocation meeting under these circumstances. Some came two hundred miles by private conveyance. All seemed hungry for the bread of life, and thirsty for the water of salvation.
Bro. Haskell spoke Friday afternoon and evening. In the meeting Sabbath morning I felt called upon to speak encouraging words to those who had made so great an effort to attend the meeting. I told them that the more inclement the weather, the greater the necessity of our obtaining the sunshine of God's presence. This life at best is but the Christian's winter and the bleak winds of winter,--disappointments, losses, pain, and anguish,--are our lot here; but our hopes are reaching forward to the Christian's summer, when we shall change climate, leave all the wintry blasts and fierce tempests behind, and be taken to those mansions Jesus has gone to prepare for those that love him.
I presented before them the lives of the apostles. Paul was one whom God honored with visions of his glory, and although thus honored of Heaven, he was subject to the fiercest persecutions by his own people, the Jews. They did not allow him to labor in peace even among idolaters, but taking advantage of the superstition of the people, stirred up the Gentiles against him. Once the Gentile element was so wrought upon by the Jews that he was stoned and taken up for dead. But this hero of faith pens no words of discouragement.
Near the close of his life he was, under the cruel Nero, immured in prison walls that never saw the light of day. His dungeon, chiseled out of the solid rocks, was reeking with dampness, and he an invalid, who had labored for years pressed by physical sufferings. One consolation was left him. One and another of his brethren were allowed to be with him and share the discomforts of his home, and to stand by him when brought before Nero to answer for his life.
In looking over the incidents of his eventful life, he remembers all. He recalls the scenes of his trials and sufferings, and now if he has any words of murmuring we shall surely hear them. Mark his words: "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Again, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
When we contrast our circumstances with those of the apostle Paul, we should feel rebuked for ever harboring the least feeling of murmuring or complaint. We know but little by experience of self-denial, and persecution, and pain for Christ's sake. We are here as probationers, and we must be tested and proved. Says Paul, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Many testimonies were borne in this morning meeting, and many hearts were softened by the beams of light from the Sun of Righteousness. At half-past ten Bro. Haskell spoke with great freedom upon the subject of the talents.
In the afternoon I spoke from these words: "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." I had much freedom in presenting before our brethren the great dignity conferred upon them in being the acknowledged sons of God. The meeting was prolonged till near sunset, giving all the privilege of witnessing for Christ and the truth. Many testimonies were borne well wet down with tears, and many humble confessions were made. All seemed desirous to put away their lukewarmness, and let their example testify to their neighbors that there was a power in the truth they professed, to refine the life and elevate the character. We were made sensible of the fact that inaction in the cause of God will eventually destroy confidence in God.
Evening after the Sabbath, Eld. Haskell spoke to the people upon the message to the Laodiceans. Sunday morning was clear and cold. In the morning meeting Eld. Haskell explained the tract and missionary work, and at the usual hour for preaching he spoke upon the Sabbath. Sunday afternoon there was quite a large outside attendance, considering the meeting was located so far from the thoroughfare of travel. I spoke with freedom upon Christ weeping over Jerusalem, and the barren fig tree Bro. Haskell spoke again in the evening.
Monday morning at nine o'clock I spoke to the brethren from the third chapter of Malachi. We then called for those to come forward who wanted to be Christians and who had not the evidence of their acceptance with God. About thirty responded. Some were seeking the Lord for the first time, and some who were members of other churches were taking their position upon the Sabbath. We gave all an opportunity to speak. The free Spirit of the Lord was in our midst. One little boy about eleven years old said that he had been blessed. Had he not said a word his shining countenance would have testified to the fact.
After prayer had been offered for those who had come forward, candidates for baptism were examined. Six were baptized. In the afternoon Eld. Haskell brought before the people the necessity of placing reading matter in private families, especially the three volumes of Spirit of Prophecy, and the four volumes of Testimonies. These could be read aloud during the long winter evenings by some member of the family so that all the family might be instructed. I then spoke of the necessity of parents properly educating and disciplining their children. The greatest evidence that the world can have of the power of Christianity is to present to them a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. This will recommend the truth as nothing else can, for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart.
The Spirit of the Lord rested upon us in this our closing meeting. Tuesday morning the camp was early astir, striking their tents and preparing to return to their homes, it is to be hoped better Christians than when they came to the meeting. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #19)
We were sadly disappointed to find the Richland, Kansas, campmeeting located in an isolated place, twelve miles from Topeka, the nearest railroad station. This is indeed hiding our light under a bushel. We depend much upon the influence of our campmeetings to shed the bright beams of truth upon those who are in darkness.
We cannot say that any of our campmeetings are failures; for the people of our faith who attend them are hungry for a better knowledge of the truth, and more of the Lord's blessing. They have the evidences of our faith brought clearly before their minds, and receive additional light at every such gathering. To assemble, and hear the testimonies of brethren and sisters, encourages them. The earnest prayers and humble confessions of those who are wrought upon by the Spirit of God have a softening, subduing influence upon the heart, and all are made better by them. But every ray of light that shines from Heaven upon the people of God will have an influence in removing prejudice. And more than this is accomplished at our campmeetings: the evidences of our faith are presented with convincing power before a large class of persons who could not be drawn out upon any other occasion. Again, laborers are few, and the field of labor is extending. It is as easy to speak to thousands as it is to hundreds.
When we consider that we have a message which must go to all the world, and then see our large meetings carried away from the people into isolated, out-of-the-way places, we feel sad at heart. We have had much to say upon this point, and yet our brethren fail to realize the importance of holding their general meetings where the community at large may be benefited. Says Christ, "Ye are the light of the world;" "ye are the salt of the earth." We hope our brethren will be more liberal, and feel that the truth of heavenly origin should be brought before the world. Would that all our ministers were so closely connected with God that they would be awake to the wants of the cause, and could realize what might be done for the world through earnest effort.
When our large gatherings are appointed, let them be held on the line of the railroad, where the people can reach them.
Brethren, wake up! Shake off your lethargy, and be in earnest to be Christ's co-laborers. Let the light which shines upon you, shine upon others, who are in darkness. You need the true, zealous missionary spirit. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #21)
The holidays are approaching. In view of this fact, it will be well to consider how much money is expended yearly in making presents to those who have no need of them. The habits of custom are so strong that to withhold gifts from our friends on these occasions would seem to us almost a neglect of them. But let us remember that our kind heavenly Benefactor has claims upon us far superior to those of any earthly friend. Shall we not, during the coming holidays, present our offerings to God? Even the children may participate in this work. Clothing and other useful articles may be given to the worthy poor, and thus a work may be done for the Master.
Let us remember that Christmas is celebrated in commemoration of the birth of the world's Redeemer. This day is generally spent in feasting and gluttony. Large sums of money are spent in needless self-indulgence. The appetite and sensual pleasures are indulged at the expense of physical, mental, and moral power. Yet this has become a habit. Pride, fashion, and gratification of the palate, have swallowed up immense sums of money that have really benefited no one, but have encouraged a prodigality of means which is displeasing to God. These days are spent in glorifying self rather than God. Health has been sacrificed, money worse than thrown away, many have lost their lives by overeating or through demoralizing dissipation, and souls have been lost by this means.
God would be glorified by his children should they enjoy a plain, simple diet, and use the means intrusted to them in bringing to his treasury offerings, small and great, to be used in sending the light of truth to souls that are in the darkness of error. The hearts of the widow and fatherless may be made to rejoice because of gifts which will add to their comfort and satisfy their hunger.
Let all who profess to believe the present truth calculate how much they spend yearly, and especially upon the recurrence of the annual holidays, for the gratification of selfish and unholy desires, how much in the indulgence of appetite, and how much to compete with others in unchristian display. Sum up the means thus spent all needlessly, and then estimate how much might be saved as consecrated gifts to God's cause without injury to soul or body. Mites and more liberal gifts may be brought in, according to the ability of the giver, to aid in lifting debts from churches which have been dedicated to God. Then there are missionaries to be sent into new fields, and others to be supported in their respective fields of labor. These missionaries have to practice the strictest economy, even denying themselves the very things you enjoy daily, and which you consider the necessaries of life. They enjoy few luxuries.
If, after prayerful consideration of this matter, you are not moved to prompt and zealous action, we shall know that you have forgotten your first love, that you have lost sight of the sacrifice Jesus has made for you that you might be blessed with the gift of eternal life. Said Christ, "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." Self-denial is a mark of Christianity. To offer to God gifts that have cost us something, a sacrifice that we shall ask him to use to advance his cause in the earth, will be pleasing to him. The Saviour will accept the freewill offerings of every one, from the oldest to the youngest. Even small children may participate in this work, and enjoy the privilege of bringing their little offerings. While we have been mindful of our earthly friends from year to year, have we not neglected our heavenly Friend? In bestowing our gifts liberally upon our friends, have we not forgotten God and passed him by?
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Heavy debts are upon several of our churches. Let us consider from this time how we may economize in expending our means, and help to remove these incumbrances. As Christians, we should follow the directions of the inspired apostle: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves."
The apostle Paul gave directions to Timothy similar to the instruction given by Peter: "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
It would be well pleasing to God if extra ornaments, twice so explicitly forbidden in the word of God, were laid off. Now is a favorable opportunity to present these as offerings to God. They may be sold for something, and the money thus received may be used to advance the precious cause of truth. Let the wearing of useless trimmings and adornments be discarded. Extravagance should never be indulged in to gratify our pride. Our dress may be of good quality, made up with plainness and simplicity, for durability rather than for display. Our appetites must also be brought into subjection, and not gratified to our injury. The question should come home to every heart, "How much owest thou unto my Lord?" He has granted us privileges and blessings without number; and now should not the bands of selfishness be broken and removed from us, and the just claims of God and humanity be met?
Missionaries are planting the standard of truth in foreign lands. Publications must be multiplied, and scattered like the leaves of autumn. These silent messengers are enlightening and molding the minds of thousands in every country and in every clime. As a people, we come far short of moving forward as fast as the providence of God opens the way. He gives the command, "Go forward." Thousands are thirsting for living truth. The Macedonian cry is coming to us from every direction, "Come over and help us." We look about us and inquire, "Who will go?" One and another may respond, "Send me. I long to do something for my Master." But to do this requires money.
Time and again I have had presented before me a vision of people, across the broad ocean, standing in perplexity, and pale with anxiety, and earnestly inquiring, "What is truth?" Say they, "We want the bread of life. Our churches are backslidden from God. We want to find the old paths. We want to come back to the simplicity of gospel religion." Our tears will flow as we see this picture, like a reality, rising vividly before us. The voice from Heaven pleads, "Go ye therefore into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." While so great a work remains to be done, shall not we, as Christ's followers, arouse to a sense of our God given responsibilities, and be active in doing our part?
The lands that have never heard the truth are yet to hear it. They are to become vocal with the praise of God, and to lift their voices in proclaiming the last note of warning. If the church of Christ will now use all her talents of means and of influence according to God's order, the great work may be carried forward gloriously. We need men who are adapted to the work. Money is also needed to carry it forward. Let the church show that she is in earnest. A steady flow of means from each member will keep the treasury supplied with funds. "Bring ye," says God, "all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house." If all the sin offerings and peace offerings and thank offerings are brought into the treasury, we shall see that souls will not be so dark and backslidden from God. They will show by their works that they have a lively interest in the success of the truth, and the advancement of the glory of God in the earth. That which costs little, we have no special interest in; but that in which we have invested our means, claims our interest and attention, and we will labor to make it a success.
We see the churches of our day encouraging feasting, gluttony, and dissipation, by the suppers, fairs, dances, and festivals gotten up for the purpose of gathering means into the church treasury. Here is a method invented by carnal minds to secure means without sacrificing. Such an example makes an impression upon the minds of youth. They notice that lotteries and fairs and games are sanctioned by the church, and they think there is something fascinating in this way of obtaining means. A youth is surrounded by temptations. He enters the bowling alley, the gaming saloon, to see the sport. He sees the money taken by the one who wins. This looks enticing. It seems an easier way of obtaining money than by earnest work, which requires persevering energy and strict economy. He imagines there can be no harm in this; for similar games have been resorted to in order to obtain means for the benefit of the church. Then why should he not help himself in this way? He has a little means, which he ventures to invest, thinking it may bring in quite a sum.
Whether he gains or loses, he is in the downward road to ruin. But it was the example of the church that led him into the false path.
Let us stand clear of all these church corruptions, dissipations, and festivals, which have a demoralizing influence upon young and old. We have no right to throw over them the cloak of sanctity because the means is to be used for church purposes. Such offerings are lame and diseased, and bear the curse of God. They are the price of souls. The pulpit may defend festivals, dancing, lotteries, fairs, and luxurious feasts, to obtain means for church purposes; but let us participate in none of these things; for if we do, God's displeasure will be upon us. We do not propose to appeal to the lust of appetite or resort to carnal amusements as an inducement to Christ's professed followers to give of the means which God has intrusted to them. If they do not give willingly, for the love of Christ, the offering will in no case be acceptable to God.
Death, clad in the livery of Heaven, lurks in the pathway of the young. Sin is gilded over by church sanctity. These various forms of amusement in the churches of our day have ruined thousands who, but for them, might have remained upright and become the followers of Christ. Wrecks of character have been made by these fashionable church festivals and theatrical performances, and thousands more will be destroyed; yet people will not be aware of the danger, nor of the fearful influences exerted. Many young men and women have lost their souls through these corrupting influences.
While God in his providence has laden the earth with his bounties and filled its storehouses with the luxuries of life, there is no excuse whatever for allowing the treasury of God to remain empty. Christians are not excusable for permitting the widow's cries and the orphan's prayers to ascend to Heaven because of their suffering want, while a liberal Providence has placed in the hands of these Christians abundance to supply their need. Let not the cries of the widow and fatherless call down the vengeance of Heaven upon us as a people. In the professed Christian world, there is enough expended in extravagant display, for jewels and ornaments, to supply the wants of all the hungry and clothe the naked in our towns and cities; and yet these professed followers of the meek and lowly Jesus need not deprive themselves of suitable food or comfortable clothing. What will these church members say when confronted in the day of God by the worthy poor, the afflicted, the widows and fatherless, who have known pinching want for the meager necessities of life, while there was expended by these professed followers of Christ, for superfluous clothing, and needless ornaments expressly forbidden in the word of God, enough to supply all their wants?
We see ladies professing godliness wear elegant gold chains, necklaces, rings, and other jewelry, with a profusion of feathers and ribbons and expensive trimmings, while want stalks in the streets, and the suffering and destitute are on every side. These do not interest them, nor awaken their sympathy; but they will weep over the imaginary suffering depicted in the last novel. They have no ears for the cries of the needy, no eyes to behold the cold and almost naked forms of women and children around them. They look upon real want as a species of crime, and withdraw from suffering humanity as from a contagious disease. To such, Christ will say, "I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not."
But on the other hand Christ says to the righteous: "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matt. 25:35-40. Thus Christ identifies his interest with that of suffering humanity. Deeds of love and charity done to the suffering are as though done to himself.
"As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man." There will be feasting and merriment, sorrow and want and anguish, until the end comes. Then the wicked shall reap that which they have sown--corruption. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #22)
The word of God has not been appreciated, but sadly neglected. This book, revealing the will of God to man, deserves to be held in the highest esteem, not only by the rich, but by the common people. Instruction of the highest value is given to the working class. The apostle enjoins upon slaves under masters to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour. Those in the humblest employment can, through connection with God, so order their conversation and be so circumspect in deportment as to bring no dishonor or reproach upon the cause of the Redeemer. They will not by inconsistencies furnish occasion to bring the truth into disrepute, when it should be a savor of life unto life.
In a special manner, those who are blessed with a connection with God, should, by close application to his sacred word, imitate the great Pattern in doing good, thus exemplifying the life of Christ in their daily conversation, in pure and virtuous characters. By being courteous and beneficent they adorn his doctrine, and show that the truth of heavenly origin beautifies the character and ennobles the life. Christ's followers are "living epistles, known and read of all men." Their daily words and noble actions recommend the truth to those who have been prejudiced against it by nominal professors, who have had a form of godliness, while their lives have testified that they know nothing of its sanctifying power.
No man, woman, or youth can attain to Christian perfection and neglect the study of the word of God. By carefully and closely searching his word we shall obey the injunction of Christ, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." This search enables the student to closely observe the divine Model, for they testify of Christ. The Pattern must be inspected often and closely in order to imitate it. As one becomes acquainted with the history of the Redeemer, he discovers in himself defects of character; his unlikeness to Christ is so great that he sees he cannot be a follower without a very great change in his life. Still he studies, with a desire to be like his great Exemplar; he catches the looks, the spirit, of his beloved Master; by beholding he becomes changed. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." It is not in looking away from him, and in losing sight of him, that we imitate the life of Jesus; but in dwelling upon and talking of him, and seeking to refine the taste and elevate the character; seeking to approach through earnest, persevering effort, through faith and love, the perfect Pattern. The attention being fixed upon Christ, his image, pure and spotless, becomes enshrined in the heart as "the chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely." Even unconsciously we imitate that with which we are familiar. By having a knowledge of Christ, his words, his habits, his lessons of instruction, and by borrowing the virtues of the character which we have so closely studied, we become imbued with the spirit of the Master which we have so much admired.
After the resurrection, two disciples traveling to Emmaus were talking over the disappointed hopes occasioned by the death of the beloved Master. Christ himself drew near, unrecognized by the sorrowing disciples. Their faith had died with the Lord, and their eyes, blinded by unbelief, did not discern the risen Saviour. Jesus, walking by their side, longed to reveal himself to them, but he did not choose to do so abruptly; he accosted them merely as fellow travelers, and asked them in regard to the communication which they were having one with another, and why they were so sad. They were astonished at the question, and asked if he were indeed a stranger in Jerusalem and had not heard that a prophet mighty in word and in deed had been taken by wicked hands and crucified. And now it was the third day, and strange reports had been brought to their ears that Jesus had risen, and had been seen by Mary and certain of the disciples. Jesus said to them, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to have entered into his glory?" And beginning at Moses and the prophets, he opened to them the scriptures concerning himself.
When they arrived at Emmaus, Jesus made as though he would have gone farther; but the disciples constrained him to tarry with them, for the day was far spent and the night was at hand. The evening meal was quickly prepared, and while Jesus was offering devotional thanks the disciples looked at one another with astonished glances. His words, his manner, and then his wounded hands were revealed, and they exclaimed, "My Lord and my God." Had the disciples been indifferent in regard to their fellow traveler, they would have lost the precious opportunity of recognizing their companion who had reasoned so ably from the Scriptures regarding his life, his suffering, and his death and resurrection. He reproved them for not being acquainted with the scriptures in reference to himself. Had they been familiar with the Scriptures, their faith would have been sustained, their hopes unshaken; for prophecy plainly stated the treatment Christ would receive from those he came to save. The disciples were astonished that they could not discover Christ at once, as soon as he spoke with them by the way, and that they had failed to bring to their support the scriptures which Jesus had brought to their remembrance. They had lost sight of the precious promises; but when the words spoken by the prophets were brought to their remembrance, faith revived, and after Christ revealed himself they exclaimed, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
The word of God, spoken to the heart, has an animating power, and those who will frame any excuse for neglecting to become acquainted with it will neglect the claims of God in many respects. The character will be deformed, the words and acts a reproach to the truth. The apostle tells us, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." One of the prophets of God exclaims, "While I was musing, the fire burned." If Christians would earnestly search the Scriptures, more hearts would burn with the vivid truths therein revealed. Their hopes would brighten with the precious promises strewn like pearls all through the sacred writings. In contemplating the history of the patriarchs, the prophets, the men who loved and feared God and walked with him, hearts will glow with the spirit which animated these worthies. As the mind dwells upon the virtue and piety of holy men of old, the spirit which inspired them will kindle a flame of love and holy fervor in the hearts of those who would be like them in character.
The student of the Sabbath school should feel as thoroughly in earnest to become intelligent in the knowledge of the Scriptures as to excel in the study of the sciences. If either is neglected, it should be the lessons of the six days. The injunction of our Saviour should be religiously regarded by every man, woman, and child who professes his name. Teachers in the Sabbath school have a missionary field given them to teach the Scriptures, not, parrot like, to repeat over that which they have taken no pains to understand. "They are they which testify of me"--the Redeemer, him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. If teachers are not imbued with the spirit of truth, and care not for the knowledge of what is revealed in the word of God, how can they present the truth in an attractive light to those under their charge? The prayer of Christ for his disciples was, Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. If we are to be sanctified through a knowledge of the truth found in the word of God, we must have an intelligent knowledge of his will therein revealed. We must search the Scriptures, not merely rush through a chapter and repeat it, taking no pains to understand it, but we must dig for the jewel of truth which will enrich the mind, and fortify the soul against the wiles and temptations of the arch-deceiver.
Parents plead trifling excuses for not interesting themselves in the lessons with their children, and they fail to become conversant with the Scriptures. Fathers as well as mothers excuse themselves from disciplining their own minds. They do not seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, but exalt the temporal above the spiritual and eternal. This forgetfulness of God and neglect of his word is the example they give their children, which molds their minds after the worldly standard and not after the exalted standard erected by Christ. Some fathers will while away hours in their own amusement, in conversation upon worldly things, and put God out of their thoughts and hearts. How much more profitable to be faithful disciples of Christ, engaged in searching the Scriptures that they may be thoroughly furnished to all good works, and be able to give an intelligent explanation of the word given of God to guide our footsteps to the eternal shores.
Mothers are heard to deplore that they have no time to teach their children, no time to instruct them in the word of God. But these same mothers find time for outward adorning, time to ornament with tucks and ruffles and needless stitching. Needless trimming is seen upon their own dresses and their children's. The inward adorning of the mind and the culture of the soul are neglected as though inferior to the adornment of the apparel. The minds of mothers and children are starved in order to follow custom and fashion.
Fathers and mothers, we entreat you to take up your long neglected duties. Search the Scriptures yourselves; assist your children in the study of the sacred word. Make diligent work because of past neglect. Do not send the children away by themselves to study the Bible, but read it with them, teach them in a simple manner what you know, and keep in the school of Christ as diligent students yourselves. Be determined that this work shall not be neglected. Mothers, dress yourselves and your children in modest apparel, clean and neat, but without needless adornment. When you learn to do this, to dress with conscientious plainness, then you will have no excuse for being novices in the Scriptures. Follow Christ's injunction, "Search the Scriptures," then you will advance in spiritual strength yourselves, and be able to instruct your children so that they need not come to the Sabbath school untaught.
Many of the youth say, I have no time to study my lesson. But what are they doing? Some are crowding in every moment to earn a few cents more, when this time pressed into work, if given to the study of the Bible would, if they practiced its lessons, save them more than the amount gained by overwork. It would save much that is expended in needless ornaments, and preserve vigor of mind to understand the mystery of godliness. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." But these very youth who profess to be Christians gratify the desires of the carnal heart in following their own inclinations; and God given probationary time, granted them to become acquainted with the precious truths of the Bible, is devoted to the reading of fictitious tales. This habit once formed is difficult to overcome; but it can be done, it must be done by all who are candidates for the heavenly world. That mind is ruined which is allowed to be absorbed in story reading. The imagination becomes diseased, sentimentalism takes possession of the mind, and there is a vague unrest, a strange appetite for unwholesome mental food, which is constantly unbalancing the mind. Thousands are today in the insane asylum whose minds became unbalanced by novel reading, which results in air castle building, and lovesick sentimentalism. The Bible is the book of books. It will give you life and health. It is a soother of the nerves, and imparts solidity of mind and firm principle.
The student of the Sabbath school should be in earnest, should dig deep and search with the greatest care for the precious gems of truth contained in the weekly lessons. The privileges and opportunities which they now have of becoming intelligent in regard to the Scriptures should not be neglected. God would have those who profess to be his followers thoroughly furnished with proof of the doctrines of his word. When and where can this be better obtained than in youth at the Sabbath school? Parents should in no case treat this matter indifferently. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #24)
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." Dan. 12:3. "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Rev. 22:12.
There is a constant conflict between the two great armies led by the Prince of life and the Prince of the powers of darkness. The devil, assisted by his angels, is constantly engaged in the most determined effort to gather souls under his banner, while Jesus Christ and holy angels are diligently at work pressing back the powers of darkness, rescuing souls from the grasp of Satan, and gathering them under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel. Those who are truly soldiers of the cross of Christ will not be indifferent spectators, but will take an active part and manifest a personal interest in this conflict. They will "know the fellowship of his sufferings," being co-laborers with Jesus Christ in disseminating light and truth to redeem the purchase of his blood from the slavery of sin and death.
There is now the same call for disinterested workers as when Christ gave his commission to his disciples before he was taken from them into Heaven. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," is our Lord's command. Self-sacrificing labor is wanted in every part of the harvest field. Men and women may be co-workers with their self-sacrificing, self-denying Redeemer. In their unselfish efforts to do others good, they will be bearing his yoke and lifting his burdens. Thus they will find pure happiness and rich joys. Whoever accepts the invitation of Christ to bear his yoke and share his burdens will not only find the yoke easy but the burden light. Rest and peace is found in forgetfulness of self and in earnest, persevering efforts to save souls from the darkness of error. Those who shirk the responsibilities which Jesus would have them bear, choosing a life of self-indulgent ease, will be destitute of spiritual joys and divine peace, and cannot be partakers with Christ of his glory. Selfish enjoyments will never satisfy the cravings of a soul whom God has qualified for a higher sphere and nobler mission.
That church only is strong that is a working church, whose members feel an individual responsibility to act their part in strengthening, encouraging, and building up the church by their personal efforts. These workers will extend their influence and labors in doing all that they can in every branch of the work. The truth spreads when living, active workers commend it by personal effort, characterized by piety and the beauty of true holiness.
We are a people whom God has favored with special privileges and blessings in making us the depositaries of his law. None of us are to be idlers in the vineyard of the Lord. We are not all qualified to do the same kind of work; all cannot be ministers, to labor in word and doctrine; but there are other parts of the work, fully as important as this even, which have been fearfully neglected. Men and women are needed to act a part in this great work, in spreading the light of truth by circulating our publications. This work has not been taken hold of as it should have been by those who profess the truth.
The larger part of the members of our churches are not working Christians; they are living as if there was no great emergency, no fearful danger of their fellow men losing eternal life. Many fold their hands at ease, yet profess to be followers of Christ. The burden of the work has been left principally upon ministers, while many of the church have stood looking on to see how matters were coming out. There are not only men but women who should set their hearts and minds to become intelligent in regard to the very best manner of working for the Master, qualifying themselves to do that part of the work for which they are best adapted. All will, if connected with God, see something to do, and will do it. They cannot be soldiers in the Lord's army unless they shall obey the call of the Captain and bear responsibilities which someone must bear.
There are fields of missionary labor which have been open for years, calling for workers, and yet many have not seen or realized the necessity of their doing anything. The work, they thought, was for some others, but not for them. There are hundreds and thousands who can work if they are so disposed. Up to the present time they have done nothing but serve themselves. This class of do-nothings and know-nothings, as far as the work to be done in God's cause is concerned, will never hear the well done from the lips of the Majesty of Heaven. They have not taken any interest in the many branches of the work. They have not learned how to work for the Master to advance his cause in doing to the utmost of their strength and ability to save souls from error and death. I was shown that there must be with men and women a general waking up to the needs of God's cause. The minds of our sisters may be expanded and cultivated. If they are devoted to selfish interests, the soul will be left dwarfed. Emptiness and unrest will be the result.
A solemn responsibility rests upon the ministers of Christ to do their work with thoroughness. Many have left some portions of the work undone because it was not agreeable, expecting the next coming minister to finish it up for them. They had better not engage in the work unless they can bind it off thoroughly, so that it will not ravel out. There are many ministers who do not connect so closely with God that they can feel and realize the wants of the people and give them meat in due season. They should lead the young disciples along wisely and judiciously, step by step, onward and upward, until every essential point has been brought before them. With the burden of the work upon them, it is their duty to lead the people along until they can present every man perfect in Christ.
A mere assent to the truth is not enough. There must be prayerful labor with those who embrace the truth, until they shall be convicted of their sins and shall seek God and be converted. Then they should be instructed in regard to the claims of God upon them in tithes and in offerings. They must learn that the tithing system is binding upon God's people in these last days as truly as it was upon ancient Israel. The tract and missionary work should be presented before them. Nothing should be kept back. But all points of truth should not be given abruptly in the first few lectures; gradually, cautiously, with his own heart imbued with the spirit of the work of God, the teacher should give meat in due season.
Ministers frequently neglect these important branches of the work,--health reform, spiritual gifts, systematic benevolence, and the great branches of the missionary work. Under their labors large numbers may embrace the theory of the truth, but in time it is found that there are many who will not bear the proving of God. The minister laid upon the foundation, hay, wood, and stubble, which would be consumed by the fire of temptation. Some proved to be gold, silver, and precious stones; these from principle would cling to the truth. But if the teacher of truth had brought these converts along as he should have done, presenting before them the obligation which rested upon them, many who afterward drew back to perdition, might have been saved.
Another minister follows the first, and in the fear of God presents the practical duties, the claims of God upon his people. Some draw back, saying, "Our minister who brought us the truth did not mention these things. We have been deceived. These things were kept back." And they become offended because of the word. Some will not accept the tithing system; they reject systematic benevolence, and become offended, turn away, and no longer walk with those who believe and love the truth. When the tract and missionary field is opened before them, inviting them to work in it, they answer, "It was not so taught us," and they hesitate to engage in the work. How much better it would be for the cause, if the messenger of truth had faithfully and thoroughly educated these converts in regard to all these essential matters, ever if there were less whom he could number as being added to the church under his labors.
Ministers must impress upon those for whom they labor the importance of their bearing burdens in connection with the work of God. They should be instructed that every department of the work of God should enlist their support and engage their interest. The great missionary field is open to men, and the subject must be agitated, agitated, again and again. The people must understand that it is not the hearers of the word but the doers of the word that will have eternal life. Not one is exempted from this work of beneficence. God requires of all men to whom he imparts the gifts of his grace to communicate, not only of their substance to meet the demands for the time in successfully advancing his truth but to give themselves to God without reserve.
Self-denying benevolence characterized the life of Christ. He came not to seek his own. He identified his interest with the wants of his people. He went about doing good. Our sisters who have hitherto lived for self and have cherished habits of indolence and self-indulgence, can now, through the grace given them, imitate the life of Christ. The exercise of disinterested benevolence will strengthen in their own hearts the principles taught by their divine Master.
God gives regularly and freely to bless man. His gifts are not only rich and munificent but systematic. The light of day, the recurring seasons, the dew and rains causing vegetation to flourish, are blessings of God unceasingly flowing to the children of men. And God requires of those whom he blesses beneficent efforts in conformity to the divine Model. Our liberalities are never to cease; our charities must be regular and constant; and order must be observed in the work. It is not a trait of the natural heart to be beneficent; men must be taught, giving them line upon line and precept upon precept, how to work and how to give after God's order.
We are required to do good and bless others by our labors and prayers as well as by the gift of means. In order to be Christians and to gain Heaven we must imitate the great Exemplar. He cheerfully gave his life to ransom an apostate world. Selfishness and worldliness were condemned by the daily life of Christ; and none of us can live for ourselves and yet enjoy the approval of God.
Our sisters have been too willing to excuse themselves from bearing responsibilities which require thought and close application of the mind; yet this is the very discipline they need to perfect Christian experience. They may be workers in the missionary field, having a personal interest in the distribution of tracts and papers which correctly represent our faith. All cannot go abroad to labor, but all can do something at home. Many occupy their time in needless stitching, and trimming, and ruffling of their own and their children's clothing, and thus lose golden moments in which they might improve their talents by efforts to get the truth before others. We should, as Christians, have an abiding sense that our time, our strength and ability, have been purchased with an infinite price. We are not our own to use our moments in gratifying our fancy and our pride. As children of the light we should diffuse light to others. It should be our study how we may best glorify God, how we can work to save and bless souls for whom Christ died. In working to bless others we shall be gathering strength and courage to our own souls, and shall receive the approval of God. Hundreds of our sisters might be at work today if they would. They should dress themselves and their children with simplicity, in neat and durable garments free from adornment, and devote the time they have spent in needless display to missionary work. Letters may be written to friends at a distance. Our sisters may meet together to consult as to the best manner of labor. Money can be saved to present as an offering to God, to be invested in papers and tracts to send to their friends. Those who are now doing nothing should go to work. Let each sister who claims to be a child of God feel indeed a responsibility to help all within her reach. The noblest of all attainments may be gained through practical self-denial and benevolence for others' good. By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be continued.)
(Vol. 52, #24)
I am deeply interested in the Sabbath school work, and have a great desire to see it prosper. The Sabbath school is the place where we learn of God and Christ, and learn to study the Holy Bible. If we would develop Christian characters, we must study the character of Christ, that we may come into full union with him.
It is true greatness, it is nobility of soul and meekness and lowliness of heart, which will bring us into such a position before God that we can receive the finishing touch of immortality, and be translated as was Enoch. But I am afraid many do not appreciate the help which the Sabbath school may be in obtaining these qualities.
Fathers and mothers should so exalt the privileges of the Sabbath school as to take time to see that their children learn their lessons perfectly every Sabbath. They should even take more interest in having these well learned than in having their lessons in the day school properly prepared. In many places this matter is too much neglected. The teachers simply read over the lesson, and when they come to the Sabbath school, allow their pupils to read the answers either from the Bible or lesson paper. This course should never be taken. Every lesson should be thoroughly committed to memory by both teacher and scholar, so that it will be of some benefit to them in after life.
Fathers and mothers, teachers and students, should make the most of these God given opportunities; for in eternity we shall see that the Sabbath school has been a great instrumentality in the conversion of souls, and in keeping the young from the evils and temptations that exist all around them.
We must seek to become acquainted with God; we must study to understand the Scriptures. Says the Majesty of Heaven, the King of Glory, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me."
Many spend much precious time in reading story books. These are entertaining no doubt; but there are very few of them that give any information which will help us to perfect a righteous character, one that will enable us to enjoy that life in the kingdom of God which runs parallel with the life of Jehovah. The time spent in light reading, if devoted to the study of the Sabbath school lesson, would be of infinitely greater benefit to the mind.
A more interesting history than the Bible was never given to the world; and the more we search it, the better we are prepared to appreciate its excellences. It is the privilege of every one of us to know for ourselves that we are following out its instructions. And it is the privilege of each one of us to ask God for his Holy Spirit, for wisdom, for grace, and for moral worth, that we may have a good understanding. If all did this, they would be better prepared to work for themselves and to benefit society; and the knowledge and experience thus gained could be carried over into the new earth.
Now is the time to become acquainted with the Scriptures, to learn how to perfect a Christian character, to be preparing for Heaven by having a close connection with God, that at least we may be crowned with everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 52, #25)
I have been shown that many do not take hold of the missionary work because the matter has not been presented before them and urged upon their attention by the ministers who have labored in their behalf. These ministers have neglected one essential part of their duty, and as the result hundreds are indifferent and idle who might be at work had they been more perfectly instructed.
We have no time to lose. Important work is before us, and if we are slothful servants we shall certainly lose the heavenly reward. But few have broad and extensive views of what can be done in reaching the people by personal, interested efforts in a wise distribution of our publications. Many who will not be induced to listen to the truth presented by the living preacher will take up a tract or a paper and peruse it; many things they read meet their ideas exactly, and they become interested to read all it contains. Impressions are thus made upon their minds which they cannot readily forget. The seed of truth has in some cases been buried for years beneath the rubbish of the world, and the pleasing fables that deceived ones have enjoyed. After a time some earthly sorrow or affliction softens their hearts, and the seed springs up and bears fruit to the glory of God.
Again, many read these papers and tracts and their combativeness is aroused, and they throw the silent messengers from them in a passion. But ideas all new to them have, although unwelcome, made their impression, and as the silent messenger bears the abuse without retaliation there is nothing to feed the anger which has been excited. Again the hand takes up the neglected paper or tract, and the eye is tracing the truthful lines, and again in passion it is thrown from them as their path is crossed. But the mind is not at rest; the abused paper is at last perused, and thus point after point of truth commences its convicting work; step by step the reformation is wrought, self dies, and the warfare and antagonism to the truth is ended. The despised paper or tract is henceforth honored as the means of converting the stubborn heart and subduing the perverse will, bringing it in subjection to Christ. Had the living preacher spoken as pointedly, these persons would have turned from him, and would not have entertained the new and strange ideas brought before them. The papers and tracts can go where the living preacher cannot go, and where if he could go he would have no access to the people, because of their prejudice against the truth.
I have been shown that but few have any correct idea of what the distribution of papers and tracts is doing. The missionary work, in circulating the publications upon present truth, is opening doors everywhere, and preparing minds to receive the truth, when the living preacher shall come among them. The success which attends the efforts of ministers in the field is not due alone to their efforts, but in a great degree to the influence of the reading matter which has enlightened the minds of the people and removed prejudice. Thus many are made susceptible to the influence of the truth when it is presented before them.
The tract and missionary field is an extensive one. I have been shown that Eld. S. N. Haskell has been more fully awake to this subject than any of our other ministers, because he has exercised his mind in this department of the work. He has been untiring in his efforts to advance this work, and to have it carried forward with order and method. He has not at all times had the encouragement he should have had from his ministering brethren. He might have accomplished more had he received the cooperation which he could have had and ought to have had. Although discouraged at times as he has seen that but few appreciated the importance of the missionary work, yet he has not given up his efforts, but has returned again and again with new courage and perseverance to urge forward this branch of the work.
The Signs of the Times is our missionary paper; it is doing its work everywhere, and is opening the way for the truth to be more fully presented. This paper has been made a blessing to very many souls. All should feel the deepest interest to have it a spiritual messenger, full of life, and plain, practical truth. In the Christian world there are many starving for the bread of life. The Signs of the Times, laden with rich food, is a feast to many of these who are not of our faith. This paper should not contain many long articles, but the truth should be prepared with great care and made as attractive as possible. Articles which make sharp thrusts upon other churches are out of place in this paper, for they create prejudice. The truth should be presented in its simplicity, in the meekness of wisdom, having an influence to persuade. The matter should be the very choicest; the language should be chaste, elevating, every word breathing the spirit of Christ. The argumentative and practical combined will make a paper beaming with light, to go forth as a lamp that burneth, as a messenger indeed from Heaven.
Our brethren do not all see and realize the importance of this paper; if they did they would feel greater personal interest to make it intensely interesting, and then to circulate it everywhere. All who have a part to act in the preparation of matter for this pioneer sheet are engaged in a sacred work, and they should be connected with God; they should be pure in heart and life. God can work with them and give them wisdom that they may become intelligent in the knowledge of the truth. God sees the motive of each worker, and will impart his grace in rich measure in accordance with the spirit in which the labor is done. The silent preacher, enriched with precious matter, should go forth on the wings of prayer, mingled with faith, that it may do its appointed work in shedding the light of truth upon those who are in the darkness of error.
Calls are coming in from all directions, not only from persons of our faith, but from those who have become interested by reading our publications; they say, Send us a minister to preach to us the truth. But there is a great want of laborers. We have to answer, There is no man to send among you. Many are obliged to be content with the silent preacher until God shall send them the living messenger. Let all our brethren take this to heart, and by personal effort in faith and hope contribute to the Signs of the Times; for in sending matter that is alive, in speaking by the pen words bearing the holy unction, they are preaching to thousands. Long, dry articles are not wanted for this paper. The great lack of men to go from place to place and preach the word may be in a great degree supplied by tracts and papers, and by intelligent correspondence.
The many scattered all over the land who can seldom have the living preacher may make their meetings very interesting and profitable by selecting a good reader to read appropriate discourses published in our papers and books. You have a large variety to choose from, both doctrinal and practical. You can form a Bible class and search the Scriptures for yourselves, with the aid of our publications, and in this way learn much of present truth. You may present the reasons of our faith to those who shall inquire for them. All should be making the most of the opportunities granted them to become intelligent in the Scriptures.
If all would realize the necessity of doing to the utmost of their ability in the work of God, having a deep love for souls, feeling the burden of the work upon them, we should see hundreds engaged as active workers who have been hitherto dull and uninterested, accomplishing nothing. They have felt that there was nothing of importance in this tract and missionary work, nothing worthy of their especial interest. Yet it is a fact that the circulation of our papers is doing even a greater work than the living preacher can do. Many have failed to become thoroughly acquainted with the work, because they have felt that it did not concern them. All can, by individual effort, do something. Some can do more than others. All should become intelligent as to how they can work most successfully and methodically in spreading the light of truth, by scattering our publications. We meet with young and old who profess to be children of God, yet who have not grown an inch for years. A Christian indeed will grow in knowledge of the truth; and as he is sanctified through the truth he will become more and more like Jesus, and more desirous to save souls, the purchase of his blood.
With many, the rubbish of the world has clogged the channels of the soul. Selfishness has controlled the mind and warped the character. Were the life hid with Christ in God, his service would be no drudgery. If the whole heart were consecrated to God, all would find something to do, and would covet a part in the work. They would sow beside all waters, praying and believing that the fruit would appear. The practical, God fearing workers will be growing upward, praying in faith for grace and heavenly wisdom that they may do the work devolving upon them with cheerfulness and a willing mind. They will seek the divine rays of light that they may brighten the paths of others. Those who are co-laborers with God will have no disposition to engage in the various expedients for amusement; they will not be seeking after happiness and enjoyment. In taking up their work in the fear of God, and doing service for the Master, they will secure the most substantial happiness. Connected with Jesus Christ, they will be wise unto salvation. They will be fruit bearing trees. They will develop a blameless life, a beauteous character. The great work of redemption will be their first consideration. Eating and drinking and dressing, houses and lands, will be secondary matters. The peace of God within will force off the withered or gnarled branches of selfishness, vanity, pride, and indolence. It is faith and practice that makes up the Christian's life. We do not meet the standard of Christianity in merely professing Christ and having our names upon the church book. We should be individual workers for Christ. By personal effort we can show that we are connected with him.
There is a wide field in which our sisters may do good service for the Master in the various branches of the work connected with his cause. Through missionary labor they can reach a class that our ministers cannot. There are noble women who have had moral courage to decide in favor of the truth from the weight of evidence. They have conscientiously accepted the truth. They have tact, perception, and good ability, and will make successful workers for their Master. Christian women are called for. There is work neglected or done imperfectly that could be thoroughly accomplished by the help that sisters can give. There are so many kinds of work too laborious for women, which our brethren are called to engage in, that many branches of missionary work are neglected. Many things connected with different churches are left undone that women, if properly instructed, could attend to. Our sisters might serve as church clerks, and the church business would not be so sadly neglected. There are many other offices connected with the cause of God which our sisters are better qualified to fill than our brethren, and in which they might do efficient service.
Our sisters can serve as vigilant workers in writing, and drawing out the true feelings of friends who have received our papers and tracts. Very valuable items are brought to light through this means. The writers should not seek for self-exaltation, but to present the truth in its simplicity wherever they shall have an opportunity. The money that has been spent for needless trimmings and useless ornaments should be spent in the purchase of papers and tracts to send to those who are in the darkness of error. The souls saved by their personal efforts will be more precious to them than fashionable dress. The white robes given them by Christ, and the jeweled crown as their reward for their unselfish efforts in the salvation of souls, will be more valuable than needless adornments. The stars in their crowns will shine forever and ever, and will a thousand times repay them for the self-denial and self-sacrifice they have exercised in the cause of God.
Women of firm principle and decided character are needed, women who believe that we are indeed living in the last days, and that we have the last solemn message of warning to be given to the world. They should feel that they are engaged in an important work in spreading the rays of light which Heaven has shed upon them. Nothing will deter this class from their duty. Nothing will discourage them in the work. They have faith to work for time and for eternity. They fear God, and will not be diverted from the work by the temptation of lucrative situations and attractive prospects. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is sacredly kept by them, because God has placed his sanctity upon it, and has bidden them to keep it holy. They will preserve their integrity at any cost to themselves. These are the ones whom God can use in the tract and missionary work. These are the ones who will correctly represent our faith, whose words will be fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver. These can in many ways do a precious work for God in scattering tracts and judiciously distributing the Signs of the Times. Sisters, God calls you to work in the harvest field and help gather in the sheaves.
Our sisters can show by their self-denial and self-sacrifice, and their willingness to work to the best of their ability, that they believe, and are being sanctified through, the truth. Many need a work of this kind to develop the powers they possess. Our sisters should in no case neglect their husbands and their children, but they can do much without neglecting home duties; and there are many who have not these responsibilities. In the various branches of the missionary work, the modest, intelligent woman may use her powers to the very highest account. Who can have so deep a love for the souls of men and women for whom Christ has died as those who are partakers of his grace? Who can represent the truth and the example of Christ better than Christian women who are practicing the truth in their earnest efforts to bring souls to the light? Who so well adapted to be teachers in the Sabbath schools? With a heart imbued with the love of Christ, teaching the children of her class, praying with them and for them, she may see souls converted. The true mother is adapted to be the true teacher of children. I do not recommend that woman should seek to become a voter or an officer holder; but as a missionary, teaching the truth by epistolary correspondence, distributing tracts and soliciting subscribers for periodicals containing the solemn truth for this time, she may do very much. In conversing with families, in praying with the mother and children, she will be a blessing. By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be continued.)