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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1879
(Vol. 53, #1)
Women can be the instruments of righteousness, rendering holy service. It was Mary that first preached a risen Jesus. In fulfillment of the divine plan, the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. If this work was not beneath the dignity of the world's Redeemer, the Creator of worlds, should it be considered too humiliating for sinful mortals? If Christ taught, and if he wrestled in earnest prayer to his Father in behalf of those he came to save, we should engage in the same work. Those who engage with the Son of God in his work, be they ever so aspiring, can have no greater, no holier work than this. If there were twenty women where now there is one, who would make this holy mission their cherished work, we should see many more converted to the truth. The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth. The Lord of the vineyard is saying to many women who are now doing nothing, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" Zealous and continued diligence in our sisters toiling for the spread of the truth would be wholly successful, and would astonish us with its results. Through patience and perseverance, the work must be accomplished. In this faithful work is manifested the real devotion to God. He calls for deeds, and not words only.
We are so much wrapped up in our selfish interests that our hearts are not allowed to take in the needs and wants of humanity; we are lacking in deeds of sympathy and benevolence, in sacred and social ministering to the needy, the oppressed, and the suffering. Women who can work are needed now, women who are not self-important, but meek and lowly of heart, who will work with the meekness of Christ wherever they can find work to do for the salvation of souls. All who have been partakers of the heavenly benefits should be earnest and anxious that others, who do not have the privileges which they have enjoyed, in seeing and hearing the evidences of truth, should have the truth in papers, tracts, and pamphlets. They will not merely desire that others should have this benefit, but will see that they do have it, and will act their part to accomplish this object.
Those who work for God will grow in moral and spiritual power, while those who devote their time and energies to serving themselves will dwarf, and wither, and die. Our sisters, the youth, the middle-aged, and those of advanced years, may act a part in the closing work for this time; and in doing this as they have opportunity, they will obtain an experience of the highest value to themselves. In forgetfulness of self, they will grow in grace. By training the mind in this direction, they will learn how to bear burdens for Jesus. But those who take hold of this work, whether young or old, must not be above counsel, and refuse to receive instruction. They will need to guard against self-sufficiency and self-importance. When it may come in the line of duty to correspond with those they wish to help, they should be careful not to show a pompous, self-righteous, pharisaic spirit. Those sisters who may be appointed to do work for the church, or tract and missionary work, should be guarded in regard to the tone in which they write. Some quite young persons have shown great weakness on this point. Letters have been written by youth, addressed to old and tried friends of the cause of God, who have carried the banner of the cross of Christ in all worthiness for nearly a quarter of a century, exhorting and advising them to be more zealous in the cause of God, more prompt in duty, in labor, and in reporting. All that was written may have been good in itself, but it was inappropriate; such letters do no good. It is the manner and spirit in which labor is performed that makes it acceptable or repulsive.
The lives of those who are connected with God are fragrant with deeds of love and goodness. The sweet savor of Christ surrounds them; their influence is to elevate and bless. These are fruitful trees. Men and women of this stamp of character will render practical service in thoughtful deeds of kindness, and earnest, systematic labor. Self-importance, vanity, and pride should in no case be mingled with the sacred work. Those who become lifted up because they can do something in the cause of God, will be in danger of marring the work by their self-conceit, and they will ruin their own souls. All who are connected with the work of God should make their mission as attractive as possible, that they may create no distaste for the truth in consequence of their demeanor. Self must be hid in Jesus, and those who labor for God must have characters with a pleasant flavor. Now is the time to put forth earnest efforts. Men and women are needed to work in the great missionary field with determined effort, praying and weeping, sow-the precious seed of truth in imitation of the Redeemer, who was the Prince of missionaries.
Christ left the royal courts of Heaven; he left his high command, and for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He labored in his vineyard among the hills of Galilee, and at last bedewed with his own blood the seed which he had sown. When the harvest of the earth shall be gathered into Heaven's garner, and Christ shall then look upon the saints redeemed, he will see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. He who gives increased talents to those who have made a wise improvement of the talents intrusted to them, is pleased to acknowledge the services of his believing people in the Beloved, through whose strength and grace they have wrought. Those who have sought the development and perfection of Christian character by exercising their faculties in good works, in sowing the seeds of truth beside all waters, will, in the world to come, reap that which they have sown. The work begun upon earth will reach its consummation in the higher and holier life, to endure through all eternity. The self-denial and self-sacrifice required in the cultivation of the heart in doing the works of Christ, will be infinitely overbalanced by the rich reward of the eternal weight of glory, the joys of the life which measures with the life of God.
None of us should feel content to save merely our own souls. Those who appreciate the plan of salvation, the infinite price paid for man's redemption, will not live for themselves alone. They will have the deepest interest to save their fellow men, that Christ may not have died for them in vain. All Heaven is interested in the salvation of souls, and all who are partakers of the heavenly benefits will feel an intense anxiety that this interest manifested in Heaven may not be in vain. They will on earth cooperate with the angels in Heaven, by manifesting their appreciation of the value of souls for whom Christ has died. They will, through their earnest, judicious labor, bring many to the fold of Christ. Not one who is a partaker of the divine nature will be indifferent in this matter. The world is our field; with a firm hold on God for his strength and his grace we may move forward in the pathway of duty, as co-laborers with the Redeemer of the world. Our work is to spread the light of truth and advance the work of moral reform, to elevate, ennoble, and bless humanity. We should apply the principles of Christ's sermon on the mount to every move that we make, and then trust the consequences with God.
"I say unto you that likewise joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance." "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." If God and Christ and angels rejoice when even one sinner repents and becomes obedient to Christ, should not man be imbued with the same spirit, and work for time and for eternity with persevering effort to save, not only his own soul, but the souls of others? If you work in this direction with wholehearted interest as the followers of Christ, discharging every duty, improving every opportunity, your own souls will be gradually settling into the mold of a perfect Christian. The heart will not be sere and unfeeling. The spiritual life will not be dwarfed. The heart will glow with the impress of the divine image; for it will be in close sympathy with God. The whole life will flow out with cheerful readiness in channels of love and sympathy for humanity. Self will be forgotten, and the ways of this class will be established in God. In watering others, their own souls will be watered. The stream flowing through their souls is from a living spring, and is flowing out to others in good deeds, in earnest, unselfish effort for their salvation. In order to be a fruitful tree, the soul must derive its support and nourishment from the Fountain of Life, and must be in harmony with the Creator.
All who are faithful workers for God will yield their spirit and all their powers a willing sacrifice to him. The Spirit of God operating upon their spirit calls forth the sacred harmonies of the soul in the answer to the divine touch. This is true sanctification, as revealed in the word of God. It is the work of a lifetime. And that which the Spirit of God has begun upon the earth for the perfection of man, glory shall crown in the mansions of God. Those who are indolent and self-caring know not true happiness and peace. They are losing, even in this life, and what glory they lose in the future, immortal life. I wish I could speak words to men and women which would nerve them to diligent action. The moments now granted us to work are few. We are standing upon the very borders of the eternal world. We have no time to lose. Every moment is golden, and altogether too precious to be devoted merely to self-serving. Who will seek God earnestly, and from him draw strength and grace to be his faithful workers in the missionary field? Individual effort is essential for the success of this work. The ease loving and self-caring, the worldly, ambitious ones will be ashamed to engage perseveringly in the tract and missionary work. Some may take hold of it impulsively, but they will not be able to bear rebuffs, and sneers, and contempt. These soon become weary in well doing, and fall back to their own position of living and caring for self. For such there will be no reward in Heaven, for Christ is to give to every one as his works shall be.
There will be no lazy Christians in this cause, or connected with this work. It is essential that all who have named the name of Christ have a personal knowledge of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. They should understand the Scriptures for themselves. All indifference and lethargy must be overcome. Work, work, is crowding upon the few who are willing and obedient. They overwork because they see so much to do and so few who are willing to lift the burdens and bear the yoke of Christ. Many who see the work for this time, and realize its importance, are pressed under the weight of responsibility as a cart beneath sheaves, while hundreds are dying a spiritual death of inaction because they will not work at all. These might come into working order if they would gather divine strength, and yield not to passing influences. They have the opportunity to cultivate traits of character which would be the opposite of selfishness, which would refine, enrich, and ennoble their lives. These may grow in spirituality if they will accept any burdens of the work where they can best serve the cause of God. Christians, in the fullest acceptation of the term, grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. They love God more and more, and are more and more desirous of acting a part in the great plan of salvation. Intellectual laziness and spiritual lethargy must be overcome, and as Christ's soldiers we must be faithful to duty, ready for every good work.
If the Christian thrives and progresses at all, he must do so amid strangers to God, amid scoffing, subject to ridicule. He must stand upright, like the palm tree in the desert. The sky may be as brass, the desert sand may beat about the palm tree's roots, and pile itself in heaps about its trunk. Yet the tree lives as an evergreen, fresh and vigorous amid the burning desert sands. Remove the sand till you reach the rootlets of the palm tree, and you discover the secret of its life; it strikes down deep beneath the surface, to the secret waters hidden in the earth. Christians indeed may be fitly represented by the palm tree. They are like Enoch; although surrounded with corrupting influences their faith takes hold of the Unseen. They walk with God, deriving strength and grace from him to withstand the moral pollution surrounding them. Like Daniel in the courts of Babylon, they stand pure and uncontaminated; their life is hid with Christ in God. They are virtuous in spirit amid depravity; they are true and loyal, fervent and zealous, while surrounded by infidels, hypocritical professors, godless and worldly men. Their faith and life are hid with Christ in God. Jesus is in them a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Faith, like the rootlets of the palm tree, penetrates beneath the things which are seen, drawing spiritual nourishment from the fountain of life.
The character of the true Christian will be consistent, meek, cheerful, fragrant with good works, and so resolute that sin will find no sanction in the heart, in the words uttered, or in silence. The peace of Christ ruling in the heart of the earnest, working Christian will be reflected upon others; and will elevate and refine the taste, and sanctify the judgment. The faithful sower of the seed will hear the commendation of the Master, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, . . . . enter thou into the joy of the Lord." What is the joy of our Lord? It is the joy of seeing souls for whom Christ died redeemed in the kingdom of glory. Those who enter into the joys of their Lord will have the blessed satisfaction of seeing souls saved in the mansions of God through their instrumentality. These souls will be as stars in the crown of their rejoicing. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 53, #6)
In my last vision I was shown the importance of the work in Northern Europe. The people are awakening to the truth. The Lord has given Elder Matteson a testimony to reach hearts. But the work is just entered upon. With judicious, self-sacrificing labor, many souls will be brought to the knowledge of the truth. There should be several unselfish, God fearing workers in this missionary field, who will labor for souls as they that must give account in the day of Judgment.
I have been shown that not all is being done by our Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish brethren that they might and should do for their own countrymen. As soon as they embrace the truth, they ought to feel the fire of missionary zeal kindled in their hearts for their brethren in the darkness of error. Many are looking for help from their American brethren while they do not do their duty and feel the burden God requires them to feel for those of their own nation. They may do very much more than they are now doing if they will. These brethren must overcome selfishness and arouse to a sense of their responsibilities to God and their fellow countrymen, or they will lose the precious reward they might secure by putting their talents of means into the treasury of God, and by wisely directed personal effort, thus being instrumental in the salvation of many souls.
Young men should be educated to become missionaries to their own nation, to teach the truth to those in darkness. Publications should be printed in Europe. But at the present time there is altogether too much ease and too little zeal among the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians who believe the truth in this country to sustain such a continual drain upon their funds. And for this reason I urge upon them the necessity of coming up into working order, feeling even a greater interest for their own people than their American brethren have shown. God requires that these brethren should come up to the help of the Lord without delay.
The Lord is the great benefactor of the universe, a being of infinite love. His tender mercy is over all his works. He sees the great want of those in different countries who have not the truth. Thousands are not satisfied with their present state, and desire to learn a better way. They are hungering and thirsting for light, and longing for greater surety and deeper spirituality. Minds are deeply stirred, and yet how few there are to bear the message to them!
Brethren, we need a deeper work of the Spirit of God in our own hearts. Jesus was rich in Heaven; but for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. The life of Christ, his self-denial and self-sacrifice, rebukes the indolence and inactivity of those who might and should engage in this great work of doing what they can to save their fellow men. God requires that we should be like Christ, bear his image and imitate his example.
I was shown that many in Northern Europe had embraced the truth through reading. Their souls were hungering for light and knowledge when some tracts or papers came into their hands, and they were represented to me as reading. The wants of their souls were met; the Spirit of God softened and impressed their hearts; tears were in their eyes, and sobs came from burdened hearts. They knelt with the leaflets in their hands, and with earnest prayer besought the Lord to lead them and help them to receive the light as it was from him. Some surrendered themselves to God. Uncertainty was gone; and as they accepted the truth upon the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, they felt that they were indeed standing upon the Rock of Ages. Many persons scattered all through Northern Europe were presented to me as being ready to accept the light of truth.
I also saw Bro. Matteson at work among this very people. A cry comes to us from him across the waters for help. Shall we let him call in vain? We want to invest one hundred dollars in this mission. We do not want to hide our talents in the earth where they will do no one any good, but we wish to put them out to the exchangers where they can be used for the salvation of the souls for whom Christ has died.
We do not feel in the least discouraged to have these calls come in from foreign countries. They will not be made in vain. There are noble, self sacrificing men and women in our ranks who only wait to know their duty, and they are ready to engage in the work personally, or to help with their money. In doing this they are not only blessing others, but they are blessing themselves. Said Christ, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." It is for ourselves we are laying up treasure. I would not, for my right hand, do as some of our brethren have done. They make but little distribution of their means to sustain the cause of God, and excuse their consciences by resolving that when they shall have no further use for it they will will it to the cause of God. Will such poor, faithless souls have credit for laying up treasure in Heaven? No, no. Satan, through his agents, begins to work to secure the means in his cause, and he generally succeeds. This should be a standing rebuke to those unfaithful stewards, who are acting over the same plan hundreds have acted before them.
Men are too faithless to use their talents themselves and put it out to the exchangers, and so they would throw all the burden of their stewardship upon someone after they are gone. How much better for them to use the means which God has loaned them to be used for the advancement of his cause and to glorify his name on the earth.
The time is near when we shall be called to give an account of the manner in which we have spent our means. When the great white throne comes down from Heaven, and He sitteth thereon from whose face the heavens and earth flee away, then the dead, small and great, will stand before God, and the books will be opened, and all will be judged according to the things written in the books. We are trying to send our means beforehand into glory, and we call upon the selfish and penurious to arouse and do their duty before it shall be too late.
Put the means God has lent you out to the exchangers yourselves. The Lord will require of us personally a faithful record of how we have used our talents of means. Can we show a wise and faithful stewardship? How will you who hide your talents in the earth answer in that day? How will you answer who spend money upon your idols, tea and coffee? How will you, my sisters, answer, who spend much of the Lord's money in needless, expensive dress, when plain, modest apparel would be more in accordance with your faith?
You who would imitate your self-denying Redeemer, should deny the appetite, take the money formerly expended for tea and coffee and many other hurtful indulgences, and put it into the treasury of God. You should have a missionary box, and put the money into it which you have been in the habit of spending for these wicked indulgences which ought long ago to have been laid aside.
Is it not high time that we begin to make some little sacrifice for Christ, when he has sacrificed his life for us? Let the tea and coffee money, and money that is spent so freely for dress and ornaments, be sent in to the treasury, and God will bless you for whatever sacrifice you make for his cause. Shall these important calls for means to carry forward this missionary work come to us across the broad waters in vain? No, no; let every voice answer, No! E. G. W.
We recommend that Eld. Matteson commence to publish a paper without delay, and we direct that one hundred dollars be sent to him immediately.
We now call for one thousand dollars to be raised, to assist Bro. Matteson in publishing the paper, in issuing another edition of his European hymn book, and to meet other expenses of the mission during the present year. Our American brethren, who are able, are urgently invited to follow our example in this good work; but the Scandinavian brethren, who have taken but little stock in our Publishing Houses, College, and Sanitarium are our main dependence in promptly raising this sum.
We pledge to pay monthly for this purpose, J. and E. G. White $5.00, and of this sum we now pay for present relief $15.00.
Brethren, send in your pledges and money as soon as possible. And with your alms, let your prayers come up before God for perishing souls in Northern Europe. James White. Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 53, #24)
From the Kansas campmeeting we came direct to the Missouri campground. Arriving there May 30, we found a very pleasant encampment. Eld. Butler soon rallied helpers to pitch a tent for us, and with a floor laid and carpeted, a table, bedstead, lounge, and chairs, our temporary home was made tasteful and inviting.
I was suffering from weakness and a severe cold, and would have been glad to keep my bed Sabbath morning, had I not been so desirous of speaking to the people. I was too sick to speak long, but in great weakness I sought to impress upon the people the necessity of preparing for a future life. I then invited sinners and backsliders to come forward. A large number responded, many making a start for the first time.
The people who came upon the ground Sunday had been told that I would speak to them; but it seemed like an impossibility for me to do so. My lungs were congested, and I was very hoarse; but, unable as I had been to sit up an hour since I came on the ground, I decided to venture out by faith. And, as on former occasions, I found the promises of God unfailing. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." I was strengthened of God to speak nearly two hours, and was not nearly as tired when I left the stand as when I went upon it.
Monday morning, we assembled under the tent to attend the organization of a temperance association. There was a fair representation of our people present. Eld. Butler spoke, and confessed that he had not been as forward in the temperance reform as he should have been. He stated that he had always been a strictly temperance man, discarding the use of liquor, tea and coffee, but he had not signed the pledge being circulated among our people. But he was now convinced that in not doing so he was hindering others who ought to sign it. He then placed his name under Col. Hunter's; my husband placed his name beneath Bro. Butler's, I wrote mine next, and Bro. Farnsworth's followed. Thus the work was well started.
My husband continued to talk while the pledge was circulating. Some hesitated, thinking that the platform was too broad in including tea and coffee; but finally their names were given, pledging themselves to total abstinence.
Bro. Hunter, who was then called upon to speak, responded by giving a very impressive testimony as to how the truth found him, and what it had done for him. He stated that he had drank liquor enough to float a ship, and that now he wanted to accept the whole truth, reform and all. He had given up liquor and tobacco, and this morning he had drank his last cup of coffee. He believed the testimonies were of God, and he wished to be led by the will of God expressed in them.
As the result of the meeting, one hundred and thirty-two names were signed to the teetotal pledge, and a decided victory was gained in behalf of temperance. E. G. White.
(Vol. 54, #3)
These annual gatherings are attended with great expense and wearisome labor. They are designed especially for our people, as the best means of reaching the greatest number. And while wisdom should be manifested in locating them where those not of our faith may be benefited by the light of truth presented, great care should be exercised that the object of the meeting be not lost sight of in the desire to make a favorable impression upon the public mind.
I see a marked change for the worse in our campmeetings. Reporting the meetings through the secular papers, will, if properly conducted, be the means of calling the attention of the people to our faith, and awakening an interest in it; but if not managed in a manner to exalt Jesus and the truth rather than to make a display of what is done, the efforts are thrown away, and time and energy needed to keep up the interest of the meetings are worse than lost. When sincere piety, earnest devotion, and sanctified zeal are manifested by those professing the truth, and our devotional exercises are characterized by the presence of God's Spirit, impressions will be made upon the outside world that no amount of reporting will produce.
Our campmeetings greatly fail of being what they should be, and our people do not gain the spiritual benefit from them that they might. Home burdens and worldly thoughts should be laid aside. Every individual should be upon the ground the first day of the meeting, prepared to remain until the closing service. When one family strike their tent a day or two before the close of the meeting, others feel inclined to do the same, and the interest of the meeting is greatly injured. One full week is none too long a time to devote exclusively to the service of God, having the mind withdrawn from worldly interests and concentrated upon spiritual things; but to abridge the one week to two or three days is robbing God of time which should be spent in his service. Some do not get into the spirit of the meeting before they start for their homes. Such show that they value temporal things above spiritual, and they will receive no permanent good.
How must our Lord look upon his people who are thus indifferent and careless when his servants are laboring earnestly to bring them up to the requirements of the Bible, and to awaken in them greater earnestness and devotion in the cause of God. The preaching on Sunday is generally designed more especially for the people outside of our faith, the evidences of our position being dwelt upon. Monday the work commenced on Sabbath for those who are seeking the Lord, is resumed. This, the day for binding off the meetings, is the most important of the series; and our brethren meet with a great loss themselves, and cast a depressing influence upon the meeting, by taking this day for packing, taking down tents, and leaving the grounds. This is a wrong which nearly destroys the good that might be realized from the meetings.
We would appeal to our brethren and sisters to come to the campmeeting prepared to remain to the close. It is disheartening to your ministers to see a disposition on your part to scatter, as if in haste to get away from the camp. Be on the ground the first day, and feel an individual responsibility to labor for the interest of the meeting from the first day to the last.
As a people, we are backsliding from God. The hearts of his professed children are being estranged from him. While they have a name to live, the true, vital energies of the soul have become spiritually dead. To such, Jesus speaks: "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" Christ does not say days, but "day,"--"this thy day." That last meeting may be the very day of the special visitation of Christ,--a day of rare privileges and blessings so much needed by them.
When Christ was upon the earth, attending one of the Jews' convocations, upon the last day, that great day of the feast, he stood and cried: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." His eye of tenderest pity was cast around upon the multitude who were apparently all joy and rejoicing; but he who reads the secrets of the heart saw that there were many in that festive throng who were thirsting for that peace, and comfort, and consolation which he alone can give. They had failed to quench their thirst at earthly fountains, and his voice was heard by the whole temple crowd: "I am the fountain of living waters. If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink."
In our campmeetings Jesus is present with his gracious invitations; and if, on the last day of the feast, he is specially near, and his mercies and blessings are more forcibly brought home to us, how great the loss of those who fail to be present! On the very day of all others when they should be present, they are hasting to their homes; and thus failing to drink of the living waters, their souls are unrefreshed.
One family decide that their farm calls them; but if they had a little more faith and trust in their Heavenly Father, who has said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," they would be more willing to leave the consequences with God. But very few are willing to make any sacrifice of their temporal things in order to gain eternal riches.
We feel to the very depths the spiritual loss that our people are sustaining in not appreciating their privileges and present blessings. They are not becoming more earnest, devoted, and perfect in character. Their faith is dead, because it is not sustained by works. There is every year a growing tendency to assimilate to the world. Self and the world are becoming a ruling power. I state that which I know. Spiritual death is coming upon us, because of the absence of vital godliness. Says Jesus, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." It is one thing to profess Christ, and another thing to follow him.
Anciently God commanded his people to assemble three times a year, and from every city from Dan to Beersheba the people came to these annual feasts. The one at the commencement of the season was to entreat God's blessing upon their families, their lands, their flocks, and their herds. The one at the close of harvest was the crowning festal gathering, to bring their offerings to God. The land had yielded its increase, the harvest had been gathered into their granaries, the firstfruits had been stored, and the people came with their tributes of thanksgiving to God, who had thus richly blessed them. Joy and rejoicing were there combined with the solemnities of a holy and sacred convocation.
God directed Moses to say to the children of Israel, "Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine." "Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God, in the place which the Lord shall choose; because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice."
Many sacrifices were made at these feasts; and this profusion of blood shed in connection with the harvest of thanksgiving was significant to them of the fact that even the bounties of the earth could come to them only through the cross of Calvary. By thus assembling and bringing their tithes into the treasury, they ever acknowledged the Lord to be the giver of all their blessings. The children of Israel are our ensamples, that while we should imitate their faithfulness and virtues, we should shun those sins which brought the displeasure of God upon them.
We have our convocation meetings yearly, and all who possibly can attend them should feel under obligation to do so. If they neglect to improve the opportunities to obtain a better knowledge of the truth, and to become more thoroughly in earnest in their efforts to perfect Christian character, they will be held responsible for the light, and privileges, and blessings which they might have had. Their case is nearly as bad in the sight of God as that of those who attend the meetings but fail to improve by the light and blessings there received.
I plead with our brethren and sisters to make the most of their God given opportunities. Christ, when weeping over Jerusalem, exclaimed, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." Jerusalem's sin was in abusing past blessings and privileges, and she was sealing her doom in rejecting present mercies and warnings. The weak faith of our people today shows that past warnings and reproofs have not been heeded, and hardness of heart, and indifference, and unbelief are the result.
The most solemn and awful period for the Jewish nation was when Jesus was in their midst. It was that generation that was responsible for not accepting the light of the world. For many years God has been pleading with his people by mercies, by judgments, and by the most solemn warnings and entreaties. Blessings have been bestowed, and blessings removed, and yet the people who profess to be in advance of every other people in the light of truth have not responded to these warnings and entreaties of the Spirit of God. The Saviour's love has been unrequited. Christ looks mournfully upon the individual members of the church, and exclaims, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
The hour of probation is fast passing; the cup of God's indignation is fast filling. Will those who profess to be waiting for the appearing of their Lord from heaven be found wanting in that day, or will they awake from their carnal security, repent of their indifference and hardness of heart, and in this their day give most diligent heed to the things which belong to their peace? Must the fast westering sun of merciful probation set, and the sentence be pronounced, "but now they are hid from thine eyes"?
From the crest of Olivet, Christ overlooked the world. Every soul who has become indifferent to the privileges within his reach, is personally addressed in this appeal. Christ is stooping over his throne today, his great heart of love yearning with deep and tender compassion over those who are careless, and neglectful of their eternal interests. Many professed Christians are now only stumblingblocks,--false waymarks. They do not represent to the world by good works the principles of the doctrines of Christ. They neglect the study of the Scriptures, and secret prayer, and have become, so far as their influence is concerned, traitors to their holy trust. Their hearts have gradually become hardened; they have a name to live, while the vital energies of the soul have become spiritually paralyzed. Of this class our Saviour speaks: "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
It is not enough to profess to believe in Christ, saying that we are saved by Christ, when we do not practice the lessons he has given. All such professed Christians are represented by the man who built his house upon the sand; while the hearers and doers of the word are represented by the man who built his house upon the rock, and amid tempest, storm, and flood, it remained unmoved. Thus the true foundation for every soul is represented by those who not only hear the truth but practice it. Those who claim to be children of God and do not his will are hypocrites.
He who is indeed a follower of Jesus Christ, will be assimilated to his image. He will be brought into sympathy with him through the fellowship of his sufferings. Storms of trial and adversity may break upon him, but he is not swayed from his foundation, for his soul is riveted upon the eternal Rock. Indolence in spiritual things will bring moral feebleness; active workers in the cause of God will be men of prayer, and will have success. Every day that they labor to do the will of God they will have increased ability to work efficiently to promote his glory. To such he will say by and by, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 54, #4)
If you are grieved because your neighbors or friends are doing wrong to their own hurt, if they are overtaken in fault, follow the Bible rule. "Tell him his fault between thee and him alone." As you go to the one you suppose to be in error, see that you speak in a meek and lowly spirit; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. The erring can in no other way be restored than in the spirit of meekness, and gentleness, and tender love. Be careful in your manner. Avoid anything in look or gesture, word or tone of voice, that savors of pride, or self-sufficiency. Guard yourself against a word or look that would exalt self, or present your goodness and righteousness in contrast with their failings. Beware of the most distant approach to disdain, overbearing, or contempt. With care avoid every appearance of anger; and though you use plainness of speech, yet let there be no reproach, no railing accusation, no token of warmth, but that of earnest love. Above all let there be no shadow of hate or ill will, no bitterness, nor sourness of expression. Nothing but kindness and gentleness can flow from a heart of love. Yet all these precious fruits need not hinder your speaking in the most serious, solemn manner, as though angels were directing their eyes upon you, and you were acting in reference to the coming Judgment. Bear in mind that the success of reproof depends greatly upon the spirit in which it is given. Do not neglect earnest prayer that you may possess a lowly mind, and that angels of God may work upon the hearts you are trying to reach, before you, and so soften them by heavenly impressions, that your efforts may avail. If any good is accomplished, take no credit to yourself. God alone should be exalted. God alone hath done it all.
You may have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to them, and taking the steps God has absolutely commanded. Perhaps you say, "I did not speak to any one until I was so burdened that I could not refrain." What burdened you? Was it a plain neglect of your own duty, a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how should you be otherwise than burdened, unless your heart was hardened, while you were trampling the command of God under foot, and hating your brother or neighbor in your heart? And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission, not telling your brother or sister their fault, and you excuse and comfort yourself under his censure by a sin of commission, by telling your brother's faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease, by committing sin?
All your efforts to save the erring may be unavailing. They may repay you evil for good. They may be enraged rather than convinced. What if they hear to no good purpose, and pursue the evil course they have begun. This will frequently occur. Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case, the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom. If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly and leave them with your Heavenly Father. You have delivered your soul. Their sin no longer rests upon you. You are not now partaker of their sins. But if they perish, their blood is upon their own heads. E. G. White.
(Vol. 54, #10)
In his sermon on the mount, Christ addressed his followers in these words: "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
If we take in the full meaning of our Saviour's words, we shall feel a responsibility resting upon us that is not small. We are to be channels of light. We are to so connect ourselves with Him who is the light of the world, that his character will appear in us his followers. There are excellent men and women in our organized churches, who will ever be standard bearers, faithful Calebs. Such will be lights in the world; but the mind and purpose of Christ in the usefulness of many of the church members is not met. He comes to them as he came to the barren fig tree, searching for fruit, and finds "nothing but leaves."
There has been on the part of many a sacrifice of the simplicity of true godliness to outward forms and appearances. Worldly thoughts and cares absorb their attention, and the things of eternal interest are made secondary. Christians holding daily communion with God, feasting upon the truths of his word, will by their religious conversation be constantly exerting a powerful influence for good upon their fellow men. Hearts imbued with the love of Jesus will not fail to express themselves in words. The precious love of Christ has been experienced by them, and they cannot refrain from relating their experience to others. From a heart throbbing with a Saviour's love, the story of the cross of Christ will be repeated, and they will thus testify that Jesus has power on earth to forgive sins.
The individual members of the church, as sons and daughters of God, should show by their words and by their transformed characters, the divine reality that there is in the religion of Christ. They may exemplify in their lives that the happiness which worldlings seek after in vain is to be found in the service of Jesus Christ. Here alone is serenity, peace, contentment, and true happiness and joy. Those who have a name to live, but are dead, are by their unconsecrated lives daily confirming the sinner in his impenitence, and thus, while neglecting their duty to gather with Christ, they are scattering abroad by their silence and the indifference which they manifest.
The testimonies borne in the prayer meeting frequently savor of gloominess and self-condemnation, and sinners think that if there is no more brightness and cheerfulness in religion than is expressed, and revealed in their lives, they do not desire it. But hundreds and thousands profess Christ who are unacquainted with him, and who do not the will of God in Heaven. Eternal life is a matter of tremendous moment; and if those professing Christ can testify by words and actions to the love of Christ, and can have the divine witness of the Spirit to their testimonies, sinners will be convicted. It is the indifference of the members of the church which makes the truths they profess powerless.
There is a decided lack of genuine, living conversion among Christ's professed followers. When his people are thrown into the society of unbelievers, whether walking, working, riding, trading, or visiting, they should, as they have opportunity, introduce the subject of religion, and speak of the things which concern their eternal interest. They should not do this abruptly, but with tact. This was the way in which our Saviour taught concerning the kingdom of God. Everything in nature, and the incidents passing under their notice were to him texts for impressive sermons. He thus bound up his sacred lessons with the flowers, with the recurring seasons, with the rocks, the hills, and the mountains, and with the everyday occurrences of life. Thus it is the duty of every follower of Jesus to sow beside all waters, and in so doing he is fulfilling the purpose of God, and doing his work as Christ's representative on earth. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 54, #10)
The question is often asked, Why is there not more power in the church? why not more vital godliness? The reason is, the requirements of God's word are not complied with in verity and in truth; God is not loved supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves. This covers the entire ground. Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Let these two requirements of God be obeyed explicitly, and there would be no discord in the church, no inharmonious notes in the family. With many the work is too superficial. Outward forms take the place of the inner work of grace. They are whited sepulchers,--beautiful without, as far as claims to piety and a profession of the truth are concerned, but within full of uncleanness. The theory of the truth has converted the head, but the soul temple has not been cleansed from its idols.
When the commandment came home to the mind and heart of Paul, he says, "Sin revived and I died." In these days of pretense there are many sham conversions. True conviction of sin, real heart sorrow because of wickedness, death to self, the daily overcoming of defects of character, and the new birth,--these, represented as old things, Paul says had passed away, and all things had become new. Such a work many know nothing of. They grafted the truth into their natural hearts, and then went on as before, manifesting the same unhappy traits of character. What is now needed is the plain testimony borne in love from lips touched with living fire.
Church members do not show that living connection with God that they must have in order to win souls from darkness to light. Make the tree good, and good fruit will be the result. The work of the Spirit of God upon the heart is essential to godliness. It must be received into the hearts of those who accept the truth, and create in them clean hearts, before one of them can keep his commandments and be doers of the word. "Marvel not," said the great Teacher unto the astonished Nicodemus, "Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again."
The Bible is not studied as much as it should be; it is not made the rule of life. Were its precepts conscientiously followed, and made the basis of character, there would be steadfastness of purpose that no business speculations or worldly pursuits could seriously influence. A character thus formed, and supported by the word of God, will abide the day of trial, of difficulties and dangers. The conscience must be enlightened, and the life sanctified by the love of the truth received into the heart, before the influence will be saving upon the world.
What is needed is men of action for the time, prompt, determined, firm as a rock to principle, and prepared to meet any emergency. Why we are so weak, why there are so many irresponsible men among us, is because they do not connect with God; they have not an indwelling Saviour, and do not feel the love of Christ ever fresh and new, calling forth deep gratitude to God, and unfeigned love for souls for whom Christ died. No earthly relationship is as strong as this love. Nothing can compare with it. It elevates, ennobles, and develops all that is great and beautiful in humanity. It is constantly elevating the human to the divine. This life should be a living representative of Jesus Christ. E. G. White.
(Vol. 54, #24)
We are rapidly approaching the season of the holidays, and many conscientious ones are now questioning what course they may pursue that will be pleasing in the sight of God. By the world the holidays are spent in frivolity and extravagance, gluttony and display. It is the prevailing custom at this time to make and receive presents. And it is no small burden upon the mind to know how to distribute these gifts among friends so that none will feel slighted. It is a fact that much envy and jealousy are often created by this custom of making presents.
Thousands of dollars will be worse than thrown away upon the coming Christmas and New Year's in needless indulgences. But it is our privilege to depart from the customs and practices of this degenerate age; and instead of expending means merely for the gratification of the appetite, or for needless ornaments or articles of clothing, we may make the coming holidays an occasion in which to honor and glorify God.
We advise all our brethren and sisters to make a decided reform in regard to these festal days. Those who appreciate the gift of God's dear Son to save them from ruin, now have a favorable opportunity to give tangible proofs of their gratitude by rendering to God their thank offerings. Let old and young lay aside their mites as sacred offerings to God. If we would give to the cause of our Redeemer one-half as much as we have bestowed upon our friends, we would do much good and receive a blessing for giving.
Let us seek to faithfully represent Christ on the coming festal days by imitating his example as he went about doing good. It is impossible to enjoy the approbation of God while living for self. As Christians who profess a living faith in the near coming of the Son of man, keeping all of God's commandments, let us make earnest efforts to draw near to God through Jesus Christ, and make a covenant with him by sacrifice. In our principles of action we must be elevated above the customs and fashions of the world. Christ came to our world to elevate the minds of men to the divine level, and to bring them into sympathy with the mind of God.
As every blessing we enjoy is brought to us through the condescension, humiliation, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we should render to him our best gifts, above all not withholding ourselves. The infinite sacrifice which Christ has made to free us from the guilt and woe of sin, should work in every heart a spirit of gratitude and self-denial which is not manifested by the world. God's gift of Christ to man filled all Heaven with amazement, and inspired at his birth the angelic song, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
Christmas day, precious reminder of the sacrifice made in man's behalf, should not be devoted to gluttony and self-indulgence, thus exalting the creature above the Creator. Let us who are partakers of this great salvation show that we have some appreciation of the gift, by rendering to God our thank offerings. If we would indulge less in feasting and merriment upon these occasions, and instead make them the means of benefiting humanity, we should better meet the mind of God. It is a pleasure and gratification to exchange gifts with our friends; but are there not nobler and more glorious objects for which we may give our means, and thus do good by shedding light upon the pathway of others?
There are many who have not books and publications upon present truth. Here is a large field where money can be safely invested. There are large numbers of little ones who should be supplied with reading. The Sunshine Series, Golden Grains Series, Poems, Sabbath Readings, etc., are all precious books, and may be introduced safely into every family. The many trifles usually spent in candies and useless toys, may be treasured up with which to buy these volumes.
Children need proper reading, which will afford amusement and recreation, and not demoralize the mind or weary the body. If they are taught to love romance and newspaper tales, instructive books and papers will become distasteful to them. Most children and young people will have reading matter; and if it is not selected for them, they will select it for themselves. They can find a ruinous quality of reading anywhere, and they soon learn to love it; but if pure and good reading is furnished them, they will cultivate a taste for that.
Especial efforts should be made to exclude from our homes that class of literature which can have no beneficial influence upon our children. Many times I have been pained to find upon the tables or in the bookcases of Sabbathkeepers, papers and books full of romance, which their children were eagerly perusing.
There are those who profess to be brethren who do not take the Review, Signs, Instructor , or Good Health, but take one or more secular papers. Their children are deeply interested in reading the fictitious tales and love stories which are found in these papers, and which their father can afford to pay for, although claiming that he cannot afford to pay for our periodicals and publications on present truth. Thus parents are educating the taste of their children to greedily devour the sickly, sensational stories found in newspaper columns. All such reading is poisonous; it leaves a stain upon the soul, and encourages a love for cheap reading which will debase the morals and ruin the mind.
Parents should guard their children, and teach them to cultivate a pure imagination and to shun, as they would a leper, the lovesick pen pictures presented in newspapers. Let publications upon moral and religious subjects be found on your tables and in your libraries, that your children may cultivate a taste for elevated reading. Let those who wish to make valuable presents to their children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces, procure for them the children's books mentioned above. For young people, the Life of Joseph Bates is a treasure; also the three volumes of Spirit of Prophecy. These volumes should be placed in every family in the land. God is giving light from Heaven, and not a family should be without it. Let the presents you shall make be of that order which will shed beams of light upon the pathway to Heaven.
Anciently the children of Israel were commanded to keep three annual feasts each year: the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Weeks. The Lord gave directions that on these occasions their gifts and offerings were to be consecrated to him, and none should appear before him empty-handed. But in our day it has become fashionable to observe these festal occasions in a manner that would divert the mind from God instead of bringing glory to his name. Those whom God has blessed with prosperity should acknowledge the Giver, and feel that where much is given much will be required.
Our holidays have been perverted from their intended use. Gifts are lavished upon one another, and praise which should have been given to God, to whom all these things belong, is bestowed upon poor mortals.
Our houses of worship in Oakland and Battle Creek are under the pressure of debt. The Dime Tabernacle belongs to us all; we should all have a special interest in it. In order to accommodate the students at the College, the patients at the Sanitarium, the laborers at the Office, and the large number of worshipers constantly coming in from abroad, the erection of this spacious house of worship was a positive necessity. Great responsibilities rest upon those at Battle Creek, and also upon those whose arms should be reached out to sustain these interests at the great heart of the work. Not in all the world is there a battlefield for truth and reform like this. Great interests are involved here. The Sabbath school and College are educating the young, and determining the future destiny of souls. There is here a continual necessity of devising ways and means for the advancement of truth and the conversion of souls. Our people are not half awake to the demands of the times. The voice of Providence is calling upon all who have the love of God in their hearts to arouse to this great emergency. Never was there a time when so much was at stake as today. Never was there a period in which greater energy and self-sacrifice were demanded from God's commandment keeping people.
We are now nearing the close of another year, and shall we not make these festal days opportunities in which to bring to God our offerings? I cannot say sacrifices, for we shall only be rendering to God that which is his already, and which he has only intrusted to us till he shall call for it. God would be well pleased if on Christmas, each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship. Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen, and placing it in our churches; but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action, and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree.
The tree may be as tall and its branches as wide as shall best suit the occasion; but let its boughs be laden with the golden and silver fruit of your beneficence, and present this to Him as your Christmas gift. Let your donations be sanctified by prayer, and let the fruit upon this consecrated tree be applied toward removing the debts from our houses of worship at Battle Creek, Mich., and Oakland, Cal.
A word to the wise is sufficient. E. G. W.