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 1880
(Vol. 55, #1)
God says by the psalmist, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me." The worship of God consists chiefly of praise and prayer. Every follower of Christ should engage in this worship. No one can sing by proxy, bear testimony by proxy, or pray by proxy. As a rule, too many dark testimonies are borne in social service, savoring more of murmuring than of gratitude and praise.
When the word of God was spoken to the Hebrews anciently, the Lord said to Moses, "And let all the people say, Amen." This response, in the fervor of their souls, was required as evidence that they understood the word spoken and were interested in it.
When the ark of God was brought into the city of David and a psalm of joy and triumph was chanted, all the people said, Amen. And David felt that he was fully repaid for his labor and anxiety by this cheerful universal response from the people.
There is too much formality in the church. Souls are perishing for light and knowledge. We should be so connected with the Source of all light that we can be channels of light to the world. The Lord would have his ministers who preach the word energized by his Holy Spirit. And the people who hear should not sit in drowsy indifference or stare vacantly about, making no responses to what is being said. The spirit of the world has paralyzed the spirituality of such, and they are not awake to the precious theme of redemption. The truth of God's word is spoken to leaden ears, and hard, unimpressible hearts. The impression given the unbeliever by these professed Christians is anything but favorable for the religion of Christ. These dull, careless ones show ambition and zeal when engaged in the business of the world, but things of eternal importance do not engross the mind and interest them as do worldly things. The voice of God through his messengers is a pleasant song; but its sacred warnings, reproofs, and encouragements are all unheeded. Eternal and sacred things are placed upon a level with common things. The Holy Spirit is grieved. Said Christ, "Take heed, therefore, how ye hear." Those are spiritually dead who profess to worship God while the heart is not in the work. There should be a hearty, wide-awake church to encourage and uphold the hands of the ministers of Jesus Christ.
The people who profess to believe the truth may be familiar with the evidences of our faith, and yet be like the pretentious fig tree, which flaunted its foliage in the face of the world, but when searched by the Master, was found destitute of fruit. Fruitful Christians will be connected with God, and intelligent in the things of God. The truth and the love of God is their meditation. They have feasted upon the words of life, and when they hear it spoken from the desk, they can say, as did the two disciples who were traveling to Emmaus when Christ explained to them the prophecies in reference to himself, "Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
All who are connected with the light will let their light shine to the world, and will, in their testimonies, praise God, to whom their hearts will flow forth in gratitude. Those who have a vital union with Christ will rejoice in the assurance of his love. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by his presence. Walking in the light, they will never disgrace their profession or bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. It is the privilege of every child of God to store his mind with divine truth, and the more he does this the more vigor and clearness of mind he will have to fathom the deep things of God. He will be more and more earnest and vigorous, as the principles of the truth are carried out in his daily life.
We should all be working together with God. No idlers are acknowledged as his servants. The members of the church should individually feel that the life and prosperity of the church is affected by their course of action. Those in the church who have sufficient talent to engage in any of the various vocations of life, such as teaching, building, manufacturing, and farming, will generally be prepared to labor for the upbuilding of the church by serving on committees or as teachers in Sabbath schools, engaging in missionary labor or filling the different offices connected with the church.
God requires that the first, the best, and the most useful talents shall be employed to carry forward his work upon the earth. The same zeal and energy, tact and order, which are exercised in counting rooms, shops, and in the fine arts, should be brought into the religious life and exercised in the work of God. These persons are responsible for the talents given them of God to use to his glory. He calls for them to come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
Many will give money because it costs less self-denial and self-sacrifice than to give themselves. Some say, "My business claims all my time. So numerous are my engagements and so pressing their demands, I cannot give my time." Of what avail is means without agents to use it? Ministers cannot do a tithe of the work necessary to be done at this time to save souls and preserve the vitality of the church.
God wants, not only that you should give of your means, but that you should give yourselves. He wants you. He claims your personal interest, your talents. The very best and most vigorous thoughts should be devoted to his cause and to glorifying his name.
What revelations will be made in the day of God, when each individual will see his life as God sees it! What opportunities lost to save souls! How many precious hours wasted in following inclination instead of discharging duties! How much greater advancement might have been made in the knowledge of the truth! How much talent that was given of God for wise improvement, to be spent in his service, has been buried in the cares and allurements of this world! How much strength and courage might have been given to the individual members of the church, had they dedicated to God their talents and used them to his service and glory. And how many souls might have been saved had they been wise and sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
What can we say to arouse the people, who profess to be the followers of Christ, to a sense of the solemn responsibilities resting upon them? Is there no voice that shall arouse them to work while the day lasts? Our Divine Master gave his life for a ruined world. Who will deny self, and make some sacrifice to save souls for whom Christ died? Christ has left us an example in his life, that we might follow in his steps and secure the approval of Heaven.
Contemplating things of eternal interest will give true perception of the things of God. The respect and reverence due to God will be exhibited in the daily life and character. The soul will be brought into harmony with Heaven. The entire character will be elevated and transformed. The believer will be made Christlike, and finally obtain an entrance into the city of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #2)
God designs that improvement shall be the lifework of all his followers, and that it shall be guided and controlled by correct experience. The true man is one who is willing to sacrifice his own interest for the good of others, and who exercises himself in binding up the brokenhearted. The true object of life is scarcely begun to be understood by many; and that which is real and substantial in their life is sacrificed because of cherished errors.
Nero and Caesar were acknowledged by the world as great men; but did God regard them as such? No! they were not connected by living faith to the great heart of humanity. They were in the world, and ate, and drank, and slept, as men of the world; but they were satanic in their cruelty. Wherever these monsters of humanity went, bloodshed and destruction marked their pathway. They were lauded by the world while living; but when they were buried the world rejoiced. In contrast with the lives of these men, is that of Luther. He was not born a prince. He wore no royal crown. From a cloistered cell his voice was heard, and his influence felt. He had a humane heart, which was exercised for the good of men. He stood bravely for truth and right, and breasted the world's opposition to benefit his fellow men.
Intellect alone does not make the man, according to the divine standard. There is a power in intellect, if sanctified and controlled by the Spirit of God. It is superior to riches and to physical power; yet it must be cultivated in order to make the man. The right which one has to claim to be a man is determined by the use made of his intellect. Byron had intellectual conception, and depth of thought, but he was not a man according to God's standard. He was an agent of Satan. His passions were fierce and uncontrollable. He was sowing seed through his life which blossomed into a harvest of corruption. His lifework lowered the standard of virtue. This man was one of the world's distinguished men; still the Lord would not acknowledge him as a man, but only as one who had abused his God given talents. Gibbon, the skeptic, and many others whom God endowed with giant minds, and whom the world called great men, rallied under the banner of Satan, and used the gifts of God for the perversion of truth and the destruction of the souls of men. Great intellect, when made a minister of vice, is a curse to the possessor and to all within its influence.
That which will bless humanity is spiritual life. If the man is in harmony with God, he will depend continually upon him for strength. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." Our lifework is to be reaching forward to the perfection of Christian character, striving continually for conformity to the will of God. The efforts begun upon earth will continue through eternity. God's standard of man is elevated to the highest meaning of the term, and if he acts up to his God given manhood he will promote happiness in this life, which will lead to glory and an eternal reward in the life to come.
The members of the human family are entitled to the name of men and women only when they employ their talents, in every possible way, for the good of others. The life of Christ is before us as a pattern, and it is when ministering, like angels of mercy, to the wants of others that man is closely allied to God. It is the nature of Christianity to make happy families and happy society. Discord, selfishness, and strife will be put away from every one who possesses the spirit of Christ.
Those who are partakers of Christ's love have no right to think that there is a limit to their influence and work in trying to benefit humanity. Did Christ become weary in his efforts to save fallen man? Our work is to be continuous and persevering. We shall find work to do until the Master shall bid us lay our armor at his feet. God is a moral governor, and we must wait, submissive to his will, ready and willing to spring to our duty whenever work needs to be done.
Angels are engaged night and day in the service of God, for the uplifting of man in accordance with the plan of salvation. Man is required to love God supremely, that is, with all his might, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself. This he cannot possibly do unless he shall deny himself. Said Christ, "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."
Self-denial means to rule the spirit when passion is seeking for the mastery; to resist the temptation to censure and to speak faultfinding words; to have patience with the child that is dull, and whose conduct is grievous and trying; to stand at the post of duty when others may fail; to lift responsibilities wherever and whenever you can, not for the purpose of applause, not for policy, but for the sake of the Master, who has given you a work to be done with unwavering fidelity; when you might praise yourself, to keep silent and let other lips praise you. Self-denial is to do good to others where inclination would lead you to serve and please yourself. Although your fellow men may never appreciate your efforts, you are to work on.
Search carefully and see whether the truth which you have accepted has, with you, become a firm principle. Do you take Christ with you when you leave the closet of prayer? Does your religion stand guard at the door of your lips? Is your heart drawn out in sympathy and love for others outside of your own family? Are you diligently seeking a clearer understanding of scriptural truth, that you may let your light shine forth to others? These questions you may answer to your own souls. Let your speech be seasoned with grace, and your demeanor show Christian elevation.
A new year has commenced. What has been the record of the past year in your Christian life? How stands your record in Heaven? I entreat of you to make an unreserved surrender to God. Have your hearts been divided? Give them wholly to the Lord now. Make a different life history the coming year from the one of the past. Humble your souls before God. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Put away all pretense and affection. Act your simple, natural self. Be truthful in every thought, and word, and deed, and "in all lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Ever remember that moral nature needs to be braced with constant watchfulness and prayer. As long as you look to Christ, you are safe; but the moment you think of your sacrifices and your difficulties, and begin to sympathize with and pet yourself, you lose your trust in God and are in great peril.
Many limit the divine Providence, and divorce mercy and love from his character. They urge that the greatness and majesty of God would forbid his interesting himself in the concerns of the weakest of his creatures. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
It is difficult for human beings to give attention to the lesser matters of life while the mind is engaged in business of vast importance. But should not his union exist? Man formed in the image of his Maker should unite the larger responsibilities with the smaller. He may be engrossed with occupations of overwhelming importance, and neglect the instruction which his children need. These duties may be looked upon as the lesser duties of life, when they in reality lie at the very foundation of society. Happiness of families and churches depends upon home influences. Eternal interests depend upon the proper discharge of the duties of this life. The world is not so much in need of great minds, as of good men will be a blessing in their homes. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #3)
When the lawyer asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him that obedience to God's commandments was necessary for his salvation. But mark the answer returned: "Master, all these have I observed from my youth." Jesus looked upon this deceived young man with pity and love. He was about to show him that he had failed to keep from his heart the commandments that he confidently asserted he was obeying. Jesus said unto him, "One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me."
After calling attention to his own self-denying, cross-bearing life, Jesus entreated the young man to come and imitate his example, telling him that he should thus lay up treasure in Heaven. Did the young man's heart leap with joy at the assurance? Oh, no. His earthly riches were his idol, and they eclipsed the value of the eternal inheritance. He turned from the cross and from the self-sacrificing life of the Redeemer, to this world. He had a lingering desire for the promised reward, and reluctantly turned from the prospect. It cost a struggle to decide which he should choose; but he finally decided to continue his love for his earthly possessions.
Very few realize the strength of their love for money until the test is brought to bear upon them. Many who profess to be Christ's followers then show that they are unprepared for Heaven. Their works testify that they love wealth more than their neighbor or their God. Like the rich young man, they inquire the way of life; but when it is pointed out and the cost estimated, and they see that the sacrifice of earthly riches is demanded, they decide that Heaven costs too much. The greater the treasures laid up on the earth, the more difficult it is for the possessor to realize that they are not his own, but are lent him to be used to God's glory. Jesus here improves the opportunity to give his disciples an impressive lesson: "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven." "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
Here the power of wealth is seen. The influence of the love of money over the human mind is almost paralyzing. Riches infatuate, and cause many who possess them to act as though they were bereft of reason. The more they have of this world, the more they desire. Their fears of coming to want increase with their riches. They have a disposition to hoard up means for the future. They are close and selfish, fearing that God will not provide for them. This class are indeed poor toward God. As their riches have accumulated, they have put their trust in them, and have lost faith in God and his promises. The faithful, trusting poor man becomes rich toward God by judiciously using the little he has in blessing others with his means. He feels that his neighbor has claims upon him that he cannot disregard and yet obey the command of God, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." He considers the salvation of his fellowmen of greater importance than all the gold and silver the world contains.
Christ points out the way in which those who have wealth, and yet are not rich toward God, may secure the true riches. He says: "Sell that ye have, and give alms;" and lay up treasure in Heaven. The remedy he proposes is a transfer of their affections to the eternal inheritance. By investing their means in the cause of God to aid in the salvation of souls, and by relieving the needy, they become rich in good works, and are "laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." This will prove a safe investment. But many show by their works that they dare not trust the bank of Heaven. They choose to trust their means in the earth, rather than to send it before them to Heaven. These have a great work to do to overcome covetousness and love of the world. Rich poor men, professing to serve God, are objects of pity. While they profess to know God, in works they deny him. How great is the darkness of such! They profess faith in the truth, but their works do not correspond with their profession. The love of riches makes men selfish, exacting, and overbearing.
To obtain wealth by unjust dealing, overreaching in trade, oppressing the widow and the fatherless, or hoarding up riches and neglecting the wants of the needy, will eventually bring the just retribution described by the inspired apostle: "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, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth."
The humblest and poorest of the true disciples of Christ who are rich in good works, are more blessed and more precious in the sight of God than the men who boast of their great riches. They are more honorable in the courts of Heaven than the most exalted kings and nobles who are not rich toward God. The admonition which the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to give the rich is applicable to very many who profess to believe the truth for these last days. He says: "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
Those who hoard up means, or invest largely in lands, while they deprive their families of the comforts of life, act like insane men. They do not allow their families to enjoy the things God has richly given them. Notwithstanding they have large possessions, their families are frequently compelled to labor far beyond their strength to save still more means to hoard up. Brain, bone, and muscle are taxed to the utmost to accumulate. Religion and Christian duties are neglected. Work, work, work, is the ambition, from morning until night.
Many to whom God has intrusted wealth do not consider that they are working against their own eternal interests by selfishly retaining their money. The apostle shows them that by being rich in good works, they are working for themselves. They are providing in Heaven an enduring treasure, and laying hold on eternal life. In helping the cause and relieving the wants of the needy, they are faithfully doing the work that God has assigned them; and their self-denial and generous, loving acts will be written in the book of Heaven. Every deed of righteousness will be immortalized, although, the doer may not feel that he has done anything worthy of notice.
God has intrusted many with means to use in his cause, which they have employed for selfish purposes only; and when the Master comes to require an account of their stewardship, what report will they make? Have they made hearts glad by their liberalities? Have they given of their means to assist in the work of converting sinners? What fruit have they borne? If such could but stop one moment, and look back upon their past life, they would readily see how destitute it has been of good, noble, and generous actions. Opportunities for doing good have been lost, that can never be regained, while selfishness has marred the entire lifework. Against all such, "unfaithfulness" is entered in the records above. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #4)
The lives recorded in the Bible are authentic histories of actual individuals. From Adam down through successive generations to the time of the apostles, we have a plain, unvarnished account of what actually occurred, and the genuine experience of real characters. It is a subject of wonder to many, that inspired history should narrate facts in the lives of good men that tarnish their moral characters. Infidels seize upon these sins with great satisfaction, and hold their perpetrators up to ridicule. The inspired writers did not testify to falsehoods, through fear that the pages of Sacred History would be clouded by the record of human frailties and faults. The scribes of God wrote as they were dictated by the Holy Spirit, having no control of the work themselves. They penned the literal truth, and stern, forbidding facts are revealed, for reasons that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend. It is one of the best evidences of the authenticity of the Scriptures, that the truth is not glossed over, nor the sins of its chief characters suppressed.
Many will urge that it is an easy matter to relate what has occurred in an ordinary life. But it is a proven fact that it is a human impossibility to give an impartial history of a contemporary; and it is almost as difficult to narrate, without deviating from the exact truth, the story of any person or people with whose career we have become acquainted. The human mind is so liable to prejudice that it is almost impossible for it to treat the subject impartially. Either the faults of the person under review stand out in glaring relief, or the virtues shine with undimmed luster, just as the writer is prejudiced for or against him. However impartial the historian may design to be, all critics will agree that it is a very difficult matter to be truly so.
But Inspiration, lifted above the weaknesses of humanity, tells the simple, naked truth. How many biographies have been written of faultless Christians, who, in their ordinary home life and church relations, shone as examples of immaculate piety. No blemish marred the beauty of their holiness, no fault is recorded to remind us that they were of common clay, and subject to the ordinary temptations of humanity. Yet had the pen of Inspiration written their histories, how different would they have appeared. There would have been revealed human weaknesses, struggles with selfishness, bigotry and pride, hidden sins perhaps, and the continual warfare between the spirit and the flesh. Even private journals do not reveal on their pages the writer's sinful deeds. Sometimes the conflicts with evil are recorded, but usually only when the right has gained the victory; but they may contain a faithful account of praiseworthy acts and noble endeavors, when the writer honestly intends to keep a faithful journal of his life. It is next to a human impossibility to lay open our faults for the possible inspection of our friends.
Had our good Bible been written by uninspired persons, it would have presented quite a different appearance, and would have been a discouraging study to erring mortals, contending with natural frailties and the temptations of a wily foe. But, as it is, we have a correct record of the religious experiences of marked characters in Bible history. Men whom God favored, and intrusted with great responsibilities, were sometimes overcome by temptation and committed sins, even as we of the present day strive, waver, and frequently fall into error. But it is encouraging to our desponding hearts to know that through God's grace they could gain fresh vigor to rise again above their evil natures, and, remembering this, we are ready to renew the conflict ourselves.
The record of the murmurings of ancient Israel and of their rebellious discontent, is given for our benefit, as well as that of the mighty miracles wrought in their favor and the punishment of their idolatry and ingratitude. Their example is given as a warning to the people of God, that they may avoid unbelief and escape his wrath. If the iniquities of the Hebrews had been omitted from the Sacred Record, and only their virtues recounted, their history would fail to teach us the lesson that it does.
Infidels and lovers of sin excuse their crimes by citing the wickedness of men to whom God gave authority in olden times. They argue that since these holy men yielded to temptation and committed sins, it should excite no wonder that they too are guilty of wrongdoing. More than this, they even intimate that they are not so bad, after all, since such illustrious examples of iniquity are placed before them. The principles of justice require a faithful narration of facts for the benefit of all who read the Sacred Record. In this we discern the evidences of divine wisdom. We are required to obey the law of God and are not only instructed as to the penalty of disobedience, but we have, narrated for our benefit and warning, the history of Adam and Eve in Paradise, and the sad results of their disobedience of God's commands. The account is full and explicit. The law given to man in Eden is recorded, together with the penalty incurred because of its transgression. The record of our first parents is given as a warning to the children of men, that they may understand how strictly God requires his creatures to conform to all his requirements, and how surely his retributive justice follows disobedience. When the law of Sinai was proclaimed, how definite was the penalty annexed! how sure the punishment that followed its transgression! and how plain are the cases recorded in evidence of that fact!
The pen of Inspiration, true to its task, tells us of the sins that overcame Noah, Lot, Moses, Abraham, David, and Solomon, and how Elijah's strong spirit sunk under temptation during his fearful trial. Jonah's disobedience and Israel's idolatry are faithfully recorded. Peter's denial of Christ, the sharp contention of Paul and Barnabas, the failings and infirmities of the prophets and apostles, are all laid bare to the gaze of succeeding generations, that they may profit by the experience of those who preceded them. If no faults had marked their lives, they certainly would have been more than human, and we, with our sinful natures, would despair of ever reaching such a point of excellence. But, seeing where they struggled and fell, took heart again and conquered through the grace of God, we are encouraged to press on over the obstacles that degenerate nature places in our way.
God has ever been faithful to punish crime. He sent his prophets to warn the guilty, denounce their sins, and pronounce judgment upon them. Those who question why the word of God brings out the sins of his people in so plain a manner for scoffers to deride and saints to deplore, should consider that it was all written for their instruction, that they might avoid the evils recorded, but imitate the righteousness of those who served the Lord.
We need just such lessons as the Bible gives. The sorrow and penitence of the guilty and the wailings of the sinsick soul, come to us from the past, telling that man was then, as now, in need of the pardoning mercy of God. The record shows us that while he is a punisher of crime, he pities and forgives the repenting sinner. In his good providence the Lord has seen fit to teach and warn his people in this way through the Sacred Writings, that all might understand his will. If God's people would recognize his dealings with them, and accept his teachings, they would find a straight path for their feet, and a light to guide them through darkness and discouragement. David learned wisdom from God's dealings with him, and bowed in humility beneath the chastisement of the Most High. The faithful portrayal of his true state by the prophet Nathan, made David acquainted with his own sins and aided him to put them away. He accepted counsel meekly, and humbled himself before God. "The law of the Lord," he exclaims, "is perfect, converting the soul."
Repentant sinners have no cause to despair because they are reminded of their transgressions and warned of their danger. These very efforts in their behalf show how much God loves them and desires that they shall be saved. They have only to follow his counsel and do his will to inherit eternal life. God sets before his erring people their sins, that they may behold them, in all their enormity, under the light of divine truth. It is then their duty to renounce them forever.
God is as powerful to save from sin today as he was in the times of the patriarchs, of David, and of the prophets and apostles of Bible times. The multitude of cases recorded in Sacred History, where God has delivered his people from their iniquities, should make the Christian of this time eager to receive divine instruction, and zealous to perfect a character that will bear the close inspection of the Judgment.
Bible history stays the fainting heart with the hope of God's mercy. We need not despair when we see that others have struggled through discouragements like our own, fallen into temptations, even as we have done, yet recovered their ground and been blessed of God. The words of Inspiration comfort and cheer the erring soul. Although the patriarchs and apostles were subject to human frailties, yet through faith they obtained a good report, fought their battles in the strength of the Lord, and conquered gloriously. Thus may we trust in the virtue of the atoning sacrifice, and be overcomers in the name of Jesus. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #6)
Some of our most talented ministers are doing themselves great injury by their defective manner of speaking. They are intelligent men, and should know that they are not pursuing a course which God can approve. Ministers should stand erect, and speak slowly, firmly, and distinctly, letting the voice go down deep, taking a full inspiration of air at every sentence, and throwing out the words by exercising the abdominal muscles. The chest will thus become broader, and by educating the voice, the speaker need seldom become hoarse, even by constant speaking. Instead of our ministers' becoming consumptives through speaking, they may, by proper care, overcome all tendency to that disease.
Ministers should stop to consider whether they are performing their lifework in such a manner as to accomplish the best and greatest results, or whether they are cutting their lives short by spasmodic efforts, without regard to the laws of health. God is pleased with men who do not think that they have attained perfection, but who are constantly trying to improve. He would have us come into connection with him, and increase in understanding, and reform our habits, ever rising higher, and approaching nearer the standard of perfection.
The minister of Christ should continue to search the Scriptures. He will never know so much of Bible truth that he need not search for more. A true Bible Christian will not find anything in the word of God justifying him in disregarding the laws of life and health. The Saviour of the world would have his co-laborers represent him; and the more closely a man walks with God, the more faultless will be his manner of address, his deportment, his attitude, and his gestures. Coarse and uncouth manners were never seen in our Pattern, Christ Jesus. He was a representative of Heaven, and his followers must be like him. We are to make daily improvement; our ways and manners are to become more like the ways and manners of the holy angels. Every uncouth gesture and coarse and uncultivated expression, should be put far away. Every imperfection may be overcome if we learn of Jesus and closely follow his example.
The manner in which the truth is presented often has much to do in determining whether it will be accepted or rejected. All who labor in the great cause of reform should study to become efficient workmen, that they may accomplish the greatest possible amount of good, and not detract from the force of the truth by their own deficiencies. All the vigor of a cultivated intellect and a well developed body is called for to do justice to the work of God. Men of narrow minds, who feel no necessity of becoming efficient workmen, need to have this truth impressed upon them.
Ministers and teachers should discipline themselves to clear and distinct articulation, giving every word its full sound. Those who talk rapidly, from the throat, and who jumble their words together and raise their voices to an unnaturally high pitch, soon become hoarse, and the words spoken lose half the force which they would have if spoken slowly, distinctly, and not so loud. The sympathies of the hearers are awakened for the speaker, for they fear he is doing violence to himself, and they constantly expect him to break down. It is no evidence that a man is having a zeal for God because he works himself up into a frenzy of excitement and gesticulation. "Bodily exercise," says the apostle, "profiteth little."
Speakers and writers need much physical exercise, and abundance of pure air. The lungs need food as much as the body. The sleeping rooms should be thoroughly ventilated, that the lungs may not be starved. This is very important to speakers, teachers, and students, and should not be neglected. Ministers should bring intelligent reason and common sense to bear upon these matters. If they will ponder upon them as they should, they will know what to do for themselves to preserve life. No minister can speak to the glory of God while he knowingly disregards the laws of life. Some do not realize the injury they are doing themselves until it is too late; then come sorrow, regret and repentance. But repentance cannot repair the brokendown lungs or the abused throat. Right habits adopted, even at the eleventh hour, will improve many cases, although persons must still suffer for the past transgressions of nature's laws.
Frequently a young man is sent out to labor with a more experienced minister; and if he is defective in his manner of speaking, the young man is very apt to copy his defects. Therefore, it is important that ministers who have been long in the field should reform, though it cost them much painstaking and the exercise of much patience, that their defects may not be reproduced in young and inexperienced laborers. The young preacher should copy only the admirable traits of character possessed by the more experienced laborer, while at the same time he should see and avoid his errors. When some attempt to speak calmly, without excitement and excessive gesticulation, they become embarrassed, and feel a lack of freedom, because they are restraining themselves from following their old habits. But let all such feelings, which are mere excitement, go to the four winds. That freedom of feeling that would result in your committing suicide is not sanctified.
Some reason that the Lord will qualify a man by his Spirit to speak as he would have him; but the Lord does not propose to do the work which he has given man to do. He has given us reasoning powers, and opportunities to educate the mind and manners. And after we have done all we can for ourselves, making the best use of the advantages within our reach, then we may look to God with earnest prayer to do by his Spirit that which we cannot do for ourselves. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #7)
Some ministers feel but little disposition to take the burden of the work of God upon them, and labor with that disinterested benevolence which characterized the mission and life of our divine Lord. Such men are a hindrance rather than a help to those churches which have had faith in the testimonies God has been pleased to give, and have acted upon them, while the preacher himself is far behind. He may profess to believe the testimony borne, and even go so far as to make an iron rule for those who have had little or no experience, and thereby do hurt. Such a course, to say the least, is very inconsistent.
The people of God generally feel a united interest in the spread of the truth. They cheerfully contribute toward a liberal support for those who labor in word and doctrine. This is no more than they should do; yet it is the duty of those who have the responsibility of distributing means, to see that the contributions of the church are not squandered. As these liberal brethren freely give a portion of their substance, which it has cost them so much hard labor to obtain, it is the duty of those who labor in word and doctrine to manifest a zeal and self-sacrifice at least equal to that shown by these brethren.
God's servants should go out free. They should know in whom they trust. There is power in Christ and his salvation to make them free men; and unless they are free in him, they cannot build up his church and gather in souls. Will God send a man out to rescue souls from the snare of Satan, when his own feet are entangled in the same net? God's servants must not waver. If their feet are sliding, how can they say to those of a fearful heart, "Be strong"? God would have his servants hold up the feeble hands, and strengthen the wavering. Those who are not prepared to do this would do better to first labor for themselves, and pray until they are indued with power from on high.
While the Author of our salvation was laboring and suffering for us, he denied himself, and his whole life was one continued scene of toil and privation. He could have passed his days on earth in ease and plenty, and appropriated to himself the pleasures of this life; but he considered not his own convenience. He lived to do others good. He suffered to save others from suffering. He finished the work which was given him to do. And now, can it be that we, the unworthy objects of so great love, will seek a better position in this life than was given to our Lord? Every moment of our lives we have been partakers of the blessings of his great love, and for this very reason we cannot fully realize the depths of ignorance and misery from which we have been saved. Can we look upon Him whom our sins have pierced, and not be willing to drink with him the bitter cup of humiliation and sorrow? Can we look upon Christ crucified, and wish to enter his kingdom in any other way than through much tribulation?
Let the history of the Waldenses testify what they suffered for their religion. Though persecuted and driven from their homes, they conscientiously studied the word of God, and lived up to the light which shone upon them. When their possessions were taken from them, and their houses burned, they fled to the mountains, and there endured hunger, fatigue, cold, and nakedness. And yet the scattered and homeless ones would assemble to unite their voices in singing and praising God, that they were accounted worthy to suffer for Christ's name. They encouraged and cheered one another, and were grateful for even their miserable retreat. Many of their children sickened and died through exposure to cold, and the sufferings of hunger; yet the parents did not for a moment think of yielding their faith. They prized the love and favor of God far more than earthly ease or worldly riches. They received consolation from God, and with pleasing anticipations looked forward to the recompense of reward.
Look at the case of Martin Luther. His mind was starving for something sure upon which to build his hope that God would be his Father and Heaven his home. The new and precious light which dawned upon him was of such priceless value, that he thought if he went forth with it he could convince the world. He stood up against the ire of a fallen church, and strengthened those who with him were feasting upon the rich truths contained in the word of God. Luther was God's chosen instrument to tear off the garb of hypocrisy from the papal church, and expose her corruption. He raised his voice zealously, and in the power of the Holy Spirit rebuked the existing sins of the leaders of the people. And although proclamations went forth to kill him wherever he might be found, and he seemed left to the fury of a cruel and superstitious people who were obedient to the head of the Roman church, yet he counted not his life dear unto himself. Luther knew that he was not safe anywhere, yet he trembled not. The light of truth in which he rejoiced was life to him, and consequently of more value than all the treasures of earth. Earthly treasures he knew would fail, but the rich truths that opened his understanding, and operated upon his heart, would live, and, if obeyed, would lead him to immortality.
When summoned to Augsburg to answer for his faith, he obeyed the summons. Firm and undaunted, he stood before those who had caused the world to tremble--a meek lamb surrounded by angry lions; yet for the sake of Christ and his truth, he unflinchingly and with holy eloquence, which the truth alone can inspire, gave the reasons of his faith. Various inducements were offered to allure him from his position, but life and honors were valueless to him if purchased at the sacrifice of truth. Brighter and clearer shone the word of God upon his understanding, giving him a more vivid sense of the errors, corruptions, and hypocrisy of the papacy. His enemies then sought to intimidate him and cause him to renounce his faith, but he boldly stood in defense of the truth. He was ready to die for his faith, if God required, but to yield it never. The angels of Heaven brought him through the stormy conflict unharmed, and baffled the rage and purposes of his enemies.
The calm, dignified power of Luther humbled his enemies, and dealt a most dreadful blow to the papacy. The great and proud men in power meant that his blood should atone for the mischief he had done to their cause. Their plans were laid; but a mightier than they had charge of the great Reformer. His work was not finished. Foiled in their designs upon Luther at Augsburg, they summoned him to Worms, fully determined to make him answer for his folly. His feeble health did not deter him from responding to the call, though he knew full well the danger that threatened him there. The minions of the papacy were crying for his blood as eagerly as the Jews clamored for the blood of Christ, yet he trusted in that God who preserved the three worthies in the burning, fiery furnace. The intrepid man of God sought not his own ease or preferment, but felt that he would rather die than see the precious truth exposed to the insult of its bitter enemies.
The great men of earth, in all their pomp and splendor, are not attended by a larger company than crowded the streets of Worms as Luther entered the city. From the midst of that surging throng which pressed around and followed him, was heard the shrill and plaintive voice of one chanting a funeral dirge to warn the Reformer of his impending danger. Intense excitement prevailed, and for a time Luther's faith and courage were severely tested; but as his agonizing prayer went up to God, the clouds that seemed to envelop him in darkness were lifted, and light from Heaven beamed in upon him. That prayer was heard, and Luther received strength to deliver the message that God designed those mighty men of earth should hear.
The meek bearing of this messenger of the Lord was in striking contrast with the passion and rage exhibited by the so-called great men composing that vast assembly. But they could not frighten him into a recantation of the truth. The opposition of his enemies, their rage and threats, like the mighty wave, surged against him; yet in noble simplicity and calm firmness he stood like a rock. They were chagrined to have their power, which had caused kings and nobles to tremble, thus despised by a humble man, and longed to make him feel its force by torturing his life away; but One who is mightier than the potentates of earth had charge of this fearless witness. God had a work for him to do. He was yet to see the cause of truth wade through bloody persecutions, and to suffer in its behalf. He must live to justify it and be its defender, when the mighty ones of earth should seek to destroy it. He must live to see it tear away the errors and superstitions of the papacy. Luther gained a victory at Worms which awakened the man of sin, and struck an effectual blow for the Reformation throughout the world.
The last merciful message is intrusted to God's humble, faithful servants of this time. Those who have not shunned responsibility, have, by the help of God, been enabled to lay systematic plans by which all can work if they will. With everything furnished to his hand, it is displeasing to God for any minister to now refuse to throw his whole energy into this all-important work. Some, however, think they are sacrificing much, and having a hard time, when they really know nothing about suffering, self-denial, or want. They may often be weary, so would they be it they were dependent on manual labor for a support. Some have felt that it would be easier to labor with their hands, and have often expressed a desire to do so, thinking they would be more free from anxiety, and could better labor at home for their families. But in this they are deceived; for should they engage in manual labor, they would not be free from anxiety and weariness. And while laboring to support their families, they could not be sitting down at their firesides. God marks every thought, and word, and feeling; and Heaven is insulted by any such exhibition of weakness and lack of devotion to the cause of God. In the early stages of this work, there were but few friends of the cause. These servants of God wept and prayed for a clear understanding of the truth. They suffered privations and much self-denial, in order to spread a knowledge of it; and although as the result of much labor but few received the precious message, yet step by step they followed as Gods opening providence led the way. They did not study their own convenience or shrink at hardships. God, through these men, prepared the way, and the truth has been made very plain; yet some who have since embraced the truth have failed to take upon themselves the burden of the work.
In every age men have arisen who have thought it noble to doubt the word of God. Those who think it a virtue to quibble can have plenty of room to disbelieve the inspiration and truth of God's word now. God does not compel any to believe. They can choose to rely upon the evidences he has been pleased to give, or doubt, and cavil, and perish; but those who are troubled with doubts and difficulties which they cannot solve, should not throw other weak minds into the same perplexity. In the past, some have hinted or talked their unbelief, and have passed on, little dreaming of the effect produced. The seeds of unbelief, in some instances, have taken immediate root, while in others they have lain buried quite a length of time, until the individual in whose heart the seed was sown has taken a wrong course and given place to the enemy, and the light of God has been withdrawn from him; then the seeds of infidelity which were sown so long ago have sprung up and borne fruit. Ministers as well as people have a warfare before them in resisting the devil. The individual who represents God's truth is in a sad plight when found serving the purposes of Satan by listening to his whisperings, and letting him captivate the mind and guide the thoughts. It is, furthermore, a grievous sin in the sight of God for one to talk out his unbelief, and draw other minds into the same dark channel, thus suffering Satan to carry out a twofold purpose in tempting him.
By such a course the work of death is carried on at a fearful rate. It is time that the watchmen upon the walls of Zion should understand the responsibility and sacredness of their mission. They should feel that a woe is upon them if they do not perform the work God has committed to them. If they become unfaithful, they are endangering the safety of the flock of God, endangering the cause of truth, and exposing it to the ridicule of our enemies. Oh, what a work is this! It will surely meet its reward. God is not dependent upon any man for the advancement of his cause. He is raising up and qualifying men to bear the message of truth to the world, in whose weakness his strength can be made perfect. Ready speech, eloquence, and great talents, will not convert a single soul; but the converting power is of God. Pulpit efforts may stir up minds, and the plain argument may be convincing; but a little imprudence upon the part of the minister out of the pulpit, a lack of gravity of speech and true godliness, will counteract his influence every time, and do away the good impressions made by him. The converts will be his. In many instances they will seek to rise no higher than their preacher. There will be in them no thorough heart work.
The success of a minister depends very much upon his deportment out of the desk. When he leaves the desk, his work is not finished. He should follow up his public labors by private efforts, laboring personally for souls at every opportunity, conversing around the fireside, beseeching and entreating them to seek those things which secure their peace. He should never move heedlessly, but set a watch over himself, lest something that he may do or say may be taken advantage of by the enemy, and a reproach be brought upon the cause of Christ. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #8)
As all the different members of the human system unite to form the body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole. The advancement of the church is often retarded by the wrong course of its members. Uniting with the church, although an important and necessary step, does not make one a Christian or insure salvation. We cannot secure a title to Heaven by having our names enrolled upon the church book, while our hearts are not in unison with Christ and his people. We should be his faithful representatives on earth, working in harmony with him. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." We should keep in mind this holy relationship, and do nothing to bring dishonor upon our Father's cause.
Our profession is an exalted one. As Christians, we profess to obey all of God's commandments, and to look for the coming of our Redeemer. A most solemn message of warning has been intrusted to God's faithful few. We should show by our words and works that we recognize the great responsibility laid upon us. Our light should shine so clearly that others can see that we glorify the Father in our daily lives; that we are connected with Heaven and are joint heirs with Jesus Christ; that when he shall appear in power and great glory, we may be like him.
We should feel our individual responsibility as members of the visible church and workers in the vineyard of the Lord. We should not wait for our brethren, who are frail as ourselves, to help us along; for our precious Saviour has invited us to join ourselves to him, and unite our weakness with his strength, our ignorance to his wisdom, our unworthiness to his merits. None of us can occupy a neutral position. We are active agents for Christ or for the enemy. We either gather with Jesus or scatter abroad. True conversion is a radical change. The very drift of the mind and bent of the heart should be turned, and the life should become new in Christ.
God is leading out a people to stand in perfect unity upon the platform of eternal truth. Christ gave himself to the world "that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." This refining process is designed to purge the church from the spirit of discord and contention and from all unrighteousness, that they may build up instead of tearing down, and may concentrate their energies on the great work before them. God designs that his people should all be joined together in unity of faith. The prayer of Christ just before his crucifixion was, that his disciples might be one, even as he was one with the Father, that the world might believe that the Father had sent him. This most touching and wonderful prayer reaches down the ages, even to our day; for his words were, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." How earnestly should the professed followers of Christ seek to answer this prayer in their lives. Many do not realize the sacredness of the church relation, and are loth to submit to restraint and discipline. Their course of action shows that they exalt their own judgment above that of the united church; and they are not careful to guard themselves lest they encourage a spirit of opposition to its voice.
Those who hold responsible positions in the church may have their faults in common with other people, and may err in their decisions; but, notwithstanding this, the church of Christ on earth has given them an authority that cannot be lightly esteemed. Christ, after his resurrection, delegated power to his church, saying, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." A relation to the church is not to be easily canceled; yet some professed followers of Christ will threaten to leave the church when their path is crossed, or their voice has not the controlling influence which they think it deserves. But in doing this they would themselves be the greatest sufferers; for in withdrawing beyond the pale of the church's influence, they subject themselves to the full temptations of the world.
Every believer should be wholehearted in his attachment to the church. Its prosperity should be his first interest, and unless he feels under sacred obligations to make his connection with the church a benefit to it rather than to himself, it can do far better without him. It is in the power of all to do something for the cause of God. Some spend a large amount for needless luxuries and to gratify their appetites, but feel it a great tax to contribute means to sustain the church. They are willing to receive all the benefits of its privileges, but prefer to leave others to pay the bills. Those who really feel a deep interest in the advancement of the cause, will not hesitate to invest money in the work whenever and wherever it is needed. They should also feel it a solemn duty to illustrate in their characters the teachings of Christ, being at peace one with another and moving in perfect harmony as an undivided whole. They should waive their individual opinion to the judgment of the church. Many live for themselves alone. They look upon their lives with great complacency, flattering themselves that they are blameless, when in fact they are doing nothing for God, and are living in direct opposition to his expressed word. The observance of external forms will never meet the great want of the human soul. A mere profession of Christ is not enough to prepare one to stand the test of the Judgment. There should be a perfect trust in God, a childlike dependence upon his promises, and an utter consecration of self to his will.
God has ever tried his people in the furnace of affliction, in order to prove them firm and true, and purge them from all unrighteousness. After Abraham had borne the severest test that could be imposed upon him, God spoke to him by his angel as follows: "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." This great act of faith causes the character of Abraham to shine forth with remarkable luster. It forcibly illustrates his perfect confidence in the Lord, from whom he withheld nothing, not even his son of promise.
There is nothing too precious for us to give to Jesus. If we return to him the talents of means he has intrusted to our keeping, he will give more into our hands. Every effort we make for Christ will be rewarded by him; and every duty we perform in his name will minister to our own happiness. God surrendered his dearly beloved Son to the agonies of the crucifixion, that all who believe on him should become one through the name of Jesus. When Christ made so great a sacrifice to save men and bring them into unity one with another, even as he was united with the Father, what sacrifice is too great for his followers to make, in order to preserve that unity?
If the world sees a perfect harmony existing in the church of God, it will be a powerful evidence to them in favor of the Christian religion. Dissensions, unhappy differences, and petty church trials dishonor our Redeemer. All these may be avoided, if self is surrendered to God, and the followers of Jesus obey the voice of the church. Unbelief suggests that individual independence increases our importance, that it is weak to yield to the verdict of the church our own ideas of what is right and proper. But to cherish such feelings and views will only bring anarchy into the church and confusion to ourselves. Christ saw that unity and Christian fellowship were necessary to the cause of God, therefore he enjoins it upon his disciples. And the history of Christianity from that time until now proves conclusively that in union only there is strength. Let individual judgment submit to the authority of the church.
The apostles felt the necessity of strict unity, and they labored earnestly to this end. Paul exhorted his brethren in these words: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
He also writes to his Philippian brethren: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
To the Romans he writes, "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus, that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God." "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."
Peter wrote to the churches scattered abroad: "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."
And Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians says: "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #9)
Some time ago, we were favored with a view of the most glorious rainbow we ever beheld. We have often visited galleries of art, and have admired the skill displayed by the artist in paintings representing God's great bow of promise. But here we saw the varied tints,--crimson, purple, blue, green, silver, and golden, all perfectly blended by the great Master Artist. We were entranced as we looked upon this glorious picture in the heavens.
As we look upon this bow, the seal and sign of God's promise to man, that the tempest of his wrath should no more desolate our world by the waters of a flood, we contemplate that other than finite eyes are looking upon this glorious sight. Angels rejoice as they gaze upon this precious token of God's love to man. The world's Redeemer looks upon it; for it was through his instrumentality that this bow was made to appear in the heavens, as a token or covenant of promise to man. God himself looks upon the bow in the clouds, and remembers his everlasting covenant between himself and man.
After the fearful exhibition of God's avenging power, in the destruction of the Old World by a flood, had passed, he knew that those who had been saved from the general ruin would have their fears awakened whenever the clouds should gather, the thunders roll, and the lightnings flash; and that the sound of the tempest and the pouring out of the waters from the heavens would strike terror to their hearts, for fear that another flood was coming upon them. But behold the love of God in the promise: "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud. And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature, of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."
The family of Noah looked with admiration and reverential awe mingled with joy upon this sign of God's mercy, which spanned the heavens. The bow represents Christ's love which encircles the earth, and reaches unto the highest heavens, connecting men with God, and linking earth with Heaven.
As we gaze upon the beautiful sight, we may be joyful in God, assured that he himself is looking upon this token of his covenant, and that as he looks upon it he remembers the children of earth, to whom it was given. Their afflictions, perils, and trials are not hidden from him. We may rejoice in hope, for the bow of God's covenant is over us. He never will forget the children of his care. How difficult for the mind of finite man to take in the peculiar love and tenderness of God, and his matchless condescension when he said, "I will look upon the bow in the cloud, and remember thee."
Oh! how easy for us to forget God, while he never forgets us; he visits us with his mercies every hour. We would feel that it was a calamity indeed to be forgotten of God. But our Redeemer says, "I will not forget thee. I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." Graven his children with the deep prints of the nails driven through those dear hands which he presents to the Father. He says, I will that those who accept my merits be with me where I am, that they may enjoy the mansions which I have prepared for them at an infinite cost; and angelic songs ring through Heaven, Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath all power and might and dominion and glory. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #10)
Many who profess the special truths for our time, have not a proper discernment of character. They fail to appreciate moral worth. They may boast much of their fidelity to the cause of God, and their knowledge of the Scriptures; but they are not humble in heart. They have a special regard for those who are wealthy and prosperous, forgetting that riches do not give man favor with God. True excellence of character is frequently overlooked, if possessed by the poor man. Money sways a mighty influence. But does God care for money--for property? The cattle upon a thousand hills are his,--the world and all that is therein. The inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers before him; and the nations, with all their riches, "are counted as the small dust of the balance." He is no respecter of persons. Yet men of property have often looked upon their possessions and said, By my wisdom have I gotten me this wealth. But who gave them power to get wealth? God has bestowed upon them the ability which they possess; and instead of giving him the glory, they take it to themselves. He will prove them and try them, and will bring their glorying to the dust; he will remove their strength and scatter their possessions. Instead of a blessing, they will realize a curse.
An act of wrong, or of oppression, any deviation from the right way, should be as promptly condemned in the rich as in the poor. All the riches that the most wealthy ever possessed will not be of sufficient value to cover the smallest sin before God. Repentance, true humility, a broken heart and a contrite spirit, alone will be accepted of him.
Many rich men have obtained their wealth by close dealing with their fellow men, by overreaching in trade, to advantage themselves at the loss of others; and then they glory in their shrewdness, and keenness in a bargain. But the curse of God will rest upon every dollar thus obtained, and upon the increase of it on their hands.
How forcible are the words of our Saviour, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Those who possess the ability to acquire property, unless constantly on the watch, will be led by their acquisitiveness to sacrifice the generous, benevolent, noble principles of their manhood for sordid gain.
Many have been corrupted by the spirit and influence of the world. Their characters are becoming more and more unlike the divine model. They are being transformed to become instruments of unrighteousness. In striking contrast with this class are those industrious, honest, poor men, who ever stand ready to help the needy; who would rather suffer themselves to be defrauded by their wealthy brethren than to manifest so close and acquisitive a spirit as they manifest; who esteem a clear conscience, and integrity, even in little things, of greater value than riches. They are so ready to help others, so willing to do all the good in their power, that they do not accumulate; their earthly possessions do not increase. If there is a benevolent object to call forth means or labor, they are the first to be interested in it and to respond to it, and will frequently go far beyond their real ability, denying themselves some needed good, to carry out their benevolent purposes.
Because such persons can boast of but little earthly treasure, they are often looked upon as deficient in ability and judgment, and are lightly esteemed even by their brethren. But how does God regard these poor, wise men? In his sight they are precious; and although not increasing their treasure upon earth, they are laying up for themselves a treasure in the heavens which is incorruptible. In so doing they manifest a wisdom as far superior to that of the wise, calculating, acquisitive, professed Christian, as the divine and godlike is superior to the earthly, carnal, and satanic. It is moral worth that God values. A Christian character untarnished with avarice, possessing quietness, meekness, and humility, is more precious in the sight of God than the most fine gold, even the golden wedge of Ophir.
Wealthy men are to be tested more closely than they ever yet have been. If they overcome their defects of character, and as faithful stewards of Jesus Christ render to God the things that are God's, to them it will be said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
The parable of the unjust steward is to the point. "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?"
God has committed to his stewards means to be used in doing good, and thus securing a treasure in Heaven. But if, like the man who had one talent, they hide their means, fearing that God will receive that which belongs to him, they will not only lose the increase which will finally be awarded the faithful steward, but also the principal which God gave them to work upon. They have not only neglected to lay up treasure in Heaven, but have also lost their earthly treasure. They have no habitation on earth, and no friend in Heaven to receive them into the everlasting habitation of the righteous.
Christ declares that "no servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon,"--cannot serve God and earthly riches too. "The Pharisees also, who wore covetous, heard all these things, and they derived him." Mark the words of Christ to them: "Ye are they who justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men [riches acquired by oppression, by deception, by overreaching, by fraud, or in any dishonest manner], is abomination in the sight of God." Then Christ presents the two characters, the rich man who was clothed with purple and fine linen, and who fared sumptuously every day, and Lazarus, who was in abject poverty, and loathsome to the sight, and who begged the few crumbs which the rich man despised. Our Saviour shows his estimate of the two. Lazarus, although in so deplorable a condition, had true faith, true moral worth, which God sees, and which he considers of so great value that he takes this poor, despised sufferer, and places him in the most exalted position, while the honored and wealthy ease loving rich man is thrust out from the presence of God, and is plunged into misery and woe unutterable. In the sight of God this wealthy man was of no value, because he had not true moral worth. His riches did not recommend him to God.
By this parable Christ would teach his disciples to shun the course pursued by the Pharisees, who judged or valued men by their wealth, or by the worldly honors they received. He showed that some who possessed both riches and worldly honor were of no esteem in the sight of God; more than this, they were despised and rejected,--cast out from his sight as disgusting to him, because there was no moral worth or soundness in them. They were corrupt, sinful, and abominable before him.
In Paul's charge to Timothy he warns him of a class who will not consent to wholesome words, but who place a wrong estimate on riches. He says: "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
The great apostle, in his letter to Timothy, would impress upon his mind the necessity of giving such instruction as should remove the deception which so easily steals upon the rich, that because of their ability to acquire wealth, they are superior in wisdom and judgment to those who are in poverty; that gain is godliness. They flatter themselves that because of their wealth they are especially favored of God. Here is the fearful deception.
Individuals may devote their whole lives to the one object of acquiring riches, yet as they brought nothing into the world, they can carry nothing out. They must die and leave that which cost them so much labor to obtain. They stake their eternal interest, to obtain a little of this world, and lose both worlds. But some are determined to be rich; it is their constant study; and in their zeal, eternal considerations are overlooked. In the pursuit of wealth, they are blinded by Satan, and made to believe that their motives are good. Thus many have "erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." They have sacrificed noble, elevated principles, given up their faith for riches; and if not disappointed in their object, they are disappointed in the happiness they supposed wealth would bring. They are burdened with care and perplexity; they are slaves to avarice themselves, their families are compelled to the same bondage, with only the advantage of reaping "many sorrows."
The apostle shows the only true use for riches, and bids Timothy charge the rich to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; for in so doing they are laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come,--referring to the close of time,--that they may lay hold on eternal life. The teachings of Paul harmonize perfectly with the words of Christ, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Godliness with contentment is great gain. Here is the true secret of happiness, and real prosperity of soul and body. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #11)
Says the beloved apostle: "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
This exhortation includes the young of both sexes. Their youth does not excuse them from responsibilities. They are not oppressed with cares or the weight of years, and should be strong to labor in every good word and work. Their affections are ardent, and if withdrawn from the world, and placed upon Christ and Heaven, a well-founded hope may be cherished of being finally crowned with glory, honor, immortality, eternal life. But if, on the other hand, they live to gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, they please their great adversary, and are separating themselves from the Father. Then when these earthly things pass away, their hopes will be blasted and their expectations will perish. Separated from God, they will bitterly repent the folly of serving their own pleasure, of gratifying their own desires, and of selling an eternity of happiness for a little imaginary good.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world," says the inspired writer. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." It is an alarming fact that the love of the world predominates in the minds of the young; and for this very reason the love of God finds no room in their hearts. Their pleasures are found in the world, with the things of the world, and they are strangers to the Father and the graces of his Spirit. Frivolity and fashion, vain talking and laughing, characterize the life of the youth generally, by which God is dishonored. Paul in writing to Titus exhorts the youth to sobriety. "Young men, likewise, exhort to be sober minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."
I entreat the youth, for their souls' sake, to heed the exhortation of the inspired apostle. All these gracious instructions, warnings, and reproofs, will be either a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. Many of the young are reckless in their conversation. They forget that by their words they shall be justified or condemned. Take heed to the words of our Saviour: "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." How little regard is paid even to the instructions of the Heavenly Teacher. By many of the young, the word of God is either neglected altogether, or if studied at all, its solemn admonitions are unheeded, and these plain truths will rise up in the Judgment and condemn them.
Words and acts testify plainly what is in the heart. If vanity, pride, love of self, and love of dress fill the mind, the conversation will be upon the fashions, the dress, and the appearance, instead of on Christ and the kingdom of Heaven. If envious feelings dwell in the heart, the same will be manifested in words and acts. Those who excuse their own wrongs because of the faults of others, are feeding on husks, and will remain spiritual dwarfs as long as they gratify Satan by thus indulging their own unconsecrated feelings.
Some dwell upon what they shall eat and drink, and with what they shall be clothed. Their hearts are filled with these thoughts, and they forget the words of Christ, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
Many of the youth have their hearts filled with love of self, which is manifested in the desire to see their faces portrayed by the artist; and they will not be satisfied with being once represented, but will sit again and again for their picture, hoping to appear more beautiful than they really are. Their Lord's money is squandered in this way, and what is gained? Merely their poor shadow upon paper. Hours that should be spent in prayer are devoted to their own poor selves,--precious hours of probation are thus wasted. The adversary of souls is gratified to have the attention of youth diverted from the right object, so that he may steal a march upon them, and ensnare them in his devices. They are not aware that the great Heavenly Artist is taking cognizance of every act, every word; and that even the thoughts and intents of the heart are faithfully recorded. Oh that the young might realize that every defect in the moral character is not only revealed to the gaze of the pure and sinless angels, but that they themselves will have the faithful picture presented to them in all its deformity at the execution of the Judgment. Those vain, frivolous words are all written in the book. Those selfish acts, the motives of which may be concealed from human eyes, are discerned by the all-seeing eye of Jehovah, and are written in living characters.
Young persons generally conduct themselves as though the precious hours of probation were one grand holiday, and they were placed in this world merely for their own amusement, to be gratified with a continued round of excitement. Satan makes special efforts to lead the youth to find happiness in worldly amusements, and to justify themselves in thus doing, by endeavoring to show that these amusements are harmless, innocent, and even essential to health. He represents the path of holiness as difficult, and that of worldly pleasures as strewn with flowers. The impression has been given by some physicians that spirituality and devotion to God are detrimental to health. This suits the adversary well.
Those whose moral faculties are beclouded by disease are not the ones to rightly represent the Christian life, or the beauties of holiness. They are too often in the fires of fanaticism, or the waters of cold indifference or stolid gloom. Some are scourging themselves all through life because of their sins; all they can see is an offended God of justice. Christ and his redeeming power, through the merits of his blood, they fail to see. Such have not faith. Through disease transmitted to them from their parents, and an erroneous education in youth, they have imbibed wrong habits, injuring the constitution, affecting the brain, causing the moral organs to become diseased, and making it impossible for them to think and act rationally upon all points. Such have not well-balanced minds.
Godliness is health to the body and strength to the soul. Says Peter: "He that will love life, and see good days, . . . let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. . . . But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled."
The consciousness of rightdoing is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. The special blessing of God is health and strength to the receiver. A person whose mind is quiet and satisfied in God is in the pathway to health. To have a consciousness that the eyes of the Lord are upon us, and his ears open to hear our prayers, is a satisfaction indeed. To know that we have a never failing Friend in whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul, is a privilege which words can never express. The words of Christ are of more worth than the opinions of all the physicians in the universe. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." This is the first great object,--the kingdom of Heaven, the righteousness of Christ. The attainment of all other objects should be secondary to this.
The young may urge that they need something to enliven and divert the mind. But there is pleasure in industry, a satisfaction in pursuing a life of usefulness. Some may still urge that they must have something to interest the mind, when business ceases,--some mental occupation or amusement to which the mind can turn for relief and refreshment from labor. The Christian's hope is just what is needed. Religion will prove to the believer a comforter and a sure guide to the fountain of true happiness. The young should study the word of God, and give themselves to meditation and prayer, and they will find that their spare moments cannot be better employed. Young friends, you should take time to prove your own selves, whether you are in the love of God. Be diligent to make your calling and election sure. All depends upon your course of action, whether or not you secure to yourselves the better life.
Wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." The future abode of the righteous, and their everlasting reward, is a high and ennobling theme for the young to contemplate. Let the mind dwell upon the marvelous plan of salvation, the great sacrifice made by the King of glory, that we might be elevated through the merits of his blood, and finally, by obedience, be exalted to the throne of Christ. This subject should engage the noblest powers of the mind. To be brought into favor with God,--what a privilege! To commune with him,--what can more elevate, refine, and exalt us above the frivolous pleasures of earth? To have our corrupt natures renovated by grace, our lustful appetites and animal propensities in subjection, and to stand forth with noble moral independence, achieving victories every day, will give peace of conscience which can alone arise from right doing.
With such employment and diversion as this, the youth may be happy. But the reason why some are restless is, that they do not go to the only true source for happiness. They are ever trying to find out of Christ that enjoyment which is found alone in him. In him are no disappointed hopes. Oh how is the precious privilege of prayer neglected! The reading of the word of God prepares the mind for prayer. One of the greatest reasons why many have so little disposition to draw near to God by prayer is, that they have unfitted themselves for this sacred work by reading fascinating stories, which have excited the imagination and aroused unholy passions. The word of God becomes distasteful; the hour of prayer is not thought of. Prayer is the strength of the Christian. When alone, he is not alone; he feels the presence of One who has said, "Lo, I am with you alway."
The young want just what they have not, namely, Religion. Nothing can take the place of it. Profession alone is nothing. Names may be registered in the church books upon earth, and yet not be recorded in the book of life above. The life of Christ is an example of good works. He wept over Jerusalem, because its inhabitants would not be saved by accepting the redemption he offered them. They would not come to him, and have life. Let the young compare their pleasure seeking life with that of the Master, who made so great a sacrifice to save them.
See that company gathered. Listen to the frivolous, light, and vain conversation; hear the laugh, the jesting, the joking. Is this imitating the Pattern? Still listen,--is Jesus mentioned? Is the truth the theme of conversation? Are they glorying in the cross of Christ? No; they are talking of this fashion, that bonnet, that dress, what that young man or that young lady said, or of the amusements they are planning. Hear that song; it is a frivolous ditty, fit only for the dance hall. The pure angels, with sadness on their countenances, move from the scene, and darkness envelops those thoughtless ones. Music, when turned to a good account, is a blessing. When abused, it leads the unconsecrated to pride, vanity, and folly, and becomes one of Satan's most attractive agencies to ensnare souls. When music is allowed to take the place of devotion and prayer, it is a terrible curse.
Paul says: "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."
Peter says: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
The inspired Paul calls on Titus to give special instructions to the church of Christ, "that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." He says, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Peter thus exhorts the churches: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." "But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
Again he says: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evildoing."
Are the youth prepared to give an answer to every man that asks a reason of their hope, with meekness and fear? Terrible scenes are just before them,--a time of trouble which will test the value of character. Those who have the truth abiding in them will then be developed. Those who have shunned the cross, neglected the word of life, and paid adoration to their own poor selves, will be found wanting. They are ensnared by Satan, and will learn when it is too late that they have made a terrible mistake. The pleasures they have sought after will prove bitter in the end. Then sacrifice all for God. Self must die. The natural desires and propensities of the unrenewed heart must be subdued. Flee to the neglected Bible. The words of inspiration are spoken to you; pass them not lightly by; for you will meet every word again, to render an account whether you have been a doer of the work, shaping your life according to the holy teachings of God's word. Holiness of heart and life is necessary. Everyone who has taken the name of Christ, and has enlisted in his service, should be a good soldier of the cross. He should show by his daily walk that he is dead to the world, and that his life is hid with Christ in God.
Paul writes to his Colossian brethren as follows: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
To the Ephesians he writes: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
But few of the youth understand what it is to be Christians, to be Christlike. A prayerful study of the word of God is necessary if they would conform their lives to the perfect Pattern. Few experience that separation from the world which God requires of them in order to become members of his family, children of the heavenly King. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
What a promise is here made upon condition of obedience. Is it necessary to sever your connection with friends and relatives in deciding to obey the elevated truths of God's word? Take courage; God has made provision for you, his arms are opened to receive you. He promises to be a Father unto you. Oh, what a relationship is this! higher and holier than any earthly tie. If you make the sacrifice, even forsaking father, mother, sisters, or brothers, for Christ's sake, you will not be friendless. God will adopt you into his family; you will become members of the royal household, sons and daughters of the Heavenly King who rules in the Heaven of heavens. Can you desire a more exalted position than is here promised? It is not enough? What could God do for the children of men more than he has already done? If such love, such exalted promises, are not appreciated, could God devise anything higher, anything richer and more lofty? All has been done for the salvation of man that God could do, and yet the hearts of the children of men have become hardened. Because of the multiplicity of the blessings with which God has surrounded them, they are received as common things and the gracious Benefactor is forgotten.
Young men and women, God has a work for you to do. If you neglect to take up your cross and follow Christ, you are unworthy of him. While you remain in listless indifference, how can you know what is the will of God concerning you? and how do you expect to be saved, unless as faithful servants you do your Lord's will? Those who possess eternal life will all have done well. The king of glory will exalt them to his right hand, while he says to them, "Well done, good and faithful servants." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #12)
To secure the indulgence of appetite, Esau sacrificed his birthright. Afterward he saw his folly; but "when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
Esau represents a class who have a blessing of priceless value within their reach,--the immortal inheritance; life that is as enduring as the life of God, the Creator of the universe; happiness immeasurable, and an eternal weight of glory. Yet there are very many who have indulged appetite, passion, and inclination, so long that their power to discern and appreciate the value of eternal things is weakened. Esau had a strong desire for a particular article of food, and he had so long gratified self that he did not feel the necessity of turning from the tempting coveted dish.
He made no special effort to restrain his appetite, until that power bore down every other consideration, and controlled him, and he imagined he would suffer great inconvenience, and even death, if he could not have that particular dish. The more he thought upon it the more his desire strengthened, until his birthright, which was sacred, lost its value and its sacredness. He thought, Well, if I now sell it, I can easily buy it back again. He flattered himself that he could dispose of it at will, and buy it back at pleasure. When he sought to purchase it back, even at a great sacrifice on his part, he was not able to do so. He then bitterly repented his rashness, his folly, his madness. He looked the matter over on every side. He sought for repentance carefully and with tears. It was all in vain. He had despised the blessing, and the Lord removed it from him forever.
Some have thought that they could sacrifice the truth for a time to their worldly interests, without becoming entirely reckless, so that if they should be disappointed in their hopes and expectations of worldly gain, they could again interest themselves in the truth and become candidates for everlasting life. But in this they only deceive themselves. Under the parable of a great supper, our Saviour shows that many will choose the world above himself, and will as the result lose Heaven. The gracious invitation of our Saviour is slighted. The man in the parable had been to the trouble and expense of making a great preparation at an immense sacrifice, and then invited the guests to his feast. But they with one consent began to make excuse. One said, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come."
The Lord turns from the wealthy and world loving, whose lands and oxen and wives were of so great value in their estimation as to outweigh the advantages they would gain by accepting the gracious invitation he had given them to eat of his supper. The master of the house was angry and turned from those who had thus insulted his bounty offered them, to a class who are not full, but are poor and hungry, and who are maimed and lame, halt and blind. These have not possessions of lands and houses, and will appreciate the bounties provided, and in return will render the master sincere gratitude, unfeigned love and devotion. But his house is not yet filled, and the command is, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled; for I say unto you that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper." Here is a class rejected of God because they despised the invitation of the Master.
The Lord declared to Eli, "Them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." Says Christ, "If any man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am there shall also my servant be; if any man serve me, him will my Father honor." God will not be trifled with. Those who have the light and reject it, or neglect to walk in it, to them it will become darkness. An immense sacrifice was made on the part of God's dear Son, that he might have power to rescue fallen man and exalt him to his own right hand, make him an heir of the world, and a possessor of the eternal weight of glory.
The riches, glory, and honor, offered by the Son of God, are of such infinite value that it is beyond the power of men or even angels to give any just idea of their worth, excellence, and magnificence. If men, plunged in sin and degradation, refuse these heavenly benefits, refuse a life of obedience, trample upon the gracious invitations of mercy, and choose the paltry things of earth because they are seen, and it is convenient for their present enjoyment to pursue a course of sin, Jesus will carry out the figure in the parable; such shall not taste of his glory; but the invitation will be extended to another class. Those who choose to make excuses, and continue in sin and conformity to the world, will be left to their idols. There will be a day when they will not beg to be excused. Not one will wish to be excused. When Christ shall come in his glory, and with the glory of his Father, and all the heavenly angels surrounding him, escorting him on his way, with voices of triumph, while strains of the most enchanting music fall upon the ear, all will then be interested; there will not then be one indifferent spectator.
Speculations will not then engross the soul. The miser's piles of gold, which are before him, and which have feasted his eyes, will be no longer attractive. The palaces which the proud men of earth have erected, and which have been their idols, will be turned from with loathing and disgust. No one will then plead his lands, his oxen, or his wife that he has just married, as a reason why he should be excused from sharing the glory that bursts upon his astonished vision. All will want a share, but some will know that it is not for them.
They will then call, in earnest, agonizing prayer, for God to pass them not by. The kings, the mighty men, the lofty, the proud, the mean man, will bow together under an inexpressible load of woe; and heart-anguished prayers of Mercy! mercy! Save us from the wrath of an offended God! will be wrung from their lips. A voice answers them with terrible distinctness: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh."
Then kings and nobles, the mighty man, and the poor man, and the mean man, alike will cry most bitterly. They who in the days of their prosperity despised Christ and the humble ones who followed in his footsteps, men who would not humble their dignity to bow to Jesus Christ, who hated his despised cross, are now prostrate in the mire of the earth. Their greatness has all at once left them, and they do not hesitate to bow to the earth at the feet of the saints. They then realize with terrible bitterness that they are eating the fruit of their own way, and being filled with their own devices. In their supposed wisdom they turned away from the high, eternal reward, rejected the heavenly inducement for earthly gain. The glitter and tinsel of earth fascinated them, and in their supposed wisdom they became fools. They exulted in their worldly prosperity as though their advantages were so great that they could, through them, be recommended to God, and thus secure Heaven.
Money was their power, and money was their god; but their very prosperity destroyed them. They became fools in the eyes of God and his heavenly angels, while men of worldly ambition thought them wise. Now their supposed wisdom is all foolishness, and their prosperity their destruction. Again rings forth in shrieks of fearful, heart-rending anguish, "Rocks and mountains, fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" To the caves of the earth they flee as a covert, but these fail to be a protection then.
Said Christ: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." If this commandment is obeyed, it prepares the heart to obey the second, which is like unto it,--Love thy neighbor as thyself. All the ten commandments are embodied in these two specified. The first takes in the first four commandments, which show the duty of man to his Creator. The second takes in the last six, which show the duty of man to his fellow man. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. They are two great arms sustaining all ten of the commandments, the first four and the last six. These must be strictly obeyed. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Very many who profess to be Christ's disciples will apparently pass along smoothly in this world, and men will regard them as upright, godly men, when they have a plague spot at the core, which taints their whole character, and corrupts their religious experience.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This forbids the taking advantage of our fellowmen in order to advantage ourselves. We are forbidden to wrong our neighbor in anything. We should not view the matter from the worldling's standpoint. To deal with our fellowmen, in every instance, just as we would wish them to deal with us, is a rule we should apply to ourselves. God's laws are to be obeyed to the letter. In all our intercourse and dealing with our fellowmen, whether believers, or unbelievers, this rule is to be applied: Love thy neighbor as thyself. Many who profess to be Christians will not bear the measurement of God on this point; but will be found wanting when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." What a promise is this. We should not lose sight of the fact that this promise is based upon obedience to a specific command. God calls upon all to separate from the world, and not to follow its practices or be conformed to it. "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
God calls for separation from the world. Will we obey? Will we come out from among them, and remain separate and distinct from them? "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" No one can mingle with worldlings, partake of their spirit, and follow their example, and be at the same time a child of God. The Creator of the universe addresses his children as an affectionate Father. All who separate from the world in their affections, and remain free from its contaminations, will be adopted into the family of God, and made heirs of an immortal inheritance. In place of this world, he will give them the kingdom under the whole heaven, and life that is as enduring as eternity.
If we would have his blessing attend us, and his presence to abide in our families, we must obey him, and do his will irrespective of losses or gains, or our own pleasure. We should not consult our desires, nor the approbation of worldlings, who know not God, and seek not to glorify him. If we walk contrary to God, he will walk contrary to us. If we have other gods before the Lord, our hearts will be turned away from serving the only true and living God, who requires the whole heart, the undivided affections. God requires all the heart, all the soul, all the mind, and all the strength. He will accept nothing short of this. No separation is allowed here. No halfhearted work will be accepted.
In order to render to God perfect service, we must have clear conceptions of his will. This will require us to use only healthful food, prepared in a simple manner, that the fine nerves of the brain be not injured, making it impossible for us to discern the value of the atonement, and the priceless worth of the cleansing blood of Christ. "Know ye not that they which run in a race, run all; but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
If, for no higher object than a wreath or perishable crown as a reward of their ambition, men subjected themselves to temperance in all things, how much more should those who profess to be seeking, not only an unfading crown of immortal glory, but a life which is to endure as long as the throne of Jehovah, and riches that are eternal, honors which are imperishable, and an eternal weight of glory. Will not the inducements presented before those who are running in the Christian race, lead them to practice self-denial, and temperance in all things, that they may keep their animal propensities in subjection, keep under the body, control the lustful passions and appetites? Then can they be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
If the exceeding precious and glorious reward promised will not lead us to welcome greater privations, and endure greater self-denial than worldly men who are seeking merely a bauble of earth, a perishable laurel which brings honors from a few of the worldly, we are unworthy of everlasting life. With earnestness and intensity of desire to do the will of God, we should excel the zeal of those who are engaged in any other enterprise, to a degree as much greater as the value of the object we are seeking to attain is higher. The treasure we are striving to secure is imperishable, immortal, and all-glorious; while that which the worldling is in pursuit of endures but a day is fading and perishable, fleeting as the morning cloud.
We should let nothing obstruct our progress in the way to everlasting life. Our eternal interest is at stake. There must be a thorough work wrought in us, or we shall fail of Heaven. But Jesus invites us to make him our strength, our support. He will be to us a present help in every time of need. He will be as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. May it not be our great anxiety to succeed in this world; but may the burden of our souls be, How shall I secure the better world? What have I to do to be saved? In saving our own souls, we save others. In lifting ourselves, we lift others. In fastening our grasp upon the truth, and upon the throne of God, we aid others to fix their trembling faith upon the promises of God, and his eternal throne. The position all must come into, is to value salvation, dearer than earthly gain, to count everything but loss that they may win Christ. The consecration must be entire. God will admit of no reserve, of no divided sacrifice, no idol. All must die to self, and to the world. Then let us each renew our consecration to God daily. Everlasting life is worth a lifelong, persevering, untiring effort. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #13)
It is not my intention this evening to confine myself to any particular portion of Scripture, but to speak for a short time in regard to working for the Master.
When we realize the fact that we are not our own, but bought with an infinite price, even the blood of the Son of God, we shall have no desire to devote our mental or physical powers to our own personal interests; but we shall feel a deep sense of our obligations to the Creator and to his cause, and of our duty to faithfully perform what he requires of us.
There never was a time when I realized more fully the value of souls than at the present. There never was a time in the history of our cause when we could do more for the conversion of sinners than now. There is much to be done; and there are those whose services the Lord will accept, if they will consecrate themselves unreservedly to him.
Some of the youth have been diligent and persevering, and they are now making their mark, and are occupying important positions in the cause of God. We often hear persons speak of the talents and ability of these youth as though God had bestowed upon them special gifts; but this is a mistake. It is the use we make of the talents given us, that makes us strong. There are many who might be well qualified to engage in the work of the Lord, who fail to improve upon the ability God has given them.
Let us take two young men as examples of these two classes. One is ever ready to make the most of his time and opportunities. He feels the importance of using his powers to the glory of God. Circumstances are against him; he has difficulties and obstacles to meet; but he does not complain of the trials that beset him. He accommodates himself to the circumstances, or so controls them as to make them serve his best interests. This individual's abilities are strengthened, his talents are increased; and he finally becomes a fully developed man, fitted to occupy some important position in society, and in the cause of God. When placed in any office of trust, he is able to exercise good judgment, and to discharge his duties with faithfulness and efficiency.
The other young man has similar difficulties to meet, but instead of bravely surmounting every obstacle, he complains, wishing things were different, and saying if he only had circumstances to suit his mind, what a splendid success he would make! This young man is destined to make a failure; because he does not apply his mind to his work, and does not determine that, live or die, sink or swim, he will so improve the abilities God has given him, as to make a success of life.
God has not bestowed upon us all the same talents and abilities. For this reason, we are not all capable of filling the same position with the same degree of success. Again, many talents have been given to some, while others have received but few. The latter are responsible only for what they have; while those more richly endowed will be held to account for the wise improvement of all that has been committed to them. Every one is capable of using the talents intrusted to him, of developing and increasing them.
Persons often speak of Dr. Kellogg as one whom God has especially called, and is using in his service. But while we believe that he is a man of God, we believe that the Lord did not accept him to the exclusion of others. He has met the difficulties of his situation, and mastered them. He has improved his time to increase his talents, and God has accepted his labors.
Not long since, a young man came to see us about obtaining a situation. Upon inquiry, he said that he had been at work on a farm, but that he could not fix his mind on his work. He desired some other kind of labor, and thought he would give himself to the Lord. Because he did not enjoy the plain, simple duties of life, he concluded to leave them, and devote himself to the cause of God. "Young man," said I, "you are making a mistake. It is necessary that you should prove yourself faithful wherever you are. If called to work upon the farm, or to engage in any of the ordinary duties of life, you should show that you can make a success there; and when you have done this, the Lord may see fit to give you some greater responsibility."
Many are like this youth. They do not enjoy the everyday duties of life. They think that if they were in some responsible position they would make a success. They have a desire to do some great work; but they are always standing still. They yield to circumstances instead of meeting difficulties with fortitude, determined to improve their abilities and gain a valuable experience.
In my youth I made up my mind that, should I allow myself to be controlled by circumstances, my life would be a failure; I went about whatever I regarded as duty, even though the surroundings were against me. My father would frequently say, "Ellen, if it were your duty to go to such a place, it would be made so plain that you could have no doubt in the matter. In consideration of your youth and feebleness, the Lord will give you clear evidence of your duty; and he will give you strength to do it without difficulty." "But," said I, "Father, if difficulties appear, I must summon greater resolution to meet them, and in doing this I shall gain a valuable experience, one that will help me to wisely use the abilities intrusted to my care."
Here is a work for every one of us to do. Never did I see and sense the value of souls as I do at the present time. How can we realize the importance of the work of salvation? In comparison with the value of the soul, everything else sinks into insignificance. This world and its treasures, this life and its happiness, are of little consequence, when we compare them with the joy of even one soul eternally saved. Until we have clear and distinct ideas of what that soul will enjoy when saved in the kingdom of glory; until we can fully comprehend the value of that life which measures with the life of God; until we can fully realize the riches of that reward which is laid up for those who overcome and gain the victory,--we cannot know the inestimable value of the soul.
We should train our minds to dwell on the importance of working for the salvation of souls for whom Christ has died. We should not feel that this work is of no special consequence; I fear that many of us are too often indifferent in this respect. At times, when I have labored excessively day after day, burdened with a sense of the great work that yet remained to be done, and have seen men and women of intelligence who professed to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, idly passing away the time, I have inquired, In view of the impending Judgment, how can they be indifferent in regard to the salvation of souls? If I had a thousand lives, I would devote them all to the service of the Lord.
Not all are called to preach the word, but there are other ways in which we may be of service in the cause of God. Many feel themselves excused from doing anything, because they cannot stand in the desk and explain the truths of the gospel. But let us consider, dear friends, what joy unspeakable will fill our hearts in the day of God, if, as we gather around the great white throne, we shall see souls, saved through our instrumentality, with the crown of immortal glory upon their brows. How shall we feel as we look upon that company, and see one soul saved through our agency, who has saved others, and these still others,--a large assembly brought into the haven of rest as the result of our labors, there to lay their crowns at Jesus' feet, and to praise him with immortal tongues throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. By Mrs. E. G. White. (To be continued.)
(Vol. 55, #14)
Some ministers who have power in presenting the truth from the desk, neglect their duty in the family circle. They should manifest deep feeling in speaking of the truth in the families they visit, and then bow down and plead with God, that the light of truth may find its way to the heart of every member of the family. We should feel the responsibilities that rest upon us as Christians, and labor as though we realized the value of souls, remembering that one soul saved in the kingdom of God is worth more than ten thousand worlds like this. When we have this spirit, we can more readily convince others that we have the truth. But so long as indifference is manifested, we cannot expect to exert a decided influence in drawing others to God.
When we see a world lying in wickedness, sinners going to ruin, and appeals for help coming from all directions, we are reminded of the many young men who might be workers in the cause of truth, if they would consecrate themselves to God. There are many who might be as efficient workers in the cause as those who are already in the field. God has not chosen any persons to engage in his work to the exclusion of others, but he has accepted those who were willing to bear burdens and responsibilities.
I have just returned from Indiana, where the people are eager to hear the truth. Upon very brief notice, houses of worship were crowded. Although it was in feebleness that I attempted to speak to the people, yet God sustained and strengthened me. When I saw the house so crowded, and the people so eagerly listening to the truth, my soul was stirred within me. My mind went out to the great missionary field. We are not all called to occupy the desk, but we are all called to be missionaries, though perhaps in a limited sense. None can be excused. It is the duty of every one to sow the seed of truth, that it may spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God. The Lord has not given his work into the hands of a few men only; but he has given to every man his charge.
The design of this Institute is to teach you how to work; and we hope that you will give time and attention to this course of instruction. Here is a God given privilege, in the improvement of which you may learn how to labor intelligently for the Master. God will help all who will take hold to help themselves; but we cannot expect light and help to be given us unless we heed the light we already have. If we would be efficient laborers in the cause of God, we must learn how to work. If you would be a carpenter, you must learn the carpenter's trade; if you would be a worker for the Master, you must learn how to work for him. You should study to do your work well. It is the duty of every one so to labor that those who come into the truth, will come in ready to work in harmony with us on all points.
A few have borne the responsibilities and burdens of the work; but the cause is increasing, and their arms cannot encircle it. The work is becoming so much extended that no one individual can carry it forward. As Elders Haskell and Whitney have labored in the missionary cause, and have tried to show others how to work, they have met with success, and have gained an experience which they should impart to others. If you have already been somewhat successful in this branch of the work, do not think that you have learned all that is worth knowing, but attend this Institute and learn all you can. There are points on which you may receive instruction. The plans may be different from yours; if so, try to follow them, and work in harmony. It cannot be expected that all minds will run in the same channel; but you can all work understandingly after the same plan.
The tract and missionary work is an important part of the third angel's message. Canvassers must go out into various parts of the country. The importance of this work is fully equal to that of the ministry. The living preacher and the silent messenger are both required for the accomplishment of the great work before us.
I see before me a number of youth. I hope you will individually feel the importance of laboring in the missionary cause. I love to see the young working for the Master; but it pains me to see young people professing our faith, waste their time and energies on outside adornments. How much better it would be for these persons to employ their time in the formation of beautiful characters, and in helping in the work of gathering souls into the fold of Christ. I would that you who are devoting your time to frivolity and needless display, could look over on the other shore and see the result of such a selfish, indifferent course.
All of us can be workers for the Master. Women might do much more in the missionary cause, if they would. There are many positions which they could fill acceptably. We should all learn to be self-denying and self-sacrificing; and as time is spent in preparing to present a pleasing outward appearance, so let us study to form such characters as shall rightly represent the religion of Christ before the world. As you go out to labor in the missionary work, your deportment and manner should be such as to please, and not to offend. You should labor in meekness, and with the fear of God before you. You should be Christian ladies and gentlemen; let your conversation and deportment be such as will recommend you to others.
There is missionary labor to be done in the distribution of tracts and papers, and in canvassing for our different publications. Let none of you think that you cannot engage in this work because it is taxing, and requires time and thought. If it requires time, give it cheerfully; and the blessing of God will rest upon you. There never was a time when more workers were needed than at the present. There are brethren and sisters throughout all our ranks who should discipline themselves to engage in this work; in all our churches something should be done to spread the truth. It is the duty of all to study the various points of our faith, that they may be prepared to give a reason for the hope that it is within them, with meekness and fear.
A great work is before us. There are souls to be saved; and we are responsible for the salvation of those around us. Let every one see how much he can do to get the light before others. You will meet with ridicule, but that need not hinder you. Show yourselves men and women in Christ Jesus. Show that you can bear reproach. Remember that your Master bore the same before you; and have courage to stand for the right. There is a rich reward for you by and by. The Master will say, " Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Who can understand the joy of the Lord? Who can comprehend it? It is the satisfaction of seeing souls saved through the virtue of his own blood.
He left the courts of Heaven, his royal throne, his majesty, his honor, his glory; he clothed his divinity with humanity, and for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man; and he walked among the children of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." For the joy that was set before him, he "endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." When we consider the infinite sacrifice that has been made by the Son of God, in dying for the sins of the world, and then think that here are men and women who do not consider they have anything to do, any sacrifice to make for the salvation of their fellow men, we can but cry to God to arouse us to a sense of our duty.
To the young who are obtaining an education at our College, we would say, Do not let your studies hinder you from attending these meetings, and learning what you can. You ought to make it your business while here to obtain an education in the things of God, as well as in the arts and sciences. To learn your duty to God and to your fellow men, should be your highest aim. I can see a broad field open before you. Take hold intelligently and understandingly, working with your whole soul, mind, and strength, and you will see the work go forward.
There has been with us a great lack of prayer. We ask of the Lord, but do not believe we shall receive the things for which we ask. We lack that faith which takes hold upon God. He wants us to come to him in our feebleness, with faith, knowing that he turns his compassionate eye upon us, and that his willing hand is stretched out over us. We should have implicit confidence in God. He has met with us, and manifested his power in our midst. We have received special tokens of his love; and we know that the Lord is ready to hear us, if we only put our trust in him. When we come to him as a child to a parent, he will withhold no good things from us. Jesus says if we love him and keep his commandments, he will pray the Father, and he will send the Comforter to bless us.
The old and young in our midst are falling beneath the power of death. Will they come up in the first resurrection? When I travel through the country, and see in the distance the white tombstones gleaming among the evergreens and ornamental trees, I am led to inquire, How many of the silent sleepers will awake in the morning of the first resurrection? How many have lived and died without hope for the future?
We want you to feel that God has a work for you to do, and that it is your duty to take hold of it earnestly and understandingly. We ask every one of you to engage in this missionary work, and do what you can for the salvation of souls. First, understand the truth yourself, and then you will desire to have others understand it. This is an important and solemn work; and we need to seek God in earnest prayer, that we may be prepared to perform our duty faithfully.
We should not only profess Christianity, but we should carry out its principles in our daily life; and if faithful, when Christ shall come he will place a crown of immortal glory upon our brows. I love him; he died for me; and I want to bring souls to Jesus. Let this be the feeling of every heart. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #15)
God leads his people on, step by step. He brings them into positions which are calculated to reveal the motives of the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advance step the heart is tested, and tried a little closer. If any find their hearts opposed to the straight work of God, it should convince them that they have a work to do in overcoming, or they will be finally rejected of the Lord.
This world is the place in which to prepare to appear in God's presence. Individuals will here show what power affects their hearts, and controls their actions. If it is the power of divine truth, it will lead them to good works, and make them noble hearted and generous, like their divine Lord. But, on the other hand, selfishness, covetousness, and pride will manifest themselves as the sure result of yielding to evil impulses.
All who become connected with the cause of God will have opportunity to know what is in their hearts. If they prize anything higher than the truth, their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus, and he is consequently shut out. If individuals, when tested, refuse to sacrifice their idols, and overcome selfishness, pride, and evil passions, it will be said of them as of Ephraim of old, They are joined to their idols, let them alone; and the Spirit of God will leave them with their sinful traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels.
Many who profess to be Christ's followers are unwilling to closely examine their own hearts, to see whether they have passed from death unto life. Some lean upon an old experience, seeming to think a mere profession of the truth will save them; but God's word reveals the terrible fact that all such are cherishing a false hope. It would be more pleasing to God if such professors of religion had never taken his name, since they are a continual stumblingblock to unbelievers, and evil angels exult over their crooked course. Such are a curse to the cause at home or abroad. They draw nigh to God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him. When those sins which God hates are subdued, then Jesus will come into their hearts, and they may commune with him; they may increase in divine strength day by day, and be able with holy triumph to say, "Blessed be God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The people of God should not imitate the fashions of the world. All who do this will gradually lose that peculiar, holy character which should distinguish them as God's people. In these last days some of the fashions are shameful and immodest. If God's professed people had not greatly departed from him, there would now be a marked difference between their dress and that of the world. We are living in a time when earth's inhabitants are growing more and more corrupt, and the line of distinction must be more plain between them and the Israel of God, or the curse which falls upon worldlings will fall on God's professed people.
The following scriptures furnish clear and unmistakable directions for those who would learn God's will: "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." 1 Tim. 2:9, 10. "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." 1 Pet. 3:3-5.
Young and old, God is now testing you. You are now deciding your own eternal destiny. Pride, fashion, empty conversation, and selfishness are evils which, if fostered, will increase, and choke the good seed sown in your hearts, till soon the word will be spoken concerning you, as was said of Eli's house, that your sins shall not be purged with sacrifices nor offerings forever. . Oh, that every lukewarm professor could realize what will be required of him, in order to pass the close and searching test of the Judgment. Dear readers, do not deceive yourselves concerning your condition. You cannot deceive God. Says the True Witness, "I know thy works."
The sin of this age is disregard of God's express commands. The power of influence in a wrong direction is very great. Yet there are those who recklessly place themselves in scenes of danger and peril, and expose themselves to temptations, out of which it would require a miracle of God to bring them unharmed and untainted. These are presumptuous acts, with which God is not pleased. Satan's temptation to the Saviour of the world to cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple, was firmly met and resisted. The archenemy quoted a promise of God as security, that Christ might with safety do this on the strength of the promise. Jesus met this temptation with Scripture: "It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." In the same way Satan urges men into places where God does not require them to go, presenting Scripture to justify his suggestions.
The precious promises of God are not given to strengthen man in a presumptuous course, or for him to rely upon when he rushes needlessly into danger. God requires us to move with a humble dependence upon his providence. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Nothing can be done prosperously without the permission and blessing of God. He can set his hand to prosper and bless, or he can turn his hand against us. "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass." We are required, as children of God, to maintain the consistency of our Christian character. We should exercise prudence, caution, and humility, and walk circumspectly toward them that are without. Yet we are not in any case to surrender principle.
Our only safety is in giving no place to the devil; for his suggestions and purposes are ever to injure us, and hinder us from relying upon God. He transforms himself into an angel of purity, that he may, through his specious temptations, introduce his devices in such a manner that we may not discern his wiles. The more we yield, the more powerful will be his deceptions over us. It is unsafe to controvert or to parley with him. For every advantage we give the enemy, he will claim more. Our only safety is to reject firmly the first insinuation to presumption. God has given us grace through the merits of Christ sufficient to withstand Satan, and be more than conquerors. Resistance is success. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Resistance must be firm and steadfast. We lose all we gain if we resist today only to yield tomorrow. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #16)
When difficulties arise in the church, special study should be given to the word of God, with earnest prayer to learn what course Christ would pursue to settle the matter. It is a common practice for church members to discuss the faults of the erring among themselves, while the one at fault is not visited, and no special effort is made to redeem him; and frequently he is treated with a coldness and neglect which has an influence to push him farther from light, and more fully upon the battlefield of the enemy, where it is far more difficult to recover him from the snare into which he is fallen.
Our Redeemer understood the perversity of human nature; and in order to save the souls for whom he sacrificed his life, and establish his church in unity and prosperity upon the earth, he has given explicit rules for church members to follow in dealing, with one another. Hear what he says: "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican."
Although it is no pleasant task to go to the one supposed to be in error, and tell him his fault between you and him alone, it is the very work Christ has given us to do to save the erring and preserve the harmony of the church. It is much more gratifying to human nature to tell our suspicions to our brethren, and make comments behind the back of the erring one, than to go to him frankly and say the same things we would say were he not present.
The church needs faithful, heroic men, who will dare to be right and true, and who will follow the Bible to the letter, refusing to basely submit to the forms and practices of this corrupt age. Such men, when they are fully known, will have great influence in the church, and their daily lives will be a confession of Christ before the world.
If we receive the eternal reward, many things for which self pleads will have to be yielded, and much will have to be endured for the sake of Christ and his gospel. Everything in social life must be held subordinate to the claims of religion. All who do this will be fruitful in God; and in time of extreme need, when there is help for them only in God, Jesus will stand up for those who have stood up for him. He will help them when they need help; and the light and strength which they receive from him, they will impart to others. Such men will have a molding influence in their families, in the church, and on the world. It is not always easy and convenient to do right. Satan's path is the broadest and the most deceptive. It is made to appear the most attractive, while it is hard, mystifying, and full of disappointment. The path of holiness is narrow, full of self-denial and continual sacrifice; and yet in this laborious, uphill path is happiness, comfort, and hope. In the midst of conflicts, rebuffs, and trials, the most elevated consolation is enjoyed by those who walk in the path of obedience.
We should deal with the erring as Christ has dealt with us. He pities our weaknesses, and so we should pity the erring. He made every sacrifice to save man; we should not hesitate at any self-denial or sacrifice to save our fellow men. Our duty is plain. If our brother trespass against us, even though he has no immediate connection with us, it is our duty to go to him alone, not with censure and bitterness, but with sorrow expressed in our words. The voice should be modulated to reach his heart, and not to arouse a spirit of combativeness. We should come as close to the erring as possible, and with a spirit of forbearance, calmness, and love for their souls, patiently tell them their faults; and, with a softened heart, bow down and pray with and for them. In nine cases out of ten, these efforts will be successful. If the erring one yields to advice and counsel, and humiliates his soul before God by humble repentance and confession, that disagreeable matter is ended, a soul saved, and the church no longer grieved and tortured.
But if the erring will not yield to the entreaties and faithful efforts of his brother, then his course is clear to take one or two more of the church and visit the one at fault. These should act with patience and tenderness; and in the spirit of Christ, having their own hearts imbued with his love, with words of kindness, try to correct and save the erring; making humble supplications to God to touch and subdue the heart of the one who has erred, and is under the power and darkness of Satan. But should all these efforts prove ineffectual, and the erring persistently remain independent and incorrigible, the third step should then be taken. Bring the matter before the church. The action taken by this body in the fear of God, after these rules have been followed to the letter, is recognized in Heaven.
If members of the church were all doers of the word of Christ as well as hearers, freedom and prosperity would be the result. How much sorrow might be saved families and churches, if all, in sincerity and truth, practiced the lessons given us by Jesus, our Redeemer. Religion is not mere doctrine and dry theory. It regulates the life as well as the faith. The Bible, on one page, tells us what the doctrine of Christ is, while on another page, it specifies our duty toward God and our brethren. Piety and devotion are united. The injunction of the world's Redeemer is, "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
One great reason why our brethren and sisters have no more confidence toward God in prayer, is, that nearly all neglect to follow the words of Jesus in preserving harmony between brethren. They allow various wrongs to exist with members of the church, which create bitter envy and strife; and while these differences exist, God neither hears nor answers their prayers, and darkness comes over the mind, because they have neglected the duty so plainly pointed out by our Redeemer. There is a great want of Bible simplicity and genuine love for one another. Love and exaltation of self prevent that humility of mind which should characterize the life of every member of the church. Unless those who come together in church capacity shall observe the rules of Christ which are given them in his word, and which are so simple and reasonable that all may understand, regulating their conduct toward one another by them, there can be no such thing as spiritual strength, harmony, or prosperity in the church; but disaster and ruin will be the result.
It is necessary that each member of the church upon earth should cultivate those traits of character which will be the very attributes called into exercise to preserve harmony and happiness in the church above. Love is a plant of heavenly growth, and it must be cultivated by exercise. Supreme love to God and our neighbor is not cherished and does not abound more and more in the church. If there is one who has done wrong, that one is in darkness, and under the control of the destroyer of souls. While in this condition, he cannot clearly discern his own sinfulness, and will frequently make himself believe that he is right, and that his brethren are not kind, but trying to injure him. For the time being, reason seems to be dethroned; and he is a prey to ungovernable feelings, and seems hurried on to take a course which shall place him at the greatest possible distance from the church. Wisdom is needed to save that soul from ruining himself and others. Jesus understood all about the peril of these souls, and therefore gave rules which would prove a success if they were obeyed. Any departure from the Bible plan may place that soul fully on the enemy's ground, where it is not possible for him to be reached.
If the wrongs of the erring one are talked by one member of the church to another, or if his wrongs are opened to the church, thus taking the third step without the two former, the one in error feels justified in considering himself injured, and this makes it much more difficult to get access to him, and impress his mind. He places himself beyond the reach of help, and is lost to the church. Christ knew the worth of souls as man never can. He has paid the price of his own life for their redemption, and Satan is constantly at work with every device, to wrench souls from the hand of Jesus Christ, and place them in his ranks. Church members, in not following the rules Christ has given them, aid Satan in the accomplishment of his work, when, had they been doers of the words of Christ, and not hearers only, they might have been wholly successful in taking the steps Christ has given in the settlement of difficulties.
Frequently individual members are suspected of wrong where no wrong actually exists. True Christian love cherished in the heart and exemplified in the life, would teach us to put the best possible construction upon the course of our brethren. We should be as jealous of their reputation as of our own. If we are forever suspecting evil, this very fact will so shape their course of action as to produce the very evil which we have allowed ourselves to suspect. In this way, a great many difficulties are manufactured that otherwise would never have had birth, and brethren are often wronged by our being suspicious, free to judge their motives, and express our opinion to others in regard to their actions. That which one may be ready to construe into grave wrongs, may be no more than we ourselves are chargeable with every day.
While our tempers are tried and feelings chafed, there is great temptation to speak of the supposed wrongs of some one of our brethren, and frequently a thrust is made at him in public meeting. Thus it becomes a grave matter, is made church property, and church action is called for, when, if the grieved had gone to his brother alone, and, in the spirit of the Master, talked over the matter with him, they would have come to an understanding at once, and the church would never have been troubled and burdened with the difficulty.
In this world we shall never be free from the assaults of the enemy. "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord." Satan did not hesitate to assail the world's Redeemer. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Again we read that he suffered, being tempted. The conflict was at times so severe that the soul of the Son of God was wrung with anguish. Temptation is not sin, nor any indication that our Heavenly Father is displeased with us. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #23)
A living church will be a working church. Practical Christianity will develop earnest workers for the advancement of the cause of truth. There is a great lack of this practical religion among us as a people. Worldliness and pride, love of dress and display, are steadily increasing among those who profess to be keeping God's commandments, and to be waiting for their Lord.
The great sin of ancient Israel was in turning from God to idols. This is also the great sin of modern Israel. The apostle Paul said to the Gentile churches that he had raised up, "Ye turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from Heaven." He could truly say to many of them, "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." When he saw them becoming indifferent, the ardor of their faith chilled by backslidings, he exclaimed, "I am jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." He entreats them to be followers of God as dear children, and to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Again, he exhorts them to walk in Christ Jesus, even as they had received him, that they might be rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith. He reminds them, "Ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory." To the Thessalonians he writes, "We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us [the ministers of Christ] how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more."
We long to see the true Christian character manifested in the church; we long to see its members free from a light, irreverent spirit; and we earnestly desire that they may realize their high calling in Christ Jesus. Some who profess Christ are exerting themselves to the utmost to so live and act that their religious faith may commend itself to people of moral worth, that they may be induced to accept the truth. But there are many who feel no responsibility, even to keep their own souls in the love of God, and who, instead of blessing others by their influence, are a burden to those who would work and watch and pray. These careless, indifferent ones are a dead weight upon our churches everywhere. Their principal study is not how they can let their light so shine that others will be drawn to God and the truth, but how they will manage, by affectation and display, to attract attention to themselves. Those who are seeking in humbleness of mind to exalt the truth of Christ by their exemplary course, are represented in the word of God as fine gold; while the class whose chief thought and study is to exhibit themselves, are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
The latter class are far more numerous in our churches than the former. These idle, frivolous persons will never be anything better than driftwood unless there is a decided change in their life and character. They are Christians only in profession; their life, their deportment, is a constant testimony to the world that they know nothing of experimental godliness, of a self-denying life of cross-bearing for Christ's sake. They are ever studying their convenience, ever planning for their own comfort, their amusement or gratification. They are as salt without the savor. In the day when the Judge of all the earth shall balance the accounts of men, this class will be pronounced wanting.
What the church needs is to be cleansed of those who defile it. The spirit of reformation must be kindled among us, and this class must be converted or be separated from the church. We entreat those who have a connection with God to pray earnestly and in faith, and not to stop here, but to work as well as pray, for the purification of the church. The present time calls for men and women who have a moral fixedness of purpose, men and women who will not be molded or subdued by any unsanctified influences. Such persons will make a success in the work of perfecting Christian character through the grace of Christ so freely given. For those who are ready to be discouraged at every unfavorable circumstance, the great enemy of souls will so shape circumstances as to give them abundant reason to be always discouraged.
Oh that I could speak in language so plain and convincing as to move souls from their position of careless ease and worldly conformity! A genuine experience alone will qualify us to join the throng who come up out of great tribulation, having washed our robes of character, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. I am alarmed because of the indifference and inactivity of those who profess the truth. Satan is untiring in his efforts; he is on the alert continually, to delude and ensnare. How are the watchmen on the walls of Zion doing their work? Are they watching for souls as they that must give account? Are they awake? Are they in earnest? and do they show that they are in full faith of the doctrines they hold?
No man can succeed in the service of God unless his whole soul is in the work, and he counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Whoever makes any reserve, whoever refuses to give all that he has, cannot be the disciple of Christ; much less can he be his co-laborer. The consecration must be complete. Father, mother, wife and children, houses and lands, everything which the servant of Christ possesses, must be held subject to God's call,--bound upon the sacred altar. He must be earnest, he must be willing to deny self and lift the cross, to do and suffer cheerfully and with fortitude whatever may be required of him to push forward the great work of reform. The glory of God and the salvation of souls will be his grand aim and purpose of life. He will not go here and there to please himself; but, when duty calls, he will be found, if need be, in the thickest of the fight, and will suffer without reluctance, without repining, irrespective of worldly interest or personal consequences. All this we pledge ourselves to do when we accept the name of Christian, and more especially when we consent to take upon ourselves the work of Christ's embassadors.
I think of the many cities and towns, even in our own country, that have never heard a discourse upon present truth, and have no knowledge of our faith, or of us as a people. The solemn warnings for this time have never fallen upon their ears or convicted their consciences. My burdened heart goes up to God in the wakeful hours of the night that he would work by whom he will, to warn the world of their coming doom. Who are living out their faith? Who, with singleness of purpose, are lifting up to the view of the impenitent, Jesus Christ and his matchless love? Where is the living zeal that will make the impression upon minds paralyzed with sin, that we believe what we profess, that the end of all things is at hand, and that what is done in the work of preparation must be done quickly?
The people of God should awaken to a keen perception of the grievous character of transgression. Sin is disguised, and many are deceived in regard to its nature. Satan has planned it thus, that the understanding may be clouded, the spiritual vision obscured, the perceptive faculties of the soul blunted. But God would not have one of us to be ensnared, therefore the nature of sin is faithfully portrayed in the inspired pages,--its offensive character before God, its corruption, its shame, and its results. Everything has been done that God could do to save man from the power of sin, which defaces the divine image, frustrates God's purpose in man's existence, degrades his God given powers, narrows his capacity, leads to unholy imaginations, and gives loose rein to unsanctified passions. Sin! how hateful in the sight of God! Holy angels look upon it with abhorrence.
What is sin? The transgression of God's law. God wants all connected with him to loathe sin, to hate anything that approaches to it. Transgression is a serpent with a deadly sting. Grant it no indulgence, for it will imperil the soul. Rather choose privation, suffering, hunger, reproach, imprisonment, and death, than the indulgence of sin.
Will the professed followers of Christ cleanse the soul temple of its defilement? Will those who profess to be his representatives sacrifice anything and everything rather than offend God? A deep-settled conviction is needed in every soul to strengthen the abhorrence of sin. Meditation should be encouraged. We should view ourselves as ever in the presence of God, whose eye searches the soul and reads the most secret thoughts. Since we know this to be true, why is there such a careless disregard of God's claims? Why such thoughtlessness in regard to the solemn realities of life?
I call upon you, my dear brethren and sisters, to cultivate spirituality, to put away your idols, and in the fear of God, to work for time and for eternity. Again and again have our sisters been warned against indulging pride of dress, which is idolatry; yet they pass on, making no change, and their example is leading others away from Christ, instead of leading to him. Why is it so hard to arouse the conscience upon this subject, when the inspired apostle has spoken so explicitly upon this point? Will my sisters dress plainly for Christ's sake? for the love of souls for whom he died? Will they remember that they must meet their life record at the bar of God, and must answer for the money and the time squandered in needless adornment?
Those who seek by earnest study of God's word and fervent prayer the guidance of his Spirit, will be led by him. The pillar of cloud will guide them by day, the pillar of fire by night; and with an abiding sense of God's presence it will not be possible to disregard his holy law. The reason why there is so much transgression is that little time is devoted to meditation and prayer. Dress and display and sinful gratification put God out of the thoughts, and sin does not appear exceeding sinful. Satan's angels are at hand to gloss it over with a semblance of righteousness. If the light from the burning glory of the throne of God should shine forth upon the sinful practices of professors of religion, how terrible would sin appear, how perilous would seem its indulgence. Oh, how soon the desire for sinful gratifications would perish in the withering light of the glory from the Divine Presence!
We are in great danger of looking upon sin as a small matter, unworthy of notice. Sins of unkindness, of impatience, of faultfinding, of unthankfulness, of pride in imitating the fashions of a doomed world, should not be lightly regarded. The channels of thought and action are worn deep and broad by repetition. The longer one pursues a given course of conduct, the greater is the probability that he will continue the same course during life. Evil habits are like chains. to hold one to a wrong course. Then how earnestly should we begin the work of reformation.
Let the habits be formed in a safe line of conduct. And for the very reason that religious habits are not so easily established as are those of an opposite character, the more earnest efforts should be put forth to form habits of devotion, of studying the Scriptures, of strict integrity. This will require deliberate purpose, and persistent effort; for the natural heart is opposed to such an education. These habits must be acquired by performing Christian duties with faithfulness and regularity. Make it a habit to attend the prayer meeting, to be willing and earnest in doing good to others. Let it become a habit to engage in profitable conversation, instead of indulging in idle talk upon temporal concerns, upon dress, or upon the faults of others. "Our conversation is in Heaven," says the apostle, "from whence also we look for the Saviour." God has given us our talents, and requires that they be used to glorify him and not ourselves.
What grief to the Saviour who bought us with his own blood, that multitudes who profess his name have formed habits which bring them directly under the control of the Prince of darkness! These habits are formed gradually, and almost imperceptibly. Little duties have been neglected. The professed followers of Christ have shunned his cross. Worldly influences have corrupted their purity of soul. They feel no burden for those who are out of Christ, but leave them to go down to death unrebuked and unwarned. Selfish indulgence has hardened the heart and weakened the moral faculties. The Christian course of this class is uncertain. They are looked upon as the representatives of Christ; but they have no living experience, and they are constantly doubting the Saviour's love. They have a spasmodic religion, and walk in the light of others. They have not a strong, firm, earnest hope of Heaven. Their faith is so feeble that they cannot claim and urge the promises of God. Trials crush them, and make them disconsolate and despairing.
I lift my warning voice against such a life, and beseech my brethren and sisters to diligently search their own hearts, and see if they have a living faith, which works, yes, works by love, and purifies the soul. May God impress our ministers to teach the young converts by precept and example, that they must start right on the Christian course, and continue right, if they would end right. True conversion of soul is essential; theoretical religion will not take the place of heart work. We all need to connect more closely with God, and then we may teach others the art of believing. The true, humble, earnest Christian will be receiving the mold of a perfect character, and his heart will ever be conforming to the image of Christ. His life will flow out in channels of beneficence and love. Such will be established in God. The work which grace began, if combined with earnest effort to press close to Jesus, glory shall finish in the kingdom of God.
How can I impress upon our dear people, whom God has made the depositaries of his law, a sense of how much is at stake with them. If they sin in words or deportment, they bring dishonor upon the cause they profess to love, and by their example many will be encouraged to turn away from the mirror which discovers the defects of their moral character. What an account will the professed followers of Christ have to render in the day when the Lord will make inquiry for the souls lost in consequence of their unrighteous course. Let us, as the peculiar people of God, elevate the standard of Christian character, lest we come short of the reward that will be given to the good and the faithful. Our probation will soon be ended. We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It is those who hold fast the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, that will receive the crown of immortal glory. Those who make so exalted a profession of truth must answer for the intrusted capital. Simplicity, purity, forbearance, benevolence, and love should characterize our Christian experience. We must labor continually, by study of the Scriptures and earnest prayer, to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
Jesus has gone to prepare mansions for those who are waiting and watching for his appearing. There they will meet the pure angels and the redeemed host, and will join their songs of praise and triumph. There the Saviour's love surrounds his people, and the city of God is irradiated with the light of his countenance,--a city whose walls, great and high, are garnished with all manner of precious stones, whose gates are pearls, and whose streets are pure gold, as it were transparent glass. "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." The shadows of night never fall on that city; it has no need of the sun, neither of the moon; its inhabitants rejoice in the undimmed glory of the Lamb of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #24)
After the resurrection of Christ, before he ascended to Heaven, he gave to his disciples, and through them to all who should believe on his name to the end of time, this commission: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." God has claims upon the service of all,--men and women, youth and children; and the earlier they are led out of and away from themselves, and taught to engage in unselfish labor for others, the nearer will they come to fulfilling this holy commission. There is work for every one of us to do; not one is excused. Many select a course of life for themselves, without thought or reference to the glory of God; and yet they profess to be his servants, following his directions, when they are, in fact, only serving themselves.
Some are ever ready to make excuses for not giving more attention to matters pertaining to the cause of God. In the parable of the marriage supper, Christ mentions a class who, with one consent, began to make excuses. One had bought a piece of land, and must needs go and see it; another had purchased a yoke of oxen, and must prove them; another had married a wife, and therefore he could not accept the invitation. This parable illustrates the frivolous and vain excuses which are made by those who, if they would, might come to the marriage supper of the Lamb; and it also conveys a reproof to those who might be workers in the vineyard of the Lord, but who will not, because their temporal affairs are placed above things of eternal interest.
Christ left his exalted position as commander of all Heaven, and came to this world as man's Redeemer. While here he was not treated as a sovereign, or even as a benefactor. His life was a scene of continual self-denial and sacrifice for the good of others. Said he, "I came down from Heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me." All was laid upon the altar. How can we better show our appreciation of the great sacrifice made by the Lamb of God than by following his example, and carrying forward the work which he commenced. All who remain inactive when there is so much to be done, will at last be found guilty before God. In the words of the poet,--"Do something--do it soon--with all thy might; An angel's wing would droop if long at rest, And God himself, inactive, were no longer blest."
Those who profess to believe the truth, but feel no burden for the souls of others, will be continually backsliding, and it will require time and strength on the part of the minister to keep them from making shipwreck of faith, when they should be laboring with all their might to present the way of life and salvation to their friends and neighbors. Hundreds of men and women who at the present time are professedly engaged in the work of God, are not doing one-tenth that they might do if they would only improve all the powers God has given them. Some are doing literally nothing for the truth, and by their example of indifference are bringing others into the same position of uselessness, and thus are scattering from Christ. This latter class includes by far the greater number. They are thinking and planning only for themselves. Fathers and mothers with their little ones around them make their little circle their world. Every power of their being is centered on "me and mine," and they are becoming narrower and more circumscribed every year of their lives. They do not open their hearts to the grace and love of Christ, and liberalize their nature and ennoble their being by placing themselves in sympathy with their fellow men.
Many who are now left to darkness and ruin could have been helped, had their brethren--common men and women--come to them with the love of Christ glowing in their hearts, and put forth personal efforts for them. Many are waiting to be thus personally addressed. Humble, earnest conversation with such persons, and prayer for them, heart being brought close to heart, would in most cases be wholly successful. But instead of this, those who profess to be following their Saviour rest content with expressing a desire that some brother or minister may come and help them. Thus they neglect the very work that God has left for them to do. Just the way in which this work is to be done in every case cannot be rigidly prescribed, but as they come in closer connection with the world's Redeemer, ways and means will be suggested to their minds.
The true Christian is bent on doing good, not only to his own family, but to all who come within the sphere of his influence. Many ways of usefulness will open before the willing, aspiring, devoted soul, who wants to labor for the salvation of others, thus improving the only means God has provided whereby Christians can grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. The more such persons do, the more they will see to do, and the more earnest will they be to have a part in every good work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of Christ. It will be their meat and drink to benefit their fellow men and glorify God.
Let this question come home to every heart, "How much owest thou unto my Lord?" Jesus, the Master, became poor that we might have eternal riches; he died that we might have life, immortal life. Should we not be willing to follow his example, and do for others as nearly as possible as he has done for us? In so doing, our own character will be disciplined and improved, our faith will grow stronger, our zeal will become more steady and earnest, our love for God and the truth and the souls for whom Christ died will become intensified, and precious souls will be saved as the result of our labors. What greater and more ennobling work can be engaged in, than seeking to attract souls to Christ. This has been successfully done time and again by ordinary men and women, not by the most learned, eloquent or wealthy, but by the true and faithful who do their work in simplicity. One soul thus reached may, in turn, bring an army into the service of Christ. But every worker must depend wholly and constantly upon Jesus Christ for wisdom and strength.
As I travel from Maine to Washington Territory, and see the many cities and towns which have never heard the warning message, my heart is burdened. We must devise more thorough and extensive plans in order to obey the divine commission and reach every creature. Our own family, village, or neighborhood is not all the world. If every member of the church would work in any branch suited to his capability, much more might be done than is now being done to obey the command of the Master. "But," says one, "I do not know of anything I can do in the work of God. I am willing to work, but what can I do?" To such we would say, Go to God; he will teach you. He who prays successfully will labor tirelessly for the salvation of souls. There are many things that persons may do if they only have a mind to work. There are many who will not go to church to hear the truth preached. By personal efforts in simplicity and wisdom these might be persuaded to turn their feet to the house of God.
Conviction may fasten upon their minds the first time they hear a discourse upon present truth. Should your solicitations be refused, do not be discouraged. Persevere till success crowns your efforts.
Our sisters are doing comparatively nothing, when they might do very much. Christ is searching the life and character for fruit, and he finds many professed Christians, like the fruitless fig tree, bearing nothing but leaves. The sisters can work efficiently in obtaining subscribers for our periodicals, in this way bringing the light before many minds. The distribution of tracts, and the work of Christian canvassers and colporteurs, can be done as well by our sisters as by our brethren. Satan is busy in this department of his work, scattering literature which is debasing the morals and poisoning the minds of the young. Infidel publications are scattered broadcast throughout the land. Why should not every member of the church be as deeply interested in sending forth publications that will elevate the minds of the people, and bring the truth directly before them? These papers and tracts are for the light of the world, and have often been instrumental in converting souls. Our publications are now sowing the gospel seed, and are instrumental in bringing as many souls to Christ as the preached word. Whole churches have been raised up as the result of their circulation. In this work every disciple of Christ can act a part. Let the leaflets and tracts, the papers and books, go in every direction. Carry with you, wherever you go, a package of select tracts, which you can hand out as you have opportunity. Sell what you can, and lend or give them away as the case may seem to require. Important results will follow.
Another work in which all may engage is gathering children and youth into the Sabbath school. The young may in this way labor efficiently for the dear Saviour. They may shape the destinies of souls. They may do a work for the church and the world the extent and greatness of which will never be known until the day of final accounts, when the "Well done" is spoken to the good and faithful.
Sisters, do not become weary of vigilant missionary labor. This is a work you may all engage in successfully, if you will but connect with God. Before writing letters of inquiry, always lift up your heart to God in prayer that you may be successful in gathering some wild branches which may be grafted into the true vine, and bear fruit to the glory of God. All who with humble hearts take part in this work, will be continually educating themselves as workers in the vineyard of the Lord.
Our ministers should not give all their powers to preaching discourses, and let the work end there. They should instruct the members of the church how to take hold of and successfully carry forward this branch of the work, which is to our tract and missionary society like a wheel within a wheel. The movement of this inner wheel keeps in healthful, powerful action the outer wheel. Let this inner wheel cease its action, and the result will be seen in diminished life and activity in the tract and missionary society.
It is a mystery to me how any can be indifferent and careless in reference to the souls of their fellow men in these last days. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," says the commandment. Can we do this, and have no special interest in their salvation? There is work to be done for those who know not the truth, just such work as was done for you when you were in darkness. It is too late to sleep, too late to become indolent do-nothings. To every one the Householder has given a work. Let us go forward, and not backward. We want a new conversion daily. We want the love of Jesus throbbing in our hearts, that we may be instrumental in saving many souls.
No one who loves Jesus can long retain the divine favor, if he feels no burden for sinners around him. If coldness and indifference have crept over your spiritual senses, and your interest for those who are perishing in their sins is decreasing, it is time you were converted. Your best course will be to engage at once in personal efforts to save others. In blessing them, you will yourself be blessed. No matter how heavy the crosses you must bear to do this, the blood and agonies of the Son of God appeal to you to work on, to sow beside all waters. The rich promises of the word of God are for the workers, the good and faithful. "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him." "He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal."
The Christian has an inexhaustible supply of strength from which to draw, if he will only take God at his word, and with living faith claim the blessings he so much needs. Few have so closely studied the Bible, and contemplated the great work involved in the plan of salvation, that they can comprehend their responsibility to their fellow men. Those who profess Christ and yet indulge in sloth and indolence know not how many will be lost through their failure to conform to the principles laid down in the word of God. And they know not how many they might have been the means of bringing under the bloodstained banner of Christ, if they had only taken up their cross and followed him wherever he might lead. It is to those, and those only, who are engaged in carrying forward the commission of our Saviour, that the blessed "Well done" will be spoken, and upon whose brows crowns of immortal glory will be placed. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 55, #25)
While on our way from Michigan to California a few months since, we had occasion to stop over one night in Council Bluffs. Thinking to improve this opportunity to visit a friend residing in the place, we took the streetcar for her house, only to find that she was out of town and probably would not return for several days. Retracting our steps, we took lodging in the nearest hotel, and in the morning, after breakfasting from our well-filled lunch basket provided by our friends at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, we took the transfer car across the Mississippi to Omaha. Here we were obliged to wait several hours in the depot, where we had a favorable opportunity to study human nature.
Among the many who were continually thronging this way and that, there was one lady who particularly attracted our attention. She was apparently about forty years of age, and was surrounded by a flock of children all the way from four to twenty-four years old. One of the boys, of about ten summers, caused her a great amount of trouble. Curiosity and willfulness seemed to be more fully developed in him than in the rest of the little ones, who sat demurely perched upon the seats, with their arms folded and their feet dangling, while he, keeping close watch of his mother's eyes, would, when they were turned, improve every opportunity to dodge out of the door and watch the engines as they were moving back and forth. His mother, fearing he might get hurt, and becoming vexed at his repeated disobedience, at last went out after him, and soon returned dragging him in with her. She scolded, and he resisted at every step. They finally reached the seat, into which she pushed him with such violence as to bring his head with considerable force against the seat, really hurting the lad.
Then came screech after screech, equaled only by the loud blasts of the engines without. The mother threatened, but to no purpose. He was desperate. When he became too tired to scream longer, he lowered his voice to a monotonous, long drawn out wail, which continued for something like half an hour. The mother looked troubled; but who was most at fault? The boy was stubborn; she was passionate.
We afterward had some conversation with the mother. She stated that the boy refused to come in when called, and threw himself at full length upon the platform to provoke her. Then she brought him in by main force, and, said she, "Oh, if I only had him alone in some place, I would pay him well for this behavior!" "But," said I, "that would not change his inward feelings. Violence would only raise his combativeness, and make him still worse. The more calm a mother can keep at such times, however provoking the conduct of her children, the better will she maintain her influence and dignity as a mother, and the easier will they be controlled." She admitted that it might be so.
I then inquired how many children she had. She replied, "Eleven," and, pointing to two bright looking little girls, said, "These are my youngest; one is four, the other six. My eldest are grown-up boys. We are now on our way from Iowa City to Nebraska, where there is plenty of land, and work for the children." Not a bad idea, certainly, to give those sharp, active boys employment. There is nothing so good to keep boys from being ruined by the temptations and allurements of evil as plenty of work.
In this little incident we have a good illustration of the kind of management quite commonly adopted by mothers, although so public a demonstration of it is seldom seen. Had this mother oiled the machinery with patience and self-command, as every mother should, she would not have aroused the combative spirit of her children. But all she seemed to know of government was to threaten and intimidate, to reprove and scold. Her younger children seemed afraid to stir, others looked hard and defiant, while the older ones appeared ashamed and distressed at the exhibition they were making.
The mother had not learned the all-important lesson of self-control. "He that is slow to anger," says the Wise Man, "is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city." The man or woman who preserves the balance of the mind when tempted to indulge passion, stands higher in the sight of God and heavenly angels than the most renowned general that ever led an army to battle and to victory. Said a celebrated emperor when on his dying bed, "Among all my conquests, there is but one which affords me any consolation now, and that is the conquest I have gained over my own turbulent temper." Alexander and Caesar found it easier to subdue a world than to subdue themselves. After conquering nation after nation they fell--one of them "the victim of intemperance, the other of mad ambition."
Had this mother realized her responsibility, she never would have pursued the course she did. Her burdens were necessarily heavy, but how much heavier was she making them by her lack of self-control. Every harsh word, every passionate blow, would sometime be reflected upon herself. If she had been ever kind, patient, and calm in her discipline, it would have been seen in the deportment of her children. How much she needed the Christian graces and the help of Jesus to mold their minds and fashion their characters. Such mothers will gain no souls to the fold of Christ. They train, they rule, they ruin, but do not bless and save.
Having purchased our sleeping car tickets for Ogden, we soon found ourselves and numerous baskets and satchels well disposed of in an elegant palace sleeping car. There were only seventeen passengers in our car,--no babies, no invalids, no one to cry, "Please close the ventilators." "Will you be so kind as to shut down that window?" We were at perfect liberty to open and close windows as best suited our convenience.
While crossing the plains there was nothing in the scenery to especially engage our attention but the prairie fires. These looked grand and awful in the distance. As the train moved slowly onward, we could see the lurid flames stretching like walls of fire for miles across the prairies; and, as the wind would rise, the flames would leap higher and higher, brightening the darkness of night with their awful light. Farther on we could see where deep furrows had been broken with the plow around haystacks and settlers' homes to protect them; and we could see also dark objects in the distance. They were persons guarding their homes.
Thursday noon we reached Cheyenne, having been three days on our journey. After leaving this place we had an interesting view of the Rocky Mountains. But suddenly dark clouds obstruct our view, and as we near Laramie, a hailstorm dashes down upon us. Occasionally the sunshine would break through the clouds, striking full upon the snow clad mountaintops, and causing them to sparkle like diamond beds. An additional engine is hitched on to help draw the train up to Sherman, the highest point on the route. The distance between Cheyenne and Sherman is about thirty-three miles, and the difference in altitude is more than two thousand feet. The train moves slowly and smoothly along, giving the passengers a good opportunity to view the scenery.
At length the summit is reached, and the descent begins. Two miles west of Sherman we pass Dale Creek Bridge, one of the most interesting places on the route. It looks frail, and incapable of sustaining the weight of so ponderous a train; but it is built of iron, and is really very substantial. It is six hundred and fifty feet long, and one hundred and thirty feet high. A beautiful, silvery stream winds its way in the depths below, and as we look down upon the dwellings they seem in the distance like mere pigeon houses.
At Ogden we receive additional passengers. A tall, dignified gentleman enters, accompanied by his wife and little daughter. We learned that he was an active temperance worker, and had for some time been delivering lectures on that subject in the great Mormon Temple at Salt Lake City. Noticing that our party were all busily engaged in writing most of the time, and having some curiosity to know who we were and what we were doing, he made himself known to us toward evening. He stated that he had traveled extensively in the East, and had established several institutions in which to treat inebriates, and that he was now visiting California to establish a similar institution, having already obtained pledges for that purpose to the amount of several thousand dollars.
This celebrated temperance lecturer, we are sorry to say, was an inveterate tobacco user. Oh, what ideas of temperance! Would that he might see the utter inconsistency of his position in trying to reform inebriates while himself indulging in a habit which every year leads hundreds to a drunkard's grave! Could he but reform in this respect, we are sure that his influence for good in the world would be increased a hundredfold.
Near us sits the far famed Stokes, a pleasant appearing, middle-aged man, but whose hair is as white as a person's usually is at a much more advanced age. Having retreated to the mountains, he is now actively engaged in mining operations, and was on his way to Sacramento on business.
Moving slowly over the great American Desert, with not an object in view but the sage brush and distant mountaintops, we seem much like a ship at sea. Finally our faithful iron horse, steaming along so grandly, and seeming like a thing of life, begins to ascend the Sierra Nevadas. The scenery is beautiful. Passing Truckee in our descent on the opposite side, we enter snowsheds. From light to darkness and from darkness to light is the only change for miles. Most of our last night on the train was spent in viewing the scenery. A winter view of the Sierra Nevadas is indeed grand. Pen cannot describe it, as the soft light of the moon sifted down through the grand, frosted evergreens, revealing the deep canyons below and the lofty mountain peaks above. We chose to enjoy this rather than to spend the time in sleeping.
We arrived at Oakland several hours before we had expected, and rejoiced that we had completed our journey without accident, and with hardly a feeling of weariness. People making this trip across the plains usually patronize the eating houses along the line, and partake of three hearty meals per day, besides an almost endless variety of nuts and candies, cigars and liquors, between times. But we preferred to limit ourself to only one meal per day, that we might have a better opportunity to rest, and thus be prepared to enter upon arduous labor as soon as we reached our destination. For seventeen years we have eaten only two meals a day while engaged in almost incessant labor.
At that time the light of health reform dawned upon us, and since that time the questions have come home every day, "Am I practicing true temperance in all things?" "Is my diet such as will bring me in a position where I can accomplish the greatest amount of good?" If we cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, we stand condemned before God, for he will hold us all responsible for the light which has shone upon our path. The time of ignorance God winked at, but as fast as light shines upon us he requires us to change our health destroying habits, and place ourselves in a right relation to physical law.
We have crossed the plains fifteen times, and we would recommend to those contemplating such a journey strict temperance in all things. Take your lunch baskets with you, well filled with fruits and plainly cooked bread. Eat at regular hours, and nothing between meals; and whenever the train stops for any length of time improve the opportunity by taking a brisk walk in the open air. By so doing, the journey will not only be more enjoyable, but far more beneficial healthwise. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 56, #3)
In Christ's sermon on the mount he exhorts his followers not to be overanxious in regard to earthly things, and plainly says, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
These words are full of meaning. They were applicable in the days of Christ, and they are applicable in our day. Jesus here contrasts the natural simplicity of the flowers of the field with the artificial adorning of raiment. He declares that the glory of Solomon could not bear comparison with one of the flowers in natural loveliness. Here is a lesson for all who desire to know and do the will of God. If Jesus has noticed the devotion and care given to dress, and has cautioned us, yea, commanded us, not to bestow too much thought upon it, it is time we were thinking seriously of the matter ourselves. Solomon was so engrossed with thoughts of outward display, that he failed to elevate his mind by a constant connection with the God of wisdom. Perfection and beauty of character were overlooked in his attempt to obtain outward beauty. He sold his honor and integrity of character in seeking to glorify himself before the world, and finally became a despot, supporting his extravagance by a grinding taxation upon the people. He first became corrupt at heart, then he apostatized from God, and finally became a worshiper of idols.
As we see our sisters departing from simplicity in dress, and cultivating a love for the fashions of the world, we feel troubled. By taking steps in this direction, they are separating themselves from God and neglecting the inward adorning. Our sisters should not feel at liberty to spend their God given time in the unnecessary ornamentation of their clothing. How much better were it employed in searching the Scriptures, thus obtaining a thorough knowledge of the prophecies and of the practical lessons of Christ.
As Christians, we ought not to engage in any employment upon which we cannot conscientiously ask the blessing of the Lord. Do you, my sisters, in the needless work you put upon your garments, feel a clear conscience? Can you, while perplexing your mind over ruffles, and bows, and ribbons, be uplifting your soul to God in prayer that he will bless your efforts? The time spent in this way might be devoted to doing good to others, and to cultivating your own minds; and the means expended would be better used in helping some poor sisters to more comfortable and respectable clothing, so that the contrast between your dress and theirs would not be so marked. This would be an excellent way of showing that you love your neighbor as yourself.
There are many of our sisters who are persons of good ability, and if their talents were used to the glory of God, they would be successful in saving many souls to Jesus Christ. Will they not be responsible for the souls they might have saved had not extravagance in dress and the cares of this world so crippled and dwarfed their God given powers that they felt no burden of the work? Satan invented the fashions, in order to keep the minds of women so engrossed with the subject of dress that they could think of but little else.
The duties devolving upon mothers to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord cannot be discharged while they continue their present manner of dress. They have no time to pray or to search the Scriptures that they may understand the truth and teach it to their children. It is not only the privilege, but the duty, of every one to increase daily in the knowledge of God and the truth. But Satan's object is gained if he can invent anything which shall so attract the mind that this cannot be the case. The reason why so many are not desirous of attending prayer meeting and of engaging in religious exercises, is because their minds are devoted to other things. They are conforming to the world in the matter of dress; while they are so doing, souls whom they might have helped by letting their light shine in good works, are being strengthened in their unbelief by the inconsistent course of these professed Christians.
God would be pleased to see our sisters clad in neat, simple apparel, and earnestly engaged in the work of the Lord. They are not deficient in ability, but if they would put to a right use the talents they already have, their ability would be greatly increased. If they would devote one-half the time they now spend in needless work to searching the word of God and explaining it to others, their minds would be enriched with gems of truth, and they would be strengthened and ennobled by the effort made to understand the reasons of our faith. Were our sisters conscientious Bible Christians, seeking to improve every opportunity to enlighten others, we should see scores of souls embracing the truth through their self-sacrificing endeavors alone. Sisters, in the day when the accounts of all are balanced, will you feel a pleasure in reviewing your life, or will you feel that the beauty of the outward man was sought while the inward beauty of the soul was almost entirely neglected?
Some have said, "After I wear out this dress, I will make the next more plain." Now, if conformity to the fashions of the world is right and pleasing to God, where is the need of making a change at all? But if it is wrong, is it best to continue in the wrong any longer than is positively necessary to make the change? Right here we would remind you of the zeal and earnestness, the skill and perseverance, you manifested in fashioning your dress according to the fashion. Would it not be praise worthy to manifest at least an equal earnestness to make it conform to the Bible standard? Precious, God given time and means were used in fashioning those garments; and now what are you willing to sacrifice, to correct the wrong example you have been giving to others?
Have not our sisters sufficient zeal and moral courage to place themselves without excuse upon the Bible platform? The inspired apostle has given most explicit directions on this point: "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." Here the Lord, through his apostle, speaks expressly against the wearing of gold. Let those who have had experience see to it that they do not lead others astray on this point by their example. That ring encircling your finger may be very plain, but it is useless, and the wearing of it has a wrong influence upon others.
Especially should the wives of our ministers be careful not to depart from the plain teachings of the Bible on the point of dress. Many look upon these injunctions as being too old-fashioned to be worthy of notice; but He who gave them to his disciples understood the dangers from the love of dress in our time, and sent to us the note of warning. Will we heed the warning, and be wise? Extravagance in dress is continually increasing. The end is not yet. Fashion is constantly changing, and our sisters follow in its wake, regardless of time or expense. There is a great amount of means expended upon dress which should be returned to God, the giver.
The plain, neat dress of the poorer class often appears in marked contrast with the attire of their more wealthy sisters, and this difference often causes a feeling of embarrassment on the part of the poor. Some try to imitate their sisters, and will frill, and ruffle, and trim goods of an inferior quality, so as to approach as near as possible to them in dress. Poor girls, receiving but two dollars a week for their work, will expend every cent to dress like others who are not obliged to work for their living. These youth have nothing to put into the treasury of God; for their little fund is too soon exhausted. Besides, their time is so thoroughly occupied in making their dress as fashionable as that of their sisters, that they have no time for the improvement of the mind, for the study of God's word, for secret prayer, or for the prayer meeting. The mind is entirely taken up with planning how to appear as well as their sisters. To this end, physical, mental, and moral health are sacrificed. Nor is this all. Happiness and the favor of God are laid upon the altar of fashion.
Many will not attend the service of God upon the Sabbath because their dress would appear so unlike that of their Christian sisters in style and adornment. Will my sisters consider these things as they are, and will they fully realize the weight of their influence upon others? By walking in a forbidden track themselves, they lead others in the same path of disobedience and backsliding. Christian simplicity is sacrificed to outward display. My sisters, how shall we change all this? How shall we recover ourselves from the snare of Satan, and break the chains that have bound us in slavery to fashion? How shall we recover our wasted opportunities, how [do we] bring our powers into healthful, vigorous action? There is only one way, and that is to make the Bible our rule of life. Then, dear sisters, work earnestly to do good to others, watch unto prayer, take up your long neglected cross, and heed the warnings and injunctions of Him who has said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
My Christian sisters, those of you who have thought enough of the fashions of this age to patronize them, face the mirror, the law of God, and test your course of action by the first four commandments. These explicitly define the duty of man to God. He claims the undivided affections; and anything which tends to absorb the mind and divert it from God assumes the form of an idol. The true and living God is crowded out of the thoughts and heart, and the soul temple is defiled by the worship of other gods before the Lord. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." says the commandment. Search the heart, compare the life and character with the statutes and precepts of Jehovah, and then look diligently for the defects of character.
Take the last six commandments, specifying the duties of man to his fellow men. Here are shown solemn obligations which are trampled upon every day by professed commandment keepers. Those who have been enlightened by the grace of God, who have been adopted into the royal family, ought not always to be children in the work of the Lord. If they use, to the best of their ability, the grace given, their capacity will increase, and their knowledge become more extensive, and they will be intrusted with a still greater measure of divine power. In putting forth earnest, well-directed efforts to bring their fellow men to a knowledge of the truth, they will become strong in the Lord; and for working righteousness on the earth, they will receive the reward of eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven. This is the privilege of our sisters. And when we see them using God's time and money in needless display of dress, we can but warn them that they are breaking, not only the first four but the last six commandments. They cannot make God the supreme object of their worship, neither can they love their neighbor as themselves.
Christ is our example. We must keep the Pattern continually before us, and contemplate the infinite sacrifice he has made to redeem us from the thralldom of sin. As we look into the mirror, if we find ourselves condemned, let us not venture farther in transgression, but face right about and wash our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb, that they may be spotless. Let us cry as did David: "Open thou' mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Those to whom God has intrusted time and means that they might be a blessing to humanity, but who have squandered these gifts needlessly upon themselves and children, will have a fearful account to meet at the bar of God.
Dear sisters, shall this order of things continue; or will you resolve to put off your ornaments, and turn your attention fully to seeking the Lord? Bring in your trespass offerings, your thank offerings, and your freewill offerings; humble your hearts before the Lord, and he will be found ever ready to receive and pardon. By Mrs. E. G. White.