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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1883
(Vol. 60, #2)
The opinion is widely held, that the sacrifices and offerings of the Hebrews possess no significance for Christians, and can be of no interest to them. This opinion is without foundation. It is true that the ceremonies of the Mosaic law are not now to be observed; but, when rightly understood, they are seen to be all aglow with sacred and important truths. These rites, appointed by Jehovah himself, were like so many beacons to light up the path of God's ancient people, and to direct their minds to the great sacrifice to be offered for the sins of men. Viewed in the light of the cross, they contain most precious lessons for the people of God today.
The children of Israel were anciently commanded to make an offering for the entire congregation, to purify them from ceremonial defilement. For the sacrifice a red heifer was offered, representing the more perfect offering that should redeem from the pollution of sin. This was an occasional sacrifice for the purification of all those who had necessarily or accidentally touched the dead. All who came in contact with death in any way were considered ceremonially unclean. Thus the minds of the Hebrews were forcibly impressed with the fact that death came in consequence of sin, and therefore is a representative of sin. The one heifer, the one ark, the one brazen serpent, impressively point to the one great offering, the sacrifice of Christ.
This heifer was to be red without spot, which was a symbol of blood. It must be without blemish, and one that had never borne a yoke. Here again Christ was typified. The Son of God came voluntarily to accomplish the work of atonement. There was no obligatory yoke upon him, for he was independent and above all law. The angels, as God's intelligent messengers, were under the yoke of obligation; no personal sacrifice of theirs could atone for the guilt of fallen man. Christ alone was free from the claims of the law to undertake the redemption of the sinful race. He had power to lay down his life and to take it up again. "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God."
Yet this glorious being loved the poor sinner, and took upon himself the form of a servant, that he might suffer and die in man's behalf. Jesus might have remained at his Father's right hand, wearing his kingly crown and royal robes. But he chose to exchange all the riches, honor, and glory of Heaven for the poverty of humanity, and his station of high command for the horrors of Gethsemane and the humiliation and agony of Calvary. He became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that, by his baptism of suffering and blood, he might purify and redeem a guilty world. "Lo, I come," was the joyful assent, "to do thy will O God!"
The sacrificial heifer was conducted without the camp, and slain in the most solemn manner. Thus Christ suffered without the gates of Jerusalem, for Calvary was outside the city walls. This was to show that Christ did not die for the Hebrews alone, but for all mankind. He proclaims to a fallen world that he has come to be their Redeemer, and urges them to accept the salvation which he offers.
The heifer having been slain, the priest, clothed in pure white garments, took the blood in his hands as it issued from the body of the victim, and cast it toward the temple seven times. Thus Christ in his own spotless righteousness, after shedding his precious blood, entered into the heavenly sanctuary to minister in the sinner's behalf. And there the crimson current is brought into the service of reconciling God to man. "And having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
The body of the heifer was burned to ashes, which signified a whole and ample sacrifice. The ashes were then gathered up by a person uncontaminated by contact with the dead, and laid up in a clean place without the camp. When the ceremony of cleansing was to be performed, these were placed in a vessel containing water from a running stream. This clean and pure person then took a cedar stick with scarlet cloth and a bunch of hyssop and sprinkled the contents of the vessel upon the tent and the persons therein. This ceremony was repeated several times in order to be thorough, and was done as a purification from sin.
The cleansing water sprinkling the unclean, symbolized the blood of Christ spilled to cleanse us from moral impurities. The repeated sprinklings illustrate the thoroughness of the work that must be accomplished for the repenting sinner. All that he has must be consecrated. Not only should his own soul be washed clean and pure, but he should strive to have his family, his domestic arrangements, his property, and his entire belongings consecrated to God.
After the sprinkling with hyssop of the tent, over the door of those cleansed was written, I am not my own; Lord, I am thine. Thus should it be with those who profess to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. God is no less exacting now than he was in olden times. The psalmist, in his prayer, refers to this symbolic ceremony when he says, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The blood of Christ is efficacious, but needs continually to be applied. God wants his servants to make a consecration of themselves to his cause, and to use for his glory the means which he has intrusted to them. If any have become selfish, and are withholding from the Lord that which they should cheerfully give to his service, then they need the blood of sprinkling thoroughly applied, consecrating them and all their possessions to God.
Many who profess to be followers of Christ have not that earnest and unselfish devotion to his cause that he requires of them. They give their attention to temporal matters, and train their minds for business, in order to benefit themselves thereby. But God calls for them to come more closely into union with him, that he may mold and train them for his work. A solemn statement was made to ancient Israel that the man who should remain unclean, and refuse to purify himself, should be cut off from among the congregation. This has a special meaning for us. If it was necessary in ancient times for the unclean to be purified by the blood of sprinkling, how essential for those living in the perils of the last days, exposed to the fierce temptations of Satan, to have the blood of Christ applied to their hearts daily. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
Christ designed that his believing children should be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. The holy life and Christian example of one good man in a community, sheds a light that is reflected upon others. How great, then, should be the influence of a company of believers all walking in the commandments of God. The preaching of the word is ordained of God, to arouse and convict sinners. And when the living preacher exemplifies in his own life the self-denial and sacrifice of Christ, when his conversation and acts are in harmony with the Divine Pattern, then he will exert a powerful influence upon those who listen to his voice. But all cannot be teachers of the word in the pulpit. The individual duties of different persons vary, but there is work for all to do. All can aid the cause by giving unselfishly of their means to help the various branches of the work, to furnish means for the publication of tracts and periodicals to scatter among the people, and disseminate the truth. Those who give money to promote the cause, are bearing a part of the burden of the work; they are co-laborers with Christ, for God has furnished men with means, in trust, that they may use it for wise and holy purposes. This is among the instrumentalities which Heaven has ordained for doing good, one of the talents which men are to put out to the exchangers.
We should ever bear in mind that we are the stewards of God, and that he holds us accountable for the temporal talents he has lent us to use wisely for his glory. Shall we not closely search our hearts, and investigate the motives which prompt us to action? The danger of many is in loving their possessions. Their ears are not quick to hear the Master's call in the person of his saints and in the wants of his cause. They do not gladly invest their treasure in the enterprise of Christianity. If we desire a treasure in Heaven, we should be securing it while we have the opportunity. Those who feel safer to apply their means toward the greater accumulation of earthly riches, and invest sparingly in the cause of God, should feel satisfied to receive heavenly treasure according to their investment in heavenly stock.
Many desire to see the cause of God progress, but make little personal effort toward that end. If these could see their true position, and realize their accountability to God, they would become more earnest co-laborers with Jesus. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." There can be no divided interest in this, for the whole heart and mind and strength is all that composes the man.
Says the apostle, "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." When the poor, condemned sinner was lying under the curse of the Father's law, Jesus so loved him that he gave himself for the transgressor. He redeemed him by the virtue of his blood. We cannot estimate the precious ransom paid to redeem fallen man. The heart's best and holiest affections should be given in return for such wondrous love. The temporal gifts which we enjoy are merely lent us to aid in the advancement of the kingdom of God.
I speak of the tithing system, yet how meager it looks to my mind! How small the estimate! How vain the endeavor to measure, with mathematical rules, time, money, and love against a love and a sacrifice that is measureless and incomputable! Tithes for Christ! Oh, meager pittance, shameful recompense for that which cost so much! From the cross of Calvary, Christ calls for an unconditional surrender.
He promised the young ruler that if he sold all that he had and gave it to the poor, and lifted his cross and followed him, he should have treasure in Heaven. All we have should be consecrated to God. The Majesty of Heaven came to the world to die a sacrifice for the sins of man. How cold and selfish is the human heart that can turn away from that incomparable love, and set itself upon the vain things of this world!
My brother, my sister, when selfishness is striving for the victory over you, bear in mind One who left the glorious courts of Heaven, and laid aside the robes of royalty for your sakes, becoming poor that through his poverty you might be made rich. Will you, then, disregard this great love and boundless mercy, by refusing to be inconvenienced, and to deny yourselves for his dear sake? Will you cling to the treasures of this life, and neglect to aid in carrying forward the great work of truth? I adjure you to arouse from your lethargy, leave the vain idolatry of worldly things, and be in earnest to secure a title to the immortal inheritance. Work while it is day. Do not imperil your souls by forfeiting present opportunities. Do not make your eternal interests of secondary importance. Do not put the world before religion, and toil day after day to acquire its riches, while the peril of eternal bankruptcy threatens you. Every day is bringing you nearer to the final reckoning. Be ready to yield up the talents lent you, with the increase gained by their wise use.
You cannot afford to sacrifice Heaven, or jeopardize your safety. Do not let the deceitfulness of riches lead you to neglect the immortal treasure. Satan is a wily foe, and he is ever on your track, striving to ensnare you, and compass your ruin. We are in the waiting time; let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, waiting for the Lord when he returneth from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh you may open to him immediately.
Watch the first dimming of your light, the first neglect of prayer, the first symptom of spiritual slumber. He that endureth unto the end shall be saved. It is by the constant exercise of faith and love that believers are made to shine as lights in the world. You are making but poor preparation for the Master's coming, if, when he appears, you must present to him talents that you have buried in the earth,--talents neglected, abused, misused, a divided love, serving mammon while professedly serving God.
You profess to be servants of Christ. How necessary that you obey your Master's directions, and be faithful to your duties. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." This love is without a parallel, giving to men the relationship of sons to God. Therefore the Father expects obedience from his children, therefore he requires a right disposition of the property he has placed in their hands. It is not their own to use for their personal gratification, but it is the capital of the Lord, for which they are responsible to him.
Children of the Lord, how precious is the promise! How full the atonement of the Saviour for our guilt! The Redeemer, with a heart of unalterable love, still sheds his sacred blood in the sinner's behalf. The wounded hands, the pierced side, the marred feet, plead eloquently for fallen man, whose redemption is purchased at so great a cost. Oh, matchless condescension! Time nor events can lessen the efficacy of the atoning sacrifice. As the fragrant cloud of incense rose acceptably to Heaven, and Aaron sprinkled the blood upon the mercy seat of ancient Israel, and cleansed the people from guilt, so the merits of the slain Lamb are accepted by God today as a purifier from the defilement of sin.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." There are stern battles for you to fight. You should put on the whole armor of righteousness, and prove yourselves strong and true in your Redeemer's service. God wants no idlers in his field, but co-laborers with Christ, sentinels vigilant at their posts, valiant soldiers of the cross, ready to do and dare all things for the cause in which they are enlisted.
It is not wealth or intellect that gives happiness; it is true moral worth, and a sense of duty performed. You may have the overcomer's reward, and stand before the throne of Christ to sing his praises in the day when he assembles his saints; but your robes must be cleansed in the blood of the Lamb, charity must cover you as a garment, and you be found spotless and without blemish.
Says John the Revelator: "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #17)
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." Every Christian is a light bearer. "Ye are," says Christ to his followers, "the light of the world." While the work of preaching the gospel is committed to the minister, all the members of the church are to demonstrate its power by representing Christ in their lives. Says the apostle, "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men." The piety of the Christian constitutes the standard by which worldlings judge the gospel.
God will have co-laborers in the earth. He gives every Christian a work to do. Every one has his special post of duty, and each should have a close connection with God, that he may be enabled to do his work wisely and well. The apostle exhorts his brethren to "do all things without murmurings or disputings." We are not only to refrain from murmurings and disputings, but to do "all things" which God and duty require.
The Lord has appointed to every person talents, great or small, according to his ability. Each individual has a mission to fulfill which involves weal or woe to some other soul. If faithful to his trust, he is a light that shines to God's glory; by his Christian example, his constancy and fidelity, he represents Christ to the world. If he is unfaithful, he becomes a false light, an agent of Satan to allure souls to ruin. As the sentinel who sleeps at his post endangers the liberty and life of his comrades, so does the professed Christian who is untrue to his high calling endanger the eternal welfare of his fellowmen.
The salvation of sinners requires earnest, personal labor. We are to bear to them the word of life, not to wait for them to come to us. With personal piety and a consistent course of life our earnest heartfelt appeals will be, through God, as sharp arrows of the Almighty to pierce the sin hardened heart, as sharp sickles to reap a precious harvest for the heavenly garner. If we are co-laborers with Christ, we shall all have sheaves to bring to the Master,--souls saved through our instrumentality.
The injunction to be blameless and harmless does not teach that we may remain in a passive state. If Christians aspire no higher than a mere negative virtue, we may well anxiously inquire, what is to become of those who know not Christ nor the truth? Who will reach out their hands to save them? "Blameless" here means unadulterated, sincere; it expresses an active piety. We are to let our light shine upon others, that its bright beams may reflect glory to the great Source of light. Our Heavenly Father is not a hard master; he requires of no man more or less than he gives him ability to do. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." Every one has earnest work to do for God. Every one upon whom God has bestowed the gift of reason has some influence over others. By the blessing of God, that influence can be used to save souls. We shall individually be held responsible for doing an iota less than God has given us ability to do. He measures our strength; he gives us work which we can do, and which we must do if we ever hear from his lips the heavenly benediction, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Some persons array before their imagination a large number of Christian duties which they should perform, and then they tremble and shrink at the task, and in many cases leave it altogether undone. There are faults in themselves to be corrected, wrong habits to be reformed, temptations to be resisted. As followers of Christ, there must go forth from them a steady, certain light, whose bright beams shall so represent Jesus that the unbelieving world shall be led to respect Christianity and to glorify God. The preparation essential for the Christian's work requires an effort. There must be a daily searching of heart, in obedience to the injunction of the apostle, " Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith." Secret prayer must be maintained; to neglect this duty would be to throw aside one's weapons before going into battle. The prayer meeting must be attended, and a cheerful testimony borne; souls may be discouraged, perhaps led in the wrong direction, if the testimonies do not breathe the right spirit. There are persons who need the help of kindly words and deeds, and who need prayer offered for them and with them. Here is indeed earnest work for every follower of Christ. But we should not be disheartened by the magnitude of the work. All is not to be done at once. God requires today only the work of the day. We should take things in their order, one thing at a time. The willing mind, the earnest purpose, will go forward. God has promised grace according to our need.
Have you put off the work until this eleventh hour? I entreat you to begin now. Do you feel incompetent to do some great thing, and therefore neglect to do anything? Do what you can, be it ever so little. Go about your work calmly, relying upon God for that strength which he alone can give. Look not anxiously into the morrow. today employ your time to the very best account, let your light shine for Christ, even in the performance of little duties. Tomorrow again present yourself to Jesus as one ready to do any work, be it ever so humble. The faithful performance of today's duties will prepare you to take hold of tomorrow's work with new courage and new zeal, saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped me." Ever stand as minute men before God; let the prayer of your heart be, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do now? Imbue me with thy Spirit; strengthen me for thy work." Then may you grow up to the full stature of men in Christ.
We permit ourselves to feel altogether too much care and trouble and perplexity in the Lord's work. We need to trust him, believe on him, and go forward. We should not shadow the lives of others with our sorrows or disappointments, or discourage them by leaving our work for them to do. All have Satan and his host to meet, and need to put forth their utmost efforts to resist the powers of darkness. All have trials, griefs hard to bear, temptations hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your fellow mortals, but carry everything to God in prayer. Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or discouragement. You can do much to brighten the lives of others and strengthen their efforts, by words of hope and holy cheer, even when your own heart is weighed down with unspoken sorrow.
There is many a brave soul sorely pressed by temptation, fainting in the conflict with self and with the powers of darkness, yet at the same time seeking to do good to others. Do not censure or discourage such a one in his hard struggle. Cheer him with brave, hopeful words that shall urge him on his way. Thus the light of Christ may shine from you. Thus you confess Jesus and his transforming grace to the world. "No man liveth to himself." By our unconscious influence others may be encouraged and strengthened, or they may be discouraged and repelled from Christ and the truth. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 60, #18)
Professed follower of Christ, when you are devoting time and means to the indulgence of pride, ask yourself whose gifts you are thus squandering. When you spend precious hours in fashioning what is merely to please the fancy, but will benefit no one, inquire how that day's record will stand in the books above. Your works will be brought into Judgment, whether they be good or evil. Suppose you were to keep an account of the manner in which each day is spent, how often would you have to make such records as these? "Spent one or two hours in bed after daylight, because I was disinclined to rise and begin the day's duties. Spent several hours in crocheting. Devoted the day to making ruffles to ornament my children's dresses. They must look like other people, or I shall have no influence. Passed this afternoon in entertaining visitors. The name of Jesus was not mentioned. We talked of the wrong course of our brethren and sisters, of our worldly affairs, and our perplexities and trials." Are such persons honoring God in their lives? Is their light shining? Are souls saved through their instrumentality?
Many do not know how to win souls to Christ, because they have never tried to learn. If they would enter upon the work cheerfully and heartily, endeavoring to exert a right influence in the position where God has placed them, they would gain strength and experience with every effort. They would learn how to adapt themselves to the wants of others, and might thus become successful in winning souls to Christ and the truth. A large share of the Christian world are endeavoring to serve God by proxy. Men educate themselves for trades, for business, but not for Christian work, which is more important than everything besides. There is an appropriate division of labor in the same manufactory. Men are set apart for special branches of the business. While one can do his own work successfully, he may not be qualified to do that of his neighbor. The carpenter would blunder at the anvil, and the blacksmith with the plane. In the professions, greater difficulties would exist. The lawyer could not take charge of critical cases of sickness, and the physician would make poor work at pleading a case in court. In the same manner the followers of Christ have different positions and duties, and each should seek to qualify himself for the place which the Master has assigned him. "To every man his work."
Those who excuse themselves from labor to save other souls, will not be saved themselves. There is work to be done for Christ in our families, in our neighborhoods, everywhere. By kindness to the poor, the sick, or the bereaved, we may obtain an influence over them, so that divine truth may find access to their hearts. Opportunities for usefulness are on every hand. All who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ will show themselves to be fruit bearing branches of the living Vine.
It is a sad fact, that many professors of religion gauge their piety by the lowest standard which they deem safe for themselves. They mean to escape the wrath of God, but are not seeking to do all the good that the Lord has given them ability to do. They fall into the observance of certain forms, which they term religion, and argument and entreaty are alike powerless to move them from their stereotyped position. They are well satisfied with themselves. They will not be aroused to pray more or to give more. Many pass on month after month, year after year, without a genuine experience in the love of God, or a burden for the salvation of souls. By their lack of religious fervor, by their worldliness and selfishness, they lead others to skepticism or contempt for the truth.
Could the ledger of Heaven be opened before us, we would be greatly astonished at the large proportion of professing Christians who really contribute nothing toward the upbuilding of Christ's kingdom, who put forth no efforts for the salvation of souls. Such are slothful servants. Many who are satisfied not to do much good, flatter themselves that they are doing no harm so long as they do not oppose the earnest, active workers. But this class are doing much harm by their example. For the influence thus exerted, they must render an account to God. Sinners, misled by these false lights, are going down to ruin. Every person will be held accountable for the good which he might have done, but failed to perform because he was too careless and indolent to gain a knowledge of the will of God.
The slothful servant was not condemned for what he had done, but for what he had not done. There is no more dangerous enemy to the cause of God than an indolent Christian. An open profaner does less harm; for he deceives no one, he appears what he is, a brier, a thorn. The do-nothings are the greatest hindrance. Those who will not bear burdens, who shun all disagreeable responsibilities, are the first to be taken in Satan's snare, the first to lend their influence to a wrong course.
Watch, pray, work--these are the Christian's watchwords. Let none excuse themselves from labor for the salvation of souls. Let none deceive themselves into the belief that nothing is required of them. No less is required of any than was expected of the man with one talent. That unfaithful servant hid his talent in the earth, and then sought to justify his course by murmuring against his lord. In like manner, those who do the least in the cause of Christ are most ready to doubt and murmur. If they would connect with the living Vine, and bear fruit to the glory of God, they would find so much to do, and feel so great joy in the work, that they would have no time or disposition to complain.
It is ours to make the record which we desire to meet hereafter. Would we have its pages filled with the history of earnest work for God and humanity? Let us follow in the footsteps of Him who declared, "I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #19)
[At our campmeeting at Hanford, Cal., one year ago, I felt urged by the Spirit of the Lord to speak to our people concerning the importance of maintaining right habits of life in order to enjoy the benefits of the meeting. As the points there dwelt upon are of general application, a summary of the remarks made are here given for the benefit of all who attend these annual gatherings.]
Our yearly convocations are held for a special purpose. We desire to obtain spiritual strength by feeding upon the bread of life. We have separated from God by yielding to the maxims, customs, and practices of the world. We have allowed temporal things to absorb our attention, and have regarded the service of God as of secondary importance. As a consequence, we find ourselves in a state of great spiritual weakness. The season we spend here together should be a time of humiliation, brokenness of heart, and confession of sin. We want here to seek the Lord, and find him to the joy of our souls. To do this, we must cleanse the soul temple from its defilement; we must banish therefrom selfish thoughts and interests. Jesus is among us, to hear our penitential confessions and pardon our sins.
We should not devote this precious time to needless labor merely to gratify the appetite. We have not come here to indulge in feasting. Those who have taken charge of our restaurant at previous campmeetings, have had the privilege of attending but few of the meetings. Much care and thought were given to the preparation of the food,--the cooking of meat, pies, cake, and a variety of other dishes to please the appetite. Was this really necessary? I think not. A few simple articles of food, prepared with care and skill, would supply all our real wants, and at the same time would do no injury to stomach or brain. The food should be abundant in quantity, and of good quality. We should not be compelled to live on a meat diet because nothing else is provided to supply its place. The money that is expended in buying meat, would purchase a good variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Meat is not essential for health or strength, else the Lord made a mistake when he provided food for Adam and Eve before their fall. All the elements of nutrition are contained in the fruits, vegetables, and grains.
If we are careful in our diet, at the same time clothing ourselves in a healthful manner during the changes that are liable to occur, we may avoid the unpleasant consequences of neglect of these important matters. Parents should give special attention to the diet of their children. Let them have good, wholesome food, prepared in a simple, palatable manner. But many housewives do not know how to cook. Light is shining upon them, but they do not care to receive it. Turning with contempt from a method of cooking which requires skill and inventive power, they depend on injurious substances to supply the lack. We profess to be reformers, and as such should be constantly seeking to bring all our customs and habits to a correct standard, instead of conforming to the hurtful practices of the world.
Hot biscuit raised with soda or baking powder should never appear upon our tables. Such compounds are unfit to enter the stomach. Hot raised bread of any kind is difficult of digestion. Graham gems which are both wholesome and palatable may be made from the unbolted flour, mixed with pure cold water and milk. But it is difficult to teach our people simplicity. When we recommend graham gems, our friends say, "Oh, yes, we know how to make them." We are much disappointed when they appear, raised with baking powder or with sour milk and soda. These give no evidence of reform. The unbolted flour, mixed with pure soft water and milk, makes the best gems we ever tasted. If the water is hard, use more sweet milk, or add an egg to the batter. Gems should be thoroughly baked in a well heated oven, with a steady fire.
To make rolls, use soft water and milk, or a little cream; make a stiff dough, and knead it as for crackers. Bake on the grate of the oven. These are sweet and delicious. They require thorough mastication, which is a benefit both to the teeth and the stomach. They make good blood, and impart strength. With such bread, and the abundant fruits, vegetables, and grains with which our country abounds, no greater luxuries should be desired.
We should avoid errors, not only in the quality, but in the quantity of our food. Eating too largely of even a simple diet will injure physical, mental, and moral health. Some persons have formed the habit of eating at any time between their regular meals. If this practice is continued, it becomes second nature. The stomach may be so educated as to desire food eight times a day, and feel faint if it is not supplied. But this is no argument in favor of so frequent eating. Three meals a day, and nothing between meals--not even an apple--should be the utmost limit of indulgence. Those who go further violate nature's laws, and will suffer the penalty. Two meals a day are better than three.
Our brethren and sisters often bring upon the campground food that is wholly unsuitable for such occasions,--rich cake, pies, and a variety of dishes prepared in a manner to make a healthy man sick. Of course, the best food is considered none too good for the minister. They invite him to their tables, and send these articles to his table. Many ministers are dyspeptics; they have injured their health by taking food in too great quantity and of an injurious quality. They suffer from hot head and cold feet and limbs; the blood is called to the stomach to assist in disposing of the burden imposed upon it. Those men cannot become spiritual workmen until they observe strict temperance in their dietetic habits. God cannot let his Holy Spirit rest upon those who are enfeebling themselves by gluttony.
Precious talent has been lost to God's cause through intemperance in eating. Many, while they do live, are thus deprived of half the vigor and strength of their faculties. The brain is oppressed because the stomach is burdened. Ministers, above all others, should economize the strength of brain and nerve. They should avoid all food or drink that has a tendency to irritate or excite the nerves. Excitement will be followed by depression. Overindulgence will becloud the mind, and render thought difficult and confused. Our people err when they tempt their ministers with unhealthful food.
And let us not come to the campmeeting to break the Sabbath by cooking on that day. The instructions which God gave to Israel should not be disregarded: "Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe;" for "tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord." God meant what he said; and shall we who are presenting to the people the claims of the divine law, break that law ourselves, merely to please the appetite? God forbid! I know that frequently the Lord has withheld his blessing because we have failed to honor him by keeping the Sabbath according to the commandment. There has sometimes been nearly as much cooking done on the Sabbath as on other days. I would prefer to eat bread and water only, rather than to run any risk of breaking the fourth commandment. All needful preparation for the Sabbath should be made on Friday. On Sabbath morning, if the weather is cool, let hot gruel be provided. Further than this, all cooking should be avoided as a violation of the Sabbath.
If right habits are ever observed, let it be at our holy convocations. Here, if anywhere, we want our minds clear and active. We should honor God at all times, and in all places, but it seems doubly important at such meetings, where we assemble for the purpose of drawing near to God, and gaining a better knowledge of his will. One reason why we do not enjoy more of the blessing of the Lord is, we do not heed the light which has been pleased to give us in regard to the laws of life and health. If we would all live more simply, and let the time usually given to the indulgence of appetite and the gratification of pride in dress, be spent in searching the Scriptures and in humble prayer for the bread of life, we would receive greater spiritual strength. We need to give less attention to our mere temporal wants, and more to our eternal interests.
Will those who have charge of our campmeetings see that God is not dishonored or his instructions disregarded? Will they heed the light which has been given them upon health reform, and thus aid the people in securing both physical and moral health? Let us in our yearly gatherings seek to return unto the Lord, gather up the rays of light we have neglected, comply with the conditions laid down in God's word, and then by faith claim his blessing. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #28)
The true missionary spirit is the spirit of Christ. The world's Redeemer was the great model missionary. Many of his followers have labored earnestly and unselfishly in the cause of human salvation; but no man's labor can bear comparison with the self-denial, the sacrifice, the benevolence of our Exemplar.
The love which Christ has evinced for us is without a parallel. How earnestly he labored! How often was he alone in fervent prayer, on the mountain side or in the retirement of the garden, pouring out his supplications with strong crying and tears. How perseveringly he urged his petitions in behalf of sinners! Even on the cross, he forgot his own sufferings in his deep love for those whom he came to save. How cold our love, how feeble our interest, when compared with the love and interest manifested by our Saviour! Jesus gave himself to redeem our race; and yet how ready are we to excuse ourselves from giving all that we have for Jesus. Our Saviour submitted to wearing labor, ignominy and suffering. He was repulsed, mocked, derided, while engaged in the great work which he came to earth to do.
Do you, my brethren and sisters, inquire, What model shall we copy? I do not point you to great and good men, but to the world's Redeemer. If we would have the true missionary spirit, we must be imbued with the love of Christ; we must look to the Author and Finisher of our faith, study his character, cultivate his spirit of meekness and humility, and walk in his footsteps.
Many suppose that the missionary spirit, and qualification for missionary work, are a special gift or endowment bestowed upon the ministers and a few members of the church, and that all others are to be mere spectators. Never was there a greater mistake. Every true Christian will possess a missionary spirit; for to be a Christian is to be Christlike. "No man liveth to himself," and "if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Every one who has tasted of the powers of the world to come, whether he be young or old, learned or unlearned, will be stirred with the spirit which actuated Christ. The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour. Those who do not possess this desire, give evidence that they have lost their first love; they should closely examine their own hearts in the light of God's word, and earnestly seek a fresh baptism of the spirit of Christ; they should pray for a deeper comprehension of that wondrous love which Jesus manifested for us in leaving the realms of glory, and coming to a fallen world to save the perishing.
There is work for every one of us in the vineyard of the Lord. We are not to seek that position which will yield us the most enjoyment or the greatest gain. True religion is free from selfishness. The missionary spirit is a spirit of personal sacrifice. We are to work anywhere and everywhere, to the utmost of our ability, for the cause of our Master.
Just as soon as a person is really converted to the truth, there springs up in his heart an earnest desire to go and tell some friend or neighbor of the precious light shining forth from the sacred pages. In his unselfish labor to save others, he is a living epistle, known and read of all men. His life shows that he has been converted to Christ, and has become a co-laborer with him.
As a class, Seventh-day Adventists are a generous and warm-hearted people. In the proclamation of the truth for this time, we can rely upon their strong and ready sympathy. When a proper object for their liberality is presented, appealing to their judgment and conscience, it calls forth a hearty response. Their gifts in support of the cause testify that they believe it to be the cause of truth. There are, indeed, exceptions among us. Not all who profess to accept the faith are earnest and truehearted believers. But the same was true in the days of Christ. Even among the apostles there was a Judas; but that did not prove all to be of the same character. We have no reason for discouragement while we know that there are so many who are devoted to the cause of truth, and are ready to make noble sacrifices to advance it. But there is still a great lack, a great need among us. There is too little of the true missionary spirit. All missionary workers should possess that deep interest for the souls of their fellowmen that will lead heart to heart, in sympathy, and in the love of Jesus. They should plead earnestly for divine aid, and should work wisely to win souls to Christ. A cold, spiritless effort will accomplish nothing. There is need that the spirit of Christ fall upon the sons of the prophets. Then will they manifest such love for the souls of men as Jesus exemplified in his life.
The reason why there is no deeper religious fervor, and no more earnest love for one another in the church is, the missionary spirit has been dying out. Little is now said concerning Christ's coming, which was once the theme of thought and of conversation. There is an unaccountable reluctance, a growing disrelish, for religious conversation; and in its stead, idle, frivolous chitchat is indulged in, even by the professed followers of Christ.
My brethren and sisters, do you desire to break the spell that holds you? Would you arouse from this sluggishness that resembles the torpor of death? Go to work, whether you feel like it or not. Engage in personal effort to bring souls to Jesus and the knowledge of the truth. In such labor you will find both a stimulant and a tonic; it will both arouse and strengthen. By exercise, your spiritual powers will become more vigorous, so that you can, with better success, work out your own salvation. The stupor of death is upon many who profess Christ. Make every effort to arouse them. Warn, entreat, expostulate. Pray that the melting love of God may warm and soften their icebound natures. Though they may refuse to hear, your efforts will not be lost. In the effort to bless others, your own souls will be blessed.
The ministers of the word are God's chosen agency to spread the knowledge of his will; but there is too little of a missionary spirit, even among our ministers. After preaching the word, some confine themselves almost wholly to reading and study, to the neglect of other and vitally important duties. While it is right to devote some time to study, every minister should feel a deep interest to do all that it is possible for him to do for the salvation of souls for whom Christ died. He should visit the people, and with care and wisdom seek to interest them in spiritual things.
Ministers of Christ should be united,--of one heart and one mind. They should counsel with one another. None should require their brethren to labor exactly after their plan, but each should preserve his individuality, and all labor for the good of others, esteeming their brethren better than themselves. It is Satan's work to excite envy and jealousy, to alienate affection, weaken confidence, and engender distrust and suspicion. All this hinders unity of faith in intercession with God for the weak and the desponding, for the grace of Christ, for the conversion of sinners, and thus shuts away the blessing which might be ours.
We have the theory of the truth, and now we need to seek most earnestly for its sanctifying power. I dare not hold my peace in this time of peril. It is a time of temptation, of despondency. Every one is beset by the wiles of Satan, and we should press together to resist his power. We should be of one mind, speaking the same things, and with one mouth glorifying God. Then may we successfully enlarge our plans, and by vigilant missionary effort, take advantage of every talent we can use in the various departments of the work. When the people see the unity, the wisdom, and the grace of Christ exemplified in their teachers, they will have increased confidence in the work.
The light of truth is shedding its bright beams upon the world through missionary effort. The press is an instrumentality by which many are reached whom it would be impossible to reach by ministerial effort. A great work can be done by presenting to the people the Bible just as it reads. Carry the word of God to every man's door, urge its plain statements upon every man's conscience, repeat to all the Saviour's command, "Search the Scriptures." Admonish them to take the Bible as it is, to implore the divine enlightenment, and then, when the light shines, to gladly accept each precious ray, and fearlessly abide the consequences.
The downtrodden law of God is to be exalted before the people; as soon as they turn with earnestness and reverence to the holy Scriptures, light from Heaven will reveal to them wondrous things out of God's law. Great truths that have long been obscured by superstition and false doctrine, will blaze forth from the illuminated pages of the sacred word. The living oracles pour forth their treasures new and old, bringing light and joy to all who will receive them. Many are roused from their slumber. They rise as it were from the dead, and receive the light and life which Christ alone can give. Truths which have proved an overmatch for giant intellects are understood by babes in Christ. To these is plainly revealed that which has clouded the spiritual perception of the most learned expositors of the word, because, like the Sadducees of old, they were ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of God.
Those who study the Bible with a sincere desire to know and do the will of God, will become wise unto salvation. The Sabbath school is an important branch of missionary work, not only to give to young and old a knowledge of God's word, but to awaken in them a love for its sacred truths, and a desire to study it for themselves; above all, to teach them to regulate their lives by its holy teachings.
All who take the word of God as their rule of life are brought into close relationship with one another. The Bible is their bond of union. But their companionship will not be sought or desired by those who do not bow to the sacred word as the one unerring guide. They will be at variance, both in faith and practice. There can be no harmony between them; they are unreconcilable. As Seventh-day Adventists we appeal from custom and tradition to the plain "Thus saith the Lord," and for this reason we are not, and we cannot be, in harmony with the multitudes who teach and follow the doctrines and commandments of men.
All who are born of God will become co-workers with Christ. Such are the salt of the earth. "But if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?" If the religion we profess fails to renew our hearts and sanctify our lives, how shall it exert a saving power upon unbelievers? "It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." That religion which will not exert a regenerating power upon the world, is of no value. We cannot trust it for our own salvation. The sooner we cast it away the better; for it is powerless and spurious.
We are to serve under our great Leader, to press against every opposing influence, to be laborers together with God. The work appointed us is to sow the gospel seed beside all waters. In this work every one must act a part. The manifold grace of Christ imparted to us constitutes us stewards of talents which we must increase by putting them out to the exchangers, that when the Master calls for them, he may receive his own with usury. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #29)
Young men who desire to enter the field as ministers, colporteurs, or canvassers, should first receive a suitable degree of mental training, as well as special preparation for their calling. Those who are uneducated, untrained, and unrefined are not prepared to enter a field in which the powerful influences of talent and education combat the truths of God's word. Neither can they successfully meet the strange forms of error, religious and philosophical combined, to expose which requires a knowledge of scientific as well as Scriptural truth.
Those especially who have the ministry in view, should feel the importance of the Scriptural method of ministerial training. They should enter heartily into the work, and while they study in the schools, they should learn of the Great Teacher the meekness and humility of Christ. A covenant keeping God has promised that in answer to prayer his Spirit shall be poured out upon these learners in the school of Christ, that they may become ministers of righteousness.
There is hard work to be done in dislodging error and false doctrine from the head, that Bible truth and Bible religion may find a place in the heart. It was as a means ordained of God to educate young men and women for the various departments of missionary labor that colleges were established among us. It was God's will that they send forth not merely a few, but many laborers. But Satan, determined to overthrow this purpose, has often secured the very ones whom God would qualify for places of usefulness in his work. There are many who would work if urged into service, and who would save their souls by thus working. The church should feel her great responsibility in shutting up the light of truth and restraining the grace of God within her own narrow limits, when money and influence should be freely employed in bringing competent persons into the missionary field.
Hundreds of young men should have been preparing to act a part in the work of scattering the seeds of truth beside all waters. We want men who will push the triumphs of the cross; men who will persevere under discouragements and privations; who will have the zeal and resolution and faith that are indispensable in the missionary field.
The church is called upon to take hold of this work with far greater earnestness than has yet been manifested. Every church should make special provision for the training of its missionaries, thus aiding the fulfillment of the great command, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." My brethren, we have erred and sinned in attempting too little. There should be more laborers in the missionary work in foreign countries. There are among us those who, without the toil and delay of learning a foreign language, might qualify themselves to proclaim the truth to other nations. In the primitive church, missionaries were miraculously endowed with a knowledge of the languages in which they were called to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. And if God was willing thus to help his servants then, can we doubt that his blessing will rest upon our efforts to qualify those who naturally possess a knowledge of foreign tongues, and who with proper encouragement would bear to their own countrymen the message of truth? We might have had more laborers in foreign missionary fields, had those who entered these fields availed themselves of every talent within their reach. But some have had a disposition to refuse help if it did not come just according to their ideas and plans. And what has been the result? If our missionaries were to be removed, by sickness or death, from their fields of labor, where are the men whom they have educated to fill their places?
Not one of our missionaries has secured the cooperation of every available talent. Much time has thus been lost. We rejoice in the good work which has been done in foreign lands; but had different plans of labor been adopted, tenfold, yes, twentyfold more might have been accomplished; an acceptable offering would have been presented to Jesus, in many souls rescued from the bondage of error.
Every one who receives the light of truth should be taught to bear the light to others. Our missionaries in foreign lands should gratefully accept every help, every facility, offered them. They must be willing to run some risk, to venture something. It is not pleasing to God that we defer present opportunities for doing good, in hope of accomplishing a greater work in the future. Each should follow the leadings of Providence, not consulting self-interest, and not trusting wholly to his own judgment. Some may be so constituted as to see failure where God intends success; they may see only giants and walled cities, where others, with clearer vision, see also God and angels, ready to give victory to his truth.
It may in some cases be necessary that young men learn foreign languages. This they can do with most success by associating with the people, at the same time devoting a portion of each day to study of the language. This should be done, however, only as a necessary step preparatory to educating such as are found in the missionary fields themselves, and who with proper training can become workers. It is essential that those be urged into the service who can speak in their mother tongue to the people of different nations. It is a great undertaking for a man of middle age to learn a foreign language; and with all his efforts it will be next to impossible for him to speak it so readily and correctly as to render him an efficient laborer.
We cannot afford to deprive our home mission of the influence of middle-aged and aged ministers to send them into distant fields, to engage in a work for which they are not qualified, and to which no amount of training will enable them to adapt themselves. The men thus sent out leave vacancies which inexperienced laborers cannot supply.
But the church may inquire whether young men can be trusted with the grave responsibilities involved in establishing and superintending a foreign mission. I answer, God designed that they should receive training in our colleges and by association in labor with men of experience, so that they would be prepared for departments of usefulness in this cause. We must manifest confidence in our young men. They should be pioneers in every enterprise involving toil and sacrifice, while the overtaxed servants of Christ should be cherished as counselors, to encourage and bless those who strike the heaviest blows for God. Providence thrust these experienced fathers into trying, responsible positions at an early age, when neither physical nor intellectual powers were fully developed. The magnitude of the trust committed to them aroused their energies, and their active labor in the work aided both mental and physical development.
Young men are wanted. God calls them to missionary fields. Being comparatively free from care and responsibilities, they are more favorably situated to engage in the work than are those who must provide for the training and support of a large family. Furthermore, young men can more readily adapt themselves to new climates and new society, and can better endure inconveniences and hardships. By tact and perseverance, they can reach the people where they are.
Strength comes by exercise. All who put to use the ability which God has given them, will have increased ability to devote to his service. Those who do nothing in the cause of God, will fail to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. A man who would lie down and refuse to exercise his limbs, would soon lose all power to use them. Thus the Christian who will not exercise his God given powers, not only fails to grow up into Christ, but he loses the strength which he already had; he becomes a spiritual paralytic. It is those who, with love for God and their fellowmen, are striving to help others, that become established, strengthened, settled, in the truth. The true Christian works for God, not by impulse, but from principle; not for a day or a month, but during the entire period of life.
How is our light to shine forth to the world unless it be by our consistent Christian life? How is the world to know that we belong to Christ, if we do nothing for him? Said our Saviour, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." And again: "He that is not with me, is against me." There is no neutral ground between those who work to the utmost of their ability for Christ, and those who work for the adversary of souls. Every one who stands as an idler in the vineyard of the Lord is not merely doing nothing himself, but he is a hindrance to those who are trying to work. Satan finds employment for all who are not earnestly striving to secure their own salvation and the salvation of others.
The church of Christ may be fitly compared to an army. The life of every soldier is one of toil, hardship, and danger. On every hand are vigilant foes, led on by the prince of the powers of darkness, who never slumbers and never deserts his post. Whenever a Christian is off his guard, this powerful adversary makes a sudden and violent attack. Unless the members of the church are active and vigilant, they will be overcome by his devices.
What if half the soldiers in an army were idling or asleep when ordered to be on duty; the result would be defeat, captivity, or death. Should any escape from the hands of the enemy, would they be thought worthy of a reward? No; they would speedily receive the sentence of death. And is the church of Christ careless or unfaithful, far more important consequences are involved. A sleeping army of Christian soldiers--what could be more terrible! What advance could be made against the world, who are under the control of the prince of darkness? Those who stand back indifferently in the day of battle, as though they had no interest and felt no responsibility as to the issue of the contest, might better change their course or leave the ranks at once.
The Master calls for gospel workers. Who will respond? All who enter the army are not to be generals, captains, sergeants, or even corporals. All have not the care and responsibility of leaders. There is hard work of other kinds to be done. Some must dig trenches and build fortifications; some are to stand as sentinels, some to carry messages. While there are but few officers, it requires many soldiers to form the rank and file of the army; yet its success depends upon the fidelity of every soldier. One man's cowardice or treachery may bring disaster upon the entire army.
There is earnest work to be done by us individually if we would fight the good fight of faith. Eternal interests are at stake. We must put on the whole armor of righteousness, we must resist the devil, and we have the sure promise that he will be put to flight. The church is to conduct an aggressive warfare, to make conquests for Christ, to rescue souls from the power of the enemy. God and holy angels are engaged in this warfare. Let us please Him who has called us to be soldiers.
All can do something in the work. None will be pronounced guiltless before God, unless they have worked earnestly and unselfishly for the salvation of souls. The church should teach the youth, both by precept and example, to be workers for Christ. There are many who complain of their doubts, who lament that they have no assurance of their connection with God. This is often attributable to the fact that they are doing nothing in God's cause. Let them seek earnestly to help and bless others, and their doubts and despondency will disappear.
Many who profess to be followers of Christ, speak and act as though their names were a great honor to the cause of God, while they bear no burdens and win no souls to the truth. Such persons live as though God had no claims upon them. If they continue in this course, they will find at last that they have no claims upon God.
He who has appointed "to every man his work," according to his ability, will never let the faithful performance of duty go unrewarded. Every act of loyalty and faith will be crowned with special tokens of God's favor and approbation. To every worker is committed the promise, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #30)
To accomplish the great work of giving the last warning to the world, there is need of earnest, well directed effort. As a people, we have not always moved with the wisdom and foresight demanded by the importance of our mission. Our leading ministers labor too hard, and, as the result, are almost constantly exhausted. Some of our leading men die prematurely, literally worn out, while there are among us men of ability who are really doing nothing in the cause. Our ministers weary themselves in doing that which should be left to others, while those who might help them, and who, if rightly instructed, would be willing to help them, are rusting from inaction.
God's cause has not advanced as it should have done, for the very reason that ministers and leading men have felt that they must do everything themselves. They have tugged and toiled to keep the wheel rolling, and are weighed down with responsibilities and burdens in the various departments of church work, in the Sabbath school, and in every other branch of the cause. They think they must do all this or it will not be done; and truly it would not be done, because they have failed to take others into their counsel and to train them to work.
While writing upon this subject, my attention was called to the following paragraphs touching the same point:--
"Some pastors seem to think that they must take the lead, manage and manipulate every department of church work. They must arrange the details for every enterprise. Now, there may be churches in which the pastor must do all this or it will not be attended to at all; but in very many churches there is plenty of lay talent for all these purposes, and if the pastor would interest himself in pushing that element to the front, he would save himself much annoyance and hard work, and at the same time be rendering a service to those he thus interests in the general work of the church.
"In some respects the pastor occupies a position similar to that of the foreman of a gang of laboring men or the captain of a ship's crew. They are expected to see that men over whom they are set, do the work assigned to them correctly and promptly, and if occasion shall require it, only in case of emergency are they to execute in detail.
"The owner of a large mill once found his superintendent in a wheel-pit, making some simple repairs, while a half-dozen workmen in that line were standing by, idly looking on. The proprietor, after learning the facts so as to be sure that no injustice be done, called the foreman to his office, and handed him his discharge and full pay. In surprise the foreman asked for an explanation. It was given in these words: 'I employed you to keep six men at work. I found the six idle and you doing the work of but one, and your work could have been done just as well by any one of the six. I cannot afford to pay the wages of seven for you to teach the six how to be idle.'
"This incident may be applicable in some cases, in others not. But many pastors fail in not knowing how, or in not trying to get the full membership of the church actively engaged in the various departments of church work. If pastors would give more attention to getting and keeping their flock actively at work, they would accomplish more good, have more time for study and religious visitation, and also avoid many causes of friction."
For our leading ministers, our campmeetings have been seasons of severe and wearing labor, unfitting them for important work which required their attention at the close of the meeting. As they meet and counsel together, they lay their plans for labor; to execute these plans successfully, they need a clear brain, calm nerves, and a heart filled with courage; but they lack all three of these essential qualification. They have made a serious mistake in regard to the work resting upon them, and have done much that others should have done, and that would have been a blessing to them, giving them a precious experience in laboring for Jesus. While all cannot be ministers, all can and should act a part in the work.
There has been a failure to call into exercise talent which might be employed in the work, but which needs development and cultivation. We have had but few ministers and but few men to bear responsibilities, because we have had so few educators. We have lost much because we have not had those who were apt to teach, and who could conduct a training school for the inexperienced, and press them into the service.
The real workers in this cause are few, yet the work covers much ground; and it is often impossible for the laborers to look after the interest awakened, and they fail to discern that they must enlist the lay members of the church, and teach them to work, that they may hold all that has been gained, and continue to advance. The plan of labor has been such as to lead the people to feel that they could do very little themselves; if anything was to be accomplished, they must have a minister.
At our campmeetings, tenfold more might be done than is usually accomplished. At the very outset the ministers should organize a corps of laborers upon whom they can depend to perform various duties essential to the success of the meeting. There may be several present who have been laboring in the smaller places, testing their own ability, and learning to teach the truth. If these men really desire to learn in the school of Christ that they may teach others the way of salvation, the campmeeting is the very place where they can learn most, not by looking on while others do all the work, but by sharing in the labor themselves. Every one should have something to do, some burden to bear. If there is ever a place to work, it is at these large gatherings. They should first take heed to themselves, see that their own hearts are softened and subdued by the grace of Christ, and then they are prepared to help others. In meekness and love they should labor for the discouraged and backslidden, inviting them to some place of retirement, and praying with and for them. There should be many little groups thus earnestly pleading with God in the intervals between preaching services. Such was the course pursued in 1844. At our general meetings, little companies would scatter in every direction to draw near to God and seek his blessing. They did not seek in vain. The rich blessing of the Lord came upon them in answer to their prayers. The same course now pursued would lead to the same results.
Some of our ministers have had so little to do at these general meetings that they have themselves backslidden from God. How different would have been their experience, had they been earnestly laboring for others! There is work to do in the family tents. Suitable persons should be appointed to engage, modestly and wisely, in religious conversation with the inmates of the various tents. Cases that need special help could be brought before the ministers, who might better understand how to advise. There is work enough to engage every one who can work. Many have been converted through personal effort, and a blessed revival may be expected to follow such labor.
The older ministers should be careful that they do not, by precept or example, give young men to understand that the work of laborers in the field consists in preaching. The education of which young ministers are in greatest need, is that which will enable them to work in the various departments of the cause, and relieve those who are wearing out from overwork. There are also laymen in the church who have ability that can be brought into service, and who should be made responsible for some part of the work. Let them feel that there are to be no idlers in the vineyard of the Lord.
And let those who love the Lord and his truth unite by twos and threes to seek places of retirement and pray for God's blessing upon the minister who can hardly find time to pray because he is constantly engaged attending to so many requests, sitting in councils, answering inquiries, giving advice, writing important letters. Let the fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous ascend to God, that the word spoken may be a message of truth to reach the hearts of the hearers, and that souls may thereby be won to Christ.
Another matter which should receive attention, both at our campmeetings and elsewhere, is that of singing. A minister should not give out hymns to be sung, until it has first been ascertained that they are familiar to those who sing. A proper person should be appointed to take charge of this exercise, and it should be his duty to see that such hymns are selected as can be sung with the spirit and with the understanding also. Singing is a part of the worship of God, but in the bungling manner in which it is often conducted, it is no credit to the truth, and no honor to God. There should be system and order in this as well as every other part of the Lord's work. Organize a company of the best singers, whose voices can lead the congregation, and then let all who will, unite with them. Those who sing should make an effort to sing in harmony; they should devote some time to practice, that they may employ this talent to the glory of God.
But singing should not be allowed to divert the mind from the hours of devotion. If one must be neglected, let it be the singing. It is one of the great temptations of the present age to carry the practice of music to extremes, to make a great deal more of music than of prayer. Many souls have been ruined here. When the Spirit of God is arousing the conscience and convicting of sin, Satan suggests a singing exercise or a singing school, which, being conducted in a light and trifling manner, results in banishing seriousness, and quenching all desire for the Spirit of God. Thus the door of the heart, which was about to be opened to Jesus, is closed and barricaded with pride and stubbornness, in many cases never again to be opened.
By the temptations attending these singing exercises, many who were once really converted to the truth have been led to separate themselves from God. They have chosen singing before prayer, attended singing schools in preference to religious meetings, until the truth no longer exerts its sanctifying power upon their souls. Such singing is an offense to God.
The grace of Christ we cannot do without. We must have help from above if we resist the manifold temptations of Satan, and escape his devices. Amid the prevailing darkness, we must have light from God to reveal the traps and gins of error, or we shall be ensnared. We should improve the opportunity for prayer, both in secret and around the family altar. Many need to learn how to pray as well as how to sing. When we in humility tell the Lord our wants, the Spirit itself makes intercession for us; as our sense of need causes us to lay bare our souls before the all-searching eye of Omnipotence, our earnest, fervent prayers enter within the vail, our faith claims the promises of God, and help comes to us in answer to prayer.
Prayer is both a duty and a privilege. We must have help which God alone can give, and that help will not come unasked. If we are too self-righteous to feel our need of help from God, we shall not have his help when we need it most. If we are too independent and self-sufficient to throw ourselves daily by earnest prayer upon the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, we shall be left subject to Satan's temptations.
We have lost much in our meetings by our own indifference. There is much unprofitable talk, but little earnest, sincere prayer. Such prayers would bring strength and grace to resist the powers of darkness. God wants to bless. He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him than are parents to give good gifts to their children. But many do not feel their need. They do not realize that they can do nothing without the help of Jesus. Therefore they labor hard, but see little accomplished. Satan is working with all his power to block up the way, and without special help from God, the cause of truth will not go forward.
I have been shown angels of God all ready to impart grace and power to those who feel their need of divine strength. But these heavenly messengers will not bestow blessings unless solicited. They have waited for the cry from souls hungering and thirsting for the blessing of God; often have they waited in vain. There were, indeed, casual prayers, but not the earnest supplication from humble, contrite hearts. Meeting after meeting has closed with but little manifestation of the Spirit and power of God. The people seemed to be satisfied to reach no higher; they seemed to expect no revival of the work of God; but with grief and disappointment angels turned from the scene of confusion where tents were being removed, and the people preparing to return to their homes without the blessing which Heaven was more than willing to give them.
Those who would receive the blessing of the Lord, must themselves prepare the way, by confession of sin, by humiliation before God, with true penitence and with faith in the merits of the blood of Christ. The campmeeting should be a place for all Christians to be brought into working order. If they have never labored to bring souls to Jesus and the truth, it is time for them to begin now. God requires it of them, and if they would not be finally denounced as unfaithful servants, they must engage heartily in this work. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #35)
"Watchman, what of the night?" is the inquiry that should now arise from all hearts. And the true watchman will be able to give the answer, "The morning cometh, and also the night." This is a day of peril, a day of clouds and thick darkness. Men are blinded, infatuated by the god of this world. They close their eyes to the fearful events that are casting their shadows before. Intoxicated with self-indulgence and luxury, they know not that the tempest is about to burst upon them.
Satan and his hosts set themselves to overthrow the work of God. To fainting, unbelieving souls it may seem that the powers of darkness are about to prevail. Philosophy sets up reason as an antagonist of revelation. Science, falsely so called, directs the minds of men to the book of nature as a contradiction of the word of God. Critics search the Scriptures to find some pretext for treating with contempt the words of Holy Writ. The base spirit of worldliness leads men to seek to throw off the claims of their Maker. And many who profess to reverence God's word make war upon all who proclaim its plain and cutting truths.
At times the clamor of error and heresy seem almost to drown the voice of truth; yet the cry of the true watchman is still heard sounding from the watchtower, "The morning cometh, and also the night." We have no thought of discouragement, no thought of fainting or failing. Our only anxiety is to discharge our duty in the fear of God. We know that "God is, and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him;" he lives and reigns, and all he asks of us is humble faith and willing obedience. Those who occupy themselves in opposing his work and his servants, we leave to serve their own master, while we press forward to spread the triumphs of the cross.
There are many who consider it a mark of intelligence to doubt, and they pride themselves upon their ability to devise objections to God's word, to his truth, or to those who proclaim it. One class will bring together disconnected or obscure passages of Scripture, interpret to suit themselves, and then, after perverting or wholly concealing the true meaning they hold them up to ridicule as examples of the absurdities to be found in the Bible. Others attack in a similar manner the words and acts of those whom God calls to lead out in his cause. But are infidels and skeptics the men who devote their lives to noble efforts to reform and elevate mankind? And those who busy themselves in finding fault with the servants of God--are they laboring with zeal and energy to build up his kingdom? In this work they have little interest. Their mission is to weaken and tear down. This is the work of Satan, and he employs the ability of every man whom he can control.
There will ever be some who take delight in dwelling upon the real or supposed faults and failures of others, and who employ their time in seeing, hearing, or reporting something that will destroy confidence in the person criticised. Few are without visible faults; in most persons careful scrutiny will reveal some defect of character; and upon these defects in others, some professed Christians delight to dwell. The habit strengthens with indulgence, and a love for gossip becomes their ruling passion. They gather together the tidbits of reports,--all of them, it may be, utterly devoid of truth,--and feast upon the scandal, and share it with others as a rare delicacy.
A writer asks, Who ever heard of a dove rending the heart of a robin, or of a lamb sucking the blood of a kid? This is the work of hawks and tigers. The true followers of Christ will not be found biting and devouring one another. "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."
Envy and jealousy loose the bloodhounds of suspicion, and minds that love the sport join in hunting down the fair fame of Christ's ambassadors. An unjust insinuation is started, a conjecture is set afloat; and it gathers strength as it passes from one to another of those who desire it to be true. These evil reports are received with great satisfaction by some who have been reproved for heinous sins or grave defects of character. They smarted under the reproof, and yet did not reform. Now their consciences are eased; they learn that the reprover cannot be trusted; somebody has circulated a damaging report; somebody has brought an accusation. They leave the distasteful work of caring for their own souls and repenting of their own sins, and climb upon the judgment seat to condemn another.
Brethren and sisters, let not your souls be disturbed by the efforts of those who so earnestly seek to arouse distrust and suspicion of Sister White. These attacks have been repeated hundreds of times during the past forty years; but my labors have not ceased; the voice of warning, reproof, and encouragement has not been silenced. The evil reports framed concerning me have injured those who circulated them; but they have not destroyed my work. Before some of these opposers had an existence, I was shown what would come, and from what source. In the day of God, those who have been seeking to prove me a deceiver must answer for their course. I appeal to those who love the truth: Guard well the avenues of the soul. Place sentinels at the eyes, the ears, the lips. When prevarications and conjectures are brought before you, and your minds are disturbed, go to Jesus, and pray for help that you may not be ensnared by the wiles of Satan.
Many ask, Why do you not contradict these reports? Why allow them to be circulated? The same question has been asked again and again for the last forty years. My answer is, in the language of one of old, I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down. God has called me to reveal to others by pen and voice, what he has revealed to me. In his strength I must go forward in this solemn and important work, knowing that it is soon to bear the test of the Judgment. While false accusers are doing what pleases themselves, I will seek only to please Him who has given me my work. Christ is our leader, and if we follow him, we shall see his triumph and share his joy.
To those who have long been acquainted with my labors, I leave the burden of stating the truth in these matters. If any who have had an experience in this message and who understand the relation which I have sustained to it, are inclined to believe the false statements of my enemies, nothing that I might say would influence them. Those who make the slanders and those who circulate them are actuated by the same spirit. I do not expect the manufacture and circulation of false reports to cease. As long as I am faithful in reproving sin, and in presenting before the people the perfection of Christian character, Satan's enmity will be stirred against me. If I were to leave my work to correct every false statement made concerning me, I would have time to do little else. Satan's purpose would be accomplished, could he thus put an end to my labors.
I have not changed in character or in my manner of labor since you first listened to the messages of comfort, encouragement, and warning which God has given me for his people. I am the same in plainness and severe simplicity of dress; the same in bearing an earnest, decided testimony for God; the same in deep interest in the truth. I cherish the same faith, the same hope, the same love for souls for whom Christ died.
Brethren and sisters, have no fears that I shall become disheartened by the cruel attacks of my enemies. I expect them in greater measure, and only wonder that they have not been more frequent. Think of Jesus. How much was said against him. How he was despised and hated. See him laboring for a short time in one place, and then forced to hasten to another to save his life, that he might finish his work, and give to the world the light of a pure and noble example. We may strengthen our faith and quicken our love by going often to the foot of the cross, and there contemplating our Saviour's humiliation. Behold the Majesty of Heaven suffering as a transgressor! Spotless purity, untarnished righteousness, did not shield him from falsehood and reproach. He meekly bore the contradiction of sinners against himself, and yielded up his life, that we might be forgiven and live forevermore. Are we willing to follow in his steps? The only reason why we do not now suffer greater persecution is, we do not in our lives more faithfully exemplify the life of Christ. I assure you, brethren and sisters, if you walk as he walked, you will know what it is to be persecuted and reproached for his sake.
If we hope to wear the crown, we must expect to bear the cross. Our greatest trials will come from those who profess godliness. It was so with the world's Redeemer; it will be so with his followers. I should doubt whether I were a child of God, if the world, or even all professed Christians, spoke well of me. Those who are in earnest to win the crown of eternal life need not be surprised or disheartened because at every step toward the heavenly Canaan they meet with obstacles and encounter trials. The opposition which Christ received came from his own nation, who would have been greatly blessed had they accepted him. In like manner the remnant church receive opposition from those who profess to be their brethren.
But "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God." "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." It is good for me to tread a hard and humble path, to encounter difficulties, to experience disappointments, to suffer afflictions and bereavements. The Saviour knows what is best. Faith grows by conflict with doubt and difficulty and trial. Virtue gathers strength by resistance to temptation. The life of the faithful soldier is a battle and a march. No rest, fellow pilgrim, this side the heavenly Canaan.
When our enemies try to place upon us the black robes of unrighteousness, let us not become exasperated at their injustice. When your efforts are falsified, when your motives and your works are painted in colors black as ink, remember those who were treated the same before you. How have the saints of God in ages past been maligned, traduced, and persecuted! For centuries their names were covered with infamy. All that the hosts of hell could do was done to heap reproach upon them as the vilest of men. But John in holy vision beholds the faithful souls that come up out of great tribulation, surrounding the throne of God, clad in white robes, and crowned with immortal glory. What though they have been counted the offscouring of the earth? In the investigative Judgment their lives and characters are brought in review before God, and that solemn tribunal reverses the decision of their enemies. Their faithfulness to God and to his word stands revealed, and Heaven's high honors are awarded them as conquerors in the strife with sin and Satan.
Brethren, we can afford to wait. Let our enemies exult because they have represented us in a character to suit their malicious fancy. But Christ will judge righteously, and will reward every man according to his deeds. To the faithful, who have been clothed by their enemies in the black robes of falsehood, he will give the spotless garments of truth and purity.
It will do our proud hearts good to suffer reproach for Christ's sake. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you."
Take courage, then, when the burden is heavy, when the work moves slowly, and temptations, strong and fierce, surge in upon you. Cease not your effort so long as there is one soul to be warned by your words, one soul to be benefited by your example.
I entreat you to depend less upon your own efforts, and trust more to the power of Christ. Cultivate fortitude, firmness, patience, humility, and self-control. The God whom we serve will arm us with courage in every emergency; but we must abase self, and let God be all in all. It was true faith that gave Caleb courage to bear his decided testimony for God, even when fellow workers stood ready to take his life. God wants brave men in his cause today,--men who in his strength are not afraid to do and dare.
The time is short. How will our cases appear in the Judgment? What is now our standing before God? Are we closely examining our own hearts? Are we by repentance and confession sending our sins beforehand to Judgment, that they may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come? This is an individual work,--a work which we cannot safely delay. We should take hold of it earnestly; our salvation depends upon our sincerity and zeal. Let the cry be awakened in every heart, "What must I do to be saved?"
The adversary of souls is constantly seeking to divert our minds by bringing in side-issues. Let us not be deceived. Let enemies handle your name and mine as they please. Let them distort, misrepresent our words and deeds. Let them fabricate falsehoods as best pleases them. We cannot afford to allow our minds to be diverted from Jesus and the preparation of soul which we must have in order to meet him in peace.
Leave Sister White in the hands of God. If the work in which she is engaged be of God, it will prosper; otherwise it will come to naught. But remember that your own eternal interests are now at stake. The fatal lethargy upon you must now be broken, or it will result in endless death. "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." In Christ's stead, I beseech you to pray as you never prayed before, to seek earnestly for faith and love, that seem to be almost banished from the earth. Live each day as in the sight of God.
Your case will soon come in review before God; how is it with you, my brother? Are you unprepared for that solemn investigation? Christ alone hath the words of eternal life. Helpless, discouraged, sin-smitten soul, look to Jesus; he will pity, bless, and save you. Let not false teachers confuse your minds and unsettle your faith by casting reproach upon those whom God has sent you with messages of warning and instruction. Remember that it is not mere men whom you have to meet, but "principalities and powers, and wicked spirits in high places." Now is the very time when Satan is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.
Many are in reality fighting his battles while they profess to serve under the banner of Christ. These traitors in the camp may not be suspected, but they are doing their work to create unbelief, discord, and strife. Such are the most dangerous of foes. While they insinuate themselves into our favor, and gain our confidence and sympathy, they are busy suggesting doubts and creating suspicion. They work in the same manner as did Satan in Heaven when he deceived the angels by his artful representations, placing darkness for light, and making the forbearance and mercy of God to appear as harshness and severity. As he worked at the beginning, so he works in the end, only concealing himself more perfectly from view.
By every conceivable device, the foe is seeking to throw us off our guard. He may first attempt to deceive with smooth words and crafty insinuations; and if these fail, he proceeds to open violence. He has many a deep laid snare for unwary feet, and those who once become entangled find it almost impossible to extricate themselves. While he praises, flatters, and exalts some, he hurls his fiery darts at others. We must be on guard every moment. Days of peculiar trial, difficulty, and danger are before us.
It is not enough that we have the theory of the truth; its principles must be inwrought in the soul, and exemplified in the life, or we shall fall a prey to the delusions prepared for the last days.
We must make up our minds that instead of matters taking a more favorable turn, wicked men, seducing teachers, will grow worse and worse, deceiving themselves and deceiving others. We may expect greater opposition than has yet been experienced. We have heard but the growling of the dragon. This will swell to a roar. We have yet to learn the significance of those words of John: "Then the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." We must now make Christ our refuge, or in the days before us our souls will be overwhelmed with darkness and despair. There is a point beyond which human help cannot avail. Every one must live by faith as he is forced into close and apparently deadly conflict with the powers of darkness. Each must stand or fall for himself. The arrows of the destroyer are about to be hurled against the faithful ones, and no earthly power can turn aside the shaft. But could our eyes be opened we could see angels of God encircling the righteous, that no harm may come upon them. We have only to trust in God, and go forward in the way of obedience, and we shall be victorious.
"Now the just shall live by faith." We must look to Jesus, study his words, pray for his Spirit. We should be more frequently alone with God in meditation and prayer. Let us pray more and talk less. We cannot trust to our own wisdom, our own experience, our own knowledge of the truth; we must be daily learners, looking to our heavenly Teacher for instruction, and then, without regard to ease, pleasure, or convenience, we must go forward, knowing that He is faithful who has called.
We should cultivate a spirit of prayer, not merely praying in our closets, at the family altar, or in public, but having our minds constantly centered on God, taking hold upon his strength, pleading for his grace, confiding in his promises. Let us put on the whole armor of righteousness, which the Captain of our salvation has prepared for us. While we realize our weakness, let us rely upon His strength, and overcome by the grace which he imparts.
There is help in God for every seeker. Great promises are left on record for us. We should keep faith in constant exercise, and it will increase and strengthen. Our hope is in Christ, "whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #36)
"Be zealous and repent," is the admonition of Jesus to the Laodicean church. There is something to repent of. Worldly-mindedness, selfishness, and covetousness have been eating out their spiritual life. While they flatter themselves that they are rich, and increased with goods, and in need of nothing, Christ declares them to be "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."
Among the greatest dangers that threaten the church is the love of the world. Out of this spring the sins of selfishness and covetousness. With many, the more they get of earthly treasure, the more they set their affections on it, and still they reach out for more. Says Christ," 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." And many who profess to believe that we are now giving the last warning to the world, are striving with all their energies to place themselves in such a position that it would be easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for them to enter the kingdom.
Satan employs every means which he can devise to overthrow the followers of Christ. With marvelous skill and cunning he adapts his temptations to the peculiar temperament of each. Those who are naturally selfish and covetous he often tempts by throwing prosperity in their way. He knows that if they do not overcome their natural temperament, the love of mammon will cause them to stumble and fall. His object is often accomplished. When the riches of the world are offered them, many eagerly grasp the treasure, and think they are wonderfully prospered. The strong love of the world soon swallows up the love of the truth the approval of God is sacrificed to secure the favor of his enemies.
If those who are thus prospered would lay all their possessions upon the altar of God, they might overcome their selfish, covetous spirit, and so thwart the design of Satan. Worldly wealth may be made a blessing, if rightly used. All who possess it should realize that it is lent them of God, to be employed in his service. By giving freely to advance the cause of truth, and to relieve the wants of the needy, they may be the means of saving others, and thus bring a blessing to their own souls here, and lay up in Heaven a treasure that shall be theirs hereafter.
The True Witness counsels, "Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed," "and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." The gold of faith and love, the white raiment of a spotless character, and the eyesalve, or the power of clear discernment between good and evil,--all these we must obtain before we can hope to enter the kingdom of God. But these precious treasures will not drop upon us without some exertion on our part. We must buy,--we must be zealous and repent" of our lukewarm state. We must be awake to see our wrongs, to search for our sins, and to put them away from us.
Those who have set their affections upon earthly treasures, have a work to do to overcome their love of the world. Many are not giving heed to the admonition of the True Witness. They desire the blessings which he offers, but do not seek them with earnestness proportionate to their value. While striving for the possessions of earth, what zeal and energy they manifest! What cool calculations they make! They plan and toil early and late, and sacrifice their ease and comfort to obtain a treasure that must soon pass away. A corresponding zeal on their part to obtain the gold, the white raiment, and the eyesalve, would place them in possession of these heavenly treasurers, and of everlasting life in the kingdom of God.
Jesus is saying, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." But many have so much rubbish piled up at the door of the heart that they cannot admit Jesus. Some have difficulties between themselves and their brethren to remove; others have evil tempers, pride, covetousness; with others, love of the world bars the entrance. All this must be taken away, before they can open the door and welcome the Saviour in.
How precious is the promise, "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Oh, the love, the wondrous love of God! After all our lukewarmness and sins he says, Return unto me, and I will return unto thee, and will heal all thy backslidings.
"To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." We can overcome. Yes; fully, entirely. Jesus died to make a way of escape for us, that we might overcome every fault, resist every temptation, and sit down at last with him in his throne.
It is our privilege to have faith and salvation. The power of God has not decreased. It would be just as freely bestowed now as formerly; but the church have lost their faith to claim, their energy to wrestle, as did Jacob, crying, "I will not let Thee go, except thou bless me." Enduring faith has been dying away. It must be revived in the hearts of God's people. They must claim the blessing. Faith, living faith, always leads upward to God and glory; unbelief, downward to darkness and death.
Many are so absorbed in their worldly cares and perplexities that they have little time to pray, and feel but little interest in prayer. They may observe the form of worship, but the spirit of true supplication is lacking. Such have departed widely from the pattern. Jesus our example was much in prayer; and oh, how earnest, how fervent were his petitions! If he, the beloved Son of God, was moved to such earnestness, such agony, in our behalf, how much more need that we, who are dependent upon Heaven for all our strength, have our whole souls stirred to wrestle with God.
We should not be satisfied until every known sin is confessed, then it is our privilege and duty to believe that God accepts us. We must not wait for others to press through the darkness and obtain the victory for us to enjoy. Such enjoyment will not be lasting. God must be served from principle instead of from feeling. Morning and evening we should obtain the victory for ourselves, in our own families. Our daily labor should not keep us from this. We must take time to pray, and as we pray, believe that God hears us. We may not at all times feel the immediate answer, but then it is that faith is tried. We are proved to see whether we will trust in God, whether we have living, abiding faith.
"Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." We must trust the promises of the Lord, trust God in darkness; that is the time to have faith. But many let feeling govern them. They look for worthiness in themselves when they do not feel comforted by the Spirit of God; and they despair because they cannot find it. They do not trust enough in Jesus, precious Jesus. They do not make his worthiness to be their all. The very best that we can do, we shall not merit his favor. It is the worthiness of Christ that must save us, his blood that must cleanse us. But we have efforts to make. We must do what we can, be zealous and repent, then believe that God accepts us.
Many measure themselves among themselves, and compare their lives with the lives of others. This should not be. No one but Christ is given us as an example. He is our true pattern, and each should strive to excel in imitating him. We are co-workers with Christ or co-workers with the enemy. We either gather with Christ or scatter abroad. We are decided, wholehearted Christians, or none at all. Says Christ, "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth."
To be a Christian is not merely to take the name of Christ, but to have the mind of Christ, to submit to the will of God in all things. Many who profess to be Christians have yet to learn this great lesson. Many know little of what it is to deny self for Christ's sake. They do not study how they can best glorify God and advance his cause. But it is self, self, how can it be gratified? Such religion is worthless. In the day of God, those who possess it will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.
The true Christian will wait to learn the will of God, and watch for the leadings of his Spirit. But with many, religion is a mere form; vital godliness is lacking. They flatter themselves that they will be saved at last; but God has no pleasure in them. They are offensive in his sight. Christ now bids them, "Be zealous and repent." He kindly and faithfully admonishes them to seek for love, and faith, and purity. They can choose either to heed the warning, repent, and secure the blessing of the Lord, or remain in their lukewarm condition, and be rejected of God as abhorrent to him. God will not always bear with the backslidings of his professed people. He is longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy; yet his Spirit, long resisted, will at last be withdrawn forever. The time will come when mercy's sweet voice will no more be heard. Its last notes will have died away, and those who have slighted its pleadings will be left to their own ways.
All Heaven is interested in our salvation; and shall we be indifferent? Shall we be careless, as though it was a small matter whether we are saved or lost? Shall we slight the sacrifice that has been made for us? The infinite price paid for our redemption, shows us its value; and just in proportion to the magnitude of the gift offered, is the guilt and folly of its rejection. All that God could do has been done to save man. Those who reject the mercy so freely proffered, will yet be made to know the worth of that which they have despised. They will feel the agony which Christ endured upon the cross to purchase redemption for all who would receive it. And they will then realize what they have lost,--eternal life and the immortal inheritance.
In the time of peril before us, the professed followers of Christ will be tested. None will be able to stand but those who have had a deep and living experience in the things of God. The work of all will then be tried; if it is gold, silver, and precious stones, they will be safely shielded, as in the secret of the Lord's pavilion; but if their lifework proves to be wood, hay, and stubble, nothing can hide them from the fierceness of Jehovah's wrath.
Many hardly know, as yet, what self-denial is, or what it is to sacrifice for the truth's sake. But none will enter Heaven but by the same path of humiliation, self-sacrifice, and cross bearing, that the Saviour trod. Only those who are willing to sacrifice all for eternal life will have it; but it will be worth suffering for, worth crucifying self and sacrificing every idol for. The far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory will outweigh every earthly treasure and eclipse every earthly attraction.. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #37)
During our first visit to California, in early spring, we noticed the husbandmen on every hillside busily engaged about some important plant. Going nearer to see the object of their care, we found it merely a small stub, unsightly, and apparently lifeless. With surprise we learned that the field before us was a vineyard, and that these insignificant plants were the grapevines. One can hardly conceive a more unpromising appearance than was there presented.
In September we again visited a vineyard; and what a change! The wintry stub had shot forth branches, beautiful in their fresh verdure, and laden with rich clusters of purple fruit. As we compared the former barren and lifeless appearance with the verdure and fruitfulness before us, we could but think of those words of the prophet concerning Christ: "He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him. He was despised, and we esteemed him not." It was thus that the Jewish nation looked upon Jesus.
The Divine Husbandman planted a goodly vine upon the hills of Palestine. But the men of Israel despised this root of heavenly origin. In a rage they cast it over their vineyard wall; they bruised it, and trampled it under their indignant feet, and hoped that they had destroyed it forever. The Husbandman removed the broken vine, and concealed it from their sight. Again he planted it, but in such a manner that the stock was no longer visible. The branches hung over the wall, and grafts might be joined to it, but the stem itself was placed beyond the power of men to reach or harm.
To this world, dark with the shadows of sin, sorrow, and death, came the Son of God with the light of pardon, peace, and immortal life. "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." But the world hated Christ because his perfect purity was in such contrast to their own vileness. They rejected and crucified the Lord of life. God raised him from the dead, and hid him from mortal view; but he is still the Saviour of mankind. He is still the vine stock, the source and sustainer of spiritual life. Still may grace, strength, and salvation be derived from his fullness. Though the Vine itself is unseen, its branches are visible. While Christ is removed from human sight, his life and power are manifested in his followers.
Grafts may still be united with the Vine. As the severed branch, leafless, and apparently lifeless, is ingrafted into the living stock, and, fiber by fiber, and vein by vein, drinks in the life and strength of the vine until it buds and blossoms and bears fruit, even so may the sinner, by repentance and faith, connect himself with Christ, become a partaker of the divine nature, and bring forth in words and deeds the fruit of a holy life.
Jesus "has life in himself," and this life he offers to impart freely to souls that are dead in trespasses and sins. Yea, he shares with them his purity, his honor, and exaltation. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God." The sapless branch, ingrafted into the living vine, becomes a part of the vine. It lives while united to the vine. So the Christian lives by virtue of his union with Christ. The sinful and human is linked to the holy and divine.
The believing soul abides in Christ, and becomes one with him. When persons are closely united in the relations of this life, their tastes become similar, they come to love the same things. So those who abide in Christ will love the things which he loves. They will sacredly cherish and obey his commandments for he himself has made this a condition of sharing his love: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love."
The union of the soul with Christ is a relation of dependence. The inferior relies upon the wisdom and strength of the superior. "Without me," says Jesus, "ye can do nothing." Christ is our wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me."
"He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." The vine branch, nourished from the parent stock, becomes flourishing and fruitful. Its rich and fragrant clusters attest its union with the living vine. So the Christian, abiding in Jesus, will bring forth fruit. In character and life will be manifested, like the teeming cluster of the vine, the precious graces of the Spirit,--love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Not one of these fruits will be missing in the life of one in whose soul the Spirit of Christ abides.
Wherever there is union with Christ, there is love. Whatever other fruits we may bear, if love be missing, they profit nothing. Love to God and our neighbor is the very essence of religion. No one can love Christ and not love his children. When we are united to Christ, his mind is transferred to us. Purity and love shine forth in the character; meekness and truth control the life. The very expression of the countenance is changed. Christ abiding in the soul exerts a transforming power, and the outward aspect bears witness to the peace and joy that reign within.
Every fruitful branch is pruned. "Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." There is a constant tendency to be more profuse in foliage than in fruit. The strength and nourishment which goes to support the excessive foliage, is taken from the grapes. Therefore the husbandman prunes away the useless growth, that the fruit may be richer and more abundant. Thus it is that the Heavenly Husbandman deals with his vineyard. In prosperity the followers of Jesus often turn their thoughts and energies to gratifying themselves, to securing earthly treasure, to enjoying the ease and pleasure and luxury of the world, while they bring forth little fruit to the glory of God. Then the Husbandman, to promote the fruitfulness of the branches, comes with the pruning knife of disappointment, loss, or bereavement, and cuts away the hindering growth.
A gentleman who was much depressed in spirits by some afflictive providence, was one evening walking in a garden, when he observed a pomegranate tree nearly cut through the stem. Greatly wondering, he asked the gardener the reason, and received an answer that explained to his satisfaction the wounds of his own bleeding heart,--"Sir, this tree used to shoot so strong that it bore nothing but leaves. I was therefore obliged to cut it in this manner, and when it was almost cut through, then it began to bear plenty of fruit."
Our sorrows do not spring out of the ground. In every affliction, God has a purpose for our good. Every blow that destroys an idol, every providence that weakens our hold upon the things of earth, and fixes our affections more firmly upon God, is a blessing. The pruning may be painful for a time, but afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness. We should receive with gratitude whatever will quicken the conscience, elevate the thoughts, and ennoble the life. There are branches that are cut off for the fire; let us thank God if we may, through painful pruning, retain a connection with the living Vine; for if we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him.
Precious are the privileges accorded him who abides in Christ. Said our Saviour, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." The mind of Christ dwells in his faithful followers; their desires are in accordance with his will; their petitions are indited by his Spirit. They obtain answers to their prayers; for they ask for such blessings as he delights to bestow.
But there are thousands of prayers daily offered that God does not answer. There are faithless prayers. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." There are selfish prayers, proceeding from a heart that is cherishing idols. "If any man regard iniquity in his heart, the Lord will not hear him." There are petulant, fretful prayers, murmuring because of the burdens and cares of life, instead of humbly seeking grace to lighten them. Those who offer such petitions are not abiding in Christ. They have not submitted their will to the will of God. They do not comply with the condition of the promise, and it is not fulfilled to them.
They that are abiding in Jesus have the assurance that God will hear them, because they love to do his will. They offer no formal, wordy prayer, but come to God in earnest, humble confidence, as a child to a tender father, and pour out the story of their grief and fears and sins, and in the name of Jesus present their wants; they depart from his presence rejoicing in the assurance of pardoning love and sustaining grace.
The graft that unites with the vine stock and partakes of its life, becomes flourishing and fruitful; but what if it forms no such union? It is a withered branch; though outwardly joined to the vine, it does not share its life; it cannot bring forth fruit. That lifeless scion is all too true a figure of a large class of professed Christians. Though outwardly joined to Christ, they have no vital connection with him; they do not share his life or bring forth fruit to his glory. They are withered branches, tenderly nurtured for a time, but, remaining unchanged, they will be taken away at last.
My brethren and sisters, I entreat you to heed the solemn lesson of the vine and its branches. Resolve that you will be fruit bearing members of the living Vine. The scion can flourish only as it receives life and strength from the parent stock. Improve, then, every opportunity to connect yourselves more closely with Christ. It is by believing him, loving him, copying him, and depending wholly upon him, that you are to become one with him; and through you his life and character will be revealed to the world.
It is by opening your heart to the words of Christ that you are to become a partaker of the divine nature. When you cast your helpless soul upon him, believing his word, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out", then the union is begun. Your faith may be feeble, but cling to the Saviour's promise. In him is light and hope and life. His words, received into the soul, will give vital power to work the works of Christ; and every effort put forth in love will bind you more firmly to your source of strength. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Let the words of Christ abide in you, and you will at last be able to say, with him who declared himself the chief of sinners. "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #39)
"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." The word of God presents the most potent means of education, as well as the most valuable source of knowledge, within the reach of man. The understanding adapts itself to the dimensions of the subjects with which it is required to deal. If occupied with trivial, commonplace matters only, never summoned to earnest effort to comprehend great and eternal truths, it becomes dwarfed and enfeebled. Hence the value of the Scriptures, as a means of intellectual culture. Their perusal, in a reverent and teachable spirit, will expand and strengthen the mind as no other study can. They lead directly to the contemplation of the most exalted, the most ennobling, and the most stupendous truths that are presented to the mind of man. They direct our thoughts to the infinite Author of all things. We see revealed the character of the Eternal, and listen to his voice as he communes with patriarchs and prophets. We see explained the mysteries of his providence, the great problems which have engaged the attention of every thoughtful mind, but which, without the aid of revelation, human intellect seeks in vain to solve. They open to our understanding a simple yet sublime system of theology, presenting truths which a child may grasp, but which are yet so far-reaching as to baffle the powers of the strongest mind.
The more closely God's word is searched, and the better understood, the more vividly will the student realize that there is, beyond, infinite wisdom, knowledge; and power. Those who seek to find out God as he is revealed in the pages of inspiration, will learn the hard but useful lesson, that human intellect is not omnipotent; that without divine help, human strength and wisdom are but weakness and folly.
But when controlled by the love and fear of God, and devoted to his service, intellectual culture is a blessing. It is true that the world's men of learning are not easily reached by the practical truths of God's word. The reason is, they trust to human wisdom, and pride themselves upon their intellectual superiority, and are unwilling to become humble learners in the school of Christ. Our Saviour did not ignore learning or despise education; yet he chose unlearned fishermen for the work of the gospel, because they had not been schooled in the false customs and traditions of the world. They were men of good natural ability and of a humble, teachable spirit; men whom he could educate for his great work. In the ordinary walks of life there is many a man patiently treading the round of daily toil, all unconscious that he possesses powers which, if called into action, would raise him to an equality with the world's most honored men. The touch of a skillful hand is needed to arouse and develop those dormant faculties. It was such men whom Jesus connected with himself; and he gave them the advantages of three years training under his own care. No course of study in the schools of the rabbis or the halls of philosophy could have equaled this in value. The Son of God was the greatest educator the world ever knew.
The learned lawyers, priests, and scribes scorned to be taught by Christ. They desired to teach him, and frequently made the attempt, only to be defeated by the wisdom that laid bare their ignorance, and rebuked their folly. In their pride and bigotry, they would not accept the words of Christ, yet they were surprised at the wisdom with which he spake. They knew that he had not learned in the schools of the prophets, and they could not discern the divine excellence of his character beneath the lowly disguise of the Man of Nazareth. But the words and deeds of the humble Teacher, recorded by the unlettered companions of his daily life, have exerted a living power upon the minds of men from that day to the present. Not merely the ignorant and humble, but men of education, intellect, and genius, reverently exclaim, with the wondering and delighted listeners of old, "Never man spake like this man."
The light and understanding which God's word imparts is not designed merely, or chiefly, to promote intellectual culture. For an object higher than any earthly or temporal good were the holy oracles committed unto men. We see therein revealed the great plan of human redemption, the means devised to free mankind from the power of Satan. We see Christ, the Captain of our salvation, meeting the prince of darkness in open battle, and, single-handed, obtaining the victory in our behalf. We learn, too, that by this victory, was opened to us a door of hope, a source of strength, and that we may, as faithful soldiers, fight our own battles with the wily foe, and conquer in the name of Jesus. The powers of darkness must be met by every soul. The young, as well as the old, will be assailed, and all should understand the nature of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, and should realize that it concerns themselves. All are actors in the scene, sharers in the conflict. To be armed for the battle, all need "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
In the Scriptures are presented truths that relate especially to our own time. To the period just prior to the appearing of the Son of man, the prophecies of Scripture point, and here their warnings and threatenings preeminently apply. The prophetic periods of Daniel, extending to the very eve of the great consummation, throw a flood of light upon events then to transpire. The book of Revelation is also replete with warning and instruction for the last generation. The beloved John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, portrays the fearful and thrilling scenes connected with the close of earth's history, and presents the duties and dangers of God's people. None need remain in ignorance, none need be unprepared for the coming of the day of God.
It is not enough to have an intellectual knowledge of the truth. This alone cannot give the light and understanding essential to salvation. There must be an entrance of the word into the heart. It must be set home by the power of the Holy Spirit. The will must be brought into harmony with its requirements. Not only the intellect but the heart and conscience must concur in the acceptance of the truth.
The entrance of God's word gives understanding to the simple,--those who are untaught in the wisdom of the world. The Holy Spirit brings the saving truths of the Scriptures within the comprehension of all who desire to know and do the will of God. Uneducated minds are enabled to grasp the most sublime and soul-stirring themes that can engage the attention of men,-- themes that will be the study and the song of the redeemed through all eternity.
It is the knowledge which God's word supplies, and which can be found nowhere else, that we need above every other. We want to know what to do in this our day, to escape the snares of Satan and to win the crown of glory. If at any time we do not clearly understand the testimony of the Scriptures concerning any duty, we are bidden to go to the great Teacher. Whenever we lack wisdom, it is our privilege and our duty to ask of God. If we come in humility and faith, we shall not be sent empty away.
But when one sees clearly the claims of duty, let him not presume to go to God with the prayer that he may be excused from obedience because it involves a cross. Let him go, rather, with a humble, submissive spirit, asking for divine strength and wisdom, to accept and to practice the truth. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths." Thus the "simple" may, by making God's word their rule of life, discharge its duties with true wisdom, being a living exemplification of the psalmist's words, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
If the youth will but learn of the heavenly Teacher, as did Daniel, they will know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Having thus laid a sure foundation, they may, like Daniel, turn every privilege and opportunity, to the very best account. They may rise to any height in intellectual attainments. Those who consecrate themselves to God, and who have the protection of his grace and the quickening influence of his Spirit, will manifest keener intellectual power than the mere worldling. They will be able to reach the highest, noblest exercise of every faculty.
The study of the Scriptures would give to the world men of stronger and more active intellect than will the closest application to all the subjects which human philosophy embraces. Those especially who have the ministry in view should give diligent study to the word of God. In so doing, they may secure mental discipline, and at the same time gain such a knowledge of its rich stores that they can draw from the treasure house things new and old.
There is a wide difference between what God has given men capacity to become, and the degree of excellence to which they actually attain. If it were considered a duty to cultivate all our powers to the fullest extent, they would be continually increasing. The Bible teaches men to act from principle, and whenever we successfully resist evil influence, we are strengthening that principle which has been assailed. The mere possession of talent is no guarantee of usefulness or happiness in life. Right principles are the only basis of true success.
It is necessary to think rightly, in order to act with wisdom. To form a well-balanced character, we must give attention to physical, mental, and moral culture; and for each of these, the Bible contains the most valuable instruction. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #40)
It is the duty of every Christian to seek a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. The importance of this can hardly be overestimated. "Given by inspiration of God," "able to make us wise unto salvation," rendering "the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works," the Book of books has the highest claim to our reverent attention. We must not be satisfied with superficial knowledge, but must seek to learn the full meaning of the words of truth, and to drink deep of the spirit of the holy oracles.
To read a certain number of chapters daily, or commit to memory a stipulated amount without careful thought as to the meaning of the sacred text, is a work of little profit. We cannot obtain wisdom without earnest attention and prayerful study. Some portions of Scripture are, indeed, too plain to be misunderstood; but there are others whose meaning does not lie upon the surface, to be seen at a glance. Scripture must be compared with scripture; there must be careful research and patient reflection. And such study will be richly repaid. As the miner discovers veins of precious metal concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who perseveringly searches the word of God as for hid treasure, find truths of greatest value, which are concealed from the view of the careless seeker.
No effort should be spared to establish a right habit of study. If the mind wanders, bring it back. If the intellectual and moral taste has been perverted by the overwrought and exciting tales of fiction, so that you are disinclined to apply yourself to the diligent study of God's word, then you have a battle to fight with yourself to overcome this depraved habit. A love for fictitious reading should be broken up at once. Rigid rules should be enforced to hold the mind in a proper channel. The pernicious practice of story reading is one of the means employed by Satan to destroy souls. The mind that is occupied with exciting stories, loses all relish for solid reading that would improve the memory and strengthen the intellect.
I am acquainted with many sad examples of the evil effects of this baneful practice. In youth, the persons of whom I speak had well-balanced minds. God had endowed them with mental powers of no ordinary character. But they took up the reading of romance, and the more they indulged the appetite for this food, the greater was the demand. The imagination constantly craved its accustomed stimulus, as the inebriate longs for his wine or tobacco. Their mental and moral powers were weakened and perverted. They lost their interest in the Scriptures and their relish for prayer; and they were as truly ruined, mentally and spiritually, as is the liquor drinker or the tobacco devotee. Novel readers are mental inebriates; and they need to sign a pledge of total abstinence as verily as does the victim of any other form of intemperance.
Another source of danger, against which we should be constantly on our guard, is the reading of infidel authors. Such works are inspired by Satan, and no one can read them without loss to the soul. It is true that some who are affected by them may finally recover; but all who tamper in the least with their foul influence, place themselves on Satan's ground, and he makes the most of his advantage. As they invite his temptations, they have not wisdom to discern or strength to resist them. With a fascinating, bewitching power, unbelief and infidelity fasten themselves upon the mind. To harbor their suggestions is like recklessly taking to your bosom a serpent whose sting is always poisonous and often fatal.
We are surrounded by unbelief. The very atmosphere seems charged with it. Only by constant effort can we resist its power. Those who value their soul's salvation, should shun infidel writings as they would shun the leprosy.
Dear youth, be careful what you read. While the mind is directed into hurtful channels by an improper course of reading, it is impossible for you to make the truth of God the subject of constant meditation. If there was ever a time when a knowledge of the Scriptures was more important than at any other period, that time is the present. I appeal to young and old: Make the word of God your textbook. Here you will find the true standard of character. Here you may learn what it is to be a Christian in the true acceptation of the term.
The Sabbath school affords to parents and children a precious opportunity for the study of God's word. But in order to gain that benefit which they should gain in the Sabbath school, both parents and children should devote time to the study of the lessons, seeking to obtain a thorough knowledge of the facts presented, and also of the spiritual truths which these facts are designed to teach. We should especially impress upon the minds of the young the importance of seeking the full significance of the scripture under consideration.
In some schools, I am sorry to say, the custom prevails of reading the lesson from the lesson sheet. This should not be. It need not be, if the time that is often needlessly and even sinfully employed, were given to the study of the Scriptures. There is no reason why Sabbath school lessons should be less perfectly learned by teachers or pupils than are the lessons of the day school. They should be better learned, as they treat of subjects infinitely more important. A neglect here is displeasing to God.
Parents, set apart a little time each day for the study of the Sabbath school lesson with your children. Give up the social visit if need be, rather than sacrifice the hour devoted to the precious lessons of sacred history. Parents as well as children will receive benefit from this study. Let the more important passages of Scripture connected with the lesson be committed to memory, not as a task, but as a privilege. Though at first memory may be defective, it will gain strength by exercise, so that after a time you will delight thus to treasure up the precious words of truth. And the habit will prove a most valuable aid to religious growth.
If the time that is worse than wasted in gossip, in ministering to pride, or for the gratification of appetite, were devoted with equal interest to the study of the Bible, what encouragement would be given to our Sabbath schools! But when parents are more anxious to have their children fashionably dressed than to have their minds stored with the truths of God's word, the children themselves will soon learn to regard dress and display as of more consequence than the things which concern their salvation.
Parents, yours is an important and solemn responsibility. Make it your lifework to form the characters of your children according to the divine Pattern. If they ever possess the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, it will be because you perseveringly trained them to love the teachings of God's word, and to seek the approval of Jesus above the approbation of the world.
Observe system in the study of the Scriptures in your families. Neglect anything of a temporal nature, dispense with all unnecessary sewing, and with needless provision for the table, but be sure that the soul is fed with the bread of life. It is impossible to estimate the good results of one hour or even half an hour each day devoted in a cheerful, social manner to the word of God. Make the Bible its own expositor, bringing together all that is said concerning a given subject at different times and under varied circumstances. Do not break up your home class for callers or visitors. If they come in during the exercise, invite them to take part in it. Let it be seen that you consider it more important to obtain a knowledge of God's word than to secure the gains or pleasures of the world.
All over the field of revelation are scattered the glad springs of heavenly truth, and peace, and joy. They are within the reach of every seeker. The words of inspiration, pondered in the heart, will be as streams flowing from the river of the water of life. Our Saviour prayed that the minds of the disciples might be opened to understand the Scriptures. And whenever we study the Bible with a prayerful heart, the Holy Spirit is near to open to us the meaning of the words we read.
Let the youth be taught to love the study of the Bible. Let the first place in our thoughts and affections be given to the Book of books; for it contains knowledge which we need above all other. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Let us seek to be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. Let us put forth earnest efforts to draw near to God, that his angels may be near to protect and bless us. Thus may we gain the victory over the power of Satan, and finally receive the crown of glory, honor, and immortality. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #41)
Sunday evening, Aug. 19, I spoke by invitation at the Sanitarium. It was estimated that about four hundred persons were assembled in the ample parlor and adjoining rooms, in the broad hall, and upon the verandas. Around me were gathered the Sanitarium patients, the most feeble reclining upon sofas and rolling chairs. It was a touching scene.
Father Stone opened the meeting by prayer. With a heart deeply stirred, I addressed the crowded congregation from the words, "He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile; 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."
Many persons complain of Providence because of the discomfort and inconvenience which they suffer, when this is the sure result of their own course. They seem to feel that they are ill-treated of God, when they themselves are alone responsible for the ills which they endure. Our kind and merciful heavenly Father has established laws, which, obeyed, would promote physical, mental, and moral health. A violation of these laws is a violation of the immutable law of God, and the penalty will surely follow.
God requires us to yield our own will to his; but he does not ask us to give up anything that it would be for our good to retain. No one can be happy while he devotes his life to selfish gratification. A course of obedience to God is the wisest course for us to pursue; for it brings peace, content, and happiness as the sure result.
If the lips were constantly guarded so that no guile could corrupt them, what an amount of suffering, degradation, and misery might be prevented. If we would say nothing to wound or grieve, except in necessary reproof of sin, that God might not be dishonored, how much misunderstanding, bitterness, and anguish would be prevented. If we would speak words of good cheer, words of hope and faith in God, how much light we might shed upon the pathway of others, to be reflected in still brighter beams upon our own souls. The path of obedience to God is the path of virtue, of health, and happiness. The plan of salvation, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, opens up a way whereby man may secure happiness and prolong his days upon the earth, as well as enjoy the favor of Heaven and secure that future life which measures with the life of God. The words of inspiration will never fail. Whenever we comply with the conditions, the Lord will surely fulfill his promises.
We cannot but wonder that beings endowed with reasoning powers will by their willful disregard of the word of God render their case so much worse than need be. If men would place themselves in right relation to God by heeding the counsel of his word, they would escape innumerable dangers, and experience a peace and content that would render life a joy rather than a burden. If they would resist the allurements of forbidden pleasure, and the temptations to excess in eating, dressing, and speaking, they might in many cases greatly prolong their life here, as well as secure eternal life hereafter.
The assurance of God's approval will promote physical health. It fortifies the soul against doubt, perplexity, and excessive grief, that so often sap the vital forces and induce nervous diseases of a most debilitating and distressing character. The Lord has pledged his unfailing word that his eye shall be over the righteous, and his ear open to their prayer, while he is against all them that do evil. We make very hard work for ourselves in this world when we take such a course that the Lord is against us.
Many fall into a sad error in the belief that they may violate the laws of nature to gratify pride in dress, to indulge depraved appetite, or to find enjoyment in sensual pleasure, in the days of their youth and prosperity, and then stop when they please. They will not find it an easy matter to change the current of their thoughts to divorce themselves from their frivolous pursuits, and become sensible, candid, and thoughtful. They have squandered precious time, and lost a valuable experience. Their character has been warped and deformed by years of crooked growth. In their own strength it is impossible for them to change this result.
It is just here that all should feel their need of the mighty Healer. When they have done all in their power to place themselves in right relation to life and health, then they may come in penitence and faith to the all- tender, compassionate, loving Saviour, and ask of him physical, mental, and moral strength to act their part in blessing their fellowmen. But the Lord will not hear and answer the prayers of those who are knowingly doing evil by unhealthful practices of any kind. God, in his wisdom, has established natural laws for the proper control of our dress, our appetites, and our passions, and he requires of us obedience in every particular. It is by disregard of these laws that so many render their lives burdensome.
If we make God our trust, and carry our troubles to the great Burden Bearer, we shall find rest to our souls. When the poor paralytic was brought to the house where Jesus was teaching, a dense crowd surrounded the door, barring every way of access to the Saviour. But faith and hope had been kindled in the heart of the poor sufferer, and he proposed that his friends take him to the rear of the house, break up the roof, and let him down into the presence of Christ. The suggestion was acted upon; as the afflicted one lay at the feet of the mighty Healer, all that man could do for his restoration had been done. Jesus knew that the sufferer had been tortured with a sense of his sins, and that he must first find relief from this burden. With a look of tenderest compassion, the Saviour addressed him, not as a stranger, or even a friend, but as one who had even then been received into the family of God: "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
This was the assurance which he most desired. His weak soul had yielded to temptation. He had indulged sinful inclination at the expense of sacred responsibilities and holy trust, until he was tortured with the thought that he was indeed the devil's own, betrayed into his hands, and under his control. But one who could break the strong hands of Satan had spoken, and the sinner was pardoned, the captive set free; and as hope and peace sprang up in his soul, there came the earnest, anxious desire to tell every one the story of his deliverance. Oh for health that he might point others also to the Friend of sinners! The Pharisees standing by were filled with greater bitterness by the Saviour's words, and said within themselves, "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?" Jesus then gave them most striking evidence of his divine character by showing that he read the thoughts of their hearts as an open book. "Wherefore," said he, "think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." The sufferer arose and departed to his house. "But when the multitude saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men."
The same compassionate, loving Saviour is ready to listen to our prayers and to pity our weakness. The same mighty Helper will impart strength unto us. He is still pleading in behalf of every convicted, repentant, sin- stricken soul. Our hearts should be filled with joy and gratitude and praise because of his loving kindness and manifold mercy to the children of men.
Everything beautiful and useful in our world we owe to the mercy of Christ. What, then, is the position of those who accept every favor from their beneficent Saviour, but are too proud, too ungrateful, too heartless, to acknowledge their obligation, and render praise to the Giver. Such conduct toward their fellowmen would be pronounced not merely uncourteous but heathenish; yet when manifested toward God, it calls forth no rebuke; it is not condemned by the world's standard, and with this many are satisfied. Ungrateful souls, in their insensibility, resemble the beasts of the field, that eat and drink and return no thanks to the Giver of all blessings.
Look upon the beauty that still adorns the earth, its lofty trees, its carpet of living green, its endless variety of flowers of every tint and hue, colored by the skill of the great Master Artist. Is it rational, is it manly, is it honorable to accept the gifts, and not recognize and thank the Giver? The beauty that gladdens our earthly path should speak to our hearts of the love of God for his creatures. It is but a dim reflection of the brightness of the better land, yet unrevealed. By beholding this our minds are enabled to grasp the glories within, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man," but which "God hath prepared for them that love him."
Monday evening, Aug. 20, I spoke again to those employed at the Review Office. I deeply felt the need of a reformation, a transformation of character, with all connected with the publishing house. Unless they would fight the battles of the Lord, and gain the victory over self and sin, they could not win the crown of life. They should act from principle, be firm and decided, and wholly on the side of right. Should they fail to do this, their defense would be removed, and they would be found on the enemy's side, scattering from Christ. Unbelief grows as naturally as thistle seed, which, blown here and there, takes root, vegetates, and produces yearly an increased harvest.
I entreated all, for Christ's sake, to become established for themselves upon the sure word of prophecy. All should be able to give the reason of the hope that is within them. A vigilant foe is at work earnestly and untiringly, to weaken their confidence in God and the truth. The most extravagant, inconsistent reports in regard to my position, my work, and my writings, will be put in circulation. But those who have had an experience in this message, and have become acquainted with the character of my work, will not be affected by those things, unless they themselves backslide from God, and become corrupted by the spirit of the world. Some will be deceived because of their own unfaithfulness. They want to believe a lie. Some have betrayed sacred, important trusts, and this is why they wander in the mazes of doubt. Like partially blind men, they see men as trees walking. It is unsafe to trust to the judgment of men, even though they may occupy responsible positions. Every person must have a close connection with God for himself. Our only safety is to watch and pray, and depart from all iniquity. If we would stand in the day of the Lord, we must search carefully our own hearts, and know whether we are in the love of God. Says the apostle: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" This close self-examination must go forward day by day and hour by hour.
Influences have been at work to unsettle the faith, and weaken the confidence of the naturally doubting and skeptical. There are some, even connected with our institutions, who are in great danger of making shipwreck of faith. Satan will work in disguise, in his most deceptive manner, in these branches of God's work. He makes these important instrumentalities his special points of attack, and he will leave no means untried to cripple their usefulness. The same enemy that is ever on my track, will be on yours also. He will suggest, conjecture, fabricate all sorts of reports, and those who wish them true will believe them. But be assured that the attacks of Satan will not turn me from the path of duty. The work committed to me forty years ago I must carry forward as long as life shall last. I will not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. Unpleasant as it may be, I must warn, reprove, rebuke, as God bids me, whether the carnal heart will accept or reject the words of warning. For forty years, Satan has made the most determined efforts to cut off this testimony from the church; but it has continued from year to year to warn the erring, to unmask the deceiver, to encourage the desponding. My trust is in God. I have learned not to be surprised at opposition in any form or from almost any source. I expect to be betrayed, as was my Master, by professed friends.
It is my prayer that I may have strength and grace to pursue a straightforward course, and to do my work with fidelity. Every soul will be tried and tested. Let all be careful how they treat the warnings, reproofs, and entreaties of the Spirit of God. Those who reject light because it does not harmonize with their inclinations, will be left in darkness, to choose the things they love,--the things that separate them from the favor of God.
In these days of peril we should be exceedingly careful not to reject the rays of light which Heaven in mercy sends us; for it is by these that we are to discern the devices of the enemy. We need light from Heaven every hour, that we may distinguish between the sacred and the common, the eternal and the temporal. If left to ourselves, we shall blunder at every step; we shall incline to the world, we shall shun self-denial, and see no necessity for constant watchfulness and prayer, and we shall be taken captive by Satan at his will. Some are today in this position. Having refused the light which God has sent them, they know not at what they stumble.
All whose names shall at last be found written in the Lamb's book of life, will fight manfully the battles of the Lord. They will labor most earnestly to discern and put away temptations and every evil thing. They will feel that the eye of God is upon them, and that the strictest fidelity is required. As faithful sentinels they will keep the passage barred that Satan may not pass them disguised as an angel of light to work his work of death in their midst. God wants every one of his servants to have clear, sharp, spiritual eyesight. Instead of admitting to their confidence those who have not been proved, it is their duty to challenge them, to test their fidelity, that doubt and unbelief of the present truth may not work like leaven in the midst of us.
It is far easier to allow matters in our important institutions to go in a lax, loose way, than to weed out that which is offensive, which will corrupt and destroy confidence and faith. But it would be far better to have a smaller number of workers, to accomplish less, and as far as possible, to have these who are engaged in the work truehearted, firm as rock in principle, loving the whole truth, obedient to all the commandments of God. The white-robed ones who surround the throne of God, are not composed of that company who were lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, and who choose to drift with the current rather than to breast the waves of opposition. All who remain pure and uncorrupted from the spirit and influence prevailing at this time, will have stern conflicts. They will come through great tribulation; they will wash their robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. These will sing the song of triumph in the kingdom of glory. Those who suffer with Christ will be partakers of his glory. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #44)
Sunday, Aug. 12, in company with Sr. Sarah Mcenterfer, I left the Pacific Coast, on my way to the East. Although we suffered considerably from heat and dust, we had a pleasant journey across the plains. We found conductor and porters ready to do all in their power for our comfort and convenience.
From the time that we stepped on board the train, I felt perfectly satisfied that I was in the way of duty. I have had sweet communion with my Saviour, and have felt that he is my refuge and my fortress, and that no harm can come to me while engaged in the work which he has given me to do. I have an abiding trust in the promises of God, and enjoy that peace which comes only from Jesus.
In the seat next us in the car was an actress, evidently a woman of ability, and possessed of many good qualities, which, if devoted to the service of God, might win for her the Saviour's commendation, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." This woman and myself are both actors on the stage of life, but oh, how vastly different is our work! I felt not the slightest temptation to desire her honors. I thirst not for the applause of the idle and pleasure loving multitudes that seek the unnatural excitement of the drama.
The theater is a poor place of resort for the strengthening of virtuous principles. Rather, its influence is highly injurious to both health and morals. The lady's attendant remarked that it was somewhat trying to be deprived of sleep night after night until two and sometimes three o'clock in the morning, and then spend a large portion of the day in bed. The divinely appointed order of day and night is disregarded, health is sacrificed, for the amusement of those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. The effect is demoralizing to all concerned. Two or three evenings a week spent in attending balls, or theatric or operatic entertainments, will enervate both mind and body, and prevent the development of that strength of character which is essential to usefulness in society. The only safe amusements are such as will not banish serious and religious thoughts; the only safe places of resort are those to which we can take Jesus with us.
We reached Battle Creek on Friday, Aug. 17. The following night I found it impossible to sleep. I had not visited this place since I left it in great feebleness after my husband's funeral. Now the great loss which the cause had sustained in his death, the great loss which I had sustained in being deprived of his society and assistance in my work, came up vividly before me, and I could not compose myself to sleep. I recalled the covenant which I had made with God at my husband's deathbed,--that I would not become discouraged under the burden, but would labor more earnestly and devotedly than ever before to present the truth both by pen and voice; that I would set before the people the excellence of the statutes and precepts of Jehovah, and would point them to the cleansing fountain where we may wash away every stain of sin.
All night I wrestled with God in prayer that he would give me strength for my work, and imbue me with his Spirit, that I might keep my solemn covenant. I desired nothing so much as to spend my time and strength in urging those who profess the truth to come into closer relationship with God, that they may enjoy more perfect communion with him than did ancient Israel in their most prosperous days.
Sabbath morning I spoke to the large congregation assembled in the Tabernacle. The Lord gave me strength and freedom as I presented the words found in Rev. 7:9-17.
The last time that I had spoken there was on the Sabbath following my husband's funeral. At that time many considered it almost presumptuous for me, in my feeble condition, to make the effort; but my great desire to speak words of entreaty and warning to the church, led me to venture. Had those words been heeded, the difficulties which have since occurred would not have been. The burden of my message was an admonition to the church to be pitiful, courteous, kind, and compassionate, to love one another as Christ had loved them. I urged them to put away their unkind thoughts toward their brethren, to cease talking of the faults and errors of others, and to search carefully their own hearts, correct their own defects of character, and purify their own souls by obedience to the truth. I entreated all to cherish a forgiving, Christlike tenderness for one another, and to guard the reputation of their brethren, remembering that the tongue is an unruly member, which, if not sanctified, if not restrained, may do great injury to those whom God loves and whom he is using to do his work.
Whatever may have been our course toward the dead, they are beyond the knowledge of our sorrow or repentance. Our regret for wrongs done to them can be evinced only by a reformation in our spirit and action toward the living. Let none repeat the errors of the past. The spirit of Christ will lead us to think kindly of our brethren. It is the work of Satan to seek some stain upon the character of Christ's followers, to talk of their faults, and magnify their errors. Satan is an accuser of the brethren, and all who engage in this work show that they are actuated by the same spirit. All our prayers will be in vain while we cherish feelings of envy, jealousy, suspicion, and enmity. We shall be forgiven only as we forgive. It is no better than mocking God to engage in religious worship with hearts thinking evil, and full of bitterness toward our brethren or our fellowmen.
Jesus, our exemplar, looks with abhorrence upon all who are cherishing unkindness. Says the beloved John, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer." How is it possible that the prayers of such shall be anything but an abomination in the sight of God?
Were our own hearts and lives free from defects, it would still be our duty to pity and help the erring. Much more then, since we ourselves are subject to error and infirmity, does it behoove us to manifest great modesty and carefulness in judging and condemning our fellow sinners. All should give diligent heed to the words of the apostle, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." Inquire into the nature of your thoughts, purposes, tempers, words and deeds. Compare them with the character revealed in the life of Christ. See whether you have his spirit, whether the visible fruits of righteousness testify that you are in the faith.
These and many thoughts of like character were presented before the people. I assured them that all unkindness to the dead or to the living, I had buried in the grave of my husband. All was freely forgiven. My last testimony before leaving the church was that of warning and entreaty to seek for unity and love.
Now, after an absence of two years, I again stood before them. I was very weary, and nearly sick after the journey of five days and five nights; but the love of Christ and my interest for their souls constrained me to address them.
On Sunday morning I spoke to about seventy-five of the workers connected with the Office of the Review and Herald. One week before, Aug. 12, I stood before a similar company at the Pacific Press, and urged upon them the importance of acting from principle. Now I presented the same subject, admonishing all to allow nothing to sway them from the right. I warned them that they would have opposing influences to meet, and would be pressed by temptations, and every one who was not rooted and grounded in the truth would be moved from the sure foundation.
Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken and only those things that cannot be shaken will remain. Satan is making the most desperate efforts to induce souls to range under his banner, and all who yield to his deceptions will wage war against the servants of Prince Immanuel. Watchfulness and prayer must be our safeguards in these days of peril.
All who are unfaithful in their work in the Office are meeting with a great loss. Those who are not wholly on the Lord's side will not see the importance of discipline and order. Hence the necessity that all who do have the fear of God before them, unite in maintaining a standard which he can approve. If those who stand in positions of responsibility excuse one in a wrong course, they encourage not only that one but others in wrongdoing. This renders very difficult the work of those who would maintain such rules and pursue such a course as God requires.
There are always some who, though they have enjoyed great advantages for spiritual progress, are not firmly established upon Bible truth. They seem to be without an anchor, beaten about by the waves of doubt and unbelief. They are without the joy and consolation which comes from a firm, decided faith, and they seem to be without protection from the shafts of Satan. I feel deeply anxious for these; for I know how strong is the power of Satan upon them.
Our Saviour declared upon one occasion, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." There was in Christ absolutely nothing of which Satan could take advantage. Jesus had not defiled his soul by one wrong action, one doubt, or even one murmuring thought. We may open the door of the mind and invite Satan's suggestions, or by pressing close to the side of Jesus, we may obtain strength to resist every evil influence. Satan has his agents, even in our offices of publication, and he works through them to unsettle the faith and confuse the minds of all who give them an opportunity. Our only safe course is to watch unto prayer. Questions which the halfhearted and unbelieving will suggest can be safely answered by unprejudiced judgment and earnest prayer. We should beware of allowing our minds to be influenced by suggestions, statements, or reports; for all these may be the result of envy, revenge, passion, prejudice, or of spiritual blindness. God wants, in the Office and in the church, faithful men who have eyes to discern the evil from the good, who will not call sin righteousness or righteousness sin,--men who will call things by their right names, whether it brings them censure or approbation.
The greatest calamity that can come upon any people is to be blindfolded by Satan so that they cannot discern his devices. He frequently works in disguise, clothing himself in the garments of righteousness, so that those who have not spiritual discernment know not that it is he; and often before those in responsible positions awake, Satan obtains a foothold, and doubt, unbelief, and infidelity are leavening the camp. None need to cultivate unbelief, or fear that they shall have too great faith. Unbelief, like an obtrusive, poisonous weed, grows without cultivation, while faith needs to be carefully cherished, or it will die out of the soul.
I prized this opportunity to speak words of warning and caution, knowing that those whom I addressed must be aroused to guard their souls from the devices of Satan.
At the urgent request of Mrs. Robinson, an active member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, I had consented to speak in a temperance meeting held in the public park on Sunday afternoon. About five hundred persons gathered at 4 p.m. Eld. Mather, who first addressed the assembly, presented thoughts of the greatest value. His words found a response in our hearts. He did not relate amusing anecdotes, or endeavor to create a sensation, but presented sound and forcible arguments, which the people could remember and consider after returning to their homes. Many, he said, flatter themselves that evil is diminishing, that the cause of reform is advancing, that temperance is soon to prevail, righteousness to predominate over sin, and the millennium to be ushered in. The speaker did not share in these flattering hopes. Intemperance still continues its ravages. Iniquity in every form stands like a mighty barrier to prevent the progress of truth and righteousness. Social wrongs, born of ignorance and vice, are still causing untold misery, and casting their baleful shadow upon both the church and the world. Depravity among the youth is increasing instead of decreasing. Nothing but earnest, continual effort will avail to remove this desolating curse. The conflict with interest and appetite, with evil habits and unholy passions, will be fierce and deadly; only those who shall move from principle can gain the victory in this warfare.
The speaker then clearly set forth the evil of granting license to sell liquors; but lack of space forbids me to present his words more fully.
Following Eld. Mather, I spoke about thirty minutes in regard to the great work of reform, and the necessity of educating the youth to act from principle, that they may have moral power to withstand temptation. Daniel, the Hebrew captive, was exposed in his youth to the allurements of the king's court; yet he remained true to the principles taught him by his fathers. He purposed in his heart that he would not eat of the luxuries of the king's table, or drink of his wines. This purpose was not formed without due reflection and earnest prayer, and when once his position was taken, he was not to be moved from it. Though surrounded by temptations to self-indulgence and dissipation, he would not consent to violate his conscience. He made God his strength, his mind was not enervated by habits of indulgence which crush out true, godlike manhood, and he was prepared to attain both moral and intellectual greatness.
Daniel's companions, also, resolutely denied selfish desires, and put away hurtful gratifications. As a result, their minds became strong and vigorous. They chose the real, the true, and the useful, rather than the momentary indulgence of appetite and pride. They did all in their power to place themselves in right relation to God, and the Lord was not unmindful of their firm, persevering, earnest effort. The Scriptures declare of Daniel and his fellows: "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams." These youth had placed themselves in connection with the Source of all wisdom. They learned of Christ, the world's greatest teacher. While improving their opportunities to obtain a knowledge of the sciences, they were obtaining, also, the highest education which it is possible for mortals to receive. They received light directly from the throne of Heaven, and read the mysteries of God for future ages.
"And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." These youth determined that the talents intrusted to them of God should not be perverted and enfeebled by selfish indulgence. They reverenced their own manhood. They kept their eyes fixed steadfastly on the good which they wished to accomplish. They honored God, and God honored them.
The history of Daniel and his companions contains a lesson for us. Inspiration declares that the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Religious principle lies at the foundation of the highest education. If our youth are but balanced by principle, they may with safety improve the mental powers to the very highest extent, and may take all their attainments with them into the future life. But temptations assail the young on every hand. Fathers and mothers should give thought and study and persevering effort to the training of their children, that they may stand unsullied by the prevailing evil, as did those Hebrew youth in the court of Babylon. To shield your children from the allurements of worldly pleasure, and the temptations to indulge appetite, to teach them steadfastness to the great principles of reform, will require effort and involve sacrifice. It will expose you to the reproaches of those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Your motives will be misconstrued, your efforts falsified, your labors and purposes disparaged. But, notwithstanding every opposing influence, we must, in the fear of God, press forward, seeking not to meet the world's standard, but that which is presented in the Scriptures of truth. We must act from principle, doing right because it is right, whether friends or foes approve or condemn.
Children should be educated to habits of temperance, even while in their mother's arms. Our tables should bear only the most wholesome food, free from every irritating substance. The appetite for liquor is encouraged by the preparation of food with condiments and spices. These cause a feverish state of the system, and drink is demanded to allay the irritation. On my frequent journeys across the continent, I do not patronize restaurants, dining cars, or hotels, for the simple reason that I cannot eat the food there provided. The dishes are highly seasoned with salt and pepper, creating an almost intolerable thirst. During my last trip, the conductor of the sleeping car kindly brought me a plate of rich vegetable soup. I tasted the apparently inviting dish, but found it so highly seasoned that I dared not eat it. The salt and pepper made my mouth smart, and I well knew that they would irritate and inflame the delicate coating of the stomach. I passed the tempting dish to another; for I dared not place such an abuse upon my digestive organs.
Such is the food that is commonly served up on fashionable tables, and given to the children. Its effect is to cause nervousness, and to create thirst which water does not quench. There is a craving for something stronger, and thus very many are led to the use of beer and wine. In this way is formed the appetite for strong drink. Every mother should carefully guard her table, and allow nothing to come upon it which will have the slightest tendency to lay the foundation of intemperate habits. Food should be prepared in as simple a manner as possible, free from condiments and spices, and even from an undue amount of salt.
You who have at heart the good of your children, and who would see them come up with unperverted tastes and appetites, must perseveringly urge your way against popular sentiments and practices. If you would have them prepared to be useful on earth and to obtain the eternal reward in the kingdom of glory, you must teach them to obey the laws of God, both in nature and revelation, instead of following the customs of the world.
Painstaking effort, prayer and faith, when united with a correct example, will not be fruitless. Bring your children to God in faith, and seek to impress their susceptible minds with a sense of their obligations to their heavenly Father. It will require lesson upon lesson, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. But Jesus, in our behalf, engaged in the most fearful conflict with the powers of darkness. Self- denial, fasting, humiliation, he willingly endured, that he might elevate, ennoble, and purify the human race; and thus prepare them for a seat at his right hand. In view of all that Christ has endured in our behalf, shall we shrink from any effort or sacrifice for the salvation of souls for whom he died?
Parents should educate their children to have moral independence, not to follow impulse and inclination, but to exercise their reasoning powers, and to act from principle. Let mothers inquire, not for the latest fashion, but for the path of duty and usefulness, and direct the steps of their children therein. Simple habits, pure morals, and a noble independence in the right course, will be of more value to the youth than the gifts of genius, the endowments of learning, or the external polish which the world can give them. Teach your children to walk in the ways of righteousness, and they, in turn, will lead others into the same path. Thus may you see at last that your life has not been in vain, for you have been instrumental in bringing precious fruit to garner of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #45)
The campmeeting at Worcester, Mass., Aug. 22-28, was one of great interest to all our people who were present. It was an occasion of special interest to me. I there met a large number of believers, some of whom have been connected with the work from the very rise of the third angel's message. Since our last campmeeting, Bro. Hastings, one of the faithful standard bearers, has fallen at his post. I felt sad as I saw others weighed down by the infirmities of age, yet I was glad to see them eagerly listening to the words of life. The love of God and his truth seemed to glow in their hearts and to light up their countenances. Their eyes were often filled with tears, not of sorrow but of joy, as they heard the message from God by the mouth of his servants. These aged pilgrims were present at nearly all the meetings; as if they feared that, like Thomas, they might be absent when Jesus should come in, and say, "Peace be unto you."
Like ripening grain these precious tried and faithful ones are fitting for the harvest. Their work is nearly done. They may be permitted to remain till Christ shall be revealed in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. They may drop out of the ranks at any time, and sleep in Jesus. But while darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people, these children of the light can lift up their heads and rejoice, knowing that their redemption draweth nigh.
We were glad to see many of the citizens of Worcester attending our meetings through the week, not only in the evening, but during the day. The Lord gave great freedom to his servants while they proclaimed the truth. The meeting broke up when the interest was deepest. We did wish that all could have remained a few days longer.
As I looked over the congregation of believers, and marked the serious, earnest, expression upon their countenances, I asked myself, How will it be with these dear souls when they return to their homes and to their little churches? Will they bear with them the sweet, heavenly atmosphere that has pervaded our campmeeting? Will the doubting ones put away their skepticism, and cultivate faith and love? Will the worldly ambition, the pride and lukewarmness, that have been gaining ground among our people be put away? Will all feel an individual responsibility to let their light shine? to live and work through Christ for the prosperity of the churches to which they belong? Will their works correspond with their faith?
A good work has been begun, and we hope that it will not end with the meeting, but that there will be a reformation in every church. Parents and children should seek a new conversion, that the light from them may extend to their neighbors. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
I repeat, Will our brethren reap from this meeting all the good which they can and should obtain? For all these privileges they are accountable. The words spoken will be to the hearers a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. The Lord is coming; the alarm must be sounded. The people who profess the truth are unready. Should their probation close now, they would be weighed in the balance, and found wanting. Some have not made earnest efforts to overcome; they have not realized the danger of continuing in sin, and have become almost content where they are. As I felt their peril, I longed to see them coming up out of the dark cellar of unbelief, into the upper room where there is light and happiness. I greatly regretted that we must close the meeting without seeing a deeper and more thorough work wrought in their hearts.
Many who nominally assent to the truth will fail to enter the kingdom of God, because they do not in their daily life practice that which they profess. As I looked over the congregation, my eyes rested upon not a few who had a knowledge of the truth, and who, if this knowledge were but sanctified, might accomplish a work for God. I thought, If all these realized their accountability to God and their duty to their fellowmen, and would work as the Lord has given them ability, what a light would shine forth from them in Massachusetts, and even extend to other States! If every one who has professed faith in the third angel's message would make the word of God his rule of action, and with strict fidelity perform his work as a servant of Christ, this people would be a power in the world.
It is not alone those who labor in word and doctrine who are responsible for souls. Every man and every woman who has a knowledge of the truth should be a co-worker with Christ. We have but one minister laboring in Massachusetts. If it is God's will that the State have no more ministerial help, then he requires the lay members to act as missionaries. Brethren, go out with your Bibles, visit the people at their firesides, read the word of God to the family, and as many more as will come in. Go with a contrite heart and an abiding trust in God's grace and mercy, and do what you can.
Things are not as they should be in Massachusetts. There are men who never gave a discourse in their lives, who ought to be laboring to save souls. Neither great talents nor high position is required. But there is urgent need of men and women who are acquainted with Jesus, and familiar with the story of his life and death.
Talent is too much idolized, and station too much coveted, even among Seventh-day Adventists. There is too eager a desire to ride upon the high places of the earth, and too little willingness to follow the Saviour in the path of cross bearing and humility. There are too many who will do nothing unless they can be leaders; too many who must be praised and petted, or they have no interest to labor. To work in a humble way for Jesus, and though unnoticed to still work on, sowing the seeds of truth, appears to them an unattractive and unwelcome task. All this springs from mistaken conceptions of usefulness and honor. The wide, deep rivers are admired and valued, while the hundreds of little rills that help to form these broad and noble streams, are all unnoticed. Yet the humble brook that makes its noiseless way through grove and meadow, bringing health, and fertility, and beauty, is as useful in its way as the broad river.
We do not need eminent men so much as good, true, and humble men. God calls for those of all classes and all trades to work in his cause. Those are wanted who will begin at the lower rounds of the ladder, who will, if need be, eat their own bread and quietly perform their duty; men who will not shrink from diligent labor to acquire means, or from rigid economy in its expenditure, and who will devote both time and means to work for the Master in their own families and their own neighborhoods. If the work of reformation be begun and carried forward in each family, there will be a living and prosperous church. Things must first be set in order at home. The cause needs those who can work at home, who will study the Bible, and practice its teachings, and who will train up their children in the fear of God. Then let diligent, persevering effort be put forth for others, with earnest prayer for the aid of divine grace and power, and great results will follow missionary labor.
No matter who you are, it is the mind, the heart, the sincere purpose, and the daily life, that mark the value of the man. Restless, talkative, dictatorial men are not needed in this work. There are too many of them springing up everywhere. Many youth who have but little experience, push themselves forward, manifest no reverence for age or office, and take offense if counseled or reproved. We have already more of these self-important ones than we want, God calls for modest, quiet, sober minded youth, and men of mature age, who are well-balanced with principle, who can pray as well as talk, who will rise up before the aged, and treat gray hairs with respect.
The cause of God is suffering for want of laborers of understanding and mental power. My brethren and sisters, the Lord has blessed you with intellectual faculties capable of vast improvement. Cultivate your talents with persevering earnestness. Train and discipline the mind by study, by observation, by reflection. You cannot meet the mind of God unless you put to use every power. The mental faculties will strengthen and develop if you will go to work in the fear of God, in humility and with earnest prayer. A resolute purpose will accomplish wonders. Be open, firm, decided Christians. Exalt Jesus, talk of his love, tell of his power, and thus let your light shine forth to the world. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #46)
I was glad of the privilege of attending the Vermont campmeeting, which was held in Montpelier, Aug. 3 to Sept. 4. There were more in attendance than I expected to see, and it was a pleasure to meet so many who had come to seek the Lord. My mind was carried back thirty years, to the time when, in company with my sister, I visited Fair Haven, Mass., to bear my message to the little company in that place. Eld. Bates was then living there, and expressed his conviction that it was his duty to visit Vermont, and preach the truth in that State. But he added, "I have no means, and cannot tell where the money is coming from to take me there. I think I will walk out by faith, start on foot, and go as far as God will give me strength." My sister said to me, "I think the Lord will help me to open the way for Eld. Bates to go to Vermont. Sister F. is looking for a girl to do her housework, and if you will consent to travel without me for a few weeks, I will earn the money necessary." She carried out her purpose, and, requesting her pay in advance, placed the money in Eld. Bates' hand. He started the next morning, and my sister remained to work for a dollar and a quarter a week. Quite a number were brought into the truth in Vermont, and Eld. Bates returned with great joy because the Lord had indeed blessed his labors.
In 1850 my husband and myself visited Vermont, Canada, New Hampshire, and Maine. The meetings were held in private houses. It was then next to impossible to obtain access to unbelievers. The disappointment in 1844 had confused the minds of many, and they would not listen to any explanation of the matter. They were impatient and unbelieving, and many seemed rebellious, coming out in a most decided manner against their past Advent experience. Others dared not go to this length, and deny the way the Lord had led them. These were glad to hear arguments from the word of God which would harmonize our position with prophetic history. As they listened to an explanation of the disappointment which had been so bitter to them, they saw that God indeed led them, and they rejoiced in the truth. This awakened the most bitter opposition on the part of those who denied our past experience.
But we had a still worse element to meet in a class who claimed that they were sanctified, that they could not sin, that they were sealed and holy, and that all their impressions and notions were the mind of God. Conscientious souls were deceived by the pretended piety of these fanatics. Satan had worked artfully to have these deluded ones accept the Sabbath, as through their influence, while professing to believe one part of the truth, he could crowd upon the people a great many errors. He could also use them to good advantage to disgust unbelievers, who pointed to these inconsistent, unreasonable ones as representatives of Seventh-day Adventists. This class urged upon the people human tests and manufactured crosses, which Christ had not given them to bear. They claimed to heal the sick and to work miracles. They had a Satanic, bewitching power; yet they were overbearing, dictatorial, and cruelly oppressive. The Lord used us as instruments to rebuke these fanatics, and to open the eyes of his faithful people to the true character of their work. Peace and joy came into the hearts of those who broke away from this deception of Satan, and they glorified God as they saw his unerring wisdom in setting before them the light of truth and its precious fruits in contrast with Satanic heresies and delusions. The truth shone in contrast with these deceptions like clear gold amid the rubbish of earth.
Several times when we visited Vermont, my husband and myself had these dark spirits to meet and contend with. For years we labored to beat back the prejudice and subdue the opposition that at times threatened to overwhelm the faithful standard bearers of truth,--the heroes and heroines of faith. But we found that those who were seeking God in humility and contrition of soul, were able to discern between the true and the false. "The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way."
God gave us a precious experience in those days. When brought in close conflict with the powers of darkness, as we frequently were, we laid the whole matter before the mighty Helper. Again and again we prayed for strength and wisdom. We would not yield the point; we felt that help must come. And through faith in God, the enemy's artillery was turned against himself, glorious victories were gained to the cause of truth, and we were made to realize that God gave not his Spirit by measure unto us. Had it not been for these special evidences of God's love, had he not thus, by the manifestation of his Spirit, set his seal to the truth, we might have become discouraged; but these proofs of Divine guidance, these living experiences in the things of God, strengthened us to fight manfully the battles of the Lord. The believing ones could more clearly discern how God had mapped out their course, guiding them amid trials, disappointments, and fierce conflicts. They grew stronger as they met and overcame obstacles, and gained a rich experience at every step they advanced.
Many of the pioneers, who shared with us these trials and victories, remained true till the close of life, and have fallen asleep in Jesus. Among these is the faithful warrior who for thirty-six years stood by my side in the battle for truth. God used him as a teacher and leader to stand in the front ranks during the severe struggles of those early days of the message; but he has fallen at his post, and, with others who have died in the faith, he awaits the coming of the Lifegiver, who will call him from his gloomy prison house to a glorious immortality.
It is not so difficult to advocate the truth now as it was years ago. Then, it cost everything to be a believer; but now, in 1883, I saw a large company under the pavilion, and among them were old and tried friends of the cause. Although some have fallen, quite a number are still alive to bear testimony to the truth; and as they recall the way the Lord has led his people since their first acceptance of the truth, they exclaim, "What hath God wrought!" Their interest has been fully identified with the people whom God has been leading and teaching for the last thirty-five years. They have fought the battles of the Lord with heroism, fortitude, patience and prayer; and now there are many strong hands and willing hearts to unite with them in laboring for the triumphs of the cross of Christ. These faithful ones have become strong because they did not shirk responsibilities. They walked by faith, not by sight. They studied the revealed will of God, and submitted to be guided by Divine power. They were strengthened by grace as they pressed forward in the narrow path of holiness cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in.
On this campground, we listened to many heartfelt testimonies. Some here accepted the Sabbath, and for the first time took their position fully with us on all points of truth. Some had given up the truth, and backslidden from God; but their consciences had not been at rest. They found no peace, no light or happiness, in their disobedience, and came back to the fold with repentance and contrition of soul, and the Lord blessed them. But we longed to see our brethren and sisters generally coming out into the clear light. We longed to hear more testimonies coming from hearts full of love to Jesus,--testimonies of faith, of rich experience in the way the Lord has led us. I felt that these dear souls must have a closer union with God, and then they would be better acquainted with Jesus. They would not have a doubting, fearing testimony, but would be cheerful and happy in the faith. "Jesus died for me; Jesus loves me, even me," would be the language of the trusting heart.
As I looked in the faces of the tried ones who are precious in the sight of the Lord, and saw that some of them seemed almost ready to lay off their armor, I thought I might never see their faces again in this world. They or I might fall asleep before the time of another annual meeting. By faith I looked forward to the resurrection morning, when the righteous dead shall be awakened to eternal life. I saw them around the throne of God, clothed in white robes, with crowns of glory on their heads and harps of gold in their hands, singing a new song of praise to God and the Lamb. And the question arose in my mind, Who are coming up to take the places of these aged, worn soldiers of the cross? Who will consecrate themselves to the work of God?
I saw before me many young men and women who professed to be followers of Christ, but who had not felt a burden for souls. These do not say, when the Lord's work is to be done, "Here am I; send me." If they really had the love of Jesus in their hearts, how could they be silent, how could they be at rest, and their fellowmen unwarned? Can they realize the greatness of the sacrifice made in behalf of man? They may think they comprehend it, but they do not. If they did, with the eye of faith they would see Jesus leaving his throne of light, and the glory that he had with his Father before the world was, to become the companion of rebels. Oh! they have but a faint conception of the depths of humiliation to which the Redeemer of the world condescended in becoming a man. It was an act of humiliation to which they can find no parallel. But being formed in fashion as a man, Christ humbled himself, and became obedient unto death. Had it been a common death even, it would still have been the greatest of humiliations. But oh, what a death the Son of God suffered,--the most cruel, the most shameful! He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And do not let any one think that Jesus was insensible to ignominy. He yielded up his life to save the fallen race; but he felt, keenly and bitterly felt, the humiliation of dying as a malefactor. His holy and undefiled human nature was deeply sensitive to the disgrace of being "numbered with the transgressors." Said he, "Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?" He felt the unjust, coarse, and abusive treatment of the mob, led on by a Judas; but it was a deeper wound to the soul to endure the hiding of his Father's face.
All this was to save fallen man; and has Christ died for souls in vain? As I looked upon the congregation assembled in the tent, and knew how many there were who professed to be sons and daughters of God, who might be lights in the world, and yet were not letting their light shine, I felt sad at heart. I asked myself, Who of this number will be denounced as slothful servants because they have neglected their duty? When Christ has done all that could be done to save sinners, who are ready, by an unreserved consecration of themselves, to become co-laborers with him? The blood of souls will be upon the garments of some, who have talents which God has intrusted to them, but who love self and their ease more than they love the souls of men for whom Christ has made so infinite a sacrifice. Where are those who love one another as Christ has loved them? Will they take up their God given duties, and work for the Master? Has the Lord excused the large number who profess his name, who have experienced his love, from bearing any burden of the work in his cause? Are they at liberty to eat of the loaf themselves, to partake of his great salvation, yet make no effort to bear the message of mercy to their brethren who are out of the truth,--who are unsaved?
This dearth of laborers is not in accordance with the will of God; it exists because the love of Christ is not a living principle in the hearts of those who profess his name. There are men who have talents; but they have buried them in their farms and in other selfish interests, so that they do not aid in building up the cause of Christ. If many who are now dying spiritually on account of their selfishness, should awake to their God given responsibilities, they would see work to do in the vineyard of the Lord; and this work would expand their hearts, so that they would love Jesus a great deal more than they now do, and their fellowmen as Jesus has loved them. What a change there would be in Vermont, if young men and those of mature age also, should go to work, feeling, "I am my brother's keeper"! How can those who do nothing to win souls to Christ expect to hear the "Well done" from the Master's lips?
We know there is a great wrong somewhere, or there would be men engaged in earnest labor in Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and all through the United States. Where are those who have the knowledge of the truth, and who love Jesus and the souls for whom he died well enough to deny self, to choose the suffering part of religion, and to go without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ? Jesus has set them an example; he suffered without the camp, bearing reproach. Who will put to use the talents lent them of God, be they great or small, and work in humility learning daily in the school of Christ, and then imparting that precious knowledge to others? Who will see what ought to be done, and do it? And how many will make excuses, become tied up with worldly interests? Cut the cords that bind you, and go into the vineyard to work for the Master. In every department of the cause of God, consecrated, God fearing, willing helpers are needed; men of brains, men of intellect, who will go forth as ministers, canvassers, and colporteurs. Brethren and sisters, let the earnest prayer of faith ascend to God that he will raise up laborers, and send them into the harvest field; for the harvest is great, and the laborers are few.
We know that believers in Vermont are not doing their duty. We know there is earnest work to be done, requiring patience, perseverance, and untiring effort. Let the work be done by unselfish, humble men; let them work and pray, and pray and work. Labor by the fireside, brethren. Come close to hearts. Let unbelievers see that you care for their souls; search the Scriptures with them; weep and pray with them. In your earnest efforts, represent the love of Christ. Oh! this love, if we have it, is too much inclosed in our hearts, and does not appear in words or deeds as it should. How will you meet your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors in the Judgment, if you have not labored in every way possible to bring them to the truth? My prayer is that the Lord may so impress the minds of men and women in Vermont that they cannot rest until they commence in earnest to labor for souls. When they do this it will no longer be said, Vermont is a hard field. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #47)
I attended the campmeeting held at Waterville, Me., Sept. 6-11. Here, in my native State I met dear brethren and sisters whose interest has for years been identified with the cause and work of present truth; but some precious ones who ever met us with joy, and whose thoughtful care we have often experienced on the campground, we shall meet no more in this world. Bro. Barker, who sleeps in Jesus, is one of these. His active, busy life is ended. He was a caretaker, a burdern bearer. He did not spare himself; he did not shirk responsibilities. We missed him upon the ground. I could deeply sympathize with Sr. Barker. Since we last met, we had each laid a companion in the grave. But we will not sorrow as those who have no hope. If we are faithful, when the Lifegiver comes we shall meet our loved ones again, never more to be separated. A brighter morning will dawn for all who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality. If we are steadfast in the hour of trial, we shall at last win a crown of glory that will never pass away. This prospect should be to the people of God a sunbeam shining continually amid the darkness and dangers of these last days.
Sr. Umberhind, a faithful mother in Israel, has fallen. Her work is in one sense ended; yet her precious example, her deep interest in the truth, her words of hope and confidence and faith, will continue to live. Her works follow her. Three sisters, children of Sr. Umberhind, have fallen under the power of the fell destroyer; death has done his cruel work in these three families.
We here met our dear Sr. Temple, who has been bereaved of four of her children. We could scarcely wonder that the mother's heart was torn as branch after branch was broken from the family tree, or that the wound seemed to her almost incurable; but when we learned that her treasures had been laid away in hope,--that these dear ones had died loving the truth and trusting in Jesus,--we felt that in the mother's heart the bright beams of hope and joy should light up the dark night of sorrow.
The ways of Providence cannot always be read or traced; they appear inexplicable to the wounded, stricken heart. The words of Jesus, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter," are applicable to these bereaved ones. If our loved ones have given their hearts to Jesus, there is cause for joy. It is impossible to tell what might be their future. Many families experience a grief that is worse than sorrow for the death of friends. When their children pursue a course that will bring shame upon their parents,--when they become impatient of restraint, break the ties which bind them to father and mother, and renounce the vows that held them in holy, happy allegiance to their Maker,--then there is sorrow indeed. "Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." Let the bereaved Rachels be comforted; for their children shall "come again from the land of the enemy."
I was much gratified to meet several of our brethren and sisters from Aroostook county. They strongly urged me to visit them, and had it not been for other campmeetings that I felt it duty to attend, I should have been glad to comply with their request. I hope to be able to visit them at some future time.
We had some very precious seasons at this campmeeting. Many cheering testimonies were borne; but there was not that thorough work which we greatly desired to have accomplished. My heart yearned to see some who were backslidden coming to the cross of Christ. These are not ignorant of the way. They have been wrought upon by the Spirit of Christ; they have become acquainted with the matchless charms which in my Saviour dwell; and now the voices once heard in praise and gratitude to God, are silent. Will these persons leave the bloodstained banner of Christ, and take their position under the black banner of Satan, and choose his service? In the soon coming conflict, will they risk sharing the fate of the archdeceiver? God forbid. Oh that these souls would heed the words of the inspired prophet: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
There were children of Sabbathkeeping parents who seemed to be indifferent. I could not see that they were moved, either by the presentation of truth or by appeals that were made by the messengers of God. There is a great lack somewhere, or these things would not be. If all were letting their light shine as Christ has enjoined upon his followers to do, it would be otherwise. It is not always an easy task to hold the fort when there are great odds against us.
Improvements can be made in our manner of conducting campmeetings, so that all who attend may receive more direct labor. There are some social meetings held in the large tent, where all assemble for worship; but these are so large that only a small number can take part, and many speak so low that but few can hear them. By districting the encampment, so that several meetings, each in charge of a leader, will be held in selected tents, all may be benefited. On the Maine campground, some meetings of this character were very interesting and profitable; in others, much of the precious time was occupied by the leader in doing the talking himself, while the people had but little opportunity. In one tent the leader occupied all the time except ten minutes, and that meeting was a failure. Did this brother love his neighbor as himself? In some instances much time was devoted to singing. There was a long hymn before prayer, a long hymn after prayer, and much singing interspersed all through the meeting. Thus golden moments were used unwisely, and not one-half the good was done that might have been realized had these precious seasons been properly managed.
There should be Bible readings in place of some of the regular discourses; even outsiders will be benefited by them. Our people, who are expecting such great and important events soon to transpire, should know the reasons of their faith, that they may be able to give an answer to every man that shall ask them a reason for the hope which is in them with meekness and fear. In his word, God has revealed truths that will benefit his church. As a people, we should be earnest students of prophecy; we should not rest until we become intelligent in regard to the subject of the sanctuary, which is brought out in the visions of Daniel and John. This subject sheds great light on our present position and work, and gives us unmistakable proof that God has led us in our past experience. It explains our disappointment in 1844, showing us that the sanctuary to be cleansed was not the earth, as we had supposed, but that Christ then entered into the most holy apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, and is there performing the closing work of his priestly office, in fulfillment of the words of the angel to the prophet Daniel, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
Our faith in reference to the messages of the first, second, and third angels was correct. The great waymarks we have passed are immovable. Although the hosts of hell may try to tear them from their foundation, and triumph in the thought that they have succeeded, yet they do not succeed. These pillars of truth stand firm as the eternal hills, unmoved by all the efforts of men combined with those of Satan and his host. We can learn much, and should be constantly searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so. God's people are now to have their eyes fixed on the heavenly sanctuary, where the final ministration of our great High Priest in the work of the judgment is going forward,--where he is interceding for his people.
There are large numbers of those who profess the truth in Maine who need a great work done for them. When I see how great this work is, my heart is drawn out in earnest prayer that for these precious souls the death of Christ may not have been in vain. Dear brethren and sisters, do not neglect this work of preparation too long, but take hold of it now, and lose not a moment more of probationary time. The want of genuine faith in our churches is making them very weak. There is a kind of faith that takes it for granted that we have the truth; but the faith that takes God at his word, which works by love and purifies the heart, is very rare. All who profess the truth are not converted, although they may think they are. Some mistake transient emotions, ideas, and fancies, or resolutions formed in their own strength, for conversion. But faith is a living, abiding principle. Its object is truth,--divine, eternal, changeless truth. Genuine, saving faith is inseparable from repentance and conversion, and will manifest the fruits of the Spirit. It is a continual, conscious trust in Jesus. The sinner's only hope is in the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. There is no resting in any efforts of our own, yet these efforts must be made.
We have a solemn message, and it is not intrusted to ministers alone. Men and women who will never be called to the ministry, may have a part to act in warning the world. They must let their light shine. There are young men in Maine whom God would accept to do work in his vineyard, but they feel no burden of responsibility. They have had light, they have had knowledge; but if they refuse to walk in the path of obedience, that precious light will become darkness to them. Let these children of Sabbathkeepers make haste to find a refuge from the storm which is soon to come upon our world. Satan has such a bewitching power upon their minds that they are beguiled from the faith; and unless there is an increase of zeal, a more intense love for Christ and for precious souls, on the part of experienced members of the church, they will themselves fail of the grace of God, and there is great danger that they will have their portion with unbelievers.
The lay members of the church must make effectual efforts for their children. Brethren and sisters, you may have the blessed satisfaction of seeing souls enter the school of Christ as learners and as laborers as the result of your earnest efforts. You cannot afford to be selfish, seeking merely to save your own souls, while you are indifferent in regard to other souls for whom Christ died; for through this indifference, you will fail to secure even your own salvation. But if the love of Christ be in you and abound, you will not be idlers in the vineyard of the Master, nor unfruitful branches of the living Vine. Go to work, you that have the light of truth, unselfishly, devotedly, earnestly, to show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #49)
I left the campground in Maine very weary, and suffering from a severe cold. We visited my afflicted twin sister living in Gorham, Me. Rheumatism has made sad work with her body. Notwithstanding she is almost helpless and a great sufferer, yet she is remarkably patient and cheerful, and thoughtful of others' comforts.
Oh, how gladly would we have relieved her of pain, and brought her back to health had it been in our power! But we thought, Jesus loves her better than it is possible for us to do. He will not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him."
We had precious seasons of prayer with her, and Jesus seemed very near us. I found comfort in presenting her in faith to Jesus, the pitying Lamb of God. He alone could be her helper. He alone could rebuke the cruel power of the enemy, and stay the progress of disease. He alone could give peace and comfort and hope to those who believe in him. After a few hours' stay we had to say farewell, leaving her to suffer on, not knowing that we should meet again in this life. I was unable to keep up longer without rest, and strength should be given me.
We were courteously welcomed at Bro. and Sr. Martin's in Deering; and here all was done for me healthwise that kindness and skill could do. Here my faith was tried. I thought it could not be duty to attend the campmeeting in New York; yet I feared it might be the work of the enemy to hedge up my way. I decided to start on my journey, trusting in the Lord to help me. My earnest prayer went forth from unfeigned lips for help and strength to do all the work the Lord would have me. I left Maine in great weakness. While waiting in Worcester several hours, my prayer went up to God continually for strength and grace which I so much needed. We were in the midst of a rain storm. In Syracuse depot we were also detained and my prayer was still unceasing for health and strength and the blessing of God, that I might bear the testimony he had given me to the people. We found at Union Square that every preparation had been made for our comfort. Our tent was pitched under a large tent, and although it was unpleasant weather, we were protected as much as possible from storm and wind.
Once upon the ground, I was convinced we were in the way of our duty. I had claimed the promises of God, and they were verified to me. We met many for the first time who had embraced the faith within a few years, and were rejoicing in the love of the truth. When I saw the campmeeting located at a distance from any city and apparently in an out-of-the-way place, I thought one object of the meeting would be lost; viz., that of securing an attendance of those not in the faith. I regretted this, for our light is to shine forth to the world. But we were [not] disappointed to see so large a number from those not of our faith in attendance, and they seemed to be interested. It was by faith I attempted to speak to the people; but at every effort the Lord helped me. As I labored to impress upon our people the necessity of a preparation of character that they might stand in the day of the Lord, I forgot my infirmities; the Lord blessed me. There were several seasons of specially seeking the Lord. When we called for those to come forward who had not an evidence of their connection with God, and for those who had backslidden from God, and for those who were seeking the Lord for the first time, a large number responded.
These were very precious and impressive occasions. Many bore testimony while their hearts were deeply affected. We sought to impress upon the people the necessity of greater faith and unfeigned love. The want of love for Jesus with some of our brethren had dried up their love for one another, and as the result there were growing among God's people selfishness, self- sufficiency, suspicion, and distrust of one another. All this is not of Christ but another spirit, and must be overcome.
Many are vainly striving for the victory, but they do not obtain it, because they cherish sins of selfishness, of worldly ambition, unkindness, envy, self-esteem, or some fleshly lust. While these idols are reserved, they cannot expect the Lord will do great things for them.
Could all of those who believe the great and important truths God has opened to his people, exemplify their faith by their lives, they would realize that they have entered into close relationship with God, that they are sons and daughters of God. However little and unknown they may be in the world, they are members of the royal family, children of the Heavenly King. If they could always sense this, there would be a great change in their deportment; and in conversation would they not talk of their best friend who had made such provision to elevate and ennoble them to be children of God and to enjoy the riches, the affection, the care, the communion, which belong to those redeemed unto God? What a condescension on the part of the Majesty of heaven! What amazing love, that sinners, worms of earth, may be allied to Omnipotence! For to as many as received the Saviour by faith, "to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name." But how sad seems the condition of those who despise his love, who refuse to accept the salvation purchased for them at such an infinite cost, and once having accepted it, cast it away as valueless! How many are so infatuated with the pleasures of sin that they will cast away with contempt the most precious blessings, the most exalted honors in the universe, and greedily grasp forbidden pleasures! They neglect and despise the friendship of God; and oh, how brief the time when they will be obliged to leave their chosen objects of delight, for which they sold their souls, and experience woe and despair!
Sunday my faith was severely tested. My throat and lungs were irritated and painful. The tent was crowded, and quite a number stood upon the outside like a wall.
I consented to go to the desk, and if my throat and lungs prevented my speaking I would call upon another to take my place; but the Lord blessed me greatly, and gave me a testimony to bear to the people. I felt very free in the Lord, and very grateful that Jesus is a present help in every time of need, if we will only believe. "My grace is sufficient for thee," has been my assurance while engaged in laboring in the cause of God. I have claimed this promise again and again, and his word has never failed me. We have a mighty helper, and he invites us to trust in him fully. This is the Christian's privilege, to believe and still to continue to believe that God will be an ever present help in time of need. The Lord spoke through his servants with clearness and power; and I was led to inquire, Will these words spoken by the ministers of Christ be a savor of life unto life to those who hear them, or of death unto death? Who will accept the light of truth? Who will reject the words of life to their own eternal loss? Who of that number who profess the truth, but whose lives contradict their faith, will heed the words of God through his servants? Those who neglect to take heed will not know real happiness. How will those who neglect the words God has spoken through his messengers meet their Saviour, whom they have not honored in conversation or by their example? All these opportunities and privileges will rise up in the Judgment to condemn them. Every one must meet a record of his life just as it is. The work he has been doing stands to testify for or against him. If that work is evil, he stands stripped of his own righteousness, and without the white garments on,--the righteousness of Christ,--without the friendship of Jesus. How terrible the position! standing alone amid the terrible dignitaries of heaven, confronted by the Lord Jesus who gave his life for them, but whom they rejected, saying, We will not have this man Jesus to reign over us. These are the fearful words heard, "Depart, I know you not."
We had very sad thoughts in regard to those delinquent ones. There is evidence of backsliding from God when these yearly gatherings are not appreciated and attended. These precious convocations are of God's arrangement, to be a strength and great blessing to his people; and those who consider these meetings unimportant are neglecting Heaven-sent, precious opportunities, and are meeting with a great loss. If there are those who are backslidden, these meetings are for them. There is great danger of the love of the world excluding the love of Jesus. These poor, tempted souls will never find rest and peace until they make a full and unconditional surrender. The requirements of God's word are positive. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God will all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself." This is the only condition laid down in the word of God upon which we can claim eternal life. The promises of God are ample. The gospel was not given to awaken desires it could not satisfy. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The fluctuating, changeable, mournful experience of many who profess Christ, is anything but rest and peace; it is continual labor, pain, and sorrow. They have placed a yoke upon their own necks exceedingly galling, and accumulated a burden for themselves, which Christ has not bidden them to lift. Love of the world is eating out of many hearts all love for Christ and for heavenly things. May these heed the injunction of Christ, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth." Jesus knew what he was talking about; for earthly treasures become a snare.
We were made sad in not meeting some we hoped to see at this meeting. Some may have been kept away by sickness; and we knew some were not at this precious meeting because they were in darkness. They had not been following where Jesus leads the way. We felt sorry that anything should keep them away. These annual meetings they have attended year after year; but they were not on the ground this year, 1883: and Jesus of Nazareth passed by to scatter blessings in their path. These absent ones will meet with a loss that they cannot afford. We know that some of our brethren are entangled in the things of this world. Their homes are their idols. They have become selfish, disbelieving. These things separate them from God. All heaven is interested and anxious for their good, and is seeking to draw their hearts to a higher and better life, to the immortal inheritance, and to fix their expectations upon the heavenly country. Jesus would have them transfer their treasures. "Lay not up," says Christ, "for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." We are only pilgrims and strangers on the earth, looking forward to that better country, the heavenly home, and securing a title without a flaw to our rightful possessions there. If some of these good brethren whose affections are buried up in worldly treasures could have the experience of our pilgrim fathers, who were driven from their homes because of their faith by persecution, sword, and fagot, that they might learn like Abraham to go out not knowing whither, but trusting in the voice that called from above to lead the way,--it would prove a blessing to them. It was exile, pilgrimage, and peril in a strange land, that made our fathers firm, and strong, and faithful in the cause of truth and justice.
If this old lesson of trust in God would be learned anew in the hard school of suffering and sorrow and failure by some of our worldly, ease loving brethren, they would become strong men to battle for the right. They would be messengers of light, bearing the truth to those who are in darkness. The consciousness that the world's Redeemer is their shield and exceeding great reward would be of far greater value than all earthly treasures. They would testify by precept and example that their citizenship is in heaven; and their work would be to build up a kingdom that shall stand forever. We had very sad thoughts in regard to these delinquent ones. Why were they not at the meeting? Had they no interest in divine and eternal things? Had they lost their love for the truth, and their interest in it? Had they cast away their confidence? Had any drawn back to perdition? God forbid.
We met upon the ground many of our old, tried friends of the cause, with whom we had taken sweet counsel more than thirty years ago. Care and age and infirmities had left their marks upon them; but they were still firm in the faith, rejoicing in the blessed hope of the soon appearing of our Redeemer in the clouds of heaven. We were rejoiced to see these precious and faithful ones cheered and blessed in our meetings, and bearing cheerful testimonies of the goodness and mercy of God. In my life experience I have found that the happiest people upon the earth are those who commit the keeping of their souls to Jesus, and have found peace and rest in believing.
Most of these experienced soldiers of the cross had suffered bereavement, affliction, and losses, but no murmur escaped their lips. They had learned where to seek help in trouble and calamity. They had found shelter from the storm and tempest in the Rock of Ages. What a satisfaction to find the Lord's toil-worn, believing, trusting ones firm as a rock! Their countenances lighted up as they listened to words of truth, of hope, of faith from the Lord's messengers. Those faithful ones had passed through trials, but had taken counsel of Him who says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." They had found by experience all that is of value in this life can be secured only in the service of Him who made the world and all things that are therein, and has pledged himself to make this world, purified, renewed, glorified, the possession of the meek, trusting, believing, faithful ones.
There are times of sore trial and distress to those who follow Jesus. But these see, by an eye of faith, Jesus upon the cross of Calvary; and the infinite efficacy of the blood of a crucified Redeemer is sufficient for every human soul. There is no other remedy for the fainting soul in its greatest need than looking to the cross of Calvary. They can do nothing but place their hands in the hands of Christ, and say, Lead me, guide me. Tempted they will be, perplexed, and sometimes discouraged; but by faith they hear the call through the thick darkness saying, "Follow me, and ye shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 60, #50)
From the New York campmeeting I went to Nebraska. The notice of this meeting had been widely circulated, and a very large gathering anticipated. The heavy rain storm which continued during nearly the whole time of the meeting, prevented many from coming; still, a large number tented on the ground. Some of these had come from one to two hundred miles by private conveyance, traveling in the rain a portion of the way. I was very anxious that these dear souls should receive a rich blessing to carry back with them to their homes; and the Lord gave me strength to bear my testimony to them. I felt deeply the importance of the solemn message to be borne to those in attendance,--a message which, though solemn, should bring joy to the Christian's heart, because his redemption draweth nigh. I thought I might never meet these souls again, until we should meet in the Judgment; then it would appear whether I had done all my duty in warning, entreating, and so presenting the truth that the Lord would work with my efforts, making them prove a savor of life unto life.
The meetings were profitable, but I longed to see a deeper interest awakened in many hearts. More time was needed; had we had another week, ten times as much might have been accomplished as was done in the first week. It takes time for men who have been all absorbed in business pursuits to get rid of the worldly stamp, and turn their attention to spiritual things; and this was not fully accomplished before the meeting broke up. I am sorry that any allow their minds to become so engrossed in the things of this world that they are not ready to enter into the spirit of these holy convocation meetings from the very first. There may be but one family in a place, and they deprived of the privilege of meeting with those of like precious faith; but they are not deprived of access to their Saviour. They can come to him with all their burdens; and his word declares, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith."
My heart was drawn out in sympathy for these precious ones who enjoy so few religious privileges; for temporal affairs engross their minds until their thoughts and conversation run almost wholly in a worldly channel, and when they assemble in our general meetings, they do not understand themselves; they do not know their great need. Some are self-confident, self-sufficient, exalted in their opinion of themselves, because they do not have clear views of Jesus. If they lived near to him, they would see his purity, his matchless benevolence, his self-sacrifice and infinite love, which would lead them to see their deficiencies; and when viewing the cross of Calvary, and the sufferings that Christ endured that they might be rescued from ruin, they could not have one exalted feeling in regard to self. Satan is constantly at work to separate man from Christ, and his power is especially exercised upon those who profess to be children of the light. If he succeeds in any way, through pride, covetousness, love of the world, or self-esteem, in hiding from their view the perfect Pattern, then his purpose is accomplished. It is unsafe for any one of us to allow temporal and worldly things to absorb the mind and affections. If the mind is exercised almost wholly in this direction, and the conversation is of this character, the mind becomes earthly, sensual, and Christ and his grace are cut off from the view.
I thought as I looked upon the brethren and sisters assembled on the Nebraska campground, These precious souls are the purchase of the blood of Christ; he died that they might have life and immortality. And yet they do not discern their high and exalted privilege; for Satan interposes to obstruct and cloud their view of the perfection of Christ and the Heaven bought privileges he has brought within their reach. How can these obtain eternal life? Will they arouse from their indifference? Will they escape from this deathlike sluggishness of soul? Will they avail themselves of the only effectual remedy,--earnest faith and firm reliance upon the word of God? They may trust in Jesus; they may rely upon his merits; they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth; but in order to do this, they must work from a higher standpoint. They have long trained their minds to run in a worldly channel, and now that they profess to love Jesus, they have another and a different education to obtain in the school of Christ. They are rough stones hewed out of the quarry of the world by the cleaver of truth; but it is not the plan of God that they shall always remain rough stones. We shall all be brought into the workshop of God, where the hammer and the chisel will be brought to bear upon us until we are hewed and squared; then we are to undergo a still nicer work of burnishing and polishing, until we are fitted for a place in God's temple, when every stone will come into its place without the sound of an ax or a hammer.
Eld. Haskell and my son, W. C. White, joined us at this campmeeting. They were delayed on the road, so we only enjoyed their presence and labors during the last two days of the meeting.
I here met Bro. Cady from Southern California. He feels that he cannot preach, but he can give Bible readings. In a visit to his relatives and friends, he presented from the Scriptures the reasons of our faith in their families, by the fireside. He was thoroughly in earnest, armed and equipped with the word of God; and as a consequence, he exerted a strong influence, and had the pleasure of seeing about a dozen decide to obey the commandments of God. Our brother felt that this precious fruit of his labor was of more value to him than treasures of gold and silver. Oh that many more would follow his example of personal effort!
I was glad that Bible readings were introduced at the Nebraska campmeeting, that those present might have some knowledge of this kind of labor; for if personal efforts in this direction are put forth in the spirit of Christ, they will be crowned with success. Those who depend wholly upon Jesus for help and strength, will conduct themselves as becomes his representatives, and they will not labor in vain. The world are so engrossed in their own pursuits that it will be difficult to arrest their attention; but if laborers show a spirit of self-denial, of cross bearing, of earnest love for souls and manifest true devotion, they will have a telling influence upon others; for such labor will be in marked contrast to the superficial efforts of the large class who profess to be laborers for God, but have only a form of godliness, while their lives deny the power thereof.
The opposition from the powers of darkness is very great, and is constantly increasing. Those who believe the truth and practice it in their lives, will have opposing influences to meet, but Jesus has made ample provision for them. He does not require them to go in their own weak strength. The promise is, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." But every one who has a work to do for the Master must be thoroughly in earnest. The servant of God must watch unto prayer, be faithful to the grace given him, continue in the love of God, and abide in Christ as the branch abides in the vine. Many have labored depending on their own insufficient ability. They have not, by faith, claimed divine help, although Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." Christ must be interwoven in all our experience; we can only reach the people through the influence of the Spirit of God. Be steadfast if you would be useful.
The isolated brethren and sisters should feel it their duty and privilege to be lightbearers in every sense of the word, because they are the only ones in their vicinity who see the importance of the truth. If they lead faithful, self-denying lives, laboring for others in the spirit which actuated Christ, they will have help from Heaven; angels will be at their side. Whatsoever they ask, they receive of God, because they keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. These will be the true Calebs in the church. They may never give a lecture or preach a sermon; yet they have their work to do, and are successful laborers in the vineyard of the Lord. They have a transforming influence. These men draw nigh to God in prayer; their closets are often visited; their supplications move the arm of God. They reach the people through his power, and receive special grace to win souls to Jesus.
Every one has talents intrusted to him of the Lord, and is guilty if he buries them in the earth. They are to be used to the honor and glory of God. He has given light upon his word, and this light his people are not to shut up to themselves; they should let its bright rays shine upon the pathway of those who are transgressing the law of God. Each one who experiences converting grace becomes responsible to show forth the praises of Him who has called him out of darkness. God has constituted him a new power on earth to work in establishing his kingdom, and he requires that every talent he has entrusted to his servant be used to its fullest capacity.
When I consider the great light the Lord has given in his word, the precious opportunities and rich privileges enjoyed by his people, I can but think how Jesus must be grieved at their indifference and want of appreciation of these great blessings, which make them so weak that when they ought to be teachers they have need that one teach them. A genuine Christian experience increases, unfolds, and intensifies. The child of God gathers strength as he proceeds; his light must shine more and more, else it will grow dim and die out. His faith should grow stronger, his consecration more complete, his love more perfect, his zeal more ardent and tireless; his courage should be unshaken, his patience unwearied, while he makes steady advancement in the knowledge of the truth and the love of Jesus. There is nothing selfish in a religious life. The Lord has given to every man his work. Bible truth received into the heart is diffusive and aggressive. Its nature is represented by the saving salt, the transforming leaven, the bright, shining light which dispels darkness.
The brethren in Nebraska have shown a commendable zeal in trying to extend their labors, and work upon broader plans. God forbid that we should abate their ardor one jot. We would that we could see the same earnest zeal and determination to do a greater work manifested in every Conference. It is not to be expected that those whose experience is short can have all the foresight that is gained by long experience in the work. If many who have had years of experience, and who believe all the truth, would put forth earnest efforts proportionate to the great truths they believe, we should see tenfold more accomplished. It is because of our little faith and halfhearted efforts that we see so little done. I sincerely thank the Lord that our brethren in Nebraska have had a mind to work. Let no one take the position to find fault, to criticise, and to block the wheel. They have not shown any more zeal or any greater earnestness than our faith demands of every Conference in the land.
Every determined effort to advance the truth has been met by a strong resistance from the hosts of Satan, and this resistance will greatly increase. He stands ready to bar the way in every enterprise that threatens the interests of his cause. He has tempted some of our brethren to look with distrust upon any one who ventures to move out and work upon broader plans. He will suggest that you are going too fast; you will use means in this work; you must economize. It is all well to economize; but remember it will take means to do this great work. If the very ones who are criticising should engage heart and soul in doing this larger work, through their additional influence precious victories for the Master would be gained. But if instead of helping, they are continually pulling back those who have a mind to work, they may be found guilty, if moves which might have been crowned with success prove a failure.
Let it not be suggested that if means are raised to advance those branches of the cause of truth which demand financial help, liberalities in other directions will necessarily be limited; that our brethren will pay less in tithes. Ministering brethren, please give our people who believe the truth credit for greater liberality and more noble principle. Do not put complaints and murmuring in their hearts and minds which would not exist if you did not suggest them. Teach with pen and voice that we must work; that God has made men stewards of means that they may help in carrying forward the various enterprises connected with his cause; that the tithes and offerings are but a small part of what God claims of them; that they must work fast, for probation will soon close. They should follow the example Jesus has given them in his life,--deny self, lift the cross, get their treasure laid up in heaven. Thousands are dying spiritually because their treasure is laid up upon the earth, and their heart, their thoughts, their whole being, is buried up with it.
Those who undertake a larger work may not always discern the very best way to bring about certain results. They may commit errors. Would it not be a marvel if the work was carried on so perfectly in all its parts that no one could find any excuse to criticise? But although there is not that degree of perfection we wish to see, let the work advance, and let our brethren improve in their manner of working. They are obtaining an experience; their very failures may be turned to victories. We all have to learn how to carry forward aggressive warfare against every opposing influence. But if they counsel with Jesus at every step, if they seek wisdom from God, they will see results of their labor.
There are men who do not acknowledge any work to be of God unless they lead out in it themselves. They are disposed to tear down; yet the work must not cease, but go forward. At times in our experience we have had to urge advance movements against fearful odds, when everything went the hardest; but time proved that we were right, and that those who tried to hedge up our way were not actuated by the spirit of Christ. Men may think they are right and that they are to be praised for their great caution, when they are blocking the wheels. Such persons are not to be taken as guides or models.
Brethren who want to do something must arise and work, although obstacles oppose. They should be continually learning in the school of Christ to be meek and lowly of heart, then they will follow the Leader. They will start right, continue right, and end right. I wish there were men in every Conference who would resolve in the strength of God to do more than they yet have done. With enlarged faith, they would enlarge their plans. My prayer is that we may all aim to become wholehearted, unselfish, persevering, self-sacrificing workers with Christ, discharging every duty, improving every gracious opportunity ; then our talents will enlarge with our plans. Those who are actuated by love, and labor with persevering energy, will accomplish something for the Master. All their ways and works will be established; and what grace has begun on earth, glory will crown in the future immortal life.
Brethren, will you remember that it is much easier to find fault with your brother's work than to improve upon it yourself? Those who do the least are the ones who find the most fault because their brethren do not work to the best advantage. If God has told them how to do perfect work, he holds them responsible for that knowledge. Souls for whom Christ died will perish because the light of truth has not been brought before them, and when the Lord shall make inquisition for their blood, what can these men say, who find fault with what their brethren are doing, and yet do nothing themselves? The sluggish, the unbelieving, the indifferent, the slothful, have cause to fear and tremble for the record they will meet in the day of final accounts. The deathlike torpor that now holds men from earnest efforts to save souls from ruin, must be broken, for their salvation depends upon it.
Remember that an example of lukewarmness, carelessness, and indifference, is contagious. It is reproduced in a multitude of ways, and iniquity abounds. Many are bound about with worldliness, and apostasy is congealing the very lifeblood of the soul, because of the coldness of ministers professing to be watchmen upon the walls of Zion. Earnest spirituality, and the quickening influence of the Spirit of God, will set men to work, not lazily, but most earnestly, to warn men to escape the perils which threaten to destroy them.
Beware, my dear brethren, lest you measure your efforts by too low a standard, and miserably fail where you might have success, and thus come short of salvation yourselves. The record of our work, which will determine our destiny at last, is passing up to God. The sentence of every one will soon be unalterably decided; and while Mercy's sweet voice is still heard, there is much to be done, and to every man is committed his work. This thought should stir the soul with diligence proportionate to the sacred truths committed to our trust. Our salvation, that boon of priceless value, must be worked out with fear and trembling. We must bear the reproach of Christ, watching unto prayer, taking God into all our counsels, choosing to suffer affliction with his people. What constant self-denial is required; what patient discipline of doing and suffering for the truth's sake; what a clinging to the cross of Christ, casting the helpless soul upon Jesus; what groaning and agonizing in spirit to enter in at the strait gate; what protracted conflicts we shall be called to pass through before we are crowned!
Brethren, you have no time to find fault with the work of others. Go to work yourselves; do something at once. Souls are perishing around us without the knowledge of the truth. It is too late to trifle with matters of eternal interest. God has claims upon men who have means. There is continual danger that their case may be like that of the man Jesus has brought before us in the parable. His grounds brought forth plentifully. His barns were filled with abundance of fruit; and he said, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry."
He who made man, who gave his Son to die on Calvary to exalt him to his throne, has shown the value he places upon the race by the price he has paid for their redemption; and when man allows earthly, temporal matters to come between him and his duty to God, Jesus calls him a fool to bury his soul in these treasures, to the neglect of the heavenly, the eternal weight of glory. Trusting for happiness in his full storehouses and barns, he is rebuked for the infatuation which makes him so blind to his eternal interest. May our dear brethren who are laying up their treasures upon earth, heed the words of Jesus: "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not." There is work to be done to warn the world. The various enterprises connected with this work require means. Let the work not be hindered through covetousness, but let it go forward. "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." By Mrs. E. G. White.