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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1885
(Vol. 62, #1)
Each of us has a work to do in the vineyard of the Lord. Talents are committed to our trust, and we are responsible for the use we make of them. The Christian life does not consist merely in the exercise of meekness, patience, humility, and kindness. One may possess these precious and amiable traits, and yet be nerveless and spiritless, and almost useless when the work goes hard. Such persons lack the positiveness and energy, the solidity and strength of character, which would enable them to resist evil, and would make them a power in the cause of God.
Jesus was our example in all things, and he was an earnest and constant worker. He commenced his life of usefulness in childhood. At the age of twelve he was "about his Father's business." Between the ages of twelve and thirty, before entering upon his public ministry, he led a life of active industry.
In his ministry, Jesus was never idle. Said he, "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work." The suffering who came to him were not turned away unrelieved. He was acquainted with each heart, and knew how to minister to its needs. Loving words fell from his lips to comfort, encourage, and bless; and the great principles of the kingdom of heaven were set before the multitudes in words so simple as to be understood by all.
Jesus was a silent and unselfish worker. He did not seek fame, riches, or applause; neither did he consult his own ease and pleasure. When the day's labor was done, and he had dismissed his disciples that they might seek needed rest, he often retired to the lonely mountain or the silent grove, and spent the night in prayer, offering up his petitions with strong crying and tears. Not for himself were these vigils kept, but for those he came to save. He was standing between the living and the dead; his heart was moved with compassion for those who "fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."
Our Saviour went about doing good. He did not shirk care and responsibility, as many do who profess to be his followers. There are positions which they could fill to acceptance, and where they could do good work for God and their fellowmen; but they shrink from the work, for it would cost them pains and effort to do it well. If they were sure their work would be perfect, and they should receive only praise, they might be induced to take it up; but their hearts are filled with pride, and they will run no risks of failure and blame. They will not endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ Jesus, and so are weak where they might be strong. Were Jesus upon earth now, he would say to thousands whose names are on church books, "Why stand ye all the day idle?" "Go ye also into the vineyard."
Every Christian should study the life of Christ, and should labor as he labored, with the same unselfishness and devotion that characterized his whole life, from his cradle in the manger to the cross of Calvary. The claims of Christ upon our service are new every day. However complete may have been our consecration at conversion, it will avail us nothing unless it be renewed daily; but a consecration that embraces the actual present is fresh, genuine, and acceptable to God. We have not weeks and months to lay at his feet; tomorrow is not ours, for we have not yet received it; but today we may work for Jesus. Today we may lay our plans and purposes before him for his inspection and approval. Work, then, while it is day, remembering that the "night cometh, wherein no man can work." This is God's day, and you are his hired servant. No matter how far his plans and purposes may be from harmonizing with yours, you should do his bidding, answer every call, patiently take up every duty lying in your path.
On the part of every member of the church, there should be patient continuance in well doing. Ministers have their work to do; but they cannot do that of the lay members. God wants workers in his vineyard, and every one who has become a partaker of the heavenly gift is under obligation to respond to his call. There is unused talent among us, which should be employed in ministering to others. Some with limited talents are doing a far greater work than others who pride themselves upon their intellectual gifts. God will accept the efforts of those who put to good use the ability which he has given them, and they will be rewarded by and by according to their works.
Many admire the broad, deep river which moves majestically in its onward course to the ocean. It is worthy of admiration; for it is doing its appointed work. But what of the thousand rivulets from the mountain side, which help to swell this noble stream? It is true that they are small and narrow; but they are indispensable, for without them the river could not exist. They are unitedly doing their appointed work in fertilizing the earth; their path through fields and meadows can be traced by the living green that lines their banks. Thus they are carrying out God's plan, and adding to the prosperity of the world. The mighty river has worn for itself a channel through the everlasting hills; but in its place the brook is as necessary as the river.
We are not all called to do some great work. We may not all be engaged in laying large plans, in doing something that will make self prominent. There are small places to be filled, little duties that must be done; and much depends on faithfulness in these minor things in binding together and making effective the larger work. If the small duties are overlooked or neglected, the large plans will not accomplish the results designed, because the details upon which success depends have not received due attention. Christ says, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."
Men are needed who will work with an eye single to the glory of God. Simplicity of faith is a power in the believer. It will give him the mind that was in Christ, and make him a burden bearer in the cause of God. There are some who are ready to bear burdens and responsibilities that someone must take,--some who shirk in no place. Yet there are comparatively few real workers, not one where there should be a hundred.
The work of God calls for young men who are not self-sufficient and boastful,--young men who study their Bibles and are honest and God fearing. Volunteers are needed who will respect gray hairs and honor those whom God honors, and who will not feel insulted if they receive counsel from men of experience. Such men will be earnest workers; for their motive power will be love to God, and interest in their fellowmen. They approach the Lord's standard of manhood, and with the divine blessing on their capabilities they may reach a high degree of mental and moral excellence. To be a man that God can approve and use in his cause, is honor enough for any human being. Office, wealth, position, sink into insignificance in comparison.
Any young man is wanting in his duty to himself if he fails to meet the purposes of God by improving and enlarging his faculties. The mind is the best possession we have; but it must be trained by study, by reflection, by learning in the school of Christ, the best and truest educator the world has ever known. The Christian worker must grow. He must build up a character for usefulness; he must educate himself to endure hardness, and to be wise to plan and execute in the work of God. He must be a man of pure mind and conversation,--one who will abstain from every appearance of evil, and give no occasion for reproach through his heedless ways. He must be truthful at heart; in his mouth there must be no guile.
But how imperfect and one-sided are the characters of many who profess godliness. They show that as pupils in the school of Christ, they have learned their lessons very imperfectly. Some who have learned to imitate Christ in meekness, have not learned his diligence in doing good. Others are very active and zealous; but they are boastful; they have never learned humility. Still others who are diligent, leave Christ out of their work. They may be social and pleasing in their manners, as was Jesus, the sinner's friend; they may evince sympathy and love for their fellowmen; but their hearts are not centered on the Saviour, and they have not learned the language of heaven. They do not pray as Christ prayed: they do not place his estimate upon souls. They know nothing of his self-denying life; they have not learned to endure inconvenience and hardship in their efforts to save souls from ruin.
However zealously the truth may be advocated, while the everyday life and character do not testify to its sanctifying power, it will avail nothing. Such a course hardens the heart, and narrows the mind to a form of godliness without the power. Some who profess the truth, but know nothing of the transforming work of grace in the heart, become egotistical, critical, harsh, and repulsive. Others become plastic and yielding, and bend this way and that to please every one. When the heart is changed from sin to holiness, there will be a fear of offending God. Such a work of grace will prompt men to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. In their work as ministers, it will enable them to develop firm, decided principle, which cannot be bribed or swayed from integrity to obtain any earthly good.
The minister, as a laborer for God and a representative of Christ, is under sacred obligations to be an example to the flock of which he is an under shepherd. He should care in a special manner for the sheep of his fold; he should watch for souls as they that must give an account. But all who love Jesus in sincerity and truth will be workers in his vineyard. It is one of the great sins of the church that there are so many who are doing nothing. They are cumberers of the ground,--withered branches, bearing no fruit. They do not exert a healthful influence in the church; for their spirit and example are contagious, and the lame are turned out of the way. Idlers in the church are Satan's most efficient helpers.
I have tried to present before you, dear brethren and sisters, the necessity of personal effort to save souls. Each individual member is responsible for the prosperity of the church. The world is full of work for the Master. Every day brings its burden of care and responsibility; and if just one neglects the work assigned him, some sacred interest suffers.
The Lord keeps a complete list of his workers, and in Bible history he has given us the names of a few. Among those who were faithful stewards are Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Nehemiah, John, and Paul. These cases are recorded for our instruction, that we may imitate their virtues. The workers in the vineyard of the Lord have the example of the good of all ages to stimulate them. They have to encourage them the love of God, the ministration of angels, the sympathy of Jesus, and the hope of winning precious souls to shine forever as stars in their crown of rejoicing. "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.
(Vol. 62, #2)
The important meeting in Portland, Me., was a season of great interest to me, as I had relatives and friends there who did not realize the necessity of renouncing the customs of society to obey the commandments of God. This meeting is now in the past, and what record will the books of heaven reveal in the great day? Who will heed the warning there given, and cease to trample on the divine law? How many will be doers of the word, and not hearers only?
My heart yearns for those I love, the precious souls for whom Christ died; and the question arises again and again, What preparation are they making for the future life? That which is sowed in this life will be reaped in the great harvest. None can meet God in peace over his broken law; for it has an important part to act in the conversion of the soul. The inspired word declares: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." For this reason I felt deeply anxious that those living in Portland should have the light. It was presented before them in all its clearness; but it is frequently the case that the more convincing the arguments from God's word, the less disposition there seems to be to recognize the mighty principles of truth. Human opinions and customs hold the mind in error; but they cannot with safety be substituted for the revealed will of God.
While the law of God was held up before the people, and its claims urged upon their attention, many were convinced that there is no authority in the Bible for substituting the first day of the week for the seventh-day Sabbath, which at creation God sanctified and blessed for man; but how few welcome and cherish that which in their hearts they acknowledge to be truth. They stand trembling at the cross presented, shrinking from the self-denial which always characterizes the life of the true Christian; and they turn away in neglect and derision, as did the Pharisees and rulers from the teachings of Christ.
In all ages of the world the truth and its adherents have been unpopular; and how can we expect it to be different now, so near the close of time? It is impossible for a man to become loyal to God, rendering obedience to all his commandments, without finding himself immediately marked as odd from the rest of the world, and cut off from the society of those who transgress that law. If all would be obedient to the law of God, he would not be obliged to give up his former associates; but where one alone, or a very few at most, take a position on the side of right, a separation becomes necessary. There is a difference between the children of light and the children of darkness. Their tastes and habits are widely dissimilar. Though they may be thrown together, there is no congeniality between them; for one has a love for heavenly things, and the other for those that are earthly. "What concord hath Christ with Belial?" What harmony is there between light and darkness?
While living in disobedience, man is the enemy of God, and cannot harmonize with those who keep the divine law, and make God the supreme object of affection. They feel that the example of the obedient ones is a rebuke to them. Thus the Jews looked upon Christ. In just the degree that his life differed from theirs, they passed severe censure upon him as a rock of offense. How can we expect the servant to be greater than his lord? "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" "If the world hate you," said Christ to his disciples, "ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Thus the words of Christ are verified, "I came not to send peace" on earth, "but a sword.
We are living in an age when the law of God is made void. Deceptive errors prevail to an alarming degree. Multitudes, forgetting that "sin is the transgression of the law," are following the lead of that great lawbreaker, the man of sin. But genuine faith has not become extinct. There are two parties in the world,--the advocates of truth and purity as well as the advocates of error and corruption; and the earnest inquiry of each soul should be, What is truth? At the last we must all stand in one party or the other; and in which company do we wish to be found when Jesus shall come in the clouds of heaven? We shall all want a Saviour to stand in our defense in that awful time described by the prophet as a "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." And when Christ shall separate the righteous from the wicked, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left, we shall all want to be on the right hand. We shall not then esteem it an honor to be found with the multitudes in the paths of transgression.
Those who listened to the solemn discourses given on the Maine campground, in which the startling events to transpire in the near future were set before the people clearly and with convincing power, have been warned. But many let the things which concern their eternal well-being go in at one ear and out at the other. One lady acknowledged that she liked the preaching, and that the doctrines were proved from the Bible; but in answer to the question, "What do you think of the Sabbath question? If what they say is true, we are keeping the wrong day, and breaking the Sabbath of the fourth commandment," she replied that she did not intend to disturb herself about the Sabbath, and that she paid no attention to what was said on the subject. I wonder if this lady will assert her position with such self-confidence and flippancy when the Judge of all the earth shall demand, "Why have you not kept my law? I delegated my servants to set before you its claims; but you have disregarded my will yourself, and by your example have taught others disobedience. They have rebelled against me because of your influence." Will she be willing to hear the sentence, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity"?
This lady represents a class. I have experienced a sadness, almost an agony of soul, at the thought of the thousands in the same condition of thoughtless indifference. They hear the truth gladly, but will not be doers of the word where it involves a cross. If they are in the darkness of error, they do not want to know it. They feel no anxiety to search for the truth as for hid treasures. They have a peace; but instead of being the peace which Christ imparts to his obedient followers, it is the peace of self-deception and self-satisfaction, which is death.
Jesus wept over impenitent Jerusalem, saying, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now are they hid from thine eyes." It was an infinite blessing that was granted to the world in the presence of Jesus, in his life of benevolence, his teachings, and his example; but how little appreciation was manifested on the part of those he came to save. The labors of his embassadors will be no more highly appreciated by the men of this generation. The truths taught in the inspired word will be regarded by them as idle tales. Our hearts may go out in yearning love for souls ensnared through the deceitfulness of sin; we may warn and entreat; but we cannot make them obey; we can only pray and wait. But how fearful is the risk they are running! The precious hours of probation are passing, and the little time remaining should be treasured as grains of gold.
All are not indifferent to the warning message. There were many on the campground at Portland whose tearful eyes and solemn expression showed that their hearts were touched. Again and again the question arose in my mind, Will these go their way,--one to his farm, another to his merchandise,--and care for none of these things? I longed to have them discern the mighty agencies of the powers of darkness, which, hidden from observation, are constantly at work to draw them from the right.
Light on the law of God is now shining; and those who are called to expound the word should give the warning message whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. Dear brethren, do not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, even though it may require courage to stand in defense of unpopular truth. Learn to estimate the worth of souls according to Christ's standard. Cultivate that disinterested love of which his whole life was an example, and labor with the spirit of self-sacrifice that characterized his ministry. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #3)
The year 1884 has passed into eternity, and a new year has dawned upon us. What is the character of the history that has been recorded in heaven, as day by day has glided by with its burden of good or evil? Have not many of you, my brethren and sisters, a spotted record to meet? Have you not failed to improve many of the opportunities which the old year afforded you for forming correct habits and building right characters? Have you made of yourselves all that God designed you should? Do you know more of the truth than you did one year ago? Have you practiced self-control, seeking daily to be sanctified through the truth, that your life might reflect light upon the pathway of others?
God has left each one a work to do for himself. Have you been faithful in this work? Have you studied to conform your character in every particular to the law of God? Have you sought to discover and remedy every defect in yourselves that would have a tendency to lead others from the path of strict rectitude? Has your life been so molded by the word and Spirit of God as to make you a blessing to all with whom you associate?
You are in danger from corruption within and temptation without. There are evil habits and traits of character which are constantly inclining you to selfishness and weakness of principle. During the past year, Satan has been diligent in his efforts to turn you away from beholding yourselves; and many of you have erred in leaving God's own established standard to follow an imperfect one of your own devising. But none need err from the way, for God has given his own beloved Son to be our guide to Paradise. We are to copy his pure, spotless, and holy life; and through his grace we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Year by year increasing light is shining upon our pathway. The light we had in 1884 is not the light for us this year; if that light has been faithfully improved, we may look for still greater light in the year that is before us. Dear brethren and sisters, the increased light that you receive places you under greater obligation to God. Your Christian growth should be in accordance with the privileges you enjoy. Each day as it passes should find you better prepared to meet new trials and bear new responsibilities. Do you appreciate this fact? Do you realize your duty to others? Consider the influence that every word and act of your life may have upon those around you. A lasting impression may be made, which will react upon yourself in blessing or in cursing. This thought gives an awful solemnity to life, and should drive us to God in humble prayer that he will guide us by his wisdom.
If all could realize this subject as it has been presented to me, many would live much more carefully than they now do. It is easy for professed Christians to extol Jesus, his perfections and his loveliness, while, under the appearance of great devotion, they are very exacting toward others, exercising over them an iron rule. It is easy for them to talk of the truth, and the importance of keeping the commandments of God, when they have never made a practical application of the principles of truth in their everyday life. They have not made a success of serving God, and so have lost the precious comfort and support which is derived from communion with him.
We belong to Jesus. He has bought us with his precious blood; and we owe him a debt of gratitude which we can never repay, but which we should daily acknowledge by willing, unselfish service. If we realize this as we should, we shall be Christlike. Like him, we shall deny self that we may do others good. But during the past year, how much time has been devoted to self-serving that ought to have been given to the Lord. How much money has been needlessly expended on trifles to gratify taste and please the eye. How much has been spent for the gratification of appetite, when plain, simple food would have been better and more nourishing, giving greater physical and mental strength.
Some have failed to present to God the tithes and offerings which belong to him. Such should awaken to a sense of their duty. The words of the prophet Malachi apply to them: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."
Wherever there has been any neglect on your part to give back to the Lord his own, repent with contrition of soul, and make restitution, lest his curse rest upon you. Many are in a cold, backslidden state on account of their robbery of God; and now the Lord calls upon them to redeem the past. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse," he says, "and prove me now herewith." When you have done what you can on your part, withholding nothing that belongs to your Maker, you may ask him to provide means to send the message of truth to the world. The work of God would have been much farther advanced than it now is, had each member of the church suitably expressed his gratitude to God for the priceless gift of eternal life through Christ.
To each of us some work is assigned in the vineyard of the Lord. There is enough for all to do; none need stand idle. Have you been faithful in your appointed task, doing what you could to win others to the truth? How many have been led to the cross of Christ through your individual efforts? Have you by precept and example pointed your fellowmen to the Lamb of God, or have you, by assimilating to the world, directed their thoughts and affections into a wrong channel?
Many of you have made great mistakes the last year; will you repeat these mistakes during the year upon which you have just entered? Human judgment is finite; and men in their blind self-will often trust to their own opinion, and take a course that cuts directly across the path of God's providence, and defeats his ends. You need to examine yourself carefully to see what is the tendency of your course. The Spirit of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and it will reveal to you your standing and the nature of your work.
God alone can tell what will transpire during the year 1885. It may be in our lives and in the history of our cause more eventful than any that has preceded it. We have seen the special workings of the Spirit of God during the campmeeting season and in the recent session of the General Conference; but these evidences that the Lord is at work should not lead us to settle down satisfied and at ease. The light of truth is to go into remote and darkened corners of the earth. Each unfolding of his providence, each token that his hand is in the work to move it forward with power, is designed to arouse us to greater zeal and earnestness, while we look for still more wonderful and glorious triumphs of the truth in the future.
Will each of you who believe present truth earnestly inquire, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" His Spirit is at work upon minds, preparing them to receive the truth. Let your efforts be fully up with the openings of his providence. Do something, do it now; and let the record of the new year be one that you will not be ashamed to meet. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #4)
It is time that special efforts were made to spread a knowledge of the truth in our large cities. A light should be kindled in them that will shine out to the world in bright, steady beams. When campmeetings are held in their vicinity, impressions are made that should be followed up; for if the interest is left to die out, it will be more difficult to arouse it another time. The recent campmeeting in Portland, Me., has thrown an added responsibility upon our brethren in that State. Will they meet this responsibility in the fear of the Lord, or will they, by shirking their duty, leave souls to perish? Now, while the minds of many are stirred and convicted of the truth, the interest should be followed up by wise, earnest, and persevering labor.
It is not preaching talent alone that is needed in Portland and similar places; the call is for men who will go forth imbued with the Spirit of Christ, and work for souls. The minister should not confine his labors to the desk, nor should he settle down in some pleasant home among the brethren. He must watch for souls. He must visit the people at their homes, and by personal efforts seek to impress the truth upon hearts and consciences. He must pray with families and hold Bible readings with them. While with tact and wisdom he urges home upon his fellowmen their duty to obey the word of God, his daily intercourse with them should reveal whatever in his character is good and pure, excellent and lovely, kind and courteous.
In the messages of the first and second angels, the work was done in this manner. Men and women were moved to search the Scriptures, and they called the attention of others to the truths revealed. It was personal labor for individuals and families that gave these messages their wonderful success.
The city of Portland, with the surrounding country, was extensively warned by the first and second messages. Many were stirred to search the Scriptures for evidences of truth; and they searched not in vain. Though the bitterest opposition was made to the plainest statements of the Bible, yet the truth went with power, and many were turned from darkness to light. The question has arisen in my mind, Will the proclamation of the third angel's message accomplish an equally great work in Portland? There are a few believers in this city, and if each one of them would realize his accountability to God as one to whom light has been intrusted, others would be led to embrace the truth. But if the church here bury their talents and means in worldly enterprises, how can they render their account to the Master for their manifest neglect? The light has not been permitted to shine into their hearts and enlighten their understanding, for their benefit alone. God grant that they may be true to their trust.
The Lord has visited the city of Portland. Will those who have identified themselves with the truth do their part to carry on the good work? Will they put on the whole armor of God, and fight manfully, not their own battles, but the battles of the Lord? The enemy knows well that the united strength of all his forces is weakness when opposed against that of two or three faithful servants of Christ. Therefore he does not contend openly, but comes masked. He agrees with the little company of worshipers on many points of truth, and professes great love for the cause of God. He learns the language of Christian experience and fellowship, and gains position, confidence, and sympathy. But he is not correct in faith; unbelief is urged upon them, and the spirit of darkness prevails. Thus it has been for years; thus it will continue to be. The enemy will obtain advantage, and the children of light know not how much they lose by being ignorant of his devices. Prayers are hindered, faith is paralyzed, and a dead formality is the result.
There can be no halfway work in the service of God. The Lord is a jealous God; and he requires the sincere affection and unreserved confidence of those who profess to worship him. He will not tolerate evil. Said the psalmist, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." But he listens to prayers that are offered in contrition and humility of soul. Sincere expressions of mutual faith, hope, and love will make the hour of social worship wholly profitable. But one sinner or deceiver in the meeting will do great harm. Better have a very few truehearted worshipers than to have a much larger number composed of persons not in harmony with one another and with the truth. "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
Every child of God should be intelligent in the Scriptures, and able, by tracing the fulfillment of prophecy, to show our position in this world's history. The Bible was written for the common people as well as for scholars, and is within the comprehension of all. The great truths which underlie man's duty to his fellowmen and to his Maker are clearly revealed; and those who really want the truth need make no mistake. The way is not left in uncertainty, as though we were standing where four roads met, not knowing which one to take. The truth is our guide; it is to us like a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
The many contradictory opinions in regard to what the Bible teaches do not arise from any obscurity in the book itself, but from blindness and prejudice on the part of interpreters. Men ignore the plain statements of the Bible to follow their own perverted reason. Priding themselves on their intellectual attainments, they overlook the simplicity of truth; they forsake the fountain of living waters to drink of the poisonous stream of error.
But however much man may pervert the words of God, his purposes will be accomplished. Men may reject the truth, but it is the truth still. To us is committed the most solemn warning ever given to man; for us who are now upon the stage of action are reserved the most important scenes in this world's history. Many who gave the first and second messages greatly desired to see this day which we see, and saw it not. And not all who now believe will remain to the coming of the Lord; some will sleep for a moment. The Master is binding the precious grain in bundles for the heavenly garner, while the wicked are gathering together as fagots for the fires of the last day. The church and the world are preparing for the last great contest, in which all must act a part. The kingdoms of the whole world are gathering their forces to the battle of the great day, when the wrath of God will be manifested against the nations that have made void his law.
In view of these things, what energy and zeal are demanded of all who profess the truth, and particularly of the ministers! Are we every one of us bold soldiers of Christ, shunning not to declare the whole counsel of God? I fear we lose sight of our duty and privilege to be partakers with Christ of his self-denial and self-sacrifice. Is not the work of God too often marred in our hands because of a cowardly fear of being blamed by the selfish and ease loving? But someone must venture. If men accept the position of standard bearers, the commission of ministers of righteousness, they are under obligation to push the triumphs of the cross. With an eye single to the glory of God, they must lose sight of everything but their Leader, and work as he worked.
Will the ministers in Maine so labor that their work will bear the impress of the divine? Will they go into new fields, with the spirit of the early disciples, who went everywhere preaching the word? Will they enlarge their plans, and educate the churches to help with their talents of means and influence? Will the brethren and sisters be faithful in bringing in their tithes and offerings, that the work of God may not be crippled for want of means?
Not only here, but all over the field, North and South, East and West, more of the spirit that actuated our Saviour is needed. Then there will not be so much sensitiveness to opposition and reproach. These things must be met; but they drive the Christian to his knees, and give him a spirit that will not repulse or be repulsed.
The work in Maine should be six years in advance of what it now is. There is a disposition to shun aggressive labor, a hesitancy in planting the standard of truth in new fields. The workers need greater ability to devise and execute, more faith to move them to action. "Go forward" is the word of command from God; but, brethren, you obey very slowly. "Freely ye have received" the blessings of the gospel of Christ; freely hold out the light of hope and truth to others. "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.
(Vol. 62, #5)
"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed."
"Trust in the Lord." Each day has its burdens, its cares, and perplexities'; and when we meet, how ready we are to talk of our difficulties and trials. So many borrowed troubles intrude, so many fears are indulged, such a weight of anxiety is expressed, that one might almost suppose that we had no pitying, loving Saviour, ready to hear all our requests, and to be to us a present help in every time of need.
Some are always fearing and borrowing trouble. Every day they are surrounded by the tokens of God's love, every day they are enjoying the bounties of his providence; but they overlook these present blessings. Their minds are continually dwelling upon something disagreeable which they fear may come: or some difficulty may really exist, which, though small, blinds their eyes to the many things which demand gratitude. The difficulties which they encounter, instead of driving them to God, the only source of help, separate them from him, because they awaken unrest and repining.
Brethren and sisters, do we well to be thus unbelieving? Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend. All heaven is interested in our welfare; and our anxiety and fear grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We should not indulge in a solicitude which only frets and wears us, but does not help us to bear trials. No place should be given to that distrust of God which leads us to make a preparation against future want the chief pursuit of life, as though our happiness consisted in these earthly things, and we could gain them while ignoring the fact that God controls all things.
You may be perplexed in business; your prospects may grow darker and darker, and you may be threatened with loss. But do not become discouraged; cast your care upon God, and remain calm and cheerful. Begin every day with earnest prayer, not omitting to offer praise and thanksgiving. Ask for wisdom to manage your affairs with discretion, and thus prevent loss and disaster. Do all you can on your part to bring about favorable results. Jesus has promised divine aid, but not aside from human efforts. When, relying upon your tried Helper, you have done all you can, accept the result cheerfully. It will not always be gain from the worldling's standpoint; but perhaps success might have been the worst thing for you. If your confidence remains unshaken that God will do all things well, these light afflictions will work out for you a "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
If trial and loss are our lot here, let us remember that the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." "I reckon," said Paul, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." It would be well if we would all begin to reckon as did this hero of faith. We want an eye single to the glory of God in all the affairs of life; we want a living faith that holds fast the promises of God, no matter how dark the prospect. We are not to look at the things which are seen, and judge from the world's standpoint, and be ruled by the world's principles; but we are to look at the things which are unseen, eternal.
It is not the will of God that his people should be weighed down with care. But our Lord does not deceive us. He does not say to us, "Do not fear; there are no dangers in your path." He knows there are trials and dangers, and he deals with us plainly. He does not propose to take his people out of a world of sin and evil, but he points them to a never failing refuge. His prayer for his disciples was, "I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil." "In the world," he says, "ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
When in the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus announced his divine character and mission, no such gracious words as he spoke had ever before fallen upon the ears of his listeners. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," he read, "because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." And then came the words so full of hope and comfort, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." He who was the hope of Israel, he who alone was able to bind the strong man armed, and set free the captives of sin, had come to them with loving offers of mercy. Admiration and wonder were awakened; but they refused to accept him as the Messiah, because he did not come in a way to gratify their proud, unbelieving hearts.
As in the days of his flesh, he invites the weary and care laden, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Lay off the yoke of anxiety and worldly care which you have placed on your own necks, and "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." Find rest and peace and quietude in God, dear brethren and sisters. Yield your hearts to him; rely wholly upon him; cast "all your care upon him, for he careth for you."
How can we remain in doubt, questioning whether Jesus loves us, sinful though we be and compassed with infirmities? He gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. He came to our world in the humble guise of a man, that he might become acquainted with the griefs and temptations that beset man's pathway, and that he might know how to help the weary with his offer of rest and peace. But thousands upon thousands refuse his assistance, and only cling more firmly to their burden of care. He comes to the afflicted, and offers to soothe their grief and heal their sorrow; but they turn away from the proffered rest and peace, and continue to talk of their distress and mourn over their hard lot. To the disappointed, the unbelieving, and the unhappy, he offers contentment, while pointing to mansions that he is preparing for them: but they close their eyes to the beautiful prospects, and their hearts against the comfort and joy that the Redeemer alone can give.
Jesus, our precious Saviour, should be first in our thoughts and affections, and we should trust him with entire confidence. He has removed the barrier that separated us from God, that prevented us from grasping the hand of our heavenly Father. He has taken upon himself our guilt, and stands ready, through his own merits, to accept our penitence, and pardon our transgressions. "The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." And the Father himself loves us, or he could never have consented to this great sacrifice. John exclaimed, as he contemplated the amazing love and condescension of God: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
We cannot perfect Christian character unless we are willing to learn in the school of Christ, and make a practical use of every lesson he would teach us. Every day our Saviour gives us our work to do, and that work is to conquer every difficulty and temptation which the day presents. We are not to manufacture trials and evils by our own wrong course of action. We are not to imagine difficulties which do not exist. We need not create evils; for this is Satan's work, and he is equal to the task. When by the indulgence of a perverse temper or the natural inclinations of the heart, we help him in his work, we add to the sum of the evils which we must endure. As each day comes, we must in the strength of Jesus meet its trials and temptations. If we fail one day, we add to the burdens of the next, and have less strength. We should not cloud the future by our carelessness in the present; but by thoughtful and careful performance of today's duties, be preparing to meet the emergencies of tomorrow.
We need to cultivate a spirit of cheerfulness. We should be happy and grateful; for we have everything to make us happy and to call out gratitude. Let us ever look on the bright side of life, and be hopeful, full of love and good works, rejoicing in the Lord always.
"Let the peace of God rule in your hearts," and "be ye thankful." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #6)
Friday, Dec. 5, 1884, I left Battle Creek, Mich., for Chicago, where I was to spend Sabbath and Sunday, and on Monday evening join our party bound for California. I was happy to meet in Chicago, Eld. J. H. Waggoner and Eld. E. P. Daniels and wife.
The labors of the past season had been so taxing that I was thoroughly exhausted, and unable to fill the appointment made for me for Friday evening in a hall controlled by the ladies of the Martha Washington Home, a society devoted to the reformation of intemperate women; but Eld. Waggoner and Eld. Daniels, who attended the meeting, reported that it was excellent. It was an experience meeting, and many intelligent and interesting experiences were related. The best feature of all was that Christ was presented as the mighty Helper of man fallen through the indulgence of appetite. In our work of reform we must present Jesus as a sympathetic, compassionate Redeemer. We must hold him up to those under the power of perverted appetite as One able and willing to save, not only children and youth, but those of mature years, even the man of gray hairs. He is a complete Saviour, and can restore to man his abused and wasted manhood.
Sabbath morning the Sabbath school and other services were held in the S.D.A. mission rooms. Eld. Waggoner spoke in the forenoon. His discourse was followed by a social meeting, in which some very interesting experiences were related. In this meeting a son of Wm. Miller took his position with us to keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. He has been investigating the truth for years, but felt that his service would not be acceptable to God until he should overcome the tobacco habit. He here determined to be a free man, cleansed from everything that can defile.
Bro. Miller is over seventy years old. He left Vermont many years ago, and since that time he has not been a member of any church. He said that the preaching in the churches he attended was so different in theory from that which he had been accustomed to hear from the lips of his father, and so lacking in gospel simplicity, that he could not enjoy it, nor feel confident that the Lord was with those churches. Their services seemed to him too much like a form of godliness without the power.
Sabbath afternoon our meeting was held in the Scandinavian church, which was crowded full, the congregation being composed of Americans and Scandinavians. Eld. Waggoner opened the meeting with prayer in the English language, and Eld. Hanson followed with prayer in Danish. The singing exercise was in both languages, and was made profitable to all. I felt it a privilege to address this assembly; and nearly all, I was informed, could understand what was said. Some who had not been in this country long could understand but little; but they felt and enjoyed the spirit of the meeting.
The evening after the Sabbath I spoke in Washingtonian Hall. This is a plain, convenient, homelike room,--an excellent place for meetings. My remarks were founded on the first chapter of Second Peter. I pray that the word spoken may prove a blessing to those who heard.
Sunday afternoon I spoke in the same hall on the subject of temperance to a good congregation, who listened with the deepest interest. I had freedom and power in presenting Jesus, who took upon himself the infirmities and bore the griefs and sorrows of humanity, and conquered in our behalf. He was made like unto his brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin; and he knows how to succor those who are tempted. Are you harassed and perplexed? So was Jesus. Do you feel the need of encouragement? So did Jesus. As Satan tempts you, so he tempted the Majesty of heaven. Jesus, as your representative and substitute, did not yield on the field of conflict; and in his strength you may resist and conquer. Every fallen son and daughter of Adam may rejoice that they are prisoners of hope, and that Satan can be vanquished.
At the close of the meeting, I was favored with an introduction to the President of the Washingtonian Home. He thanked me in behalf of the family and friends for the pleasure of listening to the remarks made. I was cordially invited to visit them when I should again pass through Chicago, and I assured them I should consider it a privilege to do so. I was gratified that I had this opportunity of presenting temperance from the Christian standpoint before the inmates of this Home for inebriates, where they are assisted in overcoming the strong habit which is binding so many in almost hopeless slavery. I was informed that among those who are obliged to seek its friendly aid are lawyers, doctors, and even ministers. I quote from reports of the board of managers for the year ending Jan. 14, 1884. The president says:--
"The work of this institution, as indicated in the various reports of the superintendent, is largely that of personal instruction to each patient upon the causes that lead to alcoholism, the effect upon the physical system and upon the mental and moral character, and the means to be used in overcoming the habit, and in antidoting this poison which has been imbibed into the system, and which permeates the whole being of man. The system of reform is not medicinal; it is not a system of drugging and purging, nor a gradual tapering off in the use of alcohol. The watchword at the portals of this institution is total abstinence from alcohol in every form. There are no alcoholic tinctures in medicines, no mild tonics, reinforced by other stimulants or narcotics, but total abstinence from the use of alcohol in any form, whether mixed with malt, quinine, ginger, eggs, milk, cider, or lemonade.
"Experience has demonstrated that alcoholism undermines, weakens, and destroys the moral character in man; that a proper sense of obligation, a regard for the calls of duty, and compliance with strict integrity, are as completely paralyzed as though the person followed theft and highway robbery or committed other high crimes as an avocation. The love of home, wife, and children; the choice of friends over that of enemies; life, with its duties, responsibilities, and pleasures,--all are valueless when compared to a few hours of drunken delirium. If character--the power of choosing between good and evil--is paralyzed, then it follows that character building is the great work of reform of this institution; and as the building up of character is a slow process at best, it seems to follow that time becomes an important factor in effecting a reformation."
"Alcoholism seems to affect all classes of society. During the past year the Home has had among its inmates nineteen physicians, eighteen lawyers, seven clergymen, besides bankers, editors, merchants, mechanics, artists, and laborers."
Had I space, I would copy more largely from this excellent pamphlet; for I want all the readers of our papers to see how exactly the principles there advocated agree with the positions taken in Good Health, that they may rejoice that the work of temperance reform is intelligently carried forward. Although its friends do not believe with us in many points of doctrine, yet we will unite with them when by so doing we can aid our fellowmen. God would have us individually learn to work with tact and skill in the cause of temperance and other reforms, and employ our talents wisely in benefiting and elevating humanity.
If we would enter into the joy of our Lord, we must be co-laborers with him. With the love of Jesus warm in our hearts, we shall always see some way to reach the minds and hearts of others. It will make us unselfish, thoughtful, and kind; and kindness opens the door of hearts; gentleness is mightier far than a Jehu spirit.
Sunday evening I spoke the second time to the Scandinavians in their house of worship, which was too small to seat all who came to hear. We hope greater efforts will be made to maintain union, harmony, and love between our American and Scandinavian Sabbathkeeping brethren. We are one in faith; and our love for one another should abound more and more. We should be of the same mind and judgment, worshiping with one accord, having an eye single to the glory of God. It is not pleasing to him to have us maintain separate interests. We should avoid jostling against one another, and strive constantly for the oneness that is in Christ Jesus. In our plans and efforts to carry on the part of the work intrusted to us, we may seem to interfere with the interests of others, and may be in danger of losing sight of the Christian courtesy which should be ever exercised toward one another. Let us remember that no other Christian grace needs such constant cultivation as that of mutual forbearance. Without this, it is impossible for harmony and love to exist. We are not perfect in character; but if the spirit of love is permitted to reign in the heart, and is developed, there will be fellowship without a jar, although the habits and customs of different nationalities may be unlike.
We need to guard against a critical spirit; for it is much easier to find fault with others than to reform ourselves. Keep the eye fixed upon Jesus and his lovely character; and you will see your own imperfections so clearly that you will be inclined to look favorably upon the course of others. Will our Scandinavian brethren keep their hearts free from malice, envy, jealousy, and criticism? and will our American brethren and sisters be true and tender and helpful to these brethren, who need help, avoiding everything which would have the appearance of neglect or want of interest? God would bind our hearts together in mutual love. He delights in showing mercy, and as his children we are to exemplify in our lives the patience, meekness, and love of Jesus. By Mrs. E. G. White.
Our Mission in Chicago.--It is well known that we have a mission in Chicago. My interest in this mission has grown deeper and deeper, and I have reason to be thankful that, although weary, I had the privilege of visiting that place, and doing what I could to help our brethren and sisters there. This mission has started in a very small way. The work being done is a good one; but to make it a success, means is needed which is now invested in houses and lands.
The Lord's cause is certainly worthy of a better opening than it has yet in Chicago. As I looked upon the little garret-like room of the mission where our people assemble to worship God and to teach Bible truth to the people, I felt sad indeed. I thought, brethren and sisters, that the truth of God was not receiving the honor which its sacred character demands. That which we prize most highly we are willing to show our appreciation of by investing means to make it a success. We would invite our responsible brethren in Illinois and Wisconsin to take special interest in this mission, and candidly decide whether they are willing that the precious cause of truth shall be thus represented in this great city.
The inappropriate place where this mission is located, reminded me of the words of Jesus. "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." I thought that if Jesus were now teaching on earth he would apply these words to the house and the workers in Chicago; and in this instance the light seems to be hidden under a bushel instead of being placed on a candlestick to give light to all that are in the house.
Let our believing brethren show themselves faithful stewards of God. Narrow up your farms; for there is to be extensive work done in the great harvest field, and your means will be needed. If you cannot respond to the calls of God by bestowing means to do a larger work, then the time has fully come to "sell that ye have, and give alms." "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately."
The great cities must be warned; and if you have not surplus means, then it is certainly the duty of some of our brethren to sell and invest means in the different branches of the work. "Lay up for yourselves a treasure in the heavens." Duty is plain; the selling time has come if means is demanded to advance the cause and work of God and cannot be raised without selling your land and your extra houses. Awaken, brethren, to the call of duty. I see no other way that the light in Chicago and other places can be withdrawn from under the bushel and placed on a candlestick. I appeal to every one in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers to deny self for Christ's sake. There is earnest work to be done for the Master; and those who have no houses and lands to turn into money, can deny self in various ways, and save means which would have been needlessly expended. Practice temperance in all things. Cut down selfish indulgences at your tables, and dress plainly, with the great and grand object before you of having money to place in the treasury of God. You may thus be the means of advancing his cause, enlightening those who are in the darkness of error.
This, you must bear in mind, is to be done for Christ's sake, with the object in view of bringing many sons and daughters to God. It is to make ready a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. God is a sure paymaster. He may not pay you weekly, monthly, or yearly, but he pays surely in the end. If you are true to your stewardship, results will appear somewhere for the glory of God; and his glory is the salvation of souls for whom Christ died. In the day of final accounts there will be a reckoning that will surprise many. Noble deeds of self-denial for Christ's sake, of which the righteous have no knowledge or recollection, will appear on the books above as done to Jesus. These things have been done from love to God, but with no thought of the grand results until they stand revealed in the day of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #7)
On the evening of the 8th of December we left Chicago for our long journey over the mountains and across the plains to California. We were somewhat crowded until we arrived at Kansas City, and those of our party who were feeble or advanced in years were permitted to occupy a chair car. Tuesday evening we changed cars, and had abundance of room in the two coaches provided for our accommodation.
As soon as we were by ourselves, and knew that we should give no offense, we commenced to hold religious services in the cars. The most of the time we had two meetings a day. There was a good degree of interest and freedom; and persons from the other coaches sometimes joined us. The services, some of which were Bible readings, were conducted by Brn. Potter and Lunt. The first one was held Wednesday morning. We had a season of prayer, followed by a social meeting. Nearly all took part, and some of the testimonies borne were well wet down with tears.
Thursday afternoon we arrived at Lamy. Through the courtesy of the Company we were permitted to take an excursion eighteen miles to Santa Fe. Sr. Tolhurst, a member of our party, spent the first years of her married life in this place, where her husband was stationed as a Baptist missionary. At Santa Fe, the oldest Catholic mission in America was established. We walked more than a mile from the station to the old adobe church built by this mission in 1550. It is now vacant, a new one having been erected. This church is regarded by tourists as a curiosity.
School had just been dismissed, and there was a large number of Mexican boys in the street. As a general thing, their clothes were so thoroughly patched that it was impossible to tell of what they were originally made; but though patches were abundant, there were no rags. We tried to find the old church building by inquiring of these boys, but they looked at us curiously, and jabbered something that we did not understand. I suppose our words were as much jargon to them as their were to us; and they seemed to be laughing at us because we did not know how to talk.
The cars did not leave Santa Fe until nine o'clock P. M., and we spent the few hours of daylight that remained to us in examining this curious old town. The scenery is not without interest. It is said that many resort to this place because of the healthfulness of the climate; but I should certainly prefer a different location for my home.
Our rambles about the town would have been more enjoyable, had there been good sidewalks; but all except the principal streets were entirely destitute of walks, and in these there were only the rudest apologies,--stones or rough, broken boards laid down on account of the mud. As we passed through the streets, the dark-skinned Mexicans peered at us through the palings, their sharp black eyes expressing undisguised curiosity. The men were smoking, and the women and children chatting in their native language; and all seemed to be taking life very easy. We saw some fine buildings constructed after the modern style; but nearly all the houses were low, with old-fashioned flat roofs. They were built after the oriental fashion, in solid squares, inclosing a courtyard.
At one church that we passed, they were making preparations for a celebration. Paper lanterns were hung from the entrance to the gate posts, and on trees in the yard in front of the church; and in the street material had been collected for bonfires. This was a festival in honor of the birthday of a saint after whom this, one of their principal churches, was named.
We visited stores where curiosities were kept for sale. Some of these were of rude pottery, homely and coarse; others were rich and expensive articles of jewelry, many of them fashioned after the most beautiful models. After our sightseeing, we were glad to be once more settled in the cars, as many of our party were thoroughly tired out, and grateful for the privilege of rest.
We stopped several hours in Holbrook. This region abounds in petrifactions. We were told that a short distance from here a petrified tree forms a bridge across a stream, and that about a quarter of a mile up the mountainside there is a field strewn with fragments of these trees. Some of our party visited this field, and brought back many fine specimens of petrifaction, and other curiosities. They found the rocks and pebbles smooth and round, having the appearance of those on the ocean beach that have been worn by the action of the waves. Those who had strength for this exercise were greatly benefited by it; for it was a breaking of the monotony of the journey. Some of our sisters improved our long stay here in doing missionary work. The Sabbath was drawing on, and we had a prayer and social meeting in our car. To us who love God and appreciate his tender care, these seasons of worship were deeply interesting. The Lord drew very near by his Holy Spirit, and we felt that under his protecting care we could go to rest without fear of accident or harm. We could lie down in peace; for the Lord maketh us to dwell in safety. We made but little progress during the night. In the morning we found ourselves in the mountains, hemmed in by the snow, although we were in Arizona, where snow seldom falls. We saw many workmen with their shovels on their shoulders returning from their work, having spent the night in clearing the track.
Our preparations were made on Friday, so that on the Sabbath we could take our lunch as quietly as though we had been at home. We felt that while circumstances were such that we were obliged to travel on the Sabbath, we would make it a day of service, and worship God in our moving Bethel. Sabbath morning we had an excellent Bible reading. Some who were not of our faith took part in this exercise, and seemed much interested.
In the afternoon we had a social meeting, in which nearly all took part. Bro. Potter said he felt impressed to invite any present who might wish to take their stand for Christ to arise. Several responded to this invitation, among them my nephew and his wife. They were then requested to come to the center of the car, and we bowed in prayer for these dear souls, asking that God would pardon their transgressions, and number them among his people. This revival meeting on the cars en route for California was a deeply impressive scene, such a one as I never before witnessed or even heard of in all my extensive travels.
Those who came forward expressed their full purpose to give themselves unreservedly to the service of God, and to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. One remarked that he was so full of faults and mistakes that he felt very much afraid that he should never obtain a fitness for Heaven. The more earnest his efforts to overcome, the more discouraged he became in view of his own imperfect life and character.
I felt it a privilege to make remarks that would meet the case of this young man, and of all others present who might be as wearily climbing, reaching up a trembling hand to grasp the next round of the steep ladder of progress, fearful that a fall would prove fatal, yet knowing that there is much more climbing to be done before they reach the point at which they aim. They feel disheartened; and words of discouragement and doubt would be to them a savor of death unto death. The hand that needed strengthening would become nerveless, and the efforts palsied, were one of these to be told, "You will never succeed in the formation of a Christian character. You will soon tire of the effort. You have not sufficient determination of purpose to persevere. Your experience has been all wrong; and the lessons you must learn in order to become Christlike in character will be so new and hard that you will never master them."
Words like these should never be spoken to one who has decided to live a Christian life. Whatever may have been his past experience, however discouraging, if he will change his course, if he will come to Jesus just as he is, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Saviour will meet him a great way off, and will throw about him his arms of love and his robe of righteousness. He speaks to him kind, loving words: "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."
"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. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."
It is your thought that your mistakes and transgressions have been so grievous that the Lord will not have respect unto your prayers, and will not bless and save you. Satan comes in with his temptations, and a flood of unbelief. If you attempt to strengthen your souls in God, he will try to divert your attention to yourself. Here you see nothing but weakness, nothing to recommend you to God; and he tells you it is no use, you cannot remedy your defects of character. Answer him, "It is true that I am a sinner; I cannot save myself. But Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He is my only hope. He is my strength and my deliverer. He is made unto me sanctification and righteousness."
The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer, and your imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to his perfect nature. But do not be discouraged. This is evidence that Satan's delusions have lost their power; that the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God is arousing you, and your indifference and unconcern are passing away.
No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the heart that does not see and realize its own sinfulness. The soul that is transformed by grace will admire his divine character; but if we do not see our own moral deformity, it is unmistakable evidence that we have not had a view of the beauty and excellence of Christ. The less we see to esteem in ourselves, the more we shall see to esteem in the infinite purity and loveliness of our Saviour. A view of our own sinfulness drives us to Him who can pardon. Jesus will accept us; for his word is pledged. As our substitute, he takes our guilt on his own soul, and imputes his righteousness to the sinner. When the soul, realizing its helplessness, reaches out after Christ, he will reveal himself in power. The more our sense of need drives us to him and to the word of God, the more enlarged views we shall have of his character, and the more fully we shall reflect his image,--show in our own lives the excellence of his character.
God does not deal with us as finite men deal with one another. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion. "He will abundantly pardon." He says, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins." Let us trust in the word of the Lord, and by our cheerful obedience testify our gratitude for his pardoning love.
Brethren and sisters, look up; you who are tried, tempted, and discouraged, look up. Let no weary, halting, sin-oppressed soul become faint-hearted. The promises of God that come down along the lines to our times assure you that heaven can be reached if you will continue to climb. It is ever safe to look up; it is fatal to look down. If you look down, the earth reels and sways beneath you; nothing is sure. But heaven above you is calm and steady, and there is divine aid for every climber. The hand of the Infinite is reaching over the battlements of heaven to grasp yours in its strong embrace. The mighty Helper is nigh to bless, lift up, and encourage the most erring, the most sinful, if they will look to him by faith. But the sinner must look up; he must see the glory of God above the shining ladder, and the angels ascending and descending with messages of mercy.
Paul exhorts Timothy to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." And in the next sentence he adds: "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." A conflict is here brought to view in which every Christian must engage. There must be no flagging of the energies; day by day there must be a hand-to-hand fight with the powers of darkness, or victory will never be ours. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #8)
Sunday afternoon, Dec. 14, 1884, we were in Daggett, Cal. Our train stopped here several hours, and we improved this favorable opportunity to hold a meeting. The employees about the station came in, also many of the citizens of the place, among them the editor of the local paper. The car was full, and both the platforms crowded. I spoke to them a short time from Matt. 6:25-34. All gave respectful attention, and some said it was the first sermon they had heard in many months.
The Sermon on the Mount contains lessons of great practical value. In the teachings of Christ the constant aim is to take the mind from things that are of a temporal nature, and fix it upon those that are spiritual and eternal. The relative value of the things of this life and those of the future immortal life are made plain.
Said the Great Teacher, in this memorable discourse: "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" Will not He who has given you the blessing of life, with all its rich possibilities, give you also that which is less,--the things that are needful to sustain that life?
But the time and energies of a large class are almost entirely absorbed in eating and dressing. The great question with them is, "What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" They forget that Jesus said: "Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" And "why take ye thought for raiment?" Why devote so much time to the apparel, and so little to the healthful conditions of the body it is to clothe? "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you;" for "your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."
In many circles it is customary to serve a variety of highly seasoned dishes at a meal. In this way much time and money are spent unwisely. An unnecessary expense is imposed on the provider, and great care and weariness on the cook who prepares the food, when a few simple dishes, free from condiments and spices, would be much more healthful, and would soon be enjoyed with a keener relish. We commit sin when we indulge appetite at the expense of physical and mental soundness, or sacrifice health and comfort for the sake of outward show; for the physical and mental powers are God's gifts, and like all the blessings that he bestows, should be used to his glory, instead of being made to minister to pride or perverted taste. "Ye are not your own. Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
The great danger of this age, and one which brings much unhappiness to individuals and families, is an intense and increasing worldliness. The love and fear of God, reverence for his name, and thoughts of heavenly things, are banished through busy, anxious seeking for the things of the world. God has made his claims known, but men pay no heed to them. Religious principle becomes extinct in the family. Parents do not realize what obedience to God would do for their children, nor that their eternal interests are affected by the habits formed in this life; and they allow the little ones intrusted to their care to grow up without a knowledge of God or of the future life.
In obedience to the word of God, and in harmony with his will, there is happiness. The family that is governed by right principles is a witness to the world of the power of a pure and holy faith; the influence of such households has a tendency to check in the church and in society the corrupting, polluting influences that are now coming in like a flood. The religion of Jesus is powerful to lift up the fallen, and to bring to reason the intemperate, that they may be found sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in their right mind.
If men were more in love with natural simplicity, and cared less for the artificial and for fashionable show, they would escape many of the perplexities of life, and would find much more peace, quiet, and rest than they now enjoy. God does not impose heavy burdens upon his creatures; they bring them upon themselves by their unwillingness to conform to nature's laws, and their eager desire to meet the demands of fashion. It is this that wears the human machinery by bringing a constant strain upon mind and body. "God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." And these "many inventions" have brought in their train suffering and woe that would never have been known, had natural simplicity been preserved.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves [mark the word,--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."
In oriental countries thefts and robberies were of common occurrence; and whenever there was a change in the ruling power, those who had large possessions were put under heavy tribute. As a consequence, it was a study with the rich to devise some means to preserve their wealth from thieves and extortioners. For centuries it had been their custom to hide gold and jewels in the field. The place of concealment was often forgotten; death might claim the owner, imprisonment or exile separate him from his treasure; and the wealth he had taken such pains to preserve was left to the fortunate finder.
In some instances this buried treasure was found, and the impression was made that immense sums might lie buried in any man's field or garden, with no one living to claim them. Many on finding a trifling sum, became crazed, and seemed to imagine that their land was lined with gold. An expectation was aroused that they might at any time happen on great wealth hidden in the earth; and treasure hunting was taken up to the neglect of other business.
Jesus calls the attention of his hearers to an infinite treasure, which all who seek may find. "The kingdom of heaven," he says, "is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." There is no danger of losing this treasure. It is not necessary to place an armed guard over it, or to hide it in the earth. It is for us individually to decide whether we will bend our energies to the accumulation of property with no surety of keeping it, or devote our God given powers to a better purpose, and secure the treasure that is of enduring worth.
In many cases the devotees to mammon become lifelong invalids, no comfort to themselves or any one else. In their eager pursuit of wealth, they have neglected the body, and so have lost the present life, while heaven is lost to them through their neglect to make preparation for the future. And though they may have amassed a large fortune, life to them is a miserable failure. This experience was often repeated among the early settlers of California.
Thirty-five years ago we were holding meetings in the State of New York; and in several places that we visited there were men who had a mania for visiting the gold mining regions of California. They were comfortably situated where they were, and most of them had wives and children. With many tears these wives entreated their husbands to remain at home; but the love of gold excluded every other consideration, and one man even left his wife in a dead faint on the floor.
The companions who were left behind never expected to see their husbands again, and some of them never did. The traveling facilities then were in wide contrast to those of the present day. These men went in a company, overland. They endured privations that in their comfortable homes they had never thought it possible for them to live under. They suffered from hunger and cold and from the burning heat of the desert. They were waylaid by Indians, and many of them died without a sight of the gold for which they had sacrificed so much.
If such hardships were imposed upon those who would gain immortal life in the Paradise of God, there might be some ground for murmuring and complaint at the roughness of the way; but Jesus places upon his followers no such burdens. He says: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden [this is an invitation to those who are seeking earthly treasure to the neglect of the heavenly], 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."
By adopting the world's standard, and seeking to conform to its customs and accumulate its wealth, we place a grievous yoke upon our necks and grasp a heavy burden in our arms, and thus encumbered it is impossible for us to make any progress in the highway cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. Many are groaning under these self-imposed burdens. Even professed Christians go stumbling along, tired and careworn, because they carry such loads that are all unnecessary, and that would never be placed upon them if they would "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Earthly things would then keep a subordinate place, and they would have time for prayer, and to study the chart that points out the way to the city of God.
He who loves us speaks to us of his tender care in the works of nature. They are the evidences of his wisdom and power, and are designed to impress us with the fact that there is a living God, and that in him we may trust. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." The hand of God formed every bud and every blooming flower; it was his wisdom that gave them their varied and delicate tints. What beauty has he bestowed upon these silent soulless things, which are today in the field, tomorrow cast into the oven. If God so clothe the tender, perishing grass of the field, "how much more will he not clothe you, O ye of little faith?"
On our journey westward we have been watching to catch everything new and interesting in the scenery. We have looked upon the lofty, terraced mountains in their majestic beauty, with their rocky battlements resembling grand old castles. These mountains speak to us of the desolating wrath of God in vindication of his broken law; for they were heaved up by the stormy convulsions of the flood. They are like mighty waves that at the voice of God stood still,--stiffened billows, arrested in their proudest swell. These towering mountains belong to God; he presides over their rocky fastnesses. The wealth of their mines is his also, and so are the deep places of the earth.
If you would see the evidences that there is a God, look around you wherever your lot may be cast. He is speaking to your senses and impressing your soul through his created works. Let your heart receive these impressions, and nature will be to you an open book, and will teach you divine truth through familiar things. The lofty trees will not be regarded with indifference. Every opening flower, every leaf with its delicate veins, will testify of the infinite skill of the great Master Artist. The massive rocks and towering mountains that rise in the distance are not the result of chance. They speak in silent eloquence of One who sits upon the throne of the universe, high and lifted up. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." All his plans are perfect. What awe and reverence should his name inspire! how should a knowledge of his works quicken our perception of his attributes!
God is himself the Rock of Ages, a refuge for his people, a covert from the storm, a shadow from the burning heat. He has given us his promises, which are more firm and immovable than the rocky heights, the everlasting hills. The mountains shall depart, and the hills shall be removed; but his kindness shall not depart, nor his covenant of peace be removed, from those who by faith make him their trust. If we would look to God for help as steadfastly as these rocky, barren mountains point to the heavens above them, we should never be moved from our faith in him and our allegiance to his holy law.
Then why not seek for the things that make for your peace? Why not, dear brethren and sisters, make the kingdom of God and his righteousness the first consideration, assured that your heavenly Father will add unto you all things necessary? He will open ways before you, and all you do shall be blessed; for he has said, "Them that honor me I will honor." Christ died for your redemption. Shall he have died for you in vain? Will you not take his proffered hand, and walk with him in the humble path of faith and obedience?
God is full of love and plenteous in mercy; but he will by no means acquit those who neglect the great salvation he has provided. The long-lived antediluvians were swept from the earth because they made void the divine law. God will not again bring from the heavens above and the earth beneath waters as his weapons to use in the destruction of the world; but when next his vengeance shall be poured out against those who despise his authority, they will be destroyed by fire concealed in the bowels of the earth, awakened into intense activity by fires from heaven above. Then from the purified earth shall arise a song of praise: "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." And every one who has made the heavenly treasure the first consideration regarding it as of priceless value, will join in the glad triumphant strain. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #14)
One mistake leads to another. Our brethren must learn to move intelligently, and not from impulse. Feeling must not be the criterion. A neglect of duty, the indulgence of undue sympathy, will be followed by a neglect to properly estimate those who are laboring to build up the cause of God. Jesus said, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."
Many do not look upon preaching as Christ's appointed means of instructing his people, and therefore always to be highly prized. They do not feel that the sermon is the word of the Lord to them, and estimate it by the value of the truths spoken; but they judge it as they would the speech of a lawyer at the bar,--by the argumentative skill displayed, and the power and beauty of the language. The minister is not infallible, but God has honored him by making him his messenger. If his hearers listen to him as though he were not commissioned from above, they will not respect his words, nor receive them as the message of God. Their souls will not feed upon the heavenly manna; doubts will arise concerning some things that are not pleasing to the natural heart, and they will sit in judgment upon the sermon, as they would upon the remarks of a lecturer or a political speaker. As soon as the meeting closes, they will be ready with some complaint or sarcastic remark, thus showing that the message, however true and needful, has not profited them. They esteem it not; they have learned the habit of criticising and finding fault, and they pick and choose, and perhaps reject the very things that they most need.
There is very little reverence for sacred things in some localities. The ordained instrumentalities of God are almost entirely lost sight of. God has instituted no new method of reaching the children of men. If they cut themselves off from Heaven's appointed agencies to reprove their sins, correct their errors, and point out the path of duty, there is no way to reach them with any heavenly communication. They are left in darkness, and are ensnared and taken by the adversary.
The minister of God is commanded: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." The Lord says of these people: "They seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness." Here is a people who are self-deceived, self-righteous, self-complacent; and the minister is commanded to cry aloud and show them their transgressions. In all ages this work has been done for God's people, and it is needed now more than ever before.
The word of the Lord came to Elijah; he did not seek to be the Lord's messenger, but the word came to him. God always has men to whom he intrusts his message. His Spirit moves upon their hearts, and constrains them to speak. Stimulated by holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong upon them, they enter upon the performance of their duty without coldly calculating the consequences of speaking to the people the word which the Lord has given them. But the servant of God is soon made aware that he has risked something. He finds himself and his message made the subject of criticism. His manners, his life, his property are all inspected and commented upon. His message is picked to pieces and rejected in the most illiberal and unsanctified spirit, as men in their finite judgment see fit. Has that message done the work God designed it should accomplish? No; it has signally failed, because the hearts of the hearers were unsanctified.
If the minister's face is not flint, if he has not indomitable faith and courage, if his heart is not made strong by constant communion with God, he will begin to shape his testimony to please the unsanctified ears and hearts of those whom he is addressing. In endeavoring to avoid the criticism to which he is exposed, he separates from God, and loses the sense of the divine favor, and his testimony becomes tame and lifeless. He finds that his courage and faith are gone, and his labors are powerless. The world is full of flatterers and dissemblers who have yielded to the desire to please; but the faithful men, who do not study self-interest, but love their brethren too well to suffer sin upon them, are few indeed.
It is Satan's settled purpose to cut off all communications between God and his people, that he may practice his deceptive wiles with no voice to warn them of their danger. If he can lead men to distrust the messenger, or to attach no sacredness to the message, he knows that they will feel under no obligation to heed the word of God to them. And when light is set aside as darkness, Satan has things his own way.
Our God is a jealous God; he is not to be trifled with. He who does all things according to the counsel of his own will, has been pleased to place men under various circumstances, and to enjoin upon them duties and observances peculiar to the times in which they live and the conditions under which they are placed. If they would prize the light given them, their faculties would be greatly enlarged and ennobled, and broader views of truth would be opened before them. The mystery of eternal things, and especially the wonderful grace of God as manifested in the plan of redemption, would be unfolded to their minds; for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
We are never to forget that Christ teaches through his servants. There may be conversions without the instrumentality of a sermon. Where persons are so situated that they are deprived of every means of grace, they are wrought upon by the Spirit of God and convinced of the truth through reading the word; but God's appointed means of saving souls is through the "foolishness of preaching." Though human, and compassed with the frailties of humanity, men are God's messengers; and the dear Saviour is grieved when so little is effected by their labors. Every minister who goes out into the great harvest field should magnify his office. He should not only seek to bring men to the knowledge of the truth, but he should labor, as did Paul, "warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom," that he may "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
The man is to be regarded and honored only as God's embassador. To praise the man is not pleasing to God. The message he brings is to be brought to the test of the Bible. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." But the word of the Lord is not to be judged by a human standard. It will be seen that those whose minds have the mold of earthliness, those who have a limited Christian experience and know but little of the things of God, are the ones who have the least respect for God's servants, and the least reverence for the message he bids them bear. They listen to a searching discourse, and go to their homes prepared to sit in judgment on it; and the impression disappears from their minds like the morning dew before the sun. If the preaching is of an emotional character, it will affect the feelings but not the heart and conscience. Such preaching results in no lasting good; but it often wins the hearts of the people, and calls out their affections for the man who pleases them. They forget that God has said, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils."
Jesus is waiting with longing desire to open before his people the glory that will attend his second advent, and to carry them forward to a contemplation of the landscape of bliss. There are wonders to be revealed. A long lifetime of prayer and research will leave much unexplored and unexplained. But what we know not now will be revealed hereafter. The work of instruction begun here will be carried on to all eternity. The Lamb, as he leads the hosts of the redeemed to the fountain of living waters, will impart rich stores of knowledge; he will unravel mysteries in the works and providence of God that have never before been understood.
We can never by searching find out God. He does not lay open his plans to prying, inquisitive minds. We must not attempt to lift with presumptuous hand the curtain behind which he veils his majesty. The apostle exclaims, "How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out." It is a proof of his mercy that there is the hiding of his power, that he is enshrouded in the awful clouds of mystery and obscurity; for to lift the curtain that conceals the Divine Presence is death. No mortal mind can penetrate the secrecy in which the Mighty One dwells and works. We can comprehend no more of his dealings with us and the motives that actuate him than he sees fit to reveal. He orders everything in righteousness, and we are not to be dissatisfied and distrustful, but to bow in reverent submission. He will reveal to us as much of his purposes as it is for our good to know; and beyond that we must trust the hand that is omnipotent, the heart that is full of love. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #15)
Text.--Eze. 36:26: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you."
The truth, the precious truth of God's word, will have a sanctifying effect upon the heart and character. There is work to be done for ourselves and for our children. The natural heart is full of hatred to the truth, as it is to Jesus. Unless parents shall make it the first business of their lives to guide their children's feet into the path of righteousness from their earliest years, the wrong path will be chosen before the right.
I tremble especially for mothers, as I see them so blind, and feeling so little the responsibilities that devolve upon a mother. They see Satan working in the self-willed child of even but a few months of age. Filled with spiteful passion, Satan seems to be taking full possession. But there may be in the house perhaps a grandmother, an aunt, or some other relative or friend, who will seek to make that parent believe that it would be cruelty to correct that child; whereas just the opposite is true; and it is the greatest cruelty to let Satan have the possession of that tender, helpless child. Satan must be rebuked. His hold on the child must be broken. If correction is needed, be faithful, be true. The love of God, true pity for the child, will lead to the faithful discharge of duty. The parent is to pray that God will send divine aid to combine with human effort to drive back Satan. The sweet spirit of submission which Jesus alone can bestow, should be employed; but the parent must not leave the Lord to do all the work. The Lord has left something for the parent to do. Let not perversity of spirit or passion control your little ones. Place them by faith in the arms of Jesus. Watch and pray. You will have a battle, parents, to dispossess your child of the Satanic spirit; but you will succeed if you are persevering. Let not Satanic passion abide with your children. Teach them that you are to be obeyed. In doing this you are educating them to obey God. Teach your children to honor you; because the law of God lays this duty upon children. If you allow your children to lightly esteem your wishes, and pay no regard to the laws of the household, you are winking at sin; you are permitting the Devil to work as he will, and the same insubordination, want of reverence, and love of self will be carried with them even into the religious life and into the church. And the beginning of all this evil is charged in the books of heaven to the neglect of the parents.
What a record will be presented by and by, when the books shall be opened! What neglect on the part of parents in the training of their children, will these books reveal! The great work of instruction, of weeding out worthless and poisonous weeds, is a most important one. For if left to themselves these weeds will grow until they choke out the precious plants of moral principle and truth.
It is the parents' work to give line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. Correct wrong tendencies, not in passion, but in love. The children may be saved if fathers and mothers will do their work faithfully. The truth of God, carried by the Spirit's power to the hearts of the children, after the parents have done all on their part, will work a radical change in the hearts and in the spirits of these children. The law of God should be erected in the house as the standard of character. Indulge in no foolish talking in your house. Even very young children will be benefited by "the form of sound words." But idle and foolish words exchanged between father and mother will lead to the same kind of words among the children; while right, candid, truthful, and serious words will lead to the same in all the household, and will lead to right actions also.
The truth of God is to sanctify the soul. "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." The sanctifying power of truth is to abide in the soul, and be carried with us to our business, there to apply its continual tests to every transaction of life, especially to our dealings with our fellowmen. It is to abide in our households, having a subduing power upon the life and character of all its inmates. The sweet perfume of kind words, of true Christian courtesy, should be maintained in the home. No boorish word should be spoken. No impatient spirit should be manifested.
We are teaching lessons to the children which we wish them to copy. If we wish our children to be chaste, pure minded, and noble, we must be so ourselves. If we are impostors, professing to be children of God, while our impatience, fretfulness, and deception stamp us children of Satan, our children will be no better than we. All efforts of parents should be to go forward to perfection of Christian character. The standard at which we aim must be high. The only means of purifying the life and character is to be likeminded with Jesus. The mind and will of God are found revealed in his word. Shall we study it? Shall we teach it to our children? The word of God! the grand rule of life, the measurement of character! Would I could place it in the hands of every father and mother in our land.
Parents, you fail generally to begin your work early enough. You let Satan preoccupy the soil of the heart by putting in the first crop of seed. It is your privilege to sow the first seed. Teach your children about Jesus Christ. In a reverential tone weave his precious name into all your lessons. Teach them to love God, to fear to offend him. You are commanded not only to educate but to train your children. Especially should they be taught to reverence the house of worship, that there may be no whispering, no lightness, no trifling, no careless inattention, no noisy walking out, during service. It is painful to see the little respect children are taught to have for the house of God. God has given directions to his people that great reverence be taught for the religious service. It should be a study with parents to make the social meeting of the highest interest to the children, that they may receive proper impressions as to what constitutes a Christian character. How can we expect children to feel a solemn interest when long prayers are offered so low and indistinct that it is impossible to catch a word only now and then? If these praying ones had a new heart and a new spirit put within them, would they not manifest some earnestness in their prayers? Would they not touch the hearts even of children? Prayers in social meetings should be short and right to the point. Do not feel it your duty to tell long stories to the Lord, or to preach him a long sermon. Come at once to the point. Thank God for his mercies, confess your sins, ask his pardon, and believe that he will hear and answer your petitions.
Is it not your duty to put some skill and study and planning into the matter of conducting religious meetings--how they shall be conducted so as to do the greatest amount of good, and leave the very best impression upon all who attend? You plan in regard to your temporal labors. If you learn a trade, you seek to improve year by year in experience, executing plans that shall show progression in your work. Is your temporal business of as much consequence as the service of God? matters where eternal interests are involved? God is displeased with your lifeless manner in his house, your sleepy, indifferent ways of conducting religious worship. You need to bear in mind that you attend divine service to meet with God, to be refreshed, comforted, blessed, not to do a duty imposed upon you.
Often you exhaust all your physical and mental powers in your temporal labors, and you have nothing left for the service of God. You have scarcely entertained a thought of Jesus through the day, and at its close you are too weary to hardly think of God. Has your heart drank at the fountain of life while you have been working with your hands? Have you been offering to God the gratitude due him for his abundant mercies and blessings? If you withhold it, you are robbing God. Have you yielded your heart to the heavenly honor which through faith you claim? This alone would be sufficient to rule out of your heart everything contrary to the spirit of Christ, and to cleanse the soul temple from unhallowed thoughts. If you watch and pray each day, you keep the victory through faith; but only so long as you do those duties. If we live for Jesus Christ minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, then Christ will dwell in us; and when we come to social meeting the love of Christ will be in our hearts, welling up like a refreshing spring in the desert, refreshing all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the waters of life.
Has the Lord been an honored guest in our prayer meetings? Why do we not, as sensible men and women, consider for ourselves what God requires of us individually in every meeting we attend? Have we devoted many moments to prayer, to close, earnest study concerning the very best course we can pursue as children of God to add such interest and earnestness and life to our meetings that our children shall love to attend them? Do we consider how much we dishonor God by our complaining testimonies, by relating our trials, temptations, backslidings, and our griefs? Do we realize how we carry a dark cloud with us, and shadow the pathway of others by such a course? We are bodies of darkness because our eye is not single. If the eye were single the clouds upon which we gaze, and of which we talk so much, would disappear; we should see a precious, loving, compassionate Redeemer, and catch the light from his countenance. We should be cheerful; heavenly peace would reign in our hearts, not inclosed as perfume in a bottle, but like the offering of Mary to Jesus, filling the house with its sweet fragrance. Peace would be in our homes; for wherever the love of Jesus reigns, there peace abides: and there will be also joy; for there is a holy calm and heavenly trust in God.
The Sabbath--oh! make it the sweetest, the most blessed day of the whole week. Parents should not allow their children to be out with others in play or amusement. I have found that on the Sabbath day many are indifferent, and do not know where their children are or what they are doing. Parents can and should give attention to their children, reading to them the most attractive portions of Bible history, educating them to reverence the Sabbath day, keeping it according to the commandment. This cannot be done if the parents feel no burden to interest their children. But they can make the Sabbath a delight if they will take the proper course. The children can be interested in good reading or in conversation about the salvation of their souls. But they will have to be educated and trained. The natural heart does not love to think of God, of heaven, or of heavenly things. There must be a continual pressing back of the current of worldliness and inclination to evil, and a letting in of heavenly light. It takes line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.
The mother must keep her mind refreshed and stored with the promises and blessings of God's word, and also the forbidden things, that when her children do wrong she may present as a reproof the words of God, and show them how they are grieving the Spirit of God. Teach them that the approbation and smiles of Jesus are of greater value than the praise or flattery or approval of the most wealthy, the most exalted, the most learned of the earth. Lead them to Jesus Christ day by day, lovingly, tenderly, earnestly. You must not allow anything to come between you and this great work. You cannot afford to give to visiting precious time that belongs to the training and encouragement of your children. Many of you feel interested for them, but not deeply enough to go to work yourselves. Like Eli you neglect your duty to control them; and as a result you see them pursuing an evil course. Your daughters may be growing forward and bold in their manners, and unbecoming in their deportment; your sons rough, learning bad habits, smoking or otherwise using tobacco because it is fashionable. Satan has preoccupied the garden of their hearts. He has sown his seed, to be harvested in sorrow by both parents and children.
Let anything and everything be neglected rather than this important work. How can you ask God to convert your children when you have neglected your duty, and are remiss in doing the work that God has enjoined upon parents to do? Everything connected with the service of God should be made most attractive, but not by mixing self-indulgence and selfish gratification and worldly amusements with religious experience. Understand yourselves the way to the fountain where you may quench your thirst; then you can lead your dear children to the fountain that has refreshed you. Always bear a cheerful countenance. Stop fretting; stop worrying; stop reproving; and be cheerful. Be a living stone in God's building,--a stone emitting light. Then your children will see that Christians are not cold, lifeless, dull, and uninteresting. While they feel, as every child should, the curbing power of truth in the home and in the house of God, they will also feel its sweet peace and radiance upon their souls, affecting the life and character; for Christ is in the soul the hope of glory. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #16)
God is love. He has a care for the creatures he has formed. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." He has not designed that his creatures should be miserable. Have any of us duly considered how much we have to be thankful for? Do we remember that the mercies of the Lord are new every morning, and that his faithfulness faileth not? Do we acknowledge our dependence upon him, and express gratitude for all his favors? On the contrary, we too often forget that "every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." Many experience needless unhappiness. They take their minds from Jesus, and center them too much upon self. They magnify small difficulties, and talk discouragements. They are guilty of the great sin of needless repining over God's providences. For all that we have and are, we are indebted to God. He has given us powers, that, to a certain extent, are similar to those which he himself possesses; and we should labor earnestly to develop these powers, not to please and exalt self, but to glorify him.
We should not allow our minds to be swayed from allegiance to God. Through Christ we may and should be happy, and should acquire habits of self-control. Even the thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God, and the feelings under the control of reason and religion. Our imagination was not given us to be allowed to run riot and have its own way, without any effort at restraint and discipline. If the thoughts are wrong, the feelings will be wrong; and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character. When we decide that as Christians we are not required to restrain our thoughts and feelings, we are brought under the influence of evil angels, and invite their presence and their control. If we yield to our impressions and allow our thoughts to run in a channel of suspicion, doubt, and repining, we shall be unhappy, and our lives will prove a failure.
Man has been placed in a world of sorrow, care, and perplexity. He is placed here to be tested and proved as were Adam and Eve, that he may develop a right character, and bring harmony out of discord and confusion. There is much for us to do that is essential to our own happiness and that of others. And there is much for us to enjoy. Through Christ we are brought into connection with God. His mercies place us under continual obligation; feeling unworthy of his favors, we should appreciate even the least of them.
This earth is the Lord's. Here it may be seen that nature, animate and inanimate, obeys his will. God created man a superior being; he alone is formed in the image of God, and is capable of partaking of the divine nature, of cooperating with his Creator and executing his plans; and he alone is found at war with God's purposes.
How wonderfully, with what marvelous beauty, has everything in nature been fashioned. Everywhere we see the perfect works of the great Master Artist. The heavens declare his glory; and the earth, which was formed for the happiness of man, speaks to us of his matchless love. Its surface is not a monotonous plain; but grand old mountains rise to diversify the landscape. There are sparkling streams and fertile valleys, beautiful lakes, broad rivers, and the boundless ocean. God sends the dew and the rain to refresh the thirsty earth. The breezes, that promote health by purifying and cooling the atmosphere, are controlled by his wisdom. He has placed the sun in the heavens to mark the periods of day and night, and by its genial beams to give light and warmth to the earth, causing vegetation to flourish.
I call your attention to these blessings from the bounteous hand of God. Let the fresh glories of each new morning awaken praise in your hearts for these tokens of his loving care. But while our kind heavenly Father has given us so many things to promote our happiness, he has given us also blessings in disguise. He understands the necessities of fallen man; and while he has given us advantages on the one hand, on the other there are inconveniences which are designed to stimulate us to use the ability he has given us. These develop patient industry, perseverance, and courage.
There are evils which man may lessen, but can never remove. He is to overcome obstacles, and make his surroundings instead of being molded by them. He has room to exercise his talents in bringing order and harmony out of confusion. In this work he may have divine aid if he will claim it. He is not left to battle with temptations and trials in his own strength. Help has been laid upon One who is mighty. Jesus left the royal courts of heaven, and suffered and died in a world degraded by sin, that he might teach man how to pass through the trials of life and overcome its temptations. Here is a pattern for us.
As the benefits conferred upon his creatures by our heavenly Father are recounted, do you not feel reproved, dear brethren and sisters, for your ungrateful repining? God hears your murmurings. If there is a cloud in sight, if affliction comes upon you, how often you seem to forget that the sun ever shone. The Lord is merciful, gracious, and true. Do not shut up your hearts against melody and joy, dwelling only on the disagreeable features of your life. Hold thanksgiving services in your home, and recount with rejoicing the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
The power of the truth should be sufficient to sustain and console in every adversity. It is in enabling its possessor to triumph over affliction that the religion of Christ reveals its true value. It brings the appetites, the passions, and the emotions under the control of reason and conscience, and disciplines the thoughts to flow in a healthful channel. And then the tongue will not be left to dishonor God by expressions of sinful repining.
Our Creator justly claims the right to do as he chooses with the creatures of his hand. He has a right to govern as he wills and not as man chooses. But he is not a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He is the very fountain of love, the giver of blessings innumerable. It should cause you the deepest grief that you have disregarded such love, and have not let gratitude and praise well up in your hearts for the marvelous goodness of God. We do not deserve all his benefits; but they are continued to us, notwithstanding our unworthiness and cruel ingratitude. Then cease to complain as though you were bondservants under a hard taskmaster. Jesus is good. Praise him. Praise him who is the health of your countenance, and your God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #17)
Meetings for conference and prayer should not be made wearisome and tedious. If possible, all should be prompt to the hour appointed; and if there are dilatory ones, who are half an hour or even fifteen minutes behind the time, there should be no waiting. The meeting should open at the appointed hour, if possible, be there few or many present. If there are but two present, they can claim the promise. Formality and cold stiffness should be laid aside, and all should be prompt to duty. Upon common occasions, the seasons of prayer should not be of more than ten minutes' duration. If this exercise is prolonged, the worshipers become wearied mentally and physically, while they obtain but little spiritual strength and refreshment. After a change of position, and singing or exhortation, if any feel the burden of prayer, let them pray.
All should feel it a Christian duty to pray short. Tell the Lord just what you want, without going all over the world. In private prayer, all have the privilege of praying as long as they desire, and of being as explicit as they please. They can pray for all their relatives and friends. The closet is the place to tell all their private difficulties, and trials, and temptations; but a common meeting to worship God is not the place to open the privacies of the heart.
What is the object of assembling together? Is it to inform God, to instruct him by telling him all we know in prayer? We meet together to edify one another by an interchange of thoughts and feelings, to gather strength, and light, and courage, by becoming acquainted with one another's hopes and aspirations; and by our earnest, heartfelt prayers, offered up in faith, we receive refreshment and vigor from the Source of our strength. These meetings should be most precious seasons, and should be made interesting to all who have any relish for religious things.
There are some, I fear, who do not take their troubles to God in private prayer, but reserve them for the prayer meeting, and there do up their praying for several days. Such may be named conference and prayer meeting killers. They emit no light; they edify no one. Their cold, frozen prayers and long, backslidden testimonies cast a shadow. All are glad when they get through, and it is almost impossible to throw off the chill and darkness which their prayers and exhortations bring into the meeting.
Our meetings should be spirited and social, and not too long. Reserve, pride, vanity, and fear of man, should find no place there. Little differences and prejudices should not be taken with us to these meetings. "Ye are the light of the world," says the heavenly Teacher. As in a united family, simplicity, meekness, confidence, and love should exist in the hearts of brethren and sisters who meet to be refreshed and invigorated by bringing their lights together. All have not the same experience in their religious life; but those of diverse exercises come together, and with simplicity and humbleness of mind, talk out their experience. All who are pursuing the onward Christian course, should have, and will have, an experience that is living, that is new and interesting. A living experience is made up of daily trials, conflicts, and temptations, strong efforts and victories, and great peace and joy gained through Jesus. A simple relation of such experiences gives light, strength, and knowledge, that will aid others in their advancement in the divine life. The worship of God should be both interesting and instructive to those who have any love for divine and heavenly things.
Jesus, the heavenly Teacher, did not hold himself aloof from the children of men, but in order to benefit them, he came from heaven to earth, where they were, that the purity and holiness of his life might shine upon the pathway of all, and light the way to heaven. The Redeemer of the world sought to make his lessons of instruction plain and simple, that all might comprehend them. He generally chose the open air for his discourses. No walls could inclose the multitude which followed him; but he had special reasons for resorting to the groves and the seaside to give his lessons of instruction. He could there have a commanding view of the landscape, and make use of objects and scenes with which those in humble life were familiar, to illustrate the important truths he made known to them. With his lessons of instruction, he associated the works of God in nature. The birds which were caroling forth their songs without a care, the flowers of the valley glowing in their beauty, the lily that reposed in its purity upon the bosom of the lake, the lofty trees, the cultivated land, the waving grain, the barren soil, the tree that bore no fruit, the everlasting hills, the bubbling stream, the setting sun tinting and gilding the heavens,--all these he employed to impress his hearers with divine truth. He connected the works of God's finger in the heavens and upon the earth with the words of life he wished to impress upon their minds, that as they should look upon the wonderful works of God in nature, his lessons might be fresh in their memories.
In all his efforts, Christ sought to make his teachings interesting. He knew that a tired, hungry throng could not receive spiritual benefit, and he did not forget their bodily needs. Upon one occasion he wrought a miracle to feed five thousand who had gathered to listen to the words of life which fell from his lips. Jesus regarded his surroundings, when giving his precious truth to the multitude. The scenery was such as would attract the eye, and awaken admiration in the breasts of the lovers of the beautiful. He could extol the wisdom of God in his creative works, and could bind up his sacred lessons by directing their minds through nature up to nature's God. Thus the landscape, the trees, the birds, the flowers of the valley, the hills, the lake, and the beautiful heavens, were associated in their minds with sacred truths, which would make them hallowed in memory as they should look upon them after their Lord's ascension to heaven.
When Christ taught the people, he did not devote the time to prayer. He did not enforce upon them, as did the Pharisees, long, tedious ceremonies and prayers. He taught his disciples how to pray: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye."
Christ impressed upon his disciples the idea that their prayers should be short, expressing just what they wanted, and no more. He gives the length and substance of their prayers, expressing their desires for temporal and spiritual blessings, and their gratitude for the same. How comprehensive this sample prayer! It covers the actual needs of all. One or two minutes is long enough for any ordinary prayer. There may be instances where prayer is in a special manner indited by the Spirit of God, where supplication is made in the Spirit. The yearning soul becomes agonized, and groans after God. The spirit wrestles, as did Jacob, and will not be at rest without special manifestations of the power of God. This is as God would have it.
But many offer prayer in a dry, sermonizing manner. These pray to men, not to God. If they were praying to God, and really understood what they were doing, they would be alarmed at their audacity; for they deliver a discourse to the Lord in the mode of prayer, as though the Creator of the universe needed special information upon general questions in relation to things transpiring in the world. All such prayers are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. They are made of no account in heaven. Angels of God are wearied with them, as well as mortals who are compelled to listen to them.
Jesus was often found in prayer. When the business and cares of the day were ended, and the weary were seeking rest, he resorted to the lonely groves or to the mountains, to make his requests known to his Father. We would not discourage prayer; for there is far too little praying and watching thereunto. And there is still less praying with the Spirit and the understanding also. Fervent and effectual prayer is always in place, and will never weary. Such prayer interests and refreshes all who have a love for devotion.
Secret prayer is neglected, and this is why many offer such long, tedious, backslidden prayers when they assemble to worship God. They go over in their prayers a week of neglected duties, and pray round and round, hoping to make up for their neglect, and pacify their condemned consciences, which are scourging them. They hope to pray themselves into the favor of God. But frequently these prayers result in bringing other minds down to their own low level in spiritual darkness. If Christians would take home the teachings of Christ in regard to watching and praying, they would become more intelligent in their worship of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #18)
"Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, forever."--The Lord made a special covenant with ancient Israel: "Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." He addresses his commandment keeping people in these last days, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
The followers of Christ are required to come out from the world, and be separate, and touch not the unclean, and they have the promise of being the sons and daughters of the Most High, members of the royal family. But if the conditions are not complied with on their part, they will not, cannot realize the fulfillment of the promise. A profession of Christianity is nothing in the sight of God; but true, humble, willing obedience to his requirements designates the children of his adoption, the recipients of his grace, the partakers of his great salvation. Such will be peculiar, a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. Their peculiar, holy character will be discernible, and will distinctly separate them from the world, with its affections and lusts. Those who are living branches of the heavenly Vine will partake of the sap and nourishment of the Vine. They will not be withered and fruitless branches, but will show life and vigor, and will flourish and bear fruit to the glory of God. They will be careful to depart from all iniquity, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God.
There are few among us who answer to this description. Many love God in word, not in deed and in truth. Their course of action, their works, testify of them that they are not children of the light, but of darkness. Their works have not been wrought in God, but in selfishness, in unrighteousness. Their hearts are strangers to his renewing grace. They have not experienced the transforming power which leads them to walk even as Christ walked.
Like ancient Israel, the church has dishonored her God by departing from the light, neglecting her duties, and abusing her high and exalted privilege of being peculiar and holy in character. Her members have violated their covenant to live for God and him only. They have joined with the selfish and world loving. Pride, the love of pleasure, and sin have been cherished, and Christ has departed. His Spirit has been quenched in the church. Satan works side by side with professed Christians; yet they are so destitute of spiritual discernment that they do not detect him. They have not the burden of the work. The solemn truths they profess to believe are not a reality to them. They have not genuine faith. Men and women will act out all the faith which they in reality possess. By their fruits ye shall know them. Not their profession, but the fruit they bear, shows the character of the tree. Many who have a form of godliness, whose names are on church books, have a spotted record in heaven. The recording angel has faithfully written their deeds. Every selfish act, every wrong word, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling, is faithfully chronicled in the book of records kept by the recording angel.
The words of Christ are plain: "Strive [agonize] to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Not all professed Christians are Christians at heart. There are sinners in Zion now, as there were anciently. Isaiah speaks of them in referring to the day of God: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure."
There are hypocrites now who will tremble when they obtain a view of themselves. Their own vileness will terrify them in that day which is soon to come upon us,--a day when "the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." Oh that terror might now lay hold upon them, that they might have a vivid sense of their condition, and arouse while there is mercy and hope, confess their sins, and humble their souls greatly before God, that he might pardon their transgressions and heal their backslidings! The people of God are unready for the fearful, trying scenes before us, unready to stand pure from evil and lust amid the perils and corruptions of this degenerate age. They have not on the armor of righteousness, and are unprepared to war against the prevailing iniquity. Many are not obeying the commandments of God; yet they profess so to do. If they would be faithful to obey all the statutes of God, they would have a power which would carry conviction to the hearts of the unbelieving.
All have sufficient light to see their sins and errors, if they desired to do so, and earnestly wished to put them away, and to perfect holiness in the fear of Lord. God is too pure to behold iniquity. A sin is just as grievous in his sight in one case as in another. No exception will be made by an impartial God. If individuals pass over and cover up their sins, they will not be prospered of God. They cannot advance in the divine life, but will become darker and darker until the light of heaven will be entirely withdrawn.
Those who profess godliness, yet are not sanctified by the truth which they profess, may become quite bold because they are able to conceal their sins from others, and because the judgments of God do not come in a visible manner upon them. They may appear to prosper in this world. They may deceive poor, shortsighted mortals, and be regarded as patterns of piety, while in their sins. But God cannot be deceived. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him. But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God." Although the life of a sinner may be prolonged upon the earth, yet he shall have no place in the earth made new. He shall be of that number whom David mentions in his psalm: "For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shall diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth."
Mercy and truth are promised to the humble and penitent, but judgments are prepared for the sinful and rebellious. "Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne." A wicked and adulterous people will not escape the wrath of God, and the punishment they have justly earned. Man has fallen; and it will be the work of a lifetime, be it longer or shorter, to recover from that fall, and regain, through Christ, the image of the divine, which he lost by sin and continued transgression. God requires a thorough transformation of soul, body, and spirit, in order to regain the estate lost through Adam. The Lord mercifully sends rays of light to show man his true condition. If he will not walk in the light, he manifests a pleasure in darkness. He will not come to the light, lest his deeds shall be reproved.
"Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Very many who profess to be servants of Christ are none of his. They are deceiving their souls to their own destruction. While they profess to be servants of Christ, they are not living in obedience to his will; they are obeying another master, working daily against the Master whom they profess to serve. "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Earthly and selfish interests engage the soul, mind, and strength of God's professed followers. To all intents and purposes, they are servants of mammon. They have not experienced a crucifixion to the world. But few among the many who profess to be Christ's followers can say in the language of the apostle, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." If willing obedience and true love characterize the lives of the people of God, their light will shine to the world with a holy brightness.
The words which Christ addressed to his disciples were designed for all who should believe on his name: "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." A profession of godliness without the living principle is as utterly valueless as salt without its saving properties. An unprincipled professed Christian is a by-word, a reproach to Christ, a dishonor to his name. "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
The good works of God's people have a more powerful influence than words. By their virtuous life and unselfish acts, the beholder is led to desire the same righteousness which produced so good fruit. He is charmed with that power from God which transforms selfish human beings into the divine image, and God is honored, his name glorified. But the Lord is dishonored and his cause reproached, when his people are brought into bondage to the world. Their only hope of salvation is to separate from the world, and zealously maintain their separate, holy, and peculiar character. Oh! why will not God's people comply with the conditions laid down in his word? If they would do this, they would not fail to realize the excellent blessings freely given of God to the humble and obedient.
Perfection, holiness, nothing short of this, would give them success in carrying our the principles he has given them. Without this holiness, the human heart is selfish, sinful, and vicious. Holiness will lead its possessor to be fruitful and abound in all good works. He will never become weary in well-doing, neither will he look for promotion in this world. He will look forward for promotion to the time when the Majesty of heaven shall exalt the sanctified ones to his throne. Then shall he say unto them, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." The Lord then enumerates the works of self-denial and mercy, compassion and righteousness, which they had wrought. Holiness of heart will produce right actions. It is the absence of spirituality, of holiness, which leads to unrighteous acts, to envy, hatred, jealousy, evil surmisings, and every hateful and abominable sin. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #19)
In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul says: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
In order to accomplish the work which God requires of them, ministers need to be qualified for their position. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, speaks thus concerning his ministry: "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
No less sacred appreciation of and devotion to the work of the ministry does God require of his servants who are living so near the end of all things. He cannot accept the work of laborers unless they realize in their own hearts the life and power of the truth which they present to others. He will not accept of anything short of earnest, active, zealous heart labor. Vigilance and faithfulness are required for this great work. God wants unselfish workmen, those who will labor with disinterested benevolence, and give their undivided interest to the work.
But not all who profess to be called to teach the truth, are qualified for this sacred work. Some are far from meeting the mind and will of God. Some are slothful in temporal things, and their religious life is marked with spiritual sloth. Where there is a lack of persevering energy and close application in temporal matters and business transactions, the same deficiency will be apparent in spiritual things. Enduring energy and constant reliance upon God, are lacking in many who are laboring in the ministry.
Some who profess to be called of God to labor in word and doctrine, are surrounded with backsliders and sinners, and yet feel no burden for their souls, but manifest an indifference in regard to their salvation. Some are so nearly asleep that they seem to have no sense of the work of a gospel minister. They do not consider that as spiritual physicians they are required to have skill in ministering to souls diseased with sin. The work of warning sinners, of weeping over them and pleading with them, has been neglected until many souls are past cure. Some have died in their sins, and will in the Judgment confront with reproaches of their guilt those who might have saved them, but who did not. Unfaithful ministers, what a retribution awaits you! God does not lightly regard a neglect of the work he has left his servants to do.
Some are not close Bible students. They are disinclined to apply themselves diligently to the study of God's word. In consequence of this neglect, they have labored at great disadvantage, and have not, in their ministerial efforts, accomplished one-tenth of the work which they might have done, had they seen the necessity of closely applying their minds to the study of the word. They might have become so familiar with the Scriptures, so fortified with Bible arguments, that they could meet opponents and so present the reasons of our faith that the truth would triumph and silence their opposition.
Many do not feel that they have no right to claim to be teachers unless they are thoroughly furnished by earnest, diligent study of the word of God. Some have neglected to obtain a knowledge of the simple branches of education. They misquote the Scriptures, and, by their apparent lack of qualification for the work they are trying to do, injure the cause of God and bring the truth into disrepute. These do not see the necessity of cultivating the intellect, of especially encouraging refinement without affectation, and of seeking to attain to the true elevation of Christian character. The certain and effectual means of attaining this is the surrender of the soul to God. He will direct the intellect and affections, so that they will center upon the divine and eternal; and then will they possess energy without rashness, for all the powers of the mind and of the whole being will be elevated, refined, and directed in the loftiest, holiest channel. From the lips of the heavenly Teacher were heard the words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." When this submission to God is made, true humility will grace every action, while at the same time those who are thus allied to God and his heavenly angels, will possess a becoming dignity savoring of heaven.
Those who minister in the word must have as thorough a knowledge of that word as it is possible for them to obtain. They must be continually searching, praying, and learning, or the people of God will advance in the knowledge of his word and will, and leave these professed teachers far behind. Who will instruct the people when they are in advance of their teachers? All the efforts of such ministers are fruitless. There is need that the people teach them the word of God more perfectly, before they are capable of instructing others.
Some might now have been thorough workmen, had they made a good use of their time, feeling that they would have to give an account to God for their misspent moments. They have displeased God because they have not been industrious. Self-gratification, self-love, and selfish love of ease, have kept them from good, withheld them from obtaining a knowledge of the Scriptures that they might be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Some do not appreciate the value of time, and have idled away in bed the hours that might have been employed in the study of the Bible. There are a few subjects that they have dwelt upon the most, with which they are familiar, and upon these they can speak with acceptance; but they have in a great degree rested the matter here. They have not felt altogether satisfied with themselves, and have at times realized their deficiencies; yet they have not been sufficiently awakened to the crime of neglecting to become acquainted with the word of God, which they profess to teach. On account of their ignorance, the people are disappointed; they do not receive the intelligence which they might obtain from them, and which they expect to obtain from ministers of Christ.
By rising early and economizing their moments, ministers can find time for a close investigation of the Scriptures. They must have perseverance, and not be thwarted in their object, but persistently employ their time in a study of the word, bringing to their aid the truths which other minds, through wearing labor, have brought out for them, and with diligent, persevering effort prepared to their hand. There are ministers who have been laboring for years, teaching the truth to others, while they themselves are not familiar with the strong points of our position. I beg of such to have done with their idleness. It is a continual curse to them. God requires them to make every moment fruitful of some good to themselves or to others. "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." "He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster."
The Lord requires his servants to be energetic. It is not pleasing to him to see them listless and indolent. They profess to have the evidence that God has especially selected them to teach the people the way of life; yet frequently their conversation is not profitable, and they show that they have not the burden of the work upon them. Their own souls are not energized by the mighty truths which they present to others. Some preach these truths, which are of such weighty importance, in so listless a manner that they cannot affect the people. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Men whom God has called must be trained to put forth effort, to work earnestly and with untiring zeal for him, to pull souls out of the fire. When ministers feel the power of the truth in their own souls, thrilling their own being, then will they possess power to affect hearts; they will show that they firmly believe the truths preached to others. They should keep before the mind the worth of souls, and the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. This will awaken the soul, so that with David they may say, "My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned."
The religion of Christ will be exemplified by its possessor in the life, in the conversation, in the works. Its strong principles will prove an anchor. Those who are teachers of the word should be patterns of piety, ensamples to the flock. Their example should rebuke idleness, slothfulness, and lack of industry and economy. The principles of religion exact diligence, industry, economy, and honesty. "Give an account of thy stewardship," will soon be heard by all. Brethren, what account could you render if the Master should now appear? Many of you are unready, and would surely be reckoned with the slothful servants. Precious moments are yet left you, and I entreat you to redeem the time. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 62, #20)
Paul exhorted Timothy: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." What a weight of importance is here attached to the Christian life of the minister of God! What a necessity there is for his faithful study of the word, that he himself may be sanctified by the truth, and may be qualified to teach others.
The ministers of Christ need a new anointing, that they may more clearly discern sacred things, and have clear conceptions of the holy, blameless character which they themselves must form in order to be ensamples to the flock. Nothing that we can do of ourselves, will bring us up to the high standard where God can accept us as his embassadors. Only a firm reliance upon God, and a strong and active faith, will accomplish the work that he requires to be wrought in us. God calls for working men. It is continuance in well doing that will form characters for heaven. In plainness, in faithfulness and love, we must appeal to the people to prepare for the day of God. Some will need to be entreated with earnestness before they will be moved: Let the labor be characterized by meekness and humility, yet by a fervor that will make these listless ones understand that these things are a reality, and that it is for them to choose life or death. The salvation of the soul is not a thing to be trifled with. The deportment of the laborer for God should be serious, and characterized by simplicity and true Christian politeness; yet he should be fearfully in earnest in the work which the Master has left him to do. Decided perseverance in a course of righteousness, disciplining the mind by religious exercises to love devotion and heavenly things, will bring the greatest amount of happiness.
If we make God our trust, we have it in our power to control the mind in these things. Through continued exercise, it will become strong to battle with internal foes, and to subdue self, until there is a complete transformation, and the passions, appetite, and will are brought into perfect subjection. Then there will be daily piety at home and abroad, and when we engage in labor for souls, a power will attend our efforts. The humble Christian will have seasons of devotion which are not spasmodic, fitful, or superstitious; but calm and tranquil, deep, constant, and earnest. The love of God, the practice of holiness, will be pleasant when there is a perfect surrender to God.
The reason why ministers of Christ are no more successful in their labors is, they are not unselfishly devoted to the work. The interest of some is divided; they are double minded. The cares of this life engage their attention, and they do not realize how sacred is the work of the minister. Such may complain of darkness, of great unbelief, of infidelity. This is because they are not right with God; they do not see the importance of making a full and entire consecration to him. They serve God a little, but themselves more. They pray but little.
The Majesty of heaven, while engaged in his earthly ministry, was often in earnest prayer. Frequently he spent the entire night thus. His spirit was sorrowful as he felt the power of the darkness of this world, and he left the busy city and the noisy throng to seek a retired place for intercession with his Father. The Mount of Olives was the favorite resort of the Son of God. Frequently, after the multitude had left him for the retirement of the night, he rested not, though weary with the labors of the day. In the Gospel of John we read, "And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives." While the city was hushed in silence and his disciples had retired to obtain refreshment in sleep, his divine pleadings were ascending to his Father from the Mount of Olives, that his disciples might be kept from the evil influences which they would daily encounter in the world, and that his own soul might be strengthened and braced for the duties and trials of the coming day. All night, while his followers were sleeping, was their divine Teacher praying, while the dew and frost of night fell upon his bowed head. The disciples learned his favorite retreat, and often followed him. Therefore he did not always visit Olivet. For the same reason he chose the stillness of night, that there might be no interruption.
The example of Christ is left on record for his followers. Jesus was himself a source of blessing and strength; he could heal the sick and raise the dead; he commanded even the tempests, and they obeyed him; he was unsullied with corruption, a stranger to sin; yet he endured agony which required help and support from his Father, and he prayed often with strong crying and tears. He prayed for his disciples and for himself, thus identifying himself with the needs, the weaknesses, and the failings which are common to humanity. He was a mighty petitioner, not possessing the passions of our human, fallen natures, but compassed with like infirmities, tempted in all points even as we are.
Are the ministers of Christ tempted and fiercely buffeted by Satan? so also was He who knew no sin. Christ, our example, turned to his Father in these hours of distress. He came to earth that he might provide a way whereby we could find grace and strength to help in every time of need, by following his example in frequent, earnest prayer. If the ministers of Christ will imitate this pattern, they will be imbued with his spirit, and angels will minister unto them.
Angels ministered to Jesus, yet their presence did not make his life one of ease and freedom from severe conflict and fierce temptations. If ministers, while engaged in the work which the Master has appointed them to do, have trials and perplexities and temptations, should they be discouraged, when they know that there is One who has endured all these before them? Should they cast away their confidence because they do not realize all they expect from their labors? Christ labored earnestly for his own nation; but his efforts were despised by the very ones he came to save, and they put to death Him who came to give them life.
All who stand unshrinkingly in the forefront of the battle, must feel the special warfare of Satan against them. As they realize his attacks, they will flee to the Stronghold. They will feel their need of special strength from God, and will labor in his strength; therefore the victories they gain will not exalt them, but lead them in faith to lean more securely upon the Mighty One. Deep and fervent gratitude to God is awakened in their hearts, and they are joyful in the tribulation which they experience while pressed by the enemy. These willing servants are gaining an experience and forming a character which will do honor to the cause of God.
There is a sufficient number of ministers, but a great lack of laborers. Laborers, co-workers with God, have a sense of the sacredness of the work, and of the severe conflicts they must meet in order to carry it forward successfully. Laborers will not faint and despond in view of the labor, arduous though it may be. In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul says: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We are without excuse if we fail to avail ourselves of the ample provisions made for us that we might be wanting in nothing. Shrinking from hardships, complaining under tribulation, makes the servants of God weak and inefficient in bearing responsibilities and burdens.
The present is a season of solemn privilege and sacred trust. If these trusts are faithfully kept, great will be the reward when the Master shall say, "Give an account of thy stewardship." The earnest toil, the unselfish work, the patient, persevering effort, will be rewarded abundantly; Jesus will say, Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends, guests. The approval of the Master is not given because of the greatness of the work performed, because many things have been gained, but because of the fidelity in even a few things. It is not the great results we attain, but the motives from which we act, that weigh with God. He prizes goodness and faithfulness more than the greatness of the work accomplished.
Brethren, you are required to exemplify the truth in your life. But those who think that they have a work to do to teach others the truth are not all converted, and sanctified by the truth. Some have erroneous ideas of what constitutes a Christian, and of the means through which a firm religious experience is obtained; much less do they understand the qualifications which God requires ministers to possess. These men are unsanctified. They have occasionally a flight of feeling, which gives them the impression that they are indeed the children of God. This dependence upon impressions is one of the special deceptions of Satan. Those who are thus exercised make their religion a matter of circumstance. Firm principle is wanting. None are living Christians who have not a daily experience in the things of God, and who do not daily practice self-denial, cheerfully bearing the cross and following Christ. Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God everyday; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality.
The life of a true Christian is ever onward. There is no standing still nor going back. It is your privilege to be "filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
I entreat all, especially those who minister in word and doctrine, to make an unreserved surrender to God. Consecrate your lives to him, and be indeed ensamples to the flock. Be no longer content to remain dwarfs in spiritual things. Let your aim be nothing short of perfection of Christian character. Let your lives be unselfish and blameless, that they ever may be a living rebuke to those who are selfish, and whose affections seem to be upon their earthly treasure. God grant that you may be strengthened according to the riches of his glory, "with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #21)
The truth of God has never been popular with the world. The natural heart is ever averse to the divine teachings. Those who obey God will never be loved and honored by the world. From the lips of the Great Teacher, as he walked in humility among the children of men, were heard the words, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Yes, we must follow our Exemplar. Did he seek for praise and honor of men? Oh, no! The Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, left his riches and splendor, his honor and glory, and, in order to save sinful man, condescended to a life of humiliation, poverty, and reproach. "For the joy that was set before him," he "endured the cross, despising the shame."
Shall we, then, seek for the glory and honor of the world? I thank God that we must renounce the love of the world, and pride of heart, and everything which tends to idolatry, in order to be followers of the Man of Calvary. I present before you, my brethren and sisters, his self-denying life. Why are we so sensitive to trial and reproach, to shame and suffering, when our Lord has given us such an example? Who would wish to enter into the joy of their Lord while they were unwilling to partake of his sufferings? What! the servant unwilling to bear the suffering and shame which the Master unselfishly bore for him! Shall the servant shrink from a life of sacrifice by which he may secure eternal happiness in the Paradise of God? The language of my heart is, "Let me be a partaker with Christ of his sufferings, that I may finally share with him in his glory."
Those who have no love for God will not love the children of God. Listen to the words of Christ: "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you." "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven." "But woe unto you that are rich; for ye have received your consolation." In the Gospel of John we read: "These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you, out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." In his prayer for his disciples just before his crucifixion, Jesus said: "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul beseeches his brethren, by the mercies of God, that they present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, assuring them that this is their reasonable service. "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." James asks, "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" And he declares, "Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
Many are in danger of making shipwreck of faith. They feel that it is a condescension in them to receive unpopular truth; and, while accepting the truth, they seek, to quite a degree, to retain the spirit of the world. This they cannot do; for the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Says Paul, "Do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Our Saviour will accept nothing short of the whole heart, the entire affections. Those who desire to so live as to shun reproach, are seeking a position above that occupied by their suffering Lord while he was upon earth; and while engaged in this pursuit, they are separating from their Father in heaven, exchanging his love for that which is not worth obtaining.
Some feel that they have made sacrifices to obey the truth, when they have not received and practiced the truth in its simplicity; they have not yielded their pride, their love of the approbation of an unbelieving world. They have not realized the importance of obeying the command, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you." I fear for such persons; I fear that their feet will slide, that they will refuse to walk in the humble, straight, and narrow way which leads to eternal life in the kingdom of glory. They see charms in this life. But Jesus seeks to win them from the world by presenting the attractions of heaven. He says, "You cannot have me and the world. Which will you choose? Will you sacrifice Him who died for you for the pride of life, for the treasures of this world? Choose between me and the world; for the world has no part in me."
Vanity is one of the strongest principles of our fallen nature; and Satan is constantly appealing to it with success. Persons are not wanting who are ready to aid the great adversary in his work of destroying souls by flattering them as to their ability and the influence they could have in society, and to urge that it is a great pity for them to unite their interests with those of a people of humble faith. It is true that the masses who possess influence do not choose to sacrifice their worldly ambition, to separate their affections from the world, and to turn their footsteps into the narrow, humble path traveled by the world's Redeemer. They consider their talents and influence too precious to be devoted to the cause of God,--too precious to be used to glorify the Giver. For the temporal advantages they hope to gain, they sacrifice enduring riches. For the flattery of men they turn from the approval of the Lord, the maker of the heavens and the earth, and forfeit all right to the honor that comes from above.
How few appreciate the blessings Jesus has brought within their reach by his life of unexampled suffering and his ignominious death. Says Paul: "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence."
In the renewed heart there will be a fixed principle to obey the will of God because there is a love for what is just, and good, and holy. The mind will be an open medium, continually receiving light, grace, and truth from above, and communicating these blessings to others. The life of the Christian is not barren; he has his fruit unto holiness, and the end is everlasting life. But many stand halting between two opinions, undecided whether to serve God or the world. They are unreconciled to the humble work of God, and their influence is exerted in a wrong direction. Of those who profess the truth, few have an experimental knowledge of its sanctifying influence upon the heart. Their obedience and devotion are not in accordance with their light and privileges. They do not realize the obligation resting upon them to walk as children of the light and not as children of darkness. To all such I would say, Turn from the opinions of men to the law and to the testimony. Shut out every worldly consideration. Make your decisions for eternity. Weigh evidence in this important time.
We need not expect to escape trial and anguish in following our Saviour; for he has plainly told us that we shall suffer persecution. But earthly interests must be subservient to the eternal; for they can bear no comparison to the "durable riches of Christ." "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Dear brethren and sisters, do not flatter yourselves that all obstacles to your worldly prosperity would be removed, were you to yield unpopular truth. Satan tells you this; it is his sophistry. But if the blessing of God rests upon you, you will prosper; if you turn from him, he will turn from you. Jesus knows all your wants, and he has left exceeding broad and precious promises. He says: "There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life." "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
These are precious promises. Can you not rely upon them? Can you not have implicit trust, knowing that He is faithful who has promised? Let your trembling faith grasp the promises of God. Bear your whole weight upon them with unwavering faith; for they will not, they cannot fail. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #22)
The Lord commanded Moses to send men to search the land of Canaan, which he would give unto the children of Israel. A ruler of each tribe was to be selected for this purpose. They went, and after forty days returned from their search, and came before Moses and Aaron, and all the congregation of Israel, and showed them the fruit of the land. All agreed that it was a good land, and they exhibited the rich fruit which they had brought as evidence One cluster of grapes was so large that two men carried it between them on a staff. They also brought of the figs, and the pomegranates, which grew there in abundance. After they had spoken of the fertility of the land, all but two spoke very discouragingly of their being able to possess it. They said that the people that dwelt in the land were very strong, and the cities were surrounded by great and high walls, and, more than all this, they saw the children of the giant Anak there. They then told how the people were situated around Canaan, and expressed doubts as to whether Israel would ever be able to possess the land
As the people listened to this report, they gave vent to their disappointment in bitter reproaches and wailing. They did not wait to reflect, and reason that God, who had brought them out thus far, would certainly give them the land. They left God out of the question. They acted as though in the taking of the city of Jericho, the key to the land of Canaan, they must depend solely on the power of arms. God had declared that he would give them the country, and they should have fully trusted him to fulfill his word. But their unsubdued hearts were not in harmony with his plans. They did not reflect how wonderfully he had wrought in their behalf, bringing them out of their Egyptian bondage, cutting a path for them through the waters of the sea, and destroying the pursuing host of Pharaoh.
Caleb and Joshua, the two who, of all the twelve spies, trusted in the word of God, rent their clothes in distress, when they perceived that these unfavorable reports had discouraged the whole camp. They endeavored to reason with them, but the congregation were filled with madness and disappointment, and refused to listen to these two men. Finally Caleb urged his way to the front, and his clear, ringing voice was heard above all the clamor of the multitude. He opposed the cowardly views of his fellow spies, which had weakened the faith and courage of all Israel.
He commanded the attention of the people, and they hushed their complaints for a moment to listen to him. He spoke of the land he had visited. Said he: "Let us go up at once; for we are well able to overcome it." But as he spoke, the unfaithful spies interrupted him, crying, "We be not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we!"
These men, starting upon a wrong course, set their hearts against God, against Moses and Aaron, and against Caleb and Joshua. Every step they advanced in this wrong direction made them firmer in their design to discourage every attempt to possess the land of Canaan. They distorted the truth that their baneful influence might prevail. They represented the climate as being unhealthful, and all the people of giant stature. Said they, "And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
The evil report had a terrible effect upon the people. They reproached Moses and Aaron bitterly. Some groaned and wailed, saying, "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or Would God we had died in the wilderness!" Then their feelings rose against the Lord; they wept and mourned, saying, "Wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey. Were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another: "Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt."
Thus they manifested their disrespect for God and for the leaders he had appointed to conduct them. They did not ask the Lord what they should do, but said: "Let us make a captain." They took matters into their own hands, feeling themselves competent to manage their affairs without divine aid. They not only accused Moses of deception, but also God, in promising a land which they were not able to possess. They actually went so far as to appoint one of their number as a captain, to lead them back to the land of their suffering and bondage, from which God had delivered them with his strong arm of omnipotence.
Moses and Aaron still remained prostrate before God in the presence of all the assembly, silently imploring divine mercy for rebellious Israel. Their distress was too deep for words. Again Caleb and Joshua press to the front, and the voice of Caleb once more rises in sorrowful earnestness above the complaints of the congregation: "The land which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land that floweth with milk and honey; only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us. Their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Fear them not."
The Canaanites had filled up the measure of their iniquity, and the Lord would no longer bear with them. His defense being removed from them, they would fall an easy prey to the Hebrews. They were not prepared for battle, for they felt so strong that they deceived themselves with the idea that no army was formidable enough to prevail against them. Caleb reminded the people that by the covenant of God the land was insured to Israel. But their hearts were filled with madness, and they would hear no more. If only the two men had brought the evil report, and all the ten had encouraged them to possess the land in the name of the Lord, they would still have taken the advice of the two in preference to the ten, because of their wicked unbelief.
But there were only two advocating the right, while ten were in open rebellion against their leaders and against God. The greatest excitement now raged among the people; their worst passions were aroused, and they refused to listen to reason. The ten unfaithful spies join them in their denunciations of Caleb and Joshua, and the cry is raised to stone them. The insane mob seize missiles with which to slay those faithful men. They rush forward with yells of madness, when, lo! the stones drop from their hands, a hush falls upon them, and they shake with terror. God has interposed to check their rash design. The glory of his presence, like a flame of light, illuminates the tabernacle. All the congregation behold the signal of the Lord.
A mightier than they had revealed himself, and not one dared continue his resistance. Every murmurer was silenced. The spies who had brought the evil report, crouched terror stricken and with bated breath. Moses now arose from his humiliating position, and entered the tabernacle to commune with God. Then the Lord proposed to immediately destroy this rebellious people. He desired to make of Moses a greater nation than Israel; but the meek leader of his people would not consent to this proposition. "And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them; and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land, for they have heard that thou, Lord, art among this people, that thou, Lord, art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by daytime in a pillar of cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now, if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness."
Moses again refuses to have Israel destroyed, and himself made a mightier nation than was Israel. This favored servant of God manifests his love for Israel, and shows his zeal for the glory of his Master and the honor of his people. Thou hast forgiven this people from Egypt even until now; thou hast been longsuffering and merciful hitherto toward this ungrateful nation; and however unworthy they may be, thy mercy is the same He pleads, Wilt thou not, therefore, spare them this once, and add this one more instance of divine patience to the many thou hast already given?
Moses prevailed with God to spare the people; but because of their arrogance and unbelief, the Lord could not go with them to work in a miraculous manner in their behalf. Therefore, in his divine mercy, he bade them adopt the safest course, and turn back in the wilderness toward the Red Sea. He also decreed that, as a punishment for their rebellion, all the adults who left Egypt, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, should be forever excluded from Canaan. They had utterly failed to keep their promise of obedience to God, and this released him from the covenant that they had so repeatedly violated. He promised that their children should possess the goodly land, but their own bodies should be buried in the wilderness. And the ten unfaithful spies, whose evil report had caused Israel to murmur and rebel, were destroyed by the power of God, before the eyes of the people.
When Moses made known to Israel the will of God concerning them, they seemed to sincerely repent of their sinful conduct. But the Lord knew that their sorrow was because of the result of their evil course, rather than a deep sense of their ingratitude and disobedience. But their repentance came too late; the just anger of God was awakened, and their doom was pronounced, from which there was no reprieve. When they found that the Lord would not relent in his decree, their self-will again arose, and they declared that they would not return into the wilderness.
In commanding them to retire from the land of their enemies, God tested their apparent submission, and found it was not real. They knew that they had deeply sinned in allowing their rash feelings to control them, and seeking to slay the spies who had urged them to obey God. But they were only terrified to find that they had made a fearful mistake, the consequence of which would prove disastrous to themselves. Their hearts were unchanged, and they only needed an excuse to cause a similar outbreak. This presented itself when Moses, by the authority of God, commanded them to go back into the wilderness.
They had rebelled against his commands when he bade them go up and take the land he had promised them, and now that he directed them to retreat from it, they were equally insubordinate, and declared they would go to battle with their enemies. They arrayed themselves in their warriors' dress and armor, and presented themselves before Moses, in their own estimation prepared for conflict, but sadly deficient in the sight of God and his sorrowful servant.
When God directed them to go up and take Jericho, he promised to go with them. The ark containing his law was to be a symbol of himself. Moses and Aaron, God's appointed leaders, were to conduct the expedition under his watchful direction. With such supervision, no harm could have come to them. But now, contrary to the command of God and the solemn prohibition of their leaders, without the ark of God and without Moses, they march out to meet the armies of the enemy.
During the time consumed by the Israelites in their wicked insubordination, the Amalekites and Canaanites had prepared for battle. The Israelites presumptuously challenged the foe that had not dared to attack them. But just as they had fairly entered the enemy's territory, the Amalekites and Canaanites met them in force and fiercely repulsed them, driving them back with great loss. The field of carnage was red with the blood of the Hebrews, and their dead bodies strewed the ground. They were utterly routed and defeated. Destruction and death was the result of their rebellious experiment. But the faith of Caleb and Joshua was richly rewarded. According to his word, God brought these faithful men into the land he had promised them. The cowards and rebels perished in the wilderness, but the righteous spies did eat of the grapes of Eschol.
This history has an application to us as a people. The scenes of cowardly complaining and drawing back from action when there are risks to encounter, are reenacted among us today. The same unwillingness is manifested to heed faithful reports and true counsel as in the days of Caleb and Joshua. The servants of God, who bear the burden of his cause, practicing strict self-denial and suffering privation for the sake of helping his people, are seldom better appreciated now than then.
Ancient Israel was repeatedly tested and found wanting. Few received the faithful warnings given them of God. Darkness and unbelief does not decrease as we near the time of the second advent of Christ. Truth becomes less and less palatable to the carnally minded; their hearts are slow to believe and tardy to repent. The servants of God might well become discouraged, were it not for the continual evidences their Master gives them of his wisdom and assistance. Long has the Lord borne with his people. He has forgiven their wanderings, and waited for them to give him room in their hearts; but false ideas, jealousy, and distrust have crowded him out.
Thorough conversion is necessary among those who profess to believe the truth, in order for them to follow Jesus and obey the will of God; not a submission born of circumstances as was that of the terrified Israelites, when the power of the Infinite was revealed to them, but a deep and heartfelt repentance and renunciation of sin. Those who are but half converted are as a tree whose boughs hang upon the side of truth, but whose roots, firmly bedded in the earth, strike out into the barren soil of the world. Jesus looks in vain for fruit upon its branches; he finds nothing but leaves.
Thousands would accept the truth, if they could do so without denying self; but this class would never build up the cause of God. These would never march out valiantly against the enemy, which is the world, the love of self, and the lusts of the flesh, trusting their divine Leader to give them the victory. The Church needs faithful Calebs and Joshuas, who are ready to accept eternal life on God's simple conditions of obedience. Our churches are suffering for laborers. The world is our field. Missionaries are wanted in cities and villages that are more certainly bound by idolatry than are the pagans of the East who have never seen the light of truth. The true missionary spirit has deserted the churches that make so exalted a profession; their hearts are no longer aglow with love for souls, and a desire to lead them into the fold of Christ. We want earnest workers. Are there none to respond to the cry that goes up from every quarter: "Come over and help us"? By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #23)
Abraham was an old man when he received the startling command from God to offer up his son Isaac for a burnt offering. Abraham was considered an old man even in his generation. The ardor of his youth had faded away. It was no longer easy for him to endure hardships and brave dangers. In the vigor of youth, man may breast the storm with a proud consciousness of strength, and rise above discouragements that, later in life, when his steps are faltering toward the grave, would cause his heart to fail. But God, in his providence, reserved his last, most trying test for Abraham, until the burden of years was heavy upon him, and he longed for rest from anxiety and toil. The Lord spoke unto him, saying, "Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering." The heart of the old man stood still with horror. The loss of such a son by disease would have been most heart-rending to the fond father, and would have bowed his whitened head with sorrow; but he is commanded to shed the precious blood of that son with his own hand. It seemed to him a fearful impossibility. Yet God had spoken, and his word must be obeyed.
Abraham was stricken in years, but this did not excuse him from his duty. He grasped the staff of faith, and in dumb agony, took his child by the hand, and went out to obey the word of God. The grand old patriarch was human; his passions and attachments were like ours; he loved this boy, who was the solace of his old age, and unto whom the promise of the Lord had been given. But Abraham did not stop to question how God's promises could be fulfilled if Isaac was slain, he did not stay to reason with his aching heart; but he carried out the divine command to the very letter, till, just as the knife was about to be plunged into the quivering flesh of his child, the word came, "It is enough; now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me."
This great act of faith is recorded on the pages of sacred history as an illustrious example to the end of time. Abraham did not plead that his old age should excuse him from obeying God. He did not say, "My hairs are gray, the vigor of my manhood is gone; who will comfort my waning life when Isaac is no more? How can an aged father spill the blood of an only son?" No, God had spoken, and man must obey without questioning or murmuring or fainting by the way.
We need the faith of Abraham in our churches today, to lighten the darkness that gathers round them, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God's love and dwarfing spiritual growth. Age will never excuse us from obeying God. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead. Every duty performed, every sacrifice made in the name of Jesus, brings an exceeding great reward. In the very act of duty, God speaks and gives his blessing. But he requires of us an entire surrender of the faculties. The mind and heart, the whole being, must be given to him, or we fall short of becoming true Christians.
God has withheld nothing from man that can secure to him eternal riches. He has clothed the earth with beauty and furnished it for his use and comfort during his temporal life. He has given his Son to die for the redemption of a world that had fallen through sin and folly. Such matchless love, such infinite sacrifice, claims our strictest obedience, our holiest love, our unbounded faith; yet all these virtues, exercised to their fullest extent, can never be commensurate with the great sacrifice that has been offered for us.
God requires prompt and unquestioning obedience of his law. But men are asleep or paralyzed by the deceptions of Satan, who suggests excuses and subterfuges, and conquers their scruples, saying, as he said to Eve in the garden, "Ye shall not surely die." Disobedience not only hardens the heart and conscience of the guilty one, but it tends to corrupt the faith of others. That which looked very wrong to them at first gradually loses this appearance by being constantly before them, till finally they question whether it is really sin, and unconsciously fall into the same error.
We should not look in the face of duty and delay meeting its demands. Such delay gives time for doubts, unbelief creeps in, the judgment is perverted, the understanding darkened. At length the reproofs of God's Spirit do not reach the heart of the deluded person, who has become so blinded as to think that they cannot possibly be intended for him or apply to his case.
The precious time of probation is passing, and few realize that it is given them for the purpose of preparing for eternity. The golden hours are squandered in worldly pursuits, in pleasure, in absolute sin. God's law is slighted and forgotten; yet every statute is none the less binding; every transgression will bring its punishment. Love of gain leads to desecration of the Sabbath; yet the claims of that holy day are not abrogated or lessened. God's command is clear on this point; he has peremptorily forbidden us to labor upon the seventh day. He has set it apart as a day sanctified to himself.
Many are the hindrances that lie in the path of those who would walk in obedience to the commandments of God. There are strong and subtle influences that bind them to the ways of the world; but the power of the Lord can break these chains. He will remove every obstacle from before the feet of his faithful ones, or give them strength and courage to conquer every difficulty, if they earnestly beseech his help. All hindrances will vanish before an earnest desire and persistent effort to do the will of God at any cost to self, even if life itself is sacrificed. Light from Heaven will illuminate the darkness of those who in trial and perplexity go forward, looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of their faith.
In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days he speaks to them by the testimonies of his Spirit. There was never a time when God more earnestly instructed his people concerning his will, and the course that he would have them pursue, than now. But will they profit by his teachings? will they receive his reproofs and heed the warnings? God will accept of no partial obedience; he will sanction no compromise with self.
Through Samuel, God commanded Saul to go and smite the Amalekites and utterly destroy all their possessions. But Saul only partially obeyed the command; he destroyed the inferior cattle, but reserved the best, and spared the wicked king. The next day he met the prophet Samuel, with flattering self-congratulations. Said he, "Blessed be thou of the Lord, I have performed the commandment of the Lord." But the prophet immediately answered, "What meaneth then the bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"
Saul was confused, and sought to shirk responsibility by answering, " They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God, and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Samuel then reproved the king, reminding him of the explicit command of God directing him to destroy all things belonging to Amalek. He pointed out his transgressions, and declared that he had disobeyed the Lord. But Saul refused to acknowledge that he had done wrong; he again excused his sin by pleading that he had reserved the best cattle to sacrifice unto the Lord.
Samuel was grieved to the heart by the persistency with which the king refused to see his sin and confess it. He sorrowfully asked, "Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath rejected thee from being king."
God has given us his commandments, not only to be believed, but to be obeyed. The great Jehovah, when he had laid the foundations of the earth, and dressed the whole world in the garb of beauty, and filled it with things useful to man, when he had created all the wonders of the land and sea, instituted the Sabbath, and made it holy. God blessed and sanctified the seventh day, because he rested upon it from his wondrous work of creation. The Sabbath was made for man, and God would have him put by his labor on that day, as he himself rested after his six days' work of creation.
Those who reverence the commandments of Jehovah, after light has been given them in reference to the fourth precept of the decalogue, will obey it without questioning the feasibility or convenience of such obedience. God made man in his own image, and then gave him an example of observing the seventh day, which he sanctified and made holy. He designed that upon that day man should worship him, and engage in no secular pursuits. No one who disregards the fourth commandment, after becoming enlightened concerning the claims of the Sabbath, can be held guiltless in the sight of God. The example of Adam and Eve in the garden should sufficiently warn us against any disobedience of the divine law.
The sin of our first parents in listening to the specious temptations of the enemy, brought guilt and sorrow upon the world, and led the Son of God to leave the royal courts of heaven and take a humble place on earth. He was subjected to insult, rejection, and crucifixion by the very ones he came to bless. What infinite expense attended that disobedience in the garden of Eden! The Majesty of heaven was sacrificed to save man from the penalty of crime.
God will not more lightly pass over any transgressions of his law now than in the day when he pronounced judgment against Adam. The Saviour of the world raises his voice in protest against those who regard the divine commandments with carelessness and indifference. Said he, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
At the very beginning of the fourth precept, God has said, "Remember," knowing that man, in the multitude of his cares and perplexities, would be tempted to excuse himself from meeting the full requirements of the law, or, in the press of worldly business, would forget its sacred importance. "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work." These words are very explicit; there can be no mistake. How dare anyone venture to transgress a commandment so solemn and important? Has the Lord made an exception, by which some are absolved from the claims of the law he has given to the world? Are their transgression omitted from the book of record? Has he agreed to excuse their disobedience when the nations shall come before him for judgment?
Let none for a moment deceive themselves with the thought that their sin will not bring its merited punishment. Their transgressions will be visited with the rod, because they have had the light, yet have walked directly contrary to it. "He that knoweth his master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes."
God has given man six days in which to do his own work, and carry on the usual business of his life. But the Lord claims one which he has set apart and sanctified. He gives it to man as a day in which he may rest from labor, and devote himself to worship and the improvement of his spiritual condition. What a flagrant outrage it is for man to steal the one sanctified day of Jehovah, and appropriate it to his own selfish purposes!
It is the grossest presumption for mortal man to venture upon a compromise with the Almighty, in order to secure his own petty, temporal interests. It is as ruthless a violation of the law to occasionally use the Sabbath for secular business, as to entirely reject it; for it is making the Lord's commandments a matter of convenience. "I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God," is thundered from Sinai! The Lord requires willing sacrifice. No partial obedience, no divided interest, is accepted by Him who declares that the iniquities of the fathers shall be visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate him, and that he will show mercy unto thousands that love him and keep his commandments. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #24)
As all the different members of the human system unite to form the entire body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole.
The advancement of the church is retarded by the wrong course of its members. Uniting with the church, although an important and necessary act, does not make one a Christian or insure salvation. We cannot secure a title to heaven by having our names enrolled upon the church books, while our hearts are alienated from Christ. We should be his faithful representatives on earth, working in unison with him. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." We should keep in mind this holy relationship, and do nothing to bring dishonor upon our Father's cause.
Our profession is an exalted one. As Sabbathkeeping Adventists, we profess to obey all God's commandments, and are looking for the coming of our Redeemer. A most solemn message of warning has been intrusted to God's faithful few. We should show by our words and works that we recognize the great responsibility laid upon us. Our light should shine so clearly that others can see that we glorify the Father in our daily lives; that we are connected with Heaven and are joint heirs with Jesus Christ; that when he shall appear in power and great glory, we shall be like him.
We should every one feel our individual responsibility as members of the visible church and workers in the vineyard of the Lord. We should not wait for our brethren, who are as frail as ourselves, to help us along; for our precious Saviour has invited us to join ourselves to him, and unite our weakness to his strength, our ignorance to his wisdom, our unworthiness to his merits.
None of us can occupy a neutral position; our influence will tell for or against. We are active agents for Christ or for the enemy. We either gather with Jesus or scatter abroad. True conversion is a radical change. The very drift of the mind and bent of the heart should be turned, and life become new again in Christ.
God is leading out a people to stand in perfect unity upon the platform of eternal truth. Christ gave himself to the world "that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." This refining process is designed to purge the church from all unrighteousness and the spirit of discord and contention, that they may build up instead of tearing down, and concentrate their energies on the great work before them. God designs that his people should all come into the unity of faith. The prayer of Christ to his Father, just prior to his crucifixion, was that his disciples might be one, even as he was one with the Father, that the world might believe that he had sent him. This most touching and wonderful prayer reaches down the ages, even to our own day; for his words were, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."
How earnestly should the professed followers of Christ seek to answer this prayer in their lives. Many do not realize the sacredness of church relationship, and are loth to submit to restraint and discipline. Their course of action shows that they exalt their own judgment above that of the united church; and they are not careful to guard themselves, lest they encourage a spirit of opposition to its voice.
Those who hold responsible positions in the church may have faults in common with other people, and may err in their decisions; but notwithstanding this, the church of Christ on earth has given to them an authority that cannot be lightly esteemed. Christ, after his resurrection, delegated power unto his church, saying, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."
Church relationship is not to be lightly cancelled; yet some professed followers of Christ will threaten to leave the church when their path is crossed, or their voice has not the controlling influence which they think it deserves. True, in leaving the church, they themselves would be the greatest sufferers; for in withdrawing beyond the pale of its influence, they subject themselves to the full temptations of the world.
Every believer should be wholehearted in his attachment to the church. Its prosperity should be his first interest, and unless he feels under sacred obligation to make his connection with the church a benefit to it, in preference to himself, it can do far better without him. It is in the power of all to do something for the cause of God. There are some who spend a large amount for needless luxuries and to gratify appetite, but feel it a great tax to contribute means to sustain the church. They are willing to receive the benefit of its privileges, but prefer to leave others to pay the bills. Those who really feel a deep interest in the advancement of the cause, will not hesitate to invest money in the enterprise whenever and wherever it is needed.
They should also feel it a solemn duty to illustrate in their characters the teachings of Christ, being at peace one with another, and moving in perfect harmony as an undivided whole. They should defer their individual judgment to the judgment of the body of the church. Many are living for themselves alone. They look upon their lives with great complacency, flattering themselves that they are blameless, when in fact they are doing nothing for God, and are living in direct opposition to his expressed word. The observance of external forms will never meet the great want of the human soul. A profession of Christ is not enough to stand the test of the day of Judgment. There should be a perfect trust in God, a childlike dependence upon his promises, and an utter consecration of self to his will.
God has always tried his people in the furnace of affliction, in order to prove them firm and true, and purge them from all unrighteousness. After Abraham and his son had borne the severest test that could be imposed upon them, God spoke through his angel unto Abraham, "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." This great act of faith causes the character of Abraham to shine forth with remarkable luster. It forcibly illustrates his perfect confidence in the Lord, from whom he withheld nothing, not even the son of promise.
There is nothing too precious for us to give to Jesus. If we return to him the talents of means he has intrusted to our keeping, he will give more into our hands. Every effort we make for Christ will be rewarded by him; and every duty we perform in his name will minister to our own happiness. God surrendered his dearly beloved Son to the agonies of the crucifixion, that all who believe on him should become one through the name of Jesus. When we consider that Christ made so great a sacrifice to save men and bring them into unity one with another, even as he was united with the Father, what sacrifice is too great for his followers to make in order to preserve that unity?
If the world sees a perfect harmony existing in the church of God, it will be a powerful evidence to them in favor of the Christian religion. Dissensions, unhappy differences, and petty church trials dishonor our Redeemer. All these may be avoided if self is surrendered to God, and the followers of Jesus obey the voice of the church. Unbelief suggests that individual independence increases our importance, that it is weak to yield our own ideas of what is right and proper to the verdict of the church. But to yield to such feelings and views is unsafe, and will lead to anarchy and confusion. Christ saw that unity and Christian fellowship were necessary to the cause of God, therefore he enjoined these upon his disciples. And the history of Christianity from that time until now proves conclusively that in union only is there strength. Let individual judgment submit to the authority of the church.
The apostles felt the necessity of strict unity, and they labored earnestly to this end. Paul exhorted his brethren in these words: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
He addresses these words to his Philippian brethren: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
To the Romans he writes: "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus, that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God." "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."
Peter wrote to the churches scattered abroad: "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."
And Paul, in one of his epistles to the Corinthians, says: "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #25)
Many of the people of God are stupefied by the spirit of the world, and are denying their faith by their works. They cultivate a love for money, for houses and lands, until it absorbs the powers of mind and being, and shuts out love for the Creator and for souls for whom Christ died. The god of this world has blinded their eyes; their eternal interests are made secondary; and brain, bone, and muscle are taxed to the utmost to increase their worldly possessions. And all this accumulation of cares and burdens is borne in direct violation of the injunction of Christ, who said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." They forget that he said also, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven;" that in so doing they are working for their own interest. The treasure laid up in heaven is safe; no thief can approach nor moth corrupt it. But their treasure is upon the earth, and their affections are upon their treasure. In the wilderness, Christ met the great leading temptations that would assail man. There, single-handed, he encountered the wily, subtle foe, and overcame him. The first great temptation was upon appetite; the second, presumption; the third, love of the world. The thrones and kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, were offered to Christ. Satan came with worldly honor, wealth, and the pleasures of life, and presented them in the most attractive light to allure and deceive. "All these things," said he to Christ, "will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Yet Christ repelled the wily foe, and came off victor.
Man will never be tried by temptations as powerful as those which assailed Christ; yet Satan has better success in approaching him. "All this money, this gain, this land, this power, these honors and riches, will I give thee"--for what? The condition is seldom as plainly stated as it was to Christ,--"If thou wilt fall down and worship me." He is content to require that integrity shall be yielded, conscience blunted. Through devotion to worldly interests he receives all the homage he asks. The door is left open for him to enter as he pleases, with his evil train of impatience, love of self, pride, avarice, and dishonesty. Man is charmed, and treacherously allured on to ruin.
The example of Christ is before us. He overcame Satan, showing us how we also may overcome. Christ resisted Satan with Scripture. He might have had recourse to his own divine power, and used his own words; but he said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." If the sacred Scriptures were studied and followed, the Christian would be fortified to meet the wily foe; but the word of God is neglected, and disaster and defeat follow.
A young man came to Christ, and said, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus bade him keep the commandments. He replied, "All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?" Jesus looked with love upon the young man, and faithfully pointed out to him his deficiency in keeping the divine law. He did not love his neighbor as himself. His selfish love of riches was a defect, which, if not remedied, would debar him from heaven. "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me."
Christ would have the young man understand that he required nothing of him more than to follow the example that he himself, the Lord of heaven, had set. He left his riches and glory, and became poor, that man, through his poverty, might be made rich; and for the sake of these riches, he requires man to yield earthly wealth, honor, and pleasure. He knows that while the affections are upon the world, they will be withdrawn from God; therefore he said to the young man, "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." How did he receive the words of Christ? Was he rejoiced that he could secure the heavenly treasure? Oh, no! "He went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions." To him riches were honor and power; and the great amount of his treasure made such a disposal of it seem almost an impossibility.
This world loving man desired heaven; but he wanted to retain his wealth, and he renounced immortal life for the love of money and power. Oh, what a miserable exchange! Yet many who profess to be keeping all the commandments of God are doing the same thing.
Here is the danger of riches to the avaricious man; the more he gains, the harder it is for him to be generous. To diminish his wealth is like parting with his life; and he turns from the attractions of the immortal reward, in order to retain and increase his earthly possessions. Had he kept the commandments, his worldly possessions would not have been so great. How could he, while plotting and striving for self, love God with all his heart, and with all his mind, and with all his strength, and his neighbor as himself? Had he distributed to the necessities of the poor as their wants demanded, he would have been far happier, and would have had greater heavenly treasure, and less of earth upon which to place his affections.
Christ has committed to each of us talents of means and of influence; and when he shall come to reckon with his servants, and all are called to the strictest account as to the use made of the talents intrusted to them, how will you, my brother, my sister, bear the investigation? Will you be prepared to return to the Master his talents doubled, laying before him both principal and interest, thus showing that you have been a judicious as well as faithful and persevering worker in his service? All will be rewarded in exact proportion to the fidelity, perseverance, and earnest effort made in trading with their Lord's goods; but the cases of many will be represented by the servant who wrapped his talent in a napkin, and buried it in the earth, that is, hid it in the world.
God holds you as his debtor, and also as debtor to your fellowmen who have not the light of present truth. He has given you light, not to be hidden under a bushel, but to be set on a candlestick that all in the house may be benefited. Your light should shine to enlighten souls for whom Christ died. The grace of God ruling in your heart, and bringing your mind and thoughts into subjection to Jesus, would make you a power on the side of Christ and the truth.
Said Paul, "I am debtor both to the Greeks and the Barbarians, both to the wise and the unwise." God had revealed his truth to Paul, and in so doing had made him a debtor to those who were in darkness to enlighten them. But many do not realize their accountability to God. They are handling their Lord's talents; they have powers of mind, that, if employed in the right direction, would make them co-workers with Christ and his angels. Many souls might be saved through their efforts, to shine as stars in the crown of their rejoicing. But they are indifferent to all this. Satan has sought, through the attractions of this world, to enchain them and paralyze their moral powers, and he has succeeded only too well.
How can houses and lands compare in value with precious souls for whom Christ died? Through your instrumentality, dear brethren and sisters, these souls may be saved with you in the kingdom of glory; but you cannot take with you there the smallest portion of your earthly treasure. Acquire what you may, preserve it with all the jealous care you are capable of exercising, and yet the mandate may go forth from the Lord, and in a few hours a fire which no skill can quench, may destroy the accumulations of your entire life, and lay them a mass of smouldering ruins. You may devote all your talent and energy to laying up treasures on earth; but what will they advantage you when your life closes or Jesus makes his appearance? Just as much as you have been exalted here by worldly honors and riches to the neglect of spiritual life, just so much lower will you sink in moral worth before the tribunal of the great Judge. "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul."
The wrath of God will fall upon those who have served mammon instead of their Creator. But those who live for God and heaven, pointing out the way of life to others, will find that the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. And they will hear by and by the welcome invitation, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." The joy of Christ was that of seeing souls saved in his glorious kingdom; and for this joy he "endured the cross, despising the shame." But soon "he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." How happy will those be, who, having shared in his work, are permitted to share in his joy! By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #26)
The Lord gave Jeremiah a message of reproof to bear to his people, charging them with the continual rejection of his counsel: "I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers." He pleaded with them not to provoke him to anger with the work of their hands and the devices of their evil hearts; "but they hearkened not."
Jeremiah then predicted the captivity of the Jews, as their punishment for not heeding the word of the Lord. The Chaldeans were to be used as the instrument by which God would chastise his disobedient people, whose punishment was to be in proportion to the light they had had, and the warnings they had despised and rejected.
The Lord commanded Jeremiah to stand in the court of the Lord's house, and to speak unto all the people of Judah who came there to worship those things which he would give him to speak, that they might hearken, and turn from their evil ways. Then God would repent of the punishment which he had purposed to inflict upon them because of their wickedness.
The Lord commanded Jeremiah to say to the people: "Thus saith the Lord, If ye will not hearken unto me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, to hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early and sending them, but ye have not hearkened, then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth." They understood this reference to Shiloh, and the time when the Philistines overcame Israel, and the ark of God was taken.
The sin of Eli consisted in passing lightly over the iniquity of his sons, who were in sacred office. His neglect to reprove and restrain his sons brought upon Israel a fearful calamity. The sons of Eli were slain, Eli himself lost his life, the ark of God was taken from Israel, and thirty thousand of the people were slain. All of these calamities occurred because sin was lightly regarded and allowed to remain among them. What a lesson is this to men holding responsible positions in the church of God! It warns them faithfully to remove the wrongs that dishonor the cause of truth.
In the days of Samuel, Israel thought that the presence of the ark containing the commandments of God would insure them the victory over the Philistines, whether or not they repented of their wicked works. Just so, in Jeremiah's time, the Jews believed that a strict observance of the divinely appointed services of the temple would preserve them from a just punishment of their sinful course.
The same danger exists today among the people who profess to be the depository of God's law. They are too apt to flatter themselves that the regard in which they hold the commandments will preserve them from the power of divine justice. They refuse to be reproved for evil, and charge the servants of God with being too zealous in putting sin out of the camp. A sin hating God calls upon those who profess to keep his law to depart from all iniquity. Neglect to repent and to obey his word will bring as serious consequences upon God's servants today as did the same sin upon ancient Israel. There is a limit beyond which he will no longer delay his judgments. The desolation of Jerusalem stands as a warning before the eyes of modern Israel, that the corrections given through his chosen instruments cannot be disregarded with impunity.
When the priests and the people heard the message that Jeremiah delivered to them in the name of the Lord, they were very angry, and declared that he should die. They were boisterous in their denunciations of him, crying, "Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord." Thus was the message of God despised, and the servant with whom he intrusted it threatened with death. The priests, the unfaithful prophets, and all the people turned in wrath upon him who would not speak to them smooth things and prophesy deceit.
The princes of Judah heard concerning the words of Jeremiah, and they came up from the king's house and sat in the entry of the Lord's house. "Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears. But Jeremiah stood boldly before the princes and the people, declaring: "The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil he hath pronounced against you. As for me, behold I am in your hand; do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. But know ye for certain that if ye put me to death, ye surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof; for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
Had the prophet been intimidated by the threatening attitude of those high in authority, his message would have been without effect, and he would have lost his life. But the courage with which he discharged his painful duty commanded the respect of the people, and turned the princes of Israel in his favor. Thus God raised up defenders for his servant, who reasoned with the priests and false prophets, showing them how unwise would be the extreme measures which they advocated.
The influence of these powerful persons produced a reaction in the minds of the people. Then the elders united in protesting against the decision of the priests regarding the fate of Jeremiah. They cited the case of Micah, who prophesied judgments upon Jerusalem, saying, "Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest." And they asked, "Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? Did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls."
Through the pleading of these men of influence the prophet's life was spared; although many of the priests and false prophets, unable to endure the truths that he uttered, exposing their wickedness, would have been pleased had he been put to death on the plea of sedition.
But Israel remained unrepentant; and the Lord saw that they must be punished for their sins. He had long delayed his judgments because of his unwillingness to humiliate his chosen people, and had pleaded with them to return to their allegiance. He had brought them out of bondage that they might faithfully serve him, the only living and true God; but they had wandered into idolatry, they had slighted his warnings given them by his prophets. Yet he had deferred his chastisement, and had given them opportunity after opportunity to repent and avert the retribution for their sins. Through his chosen prophet, he had set before them in clear and positive terms the only course by which they could escape the punishment which they deserved,--a full repentance of their sins, and a turning from the evil of their ways. But they would not heed his warnings and reproofs, and now he would visit his displeasure upon them, as a last effort to check them in their course of transgression.
In these days he has instituted no new plan to preserve the purity of his people. As of old, he entreats the erring ones who profess his name to repent and turn from their evil ways. Now, as then, by the mouth of his chosen servants he predicts the dangers before them. He sounds the note of warning and reproves sin just as faithfully as in the days of Jeremiah. But the Israel of our time have the same temptations to scorn reproof and hate counsel as had ancient Israel. They too often turn a deaf ear to the words that God has given his servants for the benefit of those who profess the truth. Though the Lord in mercy withholds for a time the retribution of their sin, as in the days of Jeremiah, he will not always stay his hand, but will visit iniquity with righteous judgment.
"He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul; but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding." "Blessed is the man who thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law." "For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #28)
It is the nicest work ever assumed by men and women to deal with youthful minds. The greatest care should be taken in the education of youth to vary the manner of instruction so as to call forth the high and noble powers of the mind. Parents and teachers of schools are certainly disqualified to educate children properly, if they have not first learned the lessons of self-control, patience, forbearance, gentleness, and love. What an important position for parents, guardians, and teachers! There are very few who realize the most essential wants of the mind, and how to direct the developing intellect, the growing thoughts and feelings of youth.
There is a period for training children, and a time for educating youth. And it is essential that both of these be combined to a great degree in the schools. Children may be trained for the service of sin, or for the service of righteousness. The early education of youth shapes their character in this life and in their religious life. Solomon says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." This language is positive. The training which Solomon enjoins is to direct, educate, and develop. In order for parents and teachers to do this work, they must themselves understand "the way the child should go." This embraces more than merely having a knowledge of books. It takes in everything that is good, virtuous, righteous, and holy. It comprehends the practice of temperance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to God, and to each other. In order to attain this object, the physical, mental, moral, and religious education of children must have attention.
In households and in schools the education of children should not be like the training of dumb animals; for children have an intelligent will, which should be directed to control all their powers. The dumb animals need to be trained; for they have not reason and intellect. The human mind must be taught self-control. It must be educated to rule the human being, while the animal is controlled by the master. The beast is trained to be submissive to his master. The master is mind, judgment, and will, for his beast. A child may be so trained as to have, like the beast, no will of his own. His individuality may even be submerged in the one who superintends his training, and the will is to all intents and purposes subject to the will of the teacher.
Children who are thus educated will ever be deficient in moral energy and individual responsibility. They have not been taught to move from reason and principle. Their will was controlled by another, and the mind was not called out, that it might expand and strengthen by exercise. They were not directed and disciplined with respect to their peculiar constitution and capabilities of mind, to put forth their strongest powers when required. Teachers should not stop here, but give especial attention to the cultivation of the weaker faculties that all the powers may be brought into exercise, and carried forward from one degree of strength to another, that the mind may attain due proportions.
There are many families of children who appear to be well trained, while under the training discipline; but when the system, which has held them to set rules, is broken up, they seem to be incapable of thinking, acting, or deciding, for themselves. These children have been so long under iron rule, not allowed to think and act for themselves in those things in which it was highly proper that they should, that they have no confidence in themselves to move out upon their own judgment, having an opinion of their own. And when they go out from their parents, to act for themselves, they are easily led by others' judgment in the wrong direction. They have not stability of character. Their minds have not been properly developed and strengthened by being thrown upon their own judgment, as fast and as far as practicable. So long have their minds been absolutely controlled by their parents that they rely wholly upon them. Their parents were mind and judgment for their children.
On the other hand, the youth should not be left to think and act independent of the judgment of their parents and teachers. Children should be taught to respect experienced judgment, and be guided by their parents and teachers. They should be so educated that their minds will be united with the minds of their parents and teachers, and they be so instructed that they can see the propriety of heeding their counsel. And when they go forth from the guiding hand of their parents and teachers, their characters will not be like the reed trembling in the wind.
The severe training of youth, without properly directing them to think and act for themselves, as their own capacity and turn of mind would allow, that by this means they might have growth of thought and feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own abilities to perform, will ever produce a class that are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves, they will reveal the fact that they were trained, like the animals, and not educated. Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by harsh discipline of parents and teachers.
Parents and teachers who boast of having complete control of the mind and will of the children under their care would cease their boastings could they trace out the future life of these children who are thus in subjection by force and through fear. These are almost wholly unprepared to engage in the stern responsibilities of life. When these youth are no longer under their parents and teachers, and are compelled to think and act for themselves, they are almost sure to take a wrong course, and yield to the power of temptation. They do not make this life a success. And the same deficiencies are seen in their religious life. Could the instructors of youth have the future result of their mistaken discipline mapped out before them, they would change their plan of action in the education of children and youth. That class of teachers who are gratified that they have almost complete control of the will of their scholars are not the most successful teachers, although the appearance for the time being may be flattering.
God never designed that one human mind should be under the complete control of another human mind. And those who make efforts to have the individuality of their pupils submerged in themselves, and they be mind, will, and conscience for their pupils, assume fearful responsibilities. These scholars may, upon certain occasions, appear like well drilled soldiers. But when this restraint is removed, there will be seen a want of independent action from firm principle existing in them. But those who make it their object to so educate their pupils that they may see and feel that the power lies in themselves to make men and women of firm principle, qualified for any position in life, are the most useful and permanently successful teachers. Their work may not show to the very best advantage to careless observers, and their labors may not be valued as highly as the teacher's who holds the will and mind of his scholars by absolute authority; but the future lives of the pupils will show the fruits of the better plan of education.
There is danger of both parents' and teachers' commanding and dictating too much, while they fail to come sufficiently into social relation with their children or their scholars. They often hold themselves too much reserved, and exercise their authority in a cold, unsympathizing manner, which cannot win the hearts of their children and pupils. If they would gather the children close to them, and show that they love them, and manifest an interest in all their efforts, and even in their sports, and sometimes be even a child among children, they would make the children very happy, would gain their love, and win their confidence. And the children would sooner respect and love the authority of their parents and teachers.
The principles and habits of the teacher should be considered of greater importance than even his literary qualifications. If the teacher is a sincere Christian, he will feel the necessity of having an equal interest in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual education of his scholars. In order to exert the right influence, he should have perfect control over himself, and his own heart should be richly imbued with love for his pupils, which will be seen in his looks, words, and acts. He should have firmness of characters; then can he mold the minds of his pupils, as well as instruct them in the sciences. The early education of youth generally shapes their character for life. Those who deal with the young should be very careful to call out the qualities of the mind, that they may better know how to direct their powers, and that they may be exercised to the very best account.
The system of education in generations back has been destructive to health and even life itself. Five hours each day many young children have passed in school rooms not properly ventilated, nor sufficiently large for the healthful accommodation of the scholars. The air of such rooms soon becomes poison to the lungs that inhale it. Little children, whose limbs and muscles are not strong, and their brains undeveloped, have been kept confined indoors to their injury. Many have but a slight hold on life to begin with. Confinement in school from day to day makes them nervous and diseased. Their bodies are dwarfed because of the exhausted condition of the nervous system. And if the lamp of life goes out, the parents and teachers do not consider that they had any direct influence in quenching the vital spark. When standing by the graves of their children, the afflicted parents look upon their bereavement as a special dispensation of Providence. By inexcusable ignorance, their own course had destroyed the lives of their children. Then to charge their death to Providence is blasphemy. God wanted the little ones to live and be disciplined, that they might have beautiful characters, to glorify him in this world, and praise him in the better world. In order to be in accordance with fashion and custom, many parents have sacrificed the health and life of their children.
Parents and teachers, in taking the responsibilities of training these children, do not feel their accountability before God to become acquainted with the physical organism, that they may treat the bodies of children and pupils in a manner to preserve life and health. Thousands of children die because of the ignorance of parents and teachers. Mothers will spend hours over needless work upon their own dress and that of their children, to fit them for display, who plead that they cannot find time to read, and obtain information necessary to take care of the health of their children. They think it less trouble to trust their bodies to the doctors.
To become acquainted with our wonderful organism, the stomach, liver, bowels, heart, bones, muscles, and pores of the skin, and to understand the dependence of one organ upon another, for the healthful action of all, is a study that most mothers have no interest in. The influence of the body upon the mind, and the mind upon the body, she knows nothing of. The mind, which allies finite to the infinite, she does not seem to understand. Every organ of the body was made to be servant to the mind. The mind is the capital of the body. Children are allowed flesh meats, spices, butter, cheese, pork, rich pastry, and condiments generally. They are allowed to eat irregularly, and to eat between meals, of unhealthful food, which do their work of deranging the stomach, and exciting the nerves to unnatural action, and enfeeble the intellect. Parents do not realize that they are sowing the seeds which will bring forth disease and death.
Many children have been ruined for life by urging the intellectual, and neglecting to strengthen the physical. Many have died in their childhood because of the course pursued by injudicious parents, and teachers of the schools, in forcing their young intellects by flattery or fear, when they are too young to see the inside of a school room. Their minds have been taxed by lessons, when they should not have been called out, but kept back until the physical constitution was strong enough to endure mental effort. Small children should be left free as lambs to run out of doors, to be free and happy, and be allowed the most favorable opportunities to lay the foundation for sound constitutions. Parents should be their only teachers until they have reached eight or ten years of age. They should open before their children God's great book of nature as fast as their minds can comprehend it.
The mother should have less love for the artificial in her house, and in the preparation of her dress for display, and find time to cultivate, in herself and in her children, a love for the beautiful buds and opening flowers, and call the attention of her children to their different colors and variety of forms. She can make her children acquainted with God, who made all the beautiful things which attract and delight them. She can lead their young minds up to their Creator, and awaken in their young hearts a love for their heavenly Father, who has manifested so great love for them. Parents can associate God with all his created works. Among the opening buds and flowers and nature's beautiful scenery in the open air should be the only school room for children up to eight or ten years of age. And the treasures of nature should be their chief textbook. These lessons, imprinted upon the minds of young children, among the pleasant, attractive scenes of nature, will not be soon forgotten.
It is a duty we owe to our Creator to cultivate and improve upon the talents he has committed to our trust. Education will discipline the mind and develop its powers, and understandingly direct them, that we may be useful in advancing the glory of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #33)
Text.--Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded his porter to watch. Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. Mark 13:33-37.
In these words of the Saviour is brought before our minds the importance of being always on guard. And when we take into consideration the value of these words, uttered by Him whom we expect soon to see coming in the clouds of heaven with power and with great glory, we should be vigilant, lest he come and find us sleeping; and hence the admonition, "Watch," "watch; . . . lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping." There is no safety in a state of stupor or calm indifference. There is no safety in placing our affections upon the earth or earthly things. We want to work for our best interest, not only for time but for eternity. We should act like sensible men and women, working not from impulse, nor from passion, but from an exalted sense of duty. We do not want a sensational nor an emotional religion, but one that leads to the performance of sacred duties, and that brings us into daily communion with God,--a religion that enlists in his service all our powers and all that we possess; one that leads us to do his will, and not our own; to forsake our carnal inclinations, and be led by the divine mind.
There is an important work for every one to do; and that work must be performed with reference to the decisions of the Judgment and the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of glory. Whatever else may take our attention in the common affairs of life, we want to constantly be mindful of our duty and obligation to God. The things of God must not be suffered to drop out of mind, though a thousand other things may press themselves upon our attention. Our great work here is to press the triumphs of the cross of Christ to the very gates of the enemy. Such a work requires untiring vigilance. And to do this, we must have a living connection with Jesus, the great conqueror.
Christ said to his disciples: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." This is the work we have to do, let our light shine, that others may see our good works, and glorify God. This is one of the express claims which is binding upon us, to keep all the commandments of God; and this claim is to be satisfied only by a thorough obedience to his divine law, in the first four precepts of which is set forth the duty of loving God supremely, and in the last six, our duty to our fellowmen. This holy law of rectitude and right, how just are all its requirements! We must acknowledge its claims, and seek to form characters that will be in harmony with the will of Him who gave it, doing all we can to help others do the same. If we are indifferent to his claims, we not only imperil our own souls but those of others around us.
Some seem to think that there is a certain amount of virtue in expressing their dissatisfaction in whatever is being done by others; and those who do the least to properly represent the cause of the Master, and who will not bear responsibilities, are the very ones that will do the most grumbling. To them things either go too slow or too fast. Someone takes hold of the truth; they take upon themselves the work of criticising them. They neglect the interest of their own souls, neglect to make straight paths for their own feet. They fix their eyes upon the errors of their brethren, talk about them, exaggerate them, brood over them, and live upon them; and it is like living upon husks; they receive no strength, and their souls are as destitute of the love of God as were the hills of Gilboa of dew or rain.
There was Judas; Christ permitted him to be a member of the church, notwithstanding his covetous, avaricious character. He had some traits that might have been used to the glory of God; but he did not try to overcome the defects in his character. Christ bore with him long and patiently, setting before him in his lessons general principles; but he failed again and again, until finally all the strength of his moral powers was gone. He had the same lessons set before him that were given to the other apostles, which would have set him right had he made a right use of them; but he did not sustain a right relation to Heaven. Christ knew his true condition, and gave him an opportunity. He connected John with the church, not because John was above human frailties, but that he might bind him to his great heart of love. If John overcame his defects of character, he would stand as a light to the church. Peter, if he corrected his faults, would inherit the promises of God. And Jesus said to him, after his resurrection, notwithstanding that he had but a few days before denied him, "Feed my sheep," and "Feed my lambs." He could trust Peter now; for he had obtained an experience in the things of God, he had found out that he could trust no longer in his own strength, that his strength must be in God.
You know how it was with John; when he saw his Master slighted by the Samaritans, he was indignant, and inquired of Jesus if they should not call down fire from heaven upon his enemies; but Christ said he had "not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." John was constantly learning to copy the life of Jesus. He was learning in Christ's school. He says, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Thus it was, lesson after lesson Christ gave to his disciples, that they might know the will of the Father, and shine as lights in the world. John and Peter were men whom God could trust, but Judas was not. They had received and heeded the lessons, and gained the victory; but Judas had failed at every trial. He saw his faults, but instead of correcting them revenged himself by picking flaws in others around him. And you see by his sad fate, my brethren, that that is not a safe business for the sons and daughters of God to engage in. I counsel you to be kind, to be courteous, to let no feelings arise against your enemies. You can gain no spiritual strength by talking about the defects of those around you; but if you continue to do this, like Judas you will eventually separate yourselves from God and his work. Paul says to Timothy, "Take heed unto thyself;" that is, seek God first for thyself. Let us individually turn our attention to ourselves, diligently guard our own souls, and set a Christlike example before those whom we would criticise.
Let us remember that others' faults and defects are very poor food. Christ said, "If ye shall eat my flesh and drink my blood," ye shall have eternal life. We must grow up into Christ, we must be partakers of his divine nature. Just as the branch is joined to the vine, and partakes of the nature of the vine, so we must be daily receiving nourishment from the True Vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. We must be in Christ and he in us; then the defects will disappear from our characters. The closer we live to Jesus, the more we shall reflect in words and character his image. And the farther we separate from God, the farther we live away from the light of life, and, as the sure result, become perverse, dictatorial, hardhearted. We should make it a life work to gather up the divine rays of light that come from the throne of God, and scatter them upon the pathway of others. Many choose the darkness, and walk in it. If you separate from Jesus and walk in the darkness, where he cannot impart his strength to you, you are alone to blame; and then you complain of your cold and fruitless lives. Jesus does not want you to be unhappy. I beseech you, come close to him, and freely receive from him his grace and peace and love, that you may be filled with light, and go forth shedding that light upon all around. When you have sanctified your own life, your every act will be to attract others, not to yourself, but to Jesus.
It is in this time of probation that we are to prepare either for eternal life in glory, or for perdition. It is here that we are engaged in the work of character building; and if we succeed, we shall merit from the Master the welcome, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Christ has gone into the most holy department, and has left us word to watch and pray, lest he return suddenly and find us sleeping. The character which we are now making will come in review before God before Christ leaves the sanctuary. Here God will see what characters we have been building for time and eternity. How shall we stand before the great Eternal? How many sheaves will we have brought to the Master through our earnest efforts?
To every man is given his work, and that work is not to be looking for faults in others, nor to be seeking to imitate the world. Says the apostle, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." This means more than we think it does; dead to worldly interests, dead to worldly ambitions. What a position is this! Christ died that all heaven might be brought within our reach, that we might through such a divine provision be able to form characters for the future immortal life. We now have it our work to climb the ladder of progress, and urge our ways into the kingdom of heaven. We are to go on from strength to strength, and make it our first consideration to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, pursuing such a course as will stimulate others to do the same.
All have defects of character to overcome, and therefore no human being can be your pattern. You should not feel content to do merely as others do. If they do not live out the truth, will it excuse you for disobedience? You should not imitate their example; you should try to help them by a right course of living before them. Individually you stand before God as though Christ died for you alone; and you must render your account to him for yourself. But not only for yourself alone are you responsible, but for that soul over whom you have an influence, and for whom God has paid such a price. If you neglect your duty in this matter, what will be your portion in the day of God? How do you think the unfaithful ones will feel to see the nations of the saved walking within the portals of the city of God, and they themselves shut out? But how shall we feel, if we can look around and see many in the kingdom as the results of our labors? We shall be able to swell the songs of glory, saying, "Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb that was slain, and liveth again." No one shall go into the city unless he is pure in heart. Everything that is polluting, everything that defiles, is outside the city. All who enter there pass in as conquerors. They hold the palm branch of victory in their hands, and they wave it before the throne, singing praises to the Lamb of God.
The greatest conquest for every one of us will be to overcome self, to bring self into obedience to the law of God. This is our work; are we doing it? Are we working to save others by our influence? Do we hold ourselves as God's servants to labor for others? Do we entreat them to flee from the wrath to come? Do we convince them by our course of action, by our every word, that we have been made partakers of the divine nature, and that we are copying after the divine Pattern? If so, we shall surely win souls to Christ, we shall be living epistles known and read of all men. Even if you should never utter one sentence to tell others of the truth, yet if you are circumspect in all your ways, they will see that you have been with Jesus, and learned of him. They know you, for you are read of them. Just as surely as you come into this condition of consecration to God, you will be daily unfurling the banner of Christ, and presenting the light of truth wherever you go. But the truth will burn in your hearts so that you cannot keep still, you are obliged to give it utterance; you must advocate it to all who will hear you.
There never was a more solemn and important time than this present period. You may look back, and you will see that there has never been a time when we were doing as much as we are today. Notwithstanding this as a people, the lay members of the church especially are not doing one fiftieth part of what they might and ought to do. From all the ships sailing to all parts of the globe, the truth might reach all nations of the earth. Those who are doing this work will bind it off with their prayers; and, mingling their tears with their prayers, they will labor and weep before God, that these communications may reach the people and affect their hearts, and that the power of the truth may teach the word to the people. But we want greater consecration, hearts that will intercede with God, and have self sacrifice and zeal in this work. And when you desire to make presents, when you want to devote means to gratify and please yourselves, when you want to hoard your means, fearing you will come to want, I want you to think of that eternity that is before you, and the work you have to do before you can enter into it. I want you to think of that Judgment before which you are to stand and render an account to God for the deeds done in the body. And with the Judgment before your eyes, I want you to think of the money you are spending foolishly, to please the taste or for worldly gratifications, and of the souls that are perishing all around you for the truth which God has intrusted to you to spread over the earth, that others may not famish for the word of God. I have no time nor means to spend carelessly. Men and women are taking sides. The law of God is almost entirely made void in the land; and God calls for every man, woman, and child to fight the good fight of faith. He calls for every talent to be employed now. It will be fatal to your souls to be indolent or slothful servants. He has not left it alone for those who minister in the word and doctrine, to bear the burdens and employ their talents. He wants every one of you to put your powers to work for the upbuilding of his kingdom.
The third angel's message must go over the land, and awaken the people, and call their attention to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Another angel unites his voice with the third angel, and the earth is lighted with its glory. The light increases, and it shines out to all the nations of the earth. It is to go forth as a light that burneth. It will be attended with great power, until its golden beams have fallen upon every tongue, every people, and every nation upon the face of the whole earth. Let me ask you, What you are doing to prepare for this work? Are you building for eternity? You must remember that this angel represents the people that have this message to give to the world. Are you among that people? Do you really believe that this work in which we are engaged is truly the third angel's message? If so, then you understand that we have a mighty work to do, and that we ought to be about it. We must sanctify ourselves by a strict obedience to the truth, placing ourselves in right relation to God and his work. As the truth goes forth, Satan intensifies his zeal to defeat its progress by presenting pleasing delusions. As we urge the truth, he urges his errors. He will stir up his agents, in view of the coming of the Lord, to go out and cry, "Lo! here is Christ, and lo! there is Christ. And here arises this superstition, and there arises that heresy. And tell me, what are we to do about it? I will tell you: we can become familiar, with the Bible, and read what saith the Lord. Not only the ministers but all who love and fear God are to do the Master's work; and that is to let the light that he has given you shine before all. Here are two companies; one of them is being bound in bundles to burn, the other is being bound by the cords of truth and love. Satan is binding his followers with the work of iniquity; Christ is binding together his people in love and faith in the keeping of his commandments. And this work will increase more and more, and Satan will work to divide and separate God's people one from the other. And while he is doing this kind of work, be careful that none of you are found helping him. We want to put away our cold-heartedness, and let love, tender compassion, true courtesy, and the spirit of tenderness come into our midst. Here we are in the waiting time, in the day of God's preparation. Here in this world we are to fit up for these great trials that are soon coming upon us. And yet some of us act as though we had a whole millennium before us in which to accomplish the work. But, says the text, "Watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is." And what Christ said to his disciples, I say unto you, "Take ye heed, watch and pray," that when the Master comes to reckon with his servants, you may receive from him the crown of life laid up for the overcomer, and rejoice with him in his kingdom. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #34)
The world is to be no criterion for those who follow Jesus. He has said, "Marvel not . . . if the world hate you." "It hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Again, it is written, "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing engage not in their unholy practices, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
The question now to be asked is, Are the professed followers of Christ complying with the conditions upon which the blessing is pronounced? Are they separating in spirit and practice from the world? How hard to come out and be separate from worldly habits and customs. But let us look well to it that Satan does not allure and deceive us through false representations. Eternal interests are here involved. God's claims should come first; his requirements should receive our first attention. Every child of fallen Adam must, through the transforming grace of Christ, become obedient to all God's requirements. Many close their eyes to the plainest teachings of his word because the cross stands directly in the way. If they lift it, they must appear singular in the eyes of the world; and they hesitate, and question, and search for some excuse whereby they may shun the cross. Satan is ever ready, and he presents plausible reasons why it would not be best to obey the word of God just as it reads. Thus souls are fatally deceived.
One of Satan's most successful deceptions is to lead men to claim to be sanctified, while at the same time they are living in disobedience to God's commandments. These are described by Jesus as those who will say, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works"? Yes, those who claim to be sanctified have a great deal to say about being saved by the blood of Jesus; but their sanctification is not through the truth as it is in Jesus. While claiming to believe in him, and apparently doing wonderful works in his name, they ignore his Father's law, and serve as agents of the great adversary of souls to carry forward the work which he begun in Eden, that of making plausible excuses for not obeying God implicitly. Their work of leading men to dishonor God by ignoring his law, will one day be unfolded before them with its true results. The conditions of eternal life are made so plain in God's word that none need err, unless they choose error rather than truth because their unsanctified souls love the darkness rather than the light. The lawyer who came to Christ with the question, "Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" thought to catch Christ; but Jesus laid the burden back upon the lawyer. "What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, 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; and thy neighbor as thyself." Then said Christ, "Thou has answered right; this do, and thou shalt live." These words meet the individual cases of all. Are we willing to comply with the conditions? Will we obey God and keep his commandments? Will we be doers of the word and not hearers only? God's law is as immutable and unchangeable as his character. Whatever men may say or do to make it void, does not change its claims, or release them from their obligation to obey.
We need divine enlightenment daily; we should pray as did David, "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." God will have a people upon the earth who will vindicate his honor by having respect to all of his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous, not a yoke of bondage. David prayed in his day, "It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law."
Not one of us can afford to dishonor God by living in transgression of his law. To neglect the Bible and give ourselves up to the pursuit of worldly treasure is a loss which is beyond estimate. Eternity alone will reveal the great sacrifice made by many to secure worldly honor and worldly advantages, at the loss of the soul, the loss of eternal riches. They might have had that life which measures with the life of God; for Jesus died to bring the blessings and treasures of heaven within their reach, that they might not be accounted poor and wretched and miserable in the high estimate of eternity. None who have had the light of truth will enter the city of God as commandment breakers. His law lies at the foundation of his government in earth and in heaven. If they have knowingly trampled upon and despised his law on the earth, they will not be taken to heaven to do the same work there; there is no change of character when Christ comes. The character building is to go on during the hours of probation. Day by day their actions are registered in the books of heaven, and they will, in the great day of God, be rewarded as their works have been. It will then be seen who receives the blessing. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
Those who make a raid against God's law are warring against God himself; and many who are filled with the greatest bitterness against the commandment keeping people of God, make the loudest boast of living holy, sinless lives. This can be explained only in one way: they have no mirror in which to look to discover to themselves the deformity of their character. Neither Joseph, Daniel, nor any of the apostles claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than to knowingly sin against him, men whom God has honored with divine light and power, have acknowledged themselves to be sinners, unworthy of his great favors. They have felt their weakness, and, sorrowful for their sins, have tried to copy the pattern Jesus Christ.
There are to be but two classes upon the earth, the obedient children of God and the disobedient. Upon one occasion Christ thus set before his hearers the Judgment work: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Thus Christ identifies his interest with that of suffering humanity. Every attention given to his children he considers done to himself personally. Those who claim modern sanctification would have come boastingly forward, saying, "Lord, Lord, do you not know us? Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" The people here described, who make these pretentious claims, apparently weaving Jesus into all their doings, fitly represent those who claim modern sanctification, but who are at war with the law of God. Christ calls them workers of iniquity, because they are deceivers, having on the garments of righteousness to hide the deformity of their characters, the inward wickedness of their unholy hearts. Satan has come down in these last days, to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. His Satanic majesty works miracles in the sight of false prophets, in the sight of men, claiming that he is indeed Christ himself. Satan gives his power to those who are aiding him in his deceptions; therefore those who claim to have the great power of God can only be discerned by the great detector, the law of Jehovah. The Lord tells us if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. The sheep's clothing seems so real, so genuine, that the wolf cannot be discerned only as we go to God's great moral standard and there find that they are transgressors of the law of Jehovah.
If ever there was a time when we needed faith and spiritual enlightenment, it is now. Those who are watching unto prayer, and are searching the Scriptures daily with an earnest desire to know and do the will of God, will not be led astray by any of the deceptions of Satan. They alone will discern the pretext which cunning men adopt to beguile and ensnare. So much time and attention are bestowed upon the world, upon dress and eating and drinking, that no time is left for prayer and the study of the Scriptures.
We want the truth on every point, and we must search for it as for hid treasures. Dishes of fables are presented to us on every hand, and men choose to believe error rather than truth, because the acceptance of the truth involves a cross. Self must be denied; self must be crucified. Therefore Satan presents to them an easier way by making void the law of God. When God lets man have his own way, it is the darkest hour of his life. For a willful, disobedient child to be left to have his own way, to follow the bent of his own mind, and gather the dark clouds of God's judgment about him, is a terrible thing. But Satan has his agents who are too proud to repent, and who are constantly at work to tear down the cause of Jehovah and trample it under their feet. What a day of sorrow and despair when these meet their work with all its burden of results! Souls who might have been saved to Jesus Christ have been lost through their teachings and influence. Christ died for them that they might have life. He opened before them the way whereby they might, through his merits, keep the law of God. Christ says, "I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." How hard men work to close that door; but they are not able. John's testimony is, "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament." Beneath the mercy seat, within the ark, were the two tables of stone, containing the law of Jehovah. God's faithful ones saw the light that shone forth to them from the law, to be given to the world. And now Satan's intense activity is to close that door of light; but Jesus says that no man can shut it. Men will turn from the light, denounce it, and despise it, but it still shines forth in clear, distinct rays to cheer and bless all who will see it.
God's children will have a fierce conflict with the adversary of souls, and it will become more exceedingly bitter as we approach the close of the conflict. But the Lord will help those who stand in defense of his truth. Many who see the light will not accept it, fearing to trust the Lord. Jesus says, "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow? they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." The great Master Artist has provided the beautiful things in nature as an expression of his love to us. He has given the delicate tint to the flowers, and if he has done so much for a simple flower, "which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to die that he might redeem man from the power of Satan; and will he not care for man, formed in his image? Many see the reasons of our faith, but they dare not risk the consequences of obeying it. They fear that if they do, they cannot support their families; and so they settle back into unbelief, and continue in transgression of the law. They lack faith in God; they dare not trust his promises. Such are rebuked by the lessons of Christ, in which he teaches that God notices the fall of even the sparrows; not one of them falls to the ground without his notice. Our heavenly Father will not leave his children who put their trust in him, and venture out upon his promises although the outlook is dark and forbidding. He understands every circumstance of our life. He sees and knows how we are situated. He is acquainted with all our sorrows and griefs. He knows us each by name, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; for he has been tempted in all points like as we are, and knows how to succor those who are tempted. Jesus is our helper, and he will have a care for all those who trust in him.
God has intrusted to us individually talents that are to be increased by use. Reason has been granted us with which to glorify God. In everything we are to show our allegiance to him. Our powers were not given to us merely to be employed for ourselves. They are to be used to accomplish certain ends, to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves. Christian principles must be interwoven with our life and our experience. The life we now live must be by faith on the Son of God. We must live to please Jesus; by thus living our faith and confidence in him will grow stronger day by day. We will comprehend what he has done for us, and what he is willing to do for us, and will possess a cheerfulness as well as an earnest desire to do something to show our love for Jesus. Doing will thus become habit. We will not question whether we will obey, but will follow the light, and work the work of Christ. We will not study convenience, nor question whether our temporal interests will be improved if we obey. Those who love Jesus will love to obey all his commandments. They will search the Bible closely to know of the doctrine. Naught but truth will satisfy them, for they are Christ's representatives on earth.
Christ declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." His followers must be as near like him as possible. We cannot speak as he spoke, and yet we are to imitate him; for he is our pattern. We are to erect no false lights, present no heresies for truth. We must know that every position we take can be sustained by the word of God. It is a day when the commandments of men are everywhere urged upon the people as the commandments of God. But it is a solemn, a fearful thing to teach false theories, and lead minds away from the truth which sanctifies the soul.
We want the truth on every point. We want it unadulterated with error, and unpolluted by the maxims, customs, and opinions of the world. We want the truth with all its inconvenience. The acceptance of truth ever involves a cross. But Jesus gave his life a sacrifice for us, and shall we not give him our best affections, our holiest aspirations, our fullest service? Christ's yoke we must wear, Christ's burden we must lift; but the Majesty of heaven declares that his yoke is easy and his burden light. Shall we shun the self-denying part of religion? Shall we shun the self-sacrifice, and hesitate to give up the world with all its attractions? Shall we, for whom Christ has done so much, be hearers and not doers of his words? Shall we, by our listless, inactive lives, deny our faith, and make Jesus ashamed to call us his brethren? The ten commandments came from the highest authority, and are we obeying them? They are the will of God made known to man. It was Satan that commenced to war against them, and it is he that inspires men to keep up the warfare.
None will enter the holy city, the paradise of God, but as conquerors,--those who have separated themselves from the world, and stood in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints, and have fought the good fight of faith, looking constantly to "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Then let us, like Christ, work unselfishly to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth. Our whole heart, body, soul, and strength, are required in this work; and if we labor with fidelity, irrespective of the applause or censure of the world, we shall hear the "well done" from the Majesty of heaven, and receive the crown, the palm branch of victory, and the white linen which is the righteousness of the saints. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #35)
Whatever may be the surroundings of the Christian, whatever may be his temptations, he should not be uncourteous. Affection, kindness, and forbearance were designed of God as a preparation for the society of heavenly angels.
Very many who are seeking for happiness will be disappointed in their hopes, because they seek it amiss. True happiness is not to be found in selfish gratification, but in the path of duty. God desires man to be happy, and for this reason he gave him the precepts of his law, that in obeying these he might have joy at home and abroad. While he stands in his moral integrity, true to principle, having the control of all his powers, he cannot be miserable. With its tendrils entwined about God, the soul will flourish amid unbelief and depravity. But many who are constantly looking forward for happiness fail to receive it, because, by neglecting to discharge the little duties and observe the little courtesies of life, they violate the principles upon which happiness depends.
Bible rules must be written on the heart and carried into the everyday life. The Christian may lift up his soul to God for strength and grace amid every discouragement. Kind words, pleasant looks, a cheerful countenance, throw a charm around the Christian that makes his influence almost irresistible. This is a way to gain respect, and extend the sphere of usefulness, which costs but little. It is the religion of Christ in the heart that causes the words issuing therefrom to be gentle and the demeanor condescending, even to those in the humblest walks of life. A blustering, faultfinding, overbearing man is not a Christian; for to be a Christian is to be Christlike. It is no mark of a Christian to be continually jealous of one's dignity. In forgetfulness of self, in the light and peace and comfort he is constantly bestowing on others, is seen the true dignity of the man. The one who pursues this course will not complain that he does not obtain the respect due him.
He who drinks in the spirit of Christ will let it flow forth in kind words, and be expressed in courteous deportment. The plan of salvation is to soften whatever is harsh and rough in the temper, and to smooth off whatever is rugged or sharp in the manners. External change will testify of an internal change. The truth is the sanctifier, the refiner. Received into the heart, it works with hidden power, transforming the receiver. But those who profess the truth and at the same time are rough, and sour, and unkind in words and deportment, have not learned of Jesus; all these manifestations show that they are yet servants of the wicked one. No man can be a Christian without having the spirit of Christ, manifesting meekness, gentleness, and refinement of manners.
Enoch was a marked character. Many look upon his life as something above what the generality of mortals can ever reach. But Enoch's life and character, which were so holy that he was translated to heaven without seeing death, represent what the lives and characters of all must be, if, like Enoch, they are to be translated when Christ shall come. His life was what the life of every individual may be if he closely connects with God. We should remember that Enoch was surrounded with influences so depraved that God brought a flood of waters on the world to destroy its inhabitants for their corruption. Were Enoch upon the earth today, his heart would be in harmony with all God's requirements; he would walk with God, although surrounded with influences which are the most wicked and debasing. The palm tree well represents the life of a Christian. It stands upright amid the burning desert sand, and dies not; for it draws its sustenance from the springs of life beneath the surface.
When Christ shall come, our vile bodies are to be changed, and made like his glorious body; but the vile character will not be made holy then. The transformation of character must take place before his coming. Our natures must be pure and holy; we must have the mind of Christ, that he may behold with pleasure his image reflected upon our souls. We are none of us what God would have us, and what we may be, and what his word requires us to be. It is our unbelief that shuts us away from God. Joseph preserved his integrity when surrounded by idolaters in Egypt, in the midst of sin and blasphemy and corrupting influences. When tempted to turn from the path of virtue, his answer was, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Enoch, Joseph, and Daniel depended upon a strength that was infinite. This is the only course of safety for Christians to pursue in our day. Those who profess Christ are too indolent in their religious life to surmount obstacles, and be patient, kind, and forbearing.
The lives of these marked men were hid with Christ in God. They were loyal to God amidst infidelity, pure amidst depravity, devout and fervent when brought in contact with atheism and idolatry. By faith they gathered to themselves only those properties which are favorable to the development of pure and holy characters. Thus may it be with us; whatever our position, however repulsive or fascinating our surroundings, faith can reach above it all and find the Holy Spirit.
The spirit which Enoch, Joseph, and Daniel possessed, we may have. We may draw from the same source of strength, and realize the same power of self-control; and the same graces may shine out in our lives. By reflecting the light of Christ to all around us, we shall become the light of the world. Said Christ, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid." "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." A surly, faultfinding, selfish, uncourteous person cannot have this sacred influence.
Pleasant, kind, and well-bred Christians will have an influence for God and his truth; it cannot be otherwise. The light borrowed from Heaven will shed its brightening rays through them to the pathway of others leading them to exclaim, "O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man whose strength is in thee." The words we speak, our daily deportment, are the fruit growing upon the tree. If the fruit is sour and unpalatable, the rootlets of that tree are not drawing nourishment from a pure source. If our affections are brought into harmony with our Saviour, if our characters are meek and lowly, we evidence that our life is hid with Christ in God; and we shall leave behind us a bright track. The Christian life will be in such marked contrast to that of unbelievers and children of darkness, that beholders will discern that we have been with Jesus and learned of him.
The Christian need not become a recluse; but while necessarily associating with the world, he will not be of the world. Christian politeness should be cultivated by daily practice. That unkind word should be left unspoken, that selfish disregard for the happiness of others should give place to sympathy and thoughtfulness. True courtesy, blended with truth and justice, will make the life not only useful, but fragrant. It is no evidence that the Christian has lost his religion, because he has a good report from those who are without. Virtue, honesty, kindness, and faithful integrity make noble characters; they will win esteem even of unbelievers, and their influence in the church will be very precious. God requires us to be right in important matters, while he tells us that faithfulness in little things will fit us for higher positions of trust.
There is a very great neglect of true courtesy at the present time. The good qualities which many possess are hidden, and instead of attracting souls to Christ they repulse them. If these persons could see the influence of their uncourteous ways and unkind expressions upon unbelievers, and how offensive is such conduct in the sight of God, they would reform their habits; for a lack of courtesy is one of the greatest stumblingblocks to sinners. Selfish, complaining, sour Christians bar the way, so that sinners do not care to approach Christ.
Could we look beneath the surface of things, we should see that half life's misery is created by frowns and unkind speeches, which might be prevented as well as not. Many make a hell upon earth for themselves and for those whom they might comfort and bless. These are not worthy of the Christian name. These will not dwell in heaven, in the society of pure angels who are always kind, courteous, and considerate of others.
I call upon these dissatisfied, mourning, fretting ones to reform before it shall be too late. There is still time for you to learn of Christ. You have greatly injured his cause, you have kept many souls from the kingdom of heaven; but you may yet repent and be converted. Lay off the yoke which you have placed upon your own neck, and accept the yoke of Christ. Many are sensible of their great deficiency, and they read, and pray, and resolve, and yet make no progress. They seem to be powerless to resist temptation. The reason is, they do not go deep enough. They do not seek for a thorough conversion of the soul, that the streams which issue from it may be pure, and the deportment may testify that Christ reigns within.
All defects of character originate in the heart. Pride, vanity, evil temper, and covetousness proceed from the carnal heart unrenewed by the grace of Christ. If the heart is refined, softened, and ennobled, the words and actions will testify to the fact. When the soul has been entirely surrendered to God, there will be a firm reliance upon his promises, and earnest prayer and determined effort to control the words and actions.
Some persons speak in a harsh, uncourteous manner, that wounds the feeling of others, and then they justify themselves by saying, "It is my way; I always tell just what I think;" and they exalt this wicked trait of character as a virtue. Their uncourteous deportment should be firmly rebuked; it is something of which they ought to be ashamed,--a cruel practice, which is born of Satan, and is not in the least akin to Heaven. Much is said concerning the improvements which have been made since the days of the patriarchs. But those living in that age could boast of a higher state of refinement and true courtesy than is possessed by people in this age of boasted enlightenment.
Integrity, justice, and Christian kindness, blended, make a beautiful combination. Courtesy is one of the graces of the Spirit. It is an attribute of heaven. The angels never fly into a passion, never are envious, selfish, and jealous. No harsh or unkind words escape their lips. And if we are to be the companions of angels, we too must be refined and courteous. And we have none too much time to change our wrong habits, reform our defective characters, and obtain a fitness for the society of those with whom we expect to associate not long hence. All harshness and severity, coarseness and unkindness, must be overcome in this life; for they are Satanic. Now is the very time for us to do the work. We can have no second probation. If we do not improve these hours of privilege, we would not improve a second probation should it be granted to us. It is now, while it is called today, that we are not to burden our hearts and continue to make Christ ashamed of the unsanctified words and deportment of us who bear his name. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #36)
In order to perfect Christian character, the whole man must be molded after the standard of Heaven. Kindness and amiability are essential qualities in the child of God; but hollow hearted, hypocritical courtesy, which is so common among worldlings, is not the genuine grace of Christian politeness. Courtesy cannot take the place of a holy life; neither can the life be perfect in the absence of this fine filling up, which is like the delicate penciling in a picture. Those who open their hearts and homes to invite Jesus to abide with them, should keep the moral atmosphere unclouded by strife, bitterness, wrath, malice, or even an unkind word. Jesus will not abide in a home where are contention, envy, and bitterness.
The Holy Scriptures give us marked examples of the exercise of true courtesy. Abraham was a man of God. When he pitched his tent, he at once erected his altar for sacrifice, and invited God to abide with him. Abraham was a courteous man. His life is not marred with selfishness, so hateful in any character, and so offensive in the sight of God. Witness his conduct when about to separate from Lot. Though Lot was his nephew, and much younger than himself, and the first choice of the land belonged to Abraham, courtesy led him to forego his right, and permit Lot to select for himself that part of the country which seemed to him most desirable. Behold him as he welcomes the three travelers in the heat of the day, and hastens to provide for their necessities. Again observe him as he engages in a business transaction with the sons of Heth, to purchase a burying place for Sarah. In his grief he does not forget to be courteous. He bows before them, although he is God's nobleman. Abraham knew what genuine politeness was, and what was due from man to his fellowman.
The great apostle Paul was firm where duty and principle were at stake; he preached Christ with great boldness; but he was never harsh and impolite. He had a tender heart, and was ever kind and thoughtful of others. Courtesy was a marked trait of his character, and this gave him access to the better class of society.
Paul never doubted the ability of God or his willingness to give him the grace he needed to live the life of a Christian. He exclaims: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" His language is that of faith and hope, not of doubt and despair: "He loved me, and gave himself for me." "I know whom I have believed." He does not live under a cloud of doubt, groping his way in the mist and darkness of uncertainty, complaining of hardship and trials. A voice of gladness, strong with hope and courage, sounds all along the line down to our time. Paul had a healthful religious experience. The love of Christ was his grand theme, and the constraining power that governed him.
When in most discouraging circumstances, which would have had a depressing influence upon halfway Christians, he is firm of heart, full of courage and hope and cheer, exclaiming, "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice." The same hope and cheerfulness is seen when he is upon the deck of the ship, the tempest beating about him, the ship going to pieces. He gives orders to the commander of the ship and preserves the lives of all on board. Although a prisoner, he is really the master of the ship, the freest and happiest man on board. When wrecked and driven to a barbarous island, he is the most self-possessed, the most helpful in saving his fellowmen from a watery grave. His hands brought the wood to kindle the fire for the benefit of the chilled, shipwrecked passengers. When they saw the deadly viper fasten upon his hand, they were filled with terror; but Paul calmly shook it into the fire, knowing it could not harm him; for he implicitly trusted in God.
When before kings and dignitaries of the earth, who held his life in their hands, he quailed not; for he had given his life to God, and it was hid in Christ. He softened, by his courtesy, the hearts of these men in power, men of fierce temper, wicked and corrupt though they were in heart and life. He did not forget his position, or the importance of the occasion. He was zealous for the truth, bold in advocating Christ; but propriety of deportment, the grace of true politeness, marked all his conduct. When he stretched out his hand, as was his custom in speaking, the clanking chains caused him no shame nor embarrassment. He looked upon them as tokens of honor, and rejoiced that he could suffer for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Surrounded by philosophers, kings, and critics, he was God's embassador. His reasoning was so clear and convincing that it made the profligate king tremble as Paul dwelt upon his experience, showing what had wrought the change in his religious views which aroused the malice of the Jews. He exalted Jesus Christ as the world's Redeemer. Grace, like an angel of mercy, makes his voice heard sweet and clear, repeating the story of the cross, the matchless love of Jesus.
Paul attracted warm hearts wherever he went; his soul was linked to the soul of his brethren. When he parted with them, knowing and assuring them that they would never see his face again, they were filled with sorrow, and so earnestly besought him to still remain with them that he exclaimed, "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?" His sympathetic heart was breaking as he witnessed and felt their grief at this final separation. They loved him, and felt that they could not give him up. What Christian does not admire the character of Paul? Firm as a rock when standing in defense of the truth, he was affectionate and gentle as a child when surrounded by his friends. "But his rebuke of sin was terribly severe, especially to those who professed to believe in Christ and yet dishonored their profession. His heart was aglow with love, and yet when duty demanded he could be stern with holy indignation. Let the example of Paul, whose life was in accordance with the life of Christ, be a lesson to us.
But in Christ a greater example has been given us than that of either patriarch or apostle. Here we have genuine courtesy illustrated. This virtue ran parallel with his life, clothing it with a softened and refined beauty, and shedding its luster over every action. He bids the weary and oppressed come to him, and find rest and peace in bearing his yoke and lifting his burden. He invites them, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." His heart of sympathizing love longs to quiet restless, oppressed, and suffering minds that can find peace only in learning the lessons of his meekness and lowliness. Their fluctuating, changeful, mournful experience is anything but rest. It is labor, pain, and sorrow. To bear insult, reproach, and abuse without retaliating and without arraying themselves in opposition to those who would injure them, is the lesson he would teach them. He would have them lay off the yoke of pride, so galling to the neck, and take his yoke, which is easy, for it is the meekness and gentleness of Christ.
What great condescension is here manifested by our Lord. No matter how poor and wretched the applicant, the relief he asked was always given. The Saviour uttered no word of reproach or censure, though he was constantly besieged and his hours for repose and retirement broken in upon. In the streets of the crowded city, in the groves, or by the lakeside, he was ever greeted by the complaints and requests of suffering humanity.
The leper was required to dwell apart from the habitations of men, and at the approach of any person he must utter the mournful cry, Unclean, unclean! lest the traveler approach near enough to be endangered by contagion. But as the leper discerns in the stranger Jesus, the Mighty Healer, that cry is hushed, and a most imploring prayer bursts from his lips, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Never was such an appeal made in vain. The answer comes back to him, "I will, be thou clean." Publicans and sinners throng about the blessed Saviour for one word of hope, for one touch of his finger to heal their various maladies. He had a kind word and look for everyone. Though he was the Majesty of heaven, he did not proclaim his exalted character, and claim the reverence which rightfully belonged to him. But he traversed the earth, weary, hungry, and often sad, because men did not feel their need of the blessings he came to give them.
This is the example of true courtesy which we must all copy if we would be indeed followers of Jesus. The Christian's character will surely correspond with the name. Those who have no care in regard to their words or actions, and thus bring unhappiness to all around them, must learn of Jesus to be meek and lowly of heart. Rough ways and coarse manners dishonor the Christian name and misrepresent Christ. Many will not be fitted to enter heaven, because they do not see the importance of imitating the perfect Pattern. Some term roughness, careless ways, and untidy dress humility and freedom from pride; but humility is disgusted with such companions and will not be seen in their society.
Those who make a profession of sanctification are frequently the most proud, selfish, and over bearing. What an account will such have to render to God for their influence! They profess that their conduct is in harmony with heaven, while they manifest the evil promptings of their natural hearts. They in no way resemble Enoch, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, or Christ, the perfect Pattern. They bring Bible sanctification into contempt. Their course of conduct is uncourteous, and many times really unkind and uncouth. Such are like signboards at crossroads which mislead the traveler by pointing in the wrong direction.
Though these persons claim perfection, they know not experimentally what it means. No one is attracted to them, and made better by their example. Those who profess sanctification, and yet do not the requirements of God, have not put on Christ; they do not wear the grace of humility, and exhibit Christ in words and actions till men shall be charmed by his perfections and be led to glorify God by seeing their good works.
Christ is pleased with his followers when they show that, though human, they are partakers of the divine nature. They are not statues, but living men and women, whose warm hearts, invigorated by the dews of divine grace, open and expand as the beams of the Sun of righteousness shine upon them. The light which falls upon them they reflect upon others in works which are luminous with the love of Christ. Cold, professedly sinless Christians are like icebergs; they seem to freeze up the cheerfulness of all who are connected with them. Their influence upon the cause of Christ is always deleterious. Nothing is so offensive to God as the atmosphere of those who profess holiness of heart, but whose lives have a bad flavor. Unsavory actions make the Christian repulsive.
Instead of isolating themselves, Christians should associate together. Their influence upon one another may be salutary. We should learn lessons of Paul, who was often found relating his experience. There is too little conversation upon the facts of religious experience, and the mercy and goodness of God. Love and gratitude are not cherished in the heart as they should be. Little, delicate acts of courtesy are sadly neglected. Words of cheer and encouragement to one another might be spoken with the best of results. There is great need of individual sanctification to God, but we have no sympathy for the spurious article.
True sanctification is carried into all the business of life. Pure thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, elevated purposes of action, yearnings to attain to perfection, will be the experience of every real Christian. These have fellowship with the Father and with the Son. They are constantly increasing in the knowledge of God. They grow in reverence and trust and love; but while they are coming nearer and nearer to perfection of character, they will feel more and more deeply their unlikeness to Christ, and have greater distrust of themselves and greater dependence upon God. As these are growing up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, they will be sought by others, and will be a help and blessing to all with whom they associate. The most Christlike professors are those who are the most kind, pitiful, and courteous; their convictions are firm and their characters strong; nothing can swerve them from their faith or allure them from their duty.
A Christian will cultivate a meek and quiet spirit; he will be calm, considerate of others, and will have a happy temper that sickness will not make irritable nor the weather or circumstances disturb. We want to cherish that charity which is not easily provoked, which suffereth long and is kind, which hopeth all things, endureth all things. If this grace be in you, if you are ruled by the spirit of Christ, all who see you will take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus; and your words and actions will testify that your religion is full of good fruits. The children of God never forget to do good and to communicate. They have the spirit of Christ; good works are spontaneous with them; for God has transformed their natures by his grace. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #37)
July 13, in company with my son, W. C. White, and a party of ten, we left California on our long contemplated journey to Europe. For months I had looked forward to this journey with anything but pleasure. To travel across the continent in the heat of summer and in my condition of health, seemed almost presumptuous. Since attending the round of campmeetings in 1884, I had suffered great mental weariness and physical debility. For months at a time I had been able to write but very little. As the appointed time for starting drew near, my faith was severely tested. I so much desired someone of experience upon whom I could rely for counsel and encouragement. My courage was gone, and I longed for human help, one who had a firm hold from above, and whose faith would stimulate mine. By day and by night my prayers ascended to heaven that I might know the will of God, and have perfect submission to it. Still my way was not made clear; I had no special evidence that I was in the path of duty, or that my prayers had been heard.
About this time my son, W. C. W., visited Healdsburg, and his words were full of courage and faith. He bade me look to the past, when, under the most forbidding circumstances, I had moved out in faith according to the best light I had, and the Lord had strengthened and supported. I did so, and decided to act on the judgment of the General Conference, and start on the journey, trusting in God. My trunk was packed, and I returned with him to Oakland. Here I was invited to speak to the church Sabbath afternoon. I hesitated; but these words came to me with power, "My grace is sufficient for you." The struggle was hard, but I consented. I then felt that I must seek God most earnestly. I knew that he was able to deliver in a manner that I could not discern. In thus trusting, my fears were removed, but not my weakness. I rode to the church and entered the desk, believing that the Lord would help. While speaking I felt that the everlasting arms were about me, imparting physical strength and mental clearness to speak the word with power. The love and blessing of God filled my heart, and from that hour I began to gather strength and courage. The next Monday I had no hesitancy in stepping on board the cars en route for Michigan.
I here learned over again the lesson I have had to learn so many times, that I must lean wholly upon God, whatever my perplexity. He will never leave nor forsake those who commit their ways unto him. We must not depend on human strength or wisdom, but make him our counselor and guide in all things.
Although I had prayed for months that the Lord would make my path so plain that I would know that I was making no mistake, still I was obliged to say that God hangs a mist before my eyes. But when I had taken my seat on the cars, the assurance came that I was moving in accordance with the will of God. Friends had come to the depot to see us off. It was a place of great confusion, and I had not been able to bear anything of the kind for months. But it did not trouble me now. The sweet peace that God alone can give was imparted to me, and like a wearied child, I found rest in Jesus.
At Fresno, Cal., we were happily surprised to receive a visit from Bro. M. J. Church and his son, who came into the car laden with an abundant supply of peaches, grapes, and melons. The grapes were of the choicest varieties, and the peaches were large yellow ones, some of which measured ten inches around. This supply, so timely, was a blessing to us all the way to Michigan. We enjoyed a pleasant but short visit with these brethren, and then were again on our way.
The weather the first part of our journey was exceedingly oppressive. At one place the thermometer stood at 125 degrees in the shade. In Southern California and Arizona the wind was as hot as though it came from a furnace. This was what I had dreaded; but to my great surprise I was not exhausted with the heat. As usual, we carried with us our own lunch baskets, and ate two meals a day regularly. These meals consisted of fruits and bread, without tea or stimulant of any kind. The blessing of the Lord continued to rest upon me, and I grew stronger every day.
By special arrangement with the railroad company we had the promise of a car to ourselves from Mojave. This we had, with the exception of three gentleman passengers. The change at this place was made with very little difficulty. The car we were to occupy was drawn up beside the one we were in, and our goods were quickly and easily transferred. We were well accommodated, and felt grateful for the privilege of being where we could erect the altar of prayer and have religious service on the Sabbath. From time to time some of the train men would drop in and listen. My attention was attracted one day to a young man who did not seem to know what to do with himself during the service. At one time he would seem ready to cry, and at another would manifest great pleasure. He afterward stated to Bro. Lunt that it was the first prayer he had heard for five years, yet in the home of his youth prayer was offered by his parents every day.
I am convinced that we lose much by forgetting Jesus when we travel on the cars or on the boats. Those who are Christians will confess Christ in their choice conversation, in their sobriety, in their Christlike deportment. There will be temptations to let our thoughts and words flow in the same channel in which those of worldlings flow. But it should be kept in mind that "in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin." We cannot while upon the cars enter our closets and there be alone with God; but we can gird up the loins of our minds, and uplift our hearts to God in silent prayer for grace to keep the mind stayed upon him, and he will surely hear us.
Whenever our cars stopped long enough, Bro. Lunt would improve the time by doing missionary work near the station. At one place he obtained a subscription for the Review from a man who had been at the Sanitarium at Battle Creek, and was acquainted with the arguments on the Sabbath. He was head machinist in one of the railroad shops, and received a large salary. "But," said he, "what good will money do me if earned at the expense of my soul?" He was anxious to find work where he could keep the Sabbath and have religious society and the privilege of attending meetings.
We reached Kansas City Sunday, where we found a chair car in waiting for our party. The change here was easily made, and the next day we reached Chicago. Here we were met by Brn. A. R. Henry and W. C. Gage, who accompanied us to Battle Creek. We can truly say that the journey across the plains was accomplished with as little inconvenience and weariness as we have ever experienced in the twenty-five times that we have passed over the road. The Lord blessed us, and we feel it a privilege to give him all the glory. At Battle Creek I was pleased to meet my dear children, Edson and Emma White, and in their home we found quiet and rest.
We spent one Sabbath with the church there. I spoke in the forenoon and in the afternoon attended the social meeting. It was a precious privilege for me to bear my testimony, and listen to the testimonies of the brethren and sisters. The Lord seemed very near, and his presence is always life, and health, and peace. The thought would arise, We shall never all meet here again, but shall we meet around the great white throne? Who of this large congregation will be missing in the paradise of God, and who will be among the conquerors, and sing the song of triumph in that home of eternal bliss?
Sunday evening I spoke to a large number of the patients at the Sanitarium. I tried to present before them the high claims that God has upon us individually, and the importance of having all our desires, our appetites and passions, under the control of intelligent reason. The new addition to the Sanitarium makes it a large, commodious building, and it is already well filled with patients. Everything seems to be planned with reference to the health and convenience of those who go there for rest and treatment. Their tables are spread with an abundance of good, plain, nourishing food, and I could but feel that if any were dissatisfied with it, their taste must be very much perverted.
Tuesday night we were in meeting till a late hour, seeking to present before the workers there the great good that might be accomplished if they were connected with God. The Lord designs that the Sanitarium should be a means of great good. Regular religious meetings are held there, also a thoroughly organized Sabbath school. All are invited to attend these services, and as the result many souls are brought to a knowledge of the truth.
I feel it to be my duty to here caution my brethren against receiving reports that they may hear against the Sanitarium. We have been upon the ground, and we believe that those who act a leading part there are trying to work from a Christian standpoint. Those who complain have but little knowledge of the cares and perplexities that the real workers bear, and ofttimes are ignorant of the efforts that are being made for their welfare. If complainers would pray more, and fret and murmur less, we believe that they would improve not only their spiritual condition but also their physical health. This institution is one of God's instrumentalities, and we would warn our brethren to be cautious how they say one word to lessen its influence. It is easy to take a surface view of matters, and to slightly misrepresent the work and the workers. Much harm is often thus done. "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor." Here not only the one who makes the complaint is condemned, but the ones who take up this reproach, who cherish it, and repeat it. If reports come to you against the Sanitarium, do not receive them till you have positive evidence that they are true.
Wednesday noon, July 29, we resumed our Eastward journey. At the request of friends, we stopped over a few hours at Rome, N. Y., where we had a profitable visit with Brn. Miles and Brown, and Bro. Whitney and family. We were pleased to see the arrangements that have been made here for doing missionary work. A small but neat and well arranged building has been erected, the lower floor of which is used for mission work and a reading room. The basement contains a small job press, while the upper floor is fitted up for a school. It is not expected that this school will require a large amount of means to carry it forward, but it is to meet a present necessity, to educate missionary workers, and to prepare the children to enter the Academy at South Lancaster. Everything has been done with thoroughness and neatness, and yet I saw no evidence of extravagance. The brethren in New York are abundantly able to sustain this mission nobly, and we feel sure that none who have the cause of God at heart will feel that the plans made to bring the light to those in darkness are too ample or too expensive. Those things which concern our eternal interest are of infinite importance, and should be exalted above every temporal interest. May the God of wisdom guide the ministers and workers in this important field, and may every member of the church feel that the work is his, and do all that he can to sustain it.
We left Rome about ten o'clock at night, expecting to take a sleeper; but on account of some train having missed connection we were not able to do so, and were obliged to change cars twice during the night. Our next stopping place was at Worcester, Mass., where Eld, Canright was holding tent meetings. We reached this place about half past eight, and found an appointment out for me to speak that night. I was weary, but the Lord gave me strength to address the people. The next day was Sabbath and about eighty were present. Some of these were keeping the Sabbath for the first time. Sunday evening the tent was well filled, and the people listened with the most respectful attention. Quite a number in this place are fully established in the truth. The work moves slowly in the large cities, for it has great opposition to encounter.
Monday, Aug. 3, we went by private conveyance to South Lancaster. This ride of seventeen miles was a rest to me, as were also the few days spent in the quiet home of Sr. Harris, although most of my time while there was spent in completing important writings that I was anxious to leave with the brethren before sailing. Thursday I again visited Worcester, held a meeting with the missionary workers there, and then returned to Lancaster.
A short ride on the morning of the seventh, brought us to Boston. The steamer on which we had secured our passage did not leave the dock till Sabbath morning; but we were allowed to go on board with our baggage Friday evening. Although we had secured tickets at quite a low price, we were accommodated with very pleasant, roomy staterooms, well furnished and well located. As we commenced the Sabbath with prayer the Lord seemed very near, and his peace and blessing came into our hearts. The day was one of rest and quiet.
The weather the first part of the journey was quite pleasant, and we spent much of the time on deck; but the fourth day out was very rough, and we felt best in our berths. The last part of the way we had a great deal of fog, which caused us to run slow, and made the journey somewhat monotonous. Although the ocean was so rough for several days that the portholes had to be closed, I suffered less from seasickness than I had anticipated. The arrangements for ventilation were excellent.
I cannot speak too highly of the steamer Cephalonia, which was our home for nearly eleven days. The captain and all the officials were kind and accommodating. The cooking was more sensible, the food more palatable, than will usually be found on board boats. The bread, both white and graham, was excellent, and fruits, vegetables, and nuts were served liberally; while those who enjoyed meat could have it prepared in almost every shape. The motion of the boat was not so great but that I was enabled to write over one hundred pages of important matter during the passage.
The evening of the 13th we arrived at Liverpool. Here we were met by Brn. Drew, Wilcox, and O'niel, and taken to the comfortable home of Bro. Drew. After a season of thanksgiving to God for his preserving care during the journey, we retired to rest. The next morning, accompanied by Bro. Wilcox, we took the cars for Grimsby, the headquarters of our publishing work in England. We went at once to the mission house, or office of the Present Truth. Here we met our old friends, Bro. and Sr. Mason, from Woodland, Cal., Eld. Lane and wife, and Sr. Jennie Thayer. With these dear American friends we feel quite at home, and expect to tarry a few days.
I look back on my journey with surprise and with feelings of gratitude for the strength I have received. Since leaving California I have traveled over seven thousand miles, written over two hundred pages, and spoken thirteen times; and my health is much better now than when I started. To the Lord be all the praise. It is no longer a question with me whether I am in the path of duty. Europe is a vast missionary field, and there is a great work yet to be done. Gt. Grimsby, Eng. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #38)
To the teacher is committed an important work. While cultivating the intellectual powers and forming the manners of his pupils, he is constantly exerting an influence upon their habits and characters. Their destiny in this world and the next may be decided by his instruction and example.
It is not enough that the teacher possesses natural ability and intellectual culture. These are indispensable; but without a moral and spiritual fitness for the work, he is not prepared to engage in it. The teacher should see in every pupil the handiwork of God--a candidate for immortal honors. He should seek so to educate, train, and discipline them that each may attain to the highest standard of moral and intellectual excellence of which he is capable.
Many assume the position of a teacher without a proper sense of their responsibility and without due preparation. They are not actuated by that lofty purpose which an enlightened conscience and a love for souls would inspire. They teach merely to earn a livelihood, and do not realize the danger of marring the work by indulging their own peculiarities and revealing their defects of character. Hence their lack of self-control and wise discipline exerts upon pupils an influence which no after effort can wholly counteract.
The teacher should not enter upon his work without careful and thorough preparation. He should feel the importance of his calling, and give himself to it with zeal and devotion. It is not his duty to exhaust the energies of mind or body in other branches of labor which may be urged upon him. This would unfit him for his specific work.
Every educator should daily receive instructions from the Great Teacher, and should labor constantly under his guidance. It is impossible for him rightly to understand or to perform his work, unless he shall be much with God in prayer. Only by divine aid, combined with earnest, self-denying effort, can he hope to fill his position wisely and well.
The teacher should carefully study the disposition and character of his pupils, that he may adapt his teaching to their peculiar needs. He has a garden to tend, in which are plants differing widely in nature, form, and development. While a few may appear beautiful and symmetrical, many others have become dwarfed and misshapen by neglect. The preceding gardener has not done his work faithfully. By proper cultivation these plants and shrubs might have been made to grow up comely and beautiful; but those to whom was committed the care of the tender plantlets, left them to the mercy of circumstances, and now the work of training and cultivation is increased tenfold.
The teacher must bring to his difficult task the patience, forbearance, and gentleness of Christ. His heart must glow with the same love that led the Lord of life and glory to die for a lost world. Patience and perseverance will not fail of a reward. While his best efforts will sometimes prove unavailing, the faithful teacher will see fruit of his labor. Noble characters and useful lives will richly repay his toil and care.
The word of God should have a place--the first place--in every system of education. As an educating power, it is of more value than the writings of all the philosophers of all the ages. In its wide range of style and subjects, there is something to interest and instruct every mind, to ennoble every life. There is history of inestimable value and absorbing interest. The light of revelation shines undimmed into the distant past where human annals cast not a ray of light. There is poetry which has called forth the admiration and wonder of the world. In glowing beauty, in sublime and solemn majesty, in touching pathos, it is unequaled by the most brilliant productions of human genius. There is sound logic and impassioned eloquence. There are portrayed the noble deeds of noble men, examples of private virtue and public honor, lessons of piety and purity.
There is no position in life, no phase of human experience, for which the Bible does not contain valuable instruction. Ruler and subject, master and servant, the buyer and the seller, the borrower and the lender, parent and child, teacher and student,--all may here find lessons of priceless worth.
But above all else, the word of God sets forth the plan of salvation; shows how sinful men may be reconciled to God, lays down the great principles of truth and duty which should govern our lives, and promises us divine aid in their observance. It reaches beyond this fleeting life, beyond the brief and troubled history of our race. It opens to our view the long vista of eternal ages--ages undarkened by sin, undimmed by sorrow. It teaches us how we may share the habitations of the blessed, and bids us anchor our hopes and fix our affections there.
The great book of nature, ever open before the student, invites his thought and study. While the teacher explores with his pupils the wonders of the invisible universe, and the laws by which it is governed, he should lead them to behold on every hand the power, the wisdom, and the love of God.
Physical training also should receive careful attention in the schoolroom. The teacher is, to a great degree, responsible for the health of the students under his care. The foundation of many ailments is laid in early life. Nothing is unimportant which affects physical health; for without this, mental training will be of little value.
Disease is often induced by over study, confinement, and lack of exercise. Care should be taken to avoid these evils. Children, especially, should have frequent change of position and occupation.
Impure air is a frequent cause of disease. Above all other places, houses of worship and school buildings should be thoroughly ventilated. In the church congregation and in the crowded schoolroom are persons affected with scrofula, consumption, and almost every other form of disease. Impurities generated by these disorders are exhaled, and also thrown off by insensible perspiration. Unless there is most thorough ventilation, these impurities will be taken into the lungs, and then into the blood, and thus endanger health and even life. Yet sudden changes of temperature are to be avoided. Care should be taken that students do not become chilled by currents of air from open windows. It is unsafe for the teacher to regulate the heat of the schoolroom by his own feelings. His own good, as well as that of the students, demands that a uniform temperature be maintained.
The teacher should be familiar with the principles of physiology and hygiene, and should put his knowledge to practical use in the schoolroom. He may thus guard his pupils from many dangers to which they are exposed through ignorance or neglect of sanitary laws. Thousands of lives are sacrificed because teachers do not give attention to these things.
More harm than good results from the practice of offering prizes and rewards. It is the ambitious pupil who is stimulated to greater effort. Those whose mental powers are already too active for their physical strength, are urged on to grasp subjects too difficult for the young mind. The examinations also are a trying ordeal for pupils of this class. Many a promising student has suffered severe illness, perhaps death, as the result of the effort and excitement of such occasions. Parents and teachers should be on their guard against these dangers. It is unwise to develop the intellectual at the expense of the physical powers.
Students should be encouraged to exercise in the open air. Such exercise, with the invigorating influences of the fresh air, the sunshine, and the scenes of nature, will cool the fevered brain and soothe the excited nerves, and the student will return to his task with renewed vigor and fresh courage.
No one branch of study should receive special attention to the neglect of others equally important. Some teachers devote much time to a favorite branch, drilling the students upon every point, and praising them for their progress, while in everything else these students may be deficient. Such instructors are doing their pupils a great wrong. They are depriving them of that harmonious development of the mental powers which they should have, as well as of knowledge which they sorely need.
In these matters, teachers are too often controlled by selfish, sordid motives. While they labor with no higher object, they cannot inspire their pupils with noble desires or purposes. The keen, active minds of the young are quick to detect every defect of character, and they will copy such defects far more readily than the precious graces of the Holy Spirit.
It is the meekness and love of Christ that is needed by teachers and pupils, by parents and children. The currents of spiritual life must not become stagnant. The water of the living fountain should be in us, a well of water springing up into everlasting life, and sweeping away the selfishness of the natural heart. What our schools and our homes need is the inflowing of heavenly life, so full and free as to impart a truly fervent spirit. The heart that is imbued with the love of Christ will reveal that simplicity and godly sincerity which was manifested in the life of our Saviour. That heart will be as a pure fountain, sending forth pure, sweet streams.
No man or woman is fitted for the work of teaching who is fretful, impatient, arbitrary, or dictatorial. These traits of character work great harm in the schoolroom. Let not the teacher excuse his wrong course by the plea that he has naturally a hasty temper, or that he has erred ignorantly. He has taken a position where ignorance or lack of self-control is sin. He is writing upon many a human soul lessons which will be carried all through life.
Constant association with inferiors in age and mental training tends to make the teacher tenacious of his rights and opinions, and leads him to jealousy guard his position and dignity. Such a spirit is opposed to the meekness and humility of Christ. A neglect to cherish these graces hinders advancement in the divine life. Many build up barriers between themselves and Jesus so that his love cannot flow into their hearts, and then they complain that they do not see the Sun of Righteousness. Let them forget self and live for Jesus, and the light of Heaven will bring gladness to their souls.
Above all others, he who has the training of the young should beware of indulging a morose or gloomy disposition. This will cut him off from sympathy with them, and without sympathy we cannot hope to benefit. We should not darken our own path or the path of others with the shadow of our trials. We have a Saviour to whom each may go, into whose pitying ear we may pour every complaint; we may leave all our cares and burdens with him, and then our labor will not seem hard nor our trials severe.
The fact that Jesus died to bring happiness and heaven within our reach should be a theme for constant gratitude. The beauty spread before us in God's created works, as an expression of his love, should bring gladness to our hearts.
We open to ourselves the floodgates of woe or joy. If we permit our thoughts to be engrossed with the troubles and trifles of earth, our hearts will be filled with unbelief, gloom, and foreboding. If we set our affections on things above, the voice of Jesus will speak peace to our souls; murmurings will cease; vexing thoughts will be lost in praise to our Redeemer. Those who dwell upon God's great mercies, and are not unmindful of his lesser gifts, will put on the girdle of gladness, and make melody in their hearts to the Lord. Then they will enjoy their allotted labor. They will stand firm and faithful at their post of duty. They will have a placid temper, a trustful spirit.
To the teacher is committed a great work--a work for which, in his own strength, he is wholly insufficient. Yet if, realizing his own weakness, his helpless soul shall cling to Jesus, he will become strong in the strength of the Mighty One. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #39)
The first two weeks after we landed in Liverpool we spent in visiting among the churches and unorganized companies of Sabbathkeepers in England. In Grimsby we found a pleasant temporary home among old friends at the Mission, or office of the Present Truth. The building which they occupy is convenient, well lighted, and pleasantly located. All the work on the paper except the press work is done in this building, and most of the workers live here. There is also a good-sized room in the house which is used for meetings, but which will soon be too small. We believe that the time will soon come when it will be necessary to purchase a press upon which to print the paper, also tracts and leaflets, so that the light may shine forth in more distinct rays to every part of the kingdom.
Friday evening I spoke in Temperance Hall on the subject of temperance. The idea that it is necessary to commence the work of instruction in self-denial and temperance in childhood, seemed new to the people. The most respectful attention was given as I tried to impress upon parents their accountability to God, and the importance of their laying the foundation of firm principles in their children, thus building a barrier around them against future temptations.
Sabbath forenoon, when the little company of Sabbathkeepers assembled for worship, the room was full, and some were seated in the hall. I have ever felt great solemnity in addressing large audiences, and have tried to place myself wholly under the guidance of the Saviour. But I felt even more solemn, if possible, in standing before this small company, who, in the face of obstacles, of reproach and losses, had stepped aside from the multitude who were making void the law of God, and had turned their feet into the way of his commandments. In the afternoon a Sabbath school and social meeting were held. I spoke about thirty minutes in the meeting, and others followed. As I listened to the testimonies borne, I could but think how similar is the experience of the followers of Christ in England and in America. There is but "one Lord, one faith, one baptism."
Sunday forenoon we had another meeting of the brethren and sisters, and in the evening I spoke in the Town Hall. This, the largest audience room in the place, was crowded, and many were obliged to stand. Those who were best acquainted with the hall estimated that there were twelve hundred present. I have seldom seen a more intelligent, noble looking company. The "Union Temperance Prize Choir" volunteered to come and sing. This choir, which was composed of about fifty voices, did justice to the English love of music by singing seven pieces, three at the opening, two at the close, and two after the benediction. All knew that I was from America, and I did not try to appear English by imitating English customs and practices. Not being ashamed of my country, I still conformed to my simple American manners. The subject of the evening was the love of God; and as I reflected that not until the last great day would I again meet all there assembled, I tried to present the precious things of God in such a way as to draw their minds from earth to heaven. But I could only warn and entreat, and hold up Jesus as the center of attraction, and a heaven of bliss as the eternal reward to the overcomer.
Monday we visited Ulceby, where a little company of Sabbathkeepers has been raised up through the labors of Bro. John. These manifested the deepest interest as their attention was called to the importance of searching the Scriptures to ascertain what is truth. The acceptance of truth ever involves a cross, but the only safe course is to follow the light God permits to shine, lest by neglect it shall become darkness. One lady who had been convinced of the truth, but who was still in the valley of decision, there decided to obey all the commandments of God.
Wednesday, accompanied by Bro. Lane, we went to Riseley, a small town about forty miles from London. Here Brn. Lane and Durland had been holding a tent meeting for four weeks. The tent seated about three hundred, and in the evening it was full and a large number stood outside. My heart was especially drawn out for this people, and I would gladly have remained longer with them. Of the audience it could be said, there were honorable women not a few. Several of these had commenced to keep the Sabbath. Many of the men were convinced of the truth, but the question with them was not whether they could keep the Sabbath and have the conveniences and luxuries of life, but whether they could obtain bread, simple bread, for their children. Some conscientious souls have begun to keep the Sabbath. The faith of such will be severely tested. But will not He who careth for the ravens much more care for those who love and fear him? God's eye is upon his conscientious, faithful children in England, and he will make a way for them to keep all his commandments.
Thursday we took the cars for London. Here we had the pleasure of meeting Eld. W. M. Jones, publisher of the Sabbath Memorial, and pastor of an S. D. Baptist chapel in London, where he has stood for many years in defense of the Bible Sabbath. We appreciated his kindness in accompanying us to the British Museum, and in explaining to us many things of interest. It would have been pleasant and profitable to spend considerable time among these interesting relics, but we were obliged to leave to meet appointments at Southampton.
Southampton is where Eld. Loughborough lived most of the time while he was in England. It is an old town, and, with it suburban villages, has a population of over one hundred thousand. Here we saw the old Roman wall and gates with towers above, which were once used as courts of justice. Although built over nine hundred years ago, the wall in many places has not been impaired by age. While here I spoke to the church Friday evening and twice on the Sabbath. Appointments were out for Sunday evening in a large hall, but Sunday morning found me sick with a severe cold. I could sit up but little. During the day we rode out, and I came near fainting. The brethren saw that it would be impossible for me to speak that night unless the Lord should work in a special manner. I tried to pray over the matter, and decided to do my part. I rose from the bed, rode to the hall, and stood upon my feet, and the Lord gave me strength as he had many times before under similar circumstances. The pain in my head ceased the soreness in my throat was removed, and I spoke for more than an hour with perfect freedom. The Lord's name shall have all the glory. Monday I was able to return with our company to London, where we remained two days, on our way to Switzerland.
Although England covers a small territory, it has a vast population, and is a large missionary field. Hundreds could find room to work here if they had the missionary spirit. But where, oh where, are the men who love the truth and precious souls enough to give themselves with unselfish devotion to the work? Men are wanted who are willing to leave their farms, their business, and their families, if need be, to become missionaries. There have been men who, stirred by the love of Christ and the love of souls, have left the comforts of home and the society of friends, even that of wife and children, to go into foreign lands, among savages and heathen idolaters, in hope of sowing the seeds of truth. Many have lost their lives in the attempt, but others have been raised up to carry the work forward. Thus the work has progressed step by step, and the seeds of truth sown in sorrow have borne a bountiful harvest. The knowledge of the Bible has been extended, and the gospel banner has been established in heathen lands. The Protestant martyrs endured every hardship that they might get the word of life before men who were bound up in ignorance and superstition.
Salvation was brought to us at great self-denial and infinite cost by the Son of God. Some have followed his example, and have not let farms, or pleasant homes, or even loved ones, stand in their way. They have felt all for Christ. But I am grieved and astonished that there are so few that have the real missionary spirit at this time. The end so near, the warning of a soon coming Judgment yet to be given to all nations, tongues, and people, yet where are the men who are willing to make any and every sacrifice to get the truth before the world? Some who do go forth as missionaries are so grieved to leave the things they love that they keep in a state of sorrow and depression, and one half of their usefulness is destroyed. They are not called to go among heathen or savages, to suffer for food or clothing, nor are they deprived of even the conveniences of life; and yet they look upon themselves as martyrs. They are not bold soldiers of the cross of Christ. They do not give him willing service.
There is abundant opportunity, even in England, to get the truth before the people. It has been thought that tent meetings could not be held here; but the experience of Brn. Lane and Durland this season has proved that in many places this is the very best means of reaching the people. Open-air meetings are quite common. If conducted on right principles, they are good. Jesus placed himself in the great thoroughfares of travel, where his voice was heard by thousands. The precious words that fell from his lips found a lodgment in many hearts, and caused them to search and see if these things were so. It is most difficult in England to reach the higher classes. The barriers are built up high and firm between the wealthy and the workers. Wealth is greatness and power; poverty means little less than slavery. The truth will often find its way to the noblemen by first reaching the middle and poorer classes. This was the case in Paul's day. The truth found its way into Caesar's household through one who was held in bonds, and men and women of high rank became disciples of Christ. Some who are servants and ladies' maids are quietly working to get the truth before those for whom they labor. Thus through servants or relatives the truth will reach the highest as well as the lowest.
The work in England is yet in its infancy; but we have faith to believe that if the workers make God their wisdom, and trust in him, we will soon see a much greater work done than has been accomplished in the past. Means are needed to extend the work. The gold and silver belong to God; the cattle upon a thousand hills are his also. He has intrusted means with his stewards so that they may use it in advancing his cause. If those who profess the truth would live nearer to God, their senses would not be so confused with the things of this world that they would not discern the wants of the cause for this time. We must pray in faith that God will move upon men who have means, to use it to extend his work on earth. We must also pray earnestly that the Lord will raise up more men who have ability, and who will feel the burden of his work, and carry it forward. God will accept of hundreds of laborers if they will give themselves and their means to the work. He will hold men accountable who have received great light and yet are not aroused to see the importance of engaging in personal efforts for the salvation of their fellowmen. Energy and a spirit of self-sacrifice and denial are needed in entering the missionary field. I know whereof I speak. Resolute and unyielding men will accomplish much. We have had an experience in the work from its commencement. It began in weakness, but we can testify that wonders can be accomplished by resolute perseverance, patient toil, and firm trust in the Lord God of Israel. There is scarcely a limit to what may be achieved, if the efforts are governed by enlightened judgment, and backed up by earnest exertion. The apostle exhorts us to have respect unto the recompense of the reward. Life, eternal life, will be the reward of the faithful, true worker. May the Lord bless the labors of the faithful few who are trying to spread the truth in England, and may he grant to speedily raise up more laborers and greater facilities for advancing the work. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #40)
We arrived at this place on the morning of Sept. 3, and were taken at once to the office of Les Signes des Temps. Here, as in England, we met old friends whom we had not seen for years. We are much pleased with the location of the publishing house. While sufficiently near the center of the town for all business purposes, it is far enough out to avoid the noise and confusion. The building faces the south, and directly opposite is a sixty-acre common of government land, inclosed by trees. Just beyond this are buildings, and then come gentle hills with their sprinkling of fir trees, green fields, and cultivated lands. And back of all this rise higher mountains, forming a fine background to the lovely scene. To my mind, a more beautiful location could not have been obtained.
The building seems to have been constructed with true economy. It is not genuine economy to see how cheaply a building can be erected, but to have everything made for durability, and not for show alone. The firm construction of the building is in keeping with the importance of the message that is being sent out from it. There are laws here which compel people to build their houses with reference to the health and safety of the inmates. The building department exercise a close supervision of every new building. The walls must be so constructed that dampness will not imperil life. If a basement is to be occupied by workmen, the floor must not be more than one and one half feet below the ground. To insure against accident by fire, it is required to build the walls of brick or stone; and the stoves must be built in the wall, or be set four feet from any wood work, with stone or tile underneath.
The city of Bale was an important place to the Protestant reformers. The great snow-clad hills of Switzerland were among the first to catch the light of morning, and to announce the rise of reformation. And Bale was one of those points on which the rising day concentrated its rays, and whence they radiated over the country around. Early in the sixteenth century a small council of a municipal character sat at Bale. A civil war was feared; the people passed the night before in arms. In vain did the city authorities try to reconcile papists and reformers by half measures. The reformers denounced the mass, the papists demanded its continuance. Twelve hundred people who sympathized with Lutheranism insisted that there should be no more delay. They met one evening by torchlight, and said to the faltering Senate, "What you have not been able to do in three years, we will do in a single hour." Then they began their work of breaking down images, and committing other acts of violence. At this, Erasmus cleverly remarked, "I am much surprised that they perform no miracles to save themselves; formerly the saints worked frequent prodigies for much smaller offenses." Thus, amid a tempest of excitement, the Reformation opened in Switzerland, and Bale became its headquarters. Being the seat of a university, it was the favorite resort of scholars. It also had many printing offices. Here Zwingli received his early education; here Erasmus published the New Testament which he had translated from the original Greek into Latin; here Frobenius, the celebrated printer, published the writings of Luther, and in a short time spread them in France, Spain, Italy, and England; and here, too, John Foxe spent a portion of his exile in getting some of his books through the press. Poverty and persecution troubled him, and we fancy we see him walking to and fro upon the surrounding heights, sympathizing with earlier exiles, who said, "We sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion," while here he issued the first installment of the "Book of Martyrs."
As we looked upon our press, working off papers containing the light of truth for the present time, we could but think how much greater difficulties than we had met had been encountered in former times by the advocates of Bible truth. Every movement had to be made in secrecy, or their work would be destroyed and their lives imperiled. Now the way seems to be prepared for the truth to go forth as a lamp that burneth. The Bible standard is raised, and the same words that fell from the lips of the early reformers, are being repeated. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the foundation of our faith.
In the providence of God, our publishing house is located on this sacred spot. We could not wish for a more favorable location for the publication of truth in the different languages. Switzerland being a small republic, anything coming from here is not looked upon with the suspicion that it would be if coming from other countries. Three languages are spoken here, the French, the German, and the Italian; therefore it is a favorable place for issuing publications in these languages. The work begun here in weakness will be carried on to a glorious consummation. There are hundreds of large cities that have not yet been entered by the living preacher; but the silent messengers have been exerting their influence, and now the question arises, Shall these fields be entered? if so, more means will be needed. As yet, no wealthy men have accepted the truth in Europe; but we have hope that some may; for we cannot see how the message of mercy and warning is to be given unless some of the wealth God has intrusted to men be consecrated to his work. We need more faith and to be imbued with the spirit of the Master Worker, that we may be able to obey his orders. If we remain humble, meek, and lowly, daily learning in the school of Christ, we shall not fail to do his will. We need to connect ourselves with the source of all wisdom and power. We want the simplicity of humble, trusting faith, believing that God will do just as he has promised. When we pray that the Lord may advance his work, we must labor to the extent of our ability and means to bring about an answer to our prayers. We must work as though we saw just how our help was coming. "Believe that ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them." Faith comes first and surety afterwards. We must pray more earnestly and act with more energy.
My feelings cannot be described as I look upon these large cities where nothing is being done by the living preacher. I inquire, Why does the work advance so slowly? It is for want of workers and for want of means. Where are the Lord's stewards? What are they doing? Let our brethren and sisters in America draw nigh to God and stir up the gift that is within them. Let those who have had the opportunity to become familiar with the reasons of our faith now use this knowledge to some purpose.
The grassy common in front of this office, of which we have spoken, is reserved by the Swiss government for the use of soldiers at certain seasons of the year. Since we have been here, there have been hundreds on the ground nearly every day training, so that when they are needed they will be ready for action. We are grateful that some efforts are being made to train young men and women that they may go forth as soldiers of Jesus Christ, to war against the enemies of truth. But we regret that these efforts are so few, and that our means are so limited. Our preachers need to do more than preach. They need to become educators, that through their efforts others may be raised up to enter the missionary field.
The people of God are not half awake. A stupor seems to be paralyzing their sensibilities. Brethren and sisters, lay aside your love of self, your love of ease and of dress, and let your contributions flow into the treasury. Each of us will soon have to stand before the Judge of all the earth, to answer for the deeds done in the body. All will then have to give an account for the good they might have done, but did not do because they were not so closely connected with God that they could know his will and understand his claims upon them. In God's great book is recorded every dollar that has been needlessly expended for selfish gratification. The means thus used was the Lord's, and you made self an idol and neglected the souls of your fellow-men for whom Christ died. If the money expended for changeable suits of apparel and for adornment had passed into the treasury of God, houses of worship could have been built, halls could have been hired for mission purposes, and where there is now one missionary in the field there might have been one hundred. Who will have to render an account for this great lack of funds? Many of our American friends have done nobly and willingly for the advancement of the truth in Europe. But there is a great work yet to be done. Many who have given liberally could do more, and others should now come forward and bear their share of the burden. Now is the time when houses and lands should be converted into mission funds. Men are to be educated and disciplined. We feel alarmed at the little that is being done, when we have a worldwide message, and the end of all things is at hand. Christ is soon to come in the clouds of heaven to reward every man as his works have been. To whom will it then be said, "Ye have done what ye could."
The Swiss Conference began one week after we reached Bale. Of this and the general European council which began one week later, and is still in session, we shall speak in our next.
(Vol. 62, #41)
The end of all things is at hand; and in consideration of the shortness of time, we as a people should watch and pray, and in no ease allow ourselves to be diverted from the solemn work of preparation for the great event before us. Because the time is apparently extended, many have become careless and indifferent in regard to their words and actions. They do not realize their danger, and do not see and understand the mercy of our God in lengthening their probation that they may have time to form characters for the future, immortal life. Every moment is of the highest value. Time is granted them, not to be employed is studying their own ease and becoming dwellers on the earth, but to be used in the work of overcoming every defect in their own characters, and in helping others to see the beauty of holiness by their example and personal effort. But God has a people upon the earth, who in faith and holy hope are tracing down the roll of fast-fulfilling prophecy, and are seeking to purify their souls by obeying the truth, that they may not be found without the wedding garment when Christ shall appear.
The disciples of Christ are his representatives upon the earth; and God designs that they shall be lights in the moral darkness of this world, dotted all over the country, in the towns, villages, and cities, "a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men." If they obey the teachings of Christ in his sermon on the mount, they will be seeking continually for perfection of Christian character, and will be truly the lights of the world--channels through which God will communicate his divine will, the truth of heavenly origin, to those who sit in darkness, and who have no knowledge of the way of life and salvation.
God cannot display the knowledge of his will and the wonders of his grace among the unbelieving world, unless he has witnesses scattered all over the earth. It is his plan that men and women who are partakers of this great salvation through Jesus Christ should be his missionaries, bodies of light throughout the world to be as signs to the people, living epistles, known and read of all men, their faith and works testifying to the near approach of the coming Saviour, and that they have not received the grace of God in vain. The people must be warned to prepare for the coming Judgment. To those who have been listening only to fables, an opportunity will be afforded to hear the sure word of prophecy, whereunto they will do well to take heed as unto a light that shines in a dark place. God will present the sure word of truth to the understanding of all who will take heed, that they may contrast truth with the fables which have been presented to them by men who claim to understand the word of God, and profess to be qualified to instruct those in darkness.
Many who have called themselves Adventists have been time-setters. Time after time has been set for Christ to come, but repeated failures have been the result. The definite time of our Lord's coming is declared to be beyond the ken of mortals. Even the angels who minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation, know not the day nor the hour. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Because the times repeatedly set have passed, the world is in a more decided state of unbelief than before in regard to the near advent of Christ. They look upon the failures of the time-setters with disgust; and because men have been so deceived, they turn from the truth substantiated by the word of God that the end of all things is at hand.
Those who so presumptuously preach definite time, in so doing gratify the adversary of souls; for they are advancing infidelity rather than Christianity. They produce scripture, and by false interpretation show a chain of argument which apparently proves their position. But their failures show that they are false prophets, that they do not rightly interpret the language of inspiration. The word of God is verity; but men have perverted its meaning. These errors have brought the truth of God for these last days into disrepute. Adventists are derided by ministers of all denominations. Yet God's servants must not hold their peace. The signs foretold in prophecy are fast fulfilling around us. This should arouse every true follower of Christ to zealous action.
Those who think they must preach definite time in order to make an impression upon the people, do not work from the right standpoint. The feelings of the people may be stirred, and their fears aroused; but they do not move from principle. An excitement is created; but when the time passes, as it has done repeatedly, those who moved out upon time fall back into coldness and darkness and sin, and it is almost impossible to arouse their consciences without some great excitement.
In Noah's day, the inhabitants of the old world laughed to scorn what they termed the superstitious fears and forebodings of the preacher of righteousness. He was denounced as a visionary character, a fanatic, an alarmist. "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." Men will reject the solemn message of warning in our day as they did in Noah's time. They will refer to those false teachers who have predicted the event and set the definite time, and will say that they have no more faith in our warning than in theirs. This is the attitude of the world today. Unbelief is widespread, and the preaching of Christ's coming is mocked at and derided. This makes it all the more essential that those who believe present truth show their faith by their works. They should be sanctified through the truth which they profess to believe; for they are savors of life unto life, or of death unto death.
Noah preached to the people of his time that God would give them one hundred and twenty years in which to repent of their sins and find refuge in the ark; but they refused the gracious invitation. Abundant time was given them to turn from their sins, overcome their bad habits, and develop righteous characters; but inclination to sin, though weak at first with many, strengthened through repeated indulgence, and hurried them on to irretrievable ruin. The merciful warning of God was rejected with sneers, with mocking and derision, and they were left in darkness, to follow the course their sinful hearts had chosen. But their unbelief did not hinder the predicted event. It came, and great was the wrath of God which was seen in the general ruin.
These words of Christ should sink into the hearts of all who believe the present truth: "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." Our danger is presented before us by Christ himself. He knew the perils we should meet in these last days, and would have us prepare for them. "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." They were eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and swept them all away. The day of God will find men absorbed in like manner in the business and pleasures of the world, in feasting and gluttony, and indulging perverted appetite in the defiling use of liquor and the narcotic tobacco. This is already the condition of our world, and these indulgences are found even among God's professed people, some of whom are following the customs and partaking of the sins of the world. Lawyers, mechanics, farmers, traders, and even ministers from the pulpit, are crying, "Peace and safety," when destruction is fast coming upon them.
What a responsible position, to unite with the Redeemer of the world in the salvation of men! This work calls for self-denial, sacrifice, and benevolence; for perseverance, courage, and faith. The reason why so little results are seen of the labor of those who minister in word and doctrine, is that they have not the fruit of the grace of God in their hearts and lives. They do not have faith. Many who profess to be ministers of Christ manifest a wonderful submission in seeing the unconverted all around them going to perdition. A minister has no right to be at ease, and sit down submissively to the fact that the truth is powerless, and souls are not stirred by its presentation. He should resort to prayer, and should work and pray without ceasing. Persistent, prevailing faith is necessary. God's ministers must come into close companionship with Christ, and follow his example in all things,--in purity of life, in self-denial, in benevolence, in diligence, in perseverance. They should remember that a record will one day appear in evidence against them for the least omission of duty.
The followers of Christ, scattered throughout the world, do not have a high sense of their responsibility and the obligation resting upon them to let their light shine forth to others. If there are but one or two in a place, they can, although few in number, so conduct themselves before the world as to have an influence which will impress the unbeliever with the sincerity of their faith.
Belief in the near coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven will not cause the true Christian to become neglectful and careless on the ordinary business of life. The waiting ones who look for the soon appearing of Christ will not be idle, but diligent in business. Their work will not be done carelessly and dishonestly, but with fidelity, promptness, and thoroughness. Those who flatter themselves that careless inattention to the things of this life is an evidence of their spirituality, and of their separation from the world, are under a great deception. Their veracity, their faithfulness, and their integrity are tested and proved even in temporal things. If they are faithful in that which is least, they will be faithful in much.
In Christ's sermon on the mount, we have the injunction of the Great Teacher: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." This command of Christ is of the highest importance, and should be strictly obeyed. It is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #42)
[The Grimsby (England) News of Aug. 25, 1885, contained the following report of a sermon delivered by Mrs. E. G. White, in the Town Hall in that city, June 23, 1885.]
On Sunday night, Mrs. E. G. White, a lady recently from the United States, where she has labored publicly for forty years, on temperance and other Christian duties, gave an address at the Town Hall to a densely crowded audience. The subject was, "The Love of God." . . .
Mrs. White, taking as her text Matt. 6:25-33: "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life," etc., proceeded: Here is a rich promise on condition that we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. If we comply with the condition, God's word is pledged that all things needful shall be added. Our kind heavenly Father would have his children trust in him as a child trusts in earthly parents. But we too often see poor, feeble mortals loading themselves down with cares and perplexities that God never intended them to bear. They have reversed the order; they are seeking the world first, and making the kingdom of heaven secondary. If even the little sparrow, which has no thought of future need, is cared for, why should the time and attention of man, who is made in the image of God, be wholly absorbed with these things? God has given us every evidence of his love and care, yet how often we fail to discern the divine hand in our manifold blessings. Every faculty of our being, every breath we draw, every comfort we enjoy, comes from him. Every time we gather around the family board to partake of refreshments, we should remember that all this is an expression of the love of God. And shall we take the gift, and deny the Giver! Well may we inquire, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?"
When Adam and Eve were placed in their Eden home, they had everything that a benevolent Creator could give them to add to their comfort and happiness. But they ventured to disobey God, and were therefore expelled from their lovely home. Then it was that the great love of God was expressed to us in one gift, that of his dear Son. If our first parents had not accepted the gift, the race would today be in hopeless misery. But how gladly did they hail the promise of the Messiah. It is the privilege of all to accept this Saviour, to become children of God, members of the royal family and to sit at last at God's right hand. What love, what marvelous love, is this! St. John calls upon us to behold it: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." Notwithstanding the curse was pronounced upon the earth that it should bring forth thorns and thistles, there is a flower upon the thistle. This world is not all sorrow and misery. God's great book of nature is open for us to study, and from it we are to gain more exalted ideas of his greatness and unexcelled love and glory. He who laid the foundation of the earth, who garnished the heavens and marshaled the stars in their order, he who has clothed the earth with a living carpet, and beautified it with lovely flowers of every shade and variety, would have his children appreciate his works, and delight in the simple, quiet beauty with which he has adorned their earthly home.
Christ sought to draw the attention of his disciples away from the artificial to the natural: "If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith!" Why did not our heavenly Father carpet the earth with brown or gray? He chose the color that was most restful, the most acceptable to the senses. How it cheers the heart and refreshes the weary spirit to look upon the earth, clad in its garments of living green! Without this covering the air would be filled with dust, and the earth would appear like a desert. Every spire of grass, every opening bud and blooming flower is a token of God's love, and should teach us a lesson of faith and trust in him. Christ calls our attention to their natural loveliness, and assures us that the most gorgeous array of the greatest king that ever wielded an earthly scepter was not equal to that worn by the humblest flower. You who are sighing for the artificial splendor which wealth alone can purchase, for costly paintings, furniture, and dress, listen to the voice of the divine Teacher. He points you to the flower of the field, the simple design of which cannot be equaled by human skill.
I once had the pleasure of beholding one of Colorado's most beautiful sunsets. The great Master Artist had hung out on the shifting canvas of the heavens, for the benefit of all, both rich and poor, one of his finest paintings. It almost seemed that the gates of heaven were ajar that we might see the beauty there was within. Oh! thought I, as one after another passed without noticing the scene, if it had been painted by human hands, how many would have been ready to fall down and worship it! God is a lover of the beautiful. He loves beauty of character, and he would have us cultivate purity and simplicity, the quiet graces of the flowers. We are to seek for the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Parents, what kind of an education are you giving your children? Are you teaching them to cherish that which is pure and lovely, or are you seeking to place their hands in that of the world? Are you spending time and means that they may learn the outward proprieties of life, and secure the superficial, the deceptive adornments of the world? From their earliest childhood, open before them is the great book of nature. Teach them the ministry of the flowers. Show them that if Jesus had not come to earth and died, we should have had none of the beautiful things which we now enjoy. Call their attention to the fact that the color and even the arrangement of every delicate bud and flower is an expression of the love of God to man, and that affection and gratitude to their heavenly Father should be awakened in their hearts for all these gifts. Jesus, the greatest teacher the world ever knew, drew the most valuable illustrations of truth from scenes in nature. Parents, imitate his example, and use the things that delight the senses to impress important truths upon the minds of your children. Take them out in the morning, and let them hear the birds carolling forth their songs of praise. Teach them that we too should return thanks to the bountiful Giver of all for the blessings we daily receive. Teach them that it is not dress that makes the gentleman or the lady, but that it is true goodness of heart.
Mother's, "the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that moves the world." Yours is a work that lives through the ceaseless ages of eternity. The lessons of early life are most firmly stamped upon the mind. You cannot afford to let Satan sow the first crop. Let not an impatient, fretful word escape your lips. Bring Jesus into your homes. If heaven is a good place, why not make home a little heaven below? In your zeal to secure the things of this life, or to make elaborate preparations for company, do not neglect your children. When wearied and worn with cares and perplexities, we cannot properly train them, neither can we take that comfort and peace that we might. Christ commanded us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on the earth. He knew that if we did, it would cause us needless anxiety and sorrow. If you have means, do not hoard it. There are precious souls to save. Instead of caring for self alone, lift up the fallen; instead of petting lap dogs, care for the needy, those who have souls to save. There is earnest work to be done. All that we need means for, is to use to the glory of God. I would present before you Christ and him crucified. Give him your heart's best affections. Give him your intellect; it belongs to him. Give him your talents of means and of influence; they were only lent to you for improvement. Jesus laid aside his robes of royalty, stepped down from his eternal throne, clothed his divinity with humanity, and for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich. Rich in money? in lands? in bank-stock?-- No; that we might secure eternal riches. There is no salvation except that which comes through Christ. He came to earth to lift up the fallen. With his human arm he encircles the race, while with his divine arm he grasps the throne of the infinite, thus connecting finite man to the infinite God, and uniting earth to heaven.
Through sin our world was divorced from the continent of heaven. But Jesus bridged the gulf that sin had made. He is that ladder, the base of which rests upon the earth while the topmost round reaches into the highest heaven. We can reach heaven only by climbing this ladder. Think not it is a step down to become a Christian. It is placing the feet on the ladder of progress. What can yield comfort and peace and joy like the divine favor? What can lighten the soul like beams from the Sun of righteousness, and evidence of sins forgiven? What can impart true nobility to the fallen men and women like the restoration to the image of God? The religion of Christ elevates the receiver, refines his taste, sanctifies his judgment, strengthens his intellect, and prepares him for the society of the pure and holy angels. Is it position and honor that you desire? To be acknowledged members of the Lord's family is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon man. Is it gold that you are seeking? You will find it in the city of God. Its streets are paved with gold. It is not the worldly wealthy who bear the heavenly credentials. Not many great men, not many mighty, are chosen. But God has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom.
The followers of Christ have a cross to lift in separating themselves from the world. Their names do not stand among the great ones of earth, but they are written in the Lamb's book of life. They confessed Christ and stood in defense of the truth through conflict, through trial, through evil as well as through good report; "and they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." Truly, we have every reason to love and serve God; for the love that he has manifested for us is without a parallel. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #43)
The Swiss Conference was held at this place Sept. 10-14, and was followed by the European Council, which continued until the 28th. The Conference was quite generally attended by our Swiss brethren, and by representatives from Germany, France, Italy, and Roumania. There were nearly two hundred brethren and sisters assembled ; and a more intelligent, noble looking company is seldom seen. Although gathered from different nations, we were brought near to God and to one another by our eyes being fixed upon the one object, Jesus Christ. We were one in faith, and one in our efforts to do the will of God. The influence of the gospel is to unite God's people in one great brotherhood. We have only one model to follow, and that is Christ. Worldly maxims and differences of nationalities are lost sight of in him. The love of God, sanctifying the soul, breaks down the wall of partition between the customs and practices of different individuals and nations. The great principles of Bible truth bring all into perfect harmony. The ten commandments, accepted as the one rule, the one measurement of character, unite all in the precious bonds of Christian fellowship. This was the work of the Holy Ghost when it descended upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
As I looked over the congregation of dear friends, so ardent and cheerful in the truth, and so anxious to catch every ray of additional light, my reflections were indeed solemn. I thought, These are members of Christ's body, and we are members one of another. The Morning-star has arisen in their hearts; the rays of the Sun of Righteousness have shone upon their minds. Happy people indeed who are thus highly favored. Truly, "it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." To me this was a precious place, a precious assembly. In answer to earnest prayer, the Lord gave freedom to his servants in speaking words which were meat in due season to his waiting people.
The meetings increased in interest from the first. The congregations was divided into three parts, those speaking German, French, and English, each company occupying a different part of the hall. Two interpreters followed the speaker. If the sermon or testimony was given in English, it was translated into French and German. If given in French, it was translated into German and English, and into French and English if given in German. This way of speaking was rather embarrassing at first; but this soon wore away, and it has been far less taxing to me than my usual manner of continuous speaking, and has given more time for meditation on what has been said.
Sabbath and Sunday were precious seasons for those assembled. The Lord especially blessed in speaking Sunday afternoon. All listened with the deepest interest, and at the close of the discourse an invitation was given for all who desired to be Christians, and all who felt that they had not a living connection with God, to come forward, and we would unite our prayers with theirs for the pardon of sin, and for grace to resist temptation. This was a new experience for many of our brethren in Europe, but they did not hesitate. It seemed that the entire congregation were on their feet, and the best they could do was to be seated, and all seek the Lord together. Here was an entire congregation manifesting their determination to put sin away, and to engage most earnestly in the work of seeking God. In every company there are always two classes, the self-complacent and the self-abhorring. To the first class the gospel has no charms except as they can construe detached portions to flatter their vanity. They love those peculiar features of lofty morality which they think they possess. But many of those who view Jesus in the perfection of his character see their own imperfections in such a light that they are almost in despair. Such was the case here; but the Lord was present to instruct and reprove, to comfort and bless as the several cases required. Earnest prayers was then offered, not for a happy flight of feeling, but for a true sense of our sinfulness, and of our hopelessness without the atoning sacrifice. Never did Jesus seem dearer than on this occasion. There was weeping throughout the congregation. The promise was grasped, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." If the vail could have been withdrawn, we should have seen angels of God standing ready to minister to the humble, penitent ones. After prayer, one hundred and fifteen testimonies were borne. Many of these showed a real, genuine experience in the things of God.
The Holy Spirit operates the same the world over. When it is received into the heart, the whole character is changed. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Old habits and customs and national pride and prejudice are broken down. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." When these are abiding in the soul, there will be unity of thought and action.
I felt grateful for the privilege of speaking to a people who seemed to appreciate all that was said. It was not to them as idle tales.
Monday afternoon I spoke upon the necessity of laboring for unity and cultivating Christian courtesy, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." The effect of truth upon the heart is to cleanse it from every defilement. It will not increase self love, but will lead the receiver to humble his heart, and to ascribe nothing to self, but all to God. He ceases to esteem himself more highly than his brethren. His former sensitiveness to reproach, neglect, or contempt disappears, and he is not so easily irritated; he becomes gentle and condescending, and exemplifies the simplicity of Christ who was meek and lowly of heart. His own nation and personal friends are no longer the boundary lines of his love. He loves Jesus with all his heart, and all who are trying to be the children of God he loves as himself. There is an entire change in his life. Whereas he once lived for himself, he now lives for God's glory, and holds up the cross of Christ as his banner, to be adored by all.
A baptism followed the discourse. Fourteen went forward in the ordinance. This was the first time the baptistery connected with the new meeting hall had been used, and it is to be hoped that many others may follow these dear souls. God grant that none of these may ever forget their baptismal vows; but they may take heed to the words of the apostle: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." Will those who have recently taken the cross of Christ, both here and in America, continue to climb the ladder of progress? Will they grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth? Will they live upon the plan of addition, so that God can work for them upon the plan of multiplication in bestowing his grace and salvation? It remains for each to answer these questions for himself.
At the close of the Conference many of our Swiss brethren were obliged to return to their homes, but some remained to the close of the Council, although it was continued one week longer than was expected. The Council was attended by laborers from England, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, and Roumania. Besides the regular business meetings each day, there were held two Bible readings, a class for the benefit of canvassers and colporteurs, and one for those who wished to learn English. There were also several ministers' meetings, besides the sermons and regular morning meetings for social worship. These meetings were interesting, and according to the universal testimony, very profitable. The testimonies of the brethren were good, and the hearts of all seemed tender and humble. I felt urged by the Spirit of God throughout the meetings to impress upon all the importance of cultivating love and unity. I tried to present the danger of building up separate interests between nationalities. We are all bound together in the great web of humanity, and all that we do has a relation to others. There is a great work before us, and our hearts must be open to receive of God's light and love, that we may reflect it to others. There is a light in truth and a power in example, which will reach the indifferent and the unconverted. In the days of the apostles the Holy Spirit was the efficient agent in reaching hearts, and it would be now if there was that exercise of living faith now that there was then. True piety and earnest zeal are greatly lacking. There is too much halfhearted religion. Many are superficial. They confess their sins without realizing the hatefulness of sin in God's sight, and without repenting with brokenness of heart. This is renouncing the world, but not forsaking it. The truth, the sacred, sanctifying truth, does not abide in the heart.
The end of all things is at hand. Our time to work is short, and there is a world to be warned. We feel the need of having more thorough missionary work done. The calls are urgent for more laborers, but where are the lightbearers to the world? God has sent the truth to our doors, but are we doing all in our power to send it to the dark corners of the world? How can you who believe the truth, and who repeat the Lord's prayer, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," sit at ease in your homes without helping to carry the torch of truth to others? How can you lift up your hands before God and ask his blessing upon yourselves and your families when you are doing so little to bless others? The living and the dead are to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. What are you doing to show that you are the light of the world?
The work of God must go forward. The world must be warned; but where are the men and the means to carry it forward? One brother in Italy, who is doing what he can to spread the light of truth, said, "I fear I will have to give up my work. I have a wife and five children to support, and I see there are no means in the treasury. We live on the simplest fare, but we must live." The question was asked how much he would have to receive to support himself and family. He said he thought that one hundred dollars a year would supply his wants. He stated that his mouth had often watered at the smell of a dish cooking upon the fire. And what was this delicious dish? Chopped hay and coarse corn meal. Few know how the poor live in these countries, and yet there are no complaints. They are willing to do all they can. Now I wish you, my American brother, to compare figures with this earnest worker, and then begin to retrench. Cut down your expenses. Exercise economy in building and furnishing your houses, and in eating and dressing. Souls are to be saved. "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not."
We have tried to set before the workers here the necessity of strict economy. We are sorry that all our missionary workers at home and abroad do not realize the value of money. When the lesson of frugality is not learned early in life, it is difficult to weave into one's experience the self-denying, self-sacrificing part of religion. What is needed now is not preachers merely, but laborers, those who will give themselves heartily to the work of the Master; those who will visit from the house to house, and bring the truth home to the hearts of the people. Here is a vast field which our sisters can enter. If devoted to God, women can do fully as much good by opening the Scriptures in families as the ministers can.
If we have the truth, the work must enlarge in these countries. New fields will be continually opening, and the church must extend her efforts by entering these fields. The message must go, notwithstanding the hard times. We must make special efforts in this direction now, while the angels are holding the four winds. Soon the time to labor will be past. Who does not want to have a part in this closing work? All can do something. Those who cannot give themselves can give of their means, and all can pray that the Lord will not only raise up laborers, but that the treasury, now empty, may be supplied with the necessary funds to extend the work. Pray, brethren, pray earnestly, that the hearts of some who are doing very little, and of others who have as yet done nothing, may be opened, and that the means that God has intrusted to them may be used to his glory. The truth must go to all nations, tongues, and people, and that speedily. Bale, Suisse. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #44)
I feel urged to address those who are engaged in giving the last message of warning to the world. Whether those for whom they labor see and accept the truth, depends very much upon the individual workers. The command from God is, "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord;" and Paul charges Timothy, "Take heed to thyself and to the doctrine." The work must commence with the worker; he must be united to Christ as the branch is united to the vine. "I am the true vine," said Christ; "ye are the branches." The closest possible connection is here represented. Ingraft the leafless rod upon the flourishing vine stock, and it soon becomes a living branch, drawing sap and nourishment from the vine. Fiber by fiber, vein by vein, the sapling clings, until it buds and blossoms and bears fruit. The sapless twig represents the sinner. When united to Christ, soul is joined to soul, the feeble and finite to the holy and infinite, and man becomes one with Christ.
"Without me," says Christ, "ye can do nothing." God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification. Are we who claim to be workers with Christ, united with him? Do we abide in Christ, and are we one with him? The message that we bear is worldwide. It must come before all nations, tongues, and people. The Lord will not require any one of us to go forth with this message unless he gives us power and grace to present it to the people in a manner corresponding to its importance. The great question with us today is, Are we carrying this solemn message of truth in a manner that is equal to its importance? The Lord will work with the workers if they will make Christ their only dependence. He never designed that his missionaries should work without his grace, and destitute of his power. The humble, contrite heart will be the abode of the Spirit of Christ. "If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him."
God has chosen us out of the world that we might be a peculiar and holy people. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." God's workers must be men of prayer, diligent students of the Scriptures, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, that they may be a light and strength to others. Our God is a jealous God; and he requires that we worship him in spirit and in truth, in the beauty of holiness. The psalmist says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." As workers, we must take heed to our ways. If the psalmist could not be heard if he regarded iniquity in his heart, how can the prayers of ministers be heard if iniquity is regarded among them? There are dangers to which we are continually exposed. It is Satan's studied plan to make the workers weak in prayer, weak in power, and weak in influence before the world, because of the defects in their characters,--defects which in no way harmonize with the truth.
After the passing of the time in 1844, fanaticism came into the ranks of Adventists. God gave messages of warning to stay the incoming evil. There was too great familiarity between some men and women. I presented to them the holy standard of truth that we should reach, and the purity of deportment that we should maintain, in order to meet the approval of God and be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Most solemn denunciations from God were given to men and women whose thoughts were running in an impure channel, while they claimed to be especially favored of God; but the message God gave was despised and rejected. They turned upon me, and said, Has God spoken only by you, and not by us? They did not amend their ways, and the Lord suffered them to go on till defilement marked their lives. Afterward, the very ones who had denounced me because I had reproved them, charged upon me the things which they had been guilty of themselves, and which had caused me such great distress and anguish of spirit.
We are not out of danger even now. Every soul who engages to give to the world the message of warning will be sorely tempted to pursue such a course in life as will deny his faith.
We must as workers be united in frowning down and condemning anything that bears the least approach to evil, in our associations with one another. Our faith is holy; our work is to vindicate the honor of God's law, and is not of a character to bring any one down to a low level in thought or in deportment. There are many who claim to believe and teach the truth who have error and fanciful ideas of their own mingled with the truth. But there is an exalted platform for us to stand upon. We must believe and teach the truth as it is in Jesus. Holiness of heart will never lead to impure actions. When one who claims to be teaching the truth is inclined to be much in the company of young or even married women, when he familiarly lays his hand upon their person, or is often found conversing with them in a familiar manner, be afraid of him; the pure principles of truth are not inwrought in his soul. Such are not workers with Jesus; they are not in Christ, and Christ is not abiding in them. They need a thorough conversion before God can accept their labors. The truth of heavenly origin never degrades the receiver, never leads him to the least approach to undue familiarity; on the contrary, it sanctifies the believer, refines his taste, elevates and ennobles him, and brings him into a close connection with Jesus. It leads him to regard the apostle Paul's injunction to abstain from even the appearance of evil, lest his good should be evil spoken of.
We have a great work to do to elevate and win men to Christ, to lead them to choose and seek earnestly to be a partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Every thought, every word, and every action of the workers should be of the elevated character that is in harmony with the sacred truth they advocate. It may be that men and women will necessarily be united more or less in our important mission fields. If this is the case, you cannot be too guarded or circumspect. Let married men be reserved and guarded, so that no evil may be said of them justly. We are living in an age when iniquity abounds, and an unguarded word or improper action may greatly injure the usefulness of the one who shows this weakness. Keep up the barriers of reserve; let not one instance occur in your relations to others that the enemy can make capital of. If you begin to place your affections upon one another, giving special attention to favorites, using flattering words, God will withdraw his Spirit.
If married men go into the work, leaving their wives to care for the children at home, the wife and mother is doing fully as great and important a work as the husband and father. Although one is in the missionary field, the other is a home missionary, whose cares and anxieties and burdens frequently far exceed those of the husband and father. Her work is a solemn and important one,--to mold the minds and fashion the characters of her children, and train them for usefulness here, and fit them for the future immortal life. The husband in the open missionary field may receive the honors of men, while the home toiler may receive no earthly credit for her labor. But if she works for the best interest of her family, seeking to fashion their characters after the divine Model, the recording angel writes her name as one of the greatest missionaries in the world. God does not see things as man's finite vision views them. How careful should the husband and father be to maintain his loyalty to his marriage vows. How circumspect should be his character lest he shall encourage thoughts in young girls, or even in married women, that are not in accordance with the high, holy standard,--the commandments of God. Those commandments Christ shows to be exceeding broad, reaching even the thoughts, intents, and purposes of the heart. Here is where many are delinquent. Their heart imaginings are not of the pure, holy character which God requires; and however high their calling, however talented they may be, God will mark iniquity against them, and will count them as far more guilty and deserving of his wrath than those who have less talent, less light, less influence.
I am pained when I see men praised, flattered, and petted. God has revealed the fact that some who receive these attentions are unworthy to take his name into their lips; yet they are exalted to heaven in the estimation of finite man, who reads only from outward appearance. My sisters, never pet and flatter poor, failing, erring men, either young or old, married or unmarried. You know not their weaknesses, and you know not but these very attentions and this profuse praise may prove their ruin. I am alarmed at the shortsightedness, the want of wisdom, that many manifest in respect to this familiarity.
Men who are doing God's work, and who have Christ abiding in their hearts, will not lower the standard of morality, but will ever seek to elevate it. They will not find pleasure in the flattery of women, or in being petted by them. Let both young and married men say, Hands off! I will not give the least occasion to have my good evil spoken of. My good name is capital of far more value to me than gold or silver. Let me preserve it untarnished. If men assail that name, it shall not be because I have given them any occasion to do so, but for the same reason that they spoke falsely of Christ,--because they hated the purity and holiness of his character; for it was a constant rebuke to them.
I wish I could impress upon every worker in God's cause, the great need of continual, earnest prayer. They cannot be constantly upon their knees, but they can be uplifting their hearts to God. This is the way that Enoch walked with God. Be careful lest self-sufficiency come in, and you drop Jesus out, and work in your own strength rather than in the spirit and strength of the Master. Do not waste golden moments in frivolous conversation. When you return from doing missionary work, do not praise yourself, but exalt Jesus; lift up the cross of Calvary. Allow no one to praise or flatter you, or to cling to your hand as if loth to let it go. Be afraid of every such demonstration. When young or even married people show a disposition to open their family secrets to you, beware. When they express a desire for sympathy, know that it is time to exercise great caution. Those who are imbued with the spirit of Christ, and who are walking with God, will have no unholy repining for sympathy. They have a companionship that satisfies every desire of the mind and heart. Married men who accept the attention, the praise and petting, of women, should be assured that the love and sympathy of this class is not worth the obtaining; it is valueless.
This is a subject to which we must give heed. We must guard against the sins of this degenerate age. We must stand aloof from everything that savors of commonness and undue familiarity. God condemns it. It is forbidden ground, upon which it is unsafe to set the feet. Every word and action should tend to elevate, refine, and ennoble the character. There is sin in thoughtlessness about such matters. The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to diligence and thoroughness in his ministry, and urged him to meditate upon those things that were pure and excellent, that his profiting might appear unto all. The same counsel is greatly needed by young men of the present age. Thoughtful consideration is essential. If men would only think more, and act less impulsively, they would meet with much greater success in their labors. We are handling subjects of infinite importance, and we cannot afford to weave into our work our own defects of character. We want to represent the character of Christ.
Women are too often tempters. On one pretense or another, they engage the attention of married or unmarried men, and lead them on till they transgress the law of God, till their usefulness is ruined and their souls jeopardized. The history of Joseph is left on record for the benefit of all who like him are tempted. He was firm as a rock to principle, and answered the tempter, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God!" Moral power like his is what is now needed. If women would only elevate their lives and become workers with Christ, there would be less danger through their influence; but with their present feelings of unconcern in regard to home responsibilities, and in regard to the claims that God has upon them, their influence is often strong in the wrong direction, their powers are dwarfed, and their work does not bear the divine impress. They are not home missionaries, neither are they missionaries away from home; and frequently home, precious home, is a desolation.
Let every one who professes Christ, seek to overcome all unmanliness, all weakness and folly. Some men never grow up to the full stature of men in Christ Jesus. They are childish and self-indulgent. Humble piety would correct all this. Pure religion possesses no characteristics of childish self-indulgence. It is honorable in the highest degree. Then let not one of those who have enlisted as soldiers of Christ be ready to faint in the day of trial. All should feel that they have earnest work to do to elevate their fellowmen. Not one has a right to rest from the warfare of making virtue desirable and vice hated. There is no rest for the living Christian this side of the eternal world. To obey God's commandments is to do right and only right. This is Christian manliness. But many need to take frequent lessons from the life of Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith. "Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." You are to show a growth in the Christian graces. By manifesting meekness under provocation, and growing away from low earthliness, you give evidence that you have an indwelling Saviour, Every thought, word, and deed attracts men to Jesus rather than to self. There is a great amount of work to be done, and but little time in which to do it. Let your life work be to inspire all with the thought that they have a work to do for Christ. Wherever there are duties to be done which but few understand because they do not want to see their life work, accept them, and do them.
Again I urge upon you the necessity of purity in every thought, in every word, in every action. We have an individual accountability to God, an individual work which no one can do for us. It is to make the world better by precept, personal effort, and example. While we should cultivate sociability, let it not be merely for amusement, but for a purpose. There are souls to save. Come near to them by personal effort. Open your doors to young men who are exposed to temptation. Evil invites them on every hand. Seek to interest them. If they are full of faults, seek to correct these errors. Do not hold yourselves aloof from them, but come close to them. Bring them to your firesides; invite them to your family altars. There is work that thousands need to have done for them. Every tree in Satan's garden is hung with tempting, poisonous fruit, and a woe is pronounced upon every one who plucks and eats. Let us remember the claims of God upon us to make the path to heaven clear and bright and attractive, that we may win souls away from Satan's destructive enchantments. God has given us reason, to be used for a noble purpose. We are here as probationers for the next life. It is too solemn a period for any of us to be careless or move in uncertainty. Our intercourse with others should be characterized by sobriety and heavenly-mindedness. Our conversation should be upon heavenly things. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him for those that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." When the conversation is of a cheap character, and savors of an earnest reaching out after human sympathy and human appreciation, it springs from lovesick sentimentalism, and neither the youth nor the men with gray hairs are secure.
What is more worthy to engross the mind than the plan of redemption? It is a subject that is exhaustless. The love of Jesus, the salvation offered to fallen man through his infinite love, holiness of heart, the precious, saving truth for these last days, the grace of Jesus Christ,--these are subjects which may animate the soul, and cause the pure in heart to feel that joy that the disciples felt when Jesus came and walked with them as they traveled toward Emmaus. He who has centered his affections upon Christ will relish this kind of hallowed association, and will gather divine strength by such intercourse; but he who has no relish for this kind of conversation, and who is best pleased to talk lovesick nonsense, has wandered far away from God, and is becoming dead to holy and noble aspirations. The sensual, the earthly, is interpreted by such to be heavenly. When the truth of God is an abiding principle in the heart, it will be like a living spring. Attempts may be made to repress it, but it will gush forth in another place; it is there, and cannot be headed off. The truth in the heart is a well-spring of life. It refreshes the weary, restrains the vile thought and utterance and makes all flourishing.
Is there not enough transpiring about us to show us the dangers that beset our path? Everywhere are seen wrecks of humanity, broken-down family altars, broken-up families. There is a strange abandonment of principle, the standard of morality is lowered, and the earth is fast becoming a Sodom. The Sodomitish practices which brought the judgment of God upon the world, and caused it to be deluged with water, and which caused Sodom to be destroyed by fire, are fast increasing. We are nearing the end. God has borne long with the perversity of mankind, but their punishment is no less certain. Let those who profess to be the light of the world, depart from all iniquity. We see the very same spirit manifested against the truth as was seen in Christ's day. For want of Bible arguments, those who are making void the law of God will manufacture falsehoods to stain and blacken the workers. They did this to the world's Redeemer; they will do it to his followers. Reports that have not the least foundation will be asserted as truth.
May the Lord attract souls to himself, and impart to them individually a sense of their sacred responsibilities to form such characters that Christ will not be ashamed to call them brethren. Elevate the standard, and then the heavenly benediction will be pronounced upon you in that day when every man will receive according to the deeds done in the body. Workers for God must live as in his sight, and be constantly developing in character, true virtue, and godliness. Their mind and heart must be so thoroughly imbued with the Spirit of Christ and solemnized by the sacred message they have to bear that every thought, every action, every motive will be above the earthly and sensual. Their happiness will not be in forbidden, selfish gratifications, but in Jesus and his love.
The standard of morality is not exalted high enough among God's people. Many who profess to be keeping God's commandments, and standing in their defense, are breaking them. Temptations present themselves in a way that the tempted think they see an excuse to transgress. Those who enter the missionary field should be men and women who walk and talk with God. Those who stand as ministers in the sacred desk should be men of blameless reputation; their lives should be spotless, above everything that savors of impurity. Do not place your reputation in jeopardy by going in the way of temptation. If a woman lingeringly holds your hand, quickly withdraw it, and save her from sin. If she manifests undue affection, and mourns that her husband does not love her and sympathize with her, do not try to supply this lack. Your only safe and wise course in such a case is to keep your sympathy to yourself. Such cases are numerous. Point such souls to the Burden Bearer, the true and safe Counselor. If she has chosen Christ as a companion, he will give her grace to bear neglect without repining; meanwhile she should diligently do all in her power to bind her husband to her by strictest fidelity and faithfulness in making his home attractive and cheerful. If all her efforts are unavailing and unappreciated, she will have the sympathy and aid of her blessed Redeemer. He will help her to bear all her burdens, and comfort her in her disappointments. She shows distrust of Jesus when she reaches for human objects to supply the place that Christ is ever ready to fill. In her repining she sins against God. She would do well to critically examine her own heart to see if sin is not lurking in the soul. The heart that accepts human sympathy and forbidden attentions from any one is not pure and faultless before God.
The Bible affords many striking illustrations of the strong influence of evil-minded women. When Balaam was called upon to curse Israel, he was not permitted to do so; for "the Lord had not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither had he seen perverseness in Israel." But Balaam, who had yielded to one temptation, now became fully the agent of Satan; and he determined to accomplish that which God had not permitted him to do directly. He at once laid a snare whereby Israel should be enchanted with the beautiful Moabitish women, who would lead them to transgress God's law. Thus iniquity would be found in them, and God's blessing would not rest upon them. Their forces would be greatly weakened, and their enemies would no longer fear their power, because the presence of the Lord of hosts was not in their armies.
This is intended as a warning to the people of God living in the last days. If they follow after righteousness and true holiness, if they keep all of God's commandments, Satan and his agents will not be permitted to overcome them. All the opposition of their bitterest foes will prove powerless to destroy or uproot the vine of God's own planting. But Satan understands what Balaam learned by sad experience, that there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither divination against Israel while iniquity is not cherished among them; and his power and influence will ever be employed to mar their unity and defile the purity of their characters. His snares are laid in a thousand ways to weaken their power for good. God has blessed his commandment-keeping people, and all the opposition and falsehoods that may be brought against them will only strengthen those who stand firmly in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints. But if those who profess to be the depositaries of God's law become transgressors of that law, his protecting care will be withdrawn, and many will fall through perverseness and licentiousness. Then we shall indeed be unable to stand before our enemies. But if his people remain separate and distinct from the world, as a nation who do righteousness, God will be their defense, and no weapons formed against them shall prosper.
In view of the dangers of this time, shall not we, as God's commandment-keeping people, put away from among us all sin, all iniquity, all perverseness? Shall not the women professing the truth keep strict guard over themselves lest the least encouragement be given to unwarrantable familiarity? They may close many a door of temptation if they will observe at all times strict reserve and propriety of deportment. Let men find an example in the life of Joseph, and stand firm to principle, however strongly tempted. We want to be strong men and women for the right. There are those around us who are weak in moral power. They need to be in the company of those who are firm, and whose hearts are closely knit with the heart of Christ. Every one's principles will be put to the test. But there are those who go into temptation like a fool to the correction of stocks. They invite the Devil to tempt them. They unnerve themselves, are weakened in moral power, and shame and confusion are the result.
How contemptible in the sight of a holy God are those who profess to stand in vindication of his law and yet violate it! They bring reproach upon the precious cause, and give the oppressors of truth occasion to triumph. Never should the mark of distinction between the followers of Jesus and the followers of Satan be obliterated. There is a distinct line drawn by God himself between the world and the Church, between commandment-keepers and commandment-breakers. These do not blend together. They are as far separated, as much different, as midday and midnight,--different in their tastes, their aims, their pursuits, their characters. If we cultivate the love and fear of God, we shall loathe the least approach to impurity.
My prayer is, "O Lord, anoint the eyes of thy people, that they may discern between sin and holiness, and between pollution and righteousness, and come off victors at last." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #45)
Text: "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." John 7:37.
Once a year, at the feast of tabernacles, the children of Israel called to mind the time when their fathers dwelt in tents in the wilderness, as they journeyed from Egypt to the land of Canaan. The services of the last day of this feast were of peculiar solemnity; but the greatest interest centered in the ceremony that commemorated the bringing of water from the rock. When in a golden vessel the waters of Siloam were borne by the priests into the temple, and, after being mingled with wine, were poured over the sacrifice on the altar, there was great rejoicing. A multitude of voices, mingled with the sound of the trumpet and the cymbal, united in ascribing praise to the most high God; for in their minds the water flowing from the smitten rock was associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which they expected to receive when the Messiah should come.
On this occasion, above all the confusion of the crowd and the sounds of rejoicing, a voice is heard: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." The attention of the people is arrested. Outwardly all is joy; but the eye of Jesus, beholding the throng with the tenderest compassion, sees the soul, parched, and thirsting for the waters of life. And yet many who were eagerly seeking to satisfy the wants of the soul by a round of empty ceremonies, to quench their thirst from cisterns that hold no water, understood not their great need. They manifested great outward joy that the fountain had been opened, but they refused to drink of its lifegiving waters themselves.
The gracious invitation, "Come unto me, and drink," comes down through all the ages to our time. And we may stand in a position similar to that of the Jews in the time of Christ, rejoicing because the fountain of truth has been opened to us, while its living waters are not permitted to refresh our thirsty souls. We must drink. It is our privilege and duty to drink, and refresh our own souls; and then, by our words of courage and holy joy and triumph, to encourage and strengthen others. We must express, in words and actions, the benefits of the great salvation that has been provided for us.
The fountain of life has been opened for us at immense cost. And yet how many there are who extol and admire it, who will not drink of its healing, health and lifegiving waters. But the voices of those who do drink, will be tuned to loftiest praise. The reason why there is not more gladness and rejoicing in God, is that so few drink of the living waters. Many point others to the crystal stream; they invite others to drink; but they themselves do not taste its pure waters.
There is divine grace for all who will accept it; yet there is something for us to do. We often hear it said that it is what Jesus has done for us, and not anything that we can do for ourselves, that will secure for us heaven. This may be true in one sense, but in another it is not true. There is a work for us to do to fit ourselves for the society of angels. We must be like Jesus, free from the defilement of sin. He was all that he requires us to be; he was a perfect pattern for childhood, for youth, for manhood. We must study the pattern more closely.
Jesus was the Majesty of heaven; yet he condescended to take little children in his arms and bless them. He whom angels adore, listened with tenderest love to their lisping, prattling praise. We must be like him in noble dignity, while our hearts are softened and subdued by the divine love that dwelt in the heart of Christ. Our conduct should be characterized by simplicity, and we should come close to the hearts of our brethren, loving them as Christ has loved us.
We have a work to do to fashion the character after the divine model. All wrong habits must be given up. The impure must become pure in heart; the selfish man must put away his selfishness; the proud man must get rid of his pride: the self-sufficient man must overcome his self-confidence, and realize that he is nothing without Christ. Every one of us will be sorely tempted; our faith will be tried to the uttermost. We must have a living connection with God; we must be partakers of the divine nature; then we shall not be deceived by the devices of the enemy, and shall escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
We need to be anchored in Christ, rooted and grounded in the faith. Satan works through agents. He selects those who have not been drinking of the living waters, whose souls are athirst for something new and strange, and who are ever ready to drink at any fountain that may present itself. Voices will be heard, saying, "Lo, here is Christ," or "Lo there;" but we must believe them not. We have unmistakable evidence of the voice of the True Shepherd, and he is calling upon us to follow him. He says, "I have kept my Father's commandments." He leads his sheep in the path of humble obedience to the law of God, but he never encourages them in the transgression of that law.
"The voice of a stranger" is the voice of one who neither respects nor obeys God's holy, just, and good law. Many make great pretensions to holiness, and boast of the wonders they perform in healing the sick, when they do not regard this great standard of righteousness. But through whose power are these cures wrought? Are the eyes of either party opened to their transgressions of the law? and do they take their stand as humble, obedient children, ready to obey all of God's requirements? John testifies of the professed children of God: "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
None need be deceived. The law of God is as sacred as his throne, and by it every man who cometh into the world is to be judged. There is no other standard by which to test character. "If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Now, shall the case be decided according to the word of God, or shall man's pretensions be credited? Says Christ, "By their fruits ye shall know them." If those through whom cures are performed, are disposed, on account of these manifestations, to excuse their neglect of the law of God, and continue in disobedience, though they have power to any and every extent, it does not follow that they have the great power of God. On the contrary, it is the miracle-working power of the great deceiver. He is a transgressor of the moral law, and employs every device that he can master to blind men to its true character. We are warned that in the last days he will work with signs and lying wonders. And he will continue these wonders until the close of probation, that he may point to them as evidence that he is an angel of light and not of darkness.
Brethren, we must be beware of the pretended holiness that permits transgression of the law of God. Those cannot be sanctified who trample that law under their feet, and judge themselves by a standard of their own devising. A certain lawyer asked Jesus a decisive question, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, 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; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live." Here, then, it is distinctly stated that eternal life depends on obedience to all the precepts of the law of God.
In separating ourselves from the world as God's commandment-keeping people, we have experienced the power and opposition of the enemy. As we have made advance moves at the command, "Go forward," we have had occasion to rejoice that angels of God have gone before us, and prepared the way. We have, as it were, crossed the Red Sea, and have again and again realized the hand of God in our deliverance. It becomes us to call to mind these evidences of divine favor, and to offer up thanksgiving and praise that the Captain of our salvation, concealed by the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, has been, and still is, leading us into all truth.
Well would it be for us to have a feast of tabernacles, a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to us as a people. As the children of Israel celebrated the deliverance that God wrought for their fathers, and his miraculous preservation of them during their journeyings from Egypt to the promised land, so should the people of God at the present time gratefully call to mind the various ways he has devised to bring them out from the world, out from the darkness of error, into the precious light of truth. We should often bring to remembrance the dependence upon God of those who first led out in this work. We should gratefully regard the old waymarks, and refresh our souls with memories of the loving-kindness of our gracious Benefactor.
We are indeed strangers here, and pilgrims to a better country. Our prospective home is the heavenly Canaan, where we shall drink of the "pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." But as we journey onward, what a blessed privilege is ours to accept the invitation of Christ, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Let us rejoice in the goodness of God, and show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #46)
Text: "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." Rev. 3:20.
Since we last met in General Conference, a year with its burden of records has passed into eternity. I am happy to meet you all here at the opening of another session, and grateful that during the past year the Lord has given me strength to labor far beyond my expectations.
We want to make this season that we spend together one of great profit to us all. I know that in many hearts the inquiry arises, "Where shall I find Jesus?" There are many who want his presence, want his love and his light; but they know not where to look for Him for whom their hearts yearn. And yet Jesus does not hide himself away; no one need search for him in vain. "Behold," he says, "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." Jesus invites us to accept his presence; we are to open the door of the heart, and let him in. But he will not share a divided heart. If it be given to the service of mammon, if selfishness and pride fill its chambers, there will be no room for the heavenly Guest; he will not take up his abode with us until the soul-temple has been emptied and cleansed. Yet there is no need of making a failure in the Christian life. Jesus is waiting to do a great work for us, and all heaven is interested in our salvation.
Our Redeemer testifies: "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." Through this open door into the temple of God, we see the royal law, deposited in the ark of the testament. Through this open door, light shines from that holy, just, and good law, presenting to man the true standard of righteousness, that he may make no mistake in the formation of a character that will meet the requirements of God. Sin is condemned by that law; we must put it away. Pride and selfishness can find no place in the character without crowding out him who was meek and lowly of heart.
The law of God is the standard by which character is to be tested; if we erect a standard to suit ourselves, and attempt to follow a criterion of our own devising, we shall utterly fail to secure heaven at last. We are altogether too selfish, loving our own way and cherishing our mistakes. Many have received as a birthright traits of character that do no honor to the cause of God, and through wrong education these have developed into marked defects. Many have become sharp, domineering, critical of others. They choose to put their own mold on the cause of God, thus marring the work, forgetting that the signet of Christ should be placed upon themselves and upon their labors in his cause.
Jesus is the perfect pattern. Instead of trying to please self and have our own way, let us seek to reflect his image. He was kind and courteous, compassionate and tender. Are we like him in these respects? Do we seek to make our lives fragrant with good works. What we need is the simplicity of Christ. I fear that in many cases a hard, unfeeling spirit, that is entirely unlike that of the divine Pattern, has taken possession of the heart. This cast-iron principle, which has been cherished by so many, and which has even been thought a virtue, must all be removed, that we may love one another as Christ has loved us.
It is not enough that we merely profess the faith; something more than a nominal assent is wanted. There must be a real knowledge, a genuine experience in the principles of the truth as it is in Jesus. The Holy Spirit must work within, bringing these principles into the strong light of distinct consciousness, that we may know their power and make them a living reality. The mind must yield obedience to the royal law of liberty, the law which the Spirit of God impresses upon the heart, and makes plain to the understanding. The expulsion of sin must be the act of the soul itself, in calling into exercise its noblest powers. The only freedom a finite will can enjoy, consists in coming into harmony with the will of God, complying with the conditions that make man a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
There are some who make great pretensions to piety while they stand on the side of the great rebel as transgressors of the law of God. But are they holy and sanctified?--Oh, no! They are not, as obedient children, walking in all the statutes of the Lord blameless. They give nothing, and yet presumptuously claim everything; while we as a people, who are seeking to obey the divine law and lead others to obey it, give obedience, give ourselves, and claim but little in return. Because so many prate about holiness and sanctification when their works testify against them, we must not get the idea that there is no such thing. There is a genuine and a false sanctification; and we can tell the one from the other only by the rule that Christ has given,--"By their fruits ye shall know them."
The human character is depraved, deformed by sin, and terribly unlike that of the first man as he came from the hands of the Creator. Jesus proposes to take man's deformity and sin, and to give him, in return, beauty and excellence in his own character. He engages to renovate the soul through the truth. Error cannot do this work of regeneration; therefore we must have spiritual eyesight to discern between truth and falsehood, that we fall not into the snare of the enemy.
God has honored his Son by making him the model after which he molds the characters of all who believe on him. He takes of the things of Christ, and reveals them to us, that we may catch his temper and bear his likeness. All who will open their hearts to receive him, may have Jesus as an honored guest. And when they meet for worship, angels of light will accompany them; for they are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. The glory and majesty of one angel was sufficient to cause the stern Roman soldiers who guarded the tomb of Christ to fall to the earth as dead men. Then what power might attend the servants of Christ, if they would live so as not to grieve away these heavenly messengers.
Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock." Will we let him in? He would not have us stand at this time, amid the perils of the last days, in our own finite strength. We cannot afford to be without his presence; for he says, "Without me, ye can do nothing." But if he abides in the heart by living faith, we can do all things in his name. Jesus loves us; he is working for our interest, and he wants us to trust him fully. He will be the Captain of our salvation if we will let him lead us on to victory.
The obstacles, provocations, and hardships that we meet, may prove to us, not a curse, but the greatest blessings of our lives; for the grandest character are built amid hardships and trials. But they must be received as practical lessons in the school of Christ. Every temptation resisted, every trial bravely borne, gives us a new experience, and advances us in the work of character-building. We have a better knowledge of the working of Satan, and of our own power to defeat him through divine grace.
Jesus was the light of the world; and he says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Then it is our privilege to walk in the sunshine of his presence, and to weave into the characters we are forming the golden threads of cheerfulness, gratitude, forbearance, and love. We may thus show the power of divine grace, and reflect light from Heaven amid all the frets and irritations that come to us day by day.
"An open door" has been set before us, and our opponents, with Satan, who is the chief opposer of righteousness, at their head, cannot close that door. Our heavenly Father himself has opened it, and "no man can shut it," Then why do we go stumbling along without light? Why do we complain of clouds and darkness, when there is an open door of mercy, and Jesus is engaged in a special work in our behalf, making an atonement for us, presenting our names before the Father? He is waiting to be gracious. "Behold." he says, "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." And then comes the gracious assurance: "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." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #47)
[The Hampshire Independent,-- published in Southampton, England, in its issue of Sept. 5, 1885, contains the following report of a sermon delivered by Mr. E. G. White in that city, Aug. 30, 1885.]
Last Sunday evening Mrs. E. G. White, a lady recently from the United States, where she has labored for forty years as a speaker on temperance and other Christian duties, gave an address at the Philharmonic Hall, to a full house.
Taking as her text 2 Peter 1:1-11, she proceeded to read and comment: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." If we escape the contaminating influences of this degenerate age, we have earnest work before us, and we must have a living connection with Christ. We must have a knowledge of his life and character, and a desire to be like him. Then we must seek earnestly to overcome the temptations that are around us, and have faith to believe that his promises will be verified unto us. "And besides this," says the apostle, "giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue." The sinner who comes to Christ for pardon, hope, and salvation, must lay the foundation in a pure, virtuous character. Christ will not accept a polluted offering. The soul-temple must be cleansed from all defilement. Then the work of character building is begun aright. He that clings to cherished sins and continues to indulge sinful habits, cannot be a partaker of the divine nature; for he has not escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
The apostle continues, "And to virtue, knowledge." The Lord is not pleased to have any of us remain in ignorance. He would have us put to the best use the talents of reason and intelligence that he has given us. We are not excusable if we allow things of minor consequence to so occupy our God-given time that the mind will not be stored with useful knowledge. The mental powers should be taxed to think, and thus we will gain strength to reach any height in knowledge. We must not be satisfied with reaching a low level. There are high and holy attainments for us to reach. But we shall never make that advancement that God would have us until we have an experimental knowledge of Christ and his work of redemption. We must not allow earthly, temporal interests to absorb our minds and steal our affections from our Creator. Although the world with its customs. maxims, and amusements intrudes itself upon the mind, Christians will show by their words and deportment that they have chosen Christ as their portion; they have chosen to be partakers with him of his self-denying, self-sacrificing life, that they may one day be partakers of his glory.
The great temptation of this age is the indulgence of pride, the love of praise, and the love of the world. Time is golden; and a day spent in selfish gratification is a day lost to all eternity. But time employed in searching the Scriptures with a desire to learn the truth, will bring everlasting riches. Angels come near to pour light and knowledge into the darkened understanding, and the light thus given, strengthens the intellect, and quickens the perception to discern the precious gems of truth. Knowledge thus gained is not left to perish with common, earthly things, but will be carried with us into the eternal world, and through the ceaseless ages of eternity the riches of God's word will be continually unfolding.
The Bible is the only safe guide to the path of peace and happiness. It is God's directory, and the true Christian will make it the study of his life. As he connects himself with God, adhering firmly to principle, refusing to follow inclination or to be led into the deceiving customs and practices of the world, he will really occupy a similar position to that of Daniel. While in the courts of Babylon, temptations surrounded him, but he turned neither to the right nor the left to indulge self. He and his companions purposed in their hearts that they would not eat of the luxuries of the king's table, neither drink of his wine. They chose to eat simple food, that they might preserve their bodies in a healthful condition, and thus have clearness of mind. They did what they could to obtain knowledge, and then God worked for them, and "gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom." These young men honored God, and God honored them. The pen of inspiration presents their cases before us, that we may follow their example.
To "knowledge" we are commanded to add "temperance." It is the duty of true Christians to practice temperance in eating, in drinking, and in dressing. The Lord wants us to be examples of piety to those who know not Jesus and his matchless love. My sisters, we need a better knowledge of ourselves, a better understanding of this wonderful house in which the Lord has placed us. We want to know how to keep it in a healthful condition, so that the human machinery may act harmoniously. The better health of body and mind we possess, the more acceptable service can we render to God. Great evils follow the indulgence of perverted appetite. The blood becomes feverish and diseased, and impatience is the sure result.
The apostle adds: "And to temperance, patience." Who ever saw an intemperate man or woman that exercised the grace of patience? How much unhappiness might be avoided if all would eat, and drink, and dress with an eye single to the glory of God! We cannot afford to make the world our criterion. We want to be right because it is right. It is the Bible standard that we are to reach. The Lord tells us to come out from the world and be separate, and his promise is, "I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." What an exalted position is here offered us! The privilege of becoming members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. Some seem to think that it is demeaning to become a Christian. Not so. The religion of Christ never degrades. It refines, purifies, and ennobles the receiver, and fits him for the society of heavenly angels. The work of overcoming is a grand, a noble work. It is a hand to hand battle with the powers of darkness, and in this battle we must individually engage.
"And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity." Here Peter presents to us the ladder of true sanctification, the base of which rests upon the earth, while the topmost round reaches to the throne of the Infinite. We cannot with one effort reach the topmost round of this ladder. We must climb round after round. It is in this struggle that we are in danger of becoming dizzy, and fainting and falling, unless we keep our eyes upward, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We see the heights to be reached, and become discouraged over future difficulties when it is present duties that demand all the power of our being. But we have the promise that divine aid will be combined with our human effort. We may be more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us and given his life a ransom for us.
Jesus has made an infinite sacrifice in behalf of the race. He stepped down from the eternal throne, laid aside his robes of royalty, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to a world all seared and marred by the curse, that the lost race might one day be restored to their glorious Eden home. He has become the representative and surety for the race. He has brought the treasures of heaven within our reach, and it remains for us to say whether or not we will avail ourselves of them. It is only by the light reflected from the cross of Calvary that we can know the value of the human soul, or the depth of degradation from which man was rescued. It was to restore man to the perfection in which he was first created that this great sacrifice was made. With his human arm Jesus encircles the race, while with his divine arm he grasps the throne of the Infinite, thus uniting finite man with the infinite God and connecting earth with heaven. How can we neglect so great salvation? It is natural for man to cling to life. Some live through years of intense suffering, and still desire to have their lives prolonged. But when Jesus offers us life, immortal life in the mansions he has prepared for us, why do we turn from it and devote our time and energy to securing earthly treasures?
We all need Jesus to be our comfort and hope in affliction, suffering, and death. He has brightened the tomb for all who center their hopes in him. Through him life and immortality are brought to light. He is the Lifegiver, and he it is who will break the fetters of the tomb when he shall come in power and great glory. Shall we, in view of the shortness of this life, neglect to secure that life which runs parallel with the life of God? Every day it is our privilege to live for Jesus. Commence the day with prayer; morning, noon, and night let your prayers ascend for wisdom and grace to overcome every device of Satan. Jesus is your only hope; upward to God be the soul's adoration. Christians should be the happiest people upon the earth. In the eyes of the world, houses, lands, and money make men honored and respected. Not so in the sight of God. He measures them according to their moral worth. If they live for display, to receive the praise of men, they will receive no other reward. Their names will be written in the earth to perish with all things perishable. If they live to honor and glorify God, if true goodness, benevolence, and the love of God are seen in their connection with their fellow-men, their names will be immortalized among the heavenly host, and Jesus declares that he will not blot their names out of the book of life.
The apostle continues: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." The Christian's life is one of progression, not of backsliding. "For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall." I once knew a man in the State of Maine whose religious life was very consistent, but who seemed greatly depressed at times, fearing that he might become a backslider, and that through his example others might fall. One day he came to the prayer meeting, his face radiant with hope and joy, and said: "I have found the way; I need never fall and dishonor my Saviour. By constantly adding grace to grace we may go straight forward in the Christian course. The apostle says, 'If ye do these things ye shall never fall.'" Let those trembling souls who constantly fear lest they shall fall, fear no longer. Let them live upon the plan of addition, and God will work for them upon the plan of multiplication. The apostle has presented the only true sanctification. There are many today who claim that they are holy and cannot sin. The only correct standard of sanctification is the law of God. By it is the knowledge of sin. Genuine sanctification is the work of a lifetime. It is climbing the ladder round after round.
None of the prophets or apostles made proud boasts of holiness. The nearer they came to perfection of character, the less worthy and righteous they viewed themselves. But those who have the least sense of the perfection of Jesus, those whose eyes are least directed to him, are the ones who make the strongest claims to perfection. Daniel was a man greatly beloved of God, yet he is presented on one occasion as confessing his sins and the sins of his people. If poor, fallen men would walk carefully and humbly with God, distrusting self and confiding wholly in Jesus, such a light and power would be revealed in our world as would be convincing to unbelievers. Jesus is our only hope; let us cling to him. The promise of eternal life is on condition of obedience. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Now is the time to wash our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #48)
We are all laborers under God; and we must all work with intelligence, frugality, and humility. There are those who embrace too much in their labors, and by so doing accomplish little. Our efforts now must be more concentrated. Every stroke must tell. At present, the labors of our ministers cannot be so uncertain and extended as to cast the seeds of truth upon all waters. This is being done quite extensively by our publications; but God directs us, and reason tells us, that at this stage of this work, and with the present condition of our finances, our ministers must be more personal and concise in their labors, binding up the work as they go along. The work in Europe, as in America, has had to commence small; but even here it can be managed so as to become self-sustaining. One great means by which this can be accomplished will be by the well-directed efforts of those already in the truth to bring in others who will be a strength and support to the work. This was the way the Christian Church was established. Christ first selected a few persons, and bade them follow him. They then went in search of their relatives and acquaintances, and brought them to Christ. This is the way we are to labor. A few souls brought out and fully established on the truth, will, like the first disciples, be laborers for others.
In the work of the laborers there should be a counseling together. No one is to strike out on his own independent judgment, and work according to his own mind, unless he has a treasury of his own from which to draw. Our heavenly Father careth for his children, and his grace is sufficient in every time of need. But if we consider ourselves sufficient to manage the work of God, and depend for success on our own individual wisdom to plan and execute, we may expect defeats and losses; for they will surely come. I have been shown that the management of the work must not be trusted to inexperienced hands. Those who have not had breadth of experience are not the ones to take large responsibilities, although they may think themselves qualified to do so. Their brethren may see defects where they themselves see only perfection. Too much is at stake now to allow any great risks to be run in investing means from the Lord's treasury. If any one wishes to try experiments, let him sustain himself from his own funds, so that if losses occur he alone will be the loser.
The workers are not many; the means are not abundant; and the work must be fashioned accordingly. It is not God's plan that large draughts should be made upon the treasury to support the workers, and then that they should labor in such a way that no special results can be seen. Our ministers should not feel at liberty to pay large sums for halls in which to hold meetings, when they do not feel the burden of following up the interest with personal labor. The results are too uncertain to warrant using up means so rapidly. I cannot see that much is accomplished by open air meetings. These may be held at times, and on special occasions will be the best means of reaching the people. But to make this the regular manner of labor will not at present secure the desired results. The laborer cannot prove his work; he cannot make full proof of his ministry. The dearth of both men and means at this time will not warrant our brethren in doing this kind of work. The burden now is to convince souls of the truth. This can best be done by personal efforts, by bringing the truth into their houses, praying with them, and opening to them the Scriptures.
Those who do this work should be just as careful not to become stereotyped in their plans of labor as should the minister who labors in the desk. They should be constantly learning. They should have a conscientious zeal to obtain the highest qualifications, to become able men in the Scriptures. They should not accumulate expensive furniture and become fixtures in any one place; for they know not how soon they may be called to other fields of labor. They should not gather burdens about them so that their thoughts and time will be occupied in serving tables; but they should cultivate habits of careful study and mental activity, giving themselves to prayer and to a diligent study of the Scriptures. Many are guilty of shortcomings on this point. The claims of God upon them are not small. But they are content with the limited understanding they have of the Scriptures, and do not seek to improve both mind and manners. Every argument in prophetic history, every practical lesson given by Christ, should be carefully studied that they may be wanting in nothing. The mind gains strength, breadth, and acuteness by activity. It must be made to work, or it will grow weak. It must be trained to think, to think habitually, or it will in a great measure lose its power to think. Let the mind wrestle with the difficult problems in the word of God, and the intellect will be thoroughly awakened to bring forth, not inferior discourses, but those that will be fresh and edifying; and these will be presented in the fervor of an active mind.
The servants of Christ must meet the highest-standard. They are educators, and they should be thoroughly versed in the Scriptures. Then from their own experience they will feel the necessity of devoting less time to sermonizing, and more time to educating those for whom they labor. They will study how to make these personal efforts interesting, and to impress upon all the necessity of searching the Scriptures for themselves. The study of the Bible taxes the mind of the worker, strengthens the memory, and sharpens the intellect more than the study of all the subjects which philosophy embraces. The Bible contains the only truth that purifies the soul, and is the best book for intellectual culture. The dignified simplicity with which it handles important doctrines is just what every youth and every worker for Christ needs to teach him how to present the mysteries of salvation to those who are in darkness.
The mind must be active to invent the best ways and means of reaching the people next us. We should not be far-reaching, incurring great expense. There are individuals and families near us for whom we should make personal efforts. We often let opportunities within our reach slip away, in order to do a work at a distance from us which is less hopeful, and thus our time and means may be lost in both places. The study of the workers now should be to learn the trade of gathering souls into the gospel net. Our cause is struggling in poverty because we are trying to do so much. The banner of truth is being planted in all countries and among all nations; and every worker should try so to shape his labor as to secure immediate results. He should remember that he is a lightbearer from God to the world, and should so educate those who receive the truth at his hands that they in turn will become lightbearers to others. This will require foresight and much careful study and earnest prayer. At this point in the history of our work we may spread over a great deal of territory, scatter our efforts, use up our time and money, and yet have little fruit to show for our labors--few souls who will help sustain the work by their influence, their efforts, and their means.
There must be a firm determination on the part of our laborers to break with the established customs of the people whenever it is essential to the advancement of the work of God. The work might be much farther advanced in Europe if some of those who have embraced the truth were not so wedded to the habits and customs of nationalities. They plead that the efforts of our ministers must be made to conform to these customs and prejudices, or nothing will be accomplished. This has had a binding influence upon the work from its commencement. The effort that has been made to conform to English customs, to eat and drink English, to dress and sleep English, has circumscribed the work, and it is now years behind what it might have been. The effort to keep bound about by French customs and ideas has hindered the work in France. My heart aches as I hear our brethren say, Such an one does not understand how to labor for these nationalities. Does not God know what the people need? and will he not direct his servants? Is not the truth one? Are not the teachings of the Bible one? Let God give his messengers the word to speak, and his blessing will not fail to attend their labors.
In sending missionaries to distant countries, those men should be selected who know how to economize, who have not large families, and who, realizing the shortness of time and the great work to be accomplished, will not fill their hands and houses with children, but will keep themselves as free as possible from everything that will divert their minds from their one great work. The wife, if devoted, and left free to do so, can, by standing by the side of her husband, accomplish as much as he. God has blessed woman with talents to be used to his glory in bringing many sons and daughters to God; but many who might be efficient laborers are kept at home to care for their little ones. We want missionaries who are missionaries in the fullest sense of the word; who will put aside selfish considerations, and let the cause of God come first; and who, working with an eye single to his glory, will keep themselves as minute men to go where he shall bid, and to work in any capacity to spread the knowledge of the truth. Men who have wives that love and fear God and that can help them in the work, are needed in the missionary field. Many who have families go out to labor, but they do not give themselves entirely to the work. Their minds are divided. Wife and children draw them from their labor, and often keep them out of fields that they might enter were it not that they think they must be near their home. Let missionaries be missionaries; let them leave their own and their wives' hands and hearts free, taking their homes with them where they go, and great good will be accomplished.
Our missionary workers must learn to economize. The largest reservoir, though fed by abundant and living springs, will fail to supply the demand if there are leakages which drain off the supply. It must not be left for one man to decide whether a certain field will warrant large efforts. If the workers in one field so fashion the work as to incur large expenses, they are barring the way so that other important fields,--fields which would warrant the outlay,--cannot be entered. Our younger laborers must be content to work their way among the people slowly and surely, under the advice of those more experienced in the work. The ideas of many are too high. A more humble manner of working would show good results. It is encouraging to see the young entering the missionary field, and enlisting all their ardor and zeal in the work; but they must not be left to manage for themselves, and keep the cause of God weighed down with debt. Large vessels must not be intrusted to inexperienced hands to guide, lest they be wrecked. All should strive by wise management and earnest labor to gather enough to pay their own expenses. They should labor to make the cause self-sustaining, and should teach the people to rely upon themselves.
In every new field patience and perseverance must be exercised. Do not fret at small beginnings. It is often the humblest work that accomplishes the greatest results. Steady, persevering, determined efforts must be put forth by every laborer. We must come close to our fellowmen in our efforts. Men of ordinary talents can accomplish more by personal labor from house to house than by placing themselves in popular places at great expense, or by entering halls and trying to call out the crowd. Personal influence is a power. The more direct our labor for our fellowmen, the greater good will be accomplished. The minds of those with whom we are closely associated are impressed through unseen influences. One cannot stand off in a multitude and send down his voice to men, and move them as he could if he were brought into closer relationship with them. Jesus left heaven and came to our world to save souls. You must come close to those for whom you labor, that they may not only hear your voice, but shake your hand, learn your principles, and realize your sympathy. Whenever you can get access to the fireside, urge your way there. Take your Bible and open before them its great truths. Your success will not depend upon your great knowledge and accomplishments, but upon your ability to find your way to their hearts. By being social and coming close to them, the current of their thoughts will be changed, quicker than by the most able discourses. The presentation of Christ in the family, by the fireside, and in small gatherings in private houses, is more successful in securing souls to Jesus than are sermons delivered in the open air to the moving throng, or even in halls or churches. A chance speech or discourse may set minds on a train of thought which will, through other influences that may be brought to bear upon them, result in their conversion; but these cases are rare. We cannot afford to labor with such uncertain results.
There is a great work to be done, and individual workers can accomplish more by laboring in a humble way than by incurring great expense. There may be times when broader efforts may be in the order of God. If churches and halls are opened to any of the laborers, and there is a desire to hear, they should embrace the opportunity and do the best they can. But we have no great men among us, and none need try to make themselves what they are not, remarkable men. It is not wisdom for a single individual to strike out as though he had some great talent, as though he were a Moody or a Sankey, and make a great outlay of means. Our laborers must learn to use means prudently, not only in their efforts to advance the cause of truth, but in their own home expenses. They should place their families where they can be cared for with as little expense as possible. Donations and bequests do not come to our people as they do to others denominations; and those who have not educated themselves to live within their means will surely have to do this now or engage in some other employment. Their habits must be frugal. They must not expend money for things that are not absolutely necessary. Economy must be the rule of every laborer. If he has not economical habits he must learn the lesson at once. All should learn how to keep accounts. Some neglect this work as nonessential; but this is wrong. All expenses should be accurately stated. This is something that many of our workers will have to learn.
We should not allow our habits to become loose and dilatory while we are engaged in God's work. All should be prompt, sharp business men in his cause. With a little more study and punctuality, much time could be saved in our Conference business meetings, and many mistakes avoided. Everything that bears any relation to the work and cause of God should be as near perfection as human brains and human hands can make it. God is not pleased with the present lack of order and accuracy among those who do business in connection with his cause. He would have things done with as much order as was seen anciently in the arrangement of his sanctuary and of the armies of Israel. No slack, bungling work was done there; for death would have been the penalty.
My ministering brethren, do not think that the only work you can do, the only way you can labor for souls, is to give discourses. The best work you can do is to teach, to educate. Whenever you can find an opportunity to do so, sit down with some family and let them ask questions. Then answer them patiently, humbly. Continue this work in connection with your more public efforts. Preach less and educate more by holding Bible readings, and by praying with families and little companies. If you, as God's servants, do what you can in his love and fear, your efforts will be wholly acceptable to the Master; and in the records above you will be registered as good and faithful, and will receive at last from the lips of the Chief Shepherd the heavenly benediction, "Well done." Christiana, Norway, Nov. 1. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #49)
Dear Brethren of our General Conference: I am deeply interested in the work in every part of the field. Now the angels are holding the four winds, and probation is graciously granted us, that we may take heed to ourselves and to the doctrine. There is nothing standing in the way of our doing a great work in warning the world. Home missions are not to be lost sight of for foreign missions; but the needs of both should be laid before our people. Souls that are in error and covered with darkness need our help.
We must have the holy unction from God; we must have the baptism of the Holy Spirit; for this is the only efficient agent in the promulgation of sacred truth. Yet this is what we most lack. The divine power combined with human effort, connection first and last and ever with God, the source of our strength, is absolutely necessary in our work. We must hang our whole weight on the world's Redeemer; he must be our dependence for strength. Without this, all our efforts will be unavailing. Even now the time has come when we must recognize this fully, or we shall be outgeneraled by a powerful, cunning foe. We must connect more closely with God; and all our plans and arrangements must be in harmony with his plans, or they will not prove effectual.
The Holy Spirit is grieved and driven away by the self-sufficiency and rude traits of character which are cherished. These unhallowed elements must be burned out by the Spirit of God. In dealing with our brethren, we must remember that they are children of God, and that he will teach one of his faithful workers as readily as he will teach another. There is no respect of persons with him. He would not have any man receive the idea that God will teach him only, and that all must come to his light. Brethren, go to Jesus, fast and pray, and wrestle with God. Let every one know for himself what the will of the Lord is; then he will not move blindly.
Yet brethren should esteem one another, counsel together, and pray together until there is unity among them. God wants us to work with an eye single to his glory. A vast amount of talent, of influence and piety, is lost to the cause because individual accountability is not recognized and respected. If mistakes are made, as they will be, do not fall back, content to make no further effort, but try again. With agony of desire, in humility, with wrestling faith, come to One who is too wise to err, and who will make no mistakes in your case; One who knows your every weakness, who will hear your heart-felt prayers, and who will let fire from heaven consume your offerings. May God make his servants wise through the divine illumination, that the mold of man may not be seen on any of the great and important enterprises before us.
The churches must arouse, and not sit down at ease, merely enjoying the sermons. Light is beaming all around them; let this light shine forth as a lamp that burneth. Let men enter the work, and let the money God has lent his stewards be invested. Those who can work for God's cause should break loose from their home attachments, sell their farms, and give themselves either to home or foreign missions. You have no time to spend in contention over little matters. Go to work, and that which may now seem obscure, will become clear. There are fields close to your own doors and also in foreign lands, that are ripening for the harvest. The Lord calls for volunteers now. Go forth, workers for God, weeping, bearing precious seed; for doubtless you will return with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. Your prayers and tears must accompany your labors, that the unholy traits of your own character may not mar the sacred work of God. Depend less upon what you can do, even through your best efforts, and more on what God can do for you in every effort for his name's glory.
We are all human. It will not do to depend wholly upon the judgment of any one man. God will and does use men for his glory; but they are not infallible. You must go to him with all your requests, obtain strength and grace from him, and then counsel together, think and pray, plan and work. The Lord wants each to have an experience for himself. From the highest to the lowest worker, we must be continually in the school of Christ, daily learning new lessons of tenderness, brotherly love, and compassion, or we shall never become efficient agents of the Master-worker.
Brethren, we must have less of self and more of God. He claims the energies of the Church; but to a great extent the ability of our people is absorbed by unworthy objects. Too much time is devoted to petty ideas and claims. God wants us to come up into the mount, more directly into his presence. We are coming into a crisis, which, more than any previous time since the world began, will demand the entire consecration of every one that has named the name of Christ. God's work demands all there is of us. But our people will never make this consecration until their hearts are changed. They need conversion as much as did Peter. When they have been thus quickened, Christ can say to them, "Strengthen thy brethren," "Feed my sheep," "Feed my lambs."
When divine power is combined with human effort, the work will spread like fire in the stubble. God will employ agencies whose origin man will be unable to discern; angels will do a work which men might have had the blessing of accomplishing, had they not neglected to answer the claims of God. The work is now presented to man. Will he take it? There are at the present time many doors unbolted and thrown open to the workers. Will they enter these doors? Who is ready at the bidding of the Master to say, "Here am I, Lord, send me"? The Macedonian cry comes to us in pitiful appeals from all parts of the world, "Come over and help us."
The missions in Europe need help, and the blood of souls will be upon those whom God has blessed with great light, but who have not sought with earnest faith and determined effort to qualify themselves to open the Scriptures to others. Those who have borne the burden and heat of the day, should not be left to be crushed under the load; but as the standard bearers are fainting and falling, who are coming up to take their place? There is London, with its five million inhabitants; but no real workers there. There are all the large cities in England, which need many missionaries; who will respond? Are there not men who will dedicate themselves to God, soul, body, and spirit, to go forth and enlighten others? We do not want that class of youth or men who are spendthrifts, who do not know how to economize. We want energetic men who will follow the example of their Lord; men who will be willing to practice self-denial, who have hope, who will make any and every sacrifice to save souls. They will not have to learn a foreign language; but they must have a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. Humble men who can adapt themselves to the situation, can do much.
The churches everywhere in our Conferences are losing their power and favor with God because they feel no burden for souls who have not the knowledge of the truth. Many are in need of just this earnest work, in order to save their own souls. Let not the curse of Meroz rest upon you. "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." I see fields that have never been entered. The torch of truth must be carried into the dark places of the earth. While the angels are holding the winds, we must work as Christ worked. Let no man fix his eyes on his own sphere of labor, and think it is of greater importance than all others. The missionary fields are all to receive equal interest. The field is the world.
There are various gifts that can be employed as God's agencies under his supervision. He will accept all who have ability, if they devote themselves to him in willing service. Men of all ranks and capacities will be raised up in these countries to cooperate in the work for the salvation of their fellowmen. Each is to trade on his own talents, and thus increase them. By their faith, their prayers, their earnest, devoted example, men who have but a limited education will become as truly lightbearers as are the ministers. One will supply the deficiencies of another. Endowed with different gifts, all may act some part in diffusing light, all working together to the one great end. Each contributes not merely to the strength of one branch, but to the upbuilding of all.
Thus "the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." The apostle exhorts "that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary." Here the Lord teaches that no one man has all the qualifications essential to the upbuilding of his kingdom. None are to feel that every portion of the work rests upon them. The Lord has a lesson for the older as well as the younger laborers to learn, "that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it." We are to carefully consider every part of the word of God, lest we be found walking contrary to the rules there laid down.
If our workers had been baptized with the Spirit of Christ, they would have done fifty times more than they have done to train men for laborers. Though one or two, or even many, have not borne the test, we should not cease our efforts; for this work must be done for Christ. The Saviour was disappointed; because of the perversity of human hearts, his efforts were not rewarded with success; but he kept at the work, and so must we. If we had toiled with fidelity, patience, and love, we should have had one hundred workers where there is one. Unimproved opportunities are written against us in the same book that bears the record of envy and rebellion against God. Years have been lost to us in our foreign missions. There have been a few earnest workers; but to a great extent their energies have been employed in keeping men who profess the truth from making shipwreck of faith. Had these men who required so much help to keep them propped up, been working for the salvation of their fellowmen, they would have forgotten their trials, and would have become strong in helping others. We are able to achieve vastly more than we have done, if we will call to our aid all whom we can get to enlist in the work. Some will prove worthless; but while finding this out, we must yet keep at work. One worthy, God-fearing worker will repay all our effort, care, and expense.
The plan of holding Bible readings was a heaven-borne idea. There are many, both men and women, who can engage in this branch of missionary labor. Workers may be thus developed who will become mighty men of God. By this means the word of God has been given to thousands; and the workers will be brought into personal contact with people of all nations and tongues. The Bible is brought into families, and its sacred truths come home to the conscience. Men are intreated to read, examine, and judge for themselves, and they must abide the responsibility of receiving or rejecting the divine enlightenment. God will not permit this precious work for him to go unrewarded. He will crown with success every humble effort made in his name.
The dust and rubbish of error have buried the precious jewels of truth, but the Lord's workers can uncover these treasures, so that thousands will look upon them with delight and awe. Angels of God will be beside the humble worker, giving grace and divine enlightenment, and thousands will be led to pray with David, "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Truths that have been for ages unseen and unheeded, will blaze forth from the illuminated pages of God's holy word. The churches generally that have heard, refused, and trampled upon the truth, will do more wickedly; but "the wise," those who are honest, will understand. The book is open, and the words of God reach the hearts of those who desire to know his will. At the loud cry of the angel from heaven who joins the third angel, thousands will awake from the stupor that has held the world for ages, and will see the beauty and value of the truth.
When God's word is studied, comprehended, and obeyed, a bright light will be reflected to the world; new truths, received and acted upon, will bind us in strong bonds to Jesus. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed, the sole bond of union; all who bow to this holy word will be in harmony. Our own views and ideas must not control our efforts. Man is fallible, but God's word is infallible. Instead of wrangling with one another, let men exalt the Lord. Let us meet all opposition as did our Master, saying, "It is written." Let us lift up the banner on which is inscribed, The Bible our rule of faith and discipline. Christiana, Norway. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #49)
The holiday season is at hand, and old and young are studying what they can bestow upon their friends as a token of remembrance. The world at large are devising gifts for earthly friends; shall we not remember our heavenly Benefactor? Will he not be pleased if we show that we have not forgotten him? While multitudes celebrate Christmas, there are few who show honor to Christ. The day is devoted to selfish indulgence, and the Redeemer's great love and sacrifice awaken no response. Let it not be so with us. Let the precious tokens of his love call forth an expression of gratitude in freewill offerings for his cause.
God is not honored by the practice of bestowing costly presents upon a few favorites because it is the custom. These favorites are seldom the Lord's poor. Many are really perplexed to decide what gifts they can select that will give pleasure to those who are abundantly supplied with the good things of this life. Thousands of dollars are needlessly spent every year on Christmas gifts. The means is lost to the cause of God. Not only so, but it gratifies vanity, encourages pride, and often occasions dissatisfaction and complaints because the gifts are not what was desired, or are not of the value expected. As Christians, we cannot honor a custom which is not approved of Heaven. All that we possess belongs to God, and he has made us his stewards. Let us not expend our means for idols to please the fancy and engage the affections of our friends, to the neglect of our best Friend,--the one to whom we owe everything. When tempted to purchase expensive ornaments or other needless articles, ask yourselves the questions "Can I do this to the glory of God?" Let not time and means be spent in preparing presents that will benefit neither giver nor receiver. Remember that God will call you to account for the manner in which you employ his gifts.
If all the means usually expended by our people at this holiday season were brought as an offering of gratitude to God, to be used in advancing his cause, what an amount would flow into the treasury. Who are willing this year to depart from the custom? Shall we not, old and young, forego the pleasure of making presents to one another, and let the money be invested in the Lord's work? Shall there not be in heaven a precious record of self-denial for Christ's sake?
Our children have learned to regard Christmas as a day of rejoicing, and we should find it a difficult matter to pass over this holiday without some attention. It may be made to serve a good purpose. The youth should not be left to find their own amusement in vanity and pleasure-seeking. If parents will make the necessary effort, the minds of the children may be directed to God, to his cause, and to the salvation of souls. Their desire to make gifts may be turned into channels of good to their fellowmen, to sustaining the work which Christ came to do.
On Christmas let the members of every church assemble, with offerings from willing hands and hearts,--the fruits of love and gratitude to God. Let all exert their influence and ability to make these gatherings attractive and interesting. See how much means you can gather to advance the work of the Lord. Let those who have heretofore planned for self, begin now to plan for the cause of God. On similar occasions in the past, you have taxed your inventive powers to prepare something that would surprise and gratify your friends. Be as earnest and persevering in rendering to God that which is his due. Let the children learn the blessedness of giving, by bringing their little gifts to add to the offerings of their parents.
I present before you the European missions as the object of your liberality. These missions are in great need of funds. The work must go forward. Every penny that can be spared should be invested in the cause. Let us see if this Christmas cannot show thousands, yes, tens of thousands, of dollars flowing into the treasury.
"God loveth a cheerful giver;" and if we with grateful hearts bring our gifts and offerings to him, "not grudgingly or of necessity," his blessing will attend us, as he has promised: "I will open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing." He will accept not only the gift, but the giver. And though it may have cost self-denial and sacrifice on our part, the approval of conscience and the blessing of Heaven will make this holiday season one of the happiest we have ever experienced. We may have such a spirit of love and joy in our hearts and homes as will make angels glad. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 62, #50)
The Lord has rich blessings in store for all who seek him with real contrition of heart. He would have us reach up by faith and grasp his promises. He would not have his commandment-keeping people dwarfed in religious experience, and halting by the way, when they might be strong in his strength. It is his will that we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, committing the keeping of our souls to him as unto a faithful Creator. We must daily compare our character with the law of God, the great rule of righteousness; and if that does not condemn us, we may approach the throne of grace in faith. We may plead that we have complied with the conditions, and now claim the fulfillment of the divine promises. "If ye abide in me," says Christ, "and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." There is no place or excuse for a doubt. The promise is positive, and the rich blessings of Heaven are ours to enjoy.
As Jesus once taught his disciples, he called attention to a house built high up among the rocks. The bleak hillside was difficult of access, and it appeared a far less inviting location than the smooth valley below, which was clothed with green grass and springing flowers. But on this low ground he pointed out a house that was now in ruins. It had appeared to stand secure; but the wind and storm made manifest the folly of the builders.
Taking up this illustration, Jesus said, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
Earnest, untiring, persevering efforts must be put forth by every one who succeeds in building up a character for eternity. We may hear and believe the truth; but if we are not doers of the words of Christ, putting them into daily practice, we shall be like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.
If we are Christ's representatives, we shall work the works of Christ. Let none of us deceive ourselves with the idea that we can carry into our religious life the crookedness of character, the unchristian traits, which have been transmitted to us as a birthright and strengthened by education. Through the plan of redemption, God has provided means for subduing every sinful trait, and resisting every temptation, however strong.
God has made it for our interest, in every sense, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present life, that we may form characters worthy of the future, immortal life. His commandments are not grievous, and in keeping them there is great reward. Nothing that he has enjoined can we neglect or disregard without injury in this life, and the sacrifice of that life which is to come. The ways in which he would have us walk are ways of pleasantness and peace, and the end thereof is happiness which no language can express.
Brethren, you fail to receive the blessings which God longs to bestow upon you, because you place yourselves beyond their reach. It is essential for your spiritual life and growth that you should hang upon him from moment to moment. He will give you fresh supplies of grace day by day. Your dependence must be continual, your obedience unceasing.
Be thankful for the strength that you have for today. Praise God. Let gratitude be cherished in the soul. Be a wellspring of life, ever supplying yourselves from the living Fountain.
But the wants of the soul are not to be supplied unless we feel our need, and ask for the things we lack. Christ has more than human acquaintance with our needs, and we must study every lesson, every word of instruction, he has given us. Let none complain that they have not the assurance of the love of God, that they cannot obtain the evidence of their acceptance with him. Let them diligently search the Scriptures, and see if they are following the example of their Lord. We should dwell much upon the excellences of Christ's character, and should cultivate the same graces in our own. Look carefully, dear reader, lest you fail of the grace of God through your own negligence and unbelief. We need to practice close self-examination, to see what we are cherishing in ourselves that will grieve the Spirit of God, and to understand the work we have to do that we may be a blessing to others.
The easy position so pleasing to the carnal heart is, that Christ has done all, that personal striving is unnecessary, and would be an evidence of unbelief. But the Bible tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Self-complacency will never save us. Those who imagine that because Christ has done all that is necessary in the way of merit, there remains nothing for them to do in the way of complying with the conditions, are deceiving their own souls. There are higher attainments for us. Are we indeed channels of light to the world? Then how important that we seek perfection of character. Said Christ, "I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."
The servants of Christ have a sacred work. They must copy his character and his ways and plans of reaching men. God does not want them to labor with their own finite power, but in his strength; he wants them to represent to the world, in their own characters, the Saviour's purity, benevolence, and love. The reason why we accomplish no more in the work of God is, that we need more spirit and life from Jesus in appealing to the conscience. Our own hard hearts must be melted by his love; this alone can break the spell of indifference, alarm the soul, and cause men to consider where they stand. A tame, formal sermon, argumentative though it may be, will accomplish little. We must have Jesus abiding in us, that the words we utter may be his words; our sluggish souls must be stirred by his Spirit, in order to bring us in close connection with the souls we wish to save. "Without me," says Christ, "ye can do nothing." In him we can do all things.
The apostle Paul gives us some idea of his ministry, in these words: "I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
How can we do this great work, how can we represent Christ to the world, if our lives are inconsistent? The divine must be blended with all our work in the cause of our Master. If Christ is not abiding in us, the Satanic will appear in our words or actions. Selfishness should have no place in our intercourse with others. We must be pure in heart, having an eye single to the glory of God. Paul manifests the most tender solicitude for his Thessalonian brethren: "The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you." Brethren, we fail to give a correct example to others, because we are not sufficiently in earnest ourselves. We may reach higher; we may conform to the divine Model; we may be channels to communicate the living water to thirsting souls; we may so build that neither storm nor tempest can move us from the foundation, for we are united to the Eternal Rock. By Mrs. E. G. White.