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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1887
(Vol. 64, #1)
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
In the first of these verses there is presented the class that cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Those that do the things here specified shall not inherit that kingdom. But there is presented another class, who can and will enter the kingdom of God, who will have a right to enter there; and they are those who are working to attain such a position that they will have a moral fitness to stand around the great white throne in their white robes of character. In the day of their probation they realized the importance of the work to be done, and took hold of it understandingly and intelligently. They saw that there was a great work to be done in order to obtain a fitness of character for the kingdom of God. They knew that no one could do their work for them; that no one could believe for them; that no one could form a character for them. It was an individual work, a personal effort.
Here is held out the very thing for which we are to labor: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love." If we have the love of Christ in our souls, it will be a natural consequence for us to have all the other graces,--joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;" and "against such there is no law." The law of God does not condemn and hold in bondage those who have these graces; because they are obeying the requirements of the law of God. They are law-keepers, and therefore they are not under the bondage of the law.
Some time ago, when we were passing through Oswego, N. Y., we saw two stern officers, and with them two men were couples, carrying in their hands large leaden balls. We did not come to the conclusion that they had been keeping the law of the State of New York, but that they had been breaking it, and that they could not walk at liberty because they were transgressors of the law. We were trying to live in harmony with all the laws of the State of New York, and with the law of God; and we were walking at liberty,--we were not under the bondage of the law. If we live in harmony with the life of Christ, with the law of God, that law does not condemn us--we are not under the bondage of the law.
There are two courses of action which we may pursue. One leads us away from God, and shuts us out of his kingdom; and in this path are envyings, strife, murder, and all evil deeds. The other course of action we are to follow, and in its pursuance will be found joy, peace, harmony, and love. Love--that is what we are to cherish; and what we need most is the love of Christ in our hearts. We are more destitute of this precious boon than of anything else. It is the love that glowed in the bosom of Jesus which we most need; and when it is in the heart, it will reveal itself. Can we have the love of Jesus Christ in the heart, and that love not go out to others? It cannot be there without testifying that it is there. It will reveal itself in the words, in the very expression of the countenance.
Not long since, I heard a sick child say that someone did not love him. He was asked why he said so. "How do you know that he does not love you?" "Why I can tell just as soon as I look at him that he does not like me; I know he doesn't love me." A child reads the very look in the eye, and understands the expression of the countenance; and cannot persons of maturer age tell when there is love in the heart? for it will manifest itself in the deportment, in the words, in the actions, in the expression of the face. Is it a marvel to us that a child can tell who are his friends? Is it anything strange that he knows that certain people are fond of him? Then it should not take us many months to tell whether the love of Christ is in the heart, whether it is overflowing from it.
When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart, like sweet fragrance it cannot be hidden. The holy influence it reflects through the character will be manifest to all. Christ will be formed within, "the hope of glory." His light and his love will be there; his presence will be felt. There have been times when the blessing of God has been bestowed in answer to prayer, so that when others have come into the room, no sooner did they step over the threshold than they exclaimed. "The Lord is here!" Not a word had been uttered; but the blessed influence of God's holy presence was sensibly felt. The joy that comes from Jesus Christ was there; and in this sense the Lord had been in the room just as verily as he walked through the streets of Jerusalem, or appeared to the disciples when they were in the upper chamber, and said, "Peace be unto you."
When our eldest son, in whom we had the brightest hopes, and upon whom we expected to lean, and whom we had solemnly dedicated to God, was taken from us; when we had closed his eyes in death, and mourned in great sorrow because of our affliction, then there came a peace into my soul that was beyond description, that was past understanding. I could think of the morn of the resurrection; I could think of the future, when the great Lifegiver will come and break the fetters of the tomb, and call forth the righteous dead from their dusty beds; when he will release the captives from their prison houses; that then our son will be among the living ones again. In this there was a peace, there was a joy, there was a consolation, that was beyond description. And why?--Because I felt that my hand was placed in the hand of Jesus Christ; that I was his and he was mine, that he loved me, and that I loved him; and that this affliction was an evidence of his love. I could lean upon the strong arm of the Saviour through all that suffering and affliction; and then I felt that he would sustain me in every trial to the end. How good and gracious a Father we have! We can lean our whole weight upon him, and he will bear us up. It is this virtue that connects us with Jesus; and here the work commences with us.
I have before spoken to you of the plan of addition--Peter's ladder of eight rounds. "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. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is something to have a knowledge of Jesus Christ. We should make this our highest, our first, and our last aim. In the verses read in your hearing today, we see that we are to have love, and connected with this are joy, peace, longsuffering, patience. We see the restlessness of the world, their dissatisfied condition. They want something they have not. They want something to keep up an excitement, or something for amusement. But for the Christian there is joy, there is peace, there is longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, and patience; and to these things we want to open the door of our heart, cherishing the heavenly graces of the Spirit of God. Are we every one of us doing this? One cannot do it for another. You may set to work, and obtain the graces of the Spirit; but that will not answer for me. There may be forty or fifty here who will set about cultivating these Christian graces; but that will not do for the remainder of you. Each one individually must do the work, and determine through personal efforts to have the grace of God in the heart. I cannot form a character for you, nor can you for me. It is a burden that rests upon every one individually, young or old.
It has been said of men of gray hairs that there is no danger of their shrinking from their post of duty; but in the case of Solomon, when he became old, we learn that he lost his connection with God. And why?--Because he sought after the renown, honor, and riches of this world; because he took wives from among the idolatrous nations, and became allied with those nations. It is true that by this alliance he brought gold from Ophir and silver from Tarshish; but it was at the expense of virtue, of principle, of integrity of character.
All through the history of the Jewish nation we see that the people of God, whether old or young, had to keep themselves distinct and separate from the idolatrous nations around them. God has a people today; and it is just as necessary now as anciently that his people should keep themselves distinct and separate, pure and unspotted from the world, its spirit, and its influences, because the world sets up a standard opposed to the standard of truth and righteousness.
If I profess to be a servant of Jesus Christ, should I follow a worldly standard, and have my course of action such as to meet the demands of the world? or should I take for my example Him who was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,--Him who so pitied a fallen race that he laid aside his kingly robe, left the royal courts of heaven, and came down to this world of pollution and sin, and took upon himself the form of man, and for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich? What shall we do? take for our example Him who was mocked and abused, who was the light of the world, though the world knew him not? or shall we follow after the pattern of the world?
The people of God are the repositories of his law, and he tells us that we are to be a separate and distinct people. But are we to shut ourselves away from the world so that we can have no influence upon them? Christ says: "Ye are the light of the world;" and that light, he tells us, is not to be hidden under a bushel, or put under a bed, but on a candlestick, that it may give light unto all that are in the house. What does that mean?--It means that the righteous are to give light to all that are in the world. Christ came into the world to provide a way whereby man in his own behalf might fight the battles of the Lord, and be admitted to sit down at the right hand of God.
What a work is this! When Christ left the world he committed a work into our hands. While here he himself carried his work forward; but when he ascended to heaven his followers were left to take it up where he left it. Others took up the work where the disciples left it; and so it has been carried on until now we have the work to do in our time. And as Jesus ascended, and the clouds received him out of the sight of his disciples, who were attempting to catch the last glimpse of him, he said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Thus we have a life companion. We do not have to walk alone. We can carry all our sorrows and griefs, troubles and trials, afflictions and cares, and pour them into the ear that is open to hear, of One who is pleading before the Father the merits of his own blood. He is pleading his wounds--My hands, my hands! "I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." He offers the wounded hands to God, and his petitions are heard, and swift angels are sent to minister to fallen man, to lift up and to sustain.
Our danger, then, is in separating from God, and in mingling with the spirit and influence of the world. If you think that you are to bring the world to see and sense the claims that high heaven has upon them; if you think that by letting the standard down you can convert sinners, you are most deluded. Christ was in the world, yet he was not of the world. He kept the standard exalted; and that is how every minister, every Christian, and every man that feels any responsibility in the cause of God is to show whether he is connected with God. All are to represent Heaven.
In your school exercises, do you represent Heaven? Do you elevate the mind to take hold upon God, so that the students may go to their homes with the impression that in the College here at Battle Creek a work is being done to fit souls for heaven, for the companionship of heavenly angels? or are you seeking to bring in the world's standard, even degrading your exercises below the world's standard?
I remember that when I was in Salem, Oregon, there was a large class about to graduate from the college in that place, and they desired to have an address given to the graduating class; and it was announced that I would address them on "The Perils of Youth and the Formation of Character." They seemed to be very anxious to hear upon this subject. The house was full, although it was the largest church in Oregon; and there seemed to be a solemn impression throughout the entire audience. There was no mirth, nor spirit of jesting, nor anything to which the least exception might be taken. As I saw those youth before me, and realized the importance of the occasion, I felt an inspiration come over me. I might never meet them again until we should meet around the bar of God. I might never see them again until we should see each other in the Judgment; and I felt as though I never had had such an opportunity to say, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"
Why is it not the duty of every professor, and every teacher, and every one who acts any part in our College, to present Jesus? Lift him up, him who died for us, and in whom all our hopes of eternal life are centered. Lift him up, and let them understand that he it is who made an infinite sacrifice for them! Lift him up, and show them how he left the royal courts of heaven, and was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that he might elevate them to his throne at last! Lift him up, oh! lift him up before the people, those who are hungering and thirsting for the bread of life; for there is a fountain open in Jerusalem that they may drink and be satisfied.
Jesus, precious Saviour! I see in him matchless charms! He is the One altogether lovely. He is the chief among ten thousand. I present him to you, --one who can take away the sin of the world; "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Here are the youth growing up in our midst. I speak to you, dear brethren and sisters, as an embassador of Christ; I speak to you who profess to be Christ's followers, and I ask you, What influence are you exerting upon the youth? what are you doing for those in your own homes? A record has gone up before God of what you have done to save them, or of the opportunities that you have let pass by unimproved. Shall it be seen that souls have been driven away from Christ rather than gathered to him, because you have not been connected with Heaven; because you were molded after the world's standard, and presented that before them; because you were devotees of fashion and of pleasure, thus attracting and diverting their minds from the true standard, which is Christ Jesus? God have pity upon us!
We are doing work for eternity. I want to do it better. I want to do it so that it will stand the test of the Judgment; that when the Judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man judged according to the things written in the books, it will there be seen that I have a clean record, without blot; that I have led the right path heavenward, and that I have done what I could to win souls to Christ. Oh that I could speak so as to arouse men and women to realize the importance of the time in which we live! that now is the time of salvation, that now is the time to work. God forbid that we should be idle and asleep, and in the resurrection morn it be said, If it had not been for you, I should have been saved. God forbid that we should allow the spirit and influence of the world to come in, and draw others away upon the wrong track. Here is where the two paths diverge; here is where many will be led astray. And in the day of God many will say, This is why I went into infidelity. I saw that there was no power or worthiness in the church, or among the ministers, and therefore I chose the other path, which has led me to death and destruction. In agony of soul they will seek the rocks and mountains, and cry, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
I feel intensely upon this subject. Day and night it bears upon my soul. Oftentimes when all others in the house were asleep, I have pleaded before God that he would give me wisdom and strength to guide the feet of souls into the path which leads to eternal life. Many times I have gone before him at midnight and entreated for help and wisdom that I might be able to lead the minds of my children in the channel of truth. I did not ask him to give them worldly honors, but that we might raise them up in the ways of truth and righteousness, and that they might love to do the will of God. Mothers have a great responsibility resting upon them; and in the day of God what will be the account which they will have to render to him for the influence they have exerted over the youth under their charge? I want to work for God every hour of my life, and every moment; and then I want to crowd in all the work I can consistent with the amount of strength he gives me.
I want the young to wear at last crowns of immortal glory. Said the inspired apostle, "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, . . . and have overcome the wicked one." And here are young men whom Jesus wants to come into his arms. Here are young men whom God wants to go forth with all the armor on, to fight the battles of the Lord. Young men, will you hear his voice? Will you listen, ohwill you listen to his call? Will you not come to the Lord, and find in him your strength? Will you not give yourselves to him today? Can you not say, Here am I, Lord, and all that I am is thine? Thou hast bought me, and I am thine. Take me just as I am, and wash me from the defilement of sin. Help me to honor thee in the earth, and give me an immortal tongue that I may praise thee throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #2)
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." The very atmosphere is polluted with sin. Soon God's people will be tested by fiery trials, and the great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal. Instead of being strengthened and confirmed by opposition, threats, and abuse, they will cowardly take the side of the opposers. The promise is, "Them that honor me I will honor." Shall we be less firmly attached to God's law because the world at large have attempted to make it void?
Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in perils by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void his law. When God's wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God's people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when his law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few,--this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.
The days of purification of the church are hastening on space. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place, we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that his fan is in his hand, and that he soon will thoroughly purge his floor.
The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing.
With unerring accuracy, the Infinite One keeps an account with all nations. While his mercy is tendered with calls to repentance, this account will remain open; but when a certain limit which God has fixed is reached, the ministry of his wrath commences. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. There is no more pleading for mercy in their behalf.
The prophet, looking down the ages, had this time presented before his vision. The nations of this age have been the recipients of unprecedented mercies. The choicest of Heaven's blessings have been given them; but increased pride, covetousness, idolatry, contempt of God, and base ingratitude, are written against them. They are fast closing up their account with God.
But that which causes me to tremble, is the fact that those who have had the greatest light and privileges have become contaminated by the prevailing iniquity. Influenced by the unrighteous around them, many, even of those who profess the truth, have grown cold, and are borne down by the strong current of evil. The universal scorn thrown upon true piety and holiness, leads those who do not connect closely with God to lose their reverence for his law. If they were following the light, and obeying the truth from the heart, this holy law would seem even more precious to them when despised and set aside. As the disrespect for God's law becomes more manifest, the line of demarkation between its observers and the world becomes more distinct. Love for the divine precepts increases with one class, according as contempt for them increases with the other class.
The crisis is fast approaching. The rapidly swelling figures show that the time for God's visitations has nearly come. Although loth to punish, nevertheless he will punish, and that speedily. Those who walk in the light will see signs of the approaching peril; but they are not to sit in quiet, unconcerned expectancy of the ruin, comforting themselves with the belief that God will shelter his people in the day of visitation. Far from it. They should realize that it is their duty to labor diligently to save others, looking with strong faith to God for help.
The command is, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel. Although many still continued the forms of religion, its power and presence were lacking.
In the time when his wrath shall go forth in judgments, the humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which will be expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God's honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls will be vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They will be powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they will be filled with grief and alarm. They will mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They will lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church.
The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions his messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: "Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house."
Here we see that the church--the Lord's sanctuary--was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. This shows us that we must not look to men for example. We need to stay our faith upon God; for there is just before us a time that will try men's souls. Christ upon the Mount of Olives rehearsed the fearful judgments that were to precede his second coming: "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars." "Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." While these prophecies received a partial fulfillment at the destruction of Jerusalem, they have a more direct application in the last days.
John also was a witness of the terrible scenes that will take place as signs of Christ's coming. He saw armies mustering for battle, and men's hearts failing them for fear. He saw the earth moved out of its place, the mountains carried into the midst of the sea, the waves thereof roaring and troubled, and the mountains shaking with the swelling thereof. He saw the vials of God's wrath opened, and pestilence, famine, and death come upon the inhabitants of the earth.
Already the restraining Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause. Men cannot discern the sentinel angels restraining the four winds that they may not blow until the servants of God are sealed; but when God shall bid his angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of his avenging wrath as no pen can picture.
We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. The Lord is at the door. There is soon to open before us a period of overwhelming interest to all living. The controversies of the past are to be revived. New controversies will arise. The scenes to be enacted in our world are not even dreamed of. Satan is at work through human agencies. Those who are making so great efforts to change the Constitution and secure a law enforcing the first day of the week little realize what will be the result. A crisis is just upon us.
But God's servants are not to trust to themselves in this great emergency. In the visions given to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, and to John, we see how closely heaven is connected with the events transpiring upon the earth. We see the care of God for those who are loyal to him. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord; the world is not without a ruler. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of his church, in his own hands.
Brethren, it is no time now for mourning and despair, no time to yield to doubt and unbelief. Christ is to us not a Saviour in Joseph's new tomb, closed with a great stone, and sealed with the Roman seal. We have a risen Saviour. He is the King, the Lord of hosts; he sitteth between the cherubim, and amid the strife and tumult of nations he guards his people still. He who rules in the heavens is our Saviour. He measures every trial. He watches the furnace fire that must test every soul. When the strongholds of kings shall be overthrown, when the arrows of God's wrath shall strike through the hearts of his enemies, his people have the assurance that they are safe in his hands. In patience they are to possess their souls.
Those whom God employs as his messengers are not to feel that his work is dependent upon them. Finite men are not left to carry this burden of responsibility. In Ezekiel's vision, God had his hand beneath the wings of the cherubim. This is to teach his servants that it is divine power that gives them success. He will work with them if they will put away iniquity, and become pure in heart and life. The heavenly messengers seen by Ezekiel, like a bright light going among the living creatures with the swiftness of lightning, represent the speed with which this work will finally go forward to completion. He who slumbers not, who is continually at work for the accomplishment of His designs, can carry forward His great work harmoniously. That which appears to finite minds entangled and complicated, the Lord's hand can keep in perfect order. He can devise ways and means to thwart the purposes of wicked counselors, and those who plot out mischief.
Those who are called to responsible positions in the work of God often feel that they are carrying heavy burdens, when they may have the satisfaction of knowing that Jesus carries them all. We permit ourselves to feel altogether too much care, trouble, and perplexity in the Lord's work. We need to trust him, believe in him, and go forward. The tireless vigilance of the heavenly messengers, their unceasing employment in their ministry in connection with the beings of earth, show us how God's hand is guiding the wheel within a wheel. The divine Instructor is saying to every actor in his work, as he said to Cyrus of old, "I girded thee, though thou hast not known me."
Men are not to take credit to themselves for the success of their labors. The clear, sharp thought, the wisdom to plan and execute, are of the ability that God giveth. God is the Master worker; men are only the instruments in his hand. It is his mind that is working through all who yield themselves to his control. While we are to act our part by improving to the utmost every talent committed to us, we have nothing which we have not received of God, and we should give him all the glory.
The important future is before us. To meet its trials and temptations, and to perform its duties, will require great faith, energy, and perseverance. But we may triumph gloriously; for not one watching, praying, believing soul will be ensnared by the devices of the enemy. All heaven is interested in our welfare, and waits our demand upon its wisdom and strength. Neither wicked men nor evil spirits can hinder the work of God or shut out his presence from his people, if they will, with subdued, contrite hearts, confess and put away their sins, and in faith claim his promises. Every opposing influence, whether open or secret, may be successfully resisted, "not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." If the Lord had a company of workers who would rely wholly upon him, he would accomplish a great work through them. One could chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. God is just as willing now as anciently to work through human efforts, and to accomplish great things through weak instrumentalities. We shall not gain the victory through numbers, but through full surrender of the soul to Jesus. We are to go forward in his strength, trusting in the mighty God of Israel.
In the time of trial just before us, God's pledge of security will be placed upon those that have kept the word of his patience. If you have complied with the conditions of God's word, Christ will be to you a refuge from the storm. He will say to his faithful ones, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." The Lion of Judah, whose wrath will be so terrible to the rejecters of his grace, will be the Lamb of God to the obedient and faithful. The pillar of cloud will speak terror and wrath to the transgressor of God's law, but light and mercy and deliverance to those who have kept his commandments. The Arm strong to smite the rebellious, will be strong to deliver the loyal. Every faithful one will surely be gathered. "He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Brethren you to whom the truths of God's word have been opened, what part will you act in this momentous time of the closing scenes of earth's history? Are you awake to these solemn realities? Do you realize the grand work of preparation that is going on in heaven and earth? Let all who have received the light, who have had the opportunity of reading and hearing the prophecy, take heed to keep those things that are written therein; "for the time is at hand." Let none now venture to tamper with sin, or remain in a state of lethargy and stupid indifference. Let not the destiny of your soul hang upon an uncertainty. Know for yourselves that you are fully on the Lord's side. Let the inquiry go forth from sincere hearts and trembling lips, Who shall be able to stand? Have you, in the precious hours of probation mercifully granted you, been putting the very best material into your character building? Have you been purifying your souls from every stain? Have you followed the light? Have your works corresponded with your profession of faith?
It is possible to be a formal, partial believer, and yet be found wanting, and lose eternal life. It is possible to practice some of the Bible injunctions, and be regarded as a Christian, and yet perish because you are lacking in essential qualifications that constitute Christian character. The destroying angels have the commission from the Lord, "Begin at my sanctuary." And "they began at the ancient men which were before the house." If the warnings which God has given are neglected or regarded with indifference, if you suffer sin to be cherished, you are sealing your soul's destiny; you will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. Grace, peace, and pardon will be withdrawn forever; Jesus will have passed by, never again to come within the reach of your prayers and entreaties. While mercy still lingers, while Jesus is making intercession for us, let us make thorough work for eternity. Torre Pellice, Italy. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #3)
The Spirit of God will not abide where there is disunion and contention among believers in the truth. Even if these feelings are unexpressed, they take possession of the heart and drive out the peace and love that should characterize the Christian church. They are the result of selfishness in its fullest sense. This evil may take the form of inordinate self esteem, or an undue longing for the approbation of others, even if it is obtained undeservedly. Self exaltation must be renounced by those who profess to love God and keep his commandments, or they need not expect to be blessed by his divine favor.
We call God our Father. We claim to be children of one family; and when there is a disposition to lessen the respect and influence of one another, to build up ourselves, we please the enemy and grieve Him whom we profess to follow. The tenderness and mercy that Jesus has revealed in his own precious life, should be an example to us of the manner in which we should treat our fellow-beings, and especially those who are our brothers in Christ.
God is continually benefiting us, but we are too indifferent to his favors. We have been loved with an infinite tenderness, and yet many of us have little love for one another. We are too severe upon those whom we suppose to be in error, and are very sensitive to the least blame or question in regard to our own course. Hints are thrown out, and sharp criticisms of each other, but at the same time the very ones who do this are blind to their own failings. Others can see their errors, but they cannot see their own mistakes. We are daily recipients of the bounties of Heaven, and should have loving gratitude springing up in our hearts to God, which should cause us to sympathize with our neighbors and make their interests our own. Thoughts and meditations upon the goodness of God to us would close the avenues of the soul to Satan's suggestions.
God's love for us is proved daily, yet we are thoughtless of his favors and indifferent to his entreaties. He seeks to impress us with his spirit of tenderness, his love and forbearance. But we scarcely recognize the marks of his kindness, and have little sense of the lesson of love he desires us to learn. It is a wicked pride that delights in the vanity of one's own works, boasts of one's excellent qualities, seeking to make others seem inferior in order to exalt self, claiming more glory than the cold heart is willing to give to God.
The disciples of Christ will heed the Master's instruction. He has bade us love one another even as he has loved us. Religion is founded upon love to God, which also leads us to love each other. It is full of gratitude, humility, longsuffering. It is self-sacrificing, forbearing, merciful, and forgiving. It sanctifies the whole life, and extends its influence over others.
Those who love God cannot harbor hatred or envy. When the heavenly principle of eternal love fills the heart, it will flow out to others, not merely because favors are received of them, but because love is the principle of action, and modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and elevates and ennobles the affections. This love is not contracted so as merely to include "me and mine," but is as broad as the world and as high as heaven, and is in harmony with that of the angel workers. This love cherished in the soul sweetens the entire life and sheds a refining influence on all around. Possessing it, we can but be happy, let fortune smile or frown. If we love God with all the heart, we must also love his children. This love is the Spirit of God. It is the heavenly adorning that gives true nobility and dignity to the soul, and assimilates our lives to that of the Master. No matter how many good qualities we may have, however honorable and refined we may consider ourselves, if the soul is not baptized with the heavenly grace of love to God and one another, we are deficient in true goodness and unfit for heaven, where all is love and unity.
Some who have formerly loved God and lived in the daily enjoyment of his favor, are now in continual unrest. They wander in darkness and despairing gloom. This is because they are nourishing self. They are seeking so hard to favor themselves that all other considerations are swallowed up in this. God, in his providence, has willed that no one can secure happiness by living for himself alone. The joy of our Lord was in enduring toil and shame for others that they might reap a benefit thereby. We are capable of being happy in following his example and living to bless our fellowmen.
We are invited by our Lord to take his yoke and bear his burden. In doing this we may be happy. In bearing our own self-imposed yoke and carrying our own burdens, we find no rest; but in bearing the yoke of Christ there is rest to the soul. Those who want some great work to do for the Master can find it just where they are, in doing good and in being self-forgetful and self-sacrificing, remembering others, and carrying sunshine wherever they go.
There is great need that the pitying tenderness of Christ should be manifested at all times and in all places; not that blind sympathy which would gloss over sin and allow God's cause to be reproached by ill-doing, but that love which is a controlling principle of the life, which flows out naturally to others in good works, remembering that Christ has said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
We are slow to learn the mighty influence of trifles, and their bearing upon the salvation of souls. Those who desire to be missionaries, have in our world of need a large field in which to work. God does not mean that any of us shall constitute a privileged few, who shall be looked upon with great deference, while others are neglected. He was the Majesty of heaven, yet he stooped to minister to the humblest, having no respect to persons or station. Our Lord, after performing the most humiliating office for his disciples, recommended them to follow his example. This was to keep constantly before them the thought that they must not feel superior to the lowliest saint.
Those who profess our exalted faith, who are keeping God's commandments and expecting the soon coming of our Lord, should be distinct and separate from the world around them, a peculiar people zealous of good works. Among the peculiarities which should distinguish God's people from the world in these last days is their humility and meekness. "Learn of me," says Christ; "for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Here is the repose which so many crave and in vain spend time and money to obtain.
Instead of being ambitious to be equal with or higher than another in honor and position, we should seek to be the humble, faithful servants of Christ. This spirit of self-aggrandizement made contention among the apostles even while Christ was with them. They disputed who should be greatest among them. Jesus sat down and called the twelve, and said unto them, "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all."
When the mother of two sons made a request that her sons should be especially favored, one sitting on the right hand and the other on the left in his kingdom, Jesus impressed upon them that the honor and glory of his kingdom were to be the reverse of the honor and glory of this world. Whoever would be great must be a humble minister unto others, and who would be chief must be a servant even as the Son of God was a minister and servant unto the children of men.
Again, our Saviour taught his disciples not to be anxious for position and name. "Be not ye called Rabbi, . . . neither be ye called masters; . . . but he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself, shall be abased." Jesus cited the lawyer to the sacred law code, given from Sinai: "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: . . and . . thy neighbor as thy self." He told him that if he did this, he should enter into life.
"Thy neighbor as thyself,"--the question arises, "Who is my neighbor?" The Saviour's reply is found in the parable of the good Samaritan, which teaches us that any human being who needs our sympathy and our kind offices, is our neighbor. The suffering and destitute of all classes are our neighbors; and when their wants are brought to our knowledge it is our duty to relieve them as far as possible. A principle is brought out in this parable that it would be well for the followers of Christ to adopt. First meet the temporal necessities of the needy, and relieve their physical wants and sufferings, and you will then find an open avenue to the heart, where you may plant the good seeds of virtue and religion.
In order to be happy, we must strive to attain to that character which Christ exhibited. One marked peculiarity of Christ was his self-denial and benevolence. He came not to seek his own. He went about doing good, and this was his meat and drink. We may, by following the example of the Saviour, be in holy communion with him, and in daily seeking to imitate his character and follow his example, we shall be a blessing to the world, and shall secure for ourselves contentment here, and eternal reward hereafter. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #4)
As all the different members of the human system unite to form the body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole. The advancement of the church is often retarded by the wrong course of its members. Uniting with the church, although an important and necessary step, does not make one a Christian or insure salvation. We cannot secure a title to heaven by having our names enrolled upon the church book, while our hearts are not in unison with Christ and his people. We should be his faithful representatives on earth, working in harmony with him. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." We should keep in mind this holy relationship, and do nothing to bring dishonor upon our Father's cause.
Our profession is an exalted one. As Christians, we profess to obey all of God's commandments, and to look for the coming of our Redeemer. A most solemn message of warning has been intrusted to God's faithful few. We should show by our words and works that we recognize the great responsibility laid upon us. Our light should shine so clearly that others can see that we glorify the Father in our daily lives; that we are connected with Heaven, and are joint heirs with Jesus Christ; that when he shall appear in power and great glory, we may be like him.
We should feel our individual responsibility as members of the visible church and workers in the vineyard of the Lord. We should not wait for our brethren, who are frail as ourselves, to help us along; for our precious Saviour has invited us to join ourselves to him, and unite our weakness with his strength, our ignorance to his wisdom, our unworthiness to his merits. None of us can occupy a neutral position. We are active agents for Christ or for the enemy. We either gather with Jesus or scatter abroad. True conversion is a radical change. The very drift of the mind and bent of the heart are turned, and the life becomes new in Christ.
God is leading out a people to stand in perfect unity upon the platform of eternal truth. Christ gave himself to the world "that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." This refining process is designed to purge the church from the spirit of discord and contention, and from all unrighteousness, that they may build up instead of tear down, and may concentrate their energies on the great work before them. God designs that his people should all be joined together in unity of faith. The prayer of Christ just before his crucifixion was, that his disciples might be one, even as he was one with the Father, that the world might believe that the Father had sent him. This most touching and wonderful prayer reaches down the ages, even to our day; for his words were, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." How earnestly should the professed followers of Christ seek to answer this prayer in their lives! Many do not realize the sacredness of the church relation, and are loth to submit to restraint and discipline. Their course of action shows that they exalt their own judgment above that of the united church; and they are not careful to guard themselves lest they encourage a spirit of opposition to its voice.
Those who hold responsible positions in the church may have their faults in common with other people, and may err in their decisions; but, notwithstanding this, the church of Christ on earth has given them an authority that cannot be lightly esteemed. Christ, after his resurrection, delegated power to his church, saying, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." A relation to the church is not to be easily canceled; yet some professed followers of Christ will threaten to leave the church when their path is crossed, or their voice has not the controlling influence which they think it deserves. But in doing this they would themselves be the greatest sufferers; for in withdrawing beyond the pale of the church's influence, they subject themselves to the full temptations of the world.
Every believer should be wholehearted in his attachment to the church. Its prosperity should be his first interest; and unless he feels under sacred obligations to make his connection with the church a benefit to it rather than to himself, it can do far better without him. It is in the power of all to do something for the cause of God. Some spend a large amount for needless luxuries and to gratify their appetites, but feel it a great tax to contribute means to sustain the church. They are willing to receive all the benefits of its privileges, but prefer to leave others to pay the bills. Those who really feel a deep interest in the advancement of the cause, will not hesitate to invest money in the work whenever and wherever it is needed. They should also feel it a solemn duty to illustrate in their characters the teachings of Christ, being at peace one with another, and moving in perfect harmony as an undivided whole. They should waive their individual opinion to the judgment of the church. Many live for themselves alone. They look upon their lives with great complacency, flattering themselves that they are blameless, when in fact they are doing nothing for God, and are living in direct opposition to his expressed word. The observance of external forms will never meet the great want of the human soul. A mere profession of Christ is not enough to prepare one to stand the test of the Judgment. There should be a perfect trust in God, a childlike dependence upon his promises, and an utter consecration of self to his will.
God has ever tried his people in the furnace of affliction, in order to prove them firm and true, and purge them from all unrighteousness. After Abraham had borne the severest test that could be imposed upon him, God spoke to him by his angel, as follows: "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me." This great act of faith causes the character of Abraham to shine forth with remarkable luster. It forcibly illustrates his perfect confidence in the Lord, from whom he withheld nothing, not even his son of promise.
There is nothing too precious for us to give to Jesus. If we return to him the talents of means he has intrusted to our keeping, he will give more into our hands. Every effort we make for Christ will be rewarded by him; and every duty we perform in his name will minister to our own happiness. God surrendered his dearly beloved Son to the agonies of the crucifixion, that all who believe on him should become one through the name of Jesus. When Christ made so great a sacrifice to save men and bring them into unity one with another, even as he was united with the Father, what sacrifice is too great for his followers to make, in order to preserve that unity?
If the world sees a perfect harmony existing in the church of God, it will be a powerful evidence to them in favor of the Christian religion. Dissensions, unhappy differences, and petty church trials dishonor our Redeemer. All these may be avoided, if self is surrendered to God, and the followers of Jesus obey the voice of the church. Unbelief suggests that individual independence increases our importance; that it is weak to yield to the verdict of the church our own ideas of what is right and proper. But to cherish such feelings and views will only bring anarchy into the church and confusion to ourselves. Christ saw that unity and Christian fellowship were necessary to the cause of God; therefore he enjoins it upon his disciples. And the history of Christianity from that time until now proves conclusively that in union only there is strength. Let individual judgment submit to the authority of the church.
The apostles felt the necessity of strict unity, and they labored earnestly to this end. Paul exhorted his brethren in these words: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
He also writes to his Philippian brethren: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, 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 like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God." "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."
Peter wrote to the churches scattered abroad: "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."
And Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians says: "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #7)
God says by the psalmist, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me." The worship of God consists chiefly of praise and prayer. Every follower of Christ should engage in this worship. No one can sing by proxy, bear testimony by proxy, or pray by proxy. As a rule, too many dark testimonies are borne in social service, savoring more of murmuring than of gratitude and praise.
When the word of God was spoken to the Hebrews anciently, the Lord said to Moses, "And let all the people say, Amen." This response, in the fervor of their souls, was required as evidence that they understood the word spoken and were interested in it.
When the ark of God was brought into the city of David, and a psalm of joy and triumph was chanted, all the people said, Amen. And David felt that he was fully repaid for his labor and anxiety by this cheerful, universal response from the people.
There is too much formality in the church. Souls are perishing for light and knowledge. We should be so connected with the Source of light that we can be channels of light to the world. The Lord would have his ministers who preach the word energized by his Holy Spirit. And the people who hear should not sit in drowsy indifference or stare vacantly about, making no response to what is said. The spirit of the world has paralyzed the spirituality of such, and they are not awake to the precious theme of redemption. The truth of God's word is spoken to leaden ears, and hard, unimpressible hearts. The impression given the unbeliever by those professed Christians is anything but favorable for the religion of Christ. These dull, careless ones show zeal and ambition when engaged in the business of the world, but things of eternal importance do not engross the mind and interest them as do worldly things. The voice of God through his messengers is a pleasant song; but its sacred warnings, reproofs, and encouragements are all unheeded. Eternal and sacred things are placed upon a level with common things. The Holy Spirit is grieved. Said Christ, "Take heed, therefore, how ye hear." Those are spiritually dead who profess to worship God while the heart is not in the work. There should be a hearty, wide-awake church to encourage, and uphold the hands of the ministers of Jesus Christ.
Those who profess to be guided by the word of God, may be familiar with the evidences of their faith, and yet be like the pretentious fig tree, which flaunted its foliage in the face of the world, but when searched by the Master, was found destitute of fruit. Fruitful Christians are connected with Heaven, and intelligent in the things of God. The truth and the love of God are their meditation. They have feasted upon the words of life, and when they hear the truth spoken from the desk, they can say, as did the two disciples who were traveling to Emmaus when Christ explained to them the prophecies concerning himself, "Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
All who are connected with the light will let their light shine to the world, and will, in their testimonies, praise God, to whom their hearts will flow forth in gratitude. Those who have a vital union with Christ will rejoice in the assurance of his love. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by his presence. Walking in the light, they will never disgrace their profession or bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. It is the privilege of every child of God to store his mind with divine truth; and the more he does this, the more vigor and clearness of mind he will have to fathom the deep things of God. He will be more and more earnest and vigorous, as the principles of the truth are carried out in his daily life.
We should all be workers together with God. No idlers are acknowledged as his servants. The members of the church should individually feel that the life and prosperity of the church are affected by their course of action. Those in the church who have sufficient talent to engage in any of the various vocations of life, such as teaching, building, manufacturing, and farming, generally should be prepared to labor for the upbuilding of the church by serving on committees or as teachers in Sabbath schools, engaging in missionary labor, or filling the different offices connected with the church.
God requires that the first, the best, and the most useful talents shall be employed to carry forward his work upon the earth. The same zeal and energy, tact and order which are exercised in counting-rooms and shops, and in the fine arts, should be brought into the religious life and exercised in the work of God. All are responsible for the talents given them of God to use to his glory. He calls for them to come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
Many will give money because it costs less self-denial and self-sacrifice than to give themselves. Some say, "My business claims all my time. So numerous are my engagements and so pressing their demands, I cannot give my time." Of what avail is means without agents to use it? Ministers cannot do a tithe of the work necessary to be done at this time to save souls and preserve the vitality of the church.
God wants, not only that his followers should give of their means, but that they should give themselves. He claims their personal interest, their talents. The very best and most vigorous thoughts should be devoted to his cause and to glorifying his name.
What revelations will be made in the day of God, when each individual will see his life as God sees it! What opportunities lost to save souls! How many precious hours wasted in following inclination instead of discharging duties! How much greater advancement might have been made in the knowledge of the truth! How much talent that was given of God for wise improvement, to be spent in his service, has been buried in the cares and allurements of this world! How much strength and courage might have been given to the individual members of the church, had they dedicated to God their talents, and used them to his service and glory! And how many souls might have been saved, had they been wise, and sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness?
What can we say to arouse those who profess to be the followers of Christ to a sense of the solemn responsibilities resting upon them? Is there no voice that shall arouse them to work while the day lasts? Our divine Master gave his life for a ruined world. Who will deny self, and make some sacrifice to save souls for whom Christ died? He has left us an example in his life, that we might follow in his steps and secure the approval of Heaven.
Contemplating things of eternal interest will give true perception of the things of God. The respect and reverence due to God will be exhibited in the daily life and character. The soul will be brought into harmony with Heaven. The entire character will be elevated and transformed. The believer will be made Christlike, and finally obtain an entrance into the city of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #8)
Text: " I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved." Habakkuk 2:1.
We are living in an important period of this world's history, and we need now to have a constant connection with God. The watchmen upon the walls of Zion need to be vigilant and faithful. Those who claim to be giving the words of the Lord to the people, should reach the highest standard of spiritual elevation; then they will not give to the people their own words. Christ says to us, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart." Learners in the school of Christ will watch and pray. They will have faith that God will imbue them with his Holy Spirit, that they shall not speak their own words to the people, but the words the Lord shall give them. The men who are laboring to win souls to Christ will have an intense interest to be successful in this work.
We do not want to lose sight of the peculiar sacredness of this mission of ministering in word and in doctrine to the people. It is the work of the minister to speak the words of truth to the people, solemn, sacred truth. Some form the habit of relating anecdotes in their discourses, which have a tendency to amuse and remove from the mind of the hearer the sacredness of the word which they are handling. Such should consider that they are not giving to the people the word of the Lord. Too many illustrations do not have a correct influence; they belittle the sacred dignity that should ever be maintained in the presentation of the word of God to the people.
It is the special business of God's delegated messenger to speak the truth in all its simplicity and purity. If he will learn in Christ's school, he will not depreciate his discourses by irrelevant ideas and by relating anecdotes. He should consider that he is standing between the eternal God and perishing souls. It is the duty of the gospel minister to cultivate a sense of his high and sacred calling, and to give evidence that he appreciates the privileges and opportunities placed within his reach through the example of Christ's meekness and love, and he should consider his sufferings and death, that he may bring these privileges within his reach. He should never become tame and lifeless in his efforts, but should be constantly reaching higher, and seeking to become better fitted through the grace Christ has provided. He should not be satisfied to be merely a commonplace minister, but a polished instrument in the hands of Christ. He should be constantly seeking by his words, by his deportment, and by his piety, to elevate his fellowmen and to glorify God.
The work, and how it is done, is of great importance; therefore it requires the highest culture of the mind and purity of the soul to perform it well. Every minister should make the most of the priceless opportunities placed within his reach, and should have a high and holy trust in God. He should increase by proper use the talents intrusted to him, and then his powers for doing good will increase; and he should make it his special work to win souls to Christ. There are some who make so great efforts to display their oratory that they display themselves, and show their own ability, but do not lift up Jesus Christ before the people. Some seek earnestly to be sharp in argument, but do not evidence before the people the love and grace of Christ in the heart. They do not leave the impression upon the people that they have a solemn message from God to men, and that they have a knowledge of Jesus Christ.
It is important that the minister should have the spirit of Jesus. His teachings should show that he feeds on Christ, that he lives up to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God; and in his familiarity with the word of God, he will be instant in season and out of season to bring from the treasure house of God things new and old. He will reveal that a solemn sense of the value of souls is upon him, and that self is lost sight of as he presents the sacred truths of God to the people. He will not give the impression that he is seeking to make a display of intellect, but to hold up Jesus Christ, and him crucified, before the people. Everyone who is seeking to open the Scriptures to others should have an abiding sense of their accountability to God, and should realize that they are standing before a congregation of souls whom they will have to meet again at the Judgment seat of Christ, and that their message will prove a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Present before your hearers in simple language the claims of God's law upon men, while your own heart is softened and subdued by his Spirit. This is our message. God has given to man his rule of life in his holy law, to guide and control his words and actions. This law permits no neutrality. It has a bearing upon every man's life, and will not relax its hold until every case is decided for life eternal or for perdition.
If ministers of the word would bear in mind that they must meet every individual hearer before Heaven's tribunal, and render an account to God of the manner in which their mission has been performed, the motive and the spirit which has prompted their actions, there would be a more exalted ministry. This is a weight of responsibility which the messengers of truth cannot evade, and the minister who has a sense of the exalted character of his work, well may inquire with Paul, "Who is sufficient for these things?" You are a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. Angels sympathize with the workers in their responsibilities, and will not you, the worker, cultivate correct views of your high calling and sacred responsibilities? Well might you despair were it not for the evidence and assurance that your sufficiency is of God. The charge that Paul gave to Timothy is the charge that is given to every one whom God has sent forth to labor in the great harvest field. "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word. Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist [this means much more than mere sermonizing], make full proof of thy ministry.
To minister, comprehends much more than mere preaching. In order to fulfill this sacred and important work freighted with eternal interests, the minister must be a man of vital piety, or his labors will not be accepted of God. He must be a man who will not have an exalted opinion of himself, or of his own ability, but who will lose a sense of his importance in the exalted view he has of the matchless mercy and love of Jesus Christ. He then has a close walk with God. His life of piety and true holiness which he carries with him wherever he goes, and which is interwoven in all his works, makes him a successful and efficient worker. He is a co-laborer with Jesus Christ, and is faithful in his appointed work, as Christ was faithful in his work. He will not, in word or action, exalt self, but in private conversation will talk of Christ; he will pray Christ, he will preach Christ. This is the kind of ministry that proves the worker to be called and chosen of God for his sacred work. In every discourse Christ is presented, set forth among them, not merely in the repetition of words, but in the deep fervor of the spirit; and the divine influence which accompanies the word gives full proof of his ministry. Sermonizing alone will not do this. It is the spirit of labor out of the pulpit that testifies of the true character of the worker. The special work for this time must be done in reaching the people through personal effort; it is the revealing of Christ in the deep interest that is shown for the souls of those for whom Christ has died. The habitual piety that attends the Christian worker will make its impression, and the minister will not feel that he is sufficient of himself. He will be found often in prayer, pouring out his soul, as did his Master before him, in strong crying and tears. Then his fervent, constant supplications will draw him nigh to God. He will live as in the light of his countenance. His deportment and conversation when with others will be in regard to their soul's highest interest. He will take individuals alone, will talk with them, pray with them; and it is this kind of labor that will be highly successful.
Oh there is a great want with the workers in this cause of earnest, deep love for the souls of those for whom they labor! God requires more of his servants than they give him. Some form a habit of presenting arguments by which they obtain a surface knowledge of the truth. They have a runway of some doctrinal discourses, and they aim no higher. They do not seek to become familiar with the Scriptures, studying the prophecies that they may handle them at all times and in all places. They have not the living, abiding Christ in the heart, and therefore they do not love to dwell upon the practical teachings of Christ. Instead of giving full proof of their ministry, they show that they have but a limited knowledge of the truth. They are ignorant, both of the Scriptures and the power of God. They do not spend time in meditation and prayer. They are not acquainted with the movings of the Spirit of God. They neither pray, nor watch unto prayer. They keep Christ apart from their lives. Their discourses are tame, spiritless, Christless, as destitute of the vital elements as was Cain's offering, in which was not expressed the world's Redeemer, the efficacy of the blood of Christ.
Jesus is not preached in very many of the pulpits of today. Anything and everything but Christ is preached, for the very reason that the preacher is not acquainted with Christ. Some make it a practice to study different authors, and think this will help them greatly in their discourses. They flatter themselves that they have a very intellectual discourse, and so they may have; but the flock is not fed with the bread of life; the crib was placed above their reach. That which the world and churches need today is the preaching of the blood of Christ and the virtue of his atonement, and to be taught what constitutes sin, and to have the spirit of Christ interwoven in all their labors. What the world needs today is to know what they must do to be saved. There are many interesting and pleasing discourses given that the speaker counts the very height of success, but they are not thus registered by Him who weighs the thoughts and motives of men, who looketh not at outward appearances but at the heart, who weighs such discourses in the balances of the Sanctuary and pronounces them wanting. The only element which could make them a success is lacking--Jesus, the Light of the world.
There is need of most earnest prayer from the heart of the worker for the divine blessing, before he ventures to speak to the people. When the heart is at peace with God, when heaven's light illuminates the soul, then the lips will surely speak forth the words of Christ, by presenting the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. The atmosphere of heaven will surround the speaker, and souls will indeed feel that they sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. There is no one subject more necessary than to teach the people, by precept and example, true godliness, faith and love in Jesus Christ. The great masses of the people are more ignorant than many suppose. They need to be instructed line upon line, and precept upon precept, in regard to what they must do to be saved. Graduates of colleges, and persons in the highest walks of life, eloquent orators, able statesmen, men in high and important positions of trust, have given the powers of their being and their intellect to other matters, but have neglected the things of highest importance to them. They are ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God. When such men are seen in the congregation, the speaker generally strains every power to preach an intellectual discourse, and a subject is chosen that will have a little of the simplicity of true Bible religion and heart service to God in it as possible. They do not preach Christ. They do not define that sin is the transgression of the law. They seldom make plain the plan of salvation. They seldom tell what one must do to be saved. That which would have touched the hearts of the learned, the men in responsible positions, would have been to have shown them Christ upon the cross of Calvary, to bring redemption within their reach. They are to be taught as children how to make Jesus their friend, how to bring him into their life work.
Ministers need to have a more clear, simple manner in presenting the truth as it is in Jesus. Their own minds need to comprehend the great plan of salvation more fully. Then they can carry the minds of the hearers away from earthly things to the spiritual and eternal. There are many who want to know what they must do to be saved. They want a plain and clear explanation of the steps requisite in conversion, and there should not a sermon be given unless a portion of that discourse is to especially make plain the way that sinners may come to Christ and be saved. They should point them to Christ, as did John, and with touching simplicity, their hearts aglow with the love of Christ, say, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." Strong and earnest appeals should be made to the sinner to repent and be converted. Those who neglect this part of the work need to be converted themselves before venturing to give a discourse. Those whose hearts are filled with the love of Jesus, with the precious truths of his word, will be able to draw from the treasure house of God things new and old. They will not find time to relate anecdotes; they will not strain to become orators, soaring so high that they cannot carry the people with them; but in simple language, with touching earnestness, they will present the truth as it is in Jesus.
We need vital godliness in order to teach it to others. Those who live the religion of Christ, will bear a living testimony for Jesus. Of such Christ says, "Ye are my witnesses." We have a sacred and sanctifying truth to present to an unbelieving, gainsaying world. We have faithful testimonies of warning to be given to the world, and we can reach the people only through God. We must bring the sanctifying influence of the truth into our own daily lives, and God will qualify us for the work of arousing the slumbering, deadened consciences of sinners. We are not to be satisfied until the hearers are pierced to the heart by the powerful convictions of the Spirit of God of their guilt and sinfulness, and under a sense of their peril, cry out, What shall I do to be saved? Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #9)
In creating man, God gave him noble qualities. He endowed him with a well-balanced mind, and made every power of his being harmonious. After the fall there was not given to man another set of faculties. The powers given him before sin entered the world through Adam were high, and their aims holy; all in perfect harmony with the divine mind. The fall did not create in man new faculties, energies, and passions; for this would have been a reflection upon God. It was through disobedience to God's requirements that these powers were perverted; the affections were misplaced, and turned from the high and holy purpose to a lower aim and to meet a lower standard. When a man is converted, when he comes back to his allegiance to God, he then places himself in a right relation to him to heed his warnings, to be instructed by him, by living, not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; and he is in direct communication with him through Jesus Christ, whereby he will regain the moral image of his Maker. Originally man's affections were in perfect obedience to God's will; but they have been perverted, misused, and degenerated by disobedience. In returning to God, the inclinations, the taste, the appetite, and the passions are brought into higher, holier channels. The bias to evil is overcome through man's determined effort, aided by the grace of Christ. The faculties that have been warped in a wrong direction are no longer misused, perverted, and misapplied. They are not wasted in selfish purposes, or fastened upon perishable things. The truth has been accepted, has convicted the soul, transformed the character, and there is a purification and elevation of all the powers of the being, and the God-given powers are no longer debased.
Through the sanctification of the truth man becomes a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. What may not man become through the grace given him, if he will but be a partaker of the divine nature? What examples of uprightness, of purity, of holiness would be given to our world! But the debasement of man's highest, noblest powers, which causes so much sorrow, crime, violence and suffering in the world, is because the precepts of God are not respected. It is because his law is transgressed. Oh, that all who claim to be standing in defense of the law of God would indeed practice in their daily life the observance of its holy principles! We see men eagerly striving to accumulate property. They put forth all their energies, tact, wisdom, and inventive powers to gain their object, in securing earthly treasures that they will not need, and cannot use for their own profit or for their children's benefit. These persons have not time to devote to prayer, or to seek God, or to place themselves on the side of Christ. Heaven and eternal things have no charms for them. All their moral powers are dwarfed, and their lives are spent for one purpose, the accumulation of wealth. The time, the opportunities granted them of God to secure heaven, are squandered in striving for earthly gain. Would that it were only to the impenitent that this melancholy picture applied! It is most sad, indeed, when those who profess godliness exhibit to the world such a perversion of their powers.
The desire for laying up treasures upon the earth, of making provision for the unknown future, of centering all interest and effort in the earth, and of laboring for corruptible possessions, which must pass away, is not fitting us by the exercise of our powers, to secure the eternal, immortal treasure. If men who claim to believe the truth were as eager candidates for those treasures that are enduring, and if the concentration of their God-given powers were employed in securing the imperishable treasure, what might not they become in the world? What light would be reflected from them! What blessings would be in their flashing the bright beams of light upon the pathway of others! Oh, how many there are who care only for earthly things, and strive only for perishable treasures! All their powers are employed in securing earthly possessions, and time and talents, consequently, are spiritually dwarfed. God sets before man a heaven to gain, a crown to win, and immortal honors to possess. But the powers of his being have been perverted, his object has been changed, and he may be classed with those of whom Paul writes, "who mind earthly things." Body and soul are given to the securing of earthly treasures.
Satan carried Jesus to an exceedingly high mountain and presented before him all the glories of the world in a moment of time, and offered it all to him, if he would worship him. He met the stern rebuke of the world's Redeemer, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Here, then, is the object before us, to worship God, to serve God, and to glorify God. Satan finds those who will give themselves to his service to gain the treasures of the world. He absorbs the mind, and controls the powers so that the service which God demands is given to him. He gains from man all that he tried to secure from Christ. We often see men who stand high in positions of trust, as Christ's followers, but who have made shipwreck of faith. A temptation comes to them and they sacrifice principle and their religious advantages to secure a coveted earthly treasure. The bait of Satan is taken. Christ conquered, thus making it possible for man to conquer also; but man places himself under the leadership of the god of this world, and steps from beneath the banner of Jesus Christ into the ranks of the enemy. All his powers are devoted to gain, and he worships other gods before the Lord.
The worldly man is not content with a present sufficiency, or with even an abundance. He is always aiming to possess a larger stock, and turns every thought, every power, in this direction. Now he who is seeking for eternal riches should be striving for the heavenly treasure with far greater earnestness and perseverance, and with an intensity that is proportionate to the value of the object of which he is in pursuit. The worldly man is laboring for earthly, temporal things. He is laying up his treasure upon the earth, doing just that which Jesus has told him he must not do. The sincere Christian appreciates the warning given by Jesus, and is a doer of his word, thus laying up his treasure in heaven, just as the world's Redeemer has told him he should do. He views an eternity of bliss worth a life of persevering and untiring effort. He is not misdirecting his efforts. He is setting his affections upon things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Transformed by grace, his life is hid with Christ in God. He has not lost by any means, the power of accumulation; but he employs his active energies in seeking for spiritual attainments; then all his intrusted talents will be appreciated as God's gifts to be employed to his glory. By him property will be prized, not hoarded, valued only inasmuch as it can be used to advance the truth, to work as Christ worked when he was upon the earth, to bless humanity. For this purpose he will use his powers, not to please or glorify self, but to strengthen every intrusted gift that he may do the highest service to God. Of him it can be said, "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."
God does not condemn prudence and foresight in the use of the things of this life, but the feverish care, the undue anxiety with respect to worldly things is not in accordance with his will. It will not do for us to float along with the current, we are to be laborers together with God. God has imparted to us moral powers and religious susceptibilities. He has given his own dear Son as a propitiation for our sins, that through him we might be reconciled to God. He has brought to us knowledge, light, and truth, to open our understanding. He is the way, the truth, and the life; and now it devolves upon man to seek most earnestly to cooperate with the agencies which the Lord has provided for his salvation. He must with earnestness lay hold upon the helps God has placed within his reach. He must pray, he must search the Scriptures, he must believe the word of God, he must obey God, and must employ all his powers in making the most of the opportunities and privileges brought within his reach. Then we must be laborers together with God; for God will not complete his work without human agencies. Jesus has made the infinite sacrifice in our behalf, and he expects of his followers far more than they give him,--voluntary, zealous, disinterested cooperation. His bounty has brought the treasures of heaven within the reach of man, and God expects us to show our faith by our works. God is waiting, angels are watching, to see what the people to whom are committed the treasures of truth will do. They are God's workmen and his agents, and if those who are so highly favored with intrusted truths fail through love for earthly things to perform the part assigned them, it would have been better for them had they never been born. Not only will they lose heaven themselves, but, failing to act their part in the great plan of saving their fellowmen, they will scatter from Christ by thus neglecting to do their appointed work. Others will follow their example, and they will be cursed of God. There are many souls of all nations and tongues and peoples to be enlightened. Are the chosen, royal people of God paralyzed that they cannot see from the word of God their duty, and sense the weighty responsibility that rests upon them to be laborers together with God? "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me," were the words that fell from the lips of the divine Teacher.
Our fidelity to Christian principles calls us to active service for God. Those who do not use their talents in the cause and work of God, will have no part with Jesus in his glory. Light is to shine forth from every soul that is a recipient of the grace of God. There are many souls in darkness, but what rest, and ease, and quietude many feel in this matter! Thousands enjoy great light and precious opportunities, but do nothing with their influence or their money, to enlighten others. They do not even take the responsibility of keeping their own souls in the love of God, that they may not become a burden to the church. Such ones would be a burden and a clog in heaven. For Christ's sake, for the truth's sake, for their own sakes, such should arouse and make diligent work for eternity. Heavenly mansions are preparing for all who will comply with the conditions laid down in the word of God. In behalf of the souls for whom Christ has died, who are in the darkness of error, it is enjoined upon all true followers of Christ to be a light to the world. God has done his part in the great work, and is waiting for the cooperation of his followers. The plan of salvation is fully developed. The blood of Jesus Christ is offered for the sins of the world, the word of God is speaking to man in counsels, in reproofs, in warnings, in promises, and in encouragement, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit is extended to help him in all his efforts. But with all this light the world is still perishing in darkness, buried in error and sin. Who will be laborers together with God, to win these souls to the truth? Who will bear to them the good tidings of salvation?--The people whom God has blessed with light and truth are to be the messengers of mercy. Their means are to flow into the divine channel. Their earnest efforts are to be put forth. They are to become laborers together with God, self denying, self-sacrificing, like Jesus, who for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.
Divine and human agencies are combined in the work of saving souls. God has done his part, and Christian activity is needed now. God calls for this. He expects his people to bear a part in presenting the light of truth to all nations. Who will enter into this partnership with the Lord Jesus Christ? He will prescribe the terms, he will make all the conditions. Has God enlightened you with a knowledge of himself? Have the treasures of his word been opened to your understanding, so that you have become intelligent in regard to the truths therein? Then go to work with your ability. If you are only humble, pure in heart, single in purpose, you will see the needs and wants of God's cause. You will see that there are foreign countries to be visited, that missionaries must go forth with the spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion, to labor, to deny self, to suffer for Christ's sake. And even in our own country there are thousands of all nations, and tongues, and peoples who are ignorant and superstitious, having no knowledge of the Bible or its sacred teachings. God's hand was in their coming to America, that they might be brought under the enlightening influence of the truth revealed in his word, and become partakers of his saving faith. How many have felt any interest for these strangers? How many have been stirred with the spirit of the Master to act as missionaries to those brought, as it were, to our very doors? What will arouse our churches to their true condition of sleepiness and inactivity while souls are perishing within their reach? Where there is one laborer there ought to be hundreds receiving every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, and giving it to the people as they can bear it. A hundredfold more might have been done than has been done. A worldly spirit has prevailed among the professed servants of God, and the souls of men have not been counted of half as much value as their cattle, their farms, and their business. God will hold them accountable for this terrible neglect in the past; but what are they going to do in the future? Will they come into cooperation with our great Benefactor? Will they as men who have had the light of truth, let that light shine forth to those in darkness? God has honored them with the privilege of being co-laborers with Christ in the great harvest field. Will they thankfully, heartily receive all the advantages God has provided, and diligently improve them by exercise, using every ability and every sacred trust in the service of the Master? Their success in advancement in the divine life depends upon the improvement of the talents lent them. Their future reward will be proportioned to the integrity and earnestness with which they serve the Master.
All the enterprises in temporal, earthly things prosper in proportion to the wisdom, tact, and concentration of powers exercised in acquiring the desired object. Just so must it be in our Christian enterprises. We must work according to God's word. There must be wise planning. There must be selection of men and gifts appropriate for the various branches of the work. God's word must be our guide as to the conditions that are specified by which we may become laborers together with Christ. The desire to accumulate wealth is an original affection of our nature, implanted there by our Heavenly Father for noble ends. If you ask the capitalist who has directed all his energies to the one object of securing wealth, and who is persevering and industrious to add to his property, with what design he thus labors, he could not give you a reason for this, a definite purpose for which he is gaining earthly treasures and heaping up riches. He cannot define any great aim or purpose he has in view, or any new source of happiness he expects to attain. He goes on accumulating because he has turned all his abilities and all his powers in this direction. There is within the worldly man a craving for something that he does not have. He has, from force of habit, bent every thought, every purpose in the direction of making provision for the future, and as he grows older, he becomes more eager than ever to acquire all that it is possible to gain. It is natural that the covetous man should become more covetous as he draws near the time when he is losing hold upon all earthly things. All this energy, this perseverance, this determination, this industry after earthly power is the result of the perversion of his powers to a wrong object. Every faculty might have been cultivated to the highest possible elevation by exercise, for the heavenly, immortal life, and for the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The customs and practices of the worldly man in his perseverance and his energies, and in availing himself of every opportunity to add to his store, should be a lesson to those who claim to be children of God, seeking for glory, honor, and immortality. The children of the world are wiser in their generation than the children of the light, and herein is seen their wisdom. Their object is for earthly gain, and to this end they direct all their energies. Oh that this zeal would characterize the toiler for heavenly riches! Basel Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #10)
Workers in the Master's vineyard must be imbued with the spirit of Christ in his love for souls. Divine influences and a strong, living, working faith are especial qualifications, in order for them to be co-laborers with Jesus Christ. They must cultivate constantly the graces of the Spirit, repressing unbelief. Honor is to be given to the human powers by putting them to the very highest use in the service of God. Under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit, all may be co-laborers with God. All whom God has blessed with reasoning powers are to become intellectual Christians. They are not requested to believe without evidence; therefore Jesus has enjoined upon all to search the Scriptures. Let the ingenious inquirer, and the one who would know for himself what is truth, exert his mental powers to search out the truth as it is in Jesus. Any neglect here is at the peril of the soul. We must know individually the prescribed conditions of entering into eternal life. We must know what is the voice of God, that we may live by every word that proceeds out of his mouth. We cannot allow these questions to be settled for us by another's mind, or another's judgment. We must search the Scriptures carefully with a heart open to the reception of light and the evidences of truth. We cannot trust the salvation of our souls to ministers, to idle traditions, to human authorities, or to pretensions. We must know for ourselves what God has said. We are laborers together with God, and we want to know, and must know, what conditions are resting upon those who are to be heirs of salvation, or we shall die in our sins. It is not to be our study as to what may be the opinion of men, or of popular faith, or what the Fathers have said. We cannot trust to the voice of the multitude, but we want to know what is the voice of God, what is his revealed will. He has left us his own statements, and we must search for the truth as for hidden treasures. We must put away all skepticism, all exaltation of our own ideas. We must humble our hearts by repentance and with contrition of soul, praying for true enlightenment. We must be diligent and thoughtful. We must be constant learners in the school of Christ, then we shall be meek and lowly of heart as was our Saviour. The Lord positively demands of every Christian an intelligent knowledge of the Scriptures. He must dig for the truth as he would dig for hid treasures. He must search the Scriptures, comparing scripture with scripture; for he must be a laborer together with God. Individually, we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It is God who works in us, and by us, and through us. God's word is the sword of the Spirit, and with a knowledge of revealed truth, which is our spiritual weapon, we must go to work, laboring to pull down the strongholds of the enemy. The truth must be spoken in love. We must show that we are Christ's followers and that we have learned of Jesus. We must approach the people in the spirit of kindness and affection.
I feel deeply the need of our churches' having greater spirituality and more personal piety. If we are laborers together with God, our own piety must be sound and healthy, and then, when it comes in contact with error, it will not be moved with iniquity, or will not be corrupted. Our churches must feel their responsibility, and instead of devoting their time and talents to worldly things, seek to become elevated, ennobled. The truth must be to them a divine inspiration, a living reality. The laborers together with God will be aroused to do their work for the Master. Instead of doing so little, they must do very much more, and act as if they were plucking souls as brands from the burning fires. God is displeased with the ease-loving dispositions of those who have the light of truth. Time is golden. Lay hold of God by living faith, and exert your powers to their very utmost, having your testimony so vitalized by the Spirit of God that sinners will feel and sense their danger. Let faith be woven into your experience. Let every believer in the truth be thoroughly alive to the danger of this time. Let them awake from their stupor and feel that the delegated ministers are not the only ones to be workers together with God. Every soul must have a part in this. Says Christ, "Ye are the light of the world." This not only applies to the ministers, but to every soul to whom Christ has revealed himself. In your several churches you are to be active, living, Christian workers. Are you acquainted with your neighbors? Have you labored for those close by your own homes? Have you the love of Jesus? If so, you will feel an interest for the souls for whom Christ died. Pure religion and undefiled is an active principle. It overreaches the walls of home. It goes forth in quest of objects that need help. Its light flashes into the highways and hedges, and it is seen and felt in the larger places of the earth. The lost sheep are searched for diligently, and wanderers are brought back to the fold.
We must have more religion. We must love the Lord better. We must daily consecrate ourselves to the Lord and practice the truth. We profess to believe in earnest, sincere, self-denying effort. Let it ever be borne in mind that if a man who professes to believe the truth neglects his God-given responsibility, he will in the day of God be placed with the unprofitable servant. He will learn by the announcement made in the great day of accounts, if not before, that God was the owner of all he possessed, and that he was only made a trustee, or steward, and was held to a stern reckoning for the faithful administration of his trust. It is all the same, whether we have one talent, or three, or five, or ten; all are the Lord's. Not a farthing is to be squandered upon needless things to gratify the lusts. Not a particle is to be hoarded to the neglect of the salvation of souls for whom Christ has given his life. The principal is all the Lord's, the improvement of it is his, and on every dollar is stamped the image and superscription of Jehovah. All must render an account to God, of how their time and their talents of intellect and money have been used. It is not a light thing to be intrusted with riches; but it is a grand thing to be accounted as a faithful steward of God in making right use of the Lord's money. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" but how beautiful will be the character of those who have borne the trust of God's capital worthily! If one has held all as God's property, and heeded God's voice to invest his property in his cause to save precious souls, he will see these souls saved in the kingdom of God, because he appropriated God's means as he designed it should be appropriated. He will then be received into everlasting habitations.
Let us come up to the high standard of God in Christ Jesus. Let us now consider, before it shall be everlasting too late, what is the measure of our responsibilities in this world in regard to the salvation of our fellowmen. Let each watch and pray, place himself in right relation to God, and study to see what good he may do,--what words he may speak, what influence he may exert, what light he may diffuse as co-laborers with God, and what he can do to establish missions in places where there are none, that a light may be continually shining forth to the dark corners of the earth He may make such a disposition of his intrusted earthly treasures, as shall produce to him in the world to come an hundredfold, and an eternal inheritance. While the religion of Christ flourishes in hearts, the streams of beneficence will never cease to flow. The one who is a faithful steward is constantly giving, and God is constantly supplying that the channel shall not become dried up. But it is not the rich alone that are to sustain the cause of God in our world; those who have been blessed with the light of truth can learn to practice self-denial, and have something to give. All the little rivulets made to flow into the channel of doing good, blessing humanity, will keep the treasury supplied with means.
It is not merely the duty of the minister, but of every member of the church, to represent Christ to the world. They are to catch the rays of light from Jesus, and reflect them upon souls blinded by error and infatuated with false doctrines. They are to hold up the only true standard of righteousness, which is God's holy law, while the world is holding up a false standard. Satan is seeking to present light for darkness, and darkness for light, the truth for error, and error for the truth. He would extinguish every ray of light shining from the throne of God, and in its place put his darkness. But the sons of God are here, every one of them, for the purpose of irradiating the world. The more light is despised, opposed, and condemned, the greater evidence they have in regard to their work to let their light shine forth to others. They receive their orders from God to guide souls to righteousness, truth, and heaven. The torch of truth must shine to willing as well as unwilling eyes. When Christ ascended on high, the church was to be the agent, or medium, through which light was to be communicated to the world. "Ye are the light of the world." Every individual Christian is required of God to be a living, shining light in the world. He must wrestle with God in secret prayer; then he will go forth in the spirit of Christ to hold converse with men. Anointed for the mission, he bears with him the atmosphere of paradise. His words will be well-chosen, and his face will reflect the image of his Master. He will be the light of the world, a living epistle known and read by all men. Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #11)
"Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Jer. 9:23, 24.
Men are not to rejoice in their wisdom, their strength, or their riches, but in the fact that they have a knowledge of Christ. This knowledge is the most excellent, the most precious, that we can possess. It is the pledge of everlasting life. For "this is life eternal, that we might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Money cannot buy it, intellect cannot grasp it, power cannot command it; but to all who will accept it, God's glorious grace is freely given. But men may feel their need, and, renouncing all self-dependence, accept salvation as a gift. Those who enter heaven will not scale its walls by their own righteousness, nor will its gates be opened to them for costly offerings of gold or silver; but they will gain an entrance to the many mansions of the Father's house through the merits of the cross of Christ.
It is only when the sinner feels the need of a Saviour, that his heart goes after the One who can help him. When Jesus walked among men, it was the sick that wanted a physician. The poor, the afflicted and distressed, followed after him, to receive the help and comfort which they could not find elsewhere. Blind Bartimaeus is waiting by the wayside; he has waited long to meet Christ. Throngs of people who possess their sight are passing to and fro, but they have no desire to see Jesus. One look of faith would touch his heart of love, and bring them the blessings of his grace; but they know not the sickness and poverty of their souls, and they feel no need of Christ. Not so with the poor blind man. His only hope is in Jesus. As he waits and watches, he hears the tread of many feet, and he eagerly inquires, What means this noise of travel? The by-standers answer that "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." With the eagerness of intense desire, he cries, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!" They try to silence him, but he cries the more vehemently, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!" This appeal is heard. His persevering faith is rewarded. Not only is physical sight restored, but the eyes of his understanding are opened. In Christ he sees his Redeemer, and the Sun of righteousness shines into his soul. All who feel their need of Christ as did blind Bartimaeus, and who will be as earnest and determined as he was, will, like him, receive the blessing which they crave.
The afflicted, suffering ones who sought Christ as their helper, were charmed with the divine perfection, the beauty of holiness, that shone forth in his character. But the Pharisees could see no beauty in him that they should desire him. His simple attire, and humble life, devoid of outward show, rendered him to them as a root out of dry ground.
The self-righteous feel no need of Christ. And when those who profess his name extol their own wisdom and goodness, they give evidence that they are not acquainted with him. As soon as Christ is revealed to the soul, the sinner feels that his only hope is in the Lamb of God as the propitiation for sin. As Christ begins to open his love before him, watch the effect, and see what it is. Many claim this experience who are strangers to the love of Christ. But if it leads one to look with humility upon himself to place the honor of Christ above his own, if he gives evidence that the heavenly reward is of more value to him than his worldly possessions, we may know that beams of light from Christ are shining upon his soul.
The Scriptures speak of some who thought they possessed love for Christ, when the test showed that self was uppermost in their affections. Simon the Pharisee was one of these. He professed to be a disciple of Jesus; and wishing to show his Master special honor, he made a supper, and invited Christ and his friends as guests. But Jesus shocked his narrow prejudice by showing that Heaven esteemed a penitent sinner above a Pharisee. The woman who had been a sinner, longed for purity of heart. She had seen the works of Jesus, and she greatly desired to become like him in character. The words of Christ had kindled the hope of a better life, and her deep love and gratitude prompted the offering of the precious ointment. The Pharisee was offended that Jesus should permit a sinner to approach him. Unbelief filled his heart, and doubts arose as to Christ's divine mission. The Saviour, reading his unspoken thoughts, reproved him by a parable:--
"There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged." Jesus takes Simon on his own ground, as feeling himself more righteous than the woman. Then he proceeds to draw the contrast between the love and devotion of the poor penitent, and the unbelief and cold neglect of the self-righteous Jew.
"Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."
Simon had been a great sinner, and also a loathsome leper. Christ had pardoned his sins, and cleansed him from the terrible disease that was upon him. He had as much cause as the woman he despised, for humility and gratitude to Jesus. But he esteemed himself so highly, he was so intent upon maintaining his own honor and standing, that he was blind to the great debt of gratitude he owed. He had withheld from his Saviour even the acts of courtesy due to a common guest. He did not look upon himself as so great a sinner as he really was. Self-love opened the door to pride, unbelief, and ingratitude. So long as he cherished self-righteousness, he could not place a right estimate upon Christ.
The command is not, Let him that glorieth glory in himself, but in God. For sinful men, the highest consolation, the greatest cause of rejoicing, is that Heaven has given Jesus to be the sinner's Saviour. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, there was no hope for the sinful race; but Christ offered to take the sin upon himself. He offered to go over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell; to meet the tempter on the field of battle, and conquer him in man's behalf. Behold him in the wilderness of temptation. Forty days and forty nights he fasted, enduring the fiercest assaults of the powers of darkness. He trod the "wine-press alone; and of the people there was none with" him. It was not for himself, but that he might break the chain that held the human race in slavery to Satan. He saw that man had become so weakened by disobedience that he had not wisdom or strength to meet the wily foe, and this is why the Son of God takes upon himself man's nature, and, gaining the victory in our behalf, brings to us divine power, that, combined with human effort, will enable us to overcome.
There is, then, no ground for men to take glory to themselves. For every blessing which they enjoy, for every good quality which they possess, they are indebted to the grace of Christ. None should exalt themselves as possessing wisdom or righteousness. There are many, especially among those who profess holiness, who compare themselves to Christ, as though they were equal with him in perfection of character. This is blasphemy. Could they obtain a view of Christ's righteousness, they would have a sense of their own sinfulness and imperfection. There is not a case recorded in the Bible, of prophet or apostle claiming, as do the "holiness" people of today, to be without sin. Daniel humbled himself before God, to confess his sins and the sins of his people. Paul had a very humble opinion of his own advancement in the Christian life. He says, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: . . . but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." And John declares, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Those who have the deepest experience in the things of God, are the farthest removed from pride or self-exaltation. They have the humblest thoughts of self, and the most exalted conceptions of the glory and excellence of Christ. Those who are expecting that Christ is soon to come, and that they are to be translated to a holy heaven, should, of all people upon the earth, walk most carefully and humbly before God. All self-importance must be purged away from us before we can grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth. When we have our eyes fixed upon heaven, and have clear views of the character of Christ, we shall exalt the Lord God in our hearts.
As one becomes acquainted with the history of the Redeemer, he discovers in himself serious defects; his unlikeness to Christ is so great that he sees the necessity for radical changes in his life. Still he studies with a desire to become like his great Exemplar. He catches the looks, the spirit, of his beloved Master. By beholding by "looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith," he becomes changed into the same image. It is not by looking away from him that we imitate the life of Jesus, but by talking of him, by dwelling upon his perfections, by seeking to refine the taste and elevate the character, by trying, through faith and love, and by earnest, persevering effort, to approach the perfect Pattern. By having a knowledge of Christ,--his words, his habits, and his lessons of instruction,--we borrow the virtues of the character we have so closely studied, and become imbued with the spirit we have so much admired. Jesus becomes to us "the chiefest among ten thousand," the One "altogether lovely".
In all his dealings with his ancient people, the Lord sought to impress them with the idea that their strength was not in the wisdom of man, nor in his might, but in the God of their salvation. As Joshua, the leader of the children of Israel, went out alone before the taking of Jericho, to pray for God's special presence, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the form of a mighty warrior; and to Joshua's challenge he replied, "As captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. . . .Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy." The Lord marshaled his armies about the doomed city; no human hand was raised against it; the hosts of heaven overthrew its walls, that God's name alone might have the glory. It was that proud city whose mighty bulwarks had struck terror to the unbelieving spies. Now in the capture of Jericho, God declared to the Hebrews that their fathers might have possessed the city forty years before, had they but trusted in him.
These things were written for our benefit. As a people, we lack faith. God will do great things for those who trust in him. The reason why his professed people have so little strength, is that they trust so much in their own wisdom, and do not give the Lord an opportunity to reveal his power in their behalf. He will help his believing children in every emergency if they will place their entire confidence in him, and implicitly obey him.
There are troublous times before us; the judgments of God are coming upon our world. The nations of the earth are to tremble. There will be trials and perplexities on every hand; men's hearts will fail them for fear. And what shall we do in that day? Though the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and be removed like a cottage, if we have made God our trust, he will deliver us. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. "Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee. . . . For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."
The rich man is not to glory in his riches. If we fix our affections on worldly things, we fail to exalt Christ. Satan would keep our minds absorbed with the things of this life, that we may lose sight of the highest life; but we cannot afford to yield to his devices. Christ is the source of all temporal, as well as all spiritual blessings. If he has given us riches, it is not that we may claim them as our own. "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." Paul counted all things but loss that he might win Christ. But when the Saviour calls for our possessions and our service, there are many who see they cannot obey God and carry their earthly treasures with them, and they decide to stay by their treasures. Jesus left all his glory, and became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. But how few of his professed followers appreciate his great sacrifice! How few are willing to follow his example! How can those who expect to stand around Christ's throne, and to be clothed with his righteousness, distrust God, and fear that he will leave them to come to want? Where is their faith? Our Heavenly Father feeds the ravens, and will he not much more feed us? "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." If we had a right view of Christ, we would permit nothing to interpose between ourselves and him.
This is a time when the law of God is trodden under-foot; and the great question is, Who will stand for the truth? God is calling for volunteers. Who will respond? Those who study to see how near they can live to the world and yet gain heaven, will come just near enough to be shut out from heaven. We must accept the suffering part of religion if we would sit down with the Suffering One upon his throne. When Christ has done so much for us, shall we refuse to serve him? Shall we not become co-laborers with him in the work he came from heaven to do? There is a great work to be done in the cities, and who is ready to engage in it? Christ says, "Ye are the light of the world." "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." If we will separate from the world, and renounce its sinful practices, God has pledged himself to receive us, and to work with our efforts.
Shall we not consecrate ourselves to God without reserve? Christ, the King of glory, gave himself a ransom for us. Can we withhold anything from him? Shall we think our poor, unworthy selves too precious, our time or property too valuable, to give to Jesus?--No, no; the deepest homage of our hearts, the most skillful service of our hands, our talents of ability and of means,--all are but too poor an offering to bring to Him who was slain and has "redeemed us to God by his blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Lift him up, my brethren, the Man of Calvary. Lift him up before the people, and by and by he will lift you up to his throne, and crown you with glory, honor, and immortality. Basel,Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #12)
A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow his blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our Heavenly Father is more willing to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us his blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer. While the people are so destitute of God's Holy Spirit, they cannot appreciate the preaching of the word; but when the Spirit's power touches their hearts, then the discourses given will not be without effect. Guided by the teachings of God's word, with the manifestation of his Spirit, in the exercise of sound discretion, those who attend our meetings will gain a precious experience, and returning home will be prepared to exert a healthful influence.
The old standard bearers knew what it was to wrestle with God in prayer, and to enjoy the outpouring of his Spirit. But these are passing off from the stage of action; and who are coming up to fill their places? How is it with the rising generation? are they converted to God? Are we awake to the work that is going on in the heavenly Sanctuary, or are we waiting for some compelling power to come upon the church before we shall arouse? Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come.
There are persons in the church who are not converted, and who will not unite in earnest, prevailing prayer. We must enter upon the work individually. We must pray more, and talk less. Iniquity abounds, and the people must be taught not to be satisfied with a form of godliness without the spirit and power. If we are intent upon searching our own hearts, putting away our sins, and correcting our evil tendencies, our souls will not be lifted up unto vanity; we shall be distrustful of ourselves, having an abiding sense that our sufficiency is of God.
We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan's devices.
The adversary of souls is not permitted to read the thoughts of men; but he is a keen observer, and he marks the words; he takes account of actions, and skillfully adapts his temptations to meet the cases of those who place themselves in his power. If we would labor to repress sinful thoughts and feelings, giving them no expression in words or actions, Satan would be defeated; for he could not prepare his specious temptations to meet the case. But how often do professed Christians, by their lack of self-control, open the door to the adversary of souls! Divisions, and even bitter dissensions which would disgrace any worldly community, are common in the churches, because there is so little effort to control wrong feelings, and to repress every word that Satan can take advantage of. As soon as an alienation of feeling arises, the matter is spread before Satan for his inspection, and the opportunity given for him to use his serpentlike wisdom and skill in dividing and destroying the church. There is great loss in every dissension. Personal friends of both parties take sides with their respective favorites, and thus the breach is widened. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Criminations and recriminations are engendered and multiplied. Satan and his angels are actively at work to secure a harvest from seed thus sown. Worldlings look on, and jeeringly exclaim, "Behold how these Christians hate one another! If this is religion, we do not want it." And they look upon themselves and their irreligious characters with great satisfaction. Thus they are confirmed in their impenitence, and Satan exults at his success.
The great deceiver has prepared his wiles for every soul that is not braced for trial and guarded by constant prayer and living faith. As ministers, as Christians, we must work to take the stumblingblocks out of the way. We must remove every obstacle. Let us confess and forsake every sin, that the way of the Lord may be prepared, that he may come into our assemblies and impart his rich grace. The world, the flesh, and the Devil must be overcome. We cannot prepare the way by gaining the friendship of the world, which is enmity with God; but by his help we can break its seductive influence upon ourselves and upon others. We cannot individually or as a body secure ourselves from the constant temptations of a relentless and determined foe; but in the strength of Jesus we can resist them. From every member of the church a steady light may shine forth before the world, so that they shall not be led to inquire, What do these people more than others? There can be and must be a withdrawal from conformity to the world, a shunning of all appearance of evil, so that no occasion shall be given for gainsayers. We cannot escape reproach; it will come; but we should be very careful that we are not reproached for our own sins or follies, but for Christ's sake.
There is nothing that Satan fears so much as that the people of God shall clear the way by removing every hindrance, so that the Lord can pour out his Spirit upon a languishing church and an impenitent congregation. If Satan had his way, there would never be another awakening, great or small, to the end of time. But we are not ignorant of his devices. It is possible to resist his power. When the way is prepared for the Spirit of God, the blessing will come. Satan can no more hinder a shower of blessing from descending upon God's people than he can close the windows of heaven that rain cannot come upon the earth. Wicked men and devils cannot hinder the work of God, or shut out his presence from the assemblies of his people, if they will, with subdued, contrite hearts, confess and put away their sins, and in faith claim his promises. Every temptation, every opposing influence, whether open or secret, may be successfully resisted, "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
We are in the great day of atonement, when our sins are, by confession and repentance, to go beforehand to Judgment. God does not now accept a tame, spiritless testimony from his ministers. Such a testimony would not be present truth. The message for this time must be meat in due season to feed the church of God. But Satan has been seeking gradually to rob this message of its power, that the people may not be prepared to stand in the day of the Lord.
In 1844 our great High Priest entered the most holy place of the heavenly Sanctuary, to begin the work of the investigative Judgment. The cases of the righteous dead have been passing in review before God. When that work shall be completed, judgment is to be pronounced upon the living. How precious, how important are these solemn moments! Each of us has a case pending in the court of heaven. We are individually to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. In the typical service, when the work of atonement was performed by the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary, the people were required to afflict their souls before God, and confess their sins, that they might be atoned for and blotted out. Will any less be required of us in this antitypical day of atonement, when Christ in the Sanctuary above is pleading in behalf of his people, and the final, irrevocable decision is to be pronounced upon every case?
What is our condition in this fearful and solemn time? Alas, what pride is prevailing in the church, what hypocrisy, what deception, what love of dress, frivolity, and amusement, what desire for the supremacy! All these sins have clouded the mind, so that eternal things have not been discerned. Shall we not search the Scripture, that we may know where we are in this world's history? Shall we not become intelligent in regard to the work that is being accomplished for us at this time, and the position that we as sinners should occupy while this work of atonement is going forward? If we have any regard for our souls' salvation, we must make a decided change. We must seek the Lord with true penitence; we must with deep contrition of soul confess our sins, that they may be blotted out.
We must no longer remain upon the enchanted ground. We are fast approaching the close of our probation. Let every soul inquire, How do I stand before God? We know not how soon our names may be taken into the lips of Christ, and our cases be finally decided. What, oh, what will these decisions be! Shall we be counted with the righteous, or shall we be numbered with the wicked?
Let the church arise, and repent of her backslidings before God. Let the watchmen awake, and give the trumpet a certain sound. It is a definite warning that we have to proclaim. God commands his servants, "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 attention of the people must be gained; unless this can be done, all effort is useless; though an angel from heaven should come down and speak to them, his words would do no more good than if he were speaking into the cold ear of death. The church must arouse to action. The Spirit of God can never come in until she prepares the way. There should be earnest searching of heart. There should be united, persevering prayer, and through faith a claiming of the promises of God. There should be, not a clothing of the body with sackcloth, as in ancient times, but a deep humiliation of soul. We have not the first reason for self-congratulation and self exaltation. We should humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. He will appear to comfort and bless the true seekers.
The work is before us; will we engage in it? We must work fast, we must go steadily forward. We must be preparing for the great day of the Lord. We have no time to lose, no time to be engaged in selfish purposes. The world is to be warned. What are we doing as individuals to bring the light before others? God has left to every man his work; every one has a part to act, and we cannot neglect this work except at the peril of our souls.
O my brethren, will you grieve the Holy Spirit, and cause it to depart? Will you shut out the blessed Saviour, because you are unprepared for his presence? Will you leave souls to perish without the knowledge of the truth, because you love your ease too well to bear the burden that Jesus bore for you? Let us awake out of sleep. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #13)
There was one who came to Jesus after he had witnessed some of his wonderful teachings, and said, "I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." But Jesus read the heart and thoughts of the one who made this proposition, and knew that he was expecting to have some special honor in the esteem of Christ in his reign upon the earth, which he thought would be a temporal reign. But Christ answered him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." And whosoever will engage to follow him whithersoever he goeth, must himself work as Christ has worked. Those who engage to be partakers with Christ, must also be partakers with him of his humiliation and his sufferings. Not only will they have to be brought sometimes into strait and trying places in temporal things in this life, but they will meet with difficulties in spiritual things.
When two disciples came to Christ, one preferring to sit on his right hand and the other on his left, Christ said, "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? Now, whosoever would set their feet in the path to follow their Redeemer, must be willing to follow him in all his self-denyings, and to do others good. They must prepare their souls for trial and conflict in the same manner as Christ did,--by prayer to his Father.
After the precious Saviour had met with indifference, with opposition, with criticism from those who needed his help, to whom he could and would do good if they would receive his words, he said, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." He went away alone with his Father, and prayed that he would not give up these rebellious ones to their own perversity of spirit; and he sent up his petitions with strong crying and tears. And if the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, has found it a necessity to pray to his Father, everyone must imitate his example.
The enemy will seek in every way possible to obstruct the course of those who take hold of any branch of the work of God, that they may not have success. But instead of their interpreting this as an evidence that the Lord would not have them engage in individual labor, they should take it in altogether a different light, and see in the difficulties a vigilant foe; because the enemy is watching to block the way. And especially will this be the case with young men and women who would give themselves to the work of God. Satan will use every means to divert them from it. He attacks those who are doing errands for God, that they may be defeated. But those very ones who have had this difficulty to contend with, and have carried the matter to God, and persevered under discouragements, will say that it is the most valuable part of their experience.
The new and inexperienced workers frequently have had an idea that they could do the work themselves, and thus they have failed to seek God most earnestly for that help which they so much needed, that they might see their own weakness and insufficiency, and cling to the Arm mighty in power. These things should be no discouragement to those who would take hold of the work; for God often brings into strait places those whom he would have engage in labor for him, so that they may learn lessons of dependence and trust, and know the Source of their strength. Should he make the path very easy before them, they would be liable to feel that they were sufficient and powerful, and able to do the work themselves, and not seek God or give him the glory. But every one who is engaged in the work of God should feel the importance of learning lessons in Christ's school; and Christ tells us what the character of these lessons are: "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." Now the conditions are that everyone shall take Christ's yoke upon him, and learn of him; and thus "ye shall find rest unto your souls."
The reason why you fail to appreciate that which comes to you in warnings and reproofs from the word of God, is chiefly owing to your own self. You are inclined to feel your self-importance, and therefore your pride is wounded frequently, because you have not the meekness and lowliness of character to lie down at the foot of the cross. If you call to mind the Author and Finisher of your faith, and realize what he has suffered--that he went without the camp, bearing reproach for you that you might be saved,--then you will think that you are suffering nothing. What you want is the Spirit of Jesus. You need to cherish it continually; and then when difficulties shall arise, you will be hid in Christ, and will manifest the Spirit of Christ on any and every occasion. You should not encourage a feeling of sympathy and pity for yourself. All self should be hid in Jesus Christ, and then you will feel such sincere sorrow and pity for the souls who do not know what is for their best good, that you will forget all about your being misused.
We must bear in mind continually this fact: that the hand of Jesus reaches over every one of his sincere followers, and every blow that is aimed at you to injure you, wounds the hand of Jesus that covers you. So you are to lose self entirely; to put it out of sight as much as possible; and when you see that your words are not received by those you greatly desire to help and save, then you must flee to Christ and pray, as he fled to his Father and prayed. Christ will hear your humble prayers, and give you access to souls.
We are not one fifth part as meek and humble as we should be. We need to study carefully what these things mean,--that we are to eat the flesh of Christ, and to drink his blood. We must bring Christ into our being. The care and trouble we have, are caused, to a great degree, by our own hearts' not being in harmony with Jesus Christ. we must take the word of God to ourselves,--and Christ is that word,--and study all his words of advice and counsel, and make them a part of our own life and character. Whatever may have been your defects, you are not to carry those defects along with you from day to day; but you are to set your feet upon the lower round of the ladder, and climb until you reach the topmost round. "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." You must hold fast to Christ. Christ is that ladder. We are to mount by the Mediator, and all the while keep hold on the Mediator, clinging to Christ, walking with Christ, living with Christ, growing in Christ, until we gain heaven. Christ is the ladder set upon the earth, the topmost round reaching the throne of God.
There are great blessings that we can realize if we will only bring ourselves into harmony with Jesus Christ. It is not that you are to trust in what you can do, but what Christ can do with your efforts; and therefore the whole glory should redound to Jesus Christ, if you would meet with success. And these lessons which appear to you so discouraging, should be regarded by you as the most precious lessons you could have, because you are made through them to see that your whole success depends upon your hold upon God; and if you pray to him in faith, you may know that he will hear your prayers, and will be by your side to help you in every circumstance. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #14)
We left Basel for Tramelan Dec. 24, in company with Bro. and Sr. Ings, to be present at the dedication of the first chapel built in Europe by Seventh day Adventists. Brn. Ertzenberger and John Vuilleumier were also present on this occasion. Bro. Ertzenberg was my interpreter on the Sabbath. He also preached to the Germans.
This small but neat house of worship was built by Bro. Roth's family. Hitherto the meetings had been held in private houses. We felt that the Lord would honor this movement made to his glory. Friends came in from Bienne and Chaux-de-Fonds, and we had a profitable meeting. The Lord gave me his blessing in seeking to present to the people the necessity of cultivating respect for the place where they assembled to worship God. We had excellent meetings upon the Sabbath.
Notice was sent in to the National Baptist Church, that Mrs. White would speak there on Sunday afternoon; but the minister refused to read the notice to his congregation because he thought Mrs. White would speak upon the Sabbath question. Nevertheless there were from two to three hundred persons present, who gave the best of attention. Bro. John Vuilleumier interpreted for me, and the Lord blessed me by his Spirit as I presented before the people the plan of redemption, and what constitutes genuine faith in Jesus Christ, the atoning Sacrifice. Faith on the Son of God goes deeper than many discern. Dost thou believe on the Son of God? This inquiry is of deep spiritual import, and of the utmost importance. It is not merely whether we admit our faith in the world's Redeemer, but do we believe in him as our Saviour? Have we an intelligent personal faith? Is our acceptance of Christ as our Saviour not merely an article of faith, but a living, abiding presence in our homes? We are not to lay this knowledge aside as a memento to look at occasionally, but we are to believe on the Son of God as our own Saviour, and bring him into our life, practicing his virtues; our very life is to be hid with Christ in God. To believe on Christ is to have God dwell in the soul and have not merely the acts, but the words, and even the thoughts, brought into subjection to the Spirit of Christ. The general expressions after the meeting were, "I shall take home that which I have heard;" "I see nothing objectionable in that which we have heard today," One man, in response as to what constitutes genuine faith, uttered his sentiments, and when asked, "What do you think of that which we have heard today," answered, "Oh, it does not matter to me; I am saved, I am saved."
The national minister expressed regret that he had not read the notice. Said he would have done so had he known that Mrs. White was going to speak upon the mission of Christ. We returned to Basel that night, praying that the seed sown might find lodgment in some hearts. We learned that the impression made upon the community was good, and that much prejudice was removed. And many desired to hear Mrs. White speak again.
By special invitation we left Basel Feb. 4, accompanied by Bro. and Sr. Ings and our interpreter, Bro. John Vuilleumier. Friday night we had a meeting with the church in the new chapel. Sabbath, in the forenoon, Bro. Ings spoke to the people with much freedom, and all seemed to be deeply interested and profited. I spoke in the afternoon, from Mal. 3: 16-18. The Spirit of the Lord moved upon hearts. After the discourse we had a social meeting, and many excellent testimonies were borne. One young man had not taken any part in the meetings for more than a year. He had been overcome through temptations, and fallen under discouragement. He made humble confessions, with weeping, and there made a decided stand to be wholly for the Lord, and expressed his determination to do all in his power to help others. His mother had never before taken part in social meeting, but she bore her testimony, and several others confessed and wept before the Lord. We all felt the deep movings of the Spirit of the Lord in our midst. The Lord was at work softening and subduing hearts. Bro. G. made very interesting remarks, which Bro. John Vuilleumier interpreted to me. He said he had for years been praying for his brother, who lived some miles away, that the Lord would draw him buy the cords of his love, and that he might take hold of the truth. During the week of prayer Bro. G. made this case of his brother's a special subject of prayer. He went to visit him, to see if he could not say or do something to help him to walk in the light. He found that his brother had been deeply convicted. He stated that while engaged in work upon the Sabbath his tools seemed so heavy that he could scarcely hold them in his hands. It seemed that he must drop them, and keep the Sabbath. He read the tract, "Sufferings of Christ," which had been translated into French, and that decided him to obey his convictions of conscience and keep the Sabbath. Expecting to receive his discharge, he told his employers that he could not work another Sabbath; but he was told to continue his work. Bro. G. was filled with joy and gratitude to God that his prayers were answered. He stated there were others, also, who were convicted, one a man of influence.
I had tried to impress upon them the importance of laboring for those close by their own doors, each child of God feeling that he has a sacred duty to bring others to Christ, and thus each becoming a missionary for God. This was responded to heartily, and many resolved that they would take hold more earnestly and in faith, and have more patience in well-doing, and not become weary and so quickly discouraged. Our meetings closed with the blessing of God. After the meeting we had an interesting season at the house of Bro. Roth. I was requested to pray for a young man who had resolved to be on the Lord's side. His wife and sisters were present, and as I offered prayer for him, Bro. Vuilleumier interpreted me. The Lord did bless, and hearts were melted into tenderness. The young man then, with affection and tears, kissed his sisters and the brethren Roth. There had been some unhappy feelings of difference, but all was confessed and forgiven, and the room seemed to be filled with the peace of Christ. Sr. Roth made the statement, "The peace of Christ has come to this house." "These precious tokens of God's love should be highly appreciated by us, and never be forgotten. They should awaken gratitude in our hearts continually.
The Lord has said to his people, "Ye are the light of the world." We are representatives of Bible truth. God has made us the repositories of his law. Then let none hold the truth in unrighteousness, but let the spirit, the words, and the deportment correspond with the principles of truth we claim to believe. We keep Christ in the background, and do not bring him into our hearts. I feel deeply that as a people we are not following our Bibles in our treatment of one another. There is not that spirit of full and entire forgiveness which brings peace and rest to the soul. I find here in Europe that on this point there are special lessons to learn; and a neglect to learn these lessons separates the soul from God. Satan magnifies little things. If he sees that our efforts in behalf of others do not work a reformation in them at once, then there comes in a spirit of impatience, and sharp, rasping words are spoken, that do not work any reformation in them nor bind them any closer to our hearts. Love is the silken cord which binds hearts together. We are not to feel that we are to set ourselves up as a pattern. As long as we think of ourselves, and what is due us from others, it will be impossible for us to do our work of saving souls. When Christ takes possession of our hearts we shall no longer make the narrow circle of self the center of our thoughts and our attentions.
I spoke in the National Church on Sunday afternoon, upon the subject of temperance. The minister who had refused to give notice of my appointment the first time, was invited to be present and open the meeting with singing and prayer. He readily consented to do so. I had much freedom in speaking to an attentive audience. Although I am obliged to reach the people through an interpreter, my constant prayer is, Lord, speak thou to the hearts of the bearers; impress the truth upon the soul. Bro. Ings spoke in the evening, in the new chapel. Tramelan was the first place where the truth was preached in Europe, and this is our first chapel built, aside from our mission house in Basel. Our people feel grateful to God for the victory gained in this place. Prejudice has been overcome, and the doctrines we hold are looked upon in a very different light than heretofore. The way is being prepared for a course of lectures to be given in Tramelan; and if the church are laborers together with God, we believe that the Lord will increase their numbers, and that many souls will be saved.
To say we believe the truth while its principles are not practiced daily in our lives, will leave us in a condition similar to that of Capernaum,--exalted to heaven in point of light and bestowed blessings, yet these blessings and this light unappreciated. The Lord would have us wash our robes of character now, remove every stain in the blood of the Lamb. We see so many who estimate the character of their brethren and sisters by the manner in which they treat them. We are not here to be made much of, but to be helpful to others; and we must not measure the religious standing of others by their willingness to serve us. We love people who are pleasant, and who have no disagreeable ways; then let us gather to our souls the graces of the Spirit of Christ, and bring them into our life, that God may not turn from us with the same disgust with which we turn from others. Defects of character often close our hearts to those who need encouragement to overcome them. The Lord will close his heart to us who are wayward, unpleasant, disrespectful, disobedient, irreverent, and forgetful of him as a guest whom we should honor. Shall we require of others that deference, that respect, that honor which we refuse to give to Jesus in Christian politeness? Let our pride, our selfishness be humbled in the dust. Let self be hid with Christ in God, and let us remember that if we have an unforgiving spirit toward the erring, the Lord will not forgive our trespasses, but will deal with us as we deal with those erring ones who are connected with us in labor and in church capacity.
We need to have higher and more distinct views of the character of Christ, to lead us to copy his example. We need to better understand what constitutes a pure religious life. We must learn to be Christlike in disposition and character. We need an increase of faith in the promises of God. He has shown us great and precious favors; he has revealed to us his glory, all loving, holy. These attributes are blended with justice and mercy. We are not to think of God only as a judge, and to forget him as our loving Father. Nothing can do our souls greater harm than this; for our whole spiritual life will be molded by our conceptions of God's character. We have lessons to learn of Jesus' love. He has been ever solicitous for our welfare. His voice is ever inviting us to come to him with all our griefs and sorrows; and if we will obey the call, we shall draw toward Jesus.
Now let us improve the precious opportunities to become acquainted with our Heavenly Father, who "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Wondrous love that God, the infinite God, has made it our privilege to approach him by the name of father! No earthly parent could plead more earnestly with an erring child, than he who made us pleads with the transgressor. No human, loving interest has ever followed the impenitent with such tender invitations. Then with what tender sympathies should we labor for the erring, sin perishing souls around us! We must work in the spirit in which Christ worked, with the compassionate tenderness that he manifested. When by living faith we shall claim the promises of God, when we shall live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, we shall place ourselves on the side of Christ, and have his Spirit and his grace to work with our efforts to bring souls to a knowledge of the divine will.
"Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Why do we not come to Him who has promised? His word is pledged. "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but his kindness shall not depart from his people, neither shall the covenant of his peace be removed." His voice is heard, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." "With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee." How amazing is this love, that God condescends to remove all cause for doubt and questioning from human fears and weakness, and takes hold of the trembling hand reached up to him in faith; and he helps us to trust him by multiplied assurances and securities. He has made us a binding agreement upon condition of our obedience, and he comes to meet us in our own understanding of things. We think that a pledge or promise from our fellow men, if recorded, still needs a guarantee. Jesus has met all these peculiar fears, and he has confirmed his promise with an oath: "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." Heb. 6:17, 18.
What more could our Lord do to strengthen our faith in his promises? The clean heart, the right spirit, he requires of us, which is the gift of Jesus Christ, Christ worked to this end, and man cooperates with him. The divine and human efforts are united. The white robe, the crown of righteousness, an eternal weight of glory, is laid up for those who love God and keep his commandments. Then let all pride, all self-sufficiency be laid at the feet of Jesus. He is faithful that hath promised. If we approach him with a lowly, childlike trust, he will give us his grace and the treasures of eternal life as a free and everlasting gift. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #15)
On returning from Tramelan to Basel, Feb. 7, we found that special efforts were being made by all connected with the mission building, to draw nigh to God by earnest prayer and confession, that the blessing of the Lord might be granted us in an especial manner when our Conference and Council should convene. Meetings were held at 6:30, commencing Feb. 6. I commenced the next morning to speak to the people, and we labored earnestly with our brethren and sisters for deeper spirituality and knowledge of the will of God. We felt the great need as laborers together with God, of meeting a higher standard.
What a wonderful reverence Jesus expressed in his life mission for human life! He stood not among the people as a king demanding attention, reverence, service, but as one who wished to serve, to lift up humanity. He said he had not come to be ministered unto, but to minister. I am sure that the great lesson of forgiveness must be learned more perfectly by us all, and we must practice the Christian graces. Wherever Christ saw a human being he saw one who needed human sympathy. Many of us are willing to serve certain ones,--those whom we honor,--but the very ones to whom Christ would make us a blessing if we were not so cold-hearted, so unkind and selfish, we pass by as unworthy of our notice. We do not help them, though it is our duty to do this,--to bear with their rudeness, while seeking to cultivate the opposite traits of character. We must work the works of Christ. The greatest wrong we can do others, if we think ourselves injured by them in any way, is to be unforgiving. This is a most dangerous position for professed Christians, because just in the manner that they treat their brethren, so will the Lord of heaven treat them. We are seeking here in these meetings to instruct, not merely with regard to the theory of the truth, as to how we shall practice the truth; but the question that is of great and vital importance with us now is, What must I do to be saved?
We have a great truth and great light; and if we walk in the light as it shines upon our pathway, we shall have increased light. Our works should correspond with our faith. Oh, why are we not more in earnest? Why do we not rise to our high privilege, and partake of the divine nature? As the wax takes the imprint of the seal, so must the soul receive and retain the moral image of God. We may become filled with his love, and transfigured by beholding his purity and righteousness. Our souls will become sluggish and our faith enfeebled unless we arouse and have a firm, steady, active faith. He "that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."
The great sin of God's people at the present time is that we do not appreciate the value of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. We serve him with a divided heart. There are many who are cherishing some idol, and worshiping at its shrine. God's truth is elevated and holy, sanctifying the soul, if brought into the life and interwoven with the character. God is seeking by means of his truth to make us a separate and peculiar people. This is the influence the truth should have upon us. Our obedience and devotion are not equal to our light and privileges; and the sacred obligations resting upon us to walk as children of the light, are not fulfilled by us. As Christians we fail to come up to our high calling. Warnings and reproofs have been given us from God, but they influence us only for a time, because we do not consider it as our life work to press forward and upward to the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Oh that God's people would consider their superior advantages, and understand from the light of his word that we must be judged according to the light which shines upon our pathway! All the privileges and opportunities given us by God are designed to make us better men and women. The people of God must move from settled principle, making it their first concern to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then go on from light to still greater light. If we fail to profit by the light, and become cold and hardhearted, and are not easily impressed with the truth, and the energies of the soul become palsied, we cannot reasonably expect that judgment will be given in our favor, because, like Capernaum, we are exalted to heaven in point of privilege.
The blessed light that is now given us was not given to Sodom and Gomorrah, or they might have remained unto this day. Every soul that really believes the word of God, will show the same by his works. The great goodness of God is displayed in his requirements, nor can we be Christians if we neglect to obey his word. The truth is able to save our souls; for God by his own Spirit is a continual agent in it, and it is this divine agency that makes the truth a sanctifying power.
Sabbath morning, Feb. 12, at half past six we had our morning meeting. The Lord gave me much freedom in speaking to the people, and the fallow ground of hearts was broken up. Many confessions were made with freely flowing tears. We see that the Spirit of the Lord is coming into the meeting, and this makes me rejoice. We want the work to go deeper and be more earnest. I tried to impress upon the people that a happy flight of feeling is no evidence that we are in favor with God. We must have the living, divine principles ever abiding in us, and not make an idol of impulse or of a high degree of feeling. If we have pardon, we must show repentance. We must have faith, and walk by faith; not entertain the idea that we must have assurance in feeling before we acknowledge ourselves blessed of God. The assurance is in God's word. God has said, and it will be done. He who trusts in God must have due respect for all the means and all the helps to obedience. The written word, the services of God's house, and the throne of grace,--these are God's blessings, and our work is to lay hold upon the promises of God. Rely upon them. Live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. This is the victory, even your faith. Without holiness no man can see the Lord. Whatever our hopes or our profession, God calls for deeds and works. A meek and quiet spirit is the result of the grace of God in the heart. Faith in God's promises must be exercised while we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, God working in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. We must be constantly guarded, for we are on the battlefield against a wily foe. We have a heaven to win; a possession to gain that requires the vigilant exercise of every spiritual muscle. Halfhearted work will not do here. God will accept nothing short of wholehearted service, willing obedience.
Sabbath, Feb. 12, was almost entirely devoted to service. We have not had an exciting time, but firm conviction is taking hold of minds. We feel that we are advancing. We are trying to make the people understand that it is not God's design to withhold his presence, but that we are not sufficiently spiritual to discern his presence, and to lay hold of his promises, and claim them by faith. Our hearts lie too much in vapors and mists of worldliness, sin, and frailty, through which only a dim light reaches us, penetrating this mist and fog which Satan pours in upon us, while the full brightness of Christ's righteousness shines above us, and we scarcely look up. There are efforts which we ourselves must make. The cares of life will try us; but we let them disturb our confidence in God, and then we wonder why we have not more comfort, and more peace and hope and joy. Oh, I wish we could see these things as they are, and be sensible Christians! If we do not have ecstatic feelings, we begin to doubt whether we are Christians or not, when we should not look at our feelings, but at God's word; for there is our assurance. We must bring our hearts into a right position. We must put away all sin, all pride, all impatience, all envy and evil thoughts, all jealousies, and then, while working out our own salvation, God will work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.
We must hold fast the promises. These are the pledged words of Him who is truth and verity; and these are our assurances. They can be appropriated to ourselves only by individual faith. Learning their truth by our loving trust, we must learn, not that man never is, but that we always are blessed. How many blessings we lose because we slight and overlook the blessings we daily receive, yearning for that which we have not. Common mercies which thickly strew our pathway, are forgotten and undervalued. We may learn lessons from the humble things of God in nature. The flower in dark and humble places responds to all the rays of light it can get, and puts forth its leaves. The caged bird sings in the prison cage, in the sunless tenement, as if in the lordly, sunny dwelling. God knows whether we will make a wise and saving use of his blessings; he will never give them to us to abuse. God loves the thankful heart, trusting implicitly in his words of promise, gathering comfort and hope and peace from them; and he will reveal to us still greater depths of his love.
At nine o'clock there was a social meeting, and then a sermon by Eld. Ings. The German portion of the congregation received a blessing, having an opportunity to hear the Bible truth in their own language. Seventeen have recently come to the truth in Basel, for which we thank and praise God. In the afternoon a discourse is given to the Germans. Three are to be baptized (several have already received the ordinance), and the communion service is to be attended this afternoon. I am full of thankfulness to God for the mercies of this Sabbath. We should make our life a clear, steady, burning light to the world. If we are not always on the mount, it is because God sees it would not be for our best good, because we would not see and be thankful for the lesser blessings. We should be thankful that he is still with us in the lowly valley of cares and troubles that press the soul. The Lord would have us look up, and be grateful to him that there is a heaven; that Jesus is preparing mansions for us, where the weary will be at rest. Let us praise God from whom all blessing flow. Let us grasp by living faith the rich promises of God, and be thankful from morning till night.
Feb. 14.--This morning we had another meeting to seek God in prayer, and by humble confession. I spoke from these words: "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." The Lord helped me to speak pointedly upon this scripture. The gospel demands from every human being an unreserved consecration to God, of both body and soul, with all their energies and capabilities, throughout the entire period of our probation. In this work there is to be no indolence; continual advancement is required of us, while God claims every ordinary or peculiar power, endowment, and faculty he has given us in trust. To withhold these from God, is robbery toward God; while every talent is given us as a sacred trust, upon condition that it shall be used and improved, enlarged and strengthened, by use, in accordance with the will and design of the great Giver, that by this means divine light and power shall be communicated to the world through God's appointed channel.
In this work, if talents are well improved, increased talents are the result. "Unto every one that hath shall be given, . . . but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." If Heaven's bestowed gifts are not appreciated and improved as God's intrusted capital,--if they are buried in worldliness, in selfishness,--these powers capable of blessing humanity decrease; and because the God of heaven is not sought after and glorified as the source of all these precious endowments, he is dishonored, and he cuts off the supply. In order to increase, to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we must put to use by human effort our physical and intellectual powers. All these powers are under contribution to God, and must be taxed to the very uttermost. The youth and the child must be taught these lessons. "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake." The fervor of the newborn child of God in his first love is as sweet fragrance to God; and the simple testimonies, the cheerful service, and the grateful thanks are acceptable to God.
Our social meetings have shown still more decided advancement. We are coming nearer to the point, nearer to the freedom and liberty of the children of God. Confession with weeping has been made, and we see there is a deeper sense of how far short they have come of meeting the standard of righteousness. There is a firm purpose to do better, if we can by repetition of great and solemn warnings and precious inducements in the promises, bring them to feel their great need and the willingness of God to pardon and bless, we shall have gained a victory over Satan and over his devices. God requires of every one of his followers, faith, sincere prayer, and a spotless example. Not one is excused; they are his employed servants, working for wages, even the life which is to come. To be unfaithful to God, who has manifested so great interest for us, is the basest ingratitude. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #16)
The Swiss Conference commenced here Thursday evening, Feb. 17. There were quite a number present from abroad. Last year the European Missionary Council was held in connection with the Swiss Conference at Basel. Delegates came from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Wales, Scotland, England, France, Italy, and Germany. This year many of these attended the Council held in England last September, and therefore did not come to our Swiss Conference. But we have had delegates this year from France, Switzerland, and Italy, and also a good representation of our brethren and sisters; and as I looked upon the people assembled, and saw such an intelligent, interested congregation as filled our chapel so that extra seats had to be brought in, my heart was filled with gratitude to God to see the marked change, the improvement over one year ago. I knew that the Lord had been at work by his Holy Spirit, and could see that progress had been made in many directions. There have been additions to the churches in Chaux-de-Fonds, Lausanne, and Basel, and in other places; and as one soul saved is of more value with God than the whole world, why should we not praise God for this good work? My heart was thankful. The world's Redeemer said, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance."
The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. Doth not the shepherd "leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it?" All heaven is watching with intense interest the work that is going forward in the world. Satan with his power is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness to deceive and ensnare. Evil angels conspire with evil men, and the whole energies of apostasy are at work to destroy the advocates of truth, and to hedge up the way that they shall not come to Christ, their Redeemer, that they may have life. And when the truth is accepted, and the soul is brought to genuine repentance and faith in God, then there is joy in heaven, and anthems of praise are sung. Therefore if there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, let there be joy upon earth among men who love God, that sinners are brought to a knowledge of the truth.
We see great improvements made. Earnest efforts are being put forth by our brethren to learn English, and they have a much better understanding of this language than they had one year ago. This we try to encourage in every church; for in this way the English-speaking ministers can obtain direct access to the people. Our publications in English are quite numerous, while in French and German they are very limited, so that a large table of most precious food is spread before those who understand the English language; and our workers in these countries should be putting forth efforts to become better acquainted with the language which will give them much greater opportunities to instruct the people in doctrines and practices of godliness.
Sabbath, Feb. 19, I spoke to the people at 9 A. M. The Lord gave me of his Holy Spirit as I presented before them the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. In the afternoon, at 3 o'clock, we assembled for social meeting. I was much blessed as I spoke to them again, upon the necessity of our coming up to greater sympathy and more decided contemplation of the great sufferings of Christ. We think of these altogether too little. I requested those who desired prayers to come forward. The seats were quickly filled, and my heart was stirred as I saw the whole congregation on their feet. I said, Sit down just where you are, and we will all seek the Lord together. Before the season of prayer, many testimonies were given in quick succession and with deep feeling, showing that hearts were touched by the Spirit of the Lord. Confessions were made with tears. We were glad to see this work going forward; for we knew it was just such a work as was needed to bring the people into that position of humbling their hearts and confessing their sins before God, that he would accept their repentance and their efforts to seek him. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Sunday the meeting commenced at half past five in the morning, and continued an hour and a quarter. At half past seven A.M. the seats were again filled, and I spoke to those assembled upon the subject of temperance, from Rom. 9:24-27. I never felt more in earnest when addressing a people on the subject of temperance, and we had evidence on this occasion that many hearts were deeply impressed. A request was made for me to speak again on the subject of temperance Sunday evening, which I did. There seemed to be no diminishing of the interest. After the discourse Sunday evening, the pledge was circulated, and one hundred and thirty-seven names were attached. We were sorry to learn that some few names were withheld for that which we consider was no reason that would justify a true child of God. Their excuse was that their work called them into places where wine would be passed to them (as is customary in this country), and they could not refuse to take it for fear of offending those for whom they worked. I thought that here was a very good opportunity for them to lift the cross, and let their light shine forth as God's peculiar people whom he was purifying unto himself.
We should never be ashamed of temperance in all things, while we remember Christ's long and painful fast to break the power of Satan's temptations over the race upon the point of appetite. Christ fought the battle in painfulness, in weakness, and conquered Satan, making it possible for man to conquer in the name and strength of Jesus Christ. Then why should the followers of Jesus be ashamed to refuse the tempting wine cup. Daniel refused to drink of the king's wine, or to eat of the meat on the king's table, because the effect upon his physical and mental powers would not be of that character to give him the strength he needed. At all times and on all occasions it requires moral courage to resist temptation on the point of appetite. We may expect such practice will be a surprise to those who do not practice habits of total abstinence from all stimulants; but how are we to carry forward the work of reform if we are to conform to the habits and practices of those with whom we associate? Here is the very opportunity to manifest that we are a peculiar people, zealous of good works. The beer drinkers will present their glasses of beer, and those who claim to be children of God may plead the same excuse for not signing the temperance pledge,--because they will be treated with beer, and it will not be agreeable to refuse. These excuses may be carried to any length, but they are not of any weight; and we were sorry that any who claimed to believe the truth should refuse to sign the pledge--refuse to put barriers about their souls and fortify themselves against temptation. They choose to leave the bars down, so that they can readily step over and accept temptation without making the effort to resist it.
There is a constant warfare to be maintained between virtue and vice. The discordant elements of one and the pure principles of the other are at work striving for universal conquest. Satan is approaching every soul with some form of temptation on the point of indulgence of appetite, and intemperance is fearfully prevalent. Look where we will in Europe, and we behold intemperance fondly cherished. Beer gardens arranged in the most beautiful style are to be seen at almost every turn, and you will see a beer table in almost every private garden, if it contains a tree large enough to shade a table. In summer this is the favorite place for taking lunches, which usually consist of bread and beer. There is a smooth sunny street close to the mission house, which is sometimes called, "Baby Promenade," because of the great number of nurses who come there in the middle of the day, to wheel their baby carriages. These generally contain two little occupants; and it is not uncommon to see the nurses stop at the beer gardens or saloons, and present the innocents a foaming glass of beer. The little ones know no better than to take the beverage, and they soon become stupefied and go to sleep. This makes it very easy for the nurses. It is the habit in this country to indulge the children in stimulants from their babyhood, thus educating them to have an appetite for them.
On Sunday you will meet crowds flocking to the beer gardens, and we have met them again as they returned, some scarcely able to walk straight, while others were talking fast and foolishly, with swaying manners and unintelligent gestures. Reason which God has given them as a sacred trust is beclouded, and as the result, eternal things are not discerned. The efforts of all who claim to believe the truth for this time, both young men and young women, cannot please Jesus unless they meet the evils which have crept in upon society with all their influence, and arrest, if possible, the current of intemperance, with its demoralizing power. While in temperance has its open, avowed supporters, shall not we who claim to honor temperance come to the front and show ourselves firm on the side of temperance, striving for a crown of immortal life, and not giving the least influence to this terrible evil, temperance, which is carrying both men and women from one degree to another of self-indulgence, and preparing their souls for perdition. Those who claim to believe the truth have not all taken their position in relation to temperance which it is their sacred duty to do. There have been those who have stood aloof from decided committal on the side of temperance, and for what reason? Some say that if wine or beer is passed to them, they have not the moral courage to say, I have signed the pledge not to taste of fermented wine or beer or strong drink. Shall the names of those stand registered in the books of heaven as defending the indulgence of appetite?
No one could be more decidedly tempted than was Daniel. He was apportioned wine and meat from the king's table; but Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not drink of the king's wine, nor eat of the luxuries of the king's table. Those four Hebrew youth chose to have their mental powers clear and undimmed, and their physical health was to them a matter of the highest consideration. They would not imperil the physical and moral powers for the indulgence of appetite. They saw the perils were on every side, and that if they resisted temptation they must make most decided efforts on their part, and then trust the rest with God. God gave these brave and noble minded youth such wisdom and understanding that they stood higher than all the astrologers and most learned men in the Babylonian Kingdom.
We as Christians should stand firmly in defense of temperance. There is no class of persons capable of accomplishing more and effecting the object more readily than the God-fearing Bible youth. In this age the young men of our cities should unite in a firm, decided army to set their faces as a flint against every form of selfish, health destroying indulgence. What a power they might be for good! How many they might save from becoming demoralized because they visit the halls and gardens fitted up with music and every attraction to allure the youth! Intemperance and licentiousness and profanity are sisters. Let every God-fearing youth gird on the armor and press to the front. Put your names on every pledge presented, to give influence to temperance, and to induce others to sign the pledge. Let no feeble, weak excuse be offered to refuse to put your name to the temperance pledge. Work for the good of your own souls and for the good of others.
Through intemperate appetite Adam and Eve lost Eden. If we gain the paradise of God, we must be temperate in all things. Shall any blush with shame to refuse the wine cup or the foaming mug of beer? Instead of this being a dishonorable work, they are doing service to God in the matter of refusing to indulge appetite, resisting temptation. Angels are looking upon both tempter and tempted. While sin is unmanly, indulgence of appetite is weak, cowardly, and debasing; the denial of appetite, honorable. The highest intelligences of heaven watch the conflict going on between the tempter and the tempted. And if the tempted turn away from temptation, and in the strength of Jesus conquer, then angels rejoice, and Satan has lost in the conflict. As Christians, we need experimental piety; and all who understand the great conflict of Christ upon the point of appetite, in the wilderness of temptation, will never lend on iota of their influence to brace up intemperance.
Jesus endured the painful fast in our behalf, and conquered Satan in every temptation, thus making it possible for man to conquer in his own behalf, and on his own account, through the strength brought to him by this mighty victory gained as man's substitute and surety. We thank the Lord that a victory was gained upon these points, even here in Basel; and we hope to carry our brethren and sisters up to a still higher standard to sign the pledge to abstain from Java coffee and the herb that comes from China. We see that there are some who need to take this step in reform. There are some who are nervous, and they should abstain from these nerve-weakening narcotics, that they may place themselves in right relation to the laws of life and health. These injurious stimulants are doing great harm to their nervous system. The machinery of nature is aroused to unwonted activity to be followed by reaction, and the coffee and tea must be used by them to keep up their strength and again urge up their powers. Unnatural activity is the result, and by this continual course of indulgence of appetite the natural vigor of the constitution becomes gradually and imperceptibly impaired. If we would preserve a healthy action of all the powers of the system, nature must not be forced to unnatural action. Nature will stand at her post of duty, and do her work wisely and efficiently, if the false props that have been brought in to take the place of nature are expelled.
Tea is a stimulant. It increases an excitement beyond its natural action, and the whole mental powers are unduly aroused, after which come corresponding languor and debility. There is a nervous trembling which is interpreted to be a need of more vigor. Or, again, the coffee or tea is resorted to for the purpose of recruiting the energies, and thus artificial strength instead of natural deceives the tea-drinker to think that the strength is derived from the charming cup of tea, when it is only the exhausted energies spurred up to unnatural action, wearing away imperceptibly the life forces. They have thus stimulated the brain nerves to unnatural labor.
Coffee is a hurtful indulgence. It temporarily excites the mind to unwonted action, and the effect is prostration, sadness, exhaustion of the mental, moral, and physical forces. The mind becomes enervated, and unless through determined effort the habit is overcome, the activity of the brain is greatly lessened. All these nerve irritants are wearing away the life forces, and the restlessness caused by shattered nerves, the impatience, the mental feebleness, becomes a warning element against spiritual progress. Then shall not those who advocate temperance and reform be awake in regard to these injurious things? And shall not this pledge paper embrace coffee and tea, as hurtful stimulants? In some cases it is as difficult to break up this tea and coffee habit as it is for the inebriate to discontinue the use of liquor. The money used for tea or coffee as a common drink is worse than wasted. It does the user, be it man or woman, harm and that continually. Shall Christians bring under the control of reason this appetite, or will they continue its practice because they feel so let down without it, like the drunkard without his stimulant?
But Jesus overcame on the point of appetite, and so may we. Let us move on, then, step by step, advancing in reform until all our habits shall be in accordance with the laws of life and health. The Redeemer of the world in the wilderness of temptation fought the battle upon the point of appetite in our behalf. As our surety he overcame, thus making it possible for man to overcome in his name. "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. 64, #17)
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous." 1 Pet. 3:8.
There is a necessity for all who profess to be followers of Christ, to manifest true Christian politeness. In Sweden the education given to the children is to be courteous in character. And while we profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, we must make it our life work to bring into the character whatever is amiable in temper, with whatever is firm in principle. "Be courteous," is a Bible injunction. We all have our peculiar temperaments. Some have very quick tempers; some are inclined to be morose, some stubborn, and others coarse and rough, unkind in words. Therefore we need to cultivate our tempers, take ourselves in hand; and the very best way to do this, is to learn diligently meekness and lowliness in the school of Christ. We need to study carefully the lessons that he gave his disciples, meditate upon them, and take them, to ourselves. We should not be satisfied to be halfway Christians. It is not only a privilege to each of us, but a duty, to reach the highest standard of Christian perfection; and especially is this true of those who are contemplating giving themselves to the work, to do errands for God, and to open the Scriptures to their fellow men.
It is a very nice business to seek to win souls to Christ. It is the greatest work ever given to mortal man, to deal with human minds. If you find access to hearts of almost every stamp of character, you must heed the injunction of the apostle to be courteous. Love will do that which argument will fail to accomplish. Love is power. The workers need to bring the love of Jesus into their labors. Those who are young are much more easily impressed than those who have reached mature age; and if the young men and women understood their capabilities, if the grace of Christ ruled in their hearts, they might be a power for good in the hand of the Lord. They are to fix their eyes upon the Pattern.
There is a brother who gave himself to the work of preparing for the ministry; a large share of his youth was devoted to this object; but when he stood up before the people to preach, his speech was so defective that he could not interest or hold the congregation. That man was strong so far as a knowledge of the truth was concerned, but his utterance was so defective that he wearied the people. His words were not distinctly spoken; and when the brethren tried to persuade him to give up preaching, he said, "I can do better." And he tried, but the effect was the same. He stated that he had been imitating a certain minister whose organs of speech we knew were defective; and he had tried to imitate this minister's defects in his manner of delivery, and in this way had almost entirely destroyed his influence as a speaker, and his utterance and voice were, we fear, hopelessly ruined. The habit had become second nature to him. Young men who have it in mind to give themselves to the ministry, should be very careful how they imitate any living man. They should act themselves; have their powers consecrated to God. It is much easier to take wrong impressions than to do away with them after they have been established in the mind and become habits.
Every one who expects to become a worker in the ranks in any capacity, should educate himself for the work; and he should seek constantly to improve in his general deportment and in the manner of using his voice, in distinct pronunciation, and in every respect. I know that these young people can make of themselves almost anything they may choose to become by the help of Jesus. You want to keep before your mind's eye continually the perfect Pattern, and that is Jesus Christ. And as you go into different places to carry the publications of present truth, you want to have this spirit of courteousness with you; and if you approach the people with an attitude of kindness, not with self-sufficiency, they will know that you are interested in their welfare. You want to bring this spirit of courteousness into your character at home in your families and abroad.
Abraham, the father of the faithful, was a man of true courteousness, and he brought courtesy into his family. Abraham was a man of peace; he wished to avoid contention. When the dispute arose among his herdsmen and those of Lot, it was his privilege to say which part of the country he should have. Abraham was the older; he had brought Lot up as his own son; but he gave the privilege of choice to Lot, saying, "If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left." Lot accordingly chose. He was captivated by the rich valley of the Jordan. He did not have the spirit of true courtesy. He only considered his own advantage. He did not think of the character of those who dwelt where he was choosing his home. He was ambitious for riches. The inhabitants of that beautiful valley were exceedingly wicked; but, nevertheless, Lot placed himself among them without considering what the associations would be to him and his family religiously. As the result, his soul was vexed with the abominable wickedness of Sodom, and his interest and that of his family had become so mixed with them that he thought change impossible. He had, lastly, the command of an angel from heaven to flee for his life; and all his possessions were consumed in Sodom.
We want to bring the spirit that Abraham had into our lives; and if we cultivate this spirit, we shall leave an impression upon the minds of the people that they cannot easily erase. We have found in America that even the young men have gained access to the hearts of older men by exercising true Christian politeness. Some have found access to hearts by going out into the fields where the men were laboring, and taking hold of the hoe or scythe and helping them in their work. This made the people feel that they were not above them, and they said, These people are different from other ministers I have seen; they are not above laboring with their hands, and I think I shall go out and hear what they have to say. And thus they would become interested in the truth. Now, if all would carry with them this deportment, and show that they have a burden for the work and for the souls around them, they would leave an influence for good. If you throw right open the door of the heart to have Jesus take possession of the soul, you will just as surely carry out the principles of Christian politeness as they dwelt in the heart of Jesus.
I wish that all who think of taking a part in the work would feel the importance of starting right. The more you have of Jesus, the more you will reflect him to those that are around you. You want to be thorough with yourselves, that you may be workmen that need not be ashamed, wherever you go bringing the lovely traits of Christ's character into your labor. Soften whatever is harsh in your temper, and burnish off the rough edges of your character. Never be sour and harsh at any time. Abstain from frowns and contempt, however much you may feel them. You should win respect by being respectful and courteous. Treat every one with civility; they are the purchase of the blood of Christ. If you seek to imitate Christ in your character, the impression upon the people will not be made by you, but by the angels of God that stand right by your side; they will touch the hearts of those to whom you speak.
Let us read the ninth verse of this chapter: "Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." Now, you must bear all things, and yet not be discouraged. Hope still that you will yet have access to the hearts of the people. Remember it is the soft answer that turneth away wrath. However they may treat you, remember that they treated Christ worse. Be sure to maintain self-control; if you show self conceit you will be despised. Be clothed with humility, and present the truth as it is in Jesus. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #18)
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. Having a good conscience; that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing than for evildoing." 1 Pet. 3:15-17. We are enjoined to sanctify the Lord in our hearts, and be prepared to give a reason of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear.
Now, this is a rebuke to those who would attempt to teach the truth in their own unsanctified manner. If Christ is indeed enshrined in our hearts, we will teach others in the meekness of Christ. In order for us to give a reason of the hope that is within us, we must first have an understanding of the truth ourselves. The time has come when we cannot depend upon the doctrine which comes to our ears, unless we see that it harmonizes with the word of God. There are dangerous heresies that will be presented as Bible doctrines; and we are to become acquainted with the Bible so that we may know how to meet them. The faith of every individual will be tested, and every one will pass through a trial of close criticism.
It is the privilege and the duty of all to closely investigate the doctrine presented to them before they embrace it. And the most effectual way to find access to those whom we wish to educate in the truth, is to have them bring their Bibles, and point them to the chapter and verse, that they may see for themselves that these things are so. The people are so utterly deceived in regard to what the Bible does teach, that when you tell them these things, they will say, "It does not read so in my Bible." But you ask them to bring their Bibles, and show them the very chapter and verse you wish to impress upon their minds, and they will be surprised at the plain statements of revealed truths which they read out of their Bibles.
It is the privilege of the young men and the young women before me to tax their minds with the reason of our faith. Carey, one of the greatest missionaries, was at one time a humble shoemaker. He felt deeply for a class that he saw were in darkness and knew not the Scriptures. He was obliged to work at his trade, but at the same time he had his dictionary before him, and as he worked he diligently studied. He put his mind to the task with earnest prayer, and, procuring more books, did not cease until he had mastered three languages. He finally became a missionary to a foreign country, and was very successful.
It is impossible for the youth to tell what they can accomplish until they have set themselves to the task. You want first to lay a good foundation by having a virtuous character; and this work of character building will cost you a determined effort; for you must escape the corruptions in the world through lust. This will be answering the very requirements brought to view in my text, to sanctify the Lord in your hearts, that you may be able to give a reason of the hope that is within you with meekness and fear.
The exhortation that Paul gave to Timothy, was, "Take heed," first to yourself and then to the doctrine. Do not let your heart become hardened with sin. It is very important that our youth should commence the work right. You need wisdom from heaven to read the Scriptures aright. The youth should decide the aim and object and purpose of their life, and make their standard high; if they have a low standard, they will not rise above that for which they aim. Closely examine your manners and habits. Compare them with the word of God, and then separate from you every wrong and sinful habit and indulgence for God will not hear your prayers if you regard iniquity in your heart. Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." Every one of you want to be sure that Christ is in you and abiding with you. Then you can do all things. If you go in self-sufficiency, without prayer, without watchfulness, and without relying wholly upon God, you will make a sad failure.
Isaiah had a message from the God of heaven to give to the backsliding people of Israel, and he gave them this message. He knew what elements he had to deal with; he knew the stubbornness and perversity of the heart, and how hard it would be to make any impression upon them. As he stood in the portico of the temple, the Lord revealed himself to him. The vail of the temple was withdrawn, the door lifted, and he had a view of the holy of holies within the vail. He saw the God of Israel before the throne high and lifted up, and the train of his glory filled the temple. As Isaiah senses his own sinfulness, he cries out, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." And there was seen the hand that took the live coal from off the altar, and touched his lips, and bade him be clean. Then he was ready to go with the message, and he said, "Send me;" for he knew that the Spirit of God would be with the message.
To those who are engaged in the work of God, in the conversion of souls, it would seem as though it was impossible to reach the obdurate heart. This is how Isaiah felt, but when he saw that there was a God above the cherubim, and that they were ready to work with God, he was ready to carry the message. We have a great work to accomplish here in our world.
The Saviour of the world chose his disciples from among the humble fishermen, and thus the foundation of the Christian church was laid by these humble men connecting themselves with Jesus Christ. As they entered the school of Christ they became learners in that school. They profited by the lessons that Jesus was continually giving them to fit them for the great trials and the important work that would come to them after the burial and resurrection of the Redeemer. Their hopes, although for a time seemingly blighted, still existed; and after the resurrection of Jesus these hopes revived. Now these unlearned men could stand before princes and kings and councils of the learned, and give to them the reasons of their faith which even their adversaries could not gainsay or resist. They were astonished at the boldness and fluency of their speech, and took knowledge of them, saying, These men have been with Jesus and learned of him; for they talk like him. These men were able to stand bravely for the truth. They stood before the council, and declared, This is the Prince of life, whom wicked hands have taken and have crucified, and who is risen from the dead as he told us he would rise before his crucifixion.
We may have a knowledge of the truth, but this is not enough. We must bring its living principles into our lives, and it must sanctify our characters and flow out to others. If we ourselves are conscious that our lives are not right, how can we help those who are around us? How can we have faith to come to God for help? The belief in Jesus is to be of that divine character that will bring Jesus into our life and actions, and will flow out in righteous actions to others. When we do this we will have an influence for good on all around us. The God of heaven understands all about the difficulties that we have to meet in this world, which are no more favorable for the perfection of Christian character than when Enoch was in the world. And yet Enoch walked with God, and communed with God, and God communed with him. He kept God's commandments. He kept in mind that the God of heaven was by his side, and he must do nothing to grieve his Lord. The Lord honored Enoch, and translated him to heaven without seeing death.
Now, with your Bibles you want to go before God, open them before God, and plead with God. You want your understanding quickened; you want to know that you know the real principles of the truth, and then when you meet with opponents you will not have to meet them in your own strength. The angel of God will stand right by your side to help you in answering every question that may be asked you. But at the same time Satan will stand right by your opponents to stir them up to say things hard for you to bear, in order to provoke you to speak unadvisedly; but let your conversation be such that Satan can take no advantage of your words.
We read that Christ did not bring a railing accusation against Satan when contending in regard to the body of Moses, because in so doing he would have placed himself on Satan's ground; and therefore you want to keep this meekness before you wherever you present the truth. One passionate word will give Satan the advantage and often wound your own soul and turn others away from the light. You want to be walled in, as it were, with Jesus; and as you hold yourself in this position, it will have a telling influence upon the people. Remember the work is to present the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and you will just as surely have success as God rules in the heavens. Although many will not hear you, yet there are those who will hear, who are honest inquirers after truth, and who are far from being satisfied with the spiritual declension that is existing in the churches at the present time, and are hungry for the bread of life. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #19)
"And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord and before his host: and they carried away very much spoil. And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the Lord came upon them; and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them." 2 Chron. 14:11-14.
Here is brought before us the fact that when ancient Israel trusted in the Lord their God he always wrought for them. Here was a large army; thousands and thousands were brought up against them, and it looked to them that with their small army they would certainly be overcome. But here we see that Asa's trust was in the Lord God of Israel. It was not in their number, but he believed that the Lord could deliver them by few as well as by many. He reached out for God, and his faith took hold upon the Lord, and the Lord graciously heard and answered the petition of Asa; and they obtained the victory because God was wholly on their side.
This was, indeed, a test and trial to the faith of those who served the Lord of the armies of Israel. They had fears that sin might be so cherished in their midst that God could not do wonderful things in their behalf. It was a vast number that they had to meet, a thousand thousand men. But Asa had not been giving himself to amusement and pleasure; in time of peace he had been preparing for any emergency; he had an army trained for conflict; but how few were their numbers when compared with their enemies! Did this appearance weaken their faith? did it discourage effort?--No; faith increased and strengthened for the occasion--not in self-confidence, but in the only One in whom they could trust. The prayers of Asa were not offered in vain. He had sought the Lord in the days of his prosperity, and now he could rely upon him in days of adversity. He showed by his petitions that he was not a stranger to the Lord's wonderful power. "It is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art God; let not man prevail against thee."
This is an appropriate prayer for us to make. Our prospects are anything but flattering. There are vast numbers arrayed against the truth, whom we must meet in presenting the light to others. Our hope is not in our knowledge of the truth, and in our own ability, but in the living God. And if, like king Asa, we have educated ourselves, and educated and trained others, to be familiar with the truth, who wear the armor of righteousness, ready to meet the enemies of God and the truth, we have done our part of the work in the way of preparation; and then the living faith in God must be exercised to work with the efforts of the workers. God's glory is at stake. And there should be decided effort as far as human effort is concerned, and living faith for the mighty God to manifest his power, else all will prove a failure. God defeated the enemies of Israel. He put their forces into disorder. They fled they knew not whither. Who can stand before the Lord God of Israel.
Now we are not warring against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. The Lord would encourage us to look to him as the source of all our strength, the one who is able to help us. We may look to men, and they will give us counsel, and yet this may be defeated; but when the God of Israel undertakes work for us, he will make it a success. We want to know that we are right before God; if we are not right before him, then we want to make an earnest effort to come in right relation to him. We must individually do something ourselves. We are not to risk our eternal interest upon guess-work. We must set everything right; we must follow out the requirements of God, and then expect God to work with our efforts. 2 Chron. 20:15. God works in us by the light of his truth. We are to be obedient to all his commandments.
Oh that we could take this point into consideration, that the work in which we are engaged is not our work, but God's work, and we as humble instruments are laborers together with him; and with an eye single to God's glory, not mistake the beginning of the Christian life for its consummation, but see the necessity of training upon the earth to prepare us for doing God's will! We are not to lift up ourselves, not to be self-confident, but to trust in God, knowing that he is willing and able to help us. God will work with his people, but we want to be in that position where our trust and confidence will become firm in him.
I wanted to bring these things before you, that you might see the importance of our coming into working order individually. We should examine our own hearts, and see that everything that is not in accordance with God's will is separated from us. There is with human nature one great difficulty: where the individual is not connected with God in any wise, the natural disposition reveals itself. Now, if Satan can crowd selfishness in among those connected with this precious work of God, if they become self righteous, independent of their brethren, independent of God, we need not expect that the blessing of God will attend our work; but if our hearts are pure, and uncorrupted with selfishness, we shall present the truth as it is in Jesus; and then we will have the blessing of the Lord.
There is constant danger of dropping Jesus out of your labor; but when the truth is presented in meekness and grace as it is in Jesus, it is then you reveal Jesus Christ in every effort you make, and as you seek to approach souls you are revealing Christ to all those with whom you are brought in contact. If you are resting upon the loving Saviour as your only hope, if self is hid with Christ in God, God will be with you, and you will be with him. You will feel and know the power of true religion; your influence will be used wholly for God's glory; you will not have a high estimate of yourselves. The path is narrow that leads to eternal life. You will find many difficulties in your way, which you must meet and overcome in the name of Jesus. What discouragements the disciples met when they saw Him in whom their hopes were centered mocked in the judgment hall, scourged, and suffering the most shameful death by crucifixion! And what triumph on the part of Satan as he bruised his heel when Jesus was nailed to the cross, amid the revilings of evil men who claimed the highest piety! After he had been inclosed in the tomb, his enemies expected to see the disciples discouraged, ashamed, and deny, as did Peter, all knowledge of him. But when these disciples went forth in faith, in holy boldness preaching a risen Saviour, their enemies marveled; for they did not present Jesus but as a Prince of life, risen from the dead, ascended into the heavens to make intercession for his followers, when their enemies and others took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Thus should it be with believers of the truth.
Here, then, is the power that the people of God are to have, and which will give them the victory in these last days. Every ism is existing. Every kind of false doctrine is prevailing everywhere, and the truth of God that is preached now involves a cross. But the truth must go to all cities and villages, into the highways and hedges. The apostle exhorts believers to "fight the good fight of faith," and "run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus and author and finisher of our faith." Men are always trying to make an easier way to heaven than that which the Lord has provided. They do not want to run and to strive as the Lord has commanded. But we can see that there were conditions that the children of Israel were to comply with on their part. They were to seek the Lord, the children with the parents. This is the very work we are to do. There is not one half the seeking of the Lord there should be with us. We know not how soon our cases may come up in the Judgment, and in our present condition many will be disowned of Jesus. We are too apt to let the little cares of this life take our attention, and as soon as we do this we are bereft of our strength.
What we want at the present time is to examine our own hearts, to discover if there is anything in them that is not right before God. If we teach the truth according to our own ways, we shall see that there will not always be perfect harmony as there should be. But if we teach the truth as it is in Jesus, we shall teach it in the spirit of the true Educator; and we will not have various opinions, and cling to our own ideas with tenacity, but we will see eye to eye. And while we thus teach, believing that Jesus will help us to present the truth as it is in him, then we may expect his help, and we will have it. We have not today a Saviour inclosed in Joseph's new tomb, but we have a risen Saviour, one who stands in the presence of God for us, whose glory overshadows the mercy seat, under which is the law of God. And here mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and peace have kissed each other. And while Christ is pleading in our behalf, there must be with us a coming up to a higher standard in the work.
The true Witness' voice is heard, saying, "Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; . . . and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." The gold here recommended is faith and love, which we must have interwoven into our life and character. But if the world has a controlling power upon life and character, they are losing the precious lessons of Christ. If they will only let Christ teach them as he did the disciples, he will take the simple things of nature to teach them lessons which, if put in practice, will secure for them the enduring reward. There are many ways in which we can learn, but we let opportunities and precious privileges to receive greater light be lost, and still greater ideas are entertained contrary to the truth because mind and heart are not brought into perfect harmony with God's will. If we can put these things away, and come right into the school of Christ, and learn of him the precious lessons he has for us, then we shall grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But how thankful we should be that we have a Saviour, and that we can come to God with all our perversity of heart, and he will accept us if we come in faith believing! He will impart to us of his divine nature, and we may bring our godliness into our everyday life, and imitate the great Teacher in seeking to win souls. We must not seek our own will, but seek to serve God with the whole heart.
We are constantly endeavoring to make a smooth path for our feet, and calculating to have an easy time, and to shun labor; but then it is that we have the very hardest time, and are the most complaining. We hear many say, All you have to do, is to believe, believe. But by the examples given us, we see there is hard work for somebody to do. We see that Israel had the presence of God when they connected themselves with him, but when they forsook the Lord and followed after other gods, they were overcome by their enemies. And we read how Israel's God gave them the victory over that great host. Because their number was so great they thought to overthrow Israel; but the prophet came to them and said, "Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou King Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's."
Now, here is the very thing that we want to understand, that it is not our work but God's work, and we are only instruments in his hands to accomplish it. We want to seek the Lord with all our hearts, and the Lord will work for us. But if we think that, right or wrong, success will attend our efforts, we will just as surely fail as we live. What we want is to know we are fully on the side of God, and that we have a living Saviour, and that he is willing to work for us. We must not allow ourselves to cherish the selfish spirit that I can do so much better than my brother. Are you not permeated with this spirit, and does it not greatly grieve the Holy Spirit of God? For it is not you, but the Lord working through you, that your labors are attended with any success. And how important it is that you present the truth as it is in Jesus!
Your work is not to gather up burdens of your own. As you take the burdens that Christ would have you, then you can realize what burdens he carried. Let us study the Bible, and find out what kind of yoke he bore. He was a help to those around him. He says: "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." You see there is a yoke to bear. Now this is the very faith that we want,--a faith that will grasp the promises of God, one that will take the yoke of Christ and bear the burdens that he would have us. We often think we are having a hard time in bearing burdens, and it is too often the case, because God has not made any provision for us to carry these burdens; but when we bear his yoke and carry his burdens, we can testify that the yoke of Christ is easy and his burdens are light, because he has made provision for these. But when you feel depressed and discouraged, do not give up the battle; you have a living Saviour that will help you, and you will have rest in him. You must not put your neck under the yoke of fashion, and yokes that God has never designed that you should bear. It is not our work to study how to meet the world's standard, but the great question with each one should be, How can I meet God's standard. Then it is that you will find rest to the soul; for Christ has said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
When you have a yoke that is galling to the neck, you may know it is not Christ's yoke; for he says his yoke is easy. What God wants of us is to be learning every day of our lives how to build our characters for time and for eternity. He does not want us to get into one channel and never turn out of that; to have fixed ideas, and hold them fast, whether they are right or wrong. He will place us amid trials and difficulties, and when we have learned to overcome obstacles in a right spirit, with high and holy purpose, he will give us another lesson. And if we have not the meekness of Christ to be constantly learning of Jesus in his school, then we must know that we have not the yoke of Christ.
I am glad we have a risen Saviour, that he bears with the frailties of humanity! We so easily become impatient with one another! I think of how much Jesus has had to bear with us; our sins have grieved him so often; and how thankful we should be to learn how to labor and have patience with one another! And when we see faults in our brethren, we should go to them in the spirit of meekness, and tell them of their failings, and pray with them, and have it all settled. Do you not think that heavenly angels would look with pleasure upon such a meeting? Not a word should be spoken to hurt one another. What we want is the truth as it is in Jesus, laboring constantly to bind together never to separate. If our little churches in Riseley and Southampton have the truth as it is in Jesus, they will send up their petitions to Jesus for overcoming grace. Do not think that you must overcome in your own strength, neither try to save your own life. "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
I am so glad that we have the truth so straight and plain. Although difficulties will present themselves, we have a God sufficient for all difficulties. One says, You cannot labor here as you labor in America; so they say in Sweden and in Norway; but I labor just the same in all these places as in America. The same God that gave me my commission to reach hearts in America, is giving me power to reach hearts in this country. I present Jesus to you as the one great Saviour; and if there is any reason why I cannot labor the same here as in America, it is because you have another mold than the mold of Jesus Christ. But God wants you to have his mold. He wants us to bring ourselves in right relation with him. He wants us to have his meekness and lowliness. The very same God that delivered ancient Israel will work for us. God does not change. He has not one character for Denmark, another for Sweden, and another for Norway, and still another for England, but he is the same to all. God wants us to fulfill the conditions laid down in his word. He has not a school varying for the different nationalities, but he has one school for all.
We found in Copenhagen that since we were there last fall some had embraced the truth. Among them was a man who had opposed his wife for ten years, and after hearing me speak he arose and said, "I am glad I came to Copenhagen. What we have heard here today is wonderful." Then, after attending the Sabbath school he said, "I never saw anything like this. I am going home and tell my Baptist brethren all about it." In the testimonies heard there, I could not see that there was any difference in the general tenor from those we hear in America, and I can see no difference here; and I have come to believe that we are learning in the same school, and have one Teacher. And we can present the truth to the people as it is in Jesus, and let God do the work for us. The same prayers that are ascending to God in America, are ascending to God here, that the God of Israel may work in our behalf. And I beseech of you not to become discouraged, although the powers of Satan may be great, but look to Jesus.
How little access Christ seemed to have to the people! Many believed on him, but dared not confess him because they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue. Now, we see how Christ was treated by them, and shall we treat him in the same manner? Think of Christ's coming down from glory, leaving his Father's throne, and suffering as he did for us! He came to bring the cup of salvation to those who were willing to drink it; but they struck it out of their hands. And when the people embrace the truth under your labors, do not think that it is you that have done the work, but remember that it is Jesus working through you; and let Jesus put his Spirit upon them, and also upon you, that you may work with all the ability that God has given you. If you have a sharp, bright thought, it is not you who created that thought, but God. I never yet felt satisfied as I have stood before the people. I never felt that I had said anything that I should be lifted up over. But if I have said anything that has reached the hearts of the people, it has been because God has worked through me. We must press the battle to the gate. There is no time for us to lose. There is no time for us to try to make a smooth path for our feet. We must take it as it is, with all its inconveniences and troubles, knowing that the God of Israel is by your side, and we shall see of his salvation.
My brethren and sisters, let us remember here is the evidence that God will work. You are not to trust in any power but that of the Lord God of Israel. But if you have enmity in your hearts, you cannot expect that God will let his blessing rest upon you. No one will enter the city of God with anything that defiles. We must get ready for the latter rain. The earth is to be lighted with the glory of the third angel,--not a little corner only, but the whole earth. You may think that the work you are doing now is lost; but I tell you it is not lost. When the message shall go with a loud cry, those who hear the truth now will spring to the front and work with mighty power. But you must have faith. It is no use to enter cities unless you have faith in God, and believe that a work is to be accomplished there. You must believe that it is Christ who is by our side, and is finding access to souls; and when you have done the best you can, you must believe, and commit it all to Jesus.
There is a company who will stand upon Mount Zion, and we want you to be determined that you will be among that company. You will have trials here, but be determined that you will have a home in the city of God. Says Paul, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." He cannot find words strong enough to express himself, and he says an "eternal weight of glory." Well, then, cannot we bear the roughness a little? Here is the eternal weight of glory while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. Keep talking of Jesus, of the widespread truth, of the life that measures with the life of God. Why, the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal. Then let us grasp the hand of infinite power. Here we are channels of light, and we should communicate this light to those around us.
I feel so thankful every day that we have a Saviour, and I do not know how to dwell enough upon his goodness. Let us remember that he bore reproach for us; he was reviled, but reviled not again; he was mocked, and finally crucified, that we might have eternal life. In the greatest difficulties have faith in God; believe you have a mighty helper with you. He is the source of your strength. But we are not to try to bring every one into our mold. May God help us to walk in all humility of mind before him. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #20)
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people."
When the law of God is written in the heart it will be exhibited in a pure and holy life. The commandments of God are no dead letter. They are spirit and life, bringing the imaginations and even the thoughts into subjection to the will of Christ. The heart in which they are written will be kept with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. All who love Jesus and keep the commandments will seek to avoid the very appearance of evil; not because they are constrained thus to do, but because they are copying a pure model, and feel averse to everything contrary to the law written in their hearts. They will not feel self-sufficient, but their trust will be in God, who alone is able to keep them from sin and impurity. The atmosphere surrounding them is pure; they will not corrupt their own souls or the souls of others. It is their pleasure to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God.
The danger that lies before those living in these last days, is the absence of pure religion, the absence of heart holiness. The converting power of God has not wrought in transforming their characters. They profess to believe sacred truths as did the Jewish nation; but in their failing to practice the truth, they are ignorant both of the Scriptures and the power of God. The power and influence of God's law are around about, but not within the soul, renewing it in true holiness. Therefore the Lord sends his appeals to them to urge upon them the practice of what is right. The appeals of his Spirit are neglected and rejected. The barriers are broken down, and the soul is weak, and for want of moral force to overcome, is polluted and debased. They are binding themselves in bundles as fagots, ready to be consumed at the last day.
The Jewish priests were required to be in person all that was symmetrical and well proportioned, that they might reflect a great truth. "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." The Lord required not only a well proportioned mind and symmetrical body of the Jews' ministry in holy office, but he required also pure and uncorrupted minds. And he requires no less of us, in this dispensation, in the ministry of the gospel. His called and chosen are to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. The same Bible that contains the privileges of God's people, and his promises to them, contains also the sacred duties and the solemn obligations he requires of the shepherd who has charge of the flock of God, so that the people can see by comparing the living preacher with the divine picture whether he has credentials from heaven in likeness of character to him who is the Chief Shepherd. God designs that the teacher of the Bible should in his character and home life be a specimen of the principles of the truth which he is teaching to his fellow men.
What a man is, has a greater influence than what he says. The quiet, consistent, godly life is a living epistle, known and read of all men. A man may speak and write like an angel, but his practices may resemble a fallen fiend. God will have the believers of the truth zealous to maintain good works. As they occupy high positions, they will be tested by a higher standard. They will be sifted, defects and vices will be searched out; for if such exist, they will be developed in words and deportment. True character is not something shaped from without, or put on, but it is something radiating from within. If true goodness, purity, meekness, lowliness, and equity are dwelling in the heart, that fact will be reflected in the character; and such a character is full of power.
The officers who were sent to take Jesus reported that never man spake like this man. But the reason of this was, that never man lived like this man; for if he had not so lived, he could not so have spoken. His words bore with them a convincing power, because they came from a heart pure, holy, burdened with love and sympathy, beneficence and truth. How rejoiced are those who hate God's law, to find spot and stain of character in one who stands in defense of that law! They are only too glad to cast a reproach upon all the loyal and true, because of the faults and impure practices of a few. There is eloquence in the quiet and consistent life of a pure, true, unadulterated Christian. We shall have temptations as long as we are in this world. But instead of injuring us, they will only be turned to our advantage, if resisted. The bounds are placed where Satan cannot pass. He may prepare the furnace that consumes the dross, but instead of injury, it can only bring forth the gold of the character, purer, upon higher vantage ground than before the trial.
The crime that brought the judgments of God upon Israel was that of licentiousness. The forwardness of women to entrap souls did not end at Baal-peor. Notwithstanding the punishment that followed the sinners in Israel, the same crime was repeated many times. Satan was most active in seeking to make Israel's overthrow complete. Balak by the advice of Balaam laid the snare. Israel would have bravely met their enemies in battle, and resisted them, and come off conquerors; but when women invited their attention and sought their company and beguiled them by their charms, they did not resist temptations. They were invited to idolatrous feasts, and their indulgence in wine further beclouded their dazed minds. The power of self control, their allegiance to God's law, was not preserved. Their senses were so beclouded with wine, and their unholy passions had such full sway, overpowering every barrier, that they invited temptation even to the attending of these idolatrous feasts. Those who had never flinched in battle, who were brave men, did not barricade their souls to resist temptation to indulge their basest passions. Idolatry and licentiousness went together. They first defiled their conscience by lewdness, and then departed from God still farther by idolatry, thus showing contempt for the God of Israel.
Near the close of this earth's history Satan will work with all his powers in the same manner and with the same temptations wherewith he tempted ancient Israel just before their entering the land of promise. He will lay snares for those who claim to keep the commandments of God, and who are almost on the borders of the heavenly Canaan. He will use his powers to their utmost in order to entrap souls, and to take God's professed people upon their weakest points. Those who have not brought the lower passions into subjection to the higher powers of their being, those who have allowed their minds to flow in a channel of carnal indulgence of the baser passions, Satan is determined to destroy with his temptations,--to pollute their souls with licentiousness. He is not aiming especially at the lower and less important marks, but he makes use of his snares through those whom he can enlist as his agents to allure or attract men to take liberties which are condemned in the law of God. And men in responsible positions, teaching the claims of God's law, whose mouths are filled with arguments in vindication of his law, against which Satan has made such a raid,--over such he sets his hellish powers and his agencies at work, and overthrows them upon the weak points in their character, knowing that he who offends on one point is guilty of all, thus obtaining complete mastery over the entire man. Mind, soul, body, and conscience are involved in the ruin. If he be a messenger of righteousness, and has had great light, or if the Lord has used him as his special worker in the cause of truth, then how great is the triumph of Satan! How he exults! How God is dishonored!
The licentious practice of the Hebrews accomplished for them that which all the warfare of nations and the enchantments of Balaam could not do. They became separated from their God. Their covering and protection were removed from them. God turned to be their enemy. So many of the princes and people were guilty of licentiousness, that it became a national sin; for God was wroth with the whole congregation. The very same Satan is now working to the very same end, to weaken and destroy the people who claim to be keeping the commandments of God, as they are just on the borders of the heavenly Canaan. Satan knows it is his time. He has but little time left now in which to work, and he will work with tremendous power to ensnare the people of God upon their weak points of character. There will be women who will become tempters, and who will do their best to attract and win the attention of men to themselves. First, they will seek to win their sympathy, next their affection, and then to induce them to break God's holy law. Those who have dishonored their minds and affections by placing them where God's word forbids, will not scruple to dishonor God by various species of idolatry. God will leave them to their vile affections. It is necessary to guard the thoughts; to fence the soul about with the injunctions of God's word; and to be very careful in every thought, word, and action not to be betrayed into sin. It is necessary to guard against the cultivation of the indulgence of the lower passions. This is not the fruit of sanctified thoughts or hearts.
It is now the duty of God's commandments keeping people to watch and pray, to search the Scriptures diligently, to hide the word of God in the heart, lest they sin against him in idolatrous thoughts and debasing practices, and thus the church of God become demoralized like the fallen churches whom prophecy represents as being filled with every unclean and hateful bird. With the Hebrews, God's judgment fell upon them at once. A plague immediately broke out. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and the plague visited those who were most guilty. But "the wages of sin is death," and for their hidden licentious indulgences God poured upon them his wrath. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." The ringleaders in this demoralizing work, which was so debasing, so corrupting to Israel, so insulting to God, were ordered to be put to death by the hand of public justice, which was the only way to turn the wrath of God from the congregation of Israel. The command came from the Lord, to take the heads of the people who went out of the camp to associate with Moab, and hang them upon before the sun as sacrifices to God's justice, and as a terror to the rest of the people. The command was executed. They were first slain, then their bodies were hung up in sight of all Israel for a terror to the congregation of Israel, that they seeing their leaders and their princes so severely punished for their licentiousness and idolatry, without regard to wealth, or station, or what they had been, might have a deep sense of the abhorrence of God for sin, and a terror of God's wrath against them. And the men who have great light, and to whom one would look for an example, are in the sight of God very great sinners, if they transgress his law or deliberately lower the standard of his law to minister unto lust.
Never was vice more bold, stubborn, or daring than it was in Zimri, a prince of the chief house in the tribe of Simeon. Such an exhibition of effrontery toward God was almost too great for belief. He publicly appeared before the people leading a Midianitish harlot, one of high standing, a daughter of a chief house in Midian, in the sight of Moses and the congregation. He thus showed open contempt of God. He gloried in his shame; for wine had perverted his senses. He openly declared his sin as that of Sodom. The position he had occupied had been one of influence. Moses and the people who had taken no part in this great departure from God's law, were weeping and lamenting at the door of the tabernacle for the sins of the people, and the plague that had begun. But amid all this demonstration of sorrow, this prince defied the judges to molest him if they dared. The priests were weeping between the porch and the altar, crying, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach." Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, and rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin, and went after the man of Israel into the tent, and killed them both. This staid the plague.
With this history before the peculiar people of God in these last days, there is no excuse for anyone who will follow the example of ancient Israel in sin. But Satan will work in this special temptation to make void the law of God, and make light of God's special injunctions and warnings. The point to be marked is, that Moses' prayers were not heard, neither his weeping nor the sorrow and prayers of those who had maintained their integrity, until justice was executed upon that demoralized God defying prince. God says of Phinehas, He "hath turned away my wrath from the children of Israel." It was the greatest mercy that Phinehas could do to Israel, to deal promptly and decidedly with the guilty, and thus be instrumental in turning the wrath of God from the congregation of Israel. Something besides prayers and tears are needed in a time when reproach and peril are hanging over God's people. The wicked works must be brought to an end. The very work of justice done by Phinehas was an atonement for Israel. (Concluded next week.) By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #21)
There is to be a people fitted up for translation to heaven, whom Enoch represents. They are looking and waiting for the coming of the Lord. The work will go on with all those who will cooperate with Jesus in the work of redemption. He gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. God has made every provision that they should be intelligent Christians, filled with a knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. A theoretical knowledge of the truth is essential. But the knowledge of the greatest truth will not save us; own knowledge must be practical. God's people must not only know his will, but they must practice it. Many will be purged out from the numbers of those who know the truth, because they are not sanctified by it. The truth must be brought into their hearts, sanctifying and cleansing them from all earthliness and sensuality in the most private life. The soul temple must be cleansed. Every secret act is as if we were in the presence of God and holy angels, as all things are open before God, and from him nothing can be hid.
In this age of our world the marriage vows are often disregarded. God never designed that marriage should cover the multitude of sins that are practiced. Sensuality and base practices in a marriage relation are educating the mind and moral taste for demoralizing practices outside the marriage relation. God is purifying a people to have clean hands and pure hearts to stand before him in the Judgment. The standard must be elevated, the imagination purified; the infatuation clustering around debasing practices must be given up, and the soul uplifted to pure thoughts, holy practices. All who will stand the test and trial just before us, will be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped, not participated in, the corruptions that are in the world through lust. The works of Satan are not half discerned, because purity and holiness do not mark the life and character of those who claim to be ministers of Christ. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, we are thus fortified against the temptations of Satan. Christ and his purity and his matchless charms should be the soul's contemplation. There is spiritual power for all, which they may have if they will, that they may resist temptation, that duty may be done and the soul hold fast its integrity. Those who feel their need of being strengthened by might by God's Spirit in the inner man, will not lose their integrity. Earnest prayer and watching thereunto will carry them through temptations. We must be united to Christ by living faith.
We are now amid the perils of the last days. Satan has come down with great power to work his deceptions. He fastens the mind or imaginations upon impure, unlawful things. Christians become like Christ in character by dwelling upon the divine Model. That with which they come in contact has a molding influence upon life and character. I have read of a painter who would never look upon an imperfect painting for a single moment, lest it should have a deteriorating influence upon his own eye and conceptions. That which we allow ourselves to look upon oftenest, and think of most, transfers itself in a measure to us. The imagination trained to dwell upon God and his loveliness will not find delight in dwelling upon scenes that are created by the imagination that is excited by lust. "But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 1 Cor. 10:5-12.
Satan is at work now as he worked in Eden, as he has worked through all successive generations. The archfiend knows well with what material he has to deal. He knows the weak points in every character; and if these weak points are not strengthened, he will display his infernal wisdom in his devices to overthrow the very strongest men, princes in the army of Israel. All along through successive generations are wrecks of character which have been destroyed, because the soul was not garrisoned. And now as we near the close of time, Satan will work with masterly activity to undermine principle, and corrupt moral character. Sin is committed by many who think their crime is effectually concealed. But there is One who says, "I know thy works;" "there is nothing covered which shall not be revealed; and hid, which shall not be known." When the mind is infatuated with the idea of sin, there will be deception practiced; lies will be told; for those who commit such sins will not be slow to lie as well. But all sin shall be revealed.
God sees the sinner. The eye which never slumbers knows everything that is done. It is written in his book. One may conceal his sin from father, mother, wife, and friends, and yet all lies open before God, and is placed in his book of record. Darkness, secrecy, deception, and crime added to crime have not obliterated the record. David was a repentant man, and although he confessed and hated his sin, he could not forget it. He exclaimed, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me. . . . Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day."
God is everywhere. He sees, he knows all things, and understands the intents and purposes of the heart. It is in vain that an attempt should be made to conceal sin from his notice. He saw our first parents in Eden. He saw Cain when he raised his hand to kill Abel. He saw the sins of the inhabitants of the old world, and numbered their days and punished them with a flood. He saw the sins of his own covenant people, the Jews, when they plotted against the life of the Son of God. As surely does he mark every transgression, and every secret thing will be brought into Judgment. They may be hid from mortal man, they may be hid from the good, the pure, and the holy, from friends and from foes, yet God sees them. All sins will be revealed in the day of Judgment, and unless they have been repented of beforehand, they will receive punishment according to their magnitude: for a record of all the deeds of men is kept in the book of God's remembrance. All the good actions, all the evil actions of life are recorded. The fact that the accumulated sins are treasured up and at last exposed, is a terrible fact. And why those professing to be sons and daughters of God venture in the face of light, in the face of knowledge, to sin against their own conscience and by their sin involve others in the same ruin, is a mystery. Have they ever tasted of the powers of the world to come? Have they ever enjoyed sweet communion with God? Then how can they turn to sensual, condemning, soul-degrading practices?
The last great day is right upon us. Let all consider that Satan is now striving for the mastery over souls. He is playing the game of life for your souls. Will there be sins committed by you on the very borders of the heavenly Canaan? Oh what revealings! The husband will know for the first time the deception and falsehood that have been practiced by the wife whom he thought innocent and pure. The wife for the first time will know the case of her husband, and the relatives and friends will see how error and falsehood and corruption have been clustering about them; for the secrets of all hearts will stand revealed. The hour of Judgment is almost here,--long delayed by the goodness and mercy of God. But the trump of God will sound to the consternation of the unprepared who are living, and awaken the pale nations of the dead. The great white throne will appear, and all the righteous dead will come forth to immortality. Whatever have been the little sins indulged will ruin the soul, unless they are overcome. The small sins will swell into the greater sins. Impure thoughts, private, impure actions, unrefined, low, and sensual thoughts and actions in the marriage life, the giving loose reins to the baser passions under the marriage vow will lead to every other sin, the transgression of all the commandments of God. Men that God has entrusted with noble talents will be, unless closely connected with God, guilty of great weakness, and not having the grace of Christ in the soul will become connected with greater crimes. This is because they do not make the truth of God a part of them. Their discipline has been defective, the soul culture has not been carried forward from one advance to another, inborn tendencies have not been restrained, but have degraded the soul. For all the natural weaknesses Jesus has made ample provision, that they may be overcome through his grace. If not overcome, the weakness will become a tyrant, a conqueror, to overcome them, and the heavenly light will become beclouded and extinguished.
I feel compelled to write most earnestly on this point because I feel the peril that is upon us. We have in past history the example of most painful characters showing the danger of men in high places being corrupted. Men of masterly minds, who possessed large talents of influence, yet did not put their trust wholly in God, but allowed themselves to be praised and petted and lauded by the world's great men, lost their balance, and thought that great men's sins were not vices. The heavenly guide left them, and their course was rapidly downward to corruption and perdition. They completely lost the just standard of honor, lost all distinction between right and wrong, between sin and righteousness. There are lights and shades in character, and one or the other certainly triumphs. But God in heaven is weighing moral worth. He will judge righteously. The wicked will not always remain unchecked. Nothing but grace and truth brought into the inner life, inwrought in the character, is sufficient to keep the greatest, the most talented men morally erect. If intellectual greatness could have been sufficient, their characters would have been firm as a rock. But they needed virtuous characters. Paul says, I am what I am by the grace of God that is in me. God's people must arise, and gird themselves with the whole armor of righteousness. Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #22)
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted." Rev. 2:1-3.
The church at Ephesus in her earlier history had been made the dispensator of sacred truth. Rare means and privileges had been bestowed upon her. "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted."
Here we see a deep, heart-felt, prolonged struggle; just such a struggle as we might have expected in these last days of conflict. "Thou canst not bear them which are evil." Rigid and impartial discipline was exercised in the case of all unworthy disciples and false teachers who were bringing in damnable heresies, which were undermining the foundation of the faith.
Here the ministers of righteousness are symbolized by the seven stars, which the First and the Last has under his special care and protection. The Lord Jesus Christ is acquainted with the number of the stars. He calls them by their names, binds the sweet influence of Pleiades, and looses the bands of Orion. The ministers of the gospel of Christ are greater blessings to the church than are the stars to our world. All are in God's hand. He directs their motions. He disposes of them in their different orbs in their positions. He fills them with light and influence. He supports them, else they would soon be falling stars. They are instruments in his hands, and all the good they do is done by his hand and by his Spirit's power.
He walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Thus is symbolized the relation of Christ to his churches, and the stars are used to represent his ministers. He is represented as walking up and down among the golden candlesticks. He is in communion with his people. He knows their true state. He observes their order, their vigilance, their piety, and their devotion; and he takes pleasure in them if he sees these fruits manifest. Although Christ is mediator in the heavenly Sanctuary, yet he walks up and down in the midst of the churches on earth. He goes about from church to church, from congregation to congregation, from soul to soul. He observes their true condition,--that which is neglected, that which is in disorder, and that which needs to be done. He is represented as walking, which signifies unrest, wakefulness, and unremitting vigilance. He is observing whether the light of any of his sentinels, or candlesticks, is burning dim or going out. These undershepherds may sleep, but He that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. If these candlesticks were left to the charge of human powers, the flickering flame would languish and die. But He is the true watchman of the home, the sleepless warden of the temple courts. The continual watchcare and presence and sustaining grace of Christ are the source of all light and life.
The True Witness bears testimony in commendation of the diligence of the church at Ephesus, declaring. "I know thy works;" and all his commendations and reproofs are to be strictly regarded, for it is One who knows that speaks. Ardent, active piety in judicious work will show a moral strength in the church. Want of well doing leads to want of piety, and want of piety leads to inactivity. Diligent, earnest piety must be required of the church, else there will be a degenerating into mere chapel service, and into dry forms, while there will be less and less holy fervor,--steady burning of light in the candlestick.
I am deeply impressed with our great need of individual piety and heart experience in the truth. I see that the terrors of the day of God are upon us. Iniquity is breaking forth, tearing through every barrier; and unless there are more thoroughly determined efforts to resist the power of Satan, he will gather into his ranks many whom we now reckon to be believers in the truth. There will come sore trials to us in grievous disappointments. The Saviour, the one styling himself as the true witness, enjoins upon John to write these things which he has seen and heard. "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks."
The work of the minister represented by the seven stars is a high and sacred work. When he entertains the idea that his work is comprehended in sermonizing, he overlooks, and is sure to neglect, the work devolving upon a shepherd of the flock. It is his work to have care, to oversee the flock, to so arrange the elements of the church that each may have something to do.
Every member of the church who is united to Christ has sacred responsibilities resting upon him, and is bound by all the holy motives which the gospel recognizes as pure and sacred, to regard the salvation of souls as the highest interest entrusted to mortals, and thus become a co-laborer with God to rescue souls from the snare of Satan, and so influence, and educate, and train these souls that they shall be built up in truth and righteousness; for God will require this work of every individual who has accepted salvation. The devoted church member should accomplish much by holy living; by a painstaking discharge of every duty; by fervent prayer; by faithful warnings, especially by affectionate intercourse for the help and instruction of these souls for whom Christ has given his life, who are committed to the charge of the church, which charge they cannot neglect without imperiling their own souls and being disloyal to our crucified Redeemer.
What a record many will meet in the day of Judgment because of their neglect of the very work which the Lord has left for them as his hired servants to do! It is his work, and none who neglect it can make an atonement for their delinquencies which have endangered souls by their passing by on the other side, while absorbing the mind and God-given abilities in pleasing occupation, retiring within themselves because it is their pleasure so to do, or absorbing the mind in business or worldly pursuits, and crowding upon their time an accumulated amount of little unimportant things, giving no time to God's work.
"We are laborers together with God." But who are laborers together with God?--Those who are doing Christ's work. Those who are wearing Christ's yoke and lifting Christ's burdens; who employ their entrusted talents in active service, studying, devising, planning, with much prayer and earnest faith, ways and means to open the truth to any and every soul,--those that are near, and those that are brought within the sphere of their influence,--constantly studying how to do the very highest service for the Master.
Our sisters are not excused from taking a part in the work of God. Every one who has tasted of the powers of the world to come, has earnest work to do in some capacity in the Lord's vineyard. Our sisters may manage to keep busy with their fingers constantly employed in manufacturing little dainty articles to beautify their homes, or to present to their friends. Great quantities of this kind of material may be brought and laid upon the foundation-stone; but will Jesus look upon all this variety of dainty work as a living sacrifice to himself? Will he pronounce the commendation upon the workers, "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience," and how thou "hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted."?
Let our sisters inquire, How shall I meet in the Judgment these souls with whom I have or should have become acquainted? Have I studied over their individual cases? Have I so acquainted myself with my Bible that I could open the Scriptures to them? Have I sought the Lord my Master three times a day by earnest prayer in faith, that he would give me wisdom that I might know how to present the truth to these dear souls? Am I giving them, not only by precept, but by example in my own life of piety and fidelity to God, an assurance that the service of Christ is pleasant and satisfactory, and full of peace and joy?
Is it the work God has appointed you as his hired servants, to study the intricate delicate patterns of embroidery and the many obscure points in this class of work, for the purpose of mastering what someone else has done or to show what you can do? Is this the kind of labor that God will commend you in doing, which so absorbs your interest, your God-given time and talents, that you have no taste or education or aptitude for missionary labor? All this kind of work is hay, wood, and stubble, which the fires of the last day will consume. But where are your offerings to God? Where is your patient labor, your earnest zeal, that brings you into connection with Christ, bearing his yoke, lifting his burdens? Where are the gold, the silver, and the precious stones which you have laid upon the foundation-stone, which the fires of the last day cannot consume, because they are imperishable? "I know thy works," says the True Witness.
"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. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Now, grace and peace are to be multiplied to the one who works upon the plan of addition. And with such a one there is an earnest pressing forward to obtain more grace, which is necessary for good works.
As light comes to individual members of the church, it must be used to benefit others, that other souls may become learners in the school of Christ. There is a Pattern my sisters can show the talent and ingenuity to pick out, and to educate others to copy, searching the word of God with all earnestness, with a sanctified mental appetite to relish the truth because it is the truth. Those who make any progress in religion must be diligent. Your worsted work, your embroidery, your fancy articles will not be the works that will determine your character as fit for eternal life. It is another class of work altogether, that has weight in the Judgment. Have you been industrious in seeking to save souls--industrious with your entrusted ability in doing God's work? Without giving all diligence there is no gaining ground in the work of holiness. They who are slothful in the things of religion will accomplish nothing in it. They will be weighed in the balances, and be found wanting. There must be an abounding in all the Christian graces. Mental discipline is highly essential to fit us for the great work we are required to do for the Master.
God's delegated ministers have need of the prayers of the faithful. If they are unselfishly laboring for the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the exercise of their appointed work, they will have to possess their souls in patience. They will have to meet every phase of character, some rough, uncultured, unappreciative of their constant labor, who will injure their influence if they can.
Thou hast borne and had patience. The faithful minister is commended in having zeal against that which is evil. Not only will he not practice evil himself, but he will be an example to believers in his piety, his purity, his godliness, and his devotion to sacred things. "Thou canst not bear them which are evil." His affections will not fasten upon and cling to the evildoer. He hates the practices of the worker of iniquity. While every effort should be made for the salvation of these souls, in all meekness and wisdom, there must be manifested a zeal to repress evil, to counteract its baleful influence. God will not justify anyone in making light of sin, and showing preference to the evil-worker.
"Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." There will be men who claim to have a work to do in preaching the truth to others, and it may be found best to test them. But the most solemn obligation is laid upon those who consent to do this, to watch their going out and their coming in, to follow on their track to closely investigate the manner in which their work is done; whether they are indeed leaving a savory influence, or an influence which belies all their pretensions to be apostles of Jesus Christ. True zeal, Christlike zeal, is to be shown in every case, that pretenders may not obtain a foothold, and through deception insinuate themselves into the confidence of the churches when they are not worthy of the confidence of Christians, because their works are evil, their hearts unsanctified, their actions defiling.
If only Christian men would become ministers, how different would have been the state of religion in our world! Martin Luther made a statement that religion is never in such danger as among reverend men. This is the saddest picture held up to our view in the sins found among the ministers of the present age. They handle sacred things with defiled hearts and minds and impure hands. Many consider that ministers have no temptations; that they are fenced about with barriers, and that kept, as they are, daily in contact with sacred truth and thoughts of eternity, all would be pure and lovely and of good report. But although this is as it should be, it is not as it is, as facts show us. When the minister separates his soul from God by wicked works, he still continues to be an exponent of the word of God, and handles that world deceitfully. He is called upon at all times and under all circumstances to contemplate truth in some of its many forms, and applying the truth to hearts and life and practice of persons who are contemplating it, he talks of its advantages and the glories of redemption, and the wonderful plan of Christ in saving men, but he has no personal interest in these sacred truths. They are not brought into his life practice, and becoming dearer and more precious through daily experience. This is the reason why there are so many failures and falls, and why the gospel ministry is brought into reproach and disgraced. Many urge conversion while their own souls are unconverted, and commend the love of Jesus when they never have experienced it. They preach repentance for sin, which they have never practiced, and faith, which they know nothing of by experience. They talk of a Saviour, of whom they have only a theoretical knowledge. They talk of the Spirit of God that they are daily grieving; of heaven, which they do not contemplate because they have a personal interest in it.
Here is deception of the worst kind. An irreligious minister should be ranked among those whom God abhors. His whole life is a lie. The word of God is taught to the people, but kept apart from his own life. If the word of God were brought into the life practice, every thought, word, and deed would be subject to God's will. Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #23)
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Rev. 2:4-7.
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Thine is a decay, a declension in holy zeal,--not forsaken is the object of it, but lost is the fervor. The first affection of the convert to Christ is deep, full, and ardent. It is not necessary that this love should become less as knowledge increases, as the more and increased light shines upon him. That love should become more fervent as he becomes better acquainted with his Lord. God sees that there is not heart service, a love for Jesus, an earnest zeal in his work.
"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." How much need there is for the people of God at this time to consider the words of the Majesty of heaven, and carefully review the ground over which they have traveled, and see and understand where the very first step was taken in the wrong path! Absence of zeal and devotion, of earnest willing service in the cause of God, shows how indolent many professed followers of Christ are, how destitute of earnest, heartfelt effort. They might have been going on from strength to strength, from light to still greater light. They might have become strong in faith had they walked on from step to step, thinking more of Christ than of themselves.
The Lord has a right to expect more of his believing children than they give him. Every individual Christian is indeed the light of the world. Christians connect with Christ. They reflect the character of Christ. They have been intrusted with great treasures of light; the oracles of God have been given to them, and in these they have been thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Every provision has been made, and why have the individual members of the church wearied of their Lord? Why does he who professes to love God refuse to obtain from the Source of light and power the oil of grace that he may be a bright and shining light? The church has had great opportunities, great privileges, and why is the light growing dim? Why does it not shine to the world? His church whose individual members are advancing, growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, is the elected means of the Redeemer's system for enlightening and saving the world. Christ lived and suffered and died to establish a church capable of doing this noble work. He bought her, he cleansed her with his own blood, and clothed her with the garments of his salvation. He laid the cornerstone upon the bloodstained rock of Calvary. He made his church the depositary of his precious law, and transferred into her hands in a high and holy sense the work of carrying out his holy designs; that the church should take the work when he left it, and carry it forward to its consummation.
The Lord of righteousness is walking amid the golden candlesticks. And he watches every dim burning lamp of his individual believers, and says, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Could mortals find language more impressive, more to the point, than these words of Christ,--words of Him who says, "I know thy works"? He presents the necessity of obtaining all the zeal and earnestness and energy that has ever glowed in the soul. And those who have cast off responsibility, and are content to have their light flickering and dim, Jesus would arouse to a sense of their obligation to let their light shine. He tells them that if they do not repent of their falling away from their first love, he will come suddenly, and remove their candlestick out of its place. As in the case of the unfruitful tree, the command will be given, "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground.
God will accept nothing less than the whole heart. Happy are they who from the commencement of their religious life have been true to their first love, growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sure result of their intercourse and fellowship with their beloved Lord, will be to increase their piety, their purity, their fervor. They are receiving a divine education, and this is illustrated in a life of fervor, of diligence and zeal. They have that faith constantly becoming stronger which works by love and purifies the soul. Theirs is a childlike devotion, developing itself into activities of holiness, giving proof by the most expressive outward act of their inward gratitude, the heartfelt joy and devoted attachment to Jesus their Redeemer, the divine Restorer.
Those who have been growing in harmony with the world in custom, in practice, in thoughts, are not growing in grace. Their prayers become less and less fervent and intelligent. They seem lifeless, and cold, and dead. They must repent. They are called upon to be inwardly grieved and ashamed and confused before the Lord for their want of love. They should blame themselves, and humbly confess before God, and condemn themselves. They must come back, retrace their steps, and do the first works; take hold again firmly in faith where they let go, recover their first zeal, their conscientious, tender love for God and his precious truth. They must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as when the light of Christ's forgiving, pardoning love first fell upon their souls. A severe threatening from God follows if this work is not done. "I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place."
If we, like Chorazin and Bethsaida, are exalted to heaven in point of privilege, and, notwithstanding the abundant mercy and loving, tender compassion of God, indifferently regard his great privileges and are not responding to the light and opportunities bestowed, he will come in judgments for impenitence of his churches, and remove the light, and let darkness take its place. Those who are connected with Christ, bearing the yoke of Christ, and lifting his burdens, will be constantly self-denying partakers with Christ of his sufferings. They will be one with Christ, in deep sympathy with Him who loved us and gave himself for us, that he might bring us to his side in heaven. This is the religion that is earnest, deep, firm, and far reaching, and insures rest, and peace, fullness of joy.
The only way to grow in grace is to be interestedly doing the very work Christ has enjoined upon us to do,--interestedly engaged to the very extent of our ability to be helping and blessing those who need the help we can give them. This is the only way we can grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Christians who are constantly growing in earnestness, in zeal, in fervor, in love,--such Christians never backslide. They are becoming more closely identified with the Saviour in all his plans. They are partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Their wisdom is increasing, their ability how to work. They seem to comprehend the largest plans. They are ready to engage in the most stirring enterprises, and they have no room for slothfulness; they cannot find a place for stagnation.
Those who are ever pressing a little closer to the world, and becoming more like them in feelings, in plans, in ideas, have left a space between them and the Saviour, and Satan has pressed his way into this space, and low, worldly-tainted, selfish plans become interwoven with their experience. God's voice is addressing this class, which are not few: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." It is of consequence that you hear attentively and obey. Come into close relationship with Christ. Keep your souls in constant contact with the world, and its customs will become your customs, its practices will become your practices, if you place yourselves where you will see and hear and feel and act as they do.
"Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean." Turn quickly to Jesus Christ. Yield your pride, your self love, your selfish aspirations, your love of the world, which are death to spirituality. Repent quickly. Delay not in deciding, lest you be too late. Elevate your soul's aspirations to higher spheres of action in Christian activities. Those who do this are the only class in our churches that will grow. They will speedily attain the highest moral efficiency and the clearest spiritual perceptions. They will have unusual vigor and steadiness of faith. They will know how to pray and be persevering and earnest in prayer. And all those who are deeply and interestedly engaged in the salvation of others, are the more surely working out their own souls' salvation with fear and trembling. The piety that does not reveal itself in working interestedly for others, will become a form, strengthened, bigoted, self-conceited. Coming in contact with souls for whom Christ has died, seeking to bring them to repentance, and evidencing a love for their souls, will call them out of themselves, so that they will not be exclusively engaged for their own selfish interests, either in temporal pursuits or in spiritual things. God has shown it to be our duty not to live for ourselves. Christ pleased not himself.
The times of ignorance God winked at, but now, with the blazing light of truth shining all around us, with warnings, with reproofs, with increasing light if we will but open our eyes to see it, there is no excuse of any, even the weakest child of God, that they should not disperse light to the world. The four angels are holding the four winds that a special work may be accomplished: the saints of God are to be sealed in their foreheads. Brethren, how long before you will be ready for the seal of God? Every step you advance upon the path which God forbids, toward your own pleasure and in sin, is a step nearer your destruction. Every act of disobedience to the word of the Lord is exposing you to irreparable loss. Every moment of ease, of self-indulgence, secured by you in neglecting the divine admonitions and call to duty in earnest work for the Master, is placing you under the power and control of the prince of darkness. Your candlestick may at any moment be moved out of its place.
Four mighty angels are still holding the four winds of the earth. Terrible destruction is forbidden to come in full. The accidents by land and by sea; the loss of life, steadily increasing, by storm, by tempest, by railroad disaster, by conflagration; the terrible floods, the earthquakes, and the winds will be the stirring up of the nations to one deadly combat, while the angels hold the four winds, forbidding the terrible power of Satan to be exercised in its fury until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. Get ready, get ready, I beseech you, get ready before it shall be forever too late! The ministers of vengeance will pour all the terrible judgments upon a God-forsaken people. The way of obedience is the only path of life. May the Lord help you to see it in time to open your ears, that you may hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
What is my duty? What shall I do to save my children and to save many souls from the coming tempest of wrath unmixed with mercy? God claims every power, every capability of action to be invested in the doing of his work. Talents, possessions, everything that is great and noble in man he calls to be exercised in his work. Duty admits no rival, enters into no compromise with any opposing powers. The most precious friends and relatives must not step in between your duty and your God. The voice of duty is the voice of God in our souls. Obedience to its claims brings us into living personal agreement with the highest law in the universe--brings man into alliance with God.
Let the churches be aroused. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." This message concerns all our churches. You can never employ your faculty of hearing better than in hearkening to hear what the voice of God speaks to you in his word. There is a rich and abundant promise to those who overcome. It is not enough to enter upon this warfare, we must pursue it to the end. We must know nothing of yielding. We must fight the good fight of faith to the very end. To the overcomer is promised the triumphal victory. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Whatever was lost in the fall of Adam is more than restored in redemption. He that sitteth on the throne saith, "Behold, I make all things new." Let us look closely and critically to ourselves. Are not the vows we entered into at our baptism violated? Are we dead to the world and alive unto Christ? Are we seeking those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God? Is the cable cut which anchored us to the eternal Rock? Are we drifting with the current to perdition? Shall we make no effort to press and urge our passage up stream? Let us not hesitate longer, but vigorously apply the oars; and let us do our first works ere we make hopeless shipwreck.
It is our work to know our special failings and sins, which cause darkness and spiritual feebleness, and quenched our first love. Is it worldliness? Is it selfishness? Is it the love of self-esteem? Is it striving to be first? Is it the sin of sensuality that is intensely active? Is it the sin of the Nicolaitanes, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness? Is it the misuse and abuse of great light and opportunities and privileges, making boasted claims to wisdom and religious knowledge, while the life and character are inconsistent and immoral? Whatever it is that has been petted and cultivated until it has become strong and overmastering, make determined efforts to overcome, else you will be lost. It is these cherished sins, abhorrent to God, that make enfeebled moral courage, and leave you to choose to walk apart from God, while you retain a miserable, heartless, outward form. Once the soul was all aglow with love for Jesus; but all this is changed. The great Head who moves in the midst of his candlesticks will never be without a church. There will be faithless ones who will go out from us because they were not of us. There will be apostasies. But "nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." There will be those who are evil, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, who are sensual, who are controlled by the master-worker in all evil, who will have to be separated from the church.
"I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." This labor of purifying the church is a painful work, but one that must not be neglected, if the church would have the commendation of God. But repent, because thou hast left thy first love. Here is plainly presented before us our work as members of the church of Christ. If we are faithless, we shall lose the crown of life and another will take it; for in the dropping out of the faithless the places are supplied by the faithful. If we refuse to let our light shine for the Master, if we do not do the works of God, others will do that very work which we might have done and could have done, but refused to do. When we cease to fulfill our mission, when the candlestick refuses to reflect light, and the great truths committed to us individually in trust for the world, are not given to them, then the candlestick will be removed. "I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place." Another will be placed in his stead and will shine. Let prayer be ascending now without delay to Him who walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Take not thy Holy Spirit from us. "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways: and sinners shall be converted unto thee." Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #24)
"For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." 1 Cor. 3:9.
The work of the laborer is not small or unimportant. If he gives himself to any branch of the work, his first business is to take heed to himself, afterward to the doctrine. He is to search his own heart and to put away sin; then he is to keep the Pattern, Christ Jesus, ever before him as his example. He is not to feel at liberty to shape his course as best pleases his own inclination. He is the property of Jesus. He has chosen a high vocation, and from it his whole future life must take its coloring and mold. He has entered the school of Christ, that he may obtain a knowledge of Christ and his mission, and of the work he has to perform. All his powers must be brought under control of the great Teacher. Every faculty of mind, every organ of the body, must be kept in as healthy a condition as possible, so that the work of God shall not bear the marks of his defective character.
Before a person is prepared to become a teacher of the truth to those who are in darkness, he must become a learner. He must be willing to be counseled. He cannot place his foot on the third, fourth, or fifth round of the ladder of progress before he has begun at the first round. Many feel that they are fitted for the work when they know scarcely anything about it. If such are allowed to start out to labor in self-confidence, they will fail to receive that knowledge which it is their privilege to obtain, and will be doomed to struggle with many difficulties for which they are entirely unprepared.
Now, to every worker is granted the privilege of improvement, and he should make everything bend to that object. Whenever a special effort is to be made in an important place, a well arranged system of labor should be established, so that those who wish to become colporteurs and canvassers, and those who are adapted to give Bible readings in families, may receive the necessary instruction. Those who are workers should also be learners, and while the minister is laboring in word and doctrine they should not be wandering listlessly about, as though there was nothing in the discourse which they needed to hear. They should not regard the speaker simply as an orator, but as a messenger from God to men. Personal preferences and prejudices must not be allowed to influence them in hearing. If all would imitate the example of Cornelius, and say, "Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God," they would receive much more profit from the sermons which they hear.
There should be connected with our missions, training schools for those who are about to enter the field as laborers. They should feel that they must become as apprentices to learn the trade of laboring for the conversion of souls. The labor in these schools should be varied. The study of the Bible should be made of primary importance, and at the same time there should be a systematic training of the mind and manners that they may learn to approach people in the best possible way. All should learn how to labor with tact and with courtesy, and with the Spirit of Christ. They should never cease to become learners, but should ever continue to dig for truth and for the best ways of working, as they would dig for buried gold.
Let all who are commencing in the work decide that they will not rest short of becoming first class workers. In order to do this, their minds must not be allowed to drift with circumstances and to follow impulse, but they must be chained to the point, tasked to the utmost to comprehend the truth in all its bearings.
Men of ability have labored at a great disadvantage because their minds were not disciplined for the work. Seeing the need of laborers, they stepped into the gap, and although they may have accomplished much good, it is in many cases not a tithe of what they could have accomplished, had they had the proper training at the start.
Many who contemplate giving themselves to the service of God, do not feel the need of any special training. But those who feel thus are the very ones who stand in greatest need of a thorough drill. It is when they have little knowledge of themselves and of the work that they feel best qualified. When they know more, then they feel their ignorance and inefficiency. When they subject their hearts to close examination, they will see so much in them unlike the character of Christ, that they will cry out, "Who is sufficient for these things?" and in deep humility they will strive daily to put themselves in close connection with Christ. By crucifying self they are placing their feet in the path in which he can lead them.
There is danger that the inexperienced worker, while seeking to qualify himself for the work, will feel competent to place himself in any kind of a position, where various winds of doctrines are blowing about him. This he cannot do without peril to his own soul. If trials and temptations come upon him, the Lord will give strength to overcome them; but when one places himself in the way of temptation, it often happens that Satan through his agents advances his sentiments in such a manner as to confuse and unsettle the mind. By communion with God and close searching of the Scriptures, the worker should become thoroughly established himself before he enters regularly upon the work of teaching others. John, the beloved disciple, was exiled to lonely Patmos, that he might be separated from all strife, and even from the work he loved, and that the Lord might commune with him and open before him the closing scenes in this earth's history. It was in the wilderness that John the Baptist learned the message that he was to bear, to prepare the way for the coming One.
But above everything else it should be impressed upon the individuals who have decided to become God's servants, that they must be converted men. The heart must be pure. Godliness is essential for this life and the life which is to come. The man without a solid, virtuous character will surely be no honor to the cause of truth. The youth who contemplates laboring together with God, should be pure in heart. In his lips, in his mouth, should be no guile. The thoughts should be pure. Holiness of life and character is a rare thing, but this the worker must have or he cannot yoke up with Christ. Christ says, "Without me ye can do nothing." If those who purpose to work for others' good and for the salvation of their fellowmen rely on their own wisdom, they will fail. If they are entertaining humble views of themselves, then they are simple enough to believe in God and expect his help. "Lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Then we have the privilege of being directed by a wise counselor, and increased understanding is given to the true, sincere seeker for truth and for knowledge.
The reason why we have no more men of great breadth and extended knowledge, is because they trust to their own finite wisdom, and seek to place their own mold upon the work, in the place of having the mold of God. They do not earnestly pray and keep the communication open between God and their souls, that they can recognize his voice. Messengers of light will come to the help of those who feel that they are weakness itself, without the guardianship of Heaven. The word of God must be studied more, and be brought into the life and character, fashioned after the standard of righteousness God has laid down in his word. Then the mind will expand and strengthen, and be ennobled by grasping the things that are eternal. While the world are careless and indifferent to the message of warning and mercy given them in the Bible, God's people, who see the end near, should be more decided and more devoted, and work more earnestly, that they may show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Knowledge is power, either for good or for evil. Bible religion is the only safeguard for human beings. Much attention is given to the youth in this age, that they may enter a room gracefully, dance, and play on instruments of music. But this education is denied them, to know God and to answer to his claims. The education that is lasting as eternity, is almost wholly neglected as old fashioned and undesirable. The educating of the children to take hold of the work of character building in reference to their present good, their present peace and happiness, and to guide their feet in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, is considered not fashionable, and, therefore, not essential. In order to have your children enter the gates of the city of God as conquerors, they must be educated to fear God and keep his commandments in the present life. It is these that Jesus has pronounced blessed: "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."
The blessing is pronounced upon those who are familiar with the revealed will of God in his word. The Bible is the great agent in the hands of its Author to strengthen the intellect. It opens the garden of the mind to the cultivation of the heavenly Husbandman. It is because there is so little attention given to what God says and to that which God requires, that there are so few who have any burden to do missionary work, so few who have been passing under drill, calling into service every power to be trained and strengthened to do higher service for God.
Altogether too feeble efforts are being made to connect those with our schools of different nationalities who ought to be connected with them, that they may receive an education and become fitted for the work so noble, so elevated and far-reaching in its influence. The days of ignorance God winked at. But increased light is shining; the light and privileges of understanding Bible truth are abundant, if workers will only open the eyes of their understanding. The truth must be diffusive. Foreign and home missions call for thorough Christian characters to engage in missionary enterprises. The missions in our cities at home and abroad call for men who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ, who will work as Christ worked. Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #25)
The third angel is represented as flying in the midst of the heavens, showing that the message is to go forth throughout the length and breadth of the earth. It is the most solemn message ever given to mortals, and all who connect with the work should first feel their need of an education, and a most thorough training process for the work, in reference to their future usefulness; and there should be plans made and efforts adopted for the improvement of that class who anticipate connecting with any branch of the work. Ministerial labor cannot and should not be intrusted to boys, neither should the work of giving Bible readings be intrusted to inexperienced girls, because they offer their services, and are willing to take responsible positions, but who are wanting in religious experience, without a thorough education and training. They must be proved to see if they will bear the test; and unless there is developed a firm, conscientious principle to be all that God would have them to be, they will not correctly represent our cause and work for this time. There must be with our sisters engaged in the work in every mission, a depth of experience, gained from those who have had an experience, and who understand the manners and ways of working. The missionary operations are constantly embarrassed for the want of workers of the right class of minds, and the devotion and piety that will correctly represent our faith.
There are numbers that ought to become missionaries who never enter the field, because those who are united with them in church capacity or in our colleges do not feel the burden to labor with them, to open before them the claims that God has upon all the powers, and do not pray with them and for them; and the eventful period which decides the plans and course of life passes, convictions with them are stifled, other influences and inducements attract them, and temptations to seek worldly positions that will, they think, bring them money, take them into the worldly current. These young men might have been saved to the ministry through well organized plans. If the churches in the different places do their duty, God will work with their efforts by his Spirit, and will supply faithful men to the ministry.
Our schools are to be educating schools and training schools; and if men and women come forth from them fitted in any sense for the missionary field, they must have impressed upon them the greatness of the work, and that practical godliness must be brought into their daily experience, to be fitted for any place of usefulness in our world, or in the church, or in God's great moral vineyard, now calling for laborers in foreign lands.
The youth must be impressed with the idea that they are trusted. They have a sense of honor, and they want to be respected, and it is their right. If pupils receive the impression that they cannot go out or come in, sit at the table, or be anywhere, even in their rooms, except they are watched, a critical eye is upon them, to criticise and report, it will have the influence to demoralize, and pastime will have no pleasure in it. This knowledge of a continual oversight is more than a parental guardianship, and far worse; for wise parents can, through tact, often discern beneath the surface and see the working of the restless mind under the longings of youth, or under the force of temptations, and set their plans to work to counteract evils. But this constant watchfulness is not natural, and produces evils that it is seeking to avoid. The healthfulness of youth requires exercise, cheerfulness, and a happy, pleasant atmosphere surrounding them, for the development of physical health and symmetrical character.
God's word must be opened to the youth, but a youth should not be placed in the position to do this. Those who must have an eye upon them constantly to insure their good behavior, will require to be watched in any position where they may be. Therefore the mold given the character in youth by such a system of training, is wholly deleterious. Aim for mental discipline and the formation of right moral sentiments and habits. Studies should generally be few and well chosen, and those who attend our colleges are to have a different training than that of the common schools of the day. They have been generally taught upon Christian principles, if they have wise and God-fearing parents. The word of God has been respected in their homes, and its teachings made the law of the home. They have been brought up in the nurture and admonition of the gospel, and when they come to the schools, this same education and training is to go on. The world's maxims, the world's customs and practices, are not the teaching they need; but they are to see that the teachers in the schools care for their souls, that they will take a decided interest in their spiritual welfare, and religion is to be the great principle inculcated; for the love and fear of God are the beginning of wisdom. Youth removed from the domestic atmosphere, from the home rule and guardianship of parents, if left to themselves to pick and choose their companions, meet with a crisis in their history not generally favorable to piety or principle.
Then, wherever a school is established, there should be warm hearts to take a lively interest in our youth. Fathers and mothers are needed with warm sympathy, and with kindly admonitions, and all the pleasantness possible should be brought into the religious exercises. If there are those who prolong religious exercises to weariness, they are leaving impressions upon the mind of the youth that would associate religion with all that is dry, unsocial, and uninteresting. And these youth make their own standard not the highest, but weak principles and a low standard spoil those who, if properly taught, must be not only qualified to be a blessing to the cause, but to the church and to the world. Ardent, active piety in the teacher is essential. Morning and evening service in the chapel, and the Sabbath meetings, may be, without constant care and unless vitalized by the Spirit of God, the most formal, dry, and bitter mixture, and to the youth the most burdensome and the least pleasant and attractive of all the school exercises. The social meetings should be managed with plans and devices to make them not only seasons of pleasantness, but positively attractive.
Let those who are competent to teach youth, study themselves in the school of Christ, and learn lessons to communicate to youth. Sincere, earnest, heartfelt devotion is needed. All narrowness should be avoided. Let teachers so far unbend from their dignity as to be one with the children in their exercises and amusements, without leaving the impression that you are watching them, and without going round and round in stately dignity, as though you were like a uniformed soldier on guard over them. Your very presence gives a mold to their course of action. Your unity with them causes your hearts to throb with new affection. The youth need sympathy, affection, and love, else they will become discouraged. A spirit of "I care for nobody and nobody cares for me" takes possession of them, and although they profess to be followers of Christ they have a tempting Devil on their track, and they are in danger of becoming disheartened, and lukewarm, and backslidden from God. Then some feel it a duty to blame them, and to treat them coldly, as if they were a great deal worse than they really are, and but few, and perhaps none, feel it a special duty to make personal effort to reform them, and to remove the baleful impressions that have been made upon them.
The teacher's obligations are weighty and sacred, but no part of the work is more important than to look after the youth with tender, loving solicitude, that they may feel that we have a friend in them. Once gain their confidence, and you can lead them, control them, and train them easily. The holy motives of our Christian principles must be brought into our life. The salvation of our pupils is the highest interest intrusted to the Godfearing teacher. He is Christ's worker, and his special and determined effort should be to save souls from perdition and win them to Jesus Christ. God will require this at the hands of teachers. Every one should lead a life of piety, of purity, of painstaking effort in the discharge of every duty. If the heart is glowing with the love of God, there will be pure affection, which is essential, prayers will be fervent, and faithful warnings will be given. Neglect these, and the souls under your charge are endangered. Better spend less time in long speeches, or in absorbing study, and attend to these neglected duties.
After all these efforts, teachers may find that some under their charge will develop unprincipled characters. They are lax in morals as the result, in many cases, of vicious example and neglected parental discipline. And teachers doing all they can, will fail to bring these youth to a life of purity and holiness; and after patient discipline, affectionate labor, and fervent prayer, they will be disappointed by those from whom they have hoped so much. And in addition to this, the reproaches of the parents will come to them, because they did not have power to counteract the influence of their own example and unwise training. The teacher will have these discouragements after doing his duty. But he must work on, trusting in God to work with him, standing at his post manfully, and laboring on in faith. Others will be saved to God, and their influence will be exerted in saving others. Let the minister, the Sabbath school teacher, and the teachers in our colleges unite heart and soul and purpose in the work of saving our youth from ruin.
Many have felt, "Well, it don't matter if we are not so particular to become thoroughly educated," and a lower standard of knowledge has been accepted. And now when suitable men are wanted to fill various positions of trust, they are rare; when women are wanted with well-balanced minds, with not a cheap style of education, but with an education fitting them for any position of trust, they are not easily found. What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well. While religion should be the pervading element in every school, it will not lead to a cheapening of the literary attainments. While a religious atmosphere should pervade the school, diffusing its influence, it will make all who are truly Christians feel more deeply their need of thorough knowledge, that they may make the best use of the faculties that God has bestowed upon them. While growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, they will groan under a sense of their imperfections, and will seek constantly to put to the stretch their powers of mind, that they may become intelligent Christians.
The Lord Jesus is dishonored by low ideas or designs on our part. He who does not feel the binding claims of God's law, and neglects to keep every requirement, violates the whole law. He who is content to partially meet the standard of righteousness, and who does not triumph over every spiritual foe, will not meet the designs of Christ. He cheapens the whole plan of his religious life, and weakens his religious character, and under the force of temptation his defects of character gain the supremacy, and evil triumphs. We need to be persevering and determined, to meet the highest standard possible. Pre-established habits and ideas must be overcome in many cases, before we can make advancement in religious life. The faithful Christian will bear much fruit; he is a worker; he will not lazily drift, but will put on the whole armor to fight the battles of the Lord. The essential work is to conform the tastes, the appetite, the passions, the motives, the desires, to the great moral standard of righteousness. The work must begin at the heart. That must be pure, wholly conformed to Christ's will, else some master passion, or some habit or defect, will become a power to destroy. God will accept of nothing short of the whole heart.
God wants the teachers in our schools to be efficient. If they are advanced in spiritual understanding, they will feel that it is important that they should not be deficient in the knowledge of the sciences. Piety and a religious experience lie at the very foundation of true education. But let none feel that having an earnestness in religious matters is all that is essential in order to become educators. While they need no less of piety, they also need a thorough knowledge of the sciences. This will make them not only good, practical Christians, but will enable them to educate the youth, and at the same time they will have heavenly wisdom to lead them to the fountains of living waters. He is a Christian who aims to reach the highest attainments for the purpose of doing others good. Knowledge harmoniously blended with a Christlike character will make a person truly a light to the world. God works with human efforts. All those who give all diligence to make their calling and election sure, will feel that a superficial knowledge will not fit them for positions of usefulness. Education balanced by a solid religious experience, fits the child of God to do his appointed work steadily, firmly, understandingly. If one is learning of Jesus, the greatest educator the world ever knew, he will not only have a symmetrical Christian character, but a mind trained to effectual labor. Minds that are quick to discern will go deep beneath the surface.
God does not want us to be content with lazy, undisciplined minds, dull thoughts, and loose memories. He wants every teacher to be efficient, not to feel satisfied with some measure of success, but to feel his need of perpetual diligence in acquiring knowledge. Our bodies and souls belong to God, for he has bought them. He has given us talent, and has made it possible for us to acquire more, in order that we may be able to help ourselves and others onward in the way to life. It is the work of each individual to develop and strengthen the gifts which God has lent him, with which to do most earnest, practical work, both in temporal and religious things. If all realized this, what a vast difference we should see in our schools, in our churches, and in our missions! But the larger number are content with a meager knowledge, a few attainments, just to be passable, and the necessity of being men like Daniel and Moses, men of influence, men whose characters have become harmonious by their working to bless humanity and glorify God,--such an experience but few have had, and the result is, there are but few now fitted for the great want of the times.
God does not ignore ignorant men, but if they are connected with Christ, if they are sanctified through the truth, they will be constantly gathering knowledge by exerting every power to glorify God; they will have increased power with which to glorify him. But those who are willing to remain in a narrow channel because God condescended to accept them when they were there, are very foolish; and yet there are hundreds and thousands who are doing this very thing. God has given them the living machinery, and this needs to be used daily in order for the mind to reach higher and still higher attainments. It is a shame that many link ignorance with humility, and that with all the qualities God has given us for education, so great a number are willing to remain in the same low position that they were in when the truth first reached them. They do not grow mentally, they are no better fitted and prepared to do great and good works than when they first heard the truth.
Many who are teachers of the truth cease to be students, digging, ever digging for truth as for hidden treasures. Their minds reach a common, low standard; but they do not seek to become men of influence,--not for the sake of selfish ambition, but for Christ's sake, that they may reveal the power of the truth upon the intellect. It is no sin to appreciate literary talent, if it is not idolized; but no one is to strive for vain glory to exalt self. When this is the case, there is an absence of the wisdom that cometh from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of love and of good fruits.
The established missions in our cities, if conducted by men who have ability to wisely manage such missions, will be steady lights, shining amid the moral darkness. The opening of the Scriptures by means of Bible readings is an essential part of the work connected with these missions; but workers cannot take hold of this work unless they are prepared for it. Many ought to be trained in school before they even know how to study to bring their minds and thoughts under the control of the will, and how to use wisely their mental powers.
There is much to be learned by us as a people before we are qualified to engage in the great work of preparing a people to stand in the day of the Lord. Our Sabbath schools which are to instruct the children and youth are too superficial. The managers of these need to plow deeper. They need to put more thought and more hard work upon the work they are doing. They need to be more thorough students of the Bible, and to have a deeper religious experience, in order to know how to conduct Sabbath schools after the Lord's order, and how to lead children and youth to their Saviour. This is one of the branches of the work that is crippling along for the want of efficient, discerning men and women who feel their accountability to God to use their powers, not to exhibit self, not for vain glory, but to do good.
How broad and extended the command is, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"! What honor is here conferred upon man, and yet how large a number hug the shore! How few will launch out into the deep, and let down their nets for a draught! Now, if this is done, if men are laborers together with God, if men are called to act in city missions, and to meet all classes of minds, there should be special preparations for this kind of work. Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #26)
We are nearing the Judgment, when every case will stand before God in its true bearing; when every secret thing that men have done will appear, with the motive that governed their life. The end of all things is at hand, and all our works will be judged. If our ambition is to be first, then we shall be last; if we are willing to suffer something for Christ's sake, if we are striving for spirituality, then the Lord will honor all such ambition to excel. But if we are seeking to satisfy an unholy, selfish ambition, God will humble the one who does this. But the Lord has spoken through his apostles, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." God knows us all by name. He knows what spirit is in us, and will finally reward us as our works have been. No one need be in darkness in regard to the spirit which he possesses. Sin will close the gate of heaven against all who cherish it, for they will be without the holy city. Is heaven of any value to us, then let us put away all sin, that we may stand approved of God.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . . . And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another." There are lessons of the highest importance that not one in twenty of those who claim to be children of God have yet learned. Shall not we learn them before our destiny is forever settled? Shall we cherish and cultivate the very thing which Satan originated in heaven, which resulted in his fall, and which through his temptations has successfully accomplished the fall of thousands and thousands? Shall we separate ourselves from God, and take the enemy's side? Professed believers in the truth are doing this. When circumstances arise to tempt them, they do not resist temptation, but fall an easy prey to the Devil. That which individuals need is practical godliness. This is the only antidote for the snares of the Devil.
God's word is full of instruction that his children should love another, and not strive with one another. They are called unto liberty, and should stand fast in their liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. But he would have them be careful that they do not use this liberty unlawfully, indulging in corrupt practices; and they should avoid anything which would create contention and dissension and differences of feeling. He would have them by love serve one another. They are to maintain Christian affection, love their neighbor as themselves. "If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
True value is shown far more by works than by assertions, or by tearing one another down to build self up. The knowledge, the skill, the fidelity will be exerting its influence, and will speak louder than words possibly can. Merit and moral worth cannot be hidden. They will appear, and the less one seeks to make them appear in words, the better it will be for him. If a man extols his knowledge in order to stand in the highest place when that knowledge is tested, if it is not all that he represented it to be, he will be left in a lower place than if he had kept silent and let his works praise him.
The greatest detriment to our churches, that which brings them into weakness and disfavor with God, is unhappy jealousies and differences. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Then let every soul examine himself, and see if he is approaching the committal of any such sins.
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Unsanctified hearts will be revealed in unsanctified actions. Not the least countenance should be given to sin, the greater or the lesser sins; but as children of God, we are laid under the strongest obligation to refrain from sin, denying the promptings of the natural heart. If there are differences of opinion, keep not these prominent, but think and dwell upon those subjects upon which all can agree. Selfishness, self-esteem, self-importance will ever urge the dwelling upon things that will create contentions and place self in the foreground, and the regarding of the ideas and opinions of others with contempt. And to speak of these opinions with others, making them as contemptible as possible, so as to make your own ideas appear wise and consistent, is quite the opposite of Christian charity, and is more like the workings of Satan than the movings of the Spirit of God. It is a breach of the law of God which we claim to vindicate.
Love to God comprises our duty to God; love to our neighbor, our duty to one another. Mutual love must be cherished at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. This is the credential which we bear to the world, that God has sent his Son Jesus to die, to bring back the moral image of God in man: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." This love cultivated, becomes an abiding principle, and is effectual in rooting out dissensions and divisions among brethren. Where envying and jealousies are cherished, there is every evil work. All this must be cleansed from the soul temple, and then God will work in much greater power for his people. But he cannot do this where those evil things exist; for should God bless, each party would be confirmed in his conviction that he is right and his brother wrong. In the place of love there would be contention over the very blessings bestowed. In the place of acting like Christians, and guarding one another's interest, there would be a tearing and rending of one another, like brute beasts. Such a spirit is wholly in harmony with Satan, and is in accordance with his mind and purposes, fulfilling his will, doing his pleasure; for he knows the sure result is separation from God. Then he obtains full control over their minds and affections. And while professing to be children of God, they are to all intents and purposes children of the wicked one; for they act out his spirit and do his will. It is mutual strife in the place of mutual love, that if persisted in will prove their common ruin. Professed Christian churches are often ruined by their own unchristian course toward one another.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches." "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." We have stated what kind of fruit the branches that are in the living Vine will bear,--love, joy, peace, etc. We have specified the kind of fruit produced upon the branch that is not of the True Vine. Here it is distinctly specified that the fruit which the true and flourishing branches bear, is the better. Christians should be building up one another in the most holy faith, in place of biting and devouring one another. What can be expected if the latter is done? Can the God of love bestow his grace upon them while the spirit of love, has departed and the evil spirit which seeks to destroy prevails? If Christians could let all their differences and quarrels be swallowed up in striving to overcome the defects in their character, fighting sin in the place of making the most of their differences of opinion, we would see harmony, love and unselfish workings, and the peace and power of God would be manifested in behalf of his people. "Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another."
The esteem and applause of men are of great value to some minds; for they labor for this much more intensely than they do to examine themselves whether they be in the love of God. Satan is constantly seeking to crowd vainglory into their hearts, that he may steal away their humility and meekness, love and patience. And if they have the idea that they are not to stand as the first in every calling and work, they are dissatisfied, and imagine that they are looked upon as inferior. They are then exercised by another spirit than that of meekness and love. They think due respect is not paid to them, self glory they do not receive. They begin to envy and be jealous, and then to demerit the one whom they envy. If they can make it appear that he is at fault in anything, the fault is magnified, and they seek to injure his reputation. Satan stands by with his angels, active agents to suggest thoughts to tempt and do miserable things,--things which are hateful in the sight of a holy God, but well pleasing to the Devil.
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Here is a special direction to deal tenderly with those overtaken in a fault. This "overtaken" must have its full significance. It is something different from deliberate sin, to be led into sin unawares, not meaning to sin, but sinning through want of watchfulness and prayer, and not discerning the temptation of Satan, and so falling into his snare. There is a difference to be made in the case of one who plans and deliberately enters into temptation, and marks out an evil course, covering his sin skillfully, that he shall not be detected. The treatment cannot be the same in both cases. More effective measures are needed to check the premeditated sin; but the apostle directs the treatment to be given to those who are "overtaken," or surprised, or overcome, by temptation. "Ye which are spiritual," you who have evidenced that you have a connection with God, "restore such a one in the spirit of meekness,"--not crush all hope and courage out of the soul, but restore him in meekness, "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Faithful reproofs will be needed, and kindly counsel and supplications to God, to bring him to see his danger and sin.
The original word means to set in joint, as a dislocated bone; therefore efforts should be made to set him in joint, and bring him to himself, by convincing him of his sin and error, that he shall not be separated from the True Vine, or like a limb cut off. He is to be loved, because Christ loved us in our errors and in our weakness. There should be no triumphing in a brother's fall; but in meekness, in the fear of God, in love for his soul's sake, seek to save him from sin.
The apostle saw the working of the human mind, that self-pride would come in and hinder this plan of operation. And he exhorts, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." How many have altogether too high an opinion of their own ability! lifting up themselves, extolling self, while they censure and condemn their brethren, in the place of following the Bible rule in dealing with the erring. They feel sufficient to dictate, look upon themselves as wise, and capable of accomplishing great things, able to tell others what to do, full of confidence in their own ways and wisdom, when the genuine truth is, they are not acquainted with themselves, and do not know half as much as they should know or as they think they know. They are really elevating themselves. While such deceive others by exalting their acquirements and their self-sufficiency, they deceive their own souls, and will meet with the greatest loss themselves. They are not free from blunders or mistakes, and fall under temptations while they self-confidently think themselves standing securely.
The exhortation of the apostle (Phil. 2:3) is, "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." If we expect compassion from Jesus Christ to ourselves, we must show the same to one another. If there is such a thing as mercy and compassion with the followers of Christ, if any sanctified, holy pity, then let it appear. The hardest heart, the most unpitying, must be moved by these words the apostle urges upon them: "Fulfill ye my joy." I have been instrumental in bringing to you the gospel of Christ; you claim to be my children in the gospel; then make my heart full of joy and comfort by living in love. If the gospel of Christ has indeed benefited you, then reveal this in striving for harmony and love. Do nothing through strife or vainglory. Do not do anything that will create feelings of discord and strife. Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #27)
There is nothing which will weaken the strength of a church like pride and passion. If one engaged in the work of God does things in contradiction to another engaged in the same work, that is strife and variance. If we do this to be esteemed or to exalt self, it is vainglory, and death to spirituality and to Christian love and unity of action. Let there be no spirit of opposition among Christians. Christ has given us an example of love and humility, and has enjoined upon his followers to love one another as he has loved us. We must in lowliness of mind esteem others better than ourselves. We must be severe upon our own defects of character, be quick to discern our own errors and mistakes, and make less of the faults of others than of our own. We must feel a special interest in looking upon the things of others,--not coveting them, not to find fault with them, not to remark upon them and present them in a false light, but to do strict justice in all things to our brethren and all with whom we have any dealings. A spirit to work plans for our own selfish interest, so as to grasp a little gain, or to labor to show a superiority or rivalry, is an offense to God. The Spirit of Christ will lead his followers to be concerned, not only for their success and advantage, but to be equally interested for the success and advantage of their brethren. This will be loving our neighbor as ourselves; and an opposite spirit from this creates differences and alienations and want of love and harmony.
Oh, how out of place is all this strife for supremacy! Jesus alone is to be exalted. Whatever may be the ability or the success of any one of us, it is not because we have manufactured these powers ourselves; they are the sacred trust given us of God, to be wisely employed in his service to his glory. All is the Lord's intrusted capital. Why, then, should we be lifted up? Why should we call attention to our own defective selves? What we do possess in talent and wisdom, is received from the Source of wisdom, that we may glorify God.
The apostle would call our attention from ourselves to the Author of our salvation. He presents before us his two natures, divine and human. Here is the description of the divine: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." He was "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person."
Now, of the human: "He was made in the likeness of man: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death." He voluntarily assumed human nature. It was his own act, and by his own consent. He clothed his divinity with humanity. He was all the while as God, but he did not appear as God. He veiled the demonstrations of Deity which had commanded the homage, and called forth the admiration, of the universe of God. He was God while upon earth, but he divested himself of the form of God, and in its stead took the form and fashion of a man. He walked the earth as a man. For our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He laid aside his glory and his majesty. He was God, but the glories of the form of God he for a while relinquished. Though he walked among men in poverty, scattering his blessings wherever he went, at his word legions of angels would surround their Redeemer, and do him homage. But he walked the earth unrecognized, unconfessed, with but few exceptions, by his creatures. The atmosphere was polluted with sin and curses, in place of the anthem of praise. His lot was poverty and humiliation. As he passed to and fro upon his mission of mercy to relieve the sick, to lift up the depressed, scarce a solitary voice called him blessed, and the very greatest of the nation passed him by with disdain.
Contrast this with the riches of glory, the wealth of praise pouring forth from immortal tongues, the millions of rich voices in the universe of God in anthems of adoration. But he humbled himself, and took mortality upon him. As a member of the human family he was mortal, but as a God he was the fountain of life to the world. He could, in his divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and refused to come under its dominion; but he voluntarily laid down his life, that in so doing he might give life and bring immortality to light. He bore the sins of the world, and endured the penalty which rolled like a mountain upon his divine soul. He yielded up his life a sacrifice, that man should not eternally die. He died, not through being compelled to die, but by his own freewill. This was humility. The whole treasure of heaven was poured out in one gift to save fallen man. He brought into his human nature all the lifegiving energies that human beings will need and must receive.
Wondrous combination of man and God! He might have helped his human nature to withstand the inroads of disease by pouring from his divine nature vitality and undecaying vigor to the human. But he humbled himself to man's nature. He did this that the Scripture might be fulfilled; and the plan was entered into by the Son of God, knowing all the steps in his humiliation, that he must descend to make an expiation for the sins of a condemned, groaning world. What humility was this! It amazed angels. The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot take it in. The eternal Word consented to be made flesh! God became man! It was a wonderful humility!
But he stepped still lower; the Man must humble himself as a man to bear insult, reproach, shameful accusations, and abuse. There seemed to be no safe place for him in his own territory. He had to flee from place to place for his life. He was betrayed by one of his disciples; he was denied by one of his most zealous followers. He was mocked. He was crowned with a crown of thorns. He was scourged. He was forced to bear the burden of the cross. He was not insensible to this contempt and ignominy. He submitted, but, oh! he felt the bitterness as no other being could feel it. He was pure, holy, and undefiled, yet arraigned as a criminal! The adorable Redeemer stepped down from the highest exaltation. Step by step he humbled himself to die,--but what a death! It was the most shameful, the most cruel,--the death upon the cross as a malefactor. He did not die as a hero in the eyes of the world, loaded with honors, as men in battle. He died as a condemned criminal, suspended between the heavens and the earth,--died a lingering death of shame, exposed to the tauntings and revilings of a debased, crime-loaded, profligate multitude! "All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head." Ps. 22:7. He was numbered with the transgressors, he expired amid derision, and his kinsmen according to the flesh disowned him. His mother beheld his humiliation, and he was forced to see the sword pierce her heart. He endured the cross, despised the shame. He made it of small account in consideration of the results that he was working out in behalf of, not only the inhabitants of this speck of a world, but the whole universe, every world which God had created.
Christ was to die as man's substitute. Man was a criminal under the sentence of death for transgression of the law of God as a traitor, a rebel; hence a substitute for man must die as a malefactor, because he stood in the place of the traitors, with all their treasured sins upon his divine soul. It was not enough that Jesus should die in order to fully meet the demands of the broken law, but he died a shameful death. The prophet gives to the world his words, "I hid not my face from shame and spitting."
In consideration of this, can men have one particle of exaltation? As they trace down the life and sufferings and humiliation of Christ, can they lift their proud heads as though they were to bear no trials, no shame, no humiliation? I say to the followers of Christ, Look to Calvary, and blush for shame your self-important ideas. All this humiliation of the Majesty of heaven was for guilty, condemned man. He went lower and lower in his humiliation, until there were no lower depths that he could reach in order to lift man up from his moral defilement. All this was for you who are striving for the supremacy--striving for human praise, for human exaltation; you who are afraid you will not receive all that deference, that respect from human minds, that you think is your due. Is this Christlike?
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." He died to make an atonement, and to become a pattern for everyone who would be his disciple. Shall selfishness come into your hearts? And will those who set not before them the pattern, Jesus, extol your merits? You have none except as they come through Jesus Christ. Shall pride be harbored after you have seen Deity humbling himself, and then as man debasing himself, till there was no lower point to which he could descend? "Be astonished, O ye heavens," and be amazed, ye inhabitants of the earth, that such returns should be made to our Lord! What contempt! what wickedness! what formality! what pride! what efforts made to lift up man and glorify self, when the Lord of glory humbled himself, agonized, and died the shameful death upon the cross in our behalf!
Who is learning the meekness and lowliness of the Pattern? Who is striving earnestly to master self? Who is lifting his cross and following Jesus? Who is wrestling against self-conceit? Who is setting himself in good earnest and with all his energies to overcome satanic envyings, jealousies, evil-surmisings, and lasciviousness; cleansing the soul temple from all defilements, and opening the door of the heart for Jesus to come in? Would that these words might have that impression upon minds that all who may read them would cultivate the grace of humility, be self-denying, more disposed to esteem others better than themselves, having the mind and Spirit of Christ to bear one another's burdens! Oh that we might write deeply upon our hearts, as we contemplate, the great condescension and humiliation to which the Son of God descended that we might be partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust! All haughtiness, all self exaltation must be put away from us, and we learn the meekness and lowliness of Christ, or we shall find no place in the kingdom of God. The life must be hid with Christ in God. The anchor of every soul is to be cast into the Rock cleft for us, that Rock which bears up a ruined world. Let us keep these things in our minds.
Pride of talent, pride of intellect, cannot exist in hearts that are hid with Christ in God. There would be no strivings to let self stand forth conspicuously unless Deity and humanity combined had stood in the gap to stay the sentence of a broken law. Its penalties would have fallen, without abating a jot of its severity, upon the sinful. It fell on Jesus, the world's Redeemer, to give man another trial. Then let us humble ourselves, and adore Jesus, but never, never exalt self in the least degree. God forbid that we should foster in ourselves independence. Make haste that none of us may occupy the fearful position of him for whom Christ died in vain.
Will my brethren consider that there is no royal road to heaven? The cross, the cross, lies directly in the path we must travel to reach the crown. Those who will not humble themselves even as a little child, said Jesus Christ, shall have no part in the kingdom of heaven. If the motive of all our life is to serve and honor Christ and bless humanity in the world, then the dreariest path of duty will become a bright way,--a path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. If we are children of God, there will be countless opportunities for serving him by active ministry to those for whom he died. Jesus looks upon the wants, the necessities, of every soul, and ministers unto them by standing close beside the one whom he uses to be an instrument to help and bless others. All contentions, all envy, is grievous to Jesus Christ. Basel, Switzerland. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #28)
We have the promise, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." This is a precious promise to me for the reason I believe it. I believe God will do just as he said he would. And while we comply with the conditions to draw nigh to God, it is our privilege to claim the promise. Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." It is useless to think that we can do anything unless Christ is abiding in our hearts.
It is our privilege to have Jesus with us at all times and in all places. In order to have this mighty Helper by our side, we must empty the soul of everything that would corrupt or tarnish it. This is our work; it is to keep the eye fixed upon the glory of God, and be constantly seeking to yoke up with Christ as our companion and friend. And this is what the cause of Christ requires, that the heart should be stirred with Christ's words and Christ's wisdom. It is to have a close connection with Jesus. We must acquaint ourselves with God, which is identification with God. It is not enough to have a theoretical knowledge; we must have a living experience in the things of God. Our life can be and should be made radiant with God's wisdom. We must be lifted up to a higher level. We must take in knowledge from God's word, from God's presence; take in light from heaven, reflect light, and let our hearts go out in gratitude to God for the light of truth he has given us, and then let this light shine to those around us in steady, bright rays. The law of God is to be brought into our life, and its principles are to be carried out in actions, just as the building needs the great cornerstones and the solid beams. The Lord sees how deficient we are, and he wants to put his Spirit into our hearts. He warns us to build on the solid foundation; then we can find access to the souls he came to save. It is our work to open this most glorious truth to them. Just as soon as we separate ourselves from God by sin, which is the transgression of his law, Satan takes control of our minds. We want to seek earnestly to draw near to God.
What does the text mean which says, "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded"?--It means that some have been serving God with a divided heart. They esteem God some, but themselves more. We must not esteem ourselves more highly than we ought. Let not Christ's words and words of some finite being bear with equal weight upon your heart. Fill the whole heart with the words of God. They are the living water quenching your burning thirst. They are the living bread from heaven. We cannot have Christ's words dwelling in us richly, and at the same time have our thoughts centered upon ourselves, and think that we can do a great work, and that we have ability to reach the hearts of the people; for we can do nothing only as we have strength from Jesus Christ. We want to come into a place where we will surrender our souls to God. And it is not enough merely to surrender, but we must cling to Jesus, bring him into our life, and work for him with all the powers of our being. And we want by living faith to grasp the promise, and say, God has said the blessing is mine; I must have it, and I believe I shall have it; and keeping the mind on Christ, holding firmly to him, and at the same time surrendering ourselves to him, we shall find that Christ will come in. We shall have his presence abiding with us. He will give us access to souls, and success will attend our efforts.
Here in Europe we need much of the Spirit of God. There are a great many things that need a different mold, and we must be consecrated to God in order to do the work of reconstructing which he would have us do. We must be seeking to have Christ fashion us, and be molded as clay in the hands of the potter. Man may try to put his mold upon the work, but you will see that it is a perfect failure. Some have peculiar views and ideas, and none can approach them because of these peculiarities. They are not easily entreated. But what we want is for them to receive Christ's mold; we do not want to run anything after man's way; we want the fashioning hand of God to mold and direct us. And if the right hand is laid upon us to fashion us, we shall have a peculiar mold after the fashion of Christ, and shall pursue a course directed of Heaven.
In this work we shall meet with perplexities, and trials, and difficulties that we do not meet in America; but we can go forth knowing that we have Jesus with us to impress our hearts and minds with good, so that everywhere we can present to individuals the truth that he has given us. God will help us. The strong barriers of prejudice that have been built up will just as surely come down as did the walls of Jericho before the armies of Israel. There must be continual faith and trust in the Captain of our salvation. We must obey his orders. The walls of Jericho came down as the result of obeying orders. Joshua challenged the angel of Israel by asking, Whose side are you on? and the answer came, "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy." "As captain of the host of the Lord am I now come."
The Captain of the Lord's host must go before us, if we meet with success. There are difficulties that we shall meet, and our only hope of reaching the people in England is through Jesus Christ. The Captain of the Lord's host is just as ready to help us as he was to help Joshua. It is for us to obey orders, and it will be in our work as it was at Jericho. By obeying orders and marching round the city as the Lord had commanded, a mighty angel was sent to throw down the walls of Jericho, and the armies of Israel marched straight into the city. We must have much less self-confidence and much more of Jesus. We want now to place ourselves in right relation with Jesus; let self be sunk out of sight in Christ, who is acquainted with every heart, who can impress the workers with the right plans of labor, and also impress the hearts of those for whom we labor, which can reach these precious souls.
But we are not to feel that we are capable or sufficient of ourselves; that it is by any power which we possess that souls are reached, and begin to praise self, and feel that we are sufficient for everything that comes under our hands. If we have accomplished anything in the work, it has not been us, but God, that did the work; and we want that our hearts shall be flowing out in constant gratitude to God. Is it not truth that human hearts are proud, and that we are so lifted up that we are ashamed to open our hearts in praise, and offer gratitude to God? The Lord would do great things for the workers, but their hearts are not humble. Should the Lord work in them, they would become lifted up, filled with self-esteem, and would demerit their brethren. God would have us elevated. We are free to talk of our difficulties and troubles, but when it comes to pouring out our hearts to God in earnest prayer, in gratitude and praise, how little there is of this!
Ours is the most solemn work that was ever given to mortals, and we are doing this work for eternity. We are to be a spectacle to angels and to men, and we want our spirits softened and subdued by the meekness and lowliness of Christ, and have his Spirit enshrined in the heart. We want that active, living faith that will take God at his word, and trust in his promises at all times. And as we on our part lay Hold of the arm of infinite power, we must feel that it is an individual work; we must cling to the Mighty One; and if we seek God with all our hearts, we will find him, because he has promised to be found of us. He is the Captain of the Lord's host, and he will be with us; and if he gives us any measure of success, express thankfulness to him. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth God." All heaven is interested in this work that God's messengers are carrying forward in the world, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
This is a great work, brethren and sisters, and we should humble ourselves daily before God, and not feel that our wisdom is perfect. We should take hold of the work with earnestness. We should not pray for God to humble us; for when God takes hold of us, he will humble us in a way that we would not enjoy. But we must day by day humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and with trembling. While it is God that works in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, we are to cooperate with him while he works through us. We must guard against lifting up our souls in self-esteem. But you will say, How am I to know that Christ is in my heart? If, when you are criticised or corrected in your way, and things do not go just as we think they ought to go,--if then you let your passion arise instead of bearing the correction and being patient and kind, Christ is not abiding in the heart.
Christ placed such a value upon man that he gave his own life to redeem him; and he requires every power and faculty of our being to be in perfect subjection to him. But we are not to esteem ourselves only in the light in which God esteemed us by the cross of Calvary. Let us not be afraid to show our humility by kindness, courteousness, and forbearance. Do not let self arise, and think, It is I they are trying to hurt by their false reports. God said to Samuel, "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me." Samuel looked to Himself, and felt that he was insulted and abused. So these things are not against you, but against Christ. What we want, dear brethren and sisters, is to be emptied of self; and when this is the case, you will feel that whatever is said or done that wounds and bruises the soul, is not against you, but against your Master, Jesus Christ. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #29)
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of me, but in the power of God." 1 Cor. 2:1-5.
Paul had been at Athens, and his spirit was stirred within him as he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore he disputed in the synagogues with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the marketplace daily with those with whom he came in contact. Certain philosophers of the stoics encountered him, and some said, What will this babbler say? Others said, He seems to be a setter-forth of strange gods; because he preached unto them Jesus Christ and the resurrection. Paul, standing in the midst of Mars' Hill, before the most educated and intellectual, met logic with logic, philosophy with philosophy, learning with learning, and oratory with oratory. At the end of his labors he looked at the result, and could see only three who had been benefited. He decided that henceforth he would maintain the simplicity of the gospel. He would preach Jesus Christ and him crucified.
He writes to his Corinthian brethren, "When I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." He declares: "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For 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."
Peter exhorts his beloved brethren to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." He seeks to impress upon them that there is a necessity of increased knowledge daily, and that there is to be with the gospel believers a growing up in Christ, their living head. The individual Christian will grow in grace in proportion as he depends upon and appreciates the messages from God in preaching the word of God, and habituates himself to meditate upon divine things. We should ever keep in mind that unseen agencies are at work, both evil and good, to take the control of the mind. They act with unseen yet effectual power. Good angels are ministering spirits, exerting a heavenly influence upon heart and mind, while the great adversary of souls, the Devil, and his angels are continually laboring to accomplish our destruction.
There would be an additional solemnity, order, and reverence in the place where Christians assemble to worship God, could they realize that there are besides those whom their eyes rest upon, also unseen divine agencies. We have in our midst those heavenly messengers who listen to every discourse. And not only do the listeners pass under the inspection of these angels who keep up the communication between heaven and earth, but the minister, also, who preaches the word of God. And if the worshipers bear in mind that when assembled for worship they are in the company of beings who dwell in the presence of the holy God, earthly thoughts will be banished from their minds. To realize that these heavenly beings are in the midst of an assembly where the word of God is spoken by his messengers, solemnizes the heart.
The parable that Jesus gave of the sower was in these words: "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in the heart." Thus we see that Satan and his angels are also in every assembly where the gospel of the kingdom is preached. Then how important that we take heed how we hear! While the ministration of angels is in behalf of those who are assembled, the enemy is ever watching the effect that the truth has wrought upon minds and hearts, and with an earnestness only equaled by his malice, he labors to thwart the operation of the Spirit on the heart of the hearer; for he sees that if the truth is accepted in the heart, he has lost his control over the individual who accepts the word of life.
Evil angels are as verily present on this occasion as are good angels, working every device of which they are capable, to make the message of God sent through his delegated servants of none effect upon the hearts of his hearers. They are earnestly seeking to counteract the heavenly influence of good angels. We should not be indifferent to the fact that good angels are ever present to minister unto those who shall be heirs unto salvation, and at the same time we are to remember that there are contending forces under the guidance of their master, laboring to effect our destruction. While we should be keenly alive to our exposure to the assaults of unseen and invisible foes, we are to be sure that they cannot harm us without gaining our consent; for we have on our side the armies of heaven to shield and protect us, and to press back the powers of evil that are constantly striving for the ascendency over the minds and hearts of men. If we are dull, and think but little of the heavenly helps provided for us; if we are not striving with these angels to preserve purity of thought, and encourage the graces of the Spirit of God, thus working in unity with the holy angels in this contest, we shall not be aware of Satan's devices, and we shall not press close to the side of Jesus and of his holy angels; but we shall, through want of watchfulness and prayer, depreciate the power and evil designs of our most determined foes, and expose ourselves, and next there will be a falling under temptation, and then Satan will obtain the advantage.
We have not watched unto prayer as we should have done, but have worked many times in harmony with the enemy instead of vigorously resisting his insinuations. While the truth is being preached, Satan is waiting to drop in the seeds of questioning and of doubt. The truth is not treasured as a precious gem. The mind fastens upon the sentences, and the manner of the speakers does not exactly meet their ideas. There is not perfection in the language, and the defects are much dwelt upon. This is the work of the enemy, and the very truth you need, which God has graciously sent you, finds no entrance into your heart. But the seeds of doubt and criticism spring up in the soul, and Satan obtains a hold upon the mind to counteract the work of the heavenly angels by catching away the precious seeds that have been sown in the heart.
Those who are exalting education above everything else, may become much more intelligent in regard to the work that is going forward in this high contest of the two opposing forces between the principalities and powers. They need not imagine a battle going on in some distant field with celestial pomp, in all the terribleness of superhuman strength, but bring the imagination down to the reality of the war and conflict in the domain of the human heart, and give this battle the character of a moral conflict, a struggle between principles supported by opposite parties which appear as combatants. They must consider they are either to become champions of falsehood or of truths. But this view of things is not poetical enough for the fancy of very many who are fighting with Satan the game of life for their souls.
This very place, this very assembly, is the scene of a hostile meeting of evil angels and the heavenly host. There is not an individual who does not furnish a field in his own heart for this strife between invisible powers. As the message of God comes to you, and sets before you your sins, and pleads for you to cease the transgression of the law of God, and points you to the provision made for your salvation by a sin-pardoning Saviour, and urges you to accept the truth, the words which God designs should reach the heart are the very weapons the evil angels love to seize, that they may, through their suggestions, blunt and throw away the very words of life, hope, and pardon; while the good angels are seeking to soften the soil of the heart, that the seed of truth may be planted in the understanding, and bring forth fruit to the glory of God. We are individually responsible for the result of this conflict. Neither good nor evil angels can reach their end successfully except they have the cooperation and the determined effort of the individual.
There is not the least excuse for any of us to remain in indifference, because angels of God are engaged in the warfare for our benefit, against the power of the adversary of God and of man for the soul. The light will gain no admission into the soul unless the door of the heart is open to welcome the Holy Spirit. In proportion as we work with the Holy Spirit's influence will the truth find admission to the soul, and transform the character. The truth must be received in the love of it, with meekness and with love. If you open your heart to receive the suggestions of Satan, in criticising the language of the messenger you will give evidence that you do not value the truth which he brings to you as a precious jewel. There is prejudice, and your unsatisfied likes and dislikes bar the way, and prevent the entrance of the message God has sent you in warnings, admonitions, and reproofs, which if you do reject, it will be at the peril of your souls.
There is great need for close watchfulness and most earnest prayer, lest we make a mistake and grieve the Holy Spirit of God by questioning and criticism, and so lose the force of the precious message. It is the truth we need in the heart to sanctify the soul. Satan plants his seeds of unbelief, of picking flaws, and of finding fault, when you should be diligently listening to the message which God is addressing to every one of you. He wants you to hear and obey, and so escape the snares which Satan has set for your feet. By cherishing doubts in thoughts, and expressing criticism, you can start a train of thought which will make the truth of God of none effect in the minds of those who have a constant struggle to cherish humility and faith, and they will give your words place in their heart, and thus lose the benefit of the message God has sent them. Anything like pride and wisdom of learning or science that you place between your soul and the words of truth spoken to you, will effectually close the door to the humble religion of Jesus Christ. The truth is a sanctifier of the life and character.
Our Redeemer did not come to our world with outward display. The people who rejected him saw nothing of heaven in his appearance. He was to them as a root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness, that they should not desire him. They looked not upon a prince attended with armies and gorgeous display. They could not see hidden beneath the humble disguise of humanity the world's Redeemer. They saw before them a "man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, . . wounded for our transgressions. . . . bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Christ came to preach the gospel to the poor. He reached the people where they were. He brought plain, simple truth to their comprehension. How simple his language! Even the poorest, the unlearned and ignorant, could understand him. Not one needed go to a dictionary to obtain the meaning of the high-sounding titles or words that fell from the lips of the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. While the priests, the rulers, and the expounders of the law were considering themselves as the only teachers of the people, he told these learned rabbis that they were both ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of God.
It is not the learning of the great men that unfolds to them the mysteries of redemption. Prophecy was open before these great men who claimed to be wise; but they knew not that Christ was the Prince of Light, with all their learning, and with all their wisdom, and with the plainest statement of facts concerning Christ and the manner of his first advent, his mission, and his work. Christ would receive the service of the learned, and of the great men, if they would join themselves to him, but Christ could not join himself to them; for they were not right. They were filled with self sufficiency and self esteem, seeking constantly for the supremacy, spurning everything that did not bear the appearance of worldly wisdom and national pride and religious exclusiveness. His work was to correct these evils, and attract men to virtue, to purity, to humility, and to God; to divest religion of the narrow, conceited formalism which made it a rigorous burden. He presents a complete, harmonious salvation to all. This salvation is great, because pardon to the transgressor of God's law if proffered; a righteousness is presented which will endure the scrutiny of the Omniscient, gain victory over the powerful adversary of God and man, and an eternal reward. It is the completeness of salvation which gives it its greatness. No man can measure it with the most thorough finite perception, nor can any contemplate it and continuously make it the matter of his study, without its reaching the untraceable majesty of its Author, and finite man becoming one with the Deity. The transformation has taken place. The child of sin, of transgression, and of wrath has become the child of God; he has passed from death unto life. Divine wrath against the impenitent transgressor will be proportionate to the extensive preparation and infinite sacrifice made to redeem him. How shall we escape, if we neglect this great salvation?
But let us consider, What reason has man to be puffed up? What reason has he to be proud of his religion? He has nothing but that which he has received from God the Redeemer. Learning of the very highest order cannot purchase heaven for any of us. The man possessing large estates and lofty mansions, who walks the earth with all the independence of Nebuchadnezzar as he walked in the palace of the king of Babylon, can claim the right to heaven only through humble obedience to all of God's commandments. And the king's thoughts found utterance in words, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" The Lord heard the proud monarch, and while the words were "in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee." Neither riches nor honor can purchase one of the rich graces of the Spirit of God, or secure for man by all his wisdom a mansion in the heavens. The proud monarch of Babylon was made to feel that there was a power behind and above all his boasted wisdom. God simply removed from the proud boaster his reason, which was the gift of God, and he became degraded to the society of the beasts for seven years.
We would not demerit education. God designs we shall be students here as long as we remain in this world, ever learning and bearing the responsibility of teaching others by precept and example that which we have learned. But let no one place himself as a critic to measure the usefulness and the influence of his brother less educated than himself in book knowledge; for he may be much better educated in the practical knowledge of genuine godliness. "The entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple." It is not merely the reading of the word or the theoretical knowledge of the Scriptures that gives the light and the understanding; for had this been the case, the Lord would not have said to the Jews, Ye are ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God. The light and the understanding expressed here in inspired words mean, the Scriptures opened and applied to the heart by the Spirit of God which is brought into the practical life, and placed like solid timber in the character.
As the man is converted by the truth, the work of transformation of character goes on. He has an increased measure of understanding, in becoming a man of obedience to God. The mind and will of God become his will, and by constantly looking to God for counsel, he becomes a man of increased understanding. There is a general development of the mind that is unreservedly placed under the guidance of the Spirit of God. This is not a one-sided education, which develops a one-sided character; but there is revealed a harmoniously developed character. Weaknesses that have been seen in the powerless, vacillating character are overcome, and continual devotion and piety bring the man in such close relation to Jesus Christ that he has the mind of Christ. He is one with Christ, having soundness and strength of principle, and clearness of perception, which is that wisdom that comes from God, who is the source of all light and understanding. The grace of God has fallen upon the humble, obedient, conscientious soul like the Sun of righteousness, strengthening the mental faculties, and in the most astonishing manner making those who long to use their capacity in the Master's service, small though it may be, strong continually by obedience and practice, and grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and be bearers of much fruit to the glory of God, in good works. So that the men of learning and of high accomplishments have learned most precious lessons from the precepts and examples of the unlearned, as the world would call them. But could they have a deeper sight, it would be seen that they had obtained knowledge in the highest graded school, even the school of Jesus Christ.
Those who in this life want to become all that God designs that they should, will ever be learners. This knowledge will not generally come in a supernatural manner, although this is not impossible. There are stores of information to be obtained by painstaking effort. Thus it was with Daniel. The fear of the Lord was to him the beginning of wisdom. Although he was in king's courts, surrounded by temptations, he refused to participate in selfish indulgence that would weaken physical and moral strength. He kept close to God, and while he applied himself closely and earnestly to acquire all the knowledge possible, God added his blessing.
We read that Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with a portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank. There was a firm stand taken to resist every inducement to selfish indulgence. As to the result, let the word of inspiration speak: "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. . . . And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm."
Now while these youth on their part were working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, it was God who was working in them both to will and to do his own good pleasure. The conditions of the reward for our own good are as if everything depended upon ourselves. To make God's grace our own, we must act our part. There is a work that is laid before us to do, and this work must be done with fidelity, and the fruits we bear will manifest before God, before angels, and before men the character of our work. The penny was given to the laborer in the vineyard, but not to the loiterer in the market place.
Of all the people upon the earth, the man whose mind is enlightened by the opening of God's word to his understanding, will feel that he must give himself to greater diligence in the perusal of the word of God, and to a more diligent study of the sciences; for his hope and calling are greater. The more closely connected man is with the Source of all knowledge and wisdom, the more he can be advantaged intellectually, as well as spiritually, through his relation to God. He will have clearer views, unbiased by his own ideas and judgment. His views will be broadened, his discernment quickened, and his understanding enlarged to contemplate the great truths of God's word; and the more he gains of heavenly knowledge, the better will he understand his own weakness, and the more humble will be his views of himself.
The opening of God's word is followed by remarkable opening in strengthening man's faculties; for the entrance of God's word is the application of divine truth to the heart, purifying and refining the soul through the agency of the Holy Spirit. He has genuine faith in the truth as it is in Jesus, and that faith works by love and purifies the soul. These are tried workers together with God, and God is to receive all the glory. Whatever progress we make, whatever good we accomplish comes from God, to be reflected upon others in good works, and reflected back to God, the great Source of light. It is the Spirit of God in the soul that quickens its otherwise lifeless faculties, and attracts the soul to God and to the truth. The intellectual talents owe all their advancement to God, and our religious life is dead and spiritless, unless the living Spirit is received from God the lifegiving power. Without the enlightenment of his Spirit, we cannot appreciate the things of the heavenly world, and cannot have a relish for communion with God.
Religion is not a mere form. Pure and undefiled religion is the life of God in the soul, the abiding of Jesus in the heart. The thoughts are cultivated and trained to think and act in reference to the glory of God. The questions will arise in the mind, Will this course of action please Jesus? Shall I be able to maintain my integrity if I enter into this arrangement? Thus God will be made the counselor, and the soul will be brought into obedience to the will of God, and we shall be led into safe paths; and if we follow on to know the Lord, we shall triumph with the truth and have eternal life. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #30)
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." Rom. 12:11.
There are many who will bring into their business much tact, and skill, and zeal, and talent, but they do not feel the necessity of bringing all this, and with greater intensity, into the service of God. While they should be fervent in spirit in the service of God, they should not be slothful in business; they should not permit temporal and earthly things to so absorb all the powers of mind which God has given them that they will not manifest diligence in his service. The reason why there is not more spiritual strength and power with the little companies of believers that compose our churches in different places, is because the business cares of life are made their first and highest object, and absorb their time and their thoughts.
Brethren and sisters, this should not be thus, because of the greatness of the subject of present truth. God speaks in his word to man. It is truth revealed, to be carried as a light that burneth into the darkened chambers of the mind, bringing order out of that which was to the mind confusion. It is truth revealing the darkness of error. The truth should be exalted in every mind. And where there are small companies in different places, who have accepted the truth, it is important that you who help compose their number should make their devotional services full of life and intensely interesting. There are many who do not seem to feel that spirituality must have food to give it sinew and muscle; that man must live "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The word of God "liveth and abideth forever." It must be brought into the life, and then earnestness will be brought into the religious service. Everyone should feel that he is responsible to God for all the talent he has given him, and that he should use these entrusted talents to God's glory. Every true Christian is a missionary. While in this world, we are to consider ourselves in active service for the Master; and we should make this message of present truth which God has sent into our world of the highest importance. There are those who have an understanding of the Scriptures theoretically, and yet the religious meetings under their charge are spiritless and of no vital interest to the worshipers. God has given us tact; and if we have any power of influence, let us bring this power into active service for him. There are precious gems of truth revealed in the word of God which should awaken the deepest interest in the minds of all Bible believers. Then let him who opens the Scriptures cultivate fervency of spirit, that he may draw minds near to the Author of the word; and if there is a spirit of fervency encouraged in our hearts, we will not only have tact to interest others, but our own souls will be kept alive, our own hearts will feel the quickening influences of the life of his word. Everyone who is brought into the service of Jesus Christ should seek to his very utmost to present the truth as it is in Jesus. There will be diligence to bring zeal and earnestness into his work. The Lord wants us to learn the trade of serving him in the most acceptable manner. The one who is engaged in the work of putting up buildings, has to learn the carpenter's trade; and if he is a faithful worker, not slothful in business, he will show continual increase of knowledge, and a perfection in his work. Will our Heavenly Father be pleased with work done in his service in a careless, indolent manner? We must educate ourselves to do the very best work for our Master.
When I first felt the burden for souls, I was a little past fourteen years of age; but, oh! how I pleaded with God to know what I could say to my young associates that they might be led in the right way! I felt that I must have success; that I must do the work for the Master, and God would give me wisdom. When I was sixteen years old I commenced active labor in public. I felt that I must meet my work in the Judgment, and that the manner in which I did this work would be registered in the books of heaven. I wrestled and agonized with God that he would give me wisdom, that his work might not be marred in my hands, but be acceptable. For more than forty years I have been engaged in active work for my Master, and today I feel in just as much need to seek God for wisdom to present the truth to others as I did when I was sixteen years old. And every time I attempt to speak to the people, I feel deeply that I have not done the work as perfectly as it should have been done. I am deeply humbled because I do not reflect more light, and I plead with God that he will give me more grace, more wisdom, that I may do his work with greater completeness.
And this should be the anxiety of every worker, to reach a higher standard. We shall never graduate in this life, but should keep every power upon the stretch for more knowledge. You do not want to labor in such a spiritless way that the people will go to sleep under your words, but you want to bring earnestness and fervency into your prayers, and into your Bible readings, and into your preaching, that you may leave the impression that the sacred truths you are presenting to others are to you a living reality. Whatever you do for Jesus, seek with all your powers to do it with earnestness. Never feel that you have attained to the highest point, and can therefore rise no higher. I often feel agony of spirit as I look over the wide field, and see so few to do the missionary work and open the word of God to those who are in darkness. The very work that is essential for every one who receives the present truth, is to aim at perfection of character, and thoroughness in winning souls to Christ. Be determined that you will advance and improve in your work, and then you will be continually progressing; for those who have received this light feel that they must bring more of the Spirit of Christ into their own life and character as they advance, else they cannot bring it into the lives of others. And you can make the most of every opportunity while in conversation with your friends, to make your words a blessing to them. Set your mind to task, that you may present the truth in a manner to interest them. Seize the most interesting portions of Scripture that you can bring before them, come right to the point, and seek to fasten their attention, and instruct them in the ways of the Lord.
There was a general superintendent of Sabbath schools, who, while addressing a Sabbath school upon one occasion, was very dry, lengthy, and uninteresting. A mother asked her daughter of ten years if she enjoyed the exercise, and also What did the minister say? Said the little girl, "He said, and he said, and he said, and he didn't say anything." Now we do not want any such account of our labor as that. We want the very best of training for the work that we can possibly have ourselves, so that we can make a success in teaching others the things that we have learned. We see the world is spreading out its attractions and allurements in this city, and how difficult to engage the attention of lovers of pleasure! The mania for pleasure is taking nearly the whole world; and if we become careless, and say the most commonplace things in the most uninteresting manner, we cannot expect to succeed in interesting the people and winning souls to the truth.
It is the duty of everyone who embraces the truth to be thoroughly converted and in earnest. Whether he is called to be a preacher or a colporter, or in whatever branch he is to work, he should feel that he must bring into the work all the fervency, earnestness, and zeal he can command. It is your duty to prove yourselves true soldiers of Jesus Christ, that you may bring under the banner of Prince Immanuel many faithful soldiers who will be an honor to the cause of God. I hope that everyone of us will feel that we are responsible to bring all our strength of intellect into the Master's service here, so that the religion of Jesus Christ will be exalted. We have the greatest truth and hope that were ever given to our world, and the greatest faith; and we want to represent this in its exalted character to the world. We do not want to assume the attitude as though we were passing through the world begging pardon of the world because we venture to believe this precious sacred truth; but we want to walk humbly with God, and conduct ourselves as though we were children of the Most High God, and, although feeble instruments, as though we were handling most important and interesting subjects, higher and more exalted than any temporal, worldly themes.
If Jesus is abiding in the heart, we will speak of him with tearful eyes and trembling lips. We are to carry the power of the Highest with us; show that we have a connection with God. Those who attempt to open the Scriptures to others, should make the most of their God-given abilities. They should grow continually in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They should be in earnest, and seek to progress in all their work. They should have a sense of the responsibility resting upon them, and remember that their words and their works are a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. It is the very Spirit and life of Jesus that we should have with us continually. Says the Great Teacher: "I give unto them eternal life; . . . neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Nothing can separate the living Christian from the living God. Are we Christians?
Would that every one of you could have a view that was presented to me years ago. When in my very girlhood the Lord saw fit to open before me the glories of heaven. I was in vision taken to heaven, and the angel said to me, "Look!" I looked to the world as it was in dense darkness. The agony that came over me was indescribable as I saw this darkness. Again the word came. "Look! ye." And again I looked intensely over the world, and I began to see jets of light like stars dotted all through this darkness; and then I saw another and another added light, and so all through this moral darkness the star-like lights were increasing. And the angel said, These are they that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are obeying the words of Christ. These are the light of the world; and if it were not for these lights, the judgments of God would immediately fall upon the transgressors of God's law. I saw then these little jets of light growing brighter, shining forth from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and lighting the whole world. Occasionally one of these lights would begin to grow dim, and others would go out, and every time that this occurred there was sadness and weeping in heaven. And then some of these lights would grow brighter and brighter, and increase in brilliancy; and their light was far reaching, and many more lights were added to it. Then there was rejoicing in heaven. I saw that the rays of light came directly from Jesus, to form these precious jets of light in the world.
If you once would get the understanding that you are the light of the world, you would feel that a great responsibility rested upon you. Every jot and tittle of this light in the world was reflected from heaven; and I entreat of you who have a part to act in the work of God, not to feel satisfied until you bring all the power God has given you in trust into the work. You may have discouraged feelings and be despondent, but that should not lead you to neglect God's work. Can you expect anything else when Satan is trying to bring all the darkness around you possible, to surround your soul every moment? It is for you to say every moment, The Lord lives, and because he lives I shall live also.
Brethren and sisters, are we Christians? Are we transformed by the grace of God? Do not let unbelief come into your minds because you do not feel at all times all that assurance that you are a child of God. If you have committed sins, repent of them, confess them, and then believe that God hears you, and come to his arms, and do not let your lips utter one word of unbelief. If we "sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I have had my soul frequently weighed down like a cart beneath sheaves, but I have not allowed my lips to utter one word of discouragement, fearing I might cast a shadow upon the lives of others. I could bear the testimony of truth that Jesus has died for me. I will magnify him, and I will not dishonor God with my lips. I will trust him in the shadow as well as in the light.
May the Lord help every individual here to realize his accountability to God. I want to represent the religion of Jesus Christ as it is. Why, you are to feel that you are the most favored of all people upon the face of the earth. You are not to feel that you are the meanest of creation because you believe the truth. People may look upon you and despise you because you will not go with them in the path of transgression; but you must feel that you are the children of God, highly honored of him. With divine light let his praise be in your heart and upon your lips, and God will look upon you with favor, and you can keep your soul lifted up, triumphing in God. You can say, I love Jesus because he first loved me. He will save me because he has bought me with an infinite price. Then let us move right forward and upward, in the path that is cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, rejoicing at every step. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #33)
Many profess to be on the Lord's side, but they are not; the weight of all their actions is on Satan's side. By what means shall we determine whose side we are on? Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Upon whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are on the Lord's side, our thoughts are with him, and our sweetest thoughts are of him. We have no friendship with the world; we have consecrated all that we have and are, to him. We long to bear his image, breathe his Spirit, do his will, and please him in all things.
In consideration of the shortness of time, we as a people should watch and pray, and in no case 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 in 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. 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 light 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. This is God's 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, God will give an opportunity to hear the "sure word of prophecy; whereunto they do well that they take heed, as unto a light that shineth 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 the beyond the ken of mortals. Even the angels who minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation, know not the day or 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 truth and 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 Noe, 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 they have no more faith in our warning than in theirs. This is the attitude of the world today. Unbelief is wide spread, 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, with 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 prepared for them. "As it was in the days of Noe, 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 in 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. Why there are so little results seen of those who minister in word and doctrine, is, they have not the fruit of the grace of God in their hearts and lives. They have not faith. Many who profess to be ministers of Jesus Christ, manifest a wonderful submission in seeing the unconverted all around them going to perdition. A minister of Christ 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. They should resort to prayer, and should work and pray without ceasing. Those who submit to remain destitute of spiritual blessings, without an earnest wrestling for those blessings, consent to have Satan triumph. 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 Jesus 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 of 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. 64, #39)
Zurich is where Zwingle labored most earnestly with signal success during the Reformation. It was our privilege to make a short visit to this place on the 12th of May. Eld. Wilbur Whitney and my son had important business to transact in the city, and we wished also to consult on the general wants of the cause with Brn. Conradi and Ertzenberger, who had been laboring here a few weeks. And so we took this opportunity to view a part of this historical city. On leaving the cars, we visited the cathedral built by the Catholics, but now occupied by the Reform Church. One part of this church was built about three hundred years after Christ. The chapels in those days were built small, without seats, the congregation standing. At a later date a cathedral was erected on much larger dimensions. This portion of the building is nine hundred years old. The seats are narrow and ill contrived, as if to produce discomfort to the occupants. The building is roomy, and has alcoves, just as it was constructed by the Catholics for their officiating priests and officers in the Church.
In this building Zwingle used to preach. The pulpit is the same that he occupied, but its position in the building is changed. There is a pipe organ, and we were informed that services are now held in this building. This cathedral was built by Charlemagne. We then visited a chapel, before which stands a lifesize monument of Zwingle. He has on his surplice, reaching to his feet. One hand holds the Bible, while the other rests upon the hilt of his sword. We entered the building, a part of which is now used as a library. Here were relics of antiquity,--ancient books in Latin, Greek, and every language on the globe, etc. We saw the veritable Bible Zwingle used in his opening the gospel to the people. This Bible was in Latin. We saw letters written by the pen of the great reformer, and one written by the queen of England to him.
These things were of special interest to us. We then dined with the family of Bro. Ertzenberger, who was the first one sent from Switzerland to America to become acquainted with the English language, and to obtain a better knowledge of missionary work, that he might return to Switzerland and impart light to those who were in the darkness of error. We had pleasant weather in the afternoon, and improved it, having a ride on Zurich Lake, in a rowboat. The lake where we were was narrow, the scenery grand on both sides. It is thirty-six miles in length. The water was smooth, and we had a fine view. We could get some little idea of the extent of Lake Zurich by the many cantons situated on its borders. This is a beautiful body of water, with swelling banks, covered with terraced vineyards and pine forests, from amid which hamlets and white villas gleam out, giving variety and beauty to the scenery, while in the far-off distance the glaciers are visible, their icy peaks seeming to touch the very heavens, blending with the blue sky and the golden clouds. On the right the region is walled in with craggy ramparts of the Alps. The mountains stand back from the shore, which permits the light to fall freely upon the bosom of the lake, and on the ample sweep of its lovely and fertile banks, giving a charm to the picture that the pen of the artist cannot possibly describe.
The neighboring Lake of Zug is in marked contrast to Zurich Lake. Its placid waters and slumbering shore seem perpetually wrapped in the shadows of the grand old mountains. The cloudy heavens told us a storm was approaching. Our boat was turned about, and we reached the shore and hurried to a street car, when the rain came splashing down, pelting against the windows of the car, and making the surface of the lake look as if there were jewels dropping upon it. We were obliged to leave the car, and in the pelting rain ran as fast as we could a short distance, when we reached Bro. Ertzenberger's home. Here we met Bro. Perk, a Russian brother who was imprisoned in Russia with Bro. Conradi. We conversed with him through an interpreter. We had a season of prayer with our friends, and left for the depot.
At Chaux-de-Fonds.--We reached Basel at half-past nine P.M. In consultation that night, it was thought best for me to visit Chaux-de-Fonds, and spend Sabbath and Sunday with the church there. The next day, in company with Bro. Buel Whitney and his wife, we left Basel at 10 A. M. We were seven hours on the journey. We stopped one hour at Bienne, to see the lot there upon which our brethren designed to build them a chapel. We called on a sister who had been very sick for several weeks, said farewell, returned to the depot, and were again seated in the cars.
Our iron horse was tugging and blowing, urging its way up the steep ascent. We began to feel a chilliness in the atmosphere as we ascended among the mountains, when, lo! we entered a snowstorm. It was raining in the valleys, but here the landscape was white with snow. The atmosphere we breathed seemed like ice upon my throat and lungs. I found that wraps did not exclude this chilliness. We saw massive, giant rocks stretching up, up, up, where the tops could scarcely be seen. We saw wonderful cataracts pouring down their perpetual streams, wearing channels in the rocks. The powerful streams were beating against the projecting boulders in their descent, which sent out widespread spray, white as milk. We always loved to view these wonderful works of God's infinite power. We also looked far down a mountain ravine, hundreds of feet, to where a noisy stream was rushing and beating against the rocks, while the battlements of the same material rose hundreds of feet on either side. It was grand, awfully grand. The green-colored waters far, far below us in this narrow, deep gorge, were rushing and roaring as if mad.
On Sabbath, I spoke to the church in Chaux-de Fonds about one hour. The Spirit of the Lord was in our midst. The only hall the church could obtain in which to hold meetings, was like a private room. And if the windows were opened to obtain air, the atmosphere was loaded with the fumes of liquor casks and wine barrels; for directly across the narrow street was a manufactory of liquors. And the noise of hammering and pounding and clatter would not permit one to hear. The room was so packed that it was impossible to kneel down, so all stood while prayer was offered.
It is impossible for me to express the inconvenience experienced in worshiping God in such a place. Here were more than sixty persons assembled in a place so small that they could not find room to kneel, and the impossibility of securing proper ventilation made the atmosphere anything but healthful. I felt compelled twice, as I was speaking, to change the exercise, and have all arise and engage in singing; for a sleepy lethargy seemed to be upon the people, who were compelled to work hard during the week. The windows were thrown open as often as practicable, but the strong fumes of fermented wine were most offensive to the senses of those who were temperate. I spoke again on Sabbath, and then there was a social meeting.
Every building here that is appropriate, is converted into a dancing hall or place of amusement. These can be obtained for every purpose but that of preaching the gospel. We assembled together on this occasion to devise means whereby we could change somewhat the unfavorable condition of things. For this little, inconvenient, disagreeable place, our brethren pay seventy five dollars per year. This is what we met everywhere in Europe. If a conference or a meeting is held in any of the cities, those who hire houses are not at liberty to entertain their friends; for the landlord can turn them out of their lodgings. Our brethren are felt wholly at the mercy of those from whom they rent buildings. We decided that the cause of God demanded that a building be erected which should contain a chapel and tenement houses. This is customary in this city, with Baptists, Presbyterians, and other denominations, so that this would not be thought a strange or objectionable feature if Seventh-day Adventists should work on the same plan. There can be some tenements, at least, under the control of Sabbath-keepers, and a house of worship, respectable and plain, but convenient, where Sabbath-keepers may worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience.
Sunday we addressed the people again. Our meeting lasted over three hours, because the plans and designs for building the new chapel were fully discussed. We went to see the land chosen upon which to erect the church building. A small lot had been purchased, but this gave those who should purchase the adjoining lot the privilege to build close against the walls of the chapel, and thus shut out the very light and sunshine which they so much needed. We advised that the adjoining lot, also, be purchased, which situates them on a corner lot, and where no building can be erected anywhere near them.
I was too weary to sleep that night, and the report of cannons which reverberated among the mountains, sounded as though the massive battlements of rock near us were crashing to pieces. This kept up till near morning, making sleep for me an impossibility. As we were to leave in the early morning, we arose at three o'clock. We walked one mile to the depot, I feeling that I was doing my last work for Switzerland. We had laid the case of the building of the church before the people, and given them the advice, "Let us arise and build"--let all be united to do their very utmost, offering their supplications to God for wisdom, and exerting themselves in faith to make changes in the situation, and endeavoring to the utmost of their ability to press against difficulties and discouragements, while listening to the voice of their Leader, "Go forward." For the Lord always helps those who help themselves. The Lord is acquainted with all the circumstances, and will work for those who do their very best. If they can raise a certain amount themselves, they can hire all the rest that is necessary from the bank, at a low rate and on long time. This we think they will succeed in doing.
There are worthy souls embracing the truth in Chaux-de-Fonds, in Bienne, and in Lausanne. All are similarly situated as far as places for worship are concerned. Meeting houses must be built, and in these missionary fields the work must go and will go with power, if the believers will do their duty; suitable places of worship will be secured under their own control.
The next Sabbath I spoke for the last time in Basel, and in the afternoon I labored for individual members of the church. The next day I was unable to sit up, and could not eat; but an appointment had been made for me at Zurich, a large hall had been hired, notices had gone out, and not liking to disappoint them I took the cars in a rainstorm, accompanied by W.C. White and Sr. Sarah Mcenterfer.
Second Visit to Zurich.--We rode three hours on the cars, when we arrived at our destination. We found three hundred and sixty people assembled in the hall, apparently of the best class of society, and, as is frequently the case, the Lord strengthened me. I forgot my infirmities. Bro. Conradi interpreted for me. As soon as I sat down, I became ill again, and took a hack and returned to Bro. Ertzenberger's home. I returned to Basel next morning, where I suffered from a severe attack of malaria, having a slow fever, which made me quite weak and nervous. But Tuesday, at 9 o'clock P.M., again, in company with Sr. Ings, I stepped on board the cars to attend previous appointments.
Voh Winkel, Prussia.--Some of the churches were to come together for a general meeting in Voh Winkel, Prussia. The outlook was rather dark, as I was unable to eat, was weak, and had trembling nerves. We rode all night upon the hard seats, not an easy bed. Bro. Conradi joined us before we reached the place, and as Sr. Ings also speaks German, we had no trouble in this line. We found the churches in need of help, as they were in difficulty. The Lord gave me a testimony for them, and after speaking to them on Sabbath, I advised, as is our custom, a social meeting. Bro. Conradi said they had never had a social meeting in this place, and, with the exception of two or three who had visited Basel, knew not what a social meeting was. They usually assembled and prayed together, when they had no minister, and then parted for their homes. I advised that there be a move made then and there, and the result was, we had an excellent social meeting, and the Spirit of the Lord was certainly in our midst.
I spoke three times in this place, with much freedom. Bro. Conradi labored most earnestly day and far into the night, and a much better state of things was inaugurated. The people in this place were weavers of silk handkerchiefs. One fine-looking man was a weaver of brocade silk, which sells for eight dollars per yard. He can weave only three fourths of a yard per day, and obtains one dollar and a half per yard. This is a very fine, beautiful fabric, requiring skill and experience to execute the work.
I was much pleased with the opportunity to visit this place and become acquainted with our German brethren. I felt sorry that they had had so little labor from experienced brethren. There were quite a number who attended the meeting who were not of our faith. Some of these were in sympathy with us, and convinced of the Sabbath, but their position as business men was a hindrance to their accepting the truth. The Sabbath is a great cross. Those who lift it here in Europe know generally how hard it is. To lose their employment, is to them a great dread: there are so many who cannot obtain work, and who go hungry and almost destitute of clothing. When one is turned out of a position, there are many who stand ready to step into his place. Therefore it requires stern faith and firm principle to place the feet upon the platform of truth. It means to lift and carry a heavy cross, following in the footsteps of Jesus, the world's Redeemer.
While we were assembled together in this humble place of worship, I felt indeed the peace of Christ. I felt that Jesus and angels were present; and the testimonies given were of a character that bore evidence that the truth was appreciated; and I felt sure that these souls who loved God and were honoring him by obeying his commandments, would be loved and honored of God. They had enlisted in the army of the Lord; but false maxims, evil customs, worldly inducements, and social influences will be temptations they all must meet, for Satan will assuredly leave no means untried to turn every soul away from the light. Satan is opposed to any soul's reaching the high standard of righteousness, and opposed to one's bending his footsteps in the path where Christ leads the way. And when any soul shall press his way up against the current of the world, Satan will seek, by every means in his power, to make the way as trying and as painful as possible.
In consideration that all who embrace the truth, Bible truth, will be tempted, will be opposed by the world, by Satan, and by his host, these little companies who have had the moral courage to come out from the world and be separate, should be often visited and strengthened in the most holy faith. And it should be their earnest, constant effort to preserve the unity of the faith; to cherish love and affection for each other as children of God. I thought if even two or three were united in the truth as it is in Jesus, what good they might do! What precious promises are given to them! Where two or three are agreed together as touching anything they shall ask in the name of Jesus, it shall be done for them. These souls, then, if of one heart, of one mind, of one purpose, will see of the salvation of God, and will be blessed.
Here was quite a large company assembled, nearly all of whom bore their testimony, and seemed to feel all that they said. My heart was made glad in the Lord to see so many who were indeed lights in the world. Let these little companies who seldom have preaching cling more firmly to Jesus. Let them settle this point first of all, that they are willing to walk in the narrow, cross-bearing path where Jesus has traveled before them. Then let them appropriate to themselves God's promises of divine guidance. "He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally: and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
With these precious promises, we need not be discouraged. God is not ignorant of the trials and the temptations of any one of his dear children. And if they cherish love and peace and harmony in their midst, how pleasing is this to Jesus! He prayed to his Father that his disciples might be one as he was one with the Father. Now if every one, whatever may be the surroundings, whatever the circumstances, will labor to answer the prayer of Christ in their feelings, and their words, and their actions toward each other, then they will be cooperating with the Lord Jesus in his work, and all heaven will rejoice. What great good a very few may do if they are wholly united in Christ! The Holy Spirit will make impressions upon their hearts and lives, and they will reflect the light and blessing given to them upon all who are connected with them. Thus they are channels of light to the world.
Let each individual member of the church feel that he is responsible in a large measure for the strength and prosperity of the church. While you do to the very utmost of your ability, God will as surely do his part, giving you divine enlightenment. God will work, and you must work to the same end to accomplish the same purpose, as faithful soldiers of an army work in harmony with the plans and purposes of their officers. Our will must be surrendered to the will of God. These churches that are small may be living, healthy, strong churches.
I shall never forget this little company and the pleasant associations we have had with them in the worship of God. I should have been pleased to speak to these precious souls directly, but I am thankful that I had the privilege of speaking to them through an interpreter. A Paul may plant, an Apollos may water, but God gives the increase. My prayer is that the Lord may make this meeting one of great blessing to the church. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #40)
We left Voh Winkel, Prussia, at 7 A. M., for Gladbach. We found this to be a large city. We were met at the depot by Bro. Doerner, and took a hack which brought us to the home of Sr. Doerner, Bro. Doerner's mother. Her two daughters live with her, and all are in the faith. Breakfast was ready and waiting for our arrival, but I could not eat, and was relieved to find a place to lie down and rest; for I had scarcely strength to sit up. By invitation, we visited Bro. Doerner's family. On the way, the hack was strongly jerked about, and to all appearance there was a breakdown. We hastily got out, and found the fills had separated from the hack. These sudden movements caused us some little alarm at first, until we understood that nothing had broken, but that in preparing the hack for service, while the fills had been put in place, the linchpins had not been put in position to hold the fills firmly to the body of the hack. This neglect might have caused a serious accident. As it was, we only had some reflections.
How many in temporal things leave some little pin loose in machinery, or in conveyances, and the result is loss of life! For the little pins and screws keep the whole machinery together, so that all parts work harmoniously. What a wonderful piece of machinery is the human mind! Should it be loose and careless, doing things after a haphazard manner, how much suffering would be the result! how much mortality would ensue! How dependent mortals are upon God every moment, for thoughts at the right time to do the right things, in this busy world of ours! What could we do without the wisdom of our all-wise God in the everyday occurrences of life? I felt to thank God with my whole heart for his great love and care exercised continually for the children of men, and to regret that so few recognize the hand of God in their life.
This accident may apply to spiritual life. How many are making mistakes in the religious life because they fail to do their work at all points with carefulness! And by the movements of the church, it is evident there are screws left out that ought to be in use. The result is, there are many mishaps and disasters constantly disturbing the tranquillity of the church,--many jerky movements, because someone did not think, and did not exercise wisdom and godliness and faith; and there is a separation from God, the source of all wisdom; when, if each one had acted his part with fidelity, done his work as unto the Lord, faithfully discharging his duty, the church would be a bright and shining light in the world. But these screws left out from where they should be in church discipline and church training, to keep things harmoniously adjusted, the placing of them in their proper position is not by many felt to be their individual work; and the first thing, like our conveyance, everything is separating and working apart.
Everything being united again by those two little screws, we went along smoothly. Sr. Doerner met us at the gate, with a welcome expressed in her kindly face, and her words full of happy welcome, which were interpreted to us by Eld. Conradi. We greeted the little ones, and thought of the words of Christ--"Of such is the kingdom of God" Pure and guileless, they were the treasures of the household. My heart offered a silent prayer to God, that they might be trained for him, kept pure and spotless from the corruptions of the world, and shine at last in the courts of the Lord above. That mother has a responsibility to mold and fashion these young minds, that they shall be the jewels of the household always, and finally be God's jewels, to shine in the paradise of God. The father and mother will have work to do, earnest, continuous work, to give line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. If they do their part in faith, God will not fail to do his part fully.
Sister Doerner is the daughter of Bro. Lindermann, who has kept the Sabbath for twenty-five or thirty years. He is now living, and is eighty-three years of age. It is through his influence that the Doerner family received the Sabbath. There are three brothers who at the present time are observing the Sabbath. They are united owners of a large manufacturing establishment, in which cotton goods and cotton and woolen goods are made.
Connected with the dwelling of Bro. Doerner are well-kept grounds, ornamented with a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers. We are to see and enjoy the works of God in the beauties of nature, and in them read the love of God to man, which should ever call forth from our hearts a response of gratitude and love to our Creator. As we look upon the things of natural loveliness, they have ever a softening, subduing influence upon the mind and character; and these things of nature are the expression of the love of God to man; for the Lord is a lover of the beautiful. The shrubs and flowers, with their varied tints, are God's ministers, carrying the mind up from nature to nature's God. Christ, the world's Redeemer, made these flowers of natural loveliness, to delight the senses, and to teach to the inhabitants of earth lessons of God's love, and care, and continual working for the happiness and benefit of his children--to teach them that God loves the beautiful. Jesus said: "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."
If our minds are open to the impressions of the Spirit of God, we may learn lessons from the simple and beautiful things of nature. I feel oppressed in the crowded cities, where there is naught for the eyes to look upon but houses. The flowers are to us constant teachers. The shrubs and flowers gather to themselves the properties of earth and air which they appropriate to perfect the beautiful buds and blossoming flowers, for our happiness; but they are God's preachers, and we are to consider the lessons which they teach us.
Just so has God given us the precious promises throughout his word. The Scriptures are open to us as the garden of God, and their promises are as fragrant flowers blooming all over that garden. God especially calls our attention to the very ones that are appropriate for us. In these promises we may discern the character of God, and read his love to us. They are the ground upon which our faith rests, the support and strength of our faith and hope; and through these we are to delight our souls in God, and breathe in the fragrance of heaven. Through the precious promises he withdraws the veil from the future, and gives us glimpses of the things which he has prepared for those who love him. And yet "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
All these promises, all these assurances in the garden of God's word, are to us an expression of the love of God to man, and we should not regard them with carelessness or indifference; but as we would examine the precious flowers in our brother's garden, and inhale their fragrance, delighting our senses with their loveliness and fragrance, just so we should take the promises of God, one by one, and examine them closely on every side--take in their richness, and be soothed, comforted, encouraged, and strengthened by them. God has provided for all the comforts the soul needs. They are suited to the friendless, the poverty stricken, the wealthy, the sick, the bereaved,--all may have their appropriate help if they will see and take hold upon these by faith. God scatters blessings all along our path, to brighten the rugged way of life; and we want to be receiving all the comfort and tokens of God's love with grateful hearts.
But here in this beautiful spot were thoughts of the woes of mortality. We were sad to learn that the threefold cord that had united these brothers in faith and in their temporal interests, was soon to be severed. The eldest of the three was suffering under great affliction, and to all human appearances could never be well again in this life. But how precious to those who are losing their loved of this world are their faith and hope in the promises of God, which open before them the future immortal life! Their hopes may fasten upon unseen realities of the future world. Christ has risen from the dead the firstfruits. Hope and faith strengthen the soul to pass through the dark shadows of the tomb, in full faith of coming forth to immortal life in the morning of the resurrection. The paradise of God, the home of the blessed! There all tears shall be wiped from off all faces! When Christ shall come the second time, to be "admired in all them that believe," death shall be swallowed up in victory, and there shall be no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more death! A rich promise is given to us: "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." Is not this promise rich and comforting to those who love God? And the promise is found in the garden of God's word: "To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life." Paul declares: "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
May 3 was a holy day, the second day of Pentecost. No work in the factories was done on that day, colors were flying from many buildings, and the people in crowds were making their way to the churches. A great account is made throughout Europe of the holy days, and they have many of them.
At 5 P. M., I spoke to those assembled, from St. John 15:1-3. Bro. Conradi interpreted in German. The truth was to me a reality, and I felt that God indeed gave me special strength and imparted to me of his Holy Spirit while speaking. I saw before me an intelligent company, who had had but few privileges and little labor from the ministering brethren. We hope and pray that this meeting may prove a blessing to those who were present. Bro. Conradi mentioned a request that had been made for the afflicted brother, for the prayers in his behalf of those assembled who had faith. We sent up our humble petitions for the sick and afflicted one, who was losing his hold on this life. As we presented this case before the Lord, we felt the assurance of the love of God even in this affliction. We felt that God loved him, and that he would do that which would be for the best good of the suffering one and his afflicted family, and for his own name's glory. We could only leave the case in the hands of God; for he loves his suffering children, and apportions his grace to every trial.
Tuesday, May 31, about eleven o'clock, we were seated in the cars for Hamburg, on our way to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we were to hold several meetings. At Dusseldorf we changed cars, and were obliged to wait two hours in the depot. Here we had an opportunity to study human nature. The ladies came in, changed their outer wraps, and then surveyed themselves on every side, to see that their dress was faultless. Then extra touches of powder must be put upon their faces. Long they lingered before the mirror, in order to arrange their outward apparel to their satisfaction, for the purpose of appearing their best when looked upon by human eyes. I thought of the law of God, the great moral looking glass into which the sinner is to look to discover the defects of his character. If all would study the law of God--the moral standard of character--as diligently and critically as many do their outward appearance by means of the looking glass, with a purpose to correct and reform every defect of character, what transformations would most assuredly take place in them: "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
There are many who view themselves as defective in character when they look into God's moral mirror, his law; but they have heard so much of "All you have to do is to believe, only believe that Jesus has done it all, and you have nothing to do in the matter," that after venturing to look into the mirror they straightway go from it retaining all their defects, with the words on their lips, "Jesus has done it all." These are represented by the figure that James has marked out--the man beholding himself and going away and forgetting what manner of man he was. "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." James has told what is to be done: "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." Faith and works are the two oars that must be used to urge the bark against the current of worldliness, pride, and vanity; and if these are not used, the boat will drift with the current downward to perdition. God help us to take care of the inward adorning; to set the heart in order as carefully as we arrange the outward apparel.
We were glad when we could get away from the confusion, and be seated quietly in our compartment of the car which was to take us on our route to Copenhagen, to make no change of cars until we arrived at Altona, one half hour's ride beyond Hamburg. We saw, as we neared Hamburg, that there was a great fire, the flames seemingly reaching to the sky above us, lighting up everything around. It was a grand scene. We learned that the ships and warehouse were in flames from petroleum which had exploded.
The last change of cars was made at Altona, and we were not again disturbed until after three o'clock A. M., when we changed again for another car, which took us to the boat. We remained thirty minutes on the boat, and again took the cars. We rode on the island two hours, then changed for a boat again. We had a very smooth passage for about two hours, then made another change for the cars, when we were favored with a compartment to ourselves, and had no further changes to make.
The crown prince of Denmark was on the train, with his escort, in a special car. When we arrived at Copenhagen there were men dressed in special uniform of scarlet as attendants, to receive the prince, and the coachmen were dressed in scarlet throughout. The brilliantly trimmed regimentals, with flashing gold and silver and heavily plumed hats, made them conspicuous everywhere. A Brussels carpet was laid down from the car to the depot, where the prince passed through an arched door to the hack. When he passed, many hacks were waiting to escort him to the palace.
I do not remember once of reading of Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, receiving any such special honors when he was in our world. He was the Lord of glory, and yet he traveled from place to place on foot, weary and dusty and travel-stained, unrecognized and unhonored except by a little handful of loyal disciples. But he is coming again, the second time, with power and with great glory. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #44)
"When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel?" Here Samuel points out the reason for Saul's appointment to the throne of Israel. He had a humble opinion of his own capabilities, and was willing to be instructed. When the divine choice fell upon him, he was deficient in knowledge and experience, and had, with many good qualities, serious defects of character. But the Lord granted him the Holy Spirit as a guide and helper, and placed him in a position where he could develop the qualities requisite for a ruler of Israel.
Should he trust to his own strength and judgment, Saul would move impulsively, and would commit grave errors. But if he would remain humble, seeking constantly to be guided by divine wisdom, and advancing as the providence of God opened the way, he could be enabled to discharge the duties of his high position with success and honor. Under the influence of divine grace, every good quality would be gaining strength, while evil traits would as steadily lose their power.
This is the work which the Lord proposes to do for all who consecrate themselves to him. There are many whom he has called to positions in his work for the same reason that he called Saul, because they are little in their own sight, because they have a humble and teachable spirit. In his providence he places them where they may learn of him. To all who will receive instruction he will impart grace and wisdom. It is his purpose to bring them into so close connection with himself that Satan shall have no opportunity to pervert their judgment or overpower their conscience. He will reveal to them their defects of character, and bestow upon all who seek his aid, strength to correct their errors. Whatever may be man's besetting sin, whatever bitter or baleful passions struggle for the mastery, he may conquer, if he will watch and war against them in the name and strength of Israel's Helper. The children of God should cultivate a keen sensitiveness to sin. Here, as well as elsewhere, we should not despise the day of small things. It is one of Satan's most successful devices, to lead men to the commission of little sins, to blind the mind to the danger of little indulgences, little digressions from the plainly stated requirements of God. Many who would shrink with horror from some great transgression, are led to look upon sin in little matters as of trifling consequence. But those little sins eat out the life of godliness in the soul. The feet which enter upon a path diverging from the right way are tending toward the broad road that ends in death. When once a retrograde movement begins, no one can tell where it may end.
In sparing Agag, the king of Amalek, Saul led his people to feel that they might follow their own judgment instead of God's explicit command. They did not see that their own prosperity as individuals and as a nation depended upon their strict adherence to the command of Him who sees the end from the beginning. God requires us to prove our loyalty to him by unquestioning obedience. In deciding upon any course, we should not ask merely whether we can see harm to result from it, but whether it is contrary to the will of God.
We must learn to distrust self, and to rely wholly upon God for guidance and support, for a knowledge of his will, and for strength to perform it. We must be much in communion with God. Prayer in secret, prayer while the hands are engaged in labor, prayer while walking by the way, prayer in the night season, the heart's desires ever ascending to God,--this is our only safety. In this manner Enoch walked with God. In this manner our Exemplar obtained strength to tread the thorny path from Nazareth to Calvary.
Christ, the sinless One, upon whom the Holy Spirit was bestowed without measure, constantly acknowledged his dependence upon God, and sought fresh supplies from the Source of strength and wisdom. How much more should finite, erring man feel his need of help from God every hour and every moment. How carefully should he follow the Leading Hand; how carefully treasure every word that has been given for his guidance and instruction! "As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress," so should our eyes be upon the Lord our God. His commands should be received with implicit faith, and obeyed with cheerful exactness.
Self confidence is the rock upon which many have been wrecked. The secret of the Christian's strength and safety is revealed in the words of the apostle, "kept by the power of God." In all the undertakings of life, the language of the heart should be, "If the Lord will." We should humbly wait for divine instruction, never going before, or contrary to our, Heavenly Guide.
Would that we could comprehend the significance of the words, "Christ suffered, being tempted." While he was free from the taint of sin, the refined sensibilities of his holy nature rendered contact with evil unspeakably painful to him. Yet with human nature upon him, he met the arch apostate face to face, and single-handed withstood the foe of his throne. Not even by a thought could Christ be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of himself, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." The storms of temptation burst upon him, but they could not cause him to swerve from his allegiance to God.
All the followers of Christ have to meet the same malignant foe that assailed their Master. With marvelous skill he adapts his temptations to their circumstances, their temperament, their mental and moral bias, their strong passions. He is ever whispering in the ears of the children of men, as he points to worldly pleasures, gains, or honors, "All this will I give you, if you will do my bidding." We must look to Christ; we must resist as he resisted; we must pray as he prayed; we must agonize, as he agonized, if we would conquer as he conquered.
Whatever the position in which God has placed us, whatever our responsibilities or our dangers, we should remember that he has pledged himself to impart needed grace to the earnest seeker. Those who feel insufficient for their position, and yet accept it because God bids them, relying upon his power and wisdom, will go on from strength to strength. When they enter upon their work, they may have almost everything to learn; but with Christ as a teacher they will become efficient laborers. God does not intrust his work to the worldly wise; for they are too proud to learn. He chooses those who, feeling their deficiencies, seek to be guided by unerring wisdom.
Those who have learned of Christ will manifest in all their intercourse a humble, teachable spirit, ever willing to receive counsel or correction. The Lord confers upon his servants varied gifts. No one person possesses all the qualifications essential in carrying forward the work of God. Hence no one is qualified to act independently in all matters pertaining to the Lord's cause. In the body of Christ there is the same law of dependence and the same necessity for harmony of action that exists in the human body. While no one member of the church is complete in himself, all combined form a perfect whole.
The meekness and humility of Christ will be seen in his followers. The grain ready for harvest, bending under the burden of its full, ripe ears, is a fitting emblem of the Christian ripening for the heavenly garner. The more closely he resembles Jesus, and the richer and more perfect his character in the development of the Christian graces, the less disposition will he have to honor or exalt self. With the sweet singer of Israel, the language of his heart will be, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give we glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #45)
Many who are sincerely seeking for holiness of heart and purity of life seem perplexed and discouraged. They are constantly looking to themselves, and lamenting their lack of faith; and because they have no faith, they feel that they cannot claim the blessing of God. These persons mistake feeling for faith. They look above the simplicity of true faith, and thus bring great darkness upon their souls. They should turn the mind from self, to dwell upon the mercy and goodness of God and to recount his promises, and then simply believe that he will fulfill his word. We are not to trust in our faith, but in the promises of God. When we repent of our past transgressions of his law, and resolve to render obedience in the future, we should believe that God for Christ's sake accepts us, and forgives our sins.
Darkness and discouragement will sometimes come upon the soul, and threaten to overwhelm us; but we should not cast away our confidence. We must keep the eye fixed on Jesus, feeling or no feeling. We should seek to faithfully perform every known duty, and then calmly rest in the promises of God.
At times a deep sense of our unworthiness will send a thrill of terror through the soul; but this is no evidence that God has changed toward us, or we toward God. No effort should be made to rein the mind up to a certain intensity of emotion. We may not feel today the peace and joy which we felt yesterday; but we should by faith grasp the hand of Christ, and trust him as fully in the darkness as in the light.
Satan may whisper, "You are too great a sinner for Christ to save." While you acknowledge that you are indeed sinful and unworthy, you may meet the tempter with the cry, "By virtue of the atonement, I claim Christ as my Saviour. I trust not to my own merits, but to the precious blood of Jesus, which cleanses me. This moment I hang my helpless soul on Christ." The Christian life must be a life of constant, living faith. An unyielding trust, a firm reliance upon Christ, will bring peace and assurance to the soul.
Be not discouraged because your heart seems hard. Every obstacle, every internal foe, only increases your need of Christ. He came to take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. Look to him for special grace to overcome your peculiar faults. When assailed by temptation, steadfastly resist the evil promptings; say to your soul, "How can I dishonor my Redeemer? I have given myself to Christ; I cannot do the works of Satan." Cry to the dear Saviour for help to sacrifice every idol, and to put away every darling sin. Let the eye of faith see Jesus standing before the Father's throne, presenting his wounded hands as he pleads for you. Believe that strength comes to you through your precious Saviour.
By faith look upon the crowns laid up for those who shall overcome; listen to the exultant song of the redeemed, Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain and hast redeemed us to God! Endeavor to regard these scenes as real. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in his terrible conflict with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, exclaimed, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." The Saviour of the world was revealed to him as looking down from heaven upon him with the deepest interest; and the glorious light of Christ's countenance shone upon Stephen with such brightness that even his enemies saw his face shine like the face of an angel.
If we would permit our minds to dwell more upon Christ and the heavenly world, we should find a powerful stimulus and support in fighting the battles of the Lord. Pride and love of the world will lose their power as we contemplate the glories of that better land so soon to be our home. Beside the loveliness of Christ, all earthly attractions will seem of little worth.
Let none imagine that without earnest effort on their part they can obtain the assurance of God's love. When the mind has been long permitted to dwell only on earthly things, it is a difficult matter to change the habits of thought. That which the eye sees and the ear hears, too often attracts the attention and absorbs the interest. But if we would enter the city of God, and look upon Jesus in his glory, we must become accustomed to beholding him with the eye of faith here. The words and the character of Christ should be often the subject of our thoughts and of our conversation; and each day some time should be especially devoted to prayerful meditation upon these sacred themes.
Sanctification is a daily work. Let none deceive themselves with the belief that God will pardon and bless them while they are trampling upon one of his requirements. The willful commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit, and separates the soul from God. Whatever may be the ecstasies of religious feeling, Jesus cannot abide in the heart that disregards the divine law. God will honor those only who honor him.
"To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey." If we indulge anger, lust, covetousness, hatred, selfishness, or any other sin, we become servants of sin. "No man can serve two masters." If we serve sin, we cannot serve Christ. The Christian will feel the promptings of sin, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; but the Spirit striveth against the flesh, keeping up a constant warfare. Here is where Christ's help is needed. Human weakness becomes united to divine strength, and faith exclaims, "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
If we would develop a character which God can accept, we must form correct habits in our religious life. Daily prayer is as essential to growth in grace, and even to spiritual life itself, as is temporal food to physical well-being. We should accustom ourselves to often lift the thoughts to God in prayer. If the mind wanders, we must bring it back; by persevering effort, habit will finally make it easy. We cannot for one moment separate ourselves from Christ with safety. We may have his presence to attend us at every step, but only be observing the conditions which he has himself laid down.
Religion must be made the great business of life. Everything else should be held subordinate to this. All our powers of soul, body, and spirit must be engaged in the Christian warfare. We must look to Christ for strength and grace, and we shall gain the victory as surely as Jesus died for us.
We must come nearer to the cross of Christ. Penitence at the foot of the cross is the first lesson of peace we have to learn. The love of Jesus--who can comprehend it? Infinitely more tender and self-denying than a mother's love! If we would know the value of a human soul, we must look in living faith upon the cross, and thus begin the study which shall be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. The value of our time and our talents can be estimated only by the greatness of the ransom paid for our redemption. What ingratitude do we manifest toward God when we rob him of his own by withholding from him our affections and our service! Is it too much to give ourselves to Him who has sacrificed all for us? Can we choose the friendship of the world before the immortal honors which Christ proffers,--"to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne"?
Sanctification is a progressive work. The successive steps are set before us in the words of Peter: "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. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Here is a course by which we may be assured that we shall never fall. Those who are thus working upon the plan of addition in obtaining the Christian graces, have the assurance that God will work upon the plan of multiplication in granting them the gifts of his Spirit. Peter addresses those who have obtained like precious faith: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord." By divine grace, all who will may climb the shining steps from earth to heaven, and at last, "with songs and everlasting joy," enter through the gates into the city of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #47)
Our Saviour represents his requirements as a yoke, and the Christian life as one of burden bearing. Yet, contrasting these with the cruel power of Satan and the burdens imposed by sin, he declares, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
When we try to live the life of a Christian, to bear its responsibilities and perform its duties, without Christ as a helper, the yoke is galling, the burden intolerably heavy. But Jesus does not desire us to do this. He bids the weary and heavy laden, "Come unto me, . . . and I will give you rest." "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Here is revealed the secret of that rest which Christ promises to bestow. We must possess his meekness of spirit, and we shall find peace in him.
Many profess to come to Christ, while yet they cling to their own ways, which are as a painful yoke. Selfishness, love of the world, or other cherished sin, destroys their peace and joy. My fellow Christian, whatever may be your lot in life, remember that you are in the service of Christ. Whatever your burden or cross, lift it in the name of Jesus; bear it in his strength. He pronounces the yoke easy and the burden light, and I believe him. I have proved the truth of his words.
Those who are restless, impatient, dissatisfied, under the weight of care and responsibility, are seeking to carry their burden without the aid of Jesus. If he were by their side, the sunshine of his presence would scatter every cloud, the help of his strong arm would lighten every burden. The church is becoming weak for the want of consecrated members, who feel that they are not their own; that their time, their talents, their energies belong to Christ; that he has bought them with his blood, and is pleading for them in the Sanctuary above.
We cumber ourselves with needless cares and anxieties, and weigh ourselves down with heavy burdens, because we do not learn of Jesus. Many are so fearful of provoking unfriendly criticism or malicious gossip that they dare not act from principle. They dare not identify themselves with those who follow Christ fully. They desire to conform to worldly customs, and secure the approbation of worldlings. Christ gave himself for us "that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Christ's true followers are unlike the world in words, in works, and in deportment. Oh, why will not all his professed children follow him fully? Why will any bear burdens which he has not imposed?
We would be much happier and more useful, if our home life and social intercourse were governed by the meekness and simplicity of Christ. Instead of toiling for display, to excite the admiration or the envy of visitors, we should endeavor to make all around us happy by our cheerfulness, sympathy, and love. Let visitors see that we are striving to conform to the will of Christ. Let them see in us even though our lot is humble, a spirit of content and gratitude. The very atmosphere of a truly Christian home is that of peace and restfulness. Such an example will not be without effect. Right thoughts and new desires will be awakened in the heart of the most careless.
In our efforts for the comfort and happiness of guests, let us not overlook our obligations to God. The hour of prayer should not be neglected for any consideration. Do not talk and amuse yourselves till all are too weary to enjoy the season of devotion. To do this, is to present to God a lame offering. At an early hour of the evening, when we can pray unhurriedly and understandingly, we should present our supplications, and raise our voices in happy, grateful praise.
Let all who visit Christians see that the hour of prayer is the most precious, the most sacred, and the happiest hour of the day. These seasons of devotion exert a refining, elevating influence upon all who participate in them. They bring a peace and rest grateful to the spirit.
In every act of life Christians should seek to represent Christ,--seek to make his service appear attractive. Let none make religion repulsive by groans and sighs and a relation of their trials, their self-denials, and sacrifices. Do not give the lie to your profession of faith by impatience, fretfulness, and repining. Let the graces of the Spirit be manifested in kindness, meekness, forbearance, cheerfulness, and love. Let it be seen that the love of Christ is an abiding motive; that your religion is not a dress to be put off and on to suit circumstances, but a principle, calm, steady, unwavering. Alas that pride, unbelief, and selfishness, like a foul cancer, are eating out vital godliness from the heart of many a professed Christian! When judged according to their works, how many will learn, too late, that their religion was but a glittering cheat, unacknowledged by Jesus Christ.
Love to Jesus will be seen, will be felt. It cannot be hidden. It exerts a wondrous power. It makes the timid bold, the slothful diligent, the ignorant wise. It makes the stammering tongue eloquent, and rouses the dormant intellect into new life and vigor. It makes the desponding hopeful, the gloomy joyous. Love to Christ will lead its possessor to accept responsibilities for his sake, and to bear them in his strength. Love to Christ will not be dismayed by tribulation, nor turned aside from duty by reproaches. The soul that is not imbued with this love for Jesus is none of his.
Peace in Christ is of more value than all the treasures of earth. Let us seek the Lord with all our heart, let us learn of Christ to be meek and lowly, that we may find rest of soul. Let us arouse our dormant energies, and become active, earnest, fervent. The very example and deportment as well as the words of the Christian should be such as to awaken in the sinner a desire to come to the Fountain of life.
Let us open our hearts to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Let us work cheerfully, joyfully in the service of our Master. A slothful, languid professor will never secure an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. From the cross to the crown there is earnest work to be done. There is wrestling with inbred sin; there is warfare against outward wrong.
The Christian life is a battle and a march. Let us go forward, for we are striving for an immortal crown. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure. We shall triumph at last, if we do not become weary in well-doing. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #48)
A great work is committed to those who present the truth in Europe. "No branch of our work has a more important field that the Central European Mission. There are France and Germany, with their great cities and teeming population. There are Italy, Spain, and Portugal, after so many centuries of darkness, freed from Romish tyranny, and opened to the word of God--opened to receive the last message of warning to the world. There are Holland, Austria, Roumania, Turkey, Greece, and Russia, the home of millions upon millions, whose souls are as precious in the sight of God as our own, who know nothing of the special truths for this time. The population comprised within the limits of this mission alone is four times that of the United States.
A good work has already been done in these countries. There are those who have received the truth, scattered as lightbearers in almost every land. We have nearly three hundred Sabbathkeepers in Switzerland. There are little companies in France, Germany, and Italy, and two hundred souls in Russia, who are obeying God's law; and there is a church of forty members away in the far east, almost to the line of Asia. The foundation has been laid for a church in Holland. In Roumania and Corsica there are a few who are seeking to keep God's commandments, and to wait for his Son from heaven.
But how little has been done in comparison with the great work before us! Angels of God are moving upon the minds of the people, and preparing them to receive the warning. Missionaries are needed in fields that have yet been scarcely entered. New fields are constantly opening. The truth must be translated into different languages, that all nations may enjoy its pure, life giving influences. The laborers in this mission are striving to the utmost of their ability, to meet the wants of the cause. But money is needed to sustain and extend the work. The call is coming in from different countries, "Send us a minister to preach the truth." How shall we answer this call?
Our printing house at Basel needs help to carry forward its great and good work of translating and publishing books on the present truth, in the different languages of Europe. Colporteurs are meeting with encouraging success in the sale of our books. The light is thus brought to the people, while the colporter--who in many cases has been thrown out of employment by accepting the truth--is enabled to support himself, and the sales are a financial help to the office. In the days of the Reformation, monks who had left their convents, and who had no other means of support, traversed the country, selling Luther's works, which were thus rapidly circulated throughout Europe. Colportage work was one of the most efficient means of spreading the light then, and so it will prove now. But the work of translating and publishing is necessarily difficult and expensive. The office must be supplied with funds.
In the Scandinavian Mission, in the face of poverty and great difficulties, many have heard and believed the warning. There are twenty-three churches and nearly 1,000 Sabbath keepers in these countries. Nine ministers and licentiates, and about thirty colporteurs, are now in the field. It is only by self-denial and the closest economy that this has been gained. There is great need of financial help to send out laborers and publications to these Northern peoples.
The mission in London, that great city of 5,000,000 inhabitants, demands a place in our thoughts, our prayers, and our gifts. A great work must be done there, and as yet it is scarcely begun. Think of the many cities of England, Scotland, and Ireland, all speaking the same language as our own, that have never yet been entered by the truth.
There will be obstacles to retard this work. These we have had to meet wherever missions have been established. Lack of experience, imperfections, mistakes, unconsecrated influences, have had to be overcome. How often have those hindered the advancement of the cause in America! We do not expect to meet fewer difficulties in Europe. Some connected with the work in these foreign fields, as in America, become disheartened, and, following the course of the unworthy spies, bring a discouraging report. Like the discontented weaver, they are looking at the wrong side of the web. They cannot trace the plan of the Designer; to them all is confusion, and instead of waiting till they can discern the purpose of God, they hastily communicate to others their spirit of doubt and darkness.
But we have no such report to bring. After a two years' stay in Europe we see no more reason for discouragement in the state of the cause there than at its rise in the different fields in America. There we saw the Lord testing the material to be used. Some would not bear the proving of God. They would not be hewed and squared. Every stroke of the chisel, every blow of the hammer, aroused their anger and resistance. They were laid aside, and other material was brought in, to be tested in like manner. All this occasioned delay. Every fragment broken away was regretted and mourned over. Some thought that these losses would ruin the building; but, on the contrary, it was rendered stronger by the removal of these elements of weakness. The work went steadily forward. Every day made it plainer that the Lord's hand was guiding all, and that a grand purpose ran through the work from first to last. So we see the cause being established in Europe.
One of the great difficulties there is the poverty that meets us at every turn. This retards the progress of the truth, which, as in earlier ages, usually finds its first converts among the humbler classes. Yet we had a similar experience in our own country, both east and west of the Rocky Mountains. Those who first accepted this message were poor, but as they set to work in faith to accomplish what they could with their talents of ability and means, the Lord came in to help. In his providence he brought men and women into the truth who were willing-hearted; they had means, and they wanted to send the light to others. So it will be now. But the Lord would have us labor earnestly in faith till that time comes.
The word has gone forth to Europe, "Go forward." The humblest toiler for the salvation of souls is a laborer together with God, a co-worker with Christ. Angels minister unto him. As we advance in the opening path of his providence, God will continue to open the way before us. The greater the difficulties to be overcome, the greater will be the victory gained.
The progress of our foreign missions depends not alone upon a few laborers, nor even upon many, but upon all who have received the light of truth. Everyone can do something for the advancement of the work in distant lands. Our people are not half awake to the demands of the times. The voice of Providence is calling upon all who have the love of God in their hearts, to arouse to this great emergency. Never was there a time when there was so much at stake as today. Never was there a period in which greater energy and self-sacrifice were demanded.
Every dollar and every dime that we can spare is needed now, to aid in carrying the message of truth to other lands. At the holiday season much is spent by our own people upon gifts and various gratifications which are not only useless but often hurtful. Appetite is indulged, pride and self-love are fostered, and Christ is forgotten. If the money usually devoted to these objects were all brought into the mission treasury, our foreign missions would be lifted above embarrassment. Shall we not this year consecrate to God not merely a part but all our holiday gifts for the relief of his cause, which is in so great need? How can we more appropriately celebrate the coming Christmas, how better express our gratitude to God for the gift of his dear Son, than by offerings to send to all the world the tidings of his soon coming?
Did those who profess to be looking for Christ but realize how near is the end of all work for the salvation of souls, they would sacrifice their possessions as freely as did the members of the early church. "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own. . . . As many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet." Those who had money or possessions freely sacrificed them to the existing emergency. The believers had one common interest--the success of the mission intrusted to them. Their love for Christ was far greater than their love for money. They acted out their faith, and by their works testified that they accounted the souls of men of more worth than any earthly treasure. Have we not even greater reason to sacrifice than they had? Have we not far less time than they in which to accomplish our work?
For what shall we hoard up treasures? To be swept away by the flames of the last day? Shall we lay up gold and silver, to be a witness against us in the Judgment,--to eat our flesh as it were fire? Shall we cling to our possessions till they fall into the hands of our enemies? The time is coming when commandment keepers can neither buy nor sell. Of what use will houses and lands, bank stock and merchandise, be to us then? Now is the time to place our treasures where they will be eternally secure. It is time for those who have large possessions to cut down the principal, that God's work may be extended in foreign lands. "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth." That which we give to the cause of God becomes our own forever. Says Christ, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." These alone, of all that we possess, are really ours. All that we lay up on earth, we must leave at last. It is only what we give for Christ that we can take with us into the eternal world. Jesus bids us, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
The Lord does not need our offerings. We cannot enrich him by our gifts. Says the psalmist: "All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee." Yet God permits us to show our appreciation of his mercies by self-sacrificing efforts to extend the same to others. This is the only way in which it is possible for us to manifest our gratitude and love to God. He has provided no other.
Every offering, however humble, bestowed in his name and from love to him, is precious in his sight. Parents value their children's gifts, not because they are rich and costly, but for what they express of loving self-denial, of tender thoughtfulness and grateful appreciation. So does our Heavenly Father regard the gifts of his children. He sees in them a spirit of devotion and sacrifice, the expression of a grateful, loving heart; and such offerings are as fragrant incense before him.
In every effort to benefit others, we benefit ourselves. When we invest our means in the different missions, we enlist our interest and our prayers for these missions; we draw the different nationalities nearer to ourselves; our affections go out to them, and we are stimulated to greater devotion and stricter obedience to God, that we may be enabled to do others the greatest good. If we desire to have our affections set upon heavenly things, we must place our treasure in heaven. Where the treasure is, there the heart will be. What has cost us little, we have no special interest in; but that in which we invest our means claims our interest and attention, and we labor to make it a success.
God is the source of life and light and joy to the universe. Like rays of light from the sun, blessings flow out from him to all the creatures he has made. In his infinite love he has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature, and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellowmen. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those are brought nearest to their Creator who thus become participants in labors of love. He who refuses to become a "laborer together with God,"--the man who for the sake of selfish indulgence ignores the wants of his fellowmen, the miser who heaps up his treasures here,--is withholding from himself the richest blessing that God can give him.
Brethren, "ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." As we recount the numberless mercies of our God, and meditate upon his matchless love; as we behold the wonderful sacrifice of the Redeemer, may gratitude awaken in our hearts, till it shall kindle a flame of sacred love that shall flow out to souls even in far-off Europe. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 64, #49)
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing."
There is a wide difference between a pretended union and a real connection with Christ by faith. A profession of religion places men in the church, but this does not prove that they have a vital connection with the living Vine. A rule is given by which the true disciple may be distinguished from those who claim to follow Christ, but have not faith in him. The one class are fruit bearing; the other, fruitless. The one are often subjected to the pruning knife of God, that they may bring forth more fruit; the other, as withered branches, are to be severed from the living Vine.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches." Can we conceive of a more intimate relation to Christ than this? The fibers of the branch are almost identical with those of the vine. The communication of life, strength, and fruitfulness from the trunk to the branches is unobstructed and constant. The root sends its nourishment through the branch. Such is the true believer's relation to Christ. He abides in Christ, and draws his nourishment from him.
This spiritual relation can be established only by the exercise of personal faith. This faith must express on our part supreme preference, perfect reliance, entire consecration. Our will must be wholly yielded to the divine will; our feelings, desires, interests, and honor, identified with the prosperity of Christ's kingdom and the honor of his cause, we constantly receiving grace from him, and Christ accepting gratitude from us.
When this intimacy of connection and communication is formed, our sins are laid upon Christ, his righteousness is imputed to us. He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We have access to God through him; we are accepted through the Beloved. Whoever by word or deed injures a believer, thereby wounds Jesus. Whoever gives a cup of cold water to a disciple because he is a child of God, will be regarded by Christ as giving to himself.
It was when Christ was about to take leave of his disciples that he gave them the beautiful emblem of his relation to believers. He had been presenting before them the close union with himself by which they could maintain spiritual life when his visible presence should be withdrawn. To impress it upon their minds, he gave them the vine as its most striking and appropriate symbol.
The Jews had always regarded the vine as the most noble of plants, and a type of all that was powerful, excellent, and fruitful. "The vine," our Lord would seem to say, "which you prize so highly, is a symbol. I am the reality; I am the true Vine. As a nation prize the vine; as sinners you should prize me above all things earthly. The branch cannot live separated from the vine; no more can you live unless you are abiding in me."
All the followers of Christ have as deep an interest in this lesson as had the disciples who listened to his words. In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God. The separation is wide and fearful; but Christ has made provision to again connect us with himself. The power of evil is so identified with human nature that no man can overcome except by union with Christ. Through this union we receive moral and spiritual power. If we have the Spirit of Christ, we shall bring forth the fruit of righteousness--fruit that will honor and bless men, and glorify God.
The Father is the vinedresser. He skillfully and mercifully prunes every fruit bearing branch. Those who share Christ's suffering and reproach now, will share his glory hereafter. He will not be "ashamed to call them brethren." His angels minister to them. His second appearing will be as the Son of man, thus even in his glory identifying him with humanity. To those who have united themselves to him, he declares, Though a mother may forget her child, "yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. Thy walls are continually before me."
Oh, what amazing privileges are proffered us! Will we put forth most earnest efforts to form this alliance with Christ, through which alone these blessings are attained? Will we break off our sins by righteousness, and our iniquities by turning unto the Lord? Skepticism and infidelity are widespread. Christ asked the question, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" We must cherish a living, active faith. The permanence of our faith is the condition of our union.
A union with Christ by living faith is enduring; every other union must perish. Christ first chose us, paying an infinite price for our redemption; and the true believer chooses Christ as first and last, and best in everything. But this union costs us something. It is a relation of utter dependence, to be entered into by a proud being. All who form this union must feel their need of the atoning blood of Christ. They must have a change of heart. They must submit their own will to the will of God. There will be a struggle with outward and internal obstacles. There must be a painful work of detachment, as well as a work of attachment. Pride, selfishness, vanity, worldliness--sin in all its forms--must be overcome, if we would enter into a union with Christ. The reason why many find the Christian life so deplorably hard, why they are so fickle, so variable, is, they try to attach themselves to Christ without first detaching themselves from these cherished idols.
After the union with Christ has been formed, it can be preserved only by earnest prayer and untiring effort. We must resist, we must deny, we must conquer self. Through the grace of Christ, by courage, by faith, by watchfulness, we may gain the victory.
Believers become one in Christ; but one branch cannot be sustained by another. The nourishment must be obtained through the vital connection with the Vine. We must feel our utter dependence on Christ. We must live by faith on the Son of God. That is the meaning of the injunction, "Abide in me." The life we live in the flesh is not to the will of men, not to please our Lord's enemies, but to serve and honor Him who loved us, and gave himself for us. A mere assent to this union, while the affections are not detached from the world, its pleasures and its dissipations, only emboldens the heart in disobedience.
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." He feels that he is the purchase of the blood of Christ, and bound by the most solemn vows to glorify God. The love of sin and the love of self are subdued in him. He daily asks, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?" "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The true Christian will never complain that the yoke of Christ is galling to the neck. He accounts the service of Jesus the truest freedom. The law of God is his delight. Instead of seeking to bring down the divine commands, to accord with his deficiencies, he is constantly striving to rise to the level of their perfection.
God has made ample provision that we may stand perfect in his grace, wanting in nothing, waiting for the appearing of our Lord. Are you ready? Have you the wedding garment on? That garment will never cover deceit, impurity, corruption, or hypocrisy. The eye of God is upon you. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We may conceal our sins from the eyes of men, but we can hide nothing from our Maker.
Such experience must be ours if we would be prepared to stand in the day of God. Now, while probation lingers, while Mercy's voice is still heard, is the time for us to put away our sins. While moral darkness covers the earth like a funeral pall, the light of God's standard bearers must shine the more brightly, showing the contrast between Heaven's light and Satan's darkness.
To talk of religious things in a casual way, to pray for spiritual blessings without real soul-hunger and living faith avails little. The wondering crowd that pressed close about Christ, realized no vital power from the contact. But when the poor, suffering woman, in her great need, put forth her hand and touched the hem of Jesus' garment, she felt the healing virtue. Hers was the touch of faith. Christ recognized that touch, and he determined there to give a lesson for all his followers to the close of time. He knew that virtue had gone out of him, and turning about in the throng he said, "Who touched my clothes?" Surprised at such a question, his disciples answered, "Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?"
Jesus fixed his eyes upon her who had done this. She was filled with fear. Great joy was hers; but had she overstepped her duty? Knowing what was done in her, she came trembling, and fell at his feet, and told him all the truth. Christ did not reproach her. He gently said, "Go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."
Here was distinguished the casual contact from the touch of faith. Prayer and preaching, without the exercise of living faith in God, will be in vain. But the touch of faith opens to us the divine treasure house of power and wisdom; and thus, through instruments of clay, God accomplishes the wonders of his grace.
This living faith is our great need today. We must know that Jesus is indeed ours; that his Spirit is purifying and refining our hearts. If the followers of Christ had genuine faith, with meekness and love, what a work they might accomplish! What fruit would be seen to the glory of God! By Mrs. E. G. White.