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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1889
(Vol. 66, #1)
We feel deeply over the present state of the church whose members have long possessed a knowledge of those events which are to transpire near the close of time in fulfillment of prophetic history. Christ is coming in power and great glory, and the dead are to be "judged out of those things which are written in the books, according to their works." The One who has stood as our intercessor; who hears all penitential prayers and confessions; who is represented with a rainbow, the symbol of grace and love, encircling his head, is soon to cease his work in the heavenly sanctuary. Grace and mercy will then descend from the throne, and justice will take their place. He for whom his people have looked will assume his right,--the office of Supreme Judge. "The Father . . . hath committed all judgment unto the Son. . . . And he hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." It was he, says Peter, who was ordained to "judge the quick [the living] and the dead." "He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained."
The faith and patience of those who have waited long, have been sorely tried. "Hope deferred has made the heart sick;" and the cry has come up before God, "Lord, how long?" But now the signs are fulfilling,--nation rising against nation, startling calamities by land and by sea, famine, pestilence, fearful storms, sweeping floods, and great conflagrations. All these testify that we are approaching the grand consummation. The cry going up to God from the waiting ones, will not be in vain. The response will come, "It is done." "He which is filthy, let him be filthy still; . . . he that is holy, let him be holy still." Can the church contemplate this hour with calm indifference?
The crisis is now upon us. The battle is to be waged between the Christianity of the Bible and the Christianity of human tradition. Is there not a criminal neglect in our present sleepy condition? There must be a decided advance movement among us. We must show to the world that we recognize, in the events that are now taking place in connection with the National Reform movement, the fulfillment of prophecy. That which we have, for the last thirty or forty years, proclaimed would come, is now here; and the trumpet of every watchman upon the walls of Zion should raise the alarm.
Prophecy represents Protestantism as having lamblike horns, but speaking like a dragon. Already we are beginning to hear the voice of the dragon. There is a satanic force propelling the Sunday movement, but it is concealed. Even the men who are engaged in the work, are themselves blinded to the results which will follow their movement. Let not the commandment-keeping people of God be silent at this time, as though we gracefully accepted the situation. There is the prospect before us, of waging a continuous war, at the risk of imprisonment, of losing property and even life itself, to defend the law of God, which is being made void by the laws of men. This Bible text will be quoted to us, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God."
When the disciples preached Christ and him crucified, after his resurrection, the authorities commanded them not to speak any more nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." They continued to preach Jesus and him crucified, and afterward raised from the dead. The sick were healed, and thousands were added to the church. "Then the high priest rose up, and all that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison."
But the God of heaven the mighty Ruler of the universe, took this matter into his own hands; for men were warring against his work. He showed them plainly that there is a ruler above man, whose authority must be respected. The Lord sent his angel by night to open the prison doors; and he brought forth these men whom God had commissioned to do his work. Thus we see that these rulers were not in harmony with God's word. Had they taken him into their counsel, they would not have commanded the disciples to do contrary to his will. The rulers said, "Speak not at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus;" but the heavenly messenger sent by God, said, "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."
Those who shall seek to compel men to observe an institution of the papacy, and trample upon God's authority, are doing a work similar to that of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in the days of the apostles. When the laws of earthly rulers are brought into opposition to the laws of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, then those who are God's loyal subjects will be true to him.
The National Reform movement, that the world and the church have linked hands to bring about, will manifest the same oppression, haughtiness, arrogance, and intolerance which have prevailed in past ages. The powers of human councils then assumed the prerogatives of Deity, crushing under their despotic will, liberty of conscience and the right of individual responsibility; and imprisonment, exile, and death followed for all who opposed their dictates.
Many will plead that there is no prospect that popery will ever be revived. If it shall regain its lost ascendancy, it will be by Protestantism's giving it the right hand of fellowship. If it shall be legislated into power by the concessions of time-serving men, the fires of persecution will be rekindled against those who will not sacrifice conscience and the truth for the errors of the papacy. Once let the minds of the Christian world be turned away from God; let his law be dishonored and his holy day trampled upon, and they will be ready to take any step where Satan may lead the way.
Some urge that the Catholic religion is not what it once was; that the principles to which Protestants could not concede, and indignantly rose up to war against, were held by Catholics in the days of their ignorance and barbarism. They say that the present high mental development of the people would never allow them to adopt the plan of action carried out in the past,--compelling the conscience upon religious subjects. But there is nothing in the Scriptures to assure us against the reinstatement of popery. Protestants today are a self-sufficient, world-loving people; but they must have some religion, and prefer that consisting of forms and outward display, rather than the simplicity of the true religion of Jesus Christ. They are too wise in their own conceit to seek God for counsel and direction,--to open the Guide Book which points them to the only way that leads to heaven. They close their hearts to Jesus in his humiliation, self-denial, and self-sacrifice, and open the door to the delusions of Satan.
While the Protestant world is, by her attitude, making concessions to Rome, we should arouse to comprehend the situation, and view the contest before us in its true bearings. While men have slept, Satan has been stealthily sowing the tares. Let the watchmen now lift up their voice like a trumpet, and give the message which is present truth for this time. Let them know where we are in prophetic history, that the spirit of true Protestantism may awaken all the world to a sense of the value of the privileges of religious liberty so long enjoyed.
This nation has been highly favored of God. It has been the great center of religious light and liberty. O, do not sleep now, and in your inactivity feel that you are doing the will of God! The experience of God's commandment-keeping people now should correspond with the events that are crowding upon us.
It should be the business of all the righteous in the land, as they see signs of the approach of peril, to arouse to action, and not sit in calm expectation of ruin, comforting themselves with the belief that this work must go on, because prophecy has foretold it, and that the Lord will shelter his people in the day of trial. Effectual, fervent prayers should be ascending to Heaven, that this calamity may be deferred; for we are not ready to meet it.
Every passing hour now is one of activity in the heavenly courts, to make ready a people upon the earth to act a part in the great scenes that are soon to open upon us. These transient moments, that seem of so little value to us, are weighty with eternal interests. They are molding the destiny of souls for everlasting life or everlasting death. The words we utter today in the ears of the people, the works we are doing, the spirit of the message we are bearing, will be to human souls the savor of life unto life or of death unto death. We must be washing our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. If we would be saints above, we must first be saints below.
We have lost much time in inaction, because we have not realized the time in which we are living. This we deplore, and would humble our souls before God, pleading with him for pardon for sleeping at our post of duty, and allowing the enemy to gain the advantage over us. Many have chosen to do nothing, when they should have been diligent to repulse the enemy. Let your services now be dedicated to God. Gird on the armor for vigorous work, saying, "Here am I, Lord, send me."
It is essential that we be much in prayer to God, that his voice and his power may be manifested in behalf of his people, and that the angels may hold the four winds until the truth is more fully proclaimed, and the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. God is not pleased with the attitude of his people. Satan is taking the world captive, and the sentinels for God and the truth are letting him do it. "Watch then, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." Arouse, and come to the front. Be stanch to defend your religious liberty.
Many of our people are registered in the books of heaven as slothful servants. They have buried their talents of money and capability in the world, and the work they should have done has been left undone. Some to whom the Lord has intrusted means, have been ease-lovers, and have not done their duty in the fear and love of God. Many have left the smaller churches, to unite with larger ones, where they carry no burden of responsibility, and are only in the way. Such lose their spirituality and vital force, because they do comparatively nothing for the truth. What account will these have to give to the Master when he shall say, "Give account of thy stewardship"?
We are not ready for this great issue to which the enforcement of the Sunday law will bring us. Let the members of our churches become missionaries for the Master; let them not linger in ease and indifference; but let them go forth to work for God. Their spiritual muscles have been nearly palsied with inaction. Go without the camp, bearing the reproach for Christ and the truth. Work today in the Lord's vineyard. Go out into the highways and hedges, and stir up the people to investigate the truth. Woe to all who profess to walk in the light, yet who are at ease in Zion. They absorb the God-given rays of righteousness, but do not diffuse the light to others. The parable of the faithless servant who hid his Lord's money, condemns them, and they are classed among those who refuse to be co-laborers with Jesus Christ, selfishly caring for their own ease, and leaving those for whom Christ has died, to perish without the knowledge of the truth which God has graciously given to them. Those who have been the receivers of spiritual light, may become the receptacles of darkness, to whom the words of Christ are applicable, "If therefore the light which is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." May this statement be true of God's people, to whom he has committed the sacred trust of the knowledge of his law. "Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; for when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them." Just when many who have had light and evidence are saying, "Where is the promise of his coming?" and declaring that all things continue as they were from the beginning, the terrible realities of the day of God will burst upon them. Marvelous beyond expression is the blindness of the people of this generation.
Every true child of God should now be inquiring, "What wouldst thou have me to do? Brethren, for Christ's sake, do something, and do it now. Satanic influences are all around us, to be met and resisted. The tares are mingled with the wheat, error with truth, coldness with zeal, darkness with light. There must be a returning to our first love. We must battle nobly with tribulation and danger, in the midst of trials, tests, and provings of God. We must be rich in faith and good works. The message to the Laodicean church is applicable to those who have been made the repository of rich truth. This church is distinguished in prophecy by its great profession of advanced light; yet it was filled with spiritual pride and lukewarmness in religion. They had a religious theory, but were greatly lacking in moral power and holiness. They are pronounced wretched, poor, blind, and naked. O that our people would realize the danger, and heed the counsel of the True Witness, "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."
Will we now, who have such great light, make some sacrifice for Jesus, who for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich? We must arouse, and through piety and earnest work for the Master, partake of his spirit of love for souls, of faith in God, that he may work with us, by us, and through us. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #2)
Water is necessary to life, and Christ uses it as an emblem of salvation. Let God withhold water from our earth, even for a little time, and what a state of wretchedness would result. A wild cry of indescribable woe would come from the suffering inhabitants. How much more terrible would be the result, if the light of truth, which is essential to the health and life of the soul, were withheld! Many in this world of mortality are perishing for the water of life. The loss of the natural life is not so lamentable; but the loss of that life which is eternal, which measures with the life of God, is terrible to contemplate; this is an eternal loss. Then why is there so great indifference? Why are those who have a knowledge of Jesus Christ resting at ease?
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if a man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." "Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them. Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" Now mark the explanation of this statement clothed in such mystery: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
May these words be carefully pondered, for they are of deep import. First, we can have no living connection with Christ unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood. We are to come into as close relationship to Christ as the branches bear to the vine; for as the sap, flowing through the parent stalk, is taken up by the branches, and nourishes them, so every word that proceeds from God gives life to the child of God. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." All who are doers of the word will be one with Christ, and will walk with God, as did Enoch.
Christ has identified his interests with those of suffering humanity; and he has shown how much he estimates the worth of the soul, in that he left all the glory and honor he had enjoyed in heaven, and for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He came to our world to suffer reproach, mockery, rejection, and crucifixion, that he might bring salvation within the reach of all,--the rich and the poor, the high and the low. What, I ask you, are we who have been so highly favored by the Son of God, doing toward accomplishing the work left us to do,--that of bringing the light to others, that they may have eternal life? What are we doing to save our fellowmen? The Saviour declares, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Without Christ the soul is "dead in trespasses and sins," and unless it shall become one with Christ, and be quickened by the grace of God, it must be lost. It is important for each individual to know that he is abiding in Christ. If we are indeed in Christ, we shall have a deep, settled purpose to do all that is in our power to reveal the truth to those who are far off, and to those who are near. Christ says to his followers, "Ye are the light of the world." Having a knowledge of the truth ourselves, we must practice its principles, or it will be only a curse to sink us deeper in perdition. We must not only be prayerful, and anxious to know what is right, but we must love to do the right.
God is life, and love, and light. The gospel of truth, emanating from God, must be appropriated by his followers, as the branch appropriates the nourishment in the sap flowing from the true vine. The mind and heart will then be, not only enlightened, but cleansed and purified. All who are abiding in Christ will do the work of Christ. The earnest invitation comes down along the lines to our time, "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely;" and it embraces all,--young and old, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, bond and free.
What are we doing to proclaim Christ to the world? What sacrifices are we making to second his efforts? Who is putting forth every effort to bring the light of truth to others, that they may be enriched by its imperishable treasure? Millions of human beings are perishing for the water of life; and what excuse will many have to give in the judgment for their love of ease and amusement, and for indulging in self-gratification? They put forth no personal effort, neither do they give of the money which the Lord has intrusted to their keeping for the very purpose of blessing their fellowmen and bringing salvation to the doors of those who are ignorant of truth and righteousness. A free gospel, and yet bound away from hungering souls for want of money and self-denying, self-sacrificing workers! The Rock of salvation was smitten for you to drink. For Christ's sake, drink, and he will be in you a well of water, springing up into everlasting life. If you drink, and your soul is refreshed, you will want others to drink, that they may be refreshed. Your hearts will be softened, your souls invigorated.
The world and the churches are breaking God's law, and the warning must be given, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation." With such a curse hanging over the transgressors of God's holy Sabbath, should we not show greater earnestness, greater zeal? Why are we so indifferent, so selfish, so engrossed in temporal interests? Is our interest separated from Jesus? Has the truth become too pointed, too close in its application to our souls; and like the disciples of Christ who were offended, have we turned away to the beggarly elements of the world? We spend money for selfish purposes, and gratify our own desires, while souls are dying without a knowledge of Jesus and the truth. How long shall this continue?
All should have a living faith,--a faith which works by love, and purifies the soul. Men and women are ready to do anything to indulge self, but how little are they willing to do for Jesus, and for their fellowmen who are perishing for the want of the truth! Claim not to be a member of the royal family unless you can show your holy pedigree,--that you are eating Christ's flesh and drinking his blood, and are a partaker of the divine nature. Let us see what Jesus, our Redeemer, has said: "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothed the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek); for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
"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; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching; verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed be those servants. And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."
Has not the time come when we should begin to cut down our possessions? May God help you who can do something now to make an investment in the bank of heaven. We do not ask a loan, but a freewill offering,--a return to the Master of his own goods which he has lent you. If you love God supremely, and your neighbor as yourself, we believe you will give tangible proofs of the same in freewill offerings for our mission work. There are souls to be saved, and may you be co-workers with Jesus Christ in saving these souls for whom Christ has given his life. The Lord will bless you in the good fruit you may bear to his glory. May the same Holy Spirit which inspired the Bible take possession of your hearts, leading you to love his word, which is Spirit and life. May it open your eyes to discover the things of the Spirit of God. The reason there is so much dwarfed religion today is because people have not brought practical self-denial and self-sacrifice into their lives. We must needs be stimulated by calling to mind the life of the martyrs and holy men of God, who appreciated the truth above gold, silver, and earthly possessions, and even above life itself. They had vigorous faith and piety, unbending principle, for they were eating daily of Christ's flesh, and drinking his blood. They read the word of God; they meditated upon it, and believed it. They obeyed that word, and were therefore practical Christians. Such will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant," from the lips of the Master. Our nourishment must be drawn from the Bible, and such sustenance will be as enduring as eternity. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #7)
The revival services held during the week of prayer and since that time have accomplished a good work in the Battle Creek church. Elds. A. T. Jones, J. O. Corliss, and others took an active part in conducting the meetings. The principal topic dwelt upon was justification by faith, and this truth came as meat in due season to the people of God. The living oracles of God were presented in new and precious light. The Holy Spirit, working through human agencies, revealed the deep significance of long-known truths relating to the new and startling movements in the development of the Religious Amendment to the Constitution. This made the meetings of more than usual interest as the application of prophecy was plainly made to our own time. The Lord worked with the efforts of his servants, and made his work effective.
Through all Scripture, in both the Old and the New Testaments, Christ himself speaks; for he is the Word of God; and he who communicates his word is only the instrument of his power. There must be the cooperation of the divine with the human, or the ministry of the word will be powerless. Said Christ, "Without me, ye can do nothing." The truth as it is in Jesus, accompanied by divine energy, has been brought before the people, and we have reason to praise God that it has been with marked effect upon the church. The work of deep heart-searching has been gradually going forward. Many have sought the Lord with confession of sins and contrition of soul, and have been blessed and made joyful by the God of their salvation. Those who have hitherto been almost destitute of faith have discerned its simplicity, and have been enabled to lay hold of the promises of God. They could truly say, with the prophet, "The hand of our God is upon all them . . . that seek him;--but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this, and he was entreated of us." The prophet trusted not in man, but in God alone, and he received help. So it has been with the church. Their offerings were accepted, their faith was directed to Christ, our Righteousness, and the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, has been revealed to their souls. Personal efforts have been made to reach those who were backslidden and enshrouded in darkness. But while many have found light and peace, there are still others in this large church who need a deep work of grace wrought in their hearts.
Meetings were held in the College which were intensely interesting. The Spirit of the Lord wrought upon hearts, and there was a precious work done in the conversion of souls. There has been no excitement felt or manifested. The work has been accomplished by the deep movings of the Spirit of God, and men have moved intelligently and in faith. The manner in which God works is always determined by the necessities of the case. The Spirit of the Lord, with its still, small voice, invites sinners to come to Christ, saying, "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?" "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Divine wisdom suggests ways and means of reaching the conscience and the understanding. Precious facts in the history of revealed truth and in Christian experience were presented, and decisions were fully made on the Lord's side. Sinners were led to behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. The Christian life, which had before seemed to them undesirable and full of inconsistencies, now appeared in its true light, in remarkable symmetry and beauty. He who had been to them as a root out of dry ground, without form or comeliness, became "the chiefest among ten thousand," and the one altogether lovely.
All heaven is interested in the salvation of souls. As one after another of these students of Battle Creek College, hitherto ignorant of the truth and of the saving grace of God, espoused the cause of Christ, what joy was there in the heavenly courts! As they gave expression to their hope in Christ, it was not surprising that joy and gratitude to God were expressed by the workers.
Meetings were held in the morning at half-past five in the Sanitarium Hospital. I had much freedom in speaking to the workers from the various departments of the Sanitarium. From morning to morning, the social meetings increased in interest, and many precious testimonies were borne, expressing the joy that souls had found in believing in Jesus. There were many whose minds had been clouded with doubt, but the light received from the explanation of Scripture encouraged their faith, while the truth was revealed to their minds and hearts in a light in which they had never before seen it. They also had clearer views of the mercy, goodness, and love of God, and realized something of how dishonoring to their Maker was their unbelief. These meetings were protracted for the period of three weeks, and we deeply regretted that they could not have been longer continued.
The constant and diligent work which must be faithfully performed in the Sanitarium, makes it difficult to give extended time to meetings. The attendance and treatment of invalids require constant vigilance. But I thank the Lord for the moral and religious influence that is felt in the Sanitarium. I thank God for the good work done in the Sabbath school, the missionary meetings, and in the regular religious services for patients and helpers. Those who bear weighty responsibilities acted an interested part in the services. There are many who become interested in the truth at the institution, and many are here converted to God. Here is a broad missionary field, and a most thorough missionary work can be accomplished by wise and well-directed effort. If all who have a knowledge of the truth will daily put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and by a well-ordered life and godly conversation correctly represent what they claim to believe, a work may be accomplished in the salvation of souls that will make Heaven rejoice. God forbid that anyone connected with this institution should be actuated in the smallest degree by selfish, worldly motives. The gospel of Christ will admit of no compromise. In the Sanitarium the people of God are brought into close connection with the people of the world; but the Lord requires his people to keep themselves unspotted from the world. He wants them to shine as lights in the midst of men. The Lord, in his providence, will yet cause the truth of his word to shine in the courts of kings, even going forth from this institution. The principles of divine truth are to be revealed in such a way as to affect the philosophy and the customs of men, both in society and in family life, and have a molding influence on individual character. To be the light of the world means more than many suppose. The receivers of the word of God are the active instruments in diffusing light to others. Those who go forth with a knowledge of how to treat the sick, and of the principles of temperance, in eating, drinking, and dressing, many not only do a work to relieve physical suffering, but also lead souls to the Great Physician for healing. This is what Christ meant when he said, "Ye are the light of the world." The broad commission of revealing Christ to the world is given to every Christian, and none are to refuse to shine.
Meetings were held with the workers of the publishing house from twelve to one o'clock daily. I had the privilege of speaking to the workers here, as the Lord gave me utterance, and these seasons were refreshing to my soul. Some time was devoted to social meeting. Many good testimonies were borne, and it made my heart glad to see those who had been connected with the publishing work for a period of thirty years, rejoice as young converts rejoice in their first love. They expressed their gladness and gratitude of heart for the sermons that had been preached by Bro. A. T. Jones; they saw the truth, goodness, mercy, and love of God as they never before had seen it. They humbled their hearts, confessed their sins, and removed everything that had separated their souls from God, and the Lord had put a new song into their mouth, even praises unto his name. It was manifest that a renovation had taken place; for they expressed their determination of soul to work earnestly to counteract the evil influence they had exerted in the past. There were many who testified that they were free in the Lord,--not free from temptations; for they had these to contend with every day,--but they believed that their sins were forgiven. O, how we long to have every soul come out into the liberty of the sons of God! Will any of these who have tasted of the Bread of Life every loathe the manna that has been so sweet to their souls at these meetings? Thank God that everyone may have the privilege of gathering according to his wants. Jesus dispenses his gifts liberally. May the good work begun in the Battle Creek church be carried onward and upward till every soul shall be consecrated, purified, refined, and fitted for the society of heavenly angels! By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #8)
A decided advancement in spirituality, piety, charity, and activity, has been made as the result of the special meetings in the Battle Creek church. Discourses were preached on the sin of robbing God in tithes and offerings. The prophet exclaims, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?--In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land."
Many confessed that they had not paid tithes for years; and we know that God cannot bless those who are robbing him, and that the church must suffer in consequence of the sins of its individual members. There are a large number of names on our church books; and if all would be prompt in paying an honest tithe to the Lord, which is his portion, the treasury would not lack for means. From all countries and tongues and peoples is heard the Macedonian cry, "Come over and help us." There are openings for the truth in every land. Those who are not of our faith are calling for the living preacher. Our publications are doing a good work, but the people say, "We want the living speaker to teach us the truth more fully." The mission field is as broad as the world, and yet the work is bound by those who are not giving to the Lord his own portion, designed to be used in just this kind of work. The withholding of means that is due to God places barriers in the way of accomplishing work that should be done by those who have been enlightened by the truth. As the sin of robbing God was presented, the people received clearer views of their duty and privilege in this matter. One brother said that for two years he had not paid his tithes, and he was in despair; but as he confessed his sin, he began to gather hope. "What shall I do?" he asked. I said, "Give your note to the treasurer of the church; that will be business-like." He thought that was a rather strange request; but he sat down, and began to write, "For value received, I promise to pay--" He looked up, as if to say, Is that the proper form in which to write out a note to the Lord? "Yes," he continued, "for value received. Have I not been receiving the blessings of God day after day? Have not the angels guarded me? Has not the Lord blessed me with all spiritual and temporal blessings? For value received, I promise to pay the sum of $571.50 to the church treasurer." After doing all he could do on his part, he was a happy man. In a few days he took up his note, and paid his tithe into the treasury. He had also made a Christmas donation of $125. Another brother gave a note for $1,000, expecting to meet it in a few weeks; and another gave a note for $300.
Robbing God involves the most serious consequences. The soul is placed in peril when this is done; for the blessing of God is withdrawn. About $2,000 was raised to restore tithes and offerings that have been withheld in the past. It has been proposed that these long-withheld tithes and offerings be devoted to the European missions. Nearly $6,000, reckoning the Christmas offerings, was thus raised for the foreign mission work. The sympathies of God's people should be aroused in every church throughout our land, and there should be unselfish action to meet the necessities of different mission fields. Men should testify to their interest in the cause of God by giving of their substance. If such an interest were manifested, the bond of Christian brotherhood would exist and increase in strength between all the members of Christ's family. This work of faithfully bringing in all the tithes, that there may be meat in the house of God, would supply laborers for both home and foreign fields. Although books and publications upon present truth are pouring out their treasures of knowledge to all parts of the world, yet missionary posts must be established at different points. The living preacher must proclaim the words of life and salvation. There are open fields inviting workers to enter. The harvest is ripe, and the earnest Macedonian cry for laborers is heard from every part of the world. We have no great men to send; but there are many single-hearted sons and daughters of God who will take hold of the work at any place, and God will give them wisdom, if they are meek and lowly followers of Jesus.
The Lord came very near to his people on the Sabbath of Jan. 5. The blessing of the Lord rested upon me in a large measure as I spoke to the people. I know that the hearers were enlightened by the Spirit of God. We all felt the softening, subduing influence of his grace upon our hearts. It remains to be seen if those who have been blessed of God in the bestowal of the richness of his grace, will be like the nine lepers who were not found giving glory to God. Will the number be in proportion as of one to ten, of those who will return to praise and glorify his name? How much more joy would there be in heaven if with pen and voice of grateful acknowledgment the proportion might be reversed! How much more rejoicing would there be in heaven if all those who have received the marked evidences of God's compassionate love would respond with thanksgiving, making it evident that they have not received the grace of God in vain!
A certain old soldier of the cross of Christ, who had trained his heart to praise God, had always a testimony full of rejoicing and thanksgiving. His store of grace was increased as he rendered thanks to God. So it may be with us all. How readily do we express our sorrow, pouring into sympathizing ears our griefs and woes! How easily do we gather the clouds of darkness and discouragement about our souls, and shadow the pathway of others by mourning and complaining! Why should we not change this habit, and let offerings of gratitude flow forth from a full fountain of love to God? Why should we not have hearts to appreciate the goodness and loving-kindness of our Heavenly Father? How does God look upon those who have no acknowledgment to make of the visitation of his grace; who reflect no glory to the beneficent Giver of all good?
Have we not fasted and prayed and afflicted our souls over the backslidden condition of the church? Has the Lord heard your prayers in Battle Creek? Has the light and glory of God arisen upon you? Then arise and shine, showing forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. If you are grateful, if Christ has removed your sins as a thick cloud, raise your voice in thanksgiving, and tell of his goodness, and let other churches be encouraged by the good news of the work among us. We have so long educated our souls to sigh and complain and groan and murmur, that we feel little obligation to magnify the Lord of hosts when he gives us the light and freedom of his Spirit.
A large congregation assembled in the Tabernacle on the occasion referred to, and the results of the good work that had been in progress were made manifest. The gospel of Christ was not only heard, but the hearers of the word became doers also. There were one hundred and eighty-five willing testimonies borne in this meeting, and many said it was the best social meeting they had ever attended in the Tabernacle. There was a general conviction of the sin of unbelief, and of the sin of neglecting to improve the talents that God had given to his people.
Christ has said, "Ye shall be witnesses unto me." You are to hold forth the word of life, to let your light so shine before men that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father who is in heaven. The confession of the church, the declaration of the evidences of God's truth, love, faithfulness, and power, are chosen agencies of heaven to reveal Christ's pardoning love to the world. The testimonies of the people of God, when impressed by his Spirit, convict men of the sin of neglecting so great salvation. While men who are converted to God acknowledge his power through patriarchs and prophets, they have a more interesting testimony to bear concerning the miracles of the grace of Christ, the ever-living Saviour, in their present and personal experiences. These precious acknowledgments of the goodness, forbearance, and love of God, when accompanied by a consistent life, carry with them an irresistible power, that results in the salvation of souls. Says the apostle, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
Every important truth received into the heart must find expression in the life. It is in proportion to the reception of the love of Christ that men desire to proclaim its power to others; and the very act of proclaiming it, deepens and intensifies its value to their own souls. Those whose souls are full of the love of Christ, are full of eagerness to make disclosures of the comfort, hope, and peace that pervade their hearts. They feel as did Paul when he said, "Unto me, which am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known to the church, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The churches which have been made sensible of the deep movings of the Spirit of God, have reached an important point in their experience. The Lord has manifested his willingness to bless those who will seek him with undivided hearts. The work of salvation cannot go forward without the cooperation of the human and the divine. The conditions of progress are plainly marked out in the word of God. You are to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;" and then "it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure." Those who have been made partakers of Christ's love, have been placed under new obligations to God and man, and have been set apart for the work of saving souls. They are to wear Christ's armor, and fight the battles of the Lord. Let every soul who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, look their duties in the face. They are to confess Christ before the world. They are to bring the great truths which they have received before their fellowmen; for God has made them the depositaries of his light and truth. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, and we are laborers together with him. Christ was the faithful shepherd that was willing to leave the ninety and nine and go into the desert to seek and save the one lost sheep.
Though years have rolled into eternity since many first heard the truth, there are those who have never drank of the fountain of living waters, and therefore they cannot intelligently lead others to the fountain. It is for this very class who are feeding on husks, that Jesus feels the tenderest interest and sympathy. Over one sinner that repenteth there is greater joy than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance. The work of every church member in our land is to seek and to save that which was lost.
"Let the lower lights be burning." Let the individual members of the church take up their appointed work of diffusing as well as receiving light. Not one is excusable in being an idler in the Lord's vineyard. Additional light has been received by the Battle Creek church; but in order to retain this light, and to have it increase, it will be essential to recognize your responsibility before God. We cannot mark out a precise, rigid, iron-clad rule which you must follow in your missionary efforts. If you seek wisdom of God, asking in faith, nothing wavering, it shall be given, and given liberally. In working for others, you will be constantly strengthening yourself, and you may become polished instruments in the hands of God for disseminating the truth. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #9)
I feel grateful to God for his great mercy and love toward us, and I desire to be able to comprehend more and more of the character of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we think of what he has done for us, how can we ever doubt him? How can we resist his pleadings and his goodness? Why is it that we have shown such indifference and coldness as we have in the past? I am so anxious that all should drink in the mercy and the love of Jesus. The more we talk of his love and power, the more we shall have to tell of his tender compassion and truth.
All heaven has been looking with intense interest upon those who claim to be God's commandment-keeping people. Here are the people who ought to be able to claim all the rich promises of God; who ought to be going on from glory to glory and from strength to strength; who ought to be in a position to reflect glory to God in the works that they do. Jesus has said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
We have received the rich blessing of God; but we must not stop here. We are to catch more and more the divine rays of light from heaven. We are to stand just where we can receive the light and reflect it, in its glory, upon the pathway of others. There has never been a time when we could feel more courage and confidence in the work than at the present time. There are many in our world who do not keep the commandments of God, nor make any profession of so doing, and yet they claim all his blessings. They are willing to accept and appropriate his promises, without heeding the conditions upon which they are based. They have no right to the blessings they claim. But why should not those who are keeping his commandments lay hold of the promises that have been given to the children of God? We can see Christ's righteousness in the law. In the cross of Calvary, "mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." This is the blending that there should be in our work. Truth and righteousness must be presented with the love of God as it was manifested in Jesus. What purity will then be seen! What a cleansing of every moral defilement will be shown to be necessary! Then, when this is done, the stubbornness of the will which has kept so many away from the light, as they behold the preciousness of the Redeemer, his mercy and pity, will all be melted away from their souls. Every one of us must fall on the Rock and be broken. Will there be one who will retain his stubbornness? Will there be one who will cling to his self-righteousness? Will there be one who will not catch sight of the preciousness of Christ? Is there a heart here that will not be subdued by the love of Jesus? Will any retain one particle of self-esteem?
We need to come still closer to God. After Moses had been assured that his request was answered, and that God would go up with him, he pleaded still for greater blessings. "Show me thy glory," was his prayer. And God listened to that mighty man of faith, and he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee; and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. . . . And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock; and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by." "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth."
Why is it that our hearts have been so insensible to the love of God? Why have we had so hard a judgment of our Heavenly Father? From the light that God has given me, I know that Satan has misrepresented our God in every possible way. He has cast his hellish shadow athwart our pathway, that we might not discern our God as a God of mercy, compassion, and truth. This is why the iron has entered into our souls. Then we have talked of the darkness that the evil one has cast upon us, and we have bemoaned our condition; and in so doing, we have only spread the shadow over other souls, and that which has injured us was an injury to them. As we have uttered our words of unbelief, others have been enshrouded in darkness and doubt. We cannot afford to do this work. We thus put our kind Heavenly Father in a false light. All this should change. We must gather up the rays of divine truth, and let our light shine upon the darkened pathway of others. Heaven's light shines for those who will follow Christ, the light of the world. He says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
What kind of recommendation do you give to the world of the religion of Christ, if you go repining and complaining, and filled with sorrow? Those who keep the commandments of God should make it manifest that the truth is sanctifying the soul, refining and purifying the thoughts, and elevating the character and life. Christ has died that the moral image of God might be restored in our souls, and might be reflected to those around us. We need to drink deeper and deeper of the fountain of life. I hope that not a soul will be satisfied without making thorough work for eternity; and from this time on, may it be seen, both by precept and example, that you are representatives of Christ. You may have a living testimony to bear: "Hear what the Lord has done for my soul" The Lord is ready to impart still greater blessings. He permitted all his goodness to pass before Moses; he proclaimed his character to him as a God full of mercy, longsuffering, and gracious--forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Moses was to represent this character to the people of Israel, and we are to do the same. We are to go forth to proclaim the goodness of God, and to make plain his real character before the people. We are to reflect his glory. Have we done this in the past? Have we revealed the character of our Lord by precept and example? Have we not joined in the work of the enemy of souls, and misrepresented our Heavenly Father? Have we not been passing judgment on our brethren, criticising their words and actions? Then the love of God has not been enthroned in our souls. Let us make a decided change. Let us declare the character of God to the people as Moses did to Israel, both in spirit and life. We are to catch the light of his countenance, full of compassion and love, and reflect it to perishing souls.
I beseech you to keep reaching out after God, to keep drinking of the fountain of living water. You may be as a tree planted by the rivers of waters, whose leaf does not wither. You may be full of moisture, and may be able to refresh others, and to give them grace and comfort. I love Jesus now; and I want to know more and more of him. I have only begun to know him, but there is an eternity before us in which there will be revealings of his glory, and we shall become better and better acquainted with our divine Lord, and have a more comprehensive knowledge of him.
Jesus has said, "Ye are the light of the world" Will we fulfill this statement, and be indeed the light of the world? Or shall we go on in our course of murmuring and complaining, and be the darkness of the world? O, kindle your taper at the divine altar.
How was it with the children of Israel in the wilderness?--They were protected on every side; the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night was over them; but they did not appreciate the blessings they enjoyed. They murmured and complained, and God finally permitted the serpents to bite them, that they might be brought to a realizing sense of his care and protection. It was the power of God that had before kept the venomous serpents of the wilderness from stinging them. When the serpents were permitted to bite them, the command came to Moses to lift up a brazen serpent on a pole, and to tell the people that if they would look upon it, they should live. Suppose that one had said, "O, my wounds are too grievous. I am so full of fever and suffering that I cannot raise my eyes. Wait till I am a little better." Could he get better without following the directions?--No, he would only grow worse and worse, and die. The only remedy was to fasten his eyes on the brazen serpent. The instruction was, "Look and live," and every soul who did this was healed.
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." And every sin-sick soul, bitten and deceived by the serpent, may "look and live." How many delay to look! They think they must make themselves a little better before they can come to Jesus. But we cannot do this. Our only hope is to look and live. We have abundant reason to praise God that we have not perished by the way, and that he is so ready now to heal us of all our wounds. "Wash you, make you clean." The fountain has been provided. May God help you to "look and live!" By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #10)
Special meetings began at South Lancaster on Friday, Jan. 11. We were glad to find the church well filled with those who had come to receive benefit from the meetings. There were many persons present whom we had never met before, and their presence testified to the power of God to convert souls, and to turn men's feet into the path of his commandments. Delegates were present from Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and other States. We realized that there was a work to be done in setting things in order, which man's best efforts could not accomplish without the aid of God. Our hearts were drawn out in earnest supplication to God that he would work in our behalf. We had a message of present truth for the people; and if they would place themselves in the channel of light, they would be prepared to do a work for others similar to the work that should be done for them.
On Sabbath afternoon I had freedom in presenting to the people the necessity of obeying the law of God. It is not enough to say that we believe. We must have that genuine faith which works by love, and purifies the soul. God has given us a perfect standard of righteousness in his law. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." This comprehends the whole duty of man to his God and to his neighbor. We owe to God our life, and all that makes life desirable, and when we refuse to render obedience to him, we rob and defraud our own souls. No man can choose his own way without deep ingratitude to God; in so doing he renders to God enmity for love.
We felt burdened for those who had been bearing the message of truth to others, lest they should close their hearts to some of the precious rays of heaven's light that God has sent them. Jesus rejoiced when his followers received his messages of truth. At one time he raised his eyes to heaven, and said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." The precious Saviour, who brought life and immortality to light, rejoiced that the plan of salvation could be understood by those who were humble in spirit, although the proud and self-sufficient could not comprehend its mystery. The worldly-wise cannot see the beauty of that truth which Christ constantly opens to the understanding of those who have a willing, childlike desire to be loyal to God. To the humble the truth is the power of God unto salvation.
On Sabbath afternoon, many hearts were touched, and many souls were fed on the bread that cometh down from heaven. After the discourse we enjoyed a precious social meeting. The Lord came very near, and convicted souls of their great need of his grace and love. We felt the necessity of presenting Christ as a Saviour who was not afar off, but nigh at hand. When the Spirit of God begins to work upon the hearts of men, the fruit is seen in confession of sin, and restitution for wrongs. All through the meetings, as the people sought to draw nearer to God, they brought forth works meet for repentance by confessing one to another where they had wronged each other by word or act. Wild, clamorous cries and exercises are no evidence that the Spirit of God is at work. The Lord manifested himself to Elijah in the still small voice. Says Christ, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." It is the sinner himself who has barred the door. Will he take down the barriers? Will he unbolt the door? The locks are all on his side of the door, not on the Saviour's side.
There were many, even among the ministers, who saw the truth as it is in Jesus in a light in which they had never before viewed it. They saw the Saviour as a sin-pardoning Saviour, and the truth as the sanctifier of the soul. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." If we would be partakers with Christ of his glory, we must also be willing to share with him in his humiliation. "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." This must be the experience of every true child of God. "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin."
We should not murmur if we are called upon to share the suffering part of religion. There are many who do not feel averse to suffering, but they do not exercise simple, living faith. They say they do not know what it means to take God at his word. They have a religion of outward forms and observances. It is painful to see the unbelief that exists in the hearts of many of God's professed followers. We have the most precious truths ever committed to mortals, and the faith of those who have received these truths should correspond to their greatness and value. There are many who seem to feel that they have a great work to do themselves before they can come to Christ for his salvation. They seem to think that Jesus will come in at the very last of their struggle, and give them help by putting the finishing touch to their lifework. It seems difficult for them to understand that Christ is a complete Saviour, and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. They lose sight of the fact that Christ himself is "the way, the truth, and the life." When we individually rest upon Christ, with full assurance of faith, trusting alone to the efficacy of his blood to cleanse from all sin, we shall have peace in believing that what God has promised he is able to perform. As Christ represented the Father, so we are to represent Christ to the world. We cannot transfer our obligation to others. God desires to make known to you what is the richness of his glory, that you may preach the mystery of salvation to those around you,--Christ in you the hope of glory.
As our brethren and sisters opened their hearts to the light, they obtained a better knowledge of what constitutes faith. The Lord was very precious; he was ready to strengthen his people. The meetings continued a week beyond their first appointment. The school was dismissed, and all made earnest work of seeking the Lord. Eld. Jones came from Boston, and labored most earnestly for the people, speaking twice and sometimes three times a day. The flock of God were fed with soul-nourishing food. The very message the Lord has sent to the people of this time was presented in the discourses. Meetings were in progress from early morning till night, and the results were highly satisfactory.
In the early morning meetings I tried to present the paternal love and care of God for his children. The knowledge of God's love is the most effectual knowledge to obtain, that the character may be ennobled, refined, and elevated. Jesus is to be our pattern. The Lord has lessons of the greatest importance for us to learn. He leads us as children to take views of his goodness, mercy, and love, from the simple, lowly life of our dear Redeemer. Christ ever directed the minds of his disciples to God as to a loving Father. He educated his followers to look upon God with confidence and love. When we are overawed with the greatness and justice of God, we are pointed to Jesus, to his spotless character and his infinite love. There we see the Father revealed in the Son, for God is love.
Both students and teachers have shared largely in the blessing of God. The deep movings of the Spirit of God have been felt upon almost every heart. The general testimony was borne by those who attended the meeting that they had obtained an experience beyond anything they had known before. They testified their joy that Christ had forgiven their sins. Their hearts were filled with thanksgiving and praise to God. Sweet peace was in their souls. They loved everyone, and felt that they could rest in the love of God.
I have never seen a revival work go forward with such thoroughness, and yet remain so free from all undue excitement. There was no urging or inviting. The people were not called forward, but there was a solemn realization that Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. The honest in heart were ready to confess their sins, and to bring forth fruit to God by repentance and restoration, as far as it lay in their power. We seemed to breathe in the very atmosphere of heaven. Angels were indeed hovering around. Friday evening the social service began at five, and it was not closed until nine. No time was lost; for everyone had a living testimony to bear. The meeting would have continued hours longer, if it had been allowed to run this full course; but it was thought best to close it at that time. I was not able to sleep that night until nearly day. The Lord had visited his people. And there was joy in heaven among the angels over the repentant sinners that had come back to the Father. What a beautiful sight it was to the universe to see that as fallen men and women beheld Christ, they were changed, taking the impression of his image upon their souls.
There were many who testified that as the searching truths had been presented, they had been convicted in the light of the law as transgressors. They had been trusting in their own righteousness. Now they saw it as filthy rags, in comparison with the righteousness of Christ, which is alone acceptable to God. While they had not been open transgressors, they saw themselves depraved and degraded in heart. They had substituted other gods in the place of their Heavenly Father. They had struggled to refrain from sin, but had trusted in their own strength. We should go to Jesus just as we are, confess our sins, and cast our helpless souls upon our compassionate Redeemer. This subdues the pride of the heart, and is a crucifixion of self. In the parable, the father saw the returning prodigal son. He saw his repentance and contrition of soul, and he had compassion on him, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him. The son spoke his penitence, saying, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." The prodigal made a full confession of his sin. He made no excuse for his wrongdoing, and he was forgiven, and re-established in his father's house.
We thank the Lord, we rejoice, that it is not too late for wanderers to return, with humble confession, and receive a welcome in the Father's house, --to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. I thank God for this with a full heart every day. We should be the most ungrateful of his creatures, were we indifferent when he works for the children of men in such a marvelous way. We should be like the heath in the desert, if we did not praise God when good cometh. I know that there has been rejoicing in heaven because of the good work done in South Lancaster; and if the angels rejoice, why should not we who have also witnessed the return of wanderers from darkness into the marvelous light of God's love?
To know God is the most wonderful knowledge that men can have. There is much wisdom with worldly men; but with all their wisdom, they behold not the beauty and majesty, the justice and wisdom, the goodness and holiness, of the Creator of all worlds. The Lord walks among men by his providences; but his stately steppings are not heard, his presence is not discerned, his hand is not recognized. The work of Christ's disciples is to shine as lights, making manifest to the world the character of God. They are to catch the increasing rays of light from the word of God, and reflect them to men enshrouded in the darkness of misapprehension of God. The servants of Christ must rightly represent the character of God and Christ to men. Says the apostle, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #11)
Brethren and sisters, I have felt burdened, lest the work of confession and repentance would not go as deep and thorough as it should, in order to meet the mind of the Spirit of God. We are to draw to the light, that our errors may be revealed. If we make diligent work of repentance, we may come to God, claiming his promise to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We want to be in a position where can have the blessing of God, where we can have strength to overcome the temptations that are suggested to our minds by the evil one, and power to rise above the peculiar weaknesses in our character. There must be a warfare of the spirit against the flesh, and through the grace of Christ we may obtain the victory. The divine power working with our efforts will result in the slaying of the old man, and in the renewing of the mind in the image of Him who created it. The divine image has been almost obliterated. The appetites and the passions have led to selfish and injurious indulgences for their gratification, and the flesh has triumphed over the spirit.
We should be as firm as was Daniel in controlling the appetites and the desires of the flesh. We must institute a warfare against every sinful inclination, and submit to the control of the Spirit of God. Every time we yield to temptation it becomes easier to yield the next time. The conscience becomes more and more hardened by our indulgence in evil and our association with it, until we become powerless, and evil practices become habitual. Wrong habits are not formed by occasional indulgence in evil, but they are the result of repeated actions, and become more and more fixed and difficult to overcome. How necessary it is that every soul bring the solid timbers of righteousness into his character-building, so that there will be a fixed determination to do right because it is right. We should be in that condition of mind and heart that, should an accident occur, and death result in a moment, our destiny would be decided for heaven, and not for perdition. The great and all-important question to every soul should be, Am I right with God?
The young people of our school want to make a success of their education. Daniel made a success, when he feared God, and such a course will lead others to success; for "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." You may be in a position where your influence will tell on the Lord's side. It is your exalted privilege to be a victor over the appetites and passions of the flesh, through the strength of Christ. Enoch walked with God for three hundred years. He was in harmony with the will of heaven. Enoch is a representative of the people who are to be translated from the earth. It is not time for us to make a complete surrender to God? We must be in earnest in seeking his blessing. We must crucify the old man, with the affections and lusts, in order to meet the requirements of God. Those who have been blessed of God did not cease seeking him until they knew they had fulfilled his requirements and stood approved before him.
In Oakland, in Battle Creek, and in other places where the deep movings of the Spirit of God have been felt, the people confessed their sins, and made restitution for their wrongs. The servants of God desired to make clean work for eternity. They confessed their jealousies, evil-speaking, murmurings, and uncleanness. They desired to have Jesus dwell in their souls, but he can never abide in hearts that are full of uncleanness. We must brush out the corners with the dust-brush. We must not hide our evils. Of course we should not expose evils to the public that are matters to be confessed to God alone. But while it is a disgrace to sin, it is no disgrace to confess sins. I entreat you, Do not rest until your souls stand free before God. You may have tenfold more success in influencing others than you have had in the past.
It is too late in the day for a superficial work. It is time to arise and shine, for the glory of God has risen upon you. It is too late to play into the hands of the enemy. The plowshare must go deep; the fallow ground must be broken up. We need to have our hearts broken. We need to feel how offensive is sin before God. We are to keep the heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
How far we come from representing the character of Christ! But we must lay hold of his merits by living faith, and claim him as our Saviour. He died on Calvary to save us. Each should make it a personal work between God and his own soul, as though there were no one in the world but himself. When we exercise personal faith, our hearts will not be as cold as an iron wedge; we shall be able to realize what is meant by the psalmist when he says, "Blessed is the man whose sin is covered." Our God says he will forgive transgressions, and remove them as a thick cloud.
One brother has made a confession of discontentment because of his small wages. I wish every family in America could have some idea of the way the poor of Europe are situated. They are very destitute, and yet you hear no murmuring or complaining. I visited a family in Valence, France, where the mother was a widow. Her daughter was an intelligent woman, but as she had failed in one part of an examination, she could not obtain a teacher's certificate, and she was obliged to go from house to house sewing, for twenty cents a day. The mother tied on her little white cap, and took her basket on her arm and a crust of bread for lunch, and started for the gardens to work like a man, and receive but twenty cents a day for her labor. The son was a book-binder, diligent and sober, and he received but three dollars a week. They had only one small room to live in, and had but simple, meager food. Still there was no complaint. When this class of persons heard the truth, the tears trickled down their cheeks, and their faces lighted up with love and gratitude to God. One young man, a musician in France, who had heard and rejoiced in the truth of God, was separated from his friends because of his acceptance of the Bible faith; and although his people are wealthy, he could not obtain money to go to Basle, Switzerland, where he could receive a better knowledge of our methods of missionary work. We were soon to go to Torre Pellice, Italy, and we said, "We will go third-class on the cars." This is the way in which the rough, smoking, working peasants travel; but we said, "By this means we can save enough money to send this young man to Basle."
I found a great deal of poverty in Europe, for small wages are paid to the laborers. At the silk-factories, men in high positions get but forty cents per day. We saw in the homes of the peasants loaves of bread piled up on a shelf to dry. Upon inquiry, we found that this was done for economy's sake, for it took less to satisfy their hunger when it was dry and hard, than when fresh. Bro. Geymet, a man who understands several languages, was engaging in missionary work with earnestness and with great self-sacrifice. We took a carriage to ascend the mountain, winding up the path he traveled to carry the truth to those who would hear. We were obliged to leave the carriage as the pathway grew narrow, and a terrible precipice yawned beneath us. Winding up and up, he finally came to a stable, and there the peasants gathered to study the Bible. He had to traverse this perilous path at night, as that was the only time the people could meet him. In the winter these poor peasants of Italy live in the stables, that the heat of the cattle may be utilized for their warmth. Our missionaries there get a little milk and bread, and eat it with gladness of heart. This is the way the truth is carried to the people in the Piedmont Valley.
At ten and eleven o'clock at night the workers would have to climb over these terrible paths through the mountains, and for seven miles take their way beside precipice and gorge. We asked, "How do you manage to go in safety over these dangerous places?" They answered, "When we come near the precipices, we crawl on our hands and knees." We asked one brother how much he would take to labor a year in the cause of God. He answered, "One hundred dollars," and then said, "You know we wear out shoes and clothes in traveling over the mountains, and we have our families to support." How many of us with families of five and six would be willing to live on such meager pay for the sake of the cause?
My heart ached when I saw how the poor had to get along in this country. We would see the children going along eating their dinner,-a piece of dry bread moistened in the water of the fountain. But they were happy, and thought they had nothing to complain of. Why is it that we think we must have our pie and cake and rich puddings, when these very things only hinder us from becoming sanctified to God? We should seek to bring our expenses within our means. I want to see every laborer fully consecrated to the work. Some of our workers have thought that they must go to the very best hotels. But is this the way to do? How can we indulge ourselves, in the face of all the misery and distress that there is around us? How much money is swept from the treasury of God by the everlasting habit of picture taking! All this needless expense is registered in the books of heaven. Is it not best for us to believe that the eye of God is upon us? Shall we not so run that we may obtain the prize, and become temperate in all things? Those who engaged in the games in Paul's time were temperate. They kept a stern control of their appetites and passions, that they might be in the best condition to run and obtain the prize. And what was it?--Simply a corruptible crown; but we run for an incorruptible crown that fadeth not away. We do not run with uncertainty, knowing not whether we may receive the prize or not; for if we fulfill the conditions, there is no doubt in the matter. Those in the races often fell fainting and dead within a few feet of victory, but it need not be so with us. We are not as those who beat the air. Is it not of the highest consequence that the brain nerve-force should not be weakened by indulgence, as we have to contend with spiritual wickedness in high places? We are to keep the body under, and bring it into subjection, that we may accomplish all that is possible. The self-denial and self-sacrifice involved in this is essential to our good, that we may reach the high standard that God has set before us. Put yourselves to the task. Put your powers to the stretch, and come out into a position where you can reach the perishing around you. Where is your working-power, your skill, your tact, your means? Does not the cause of God call for the best talents, and the highest use of our faculties? Does it not demand that you obtain a knowledge of your God and Saviour? O, let there be no more complaint! "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Let us follow in the steps of Him who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. Let us be willing to give ourselves for others, as he has given himself for us. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #12)
We have a most decided work to do to prepare for the judgment. The great question is, "How is it with my soul? Have I followed the light that God has given me?" If you have faith now to grasp the promises of God, you will have faith when greater trials come. The present time is all-important time to us. Now is the time to know that Christ is formed within, the hope and glory. We must abide in Christ. Says the Saviour: "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. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." But if we abide in him, we may ask what we will, and it shall be done.
I have a twin sister who seems unable to understand the simplicity of faith. She is afflicted with disease; but she might be a stronger woman, if she would lay hold of God in simple faith. I wrote to her, saying, "Ask anything you will, that is within my power to obtain, to make you comfortable, and you shall have it." She believed that I meant what I said. She wrote to me about a wheel-chair of which she had heard, that she thought would be a great blessing to her. One had been selected for her, and she wrote with the greatest confidence that I would purchase it. How is it that she could believe in my word, and yet could not believe in the promises of Jesus? When I write to her, I mean to present the matter in this very light.
A sister came to me in Oakland, and said, "Don't you remember that you promised to give me 'Vol. IV.' when it was revised and enlarged?" "Did I?" said I, "and did you really believe I meant to do it?" "Certainly," she replied. "Why did you think so?" I asked, "Is it not strange that you should think I would do that, simply because I promised you?" She looked at me in astonishment. She had been complaining to me of her lack of faith in God. "Now," I said, "how is it that you can trust in a promise of mine, but cannot trust your Heavenly Father's word? How is it that you can have faith in a poor, fallible mortal, and cannot rely upon the unchangeable God? I had forgotten my promise; but God never forgets. Why can't you take him at his word, as you take me at my word?" We honor God when we take him at his word, and walk out by faith, believing that he means just what he says. He has not withheld his best gift. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" All heaven was poured out to man in that one gift; and how can we doubt our Heavenly Father?
The promises of God are rich and abundant; and why is it that there is so little power and success with the messengers of God?--There is a lack of that faith that claims the promises of his word. Let the ministers go before God, and say, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Let them never rise from their knees until the work is accomplished. There is too much preaching done without the ministering that God desires you to do. The minister should not think that his work is done when he leaves the desk. He should go to individual souls, and labor with them in the Spirit of Christ. O, if you would go to the lost, and let your heart break before them, we should see a work similar to that which was done in 1844. Then you might have seen three of four in the orchard, two or three in a barn, five or six in a chamber, pleading with God for souls. When they came to meeting, their faces were lighted up with the glory of God.
We talk altogether too much about the power of Satan. It is true that Satan is a powerful being; but I thank God for a mighty Saviour, who cast the evil one from heaven. We talk of our adversary, we pray about him, we think of him; and he looms up greater and greater in our imagination. Now why not talk of Jesus? Why not think of his power and his love? Satan is pleased to have us magnify his power. Hold up Jesus, meditate upon him, and by beholding, you will become changed into his image.
John saw a Lamb on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. They bore the signet of heaven. They reflected the image of God. They were full of the light and the glory of the Holy One. If we would have the image and superscription of God upon us, we must separate ourselves from all iniquity. We must forsake every evil way, and then we must trust our cases in the hands of Christ. While we are working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, God will work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. While you must do your part, yet it is God that must give you aid, and sanctify you. Christ makes us penitent that he may forgive us. We have an idea that we must do some part of the work alone. We have thought that there are two or three steps that we must take without any help or support. But this is not so. The Spirit of God is continually wooing and drawing the soul to right purposes, and into harmony with the law of God. The invitation is given to the helpless, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." As soon as we separate ourselves from evil, and choose to serve God, we shall respond to this invitation.
Not one of us should take the first step in the way of transgression. We must not follow our selfish inclinations. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We are to do our very best to sever ourselves from everything that is an offense to God. How can you lift up holy hands without wrath and doubting, if you commit iniquity? When you open the Bible, if you are transgressing the law of God, it will seem that all the threatenings of wrath are for your case. When you rise in meeting to bear your testimony, it will be full of unbelief and darkness. Your testimony will misrepresent your Heavenly Father. It will represent him as unwilling to forgive when you want to return to him, and you will dishonor your Redeemer before the congregation. The Lord has promised, "Ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Why can you not take the Lord at his word? Why can you not come with an eye single to the glory of God, and appropriate the rich promises he has made?
When I was in Europe, a sister wrote to me in the deepest distress. She was in despair, and she wrote, "Can't you say a word of encouragement to me? Can't you tell me of anything I could do to be relieved of my burden?" The night after I had read her letter, I dreamed that I was in a garden, and a stately personage was conducting me through its paths. I was picking the flowers and enjoying the fragrance, when this sister, who was walking by my side, called my attention to some unsightly thistles that were impeding her way. There she was, mourning and grieving. She was not walking in the pathway, following the guide, but was walking among the briers and thorns. "Oh," she mourned, "is it not a pity that this beautiful garden is spoiled with thorns?" Then the guide turned, and said, "Let the thistles alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, and the lilies, and the pinks;" and now she is doing this. Why not have something pleasant to think about? "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things +are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Suppose you had a family of children to whom you gave many pleasant and useful things, and they should pick out something that did not seem without objection to them, and should talk of its defects, and mourn and fret because this one thing did not quite meet their approval; how would you think they were repaying your goodness and kindness to them? Would you feel that your efforts were rewarded as they should be? Would it not grieve your heart to find your children so ungrateful, and so unappreciative of your love toward them?
The precious Bible is the garden of God, and his promises are the lilies, and the roses, and the pinks. Why do you not gather the fragrant flowers, and leave the thistles alone? Why do you not dwell on the love of Jesus? Why do you not bring gratitude into your life for all the benefits you have received from your Heavenly Father? The more thankfulness you express, the more you will have to express. The whole universe is looking upon us; and see what efforts God has made for our salvation. He has given his only begotten Son to die for us. He was willing to come to our world, to leave the royal throne, that he might save the fallen race of men. Says the prophet, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." He made an infinite sacrifice on Calvary's cross for us. Then why is it that we are always talking of our bruises? Why are we not healed? He died to pardon our sins, and to become our righteousness. When Satan comes to tell you that you are sinner, tell him that you know you are, but that Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that makes him your Saviour. I love him; I believe in him today.
Let the soul be uplifted from the lowlands of sin to contemplate the God of all goodness, mercy and love, but who will in no wise clear the guilty. Meet goodness with goodness. Cleanse the soul temple from all defilement, and open it to the blessed Spirit of God. We may be bright and shining lights in the world. Let us search our Bibles, digging into its mines for the precious jewels of truth; and all the time we may bear a brighter and a brighter testimony to the glory of God. We may have a little heaven in our hearts as we journey on toward the heaven above. We may learn the song of victory that is to be sung on Mount Zion. I praise God for his match less love to us. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #13)
Text: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God." "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works; behold, I set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." Rev. 3:2, 5-8.
Those who shall be overcomers are to be highly exalted before God and before his angels. Christ has promised that he will confess their names before his Father and before the holy angels of heaven. He has given us abundant promises to encourage us to be overcomers. The True Witness has given us the assurance that he has set before us an open door, which no man can shut. Those who are seeking to be faithful to God may be denied many of the privileges of the world; their way may be hedged up and their work hindered by the enemies of truth; but there is no power that can close the door of communication between God and their souls. The Christian himself may close this door by indulgence in sin, or by rejection of heaven's light. He may turn away his ears from hearing the message of truth, and in this way sever the connection between God and his soul.
You may have ears, and not hear. You may have eyes, and not see the light, nor receive the illumination that God has provided for you. You may close the door to light as effectually as the Pharisees closed the door to Christ when he taught among them. They would not receive the light and knowledge he brought, because it did not come in the way they had expected it to come. Christ was the light of the world, and if they had received the light he graciously brought to them, it would have resulted in their salvation, but they rejected the Holy One of Israel. Christ said of them that they loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." He said, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." The way was open; but by their own course of action they closed the door, and severed their connection with Christ. We may do the same by rejecting light and truth.
Those who are willing to be faithful learners in the school of Christ, willing to put to the stretch every God-given power, that they may seek for truth as for hid treasure, will not only have light themselves, but will be able to impart light to those around them. Christ has said of his people, "Ye are the light of the world." It is our privilege to advance daily in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. By studying the life of Christ, and by patterning after his character, we may be changed into the same image. When John heard of the growing power of Jesus, he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." When Christ abides in the heart, we are able to impart to others the light and peace that have been imparted to us. Every day we have the precious privilege of connecting ourselves with Christ, who has set before us an open door. All heaven is at our command. If we are obedient children of God, we may draw daily supplies of grace. Whatever temptations, trials, or persecutions may come upon us, we need not be discouraged. Neither man nor Satan can close the door which Christ has opened for us.
We are to live only one day at a time. We do not have to do the work of a lifetime in a few hours. We need not look into the future with anxiety; for God has made it possible for us to be overcomers every day, and he will give needed grace, that we may be conquerors. I am glad we have only a day at a time in which to work. We should not undervalue its responsibilities, and devote it to the service of the enemy. We should not spend it in arraying ourselves in fashionable attire, in decorating our homes as if we were to be permanent dwellers upon the earth. We should employ its moments in trading with our intrusted talents, in using our ability to glorify God, instead of glorifying ourselves. Our whole study should be how we may win the approbation of God. If we are doing his will, with an eye single to his glory, we shall be able to say, "'I know that my Redeemer liveth.' Though heart and flesh should fail, Jesus lives to be my strength and my portion forever." One who is ever faithful and true among those who are changeable and false, will be our stay, and will prosper us in all we undertake. We shall find, as we seek to please God, that there is One who is working for us, even He whose name is "Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace."
There is no reason for our being discouraged, no reason for talking of our trials and doubts. We have done altogether too much of this, but let us put it away. When we meet our friends, we should not strive to relate our worst experiences. Let us try to keep our minds upon the open door that Christ has set before us. Let us dwell upon the soul-comforting thought that Jesus lives to make intercession for us. It is not Christianlike to talk of your troubles and trials. It does not rightly represent Christ or his service. Angels are listening to hear what kind of report you are going to bear to the world about your heavenly Master. Christ does not cast across your pathway that dark shadow of which you complain. It is Satan who darkens your way with his own shadow, but we must not talk of his darkness. Let your conversation be of Him who liveth to make intercession for you before the Father. When you take the hand of a friend, let praise to God be on your lips and in your heart. This will attract his thoughts to Jesus. If you calmly and trustfully contemplate the promises of God, and by simple, childlike faith claim them as your own, you will find that the darkness will vanish. Search the Scriptures, and light will break upon you. Confess the peculiar sins that you have cherished; repent of them, and put them away. If you profess to be followers of Christ while you have cherished worldliness, pride, and formality, you put your Lord to an open shame. The mighty Conqueror has presented toil and struggle as the price of victory. Those who would win the crown must lift and bear the cross. If we keep before us the cross of Calvary, we shall be able to say with Paul, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
By faith we should keep our eyes on Jesus our High Priest, who ministers in heaven for us. No other light has shone or ever will shine upon fallen men, save that which has been and shall be communicated by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. We should ever recount our blessings. We should gather them together and hang them in memory's hall. What kind of picture will you hang there today? Will you clothe it in crape, and frame it in mourning? Oh, no. Jesus is not in Joseph's new tomb. He has risen. He has burst the fetters of the grave. He has led captivity captive, and given gifts unto men. He has given us an evidence of what he will do for those whom Satan has placed in the prison houses of death. At his resurrection he opened the tombs of many righteous, took the captives out of the narrow cells, and led them away in triumph to his kingdom. Those who have fallen asleep in Christ shall not be holden of death. They shall be rescued from the grave, and restored to life.
Why should we not think of the glorious things that God has promised to his children? You should not keep your mind fastened on the gloom of the grave. You should not mourn that God does not love you. It is Satan that puts these desponding thoughts into your mind. Jesus loves you. I have tested the love of God for many years. I know it is rich and free. He has suffered trials and afflictions to come upon me to draw me nearer to him. He has said, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." This is the work we should do at this present time. We should be more in earnest, and by living faith we should claim the promises of God. There is such a thing as proving God. Says the prophet, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
The more we bring to God's treasure house, the more we shall have to bring; for he will open ways before us, increasing our substance. I have found this to be true in my own experience. As God multiplies his gifts to us, we must not grow selfish, and withhold from him our tithes and offerings. We each have a part to act in the work of salvation. We are a portion of the great web of humanity, and we should not selfishly separate ourselves from our brethren. By devoting our means to the cause of God, by exercising our talents in his service, by seeking the salvation of souls, we must identify ourselves as those who are interested in the purchase of Christ's blood. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself."
It will be known by the fruits you bear whether or not you are keeping the commandments of God. Those who are obedient children will not seek to see how little they can do and yet be saved; they will desire to obtain an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. They will not murmur when afflictions come upon them. They will bear them with patience; for they will know that their faith is to be strengthened by the trial. Says the apostle, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." The Lord, speaking by his prophet, says, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." Though man is a fallen being, he is to be highly exalted through the merits and righteousness of Christ. God has said it. Will we believe it? Will we submit to his refining, cleansing work in our hearts? or will we pursue such a course that our names will be blotted out of the book of life?
There are many who profess to believe in Christ, who have never been converted. God cannot approve of a marred, imperfect character. We cannot excuse ourselves before him for our defects and errors, because he has provided help in his Son. He has given us a loving, pitying, all-powerful Saviour, who is able to give us grace that we may overcome every defect of our characters. If we will only submit to God, he will take our minds, and fashion them after his divine mind. I have never dared to say, "I will do this or that." I have been bought with a price. I am not my own. I have been purchased from the slavery of sin. I must have my named retained in the Lamb's book of life.
We read these words in Daniel's prophecy: "And at that time, Michael shall stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." I want to be among that number who shall have their names written in the book, who shall be delivered. I want the overcomer's reward. The masterly temptations of Satan will overpower many who now profess to believe the truth. Their unworthy course of action, their denial of Christ, will make it necessary for God to blot their names from the book of life. But O, may it not be so with us! Jesus has said, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #14)
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." If any man has been dishonest, and has wronged his neighbor and his God, there is but one course for him to pursue. He must confess his wrong; he must restore again that he has robbed; he must forsake his evil ways, and have repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
A precious work has been done in California and in Battle Creek. We have heard confessions, we have seen restitution. Men and women with countenances lighted up with the glory of God have come into meeting to bear testimony to the willingness of Jesus to forgive sins and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. They had tasted and found that the Lord was good. God is ready to do a similar work for this people. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Jesus has declared, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." We are composed of what we eat and drink; and as it is in the physical economy, so it is in the spiritual economy. That which we think upon, and meditate upon, will give tone and strength to our spiritual nature. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Jesus has said, "Whoso eateth of my flesh, and drinketh of my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." "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." We are to be partakers of the root and fatness of the vine. We are to be like Christ, full of benevolence and love. We are to possess the characteristics of God.
The Lord declared his character to Moses, when he stood with him in the mount. "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." Moses had prayed that God would reveal himself to him. God had assured him that he had found grace in his sight, but Moses was not satisfied. He still pleaded with God, and said, "Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight; and consider that this nation is thy people." How many would have been satisfied with the approval of God, and would have asked no further. And the Lord answered Moses, and said, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Still the man of faith pressed his request before God. "And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." O that we all felt as did Moses, that we could not go without the presence of the Lord! "And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name." Step after step this mighty man of faith advances. Three times he has obtained the thing he asked of God. But is he satisfied yet? Has God nothing further to bestow? Moses prefers still another request. "And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory." Does this seem like presumption? Did God rebuke him for asking so great things at his hand?--No, no. God is not impoverished by giving. Hear what he answered Moses. "And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock; and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover thee with my hand while I pass by." And Moses saw the goodness of the Lord. He manifested his character to him. He represented himself as a God, full of compassion and tender mercy. And these are the fruits that we shall bear if we are partakers of the divine nature. We are to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God, or there is no life in us. Jesus explained what he meant when he gave utterance to these words. He said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." We do not live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, as we should. We do not give the diligent, prayerful study to the Bible that we should, desiring the sincere milk of the word, that we grow thereby. We do not believe in Christ as we should, or we would not be so far separated from God. What shall we do? How shall we stand in the judgment? We should stand today as we shall wish to stand then. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
Who have been preparing themselves to go and work in his vineyard? God is not pleased with novices. He wants us to make the very best and highest use that is possible of the talents that he has given us. The ability that our Father has bestowed upon us is precious talent to be put out to the exchangers, to gain usury for the Giver. If we are content to be dwarfs and novices, content to let our ability waste from inaction, we are content to rob God. Every young person must feel the necessity of exercising his talents in the work of God. We should seek to mount to the very highest rounds of attainment, and in the fear of God and with trembling, we should work out our own salvation, because we feel the responsibility that rests upon us to reach the high claims that God has on every soul. We fear lest we shall not defeat the enemy of God and man; but while we work with fear and trembling, realizing our own weakness, God will work with us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. As man sees the claims of the law, and brings the truth to bear upon his soul, a power from on high cooperates with his efforts, and he becomes a laborer together with God.
There is a measurement of character constantly going on. The angels of God are estimating your moral value, and ascertaining your needs, and bearing your case to God. How earnestly we should strive to meet the mind of the Spirit of God! And O, how thankful we should be that help has been laid upon One who is mighty to save!
When Daniel was in Babylon, he was beset with temptations of which we have never dreamed, and he realized that he must keep his body under. He purposed in his heart that he would not drink of the king's wine or eat of his dainties. He knew that in order to come off a victor, he must have clear mental perceptions, that he might discern between right and wrong. While he was working on his part, God worked also, and gave him "knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams." This is the way God worked for Daniel; and he does not propose to do any differently now. Man must cooperate with God in carrying out the plan of salvation.
Do you manifest impatience, and utter hasty words? Are you full of self-esteem? Have you lustful thoughts and practices? Are you doing things directly contrary to the purposes of God? Are you robbing your Heavenly Father by withholding your talents and your heart from him? Why not cease doing this way? Why not make a full surrender to God? He will impart to you his light and peace, and you will taste of his salvation. Do not any longer bring to God a lame, diseased offering. Your powers, mental and physical, are enfeebled by your own course of transgression; but such an offering is not acceptable to heaven. Why not come and be healed of your infirmities, and offer a living sacrifice, holy, and without blemish? Have you been robbing God in tithes and offerings? Here is instruction for you. Says the Lord, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Why not take the Lord at his word? It is our privilege to experience the joy of Christ.
It would be a difficult matter to convince those who have tasted of the rich knowledge of Christ, that he is as a root out of dry ground, without form or comeliness; and he may become to our souls "the chiefest among ten thousand," and the One "altogether lovely." I love him! I love him! I see in Jesus matchless charms. I see in him everything to be desired by the children of men. Let us come to the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." Let us, through his merits and righteousness, obtain a fitting up for heaven. The broken and contrite heart he will not despise. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #15)
Text: "But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first." Matt. 21:28-31.
There is work to be done in the Lord's vineyard, and there are two classes that hear the invitation, "Go work today in my vineyard." One class say, "Yes, we will go." They give an assent to the truth. Apparently, they accept the invitation. They say, "We go, sir;" but they do not go. The other class respond, "We will not go." They do not seem to acknowledge the message, or to show any disposition to obey the command; but afterward they repent, and go out to do the Lord's bidding. There was something in the voice that appealed to their souls, and they hasten to proclaim the truth, and to work in the vineyard. Those who take this position, and repent before God, and turn to do his will, will stand approved before him.
In the parable, the son who refused to go represented the Gentile world; and the class who said, "I go, sir," represented the Pharisees. Christ had just cleansed the temple of those who defiled it with forbidden traffic. Divinity had flashed through humanity, and men had seen the glory and power of God manifested before them. The people brought their sick and suffering ones to the courts of the temple, and Jesus had healed them all. As he had traveled toward Jerusalem, the multitude had spread their garments in the way, and had strewn his path with palm branches, and they had proclaimed his praises, singing, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Though the rejoicing ones had not dared to carry their acclamations to the very gate of the temple fearing the priests and rulers, the children had taken up the song, and were praising God in the temple, and shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"
The priests tried to stop them. They declared that these children were defiling the temple, and they turned to Jesus to demand the reason of the manifestation he had called forth. They asked him, "Hearest thou what these say?" And Jesus turned to them with the question, "Have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" "And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?" that is, "Who authorized you to take a position against the priests and rulers?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not believe him; but if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people: for all hold John as a prophet." They had already acknowledged that it was from heaven, and had condemned themselves. Then Jesus spoke the parable of our text. He declared that the publicans and the harlots would be more susceptible to the truth than would they who had received so great light, and had failed to appreciate or improve it. And he added, " For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him; and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him."
The Gentile world would accept the truth; but those who had so great light and such wonderful privileges, to whom had been granted both temporal and spiritual blessings, refused the message of salvation. They had professed to be the people of God. They had said, "We go, sir;" but they failed of doing their Father's will. We cannot afford to be in this position of impenitence. The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom before this class. When the invitation of heaven has been brought to your ears, have you said, "Yes, Lord, I believe the truth"; yet by the actions of your life shown that you did not believe? Have you brought it into your heart? Has its transforming power taken hold upon your soul? Has its sanctifying grace been brought into your character? How is it with you?
The Lord has a large moral vineyard, and there is plenty for each one to do. As the truth of heavenly origin has come to us, have we given it merely a nominal acceptance? Have we simply been theorists? Have the great benefits and privileges of God's grace and salvation been brought within our reach in vain? Have we walked in the light from Christ that has flashed athwart our pathway? Have we not kept the truth in the outer courts, when it should have been given a place in our very inmost souls? Has it transformed our lives and subdued our characters by its holy influence? Do we claim to be the obedient children of God, and yet find our characters defective in the light of his law? How do our cases stand in the sight of a holy God? He knows every worker, every laborer, every obedient child. The question is, Are we indeed his obedient children? Do we fulfill his commands? or are we transgressors of his holy law? Those who keep his precepts are registered in the Lamb's book of life.
Why is the complaint made so frequently that we have defective characters; that we have miserable infirmities that we cannot overcome? Why is there unhappiness in the home? Why are there stinging, bitter words uttered, and unkindness manifested one toward another? Do you not know that "by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned"? If the heart has the treasure of goodness, if Jesus is formed within, the hope of glory, the goodness will proceed from the heart. Open the door of the heart, and let the Saviour in. Clear away the rubbish from the door, and give him full entrance. We see the necessity of faith,--of that faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. We are not to have that kind of faith that will lead us to present our own righteousness, but we must have that faith that appropriates the righteousness of Christ. All our self-exaltation is in vain. We have nothing to recommend us to God. The question is, Are we baptized, heart and soul, into the work of God? We want to know who is obedient. There may be some who say, "We feel humble. We are not proud or exalted." But this may be a natural element in your character. There are some who do not have the lifting up of pride that others have, but they lack in energy and activity. There are others who are active, but they trust in their own works, and expect to be saved on account of their good deeds, and yet they do not weave the meekness and lowliness of Christ into their characters. It is not representing Christ to present your own elements of character to the world. You must not congratulate yourself on the characteristics for which you have had no battle, no conflict. There are many who are naturally benevolent, and they give freely and without effort; but let them not deceive themselves that this benevolence will save them. We must put on Christ.
But while we urge upon you meekness and lowliness of heart, let no one imagine that the acquirement of this grace demands that you should be coarse and uncultivated. The religion of Christ never degrades the receiver. It refines and ennobles the character. We should study carefully lest we cultivate some trait of character that is unlike the divine Pattern, and not in harmony with the blessed will of God. Just as soon as there is the diligent study of the Bible that there should be, we shall not fail of noting a marked difference in the characters of the people of God. We shall say from the heart, "The things I once loved, I now hate; and the things I once hated, I now love."
As you stand here today, and see the defects of your characters in the light of God's great moral standard, will you not say, "I will redeem the past; I will go to work in the Lord's vineyard"? By living faith will you not grasp the promises of God, and appropriate Christ's righteousness, and find the light of heaven shining in your life? You are to bring Christ into your every thought and action. A defective link in a chain makes it worthless, and a defect in your character will unfit you to enter the kingdom of heaven. You must set everything in order. But you cannot do this great work without divine aid. Are you ready to accept the promises of God, and to make them your own by living faith in his immutable word? You should walk by faith, not by feeling. We do not want a sensational religion; but we want a religion founded on intelligent faith. This faith plants its feet on the eternal rock of God's word. Those who walk by faith are all the time seeking for perfection of character by constant obedience to Christ. The Captain of our salvation has given us his orders, and we are to yield implicit obedience; but if we close the Book that reveals his will, and do not inquire, or search, or seek to understand, how can we fulfill its obligation? We shall be found wanting at last, if we pursue this course.
It is the privilege of everyone to say, "I will carry out my Captain's orders to the very letter, feeling or no feeling. I will not wait for a happy sensation, for a mysterious impulse. I will say, "What are my orders? What is the line of my duty? What says the Master to me? Is the line of communication open between God and my soul? What is my position before God?" Just as soon as we come into right relations to God, we shall understand our duty and do it; and we shall not think the good things we do, entitle us to salvation.
We are coming to a crisis, and I am in terror for our souls. Why is it that we find men leaving the faith? Are we in a position where we shall know what we believe, and shall not be shaken out? That souls leave the truth should not discourage us in the least, but only make us seek more earnestly for the blessing of God. It is not the education, or the talents, or the position of men, that is to save them. We are to be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. How do you stand before God today? The question is not, How will you stand in the day of trouble, or at some future time? but how is it with your soul today? Will you go to work today? We want a personal, individual experience today. Today, we want Christ abiding with us. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man has been lifted up, that we might look and live. There is but one plan of salvation. There is but one process by which the soul may be healed of its wounds. Look to the Man of Calvary. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #16)
Text: "Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." Jer. 17:5.
There are many who claim that the Lord is their source of strength; and yet as soon as trials come upon them, instead of seeking the Lord in prayer, they go to some poor, fallible mortal like themselves, for sympathy and counsel. But what are they doing when they pursue this course? They are making flesh their arm; and as certainly at they do this, they will become weak. We should go to God with our perplexities. He is the great, unerring Counselor. When you make mortal man your helper, and pour all your troubles into human ears, you only deprive yourself of strength, for you will receive only such help as humanity can give.
Christ has said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Will you come? Will you comply with the conditions? If we would go to Christ, we could no longer remain in darkness. Those whose minds are bound about with despondency, who have no willpower to direct them in the right, who are not thoughtful and caretaking, would receive fresh light and vigor by communication with Christ. If you allow another to do your thinking for you, you will have crippled energies and contracted abilities. There are many whose intellects are dwarfed because they confine them to dwell upon commonplace subjects. You should wrestle with problems of thought that require the exercise of the best powers of your mind. God will sanctify your thought and ennoble your powers and talents, when you devote them to his service. You will find your talents increasing by exercise. You will double them by serving the Master as you should,--in putting them out to the exchangers. God desires you to be apt, skillful workers. The man who is able to put up a house in a workmanlike manner should be able to exercise his faculties in doing skillful work in the cause of God. The Lord requires us to use our talent to the very best of our ability. When we render him our best service, he will not fail to give us wisdom to do a still better service. We have dwarfed and weakened our capabilities by depending upon others to do our thinking. We have been leaning upon broken reeds, but God does not want us to depend upon others. We should depend wholly upon him. Why do you not go to your Heavenly Father, and make known your wants to him? Jesus has said, "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Is not this plain reasoning? Our heavenly Master has chosen words that may be understood by the mind of his simplest child. Why not take this precious promise to hang in the hall of memory? Why not impress upon our minds the things that will be a benefit for us to remember? Why not speak of these precious things in the garden of God's word, instead of talking of our doubts and trials?
Suppose you were in a garden where bloomed beautiful roses, and lilies, and pinks; but instead of gathering the beautiful flowers, you should seek for everything objectionable to take away to show to others as a sample of that garden. Would the objectionable things you had gathered properly represent the garden?--By no means. If Christians gather up gloom and sadness to their souls, and murmur and complain, are they representing God and the Christian life as it really is? Christ tells us that if we abide in him, he will abide in us. Are we doing as he has bidden us? Will we gather the roses and the lilies and the pinks, and present to the world the hopeful, bright side of religion?
We have purchased the field of truth because of the treasure that is hidden therein. The rich gems of truth do not lie on the surface. You must dig for them. Take your Bible, and compare passage with passage, and verse with verse, and you will find the precious jewels of truth. You should put the precious gems of light in a beautiful setting, and hang them in memory's hall. Shall we not arise and work diligently in the strength of Jesus for the treasure we have so long neglected? "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
It is time that we understood the high claims that God has upon us. Many of us have had a dyspeptic religion. We have fed our souls on dark forebodings and unbelief, and the most indigestible food. An abundance of wholesome spiritual food has been provided in the word of God. Now let us turn over a new leaf in our experience. Let us confess and forsake our sins, and come to Christ for the bread of life. Do not stop to bemoan yourself, but roll your burden into the open sepulcher. Our blessed Lord is a very present help in every time of trouble. We are required to represent our Lord in life and in character. Satan has misrepresented our Lord, and we have unconsciously aided him in his work. The Lord revealed his true character to Moses. The servant of God was pleading with him in the mount, and he said, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." And the Lord said, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee; and will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." Then the Father proclaimed himself as a God who was merciful and gracious; who would pardon iniquity, transgression, and sin; who was abundant in goodness and truth. Will you not venture upon his promise, and claim him as your God? If you talk darkness, you will have plenty of darkness; if you talk light, you will have an abundance of light. "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." This is the condition of the man who trusts in the Lord; but there is another condition into which we may come that is not of this order. The prophet describes the state of him who trusts in man in these words: "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited."
When we are not connected with God, we are like the heath of the desert, for the natural heart "is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" We should pray as did the psalmist, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 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. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness." These are words that should be hung in memory's hall.
We should place the precious promises of God where we may look upon them whenever Satan casts his darkness upon us. The enemy of God and man would be well pleased to have us dwell upon our darkness and discouragement, so that the religion of Christ would appear a grievous yoke. You should gather rays of light from Jesus every day. You do not know how many sad hearts you will meet; and will you talk only of your discouragements?--No; forget them, and talk of the mercies of God; and the magnifying glass of Satan will be thrust before your eyes in vain. But if you continue to look at the discouraging features of your experience, they will grow more and more forbidding, until you are completely overwhelmed with gloom. Talk courage, talk faith and hope, and you will be all light in the Lord. Keep thinking of the open door that Christ has set before you, that no man can shut. God will close the door to all evil, if you will give him a chance. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up for you a standard against him. I want to read you a little poem, entitled, "Count the Mercies," which I cut from a paper. "Count the mercies! count the mercies! Number all the gifts of love; Keep a daily, faithful record--Of the comforts from above. Look at all the lovely green spots--In life's weary desert way; Think how many cooling fountains--Cheer our fainting hearts each day. Count the mercies! count the mercies! See them strewn along our way! "Count the mercies, though the trials--Seem to number more each day, Count the trials, too, as mercies, Add them to the grand array. Trials are God's richest blessings, Sent to prompt our upward flight--As the eaglet's nest--all broken, Makes them fly to loftier heights. Count the mercies! count the mercies! That bring heaven within our sight. "Let us number all our jewels, Let us estimate their worth; Let us thank the gracious Giver, Strewing blessings o'er the earth; Let our hearts o'erflow with gladness. Let us tell the wonders o'er, Till our multiplying treasures--Seem a countless, boundless store; Then let praises, grateful praises, Be our language, evermore."
Shall we count the mercies, brethren? Shall we receive the sunlight of heaven on our pathway? "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" We ought to attain to a richer experience. Take up your neglected work. Take your children with you before the throne of grace, and plead with God that his blessing may rest upon them, until you can present a well-ordered, well-disciplined family before your Heavenly Father, and before the world. Let us cease looking at the failings of others. Let us cease speaking of their evil traits of character. When the Lord told Peter what to do, he turned and asked, "Lord, what shall this man do?" The Lord answered, "What is that to thee? follow thou me." How many are like Peter today? They are interested in the affairs of others, but they neglect their own duty. It is our business to follow Christ and then we can counsel others. What we want is individual religion, personal piety. We want the Holy Spirit of Christ in our families. O that the truths which I have presented to you today may have a lasting influence upon your characters! O that the members of the church may come up to the help of the Lord,--to the help of the Lord against the mighty! If we have wronged one another, if have wronged our God, we should confess our sins to God and to one another; and we have the promise that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When we remove the rubbish from the door of the heart, the Lord will come in and make his abode with us, and we shall have daily a precious story to tell of the favor, love, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #17)
The present hour, involving our dearest interests, is an hour of momentous importance. Our rights as individuals and churches are brought into question in the agitation on the enforcement of Sunday observance. Conflicting opinions are disturbing the minds of the religious world, and the people are at variance in regard to what should be done in the matter. Events of a startling character are fast thickening, and the anxious inquiry is already arising, "What shall be the end?"
Those who keep the law of God look upon their children with indefinable feelings of hope and fear, wondering what part they will act in the great conflict that is just before them. The anxious mother questions, "What stand will they take? What can I do to prepare them to act well their part, so that they will be the recipients of eternal glory?" Great responsibilities rest upon you, mothers. Although you may not stand in national councils, or cast your vote, you may do a great work for God and your country. You may educate your children. You may aid them to develop characters that will not be swayed or influenced to do evil, but will sway and influence others to do right. By your fervent prayers of faith you can move the arm that moves the world. You can teach your children to pray effectually as they kneel by your side. Let your prayers arise to the throne of God, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?"
God is at work. He doeth wonders, and although he is high and lifted up, prayer can reach his throne. He that is turning and overturning, he that can do marvelous things, will regard the contrite prayer of faith from the humblest of his children. The prayers of Christian mothers are not disregarded by the Father of all, who sent his Son to the earth to ransom a people for himself. He will not turn away your petitions, and leave you and yours to the buffetings of Satan in the great day of final conflict. It is for you to work with simplicity and faithfulness, and God will establish the work of your hands.
We have a covert, a stronghold into which we may run and be safe. Our prayers must reach the mercy seat, where mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The grace which is sufficient for all, will enable us to rise above the severest trials, and to endure the most trying tests. Never was there a period when so much was at stake as there is now. Never was there a generation upon whom rested such weighty responsibilities as upon this generation; for God has entrusted to the men of this time the last warning message.
Parents, ask yourselves the solemn question, "Have we educated our children to yield to paternal authority, and thus trained them to obey God, to love him, to hold his law as the supreme guide of conduct and life? Have we educated them to be missionaries for Christ? to go about doing good? Believing parents, your children will have to fight decisive battles for the Lord in the day of conflict; and while they win victories for the Prince of Peace, they may be gaining triumphs for themselves. But if they have not been brought up in the fear of the Lord; if they have no knowledge of Christ, no connection with heaven, they will have no moral power, and they will yield to earthly potentates who have assumed to exalt themselves above the God of heaven in establishing a spurious sabbath to take the place of the Sabbath of Jehovah. The tender mercies of this power will be displayed in prison cells and dungeons. Already preparations are advancing, and movements are in progress, which will result in making an image to the beast. Events will be brought about in the earth's history that will fulfill the predictions of prophecy for these last days.
Decisions will be called for and made; backsliders will either return decidedly to their allegiance to God, or they will be enrolled in the ranks of the enemy: Satan will have control of all who finally refuse to be controlled by the law of God. He will inspire parents to war against their children, and children to war against their parents,--to betray and deliver those of their own household to enemies. Coming events are casting their shadows upon our pathway. Fathers, mothers, I appeal to you to make most earnest efforts now for your children. Give them daily religious instruction. Teach them to love God, and to be true to the principles of right. With lofty, earnest faith, directed by the divine influence of the Holy Spirit, work, work now. Do not put it off one day, one hour. Teach your children that the heart must be trained to self-control and self-denial. The motives of the life must be in harmony with the law of God. Never be satisfied to have your children grow up apart from Christ. Never feel at ease while they are cold and indifferent. Cry to God day and night. Pray and work for the salvation of the souls of your children. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." It is the mainspring, the balance wheel of character. Without the fear of the Lord, they will fail of accomplishing the great object of their creation.
You may be pleased with the brilliant intellect of your child; but unless it is under the control of a sanctified heart, it will work at cross-purposes with God. Nothing but a high sense of the claims of God upon us can give us the proper stability of character, penetration of mind, and depth of understanding, essential to success, both in this world, and in the world to come. Daily communion with God will refine, ennoble, and elevate the entire being. "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes," says the psalmist. "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." The basis of all true education is found in the fear of the Lord. A soul that is molded by the truth of God will reveal a well-balanced character, ennobled by the grace of God; and such a character is a spectacle for men and angels. Parental duty has been fearfully neglected; but shall this neglect be continued? Shall we not now repent, and as parents take up our God-given lifework? We have no time to lose. Let us redeem the time because the days are evil.
The law of God is made void in the world, and iniquity prevails; but light is shining from the open door of the temple of God. Open your heart, and let the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness shine into your soul, that you may be softened, subdued, and sanctified. The enemy of all righteousness is on our track. Satan is marshaling his host; and are we individually prepared for the fearful conflict that is just before us? Are we preparing our children for the great crisis? Are we preparing ourselves and our households to understand the position of our adversaries, and their modes of warfare? Are our children forming habits of decision, that they may be firm and unyielding in every matter of principle and duty? I pray that we all may understand the signs of the times, and that we may so prepare ourselves and our children that in the time of conflict God may be our refuge and defense. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #18)
Nebuchadnezzar gave himself up to pleasure, and to the glorification of himself. He built a great city, and walked about his palaces, and said, in the pride of his heart. "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom of the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" He did not know that there was a watcher at his side who inscribed his words on the records of heaven. God took away his reason, and he went forth from men to be with the beasts of the field. Why should men glory in their successes? Who gives them success? Who gives the talents with which to attain it? Did God give men talents to glorify themselves? God gives his precious gifts, that they may be used in his service. Every particle of the glory of success belongs to God. It is God's manifold wisdom that is displayed in the works of men, and to him belongs the praise. It is Satan's work to lead men to glorify themselves with their intrusted talents. While men praised the gods of silver and gold, and extolled themselves at Belshazzar's feast, there was a watcher looking on. A bloodless hand traced mysterious characters on the walls of the palace. Belshazzar had not humbled his heart before God, but had lifted up his heart against the God of heaven. And it was written against him, "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."
We should not permit Satan to put his mold upon our character. We should cherish every ray of light which God permits to shine upon our pathway. How many there are who are like the people of old. They have eyes, but they see not; ears have they, but they hear not. They say, "I don't want to know what you believe. I don't want to read your publications; I am afraid that if I do, I shall be convinced, and converted to your faith." Jesus said of the Jews, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
We should not be in this position. It is a perilous one. We should desire to know what is truth, and be able to give a reason of the hope that is within us, with meekness and fear. We want a pure heart. We want Christ within, a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. We want to be as a tree planted by the rivers of water, whose leaf does not wither. We want to be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not. Every one of us will be rewarded according to his works. With what kind of material are you building? Is it with wood, hay, and stubble? In the great day of testing, will you lose all your lifework, and your soul as well? It is only gold and silver and precious stones that will abide in the fires of the last day. We should seek to form characters for eternal life, and to bring the very best material into our character building.
What have you been doing with your talents? have you been putting them out to the exchangers? The Lord will call upon you to give an account of his intrusted goods. Will you be able to say, "I have doubled my talent"? We should be lightbearers. When Philip found Jesus, he immediately went to find Nathanael, and when he had found him, he said, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see." This is what you should do,--invite others to come, and hear and see for themselves whether your words are true, and your religion genuine. When Jesus saw Nathanael, he said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Nathanael was astonished, and said, "Whence knowest thou me?" And Jesus said, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." Nathanael exclaimed, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel."
Here is an example of how we may put our talents out to the exchangers. Philip communicated his knowledge to another, and so brought a soul to Christ. The light given us of Heaven is to be communicated to others in this way. If you have given light to one soul, you have enlightened one hundred, for that one will communicate the light to others, and so it will go on continually increasing. God forbid that I should spend my probationary time in selfish amusement, or in glorifying self. God has given his beloved Son for my soul; and how could He who inhabiteth eternity look upon me, if I should manifest such ingratitude, and neglect to win souls to Christ? In this age how little men think of God! How little the principles of God's law are brought into the life! But God bears long with the children of men. Says the wise man, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
Jesus 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." It is this aspiring to be superior to others that brings us unrest of soul; in wearing Christ's yoke, there is peace and rest and happiness. When we are wearing his yoke, we cannot keep silent. We desire that those who are weary and heavy laden shall come, and find rest unto their souls. Those who do come to Christ find his joy, and his peace is expressed in their very countenances. Christ denied himself for our sake. His divine feet pressed through every difficulty that Satan could place in his way. He trod the path to Calvary, and was crucified on the cross, that you and I might have rest, and peace, and eternal life.
There is no reason for our complaining and murmuring over the obstacles that beset our path. Jesus's divine feet have pressed down the cruel thorns of the way before us, that he might make it easier for our feet. He came to banish darkness from your path; and it only exalts the power of Satan when you talk of your discouragement and doubt. It is not God who hedges up your way. If you find the way hard and toilsome, you may be sure you are not in the right way. You are seeking to reach a false standard. Take your burden to Jesus. He waits to connect you with himself. Let your faith take hold of Christ. When trials press your soul, say, "I believe in Jesus." Think of how he made a sacrifice for you at every step. Think of how he laid aside his royal robes, stepped down from his throne, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to our world to save you. The world was made by him, but the world knew him not. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." He was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him. . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." But did he complain? There is no record that he murmured, or lamented his life.
Christ came to represent the Father to man. He revealed the nature of God to the world. Satan had misrepresented the Father. He had pictured him as a being full of revenge, who had no forbearance, no mercy, no patience, no love. He clothed him with his own attributes; but Christ came, and took upon him humanity, that he might reveal to humanity the true character of the Father; and we are to represent Christ to the world as Christ represented the Father.
Are you representing Christ to your children? Are you teaching them to obey the commandments of God? I educated my children from their babyhood to look upon God as a kind Father. I did not present him as a stern judge, lest they should fear to come into his presence. But how many homes there are in which prayer is not offered, where there is no acknowledgment of God or his goodness! O, let us not have prayerless homes. Let us live so that the shield of Omnipotence may cover the family. I want to be on the Lord's side. I want Jesus to build a barrier around me, so that the temptations of the enemy may not come from the inside but from the outside.
Our families should be well disciplined. We should educate our sons to resist temptation, that they may be as was Joseph in Egypt. No stain came upon his character. He did not lose his integrity in Potiphar's house, in the prison cell, or in the palace of the king. When he was in prison, he desired to be a blessing to the inmates. He did not faint in the day of adversity, for he knew that God lived. Why should we not have this same faith in the midst of trial and temptation? We may suffer for a season, but the angel of God will be near to deliver us when the purpose of God is accomplished. We are to represent our Lord; and if we are Christ's, we shall have his spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. We are to bring the sunshine of Christ's love into our lives and homes. We shall have trials, and we may expect them; but shall we sink down under discouragement and unbelief, and rebel against God?
After Satan rebelled in heaven against the law of God, he was cast out. Adam and Eve fell under his temptations, and a warfare has been going on ever since between good and evil on this earth. Christ has passed over every step of the ground where Adam failed, and he has gained the victory in behalf of humanity. We are to be partakers of the sufferings of Christ, and to share his glory. Our trials need not make us unhappy. We need not trust to feeling; for feeling has nothing to do with our religion. The promises of God are "yea and amen in Christ Jesus," and our feelings do not alter the case in heaven. We are to live by faith.
When you repent of your sins, Satan will try to make you believe that there is no hope for you; but you can tell him that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. Tell him that Christ died for you, and that you claim the merits of his blood in your behalf. There has been a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, and you may wash your robes and make them white. We are to have our lives hid in Jesus. While we live in the world, we are not to be of the world. By faith we may behold the curtain rolled back, and see the glories of the eternal world. We shall then realize that our trials are "light afflictions which are but for a moment," which work out 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."
The day is coming "when a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty." The riches of the world will not avail in the day of wrath; but faith and obedience will bring the victory. We shall act out all the faith we have. We must educate ourselves to talk faith, and prepare for the future life. What earnest efforts men make to obtain a lawful title to their land. They must have deeds that will stand the test of law. The possessor is never satisfied unless he is confident that there is no flaw in his title. O that men were as earnest to obtain a title to their heavenly possessions that would stand the test of law! The apostle exhorts the follower of Christ to give diligence to make his calling and election sure. There must be no error, no flaw in your claim to immortality. Says the Saviour, "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. These are the words of God; they are not my words. Keep the commandments of God, and you will have a right to the tree of life.
Christ "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Will you lift his burden? Will you wear his yoke? He will bear the heaviest part himself. I want to be his child. I love his appearing. I want to praise him with an immortal tongue. I want to belong to the royal family of heaven. Says the apostle, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #19)
Text: "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power." Eph. 1:15-19.
In these words the importance of our having a connection with Christ, the source of all wisdom, is presented before us. We must have living faith in him, and trust him implicitly, so that we may reach the heights of wisdom and perfection that God would have us. If we come short of attaining this, we cannot be the light that God designed we should be in the world. Jesus alone can impart to us the light which it is essential for us to have. We should be more diligent students in the school of Christ than we now are. We should study the word of God more earnestly, that we may know the way, the truth, and the life. The best Christians are those who continually grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If we are content to take a low level in the Christian life, the truth will never become wrought into a deep experience; we shall not be fruitbearing branches; we shall not honor God. Kind words, kind looks, kind deeds, and thoughtful consideration of others,--these are the fruits that grow on the Christian tree. Jesus is our example, and we must form our characters after his. By beholding his purity and perfection, we shall be changed into the same image. If Christ is dwelling in us, we shall reveal him in all our actions, and we shall see new charms in him every day. It is impossible to tell what work God will do for us and through us, If we will only consent to become channels of light.
There are many who claim to be Christians who have defective characters, and erroneous views of the Christian life. They are not a light in the world. But let us seek by faith to attain unto a blameless life, that our Christian character may be made manifest to all. Our conversation must be holy and without murmuring. If we think we are having a hard time, let us remember the Author and Finisher of our faith. There were a few that were not ashamed to confess Christ when he was on earth. He said that many of the chief rulers believed on him, but they would not confess him, for fear of being put out of the synagogue. "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
We must have a higher sense of the work and claims of God upon us than did the Pharisees. It is for our present and eternal interests to make friends with Jesus. We need him in every trial and perplexity of life. We should have living faith in him,--faith to trust him as a little child trusts its earthly parents. He invites us to come to him. Let us tell him all about our troubles and our sins, and he will know just what to do in our case. We have a great High Priest to whom we may come boldly; we have a Mediator in the heavens. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
The mission of Christ to this earth was to direct erring human beings to God, to lead them to seek for holiness of character, to lead them to pray to Him that is mighty in counsel. Confess your sins to God, and he will never betray your trust. Although we are sinners, he will pardon abundantly. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." He marks our contrition of soul; and [our] sins will go beforehand to judgment; and when the times of refreshing shall come, they will be blotted out by the blood of the Lamb, and our names will be retained in the Lamb's book of life. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." Neither learning nor riches can bring us into favor with God. Moral worth alone is esteemed of value in his sight.
I do not covet rich farms nor costly palaces, I care not for gold or silver; but I prize the blessing of God. I have had a glimpse of the glories of heaven, and I would that everyone of you could see what I have seen, that you might have a proper estimate of the eternal weight of glory that is to be the reward of the faithful. We need a more intimate knowledge of Christ. We should sit at his feet, and learn of him the precious lessons of meekness and lowliness of heart. The more we know of him, the more we shall want to know. As we behold and dwell upon his love, we shall see matchless charms in his character. He was perfect in all things, in soul, in spirit, in word, and in deed. He was all that the law required; but what the law demanded of Christ, it demands of all humanity. We must be Christlike, and give an example to the world that is worthy of imitation. In this way we shall honor God. And the Lord says, "Them that honor me, I will honor."
Daniel honored God in the courts of Babylon. He was surrounded by temptations to indulge appetite. Luxury was on every side, but he would not suffer himself to be enticed to selfish gratification. Those who were accounted honorable in the kingdom were self-indulgent. They gratified appetite and passion, and king commanded that Daniel should follow their example; but the servant of God purposed in his heart that he would be true and loyal to his Master. Says the Scripture, "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." He would not yield the principles of his religion, and God gave him knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom. The youth of today, if they will stand fast and unwavering to the truth, will receive heavenly wisdom, and God will pour upon them his richest blessing. We desire to see our people growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Saviour Jesus Christ. He loves you, and longs to bless you, and to increase your faith and your knowledge of himself. But in order that he may do this for you, you must live for God. There are many who are becoming anxious to understand the claims of God's law, and you must do your best to be a light and an example to them. Do not depend on the ministers to do all the work in your church and neighborhood. The pastors must seek the lost sheep, and you must help them; and while the ministers are called to labor in other parts of the vineyard, the people of God must have light in themselves, speaking to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts and making melody unto the Lord. While you should respect the ministers highly for their work's sake, you must not trust them as your saviours, but build yourselves up in the most holy faith. When you assemble in the house of God, tell your experiences, and you will grow stronger. While you speak in meeting, you are gaining an education that will enable you to labor for others. What a precious privilege it is to bring souls to Christ. It is the greatest work that mortals can do, for in so doing they are co-laborers with God. But of ourselves we can do nothing. If we try to work in our own strength, we shall fail completely. Jesus came to our world to bring divine power to combine with human effort. When God unites his power with man's effort, the work is brought to perfection. God wants to do great things for his people; and if we only have faith in him, he will work for us mightily. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #22)
Text: "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Heb. 13:13-16.
We should continually keep before us the sacrifice that was made by our Saviour, lest we should think that we are making wonderful sacrifices in our Christian life. He made an infinite sacrifice that we might have eternal life. The Father made a sacrifice the greatness of which no man can comprehend. The angels of heaven were amazed when the Father consented to give his only Son for a fallen race. When we can approach to an appreciation of the sacrifice made by the Father and the Son, we shall have a better appreciation of the value of souls. We should not study our own ease, since Christ has died for us, but we should be willing to deny self, to go without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Christ resigned his high position as commander of the hosts of heaven. He laid aside his royal robes and his kingly crown, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to this world, all seared and marred with the curse, to become a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. In view of his sufferings for us, shall we be found mourning because of difficulty and hardship? Shall we in the sight of the universe be found ungrateful, with no response to the love that Christ has manifested for us? Christ has stooped that he might lift fallen man. He has purposed to elevate, and ennoble, and refine us, that we may reflect heaven's love in the world.
It is our privilege to obtain clearer and more distinct views of the goodness and mercy of God; and why do we remain in a cold and spiritless condition? Why do we seem to be incapable of manifesting tender love and sympathy for one another? Why do we not speak forth the praises of Him who has given his life that we might have salvation? Let us offer to him continually the sacrifices of praise. Satan is always ready to discourage. He will help those whom he has discouraged to gather still more doubt and unbelief to their souls. He will make you believe that you are having a very hard time in the service of Christ, when it is not so at all. He will encourage you to think that your feelings and fancies are facts, that God is a hard master, and he will lead you, by your attitude of despondency, to misrepresent to the world the character of God, and the nature of his service. We should fix our eye upon Jesus our Saviour. We should be continually growing up into Christ our living head. We want more knowledge, more grace. New affections should be planted in our hearts to expel the old affections. Divine power must substitute high and holy motives for those that were selfish and unholy. We must follow on to know the Lord. We should educate the mind to dwell on heavenly things. We should accustom the heart to dwell in a frame of gratitude and praise. The more we praise God, the more we shall have to praise him for, and our hearts will become attuned to his praise.
We have altogether too much familiar intercourse with Satan. We argue with him. We enter right into conversation with him, and treat him as a guest, coming into agreement with him. It is in this way that he presents the faults of our brethren to us, and magnifies them until we can see nothing good in their characters. Some imagine that they have a wonderful zeal for God, that they are inspired to set things in order, that they have a spirit of discernment, when it is really an inspiration that Satan has imparted to them. They are possessed of a cold, unsympathetic, unforgiving, critical spirit, that is not of God at all.
We should look tenderly upon our brethren, who are encompassed with human infirmities as we are. When your brother does wrong, you have directions from your Master as to what you should do. You should go right to him in meekness and love, and make him feel that you regard him as precious in the sight of God. God holds you responsible for the treatment of your brother. If you are unkind, unforgiving, God cannot forgive you. You should be more pitiful and tender toward the erring. You should have hearts from which will flow compassion and love toward others. You should not only seek out those whom your taste would lead you to prefer, those who echo your opinions and sentiments, but you should also go to those who really need Christlike pity and forbearance. Did Christ turn away from those who were defiled with sin, who came to him for pardon?
At one time Jesus sat in Simon's house, and a woman who was a sinner came in with an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and she broke her box and poured out the ointment on the head of Jesus. Simon criticised Jesus because he did not rebuke the woman. He thought, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner." Jesus turned to Simon, and said, "Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owned five hundred pence, and 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." Those who have lived in rebellion against God, when they do repent and turn to the Lord, are most fervent in their love. They give better service to God than those who have grown cold in his service, who have for years professed to be his children and loyal to his law. A wonderful change takes place in a truly converted soul. The old imperfections that made them uncourteous and forbidding are not manifested. They love Jesus, and those for whom he died. How do you know when you turn away from those who do not seem desirable, but that you are turning away from those for whom Jesus is seeking? Perhaps, at the very moment that you turn from them, they are in the greatest need of your tenderness and compassion. There is too much of this critical spirit, of standing back in indifference to the welfare of others. We need Christian love. We need to learn meekness and lowliness of heart in the school of Christ. We should be filled with the spirit of the message of warning and mercy which we are to bear to a dying world. We have only begun to drink of the fountain of life. As we follow on to know the Lord, increasing light will shine upon us, and our path will grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
We should study more earnestly the character of our Saviour. We should imitate the lovely Pattern that God has given us. We should dwell upon the matchless charms of Jesus until there will be nothing satisfying in this perishing world. We should desire to reflect his image in kindness, in courtesy, in gentleness, and love, then "when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." In a little while everyone who is a child of God will have his seal placed upon him. O that it may be placed upon our foreheads! Who can endure the thought of being passed by when the angel goes forth to seal the servants of God in their foreheads?
If Christ can plead for us in the heavenly sanctuary, if our works are wrought in him, if we have brought his grace and truth into our character building, we shall be recognized by the Lord as the subjects of his kingdom. If we are the children of God, we shall love one another as Christ has loved us. This cold sternness that makes us unapproachable is not of Christ, but of Satan. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Those who open the door of the heart that Jesus may come in, will be filled with love and gratitude. They will not desire to shut up the light God has given them. They will gather up the rays of divine glory, and flash them athwart the pathway of others.
We should plead with God for his blessings, as Moses pleaded with him in the mount. We have no time to wait. Our Lord is coming, and it is time to set our house in order. There is a great work to be done, and if you go to your neighbor with your heart all warm and glowing with love, do you not think that you can find the key to unlock your neighbor's heart? The trouble with our work has been that we have been content to present a cold theory of the truth. We have not let our hearts melt down before those with whom we work. O that the Lord might quicken our understanding, and give us a realization of the time in which we are living! Many have walked in the sparks of their own kindling, but we should plead with God as did Moses, advancing step by step until we can say, "Show me thy glory." Moses was in earnest in the matter, and the Lord put him in a cleft in the rock, and let his goodness pass before him. Have you thought of that? He let his goodness pass before him. O my brethren, what will not the Lord do for us, if we will but seek him with all the heart?
How can we presume to try to help others, unless we have obtained help ourselves? Jesus has said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. . . . For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. . . . It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." We must be one with him. We must love those for whom he gave his life. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." All heaven is interested for our salvation. Will we be interested for our own salvation? Let us cast away every doubt, everything that would shroud our souls in darkness. We know that the world is filled with iniquity, but shall we think and talk of that only? Shall we look here and there for defects and evils? Shall we look critically at the characters of our brethren? O let us think of the goodness of God! Let us tell of his power, sing of his love. Let us commit our souls unto God as unto a faithful Creator, and stop worrying and fretting. God will help us to live above the things of this life, and give us an abundance of good things to think about and to talk about. Let us come into the presence of Christ. He is cleansing the heavenly sanctuary. Let us enter there by faith. Provision has been made for our cleansing. A fountain has been opened for sin and uncleanness. Ask in faith for the grace of God, and you will not ask in vain.
Shall we wait till we feel that we are cleansed before we believe it?--No; Christ has promised that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It will not hurt your dignity to confess your sins. Away with this false dignity,. Fall on the Rock and be broken, and then Christ will give you the true and heavenly dignity.
There are sins and mistakes and errors to be confessed. The record has been made in the books of heaven, but when confession is made from contrite hearts, the words of the apostle are fulfilled, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God requires repentance and confession, and restitution will always follow genuine repentance. If you have prevaricated, if you have borne false witness, if you have misjudged and misinterpreted your brother, if you have misstated his words, ridiculed him, if you have injured his influence in any way, go right to the persons with whom you have conversed about him, with whom you have united in this work, and take all your injurious misstatements back. Confess the wrong that you have done your brother; for your sin will stand charged against you in the books of record until you do all that lies in your power to correct the evil your words have wrought. When you have done all that God requires of you, pardon will be written against your name. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #23)
Text: "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." Col. 1:25-29.
In this scripture, instruction is given as to the position of those who are seeking to open the word of God to others. This work cannot be done negligently. It cannot be undertaken in mere human strength. The work of the ministry has been carried forward altogether too much in our own human wisdom. We have seemed to think that an understanding of the theory of the truth was sufficient for the work. When we have talked to the people, we have gone over the ground to them, and explained all the lines of truth, and yet we have not brought into it the divine power of the truth to transform the life and character. When the work of God is done mechanically, it cannot be effective in converting souls. Though we have the truth, though our position be so well taken that our enemies cannot controvert it, this is not all that is necessary. There must be a power with our work beyond the mere knowledge of the theory of the truth. We must have divine energy to accompany our human effort.
Paul speaks of the riches of the glory of the mystery that is to be made known to the Gentiles. There are many mysteries in the word of God that we do not comprehend, and many of us are content to stop our investigation when we have just began to receive a little knowledge concerning Christ. When there begins to be a little unfolding of the divine purposes to the mind, and we begin to obtain a slight knowledge of the character of God, we become satisfied, and think that we have received about all the light that there is for us in the word of God. But the truth of God is infinite. With painstaking effort, we should work in the mines of truth, discovering the precious jewels that have been hidden. It is the minister's privilege to have a constant supply of fresh truth for the people. He should be in such a position that he can bring from the treasure house of God not the same thing over and over, but new beauty and new truth.
The Spirit of God will rest upon the diligent searcher for truth. He who desires the truth in his heart, who longs for the working of its power upon the life and character, will be sure to have it. Says the Saviour, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." When ministers themselves taste and see that the Lord is good, when their minds are filled with thoughts of heaven, then the eternal realities of the unseen world will open to their understanding, and they will be able to present the truth of God, and it will make an impression upon human minds.
Those who seek for more and still more of the Spirit of God, will not be disappointed. They will hold daily communion with God, and divine power will surely attend their efforts as they present the truth. As certainly as the truth is presented in the Spirit of Christ, it will reach the hearts of the people. Brethren, we should not go into the desk unless we have previously devoted some time to wrestling with God in prayer. We should not be satisfied to use the set discourses that we have preached over and over for the last ten, fifteen, or twenty years. We should draw fresh, new matter from the storehouse of God's word. We are desirous that the angels of God may stand by our side when we are in the sacred desk, that God may impress the mind; that there may be glorious unfoldings of the truth; that it may be presented in the demonstration of the Spirit; that it may be meat in due season to the flock of God. It is the special grace of God that makes the sermon effectual. The minister's words will have very little influence upon the people, unless divine enlightenment accompanies them to the hearts of the hearers. We need much more of the Spirit of God than we have had in the past. Brethren, how long are you going to continue to labor without receiving the holy unction from on high?
If you search the Scriptures with a meek and teachable spirit, your efforts will be richly rewarded. "The natural man receiveth not of the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Bible should be studied with prayer. We should pray as did David, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." No man can have insight into the word of God without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. If we will but come into the right position before God, his light will shine upon us in rich, clear rays. This was the experience of the early disciples. The Scriptures declare that "when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." God is willing to give us a similar blessing, when we seek for it as earnestly.
The Lord did not lock the reservoir of heaven after pouring his Spirit upon the early disciples. We, also, may receive of the fullness of his blessing. Heaven is full of the treasures of his grace, and those who come to God in faith may claim all that he has promised. If we do not have his power it is because of our spiritual lethargy, our indifference, our indolence. Let us come out of this formality and deadness.
There is a great work to be done for this time, and we do not half realize what the Lord is willing to do for his people. We talk about the first angel's message, and the second angel's message, and we think we have some understanding of the third angel's message; but we should not be satisfied with our present knowledge. Our petitions, mingled with faith and contrition, should go up to God, for an understanding of the mysteries that God would make known to his saints. We should have a realization that unless taught by the Holy Spirit, we shall not rightly comprehend the Bible; for it is a sealed book even to the learned, who are wise in their own conceit. Jesus meant just what he said when he directed his disciples to " search the Scriptures." Searching means to compare scripture with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual. We should not be satisfied with a superficial knowledge. We should search for the hidden treasure concealed beneath the surface, as the merchantman seeks for goodly pearls. Light, great light, will reward the diligent searcher for truth.
There are many who have not taxed their mental powers, and who have no experience in putting to the stretch their utmost ability to find out what is truth. It is not possible that the Holy Spirit shall fall upon you unless you feel your need, and are more desirous for its descent than you now are. You should realize that you are living upon the very borders of the eternal world, that Christ is coming very soon, and that all heaven is interested in the work that is in progress in fitting up a people for his coming. If ever there was a people that needed to heed the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodicean church to be zealous and to repent before God, it is the people who have had opened up before them the stupendous truths for this time, and who have not lived up to their high privileges and responsibilities. We have lost much in not living up to the light of the solemn truths which we profess to believe.
Isaiah had a wonderful view of God's glory. He saw the manifestation of God's power, and after beholding his majesty, a message came to him to go and do a certain work. He felt wholly unworthy for the work. What made him esteem himself unworthy? Did he think himself unworthy before he had a view of God's glory?--No; he imagined himself in a righteous state before God; but when the glory of the Lord of hosts was revealed to him, when he beheld the inexpressible majesty of God, he said, "I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a living coal in his hands, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar, and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." This is the work that as individuals we need to have done for us. We want the living coal from off the altar placed upon our lips. We want to hear the word spoken, "Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged."
If you are content to think and to preach in one narrow channel, you will not advance in understanding, nor know the depth and grandeur of the truth. If you desire to understand the mysteries of God, you must search the Scriptures. There is nothing that will develop the intellect like wrestling with the great problems of truth revealed in God's word. You may keep your mind in constant meditation and prayer, even when your hands are busy. The truth of God is a treasure that is of more value than everything else in the world. Its priceless value is illustrated by the parable of Christ, concerning the man who found a treasure in a field, and he went and bought that field, that he might plow every part of it, and search out all the treasure that it contained. The blessed Bible, the field that contains the treasure, the garden of God, is open to you. Search the Scriptures; dig in the mines of truth until the precious jewels that have been hidden there for ages shall be brought out, and you can present them to the people.
In the time of the Saviour, the Jews had so covered over the precious jewels of truth with the rubbish of tradition and fable, that it was impossible to distinguish the true from the false. The Saviour came to clear away the rubbish of superstition and long cherished errors, and to set the jewels of God's word in the framework of truth. What would the Saviour do if he should come to us now as he did to the Jews? He would have to do a similar work in clearing away the rubbish of tradition and ceremony. The Jews were greatly disturbed when he did this work. They had lost sight of the original truth of God, but Christ brought it again to view. It is our work to free the precious truths of God from superstition and error. What a work is committed to us in the gospel! An angel's pen could not portray all the glory of the revealed plan of redemption. The Bible tells how Christ bore our sins, and carried our sorrows. Here is revealed how mercy and truth have met together at the cross of Calvary, how righteousness and peace have kissed each other, how the righteousness of Christ may be imparted to fallen man. There infinite wisdom, infinite justice, infinite mercy, and infinite love were displayed. Depths, heights, lengths, and breadths of love and wisdom, all passing knowledge, are made known in the plan of salvation.
When the scribes and Pharisees saw that Christ did not reverence their forms and traditions, they accused him of contempt for the law and the prophets. But Christ did not show the least contempt for the old truths. Because he did not work in the same narrow forms that they did, they said, "He is come to destroy the law." But there fell upon their astonished ears the words of Christ, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Christ was the originator of the law; and the blindness of the Pharisees is an illustration of how people who claim great light and knowledge can misunderstand and misrepresent the work of God. Glorious truths have been buried out of sight, and have been made lusterless and unattractive by error and superstition. Jesus reveals the light of God, and brings forth the beautiful radiance of the truth in all its divine glory. The minds of the honest are filled with admiration. Their hearts are attracted in holy affections toward him who brought forth the jewels of truth and displayed them to their understanding.
The Jews understood some portion of the truth, and taught some part of the word of God; but they did not comprehend the far-reaching nature of the law of God. Christ swept away the rubbish of tradition, and displayed the real kernel and heart of the purposes of God. When he did this, they became exasperated beyond control. They circulated false reports from one town to another that Christ was destroying the work of God. But while Jesus did away with the old forms, he re-instated the old truths, placing them in the framework of truth. He matched and joined them together, making a complete and symmetrical system of truth. This was the work our Saviour did; and now what shall we do? Shall we not work in harmony with Christ? Shall we be ruled by hearsay? Shall we let our own imaginings hide from us the light of God? We are to read attentively, to hear understandingly, and to teach others also the things we have learned. We must be constantly hungering for the bread of life, constantly seeking for the living water and the snow of Lebanon, that we may be able to lead the people to the living, cooling waters of the Fountain of truth. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #24)
When Christ was upon earth, it was difficult for those with whom he daily associated to realize that he was divine. It was difficult for the members of his own family to comprehend the fact that he was the Son of God. It seemed hard for them to realize that divinity wore the garb of humanity. Again and again he was obliged to declare his position as the Son of God. They were so dull of perception that they could not distinguish the divine from the human. Although they believed that his works were of a miraculous character, they could not fully understand their nature, and he had to state his authority and his position.
Christ assumed humanity in order that he might reach mankind where they were. He came and worked in the form of man for the sake of rescuing a fallen race. He left us an example of what tenderness, what kindness, what love should be manifested in efforts to save souls from ruin. We are to imitate Christ. The people should be able to discern the Spirit of Christ in his followers; and when the Spirit of God works with your efforts, you will not work in vain. The people will see that God works in you, and they will be moved by his Spirit to accept the truths that you present before them. The preacher should do something more than simply to please the taste, and convince the intellect. His words should reach the hearts of his hearers. And when men and women are led to accept the truth through the instrumentality of man, they should not give honor to the man, but they should realize that his efforts have been successful because divine power has accompanied his work, and give the glory to God. It is the truth that he has presented to them that should receive their acceptance and favor. There are many who place themselves in a similar position to that of the Jews in the time of Christ, and they will not hear the word of truth, because their minds are filled with prejudice; but those who refuse heaven's light will be rejected of God just as his ancient people were when they refused to receive the teachings of Christ. God is no respecter of persons. He sent his truth to all, and he expects men to receive it, and to diffuse its light to others. This is the work that God would have us do.
Let us connect with Christ, and then we shall have a power that the world cannot give, or take away. Said the apostle, speaking of the gospel, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." God would make known to his saints what is the glory of the mystery of Christ. There are depths and heights of unsearchable riches in the truth of God. Why should ministers make the truth powerless before the people, because they themselves lack spiritual life and devotion, because they are not connected with God? Are you not commanded to warn every man, and teach every man in all wisdom? Are you sharpening your powers, brethren, by bringing them in contact with difficult problems in the word of God? Says the apostle, "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." When the ministers receive wisdom from above, the power of God will accompany their efforts. Why should we not present the truth in such a way that it may wield its divine influence upon the people? Why do you bring yourself with your coldness between the people and the truth, and so keep the truth from doing its work upon their hearts? Why do you go to the people with your heart as cold as an iron wedge, and expect to win souls to Christ? You want your lips touched with the living coal from off the heavenly altar. The influence of the truth is elevating and ennobling. The divine must combine with the human if you would make your way amid the moral darkness and the spiritual stagnation of the world. Let everyone go to work. Search the Scriptures, plead as did Moses, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." When the request of Moses was granted, did he settle down in content, and seek no further blessing?--No. He still pleaded with God until his faith reached the point where he could say, "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." Do you think Moses was presumptuous, and should have been rebuked? God did not rebuke him. The feet of Moses were upon hallowed ground, and when he pleaded with God for a view of his glory, the Lord said, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by."
The goodness and glory of the Lord were to pass before mortal man; and if you plead with the Lord for his help, plead with him for a view of his glory, the blessing of the Lord will come upon you. When you come to speak before the people, your heart will be filled with love, filled with warmth and divine moisture. When this love is in your heart, the truth will strike its way through coldness and worldliness to the very hearts of the people. It will make its way through all pride and formality, and will leaven the soul with its power until Jesus will be enthroned in the heart.
When Christ abides with you, and you abide with him, you will have something more to say than you have said in the years that are past. You will have a message that will cut through the fleshly tables of the heart, a message that will divide between the joints and marrow, and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. If we would have wisdom and knowledge to enable us to go through the time of trouble that is before us, we must be gathering it now by daily exercise of faith. We do not desire that you should be anxious about the time of trouble, but we want you to take up your work right where it is, and do it faithfully day by day. There are souls in your own church and neighborhood that need help. Those who show promise of becoming efficient laborers in the Lord's moral vineyard, should be sent to our College, that they may fit themselves to carry this message of truth to the people. All around us there is talent that should be utilized in the cause of God. Christ did not go to the schools of learning, and take men of high attainment to do his work, for he could not use them. They had an understanding of forms and ceremonies, but that was about all. Jesus called the unlearned fishermen to his work; but before he sent them forth, he took them into his school, and taught them himself, that they might be fitted for winning souls for eternal life. Brethren and sisters, are you doing your work right in your own homes? Do you realize that the night is coming, in which no man can work?
The apostle did his work with thoroughness. He wrote of the character of his work in presenting Christ, and said, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto, I also labor, striving according to his working which worketh in me mightily." The power of God should go with the truth, and the Lord is just as willing to impart that power to you as he was to impart it to the apostle Paul. He wants you to be in a position where you may work for your fellowmen. He wants the ministers to use much of the time that they spend in sermonizing, in earnest effort for the salvation of souls.
Go forth bearing precious seed. All lightness and trifling must be put aside in this solemn work. Go forth weeping, with your heart subdued and contrite, and doubtless you will come again with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. You may have glorious success. You may be a co-worker with Christ. Do not be exclusive. Do not seek out a few with whom you delight to associate, and leave all others to take care of themselves. Suppose you do see weakness in one, and folly in another, do not stand aloof from them, and only associate with those who, you think, are about perfect. The very souls you despise, need your love and sympathy. Do not leave a weak soul to struggle alone, to wrestle with the passions of his own heart without your help and prayers, but consider yourself, lest you also be tempted. If you do this, God will not leave you to your own weakness. You may have sins greater in his sight than the sins of those you condemn. Do not stand off, and say, "I am holier than thou." Christ has thrown his divine arm around the human race. He has brought his divine power to man that he might encourage the poor, sin-sick, discouraged soul to reach up for a higher life. O, we need more of Christ's spirit and much less of self. We need the converting power of God upon our hearts daily. We need the mellowing spirit of Christ to subdue and soften our souls. The only way for those to do who feel that they are whole, is to fall upon the Rock and be broken. Christ can put his mold upon you, if you will empty your heart of its selfishness.
Jesus has given us instruction as to what we should do. He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." What do these words mean? They mean that our lives must be fashioned after the pattern of Christ's life. We must reach perfection of character, or we can never inherit the kingdom of heaven. There is a work for each one of us to do in God's great moral vineyard. Christ has given to every man his work. How many become so interested in the work of some other person, that they neglect their own work altogether! You are to do your work. God does not expect that the man with one talent, will do as much as the man who has five talents. Let every soul see to it that his work is done to the very best of his ability. If you grow fearful in doing the Lord's work, just stop where you are, and ask God to show you his goodness, for you have lost sight of his mercy and faithfulness. You have become separated from Christ. You have gone so far away from him, that you can scarcely hear the sound of his voice, and cannot distinguish the words of comfort that come from his lips.
As soon as you gain a clear view of the power and goodness of Christ, your murmuring will cease. You will not pick at the faults of others. It is Phariseeism that leads men to exalt themselves by depreciating their brethren. An experience that some of us had some years ago at Battle Creek comes to my mind. There were several ministers who were very much disturbed because we kept the Sabbath and worked on Sunday. They went to the officers of the law, and said, "We have a petition to place before you. We want you to arrest these people who are keeping Saturday, and working on Sunday." The officer said, "I have heard that these people are quiet, law-abiding, honest, and religious people, and I see no occasion for interfering with them." Then the minister showed him a petition that pleaded for a law to prohibit Sabbath-keepers from working on Sunday. The officer took the paper, and tore it to pieces, and said, "Get out, you bigots!" Brethren, I fear that there are bigots among us. Stop picking flaws in the character of others, and attend to your own work. When persons come to you with miserable tales of the mistakes and misdoings of others, do not listen to them. Say to yourself, "Is it my work to go and help settle this matter? If it is, God help me." But if it is not your work, let it alone.
We should live by faith on the Son of God, as the Son lived by faith in the Father. Says Christ, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." Are you doing it, brethren? We read again, "This is the bread that came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. . . . Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" They could not distinguish the divine nature under the garb of humanity. They could not realize the divine character of the work of the Son of God. Just so it is with the work today. There are many who cannot distinguish the divine from the common. And why?--Because they have separated their souls from God. God has given us his precious word, and on our knees we should study it, until his light shall break upon us, and we have a message that we cannot withhold from others.
Who is on the Lord's side? He is reaching out with his long human arm enfolding suffering humanity, while with his divine arm, he is grasping the throne of the Infinite. God help us, brethren, that we may understand the goodness, the mercy, the compassion, and the love of our Saviour. Let us make haste to get out of our Phariseeism. Let us seek God with all our hearts. Ministering brethren, are you prepared to go out, and awake the people to their solemn responsibilities? Are you ready to go forth as David went forth? He inquired of the Lord if he should battle with the Philistines, and the Lord told him that when he heard the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, he should go out to battle, for he would be with him to smite the hosts of the Philistines. So it should be with you. When you feel the Spirit of God, when you see the opening of his providence, you should go forth; for the power of God will be with you. May the Lord help you and me so to bear the message that it shall be a savor of life unto life, and not of death unto death. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #25)
I feel very grateful to God that we can have his blessing; that we do not have to go on amid the trials and perplexities of this life, to meet the opposition of the world, in merely human strength. God's commandment-keeping people are described by the prophet as "men wondered at." We are to be a people distinct from the world. The eyes of the world are upon us, and we are observed by many of whom we have no knowledge. There are those who know something of the doctrines we claim to believe, and they are noting the effect of our faith upon our characters. They are waiting to see what kind of influence we exert, and how we carry ourselves before a faithless world. The angels of heaven are looking upon us. "We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men."
From the light which God has given me, I know that the Lord would do far more for us as a people if we would walk in humility before him. Every one of God's people will be tested and proved, and we want you to be in a position where you will bear the proving of God, and not be found wanting when your moral worth is weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. We want you to be constantly moving onward and upward; but that which hinders your progress in a large degree is your self-esteem, the high opinion that you entertain of your own ability. If there was ever a place where self needed to die, it is here. Let us see the death struggle. Let us hear the dying groans. Self-exaltation ever separates the soul from God, no matter in whom it is found, whether in those in responsible positions or in those who are in some less important place. Whatever has been done to attract the attention to self, has detracted from the glory that should have been rendered to God, and has brought leanness to your souls. It is through this avenue of self-esteem and self-sufficiency that Satan will seek to ensnare the people of God.
The Lord has very important lessons for us to learn; and if we have not a meek and teachable spirit, we shall not be where we can learn the lessons he desires to teach us. We shall think we are wise when we are not. We shall think that we know the whole story, when we have need to study the a-b-c's of the lesson. God will prove us again and again, until we overcome our besetments or are wholly given over to our rebellion and stubbornness. There is danger, when the Lord deals with us thus, that we shall rise up against him, and set ourselves determinedly not to submit to his will. We are living in solemn times. We are looking forward to the judgment, and onward to eternity, and it is fitting for us to walk in great humiliation of soul before God.
There have been those who have risen up against the testimonies that God has sent them. They have been willing to acknowledge that the testimony given to others was all right, and that the truth was pointed out in the cases of their brethren; but when their own errors were laid bare, and their own faults pointed out, they have declared that it could not be so. They have wrapped the garments of their self-righteousness around them, and have said, "That does not mean me." A spirit of Phariseeism has been coming in upon the people who claim to believe the truth for these last days. They are self-satisfied. They have said, "We have the truth. There is no more light for the people of God." But we are not safe when we take a position that we will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth. We should take the Bible, and investigate it closely for ourselves. We should dig in the mine of God's word for truth. "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." Some have asked me if I thought there was any more light for the people of God. Our minds have become so narrow that we do not seem to understand that the Lord has a mighty work to do for us. Increasing light is to shine upon us; for "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
Truth is eternal, and conflict with error will only make manifest its strength. We should never refuse to examine the Scriptures with those who, we have reason to believe, desire to know what is truth as much as we do. Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up, filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing? The only right way would be to sit down as Christians, and investigate the position presented, in the light of God's word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillar of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of Phariseeism cherished among us. When Christ came to his own, his own received him not; and it is a matter of solemn interest to us that we should not pursue a similar course in refusing light from heaven.
We must study the truth for ourselves. No living man should be relied upon to think for us. No matter who it is, or in what position he may be placed, we are not to look upon any man as a perfect criterion for us. We are to counsel together, and to be subject to one another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment. We must individually develop a character that will stand the test in the day of God. We must not become set in our ideas, and think that no one should interfere with our opinions.
Since my return from Europe, I have been pained to notice how men ask counsel of men, instead of seeking wisdom of God. We should make God our support. Those who bear responsibilities in our different institutions should go to him for wisdom. How much we need men of thinking, caretaking minds! But we lack these men. If every young man would seek for the truth as for hid treasures, if he would be meek and lowly, if he would be a learner in the school of Christ, we should not at this time be so destitute of talent. There would be scores that would be ready to take their places in the front of the battle, to bear burdens and share responsibilities. God wants men to develop characters to meet the demands of the time. This will be accomplished when the youth put their cases into his hands as they should.
We should have that love and compassion that will lead us to guard one another's interests. We should not become impatient because others hold views that we do not indorse, or have traits of character that are unlike our own. How glad we should be that we are not all fashioned after the same pattern. This would cause difficulty; for there is a great work to be done, and it will take men of varied minds and experiences to reach the different persons in society. We must have the help of God wherever we go. The servant of Christ must be looking to him continually for orders. Christ must be first, and last, and best in everything. Does God want you to grow in grace and knowledge?--Yes; he certainly does. He does not want you to make any man your criterion. He would not have you marked with the defects of any man's character. You are to be continually looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. When you do this, you will have a testimony fresh from heaven, full of dew and moisture. The light of heaven will be reflected in your very countenance, and will be revealed in your character.
"Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. . . . By him therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." I am anxious that we may obtain a living, choice experience in the things of God. Do the shepherds of the flock expect that God will work with them? From the light that God has given me, I know that there might have been twentyfold more accomplished than has been accomplished, if the workers had sought God for strength and support instead of depending so much upon man. There is need of men of faith for this time, not simply to be preachers, but to be ministers to the people of God. We want men that walk with God daily, that have a living connection with Heaven. The Lord cannot work with those who are self-sufficient, and who exalt themselves. Self must be hid in Jesus. If we would see the deep movings of the Spirit of God, we must have the truth as it is in Jesus. The efficiency of a discourse depends on the application of the truth to the heart by the Spirit of God. When Elijah sought God in the mountains, a devouring fire swept by; but God was not in the flame. A tempest rose, the thunder rolled, and the lightnings flashed; but God was not in all this. Then there came a still small voice, and the prophet covered his head before the presence of the Lord. It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has the power to convict and convert men's souls.
It is our work to reveal to the people the character of our Heavenly Father, and we ought never to make a display of self. Our strength is in working together with God. If we labor as Christ labored, we shall have the shield of Omnipotence to shelter us, and power will attend all we do. As we sailed from Europe, I noticed how the prow of the vessel plowed into the deep, and for miles and miles you could see the wake of its course. There was power and weight in its movements. We should not glide along without causing a ripple; we should carry a weight of influence with us, and speak as those who have authority. We must be connected with the God of power. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." As we carry the truth to the people, we should have a solemn sense of our responsibility, that we may not make a display of our talents and intelligence; but that the truth may cut its way to the very soul as an arrow from the Almighty.
O that all the messengers might teach the people, both by precept and example, what it means to hide self in Jesus! There is no need of our working in our own finite wisdom, no need of going a warfare at our own charges. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." It is your privilege to go to God with your request, as children go to their parents. Ask his grace. Do not think of going into the desk without a deep, solemn conviction of the responsibility of your work.
A minister after preaching a discourse which fully convicted one of his hearers of the Bible truth, was accosted with the question, "Do you really believe what you have preached?" "Certainly," he answered. "But is it really so?" said the anxious questioner. "Certainly," said the minister, as he reached for his Bible. Then the man broke out, "O, if this is the truth, what shall we do? What shall we do?" "What shall we do," thought the minister. " We ?" Why, was not he a minister? What could the man mean? But the question forced its way to his very soul. He went away alone to plead with God as what he should do. He had the solemn realities of eternity to present to a dying world. For three Sundays his place in the desk was vacant. He was seeking an answer to the solemn question, "What shall we do?"
When this minister returned to his charge, he had an unction from the Holy One. He had realized that in his preaching he made little impression, and he had felt the terrible weight of souls upon him, and now he came to his desk, but not alone. There was a great work to be done, but he realized that he was not to do the work alone. He knew that there was a power behind him. It was God that was to do the work. God was to be magnified, and lifted up before the people. He presented the Saviour and his matchless love. There was a revelation of the Son of God, and a revival began that spread through the church and to the surrounding regions.
O that we might here see of the salvation of God! O that the shepherds of the flock and the workers might have intercourse and communion with God! How little we know of God! Those who minister in sacred things cannot afford to go into the desk unless they know God. The disciples were to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endowed with power from on high, and cannot we afford to tarry before God until we are ready for our work? Jesus has promised, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." O if he were with us, we would not be without sheaves to bear to the Master. What is the reason that men labor month after month and year after year, and bear no fruit? It is because they do not have Jesus with them.
When we went to Potterville, Mich., Bro. Van Horn said, "I am so glad this meeting is not like the meetings we had in the past. There seems to be so much more weight to the truth. There is not so much levity and jesting. The people seem to have a realization of the solemn importance of the truth." Why should we not have a solemn realization of the truth at this time? What place have we for jesting and levity right here on the borders of the eternal world? We are to live to the glory of God. There are angels measuring the temple of God and those who worship therein; but how much there is of self. It is self, all self.
When Nebuchadnezzar glorified himself, and did not give praise to God, he was made an example before the world of how God regards this spirit of self-exaltation. As he walked in the palace of his kingdom, he said, "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?" But there was an unseen watcher that marked his spirit and recorded his words, and a voice fell from heaven, saying, "O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."
Let not the messengers return to their fields of labor, until they can go in humility of spirit, with the power of the grace of Christ in their hearts, and with a deep experience in the things of God. We must be clothed with humility as with a garment. We must act our part. Let us do it here and now. Let us have the power of God manifested among us. Let us have the shout of the King in the camp. When we have humbled our hearts before God, his grace will be poured upon us, and we shall bear a clean-cut testimony that will cleave its way to the hearts of men. O that Zion might arise! O that she might respond to the message, "Rise, and shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!" By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #26)
I believe that the Lord is willing to let his blessing rest upon us. I know that he is waiting to be gracious to us. The reason why we do not have more light is that we do not follow Jesus; for he says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." He has invited us to follow him; but to follow him means something more than a profession of religion. We are not following him when we make only surface work in the Christian life. We want to follow him in everything, in self-denial, in self-sacrifice, in humiliation, in meekness, and in love. We must learn to manifest love and compassion toward those with whom we come in contact. We should have a far-reaching influence; we should not be self-centered.
The professed people of God follow their own inclinations to a far greater extent than they follow in the lowly steps of the Man of Calvary. Our will should be in harmony with the will of Christ as his will is in harmony with the will of his Father. We are to be one with Christ as he is one with the Father. And if we come into this position, the promise is that the Father will love us as he loves the Son. How is it that this can be so? It can be so because we have appropriated the righteousness of Christ by living faith. It is because we are one with him, and our souls are all light in the Lord. Our minds and hearts may be so filled with his love that we shall count affliction as all joy, because we shall know that the trial of our faith is more precious than gold, and that these trials will be found unto glory and joy at the appearing of Jesus. We do not see the glory of trials now, but we shall understand it when Christ comes; and every trial that has been borne with patience will be rewarded.
The Lord is shedding abundance of light upon us, and he expects us to walk in it. Will we seek to redeem the neglect of light in the past, by a faithful improvement of our privileges now? Will we come up to the high standard that has been set before us? We have dwelt too long in the lowlands of earth. There have been too many Christless sermons preached. The discourses of many ministers have been simply words that have not touched anywhere. They have not encouraged Christians, or convicted sinners, or led backsliders away from their transgressions. They have been devoid of the power of God.
We should seek to make the most of our opportunities at this meeting. We should confess our sins, clear the rubbish from the door of the heart, and open the soul for the presence of Jesus. Let each one take these words of instruction to his own heart. Do not act as did Peter when the Lord pointed out his duty, and turn and ask what someone else should do. Let us attend to our own work, and do our duty, and not be so anxious to know what may be some other person's duty. The Lord turned to Peter, and said, "What is that to thee? Follow thou me." We are to look to Christ. There is perfection in him. We can be cleansed from every spot and stain through the merit of his blood. His righteousness may be imputed unto us.
If we look to man, we shall see mistakes of life and defects of character. We shall see the same human frailties in others that there are in ourselves. But we are to look to the Pattern, to follow Christ, and to make straight paths for our feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way.
Do not be afraid to confess your sins and to clear the King's highway. Jesus is not far away. He is at your right hand to help you. The promise is, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When you confess your sins, it is your privilege to believe this promise, but not because you have a happy flight of feeling. Feeling is not faith. Faith is just as distinct from feeling as the east is from the west. You are to believe that God will accept you when you fulfill his conditions, believing his word because he has spoken it. You must rely upon the word of God; and unless you have faith that can rest upon the word of God, you cannot make a success of the Christian life. Ministers cannot preach effectively without it. They must have a sense of the solemn responsibility that rests upon them.
We are to hold up the Man of Calvary, to flash his light to those who are sitting in darkness. You should not yield to discouragement. You should not think that there are none who care to serve God, or obey the truth. Elijah became disheartened as he saw how Israel had departed from the Lord, and he thought that he was the only one left who loved the cause of Jehovah. But the Lord told him that there were seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal. There are many in the world who are longing to understand in regard to Christ and his love. There are many who are in despair as they hear the terrible doctrine of eternal punishment, and they need your help. If they were in your position, with the light flashing all around their pathway, they would go to others who are in despair and sorrow; for they would appreciate their need of help. If you will try to seek out these suffering souls, the angels of God will attend you; and you need not fear to go where they will go. Ministers, you should have the angels with you in the sacred desk; and when you do, you will be a power for God. Your words may be as nails fastened in a sure place. You need not try to be eloquent, or to preach learned discourses. David charged Solomon to show himself a man, to keep the charge of the Lord, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes and commandments, judgments and testimonies. He did not charge him to be a great statesman or hero, but to be a man before the Lord. To be a man before the Lord is to be kind and sympathetic. It is to be compassionate and Christlike. We need men who can be called men before God,--men who are in the image of Christ,--men with human hearts, full of tenderness and love.
The converting power of God is needed right among us. We should make a complete surrender to God, that he may fashion us according to his will. We should seek him earnestly, and not permit anything to divert the mind, until we know that we are indeed the children of Heaven. Why not make up your mind that you will not retain anything that separates the soul from God? Say, "Here is my heart. I open the door. Come in, Lord Jesus, come in. I am thine, and thou art mine." If you will do this, he has promised that he will put a new song in your mouth, even praise unto your God.
You are to reflect glory to God, and through his grace live day by day a life that will be pleasing before Heaven. The light of Christ is to illuminate your pathway. If you fulfill his conditions, he says, "Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward." If the glory of the Lord is your rearward, will you not leave a marked wake after your course? Will you not have sheaves to bring to the Master?
Put away all doubt. Dismiss your fears, obtain the experience that Paul had when he exclaimed, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Surrender everything to Christ, and let your life be hid with Christ in God. Then you will be a power for good. One shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #27)
Before his crucifixion, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven, and prayed for his disciples. He said, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. . . . Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."
Christ declared he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified. He took upon himself our nature, and became a faultless pattern for men. He made no mistake, that we also might become victors, and enter into his kingdom as overcomers. He prayed that we might be sanctified through the truth. What is truth? He declared, "Thy word is truth." His disciples were to be sanctified through obedience to the truth. He says, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." That prayer was for us; we have believed in the testimony of the disciples of Christ. He prays that his disciples may be one, even as he and the Father are one; and this unity of believers is to be as testimony to the world that he has sent us, and that we bear the evidence of his grace.
We are to be brought into a sacred nearness with the world's Redeemer. We are to be one with Christ, as he is one with the Father. What a wonderful change the people of God experience in coming into unity with the Son of God! We are to have our tastes, inclinations, ambitions, and passions all subdued, and brought into harmony with the mind and spirit of Christ. This is the very work that the Lord is willing to do for those who believe in him. Our life and deportment are to have a molding power in the world. The spirit of Christ is to have a controlling influence over the life of his followers, so that they will speak and act like Jesus. Christ says, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them."
The mighty cleaver of truth has taken a people out of the world, and the rough, coarse material is to be hewed and squared and polished for the heavenly building. Those who profess to follow Christ should not be in the same condition in which they were before they made this profession. The grace of Christ is to work a wonderful transformation in the life and character of its receiver; and if we are truly the disciples of Christ, the world will see that divine power has done something for us; for while we are in the world, we shall not be of it. We are to bring our life up to the great moral standard of God. The moral law is to judge us in the last day. How unbecoming it is for us to criticise others, when God must work so great a work upon us before we can be fitted for the kingdom of heaven! Is there any of the glory of Christ in suspicion and evil surmising, in criticism and condemnation of our brethren? We should pray for those who are in error. We should present before them the perfection of Christ, but we should not accuse and condemn our brethren and friends.
There are many who seem to think that roughness and coarseness are a mark of humility; but this is a mistake. The truth of God elevates the mind, refines the taste, sanctifies the judgment, and fashions the life according to the divine Pattern. We are to be partakers of the divine nature. We are to be like the great Teacher. He came to this earth, marred and seared by the curse, that he might lift up fallen men, and elevate them so that he could give them a seat upon his throne. Bible religion will have a sanctifying influence upon character, and will prepare its receiver for association with Jesus, the angels of God, and redeemed saints. We must be fitting up so that we shall behold the King in his beauty.
Why should we not have a deeper and deeper experience every day? He must be a dull scholar who does not become more and more assimilated to the divine image, if he is brought into association with Christ from day to day. Why should there not be a growing intelligence in prayer? If a person seeks God in his closet, and pleads for help, telling the Lord his situation, he will not plead in vain. Christ told the Father of the darkness that would press upon his followers, and we may take his words, and present them to God. We are not to preach a sermon to the Lord when we engage in prayer; for God knows our need. We must be petitioners. We must plead for help for our own souls, and for the souls of others. We should lay hold of the throne of grace with that earnestness that says, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me."
We should not think that the Lord will not regard our petitions. I have heard persons say that they could not get an evidence that the Lord heard their prayers. Where did they look for evidence? The evidence is in the word of God. They have said, "O, if I could only have a vision, or a dream, then I would know that the Lord regarded my request." But would that make it any more sure than does his word? One man said he had waited for forty years for a manifestation of God's favor before he could believe that his Heavenly Father looked with mercy upon him. He wanted some marvelous revelation that would come like a shock of electricity, and thrill his entire being; but he did not get it. We are to believe that God accepts us when we fulfill his conditions, simply because he has said that he would.
We should place ourselves on the Lord's side; and when we have done this, then with childlike confidence we should believe that the God of heaven looks with favor upon us. We cannot lean on any earthly support. The Lord God of Israel must become our helper. Have you kindled your taper at the divine altar? Have you opened the door of your heart, that Jesus might come in? You should put your powers to the stretch in the service of God, and live with an eye single to his glory.
Satan will try to cast his shadow athwart your pathway, and he will seek to misrepresent the character of God, and the nature of his promises to your mind, but you must lay hold of the mighty One. There is no help for you in self, for you are only weakness. Your strength is in having faith in God, that he may work with your efforts. If you trust implicitly in him, you will know that his going forth is prepared as the morning.
The Lord desires that we should become intelligent in divine things, that we may offer up prayers of faith. He desires us to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of his will, that there may be unity with his people. And what an influence there is for good when brethren are in harmony; and what an influence it has for evil when there are strife and dissension among those who profess to believe the truth of God! We should have self-control. We should be disciplined. Parents should educate their children to self-control, that there may be harmony in the home. It is from your conduct at your home that we shall be able to judge in a large measure whether or not you are in a real Christian. Does the peace of Christ abide in your home? Are you educating yourselves and your children for the heavenly courts? Are you, as a household, knit together in love? If we have unity in the church, we must first have it in the home; for it is from the home that the church is formed, and the tempers and dispositions displayed in the family circle are the tempers and dispositions found in the church. A well-ordered family is a powerful influence for good in the world. If we walk in the light, and train our children in the fear of the Lord, we shall reflect the light of the glory of God which shines in the face of Jesus Christ. You may never know on earth how many have responded to the light that you shed by your godly example and influence, but it will be made plain in the day of reward.
Joseph was sold into Egypt. He was put into prison. The enemy strove to overwhelm him in darkness. It seemed as though every ray of hope was extinguished; but his faith took hold on God, and it was rewarded. God brought him out of his dungeon, and made him a light to the world. Our faith is too weak; it does not reach out, and take hold of the promises of God in times of darkness. We need more sympathy and love. There is too much Phariseeism among us. We must cultivate love. We must talk of Jesus and his love, and our hearts will be softened, and subdued under divine influences. There is too much of the spirit that feels, "I am holier than thou." Many are like the Pharisee that stood praying in the temple, and said, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are." The publican who smote upon his breast, and would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but cried, "God be merciful to me a sinner," stood higher before God than did the self-righteous Pharisee. We should seek to understand our own need. We must have the righteousness of Christ to cover us. If we have left the snow of Lebanon, and forsaken the living streams, let us return, and drink at the fountain of life.
When we are filled with enmity toward the law of God, we may know that there is something wrong with us; and we should examine our hearts, and prove ourselves whether we are in the faith. We must keep the law of God as the apple of our eye; for his law governs the whole universe. I am thankful that we have a standard with which to compare our character. How shall I know that I am following in the light of Heaven? I may know because God has given us a test for doctrine. Says the prophet, "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." It is our privilege to know what is truth, and that no error is of the truth.
There are many who set up a standard of their own, and they trample upon the law of Jehovah. What we believe, influences our life and molds our character; and everyone carries with him an atmosphere that is either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. We are not safe a moment without that living faith that grasps the promises of God.
There will be those who will come in at the eleventh hour, and they will receive an equal reward with those who have long known the truth. And why is this?--It is because they used all their talents to the utmost of their ability, and brought all their powers to bear on the work of advancing the light of the truth. When the truth was brought to their attention, they accepted it with joy, and God could trust them with a large measure of light and power. A great work is to be done in the earth, and while men sleep, Satan sows his tares. We must awake! Jesus is ready to work mightily in our behalf.
We are anxious to hear that you are walking in the light. We want you to testify to the power of the saving grace of Christ. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." We must rely wholly upon Christ. It will do you no good merely to talk of the righteousness of Christ; you must appropriate it by living faith. You should cultivate faith until faith is the language of your soul. May God help us to walk in the light as he is in the light. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #29)
"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." In this chapter (Luke 15) Jesus speaks several parables to illustrate the joy that is felt over the recovery of that which was lost. He tells how the woman who had lost one of her ten pieces of silver, sought diligently until she found it, and then called in her neighbors to rejoice with her because she had found that which had been lost. He spoke the parable of the prodigal son, to show us how God regards those who have strayed away, and have returned again to him. He said, "A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of the country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself,"--when reason assumed the throne, and he began to consider what he had been doing,--"he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; an bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."
We read that the elder son took exception to the way in which the prodigal was received. The elder son had had every spiritual and temporal advantage. He represented that class that do not go to great excesses of vice, and because of this they are filled with self-righteousness. This son is represented as being grieved that he had not received some marked attention because of his good works, and he was envious that his wayward brother should be so welcomed by his father.
The prodigal's soul had been stirred to the very depths by remorse and repentance, and why should not those who have been partakers of light, give the repenting sinner the right help at the right time? At one time, Jesus asked Simon who would love his benefactor most, the one to whom a small debt was forgiven, or the one to whom a large debt was forgiven. Simon answered that the one who had been forgiven most, would love most. Those who have been in despair over their course of action, manifest corresponding gratitude and love in return, when they receive the pardoning love of God. I have received letters at different times from persons who were in despair over their sins. One and another would say, "I fear I am past all help. Let me hear from you as soon as possible. Is there any hope for me?" To these poor souls I have written, "Hope in God. The Father has bread enough and to spare. Arise, and go to your Father. He will meet you a great way off. He will give you his love and compassion."
These poor prodigals need encouragement. Words of sympathy and love are worth more to them than gold and silver. Why are there so many who stand off from their brethren? Peter came to Jesus, and asked, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." And he said again, "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." You should let your hearts break, and let the iron melt out of your souls. Let us be pitiful and courteous. Let us have the spirit of Christ. He left his royal throne, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to this earth, all marred and seared by the curse, to meet man's adversary, and deliver us from the bondage of sin and death.
Satan claimed us as his subjects, and all heaven looked down upon the earth to see how men would welcome their Deliverer. But they did not know the Prince of life. He went into the wilderness, and met and baffled the evil one, and redeemed Adam's disgraceful failure. He was tested on the points of appetite, ambition, and love of the world, but he did not waver. He met the foe with, "It is written." Satan offered Christ the world if he would bow down and acknowledge him his superior; but he said, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
After the temptation, it seemed as if the Son of God would die on the field of conflict; but the angels ministered unto him, and he was revived. He became our surety and substitute, and he can be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," for he "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." How is it that men can make their hearts like adamant, and not be moved by the love of Christ? Through the merit of Christ's blood, every one can be a conqueror. Jesus has brought moral power to combine with human effort, whereby we may obtain the victory. Christ is our helper, and he invites us to take hold of his strength, and we shall make peace with him. In our conscious weakness we are to lay hold of his merit, and we may become triumphant through the grace of the Man of Nazareth.
Christ hath conquered death, and led captivity captive. Men had looked upon death as a terrible thing; they had looked to the future with foreboding; but the resurrection of Christ from the dead, changed the aspect of death. Christ has passed through the tomb; and when he arose from the dead, he led a multitude of captives from the grave, and they appeared unto many. His resurrection demonstrated his power over death. The dead in Christ shall rise again to a glorious immortality. He will come again, and receive his followers unto himself, that where he is, they may be also.
Christ came to represent the Father to the world. He was the originator of truth; but when he came, he found that the gems of truth had been obscured by tradition and heresy. He came to sweep away false doctrine, and to place the gems of truth in the new setting of the gospel. We are to search the Scriptures, and dig in the mines of truth. It is the word of God that the mystery of the gospel is revealed; and God has there made known to us his matchless love. Why do we not yield everything to him? Why do we not bring in a report of gratitude and love? Why do we not go to those who are in despair, not to act the part of oppressor, but to lift up their souls, to point them to the cross of Calvary until they catch glimpses of Jesus, and lay hold on the Christian's hope? Exceeding great and precious promises have been left to us, whereby we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. I am anxious that you should behold Jesus. It has made my heart ache to hear your mournful testimonies. Jesus is not Joseph's new tomb. We have a living Saviour, one who ever liveth to make intercession for us. He can give you power to correctly represent him to the world.
Jesus represents himself as a merchantman, walking to and fro before our doors, and crying, "Buy of me gold, and white raiment, and eyesalve." Will we take his merchandise? We have a whole Saviour, who is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him. I want to be like him; I want to be with him through the ceaseless ages of eternity. Immortality and an eternal weight of glory will be given to those who have their lives hid with Christ in God.
When Jesus told Peter what he desired him to do, Peter turned to John and asked, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" Jesus answered, "What is that to thee? follow thou me." We are to look to Christ, and follow him regardless of what others do. We shall find perfection in him, and we shall be charmed with the matchless beauty of his character. You will see mistakes in the lives of others, and defects in their characters. Humanity is encompassed with infirmity. You must look well to your own feet, and make straight paths, lest others stumble over your inconsistencies, and the lame be turned out of the way. Christ is our example, and he who follows him will be rewarded at the appearing of Jesus. They will be rewarded because they have endured trial and sorrow for his sake.
We have had abundant light at these meetings, and we must walk in it. We must seek to redeem the neglect of the past. We must come up from the lowlands of earth. We must not preach any more Christless sermons, or any longer live Christless lives. We have been backsliders from God, but we must make a surrender of everything this very morning. Throw open the door of your heart, and invite Jesus to come in. If we will only come into the right position before God, we shall receive his blessing. The Father will love us as he loves his Son. How can this be? It can be because we are one with Christ,--because we have appropriated his righteousness, and we are accepted in the Beloved. We can be glad in the Lord even when we are in trial and sorrow; for we know that the trial of our faith is more precious than gold.
I believe the Lord is waiting to let his blessing rest upon us. We need to follow Jesus. It means more than mere surface work to be a Christian. We must deny self, take up our cross, and follow in the footsteps of the Redeemer. We should have love for one another, and our influence may be far-reaching for good. We must be one with Christ, as he is one with the Father. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #30)
We left Battle Creek, Mich., May 6, 1889, to attend the campmeeting at Ottawa, Kan. After a pleasant and profitable visit with our friends at the Chicago mission, and a layover of five hours at Lawrence, Kan., we arrived at Forest Park, Ottawa, at eight o'clock, Tuesday evening. The worker's meeting had been in progress several days. Through the kindness of Bro. and Sister Rousseau, who gave up their nicely furnished tent for our accommodation, we were pleasantly situated throughout the meeting.
The atmosphere was oppressive, and my heart was in so weak a condition that it was difficult for me to speak to the people. My continual prayer to God was, "Give me physical strength, mental clearness, and spiritual power, that through thy grace I may be a blessing to the people." The words, "Look unto me, and be ye saved all the ends of the earth," were very precious to me. I felt that I needed to be saved, to be healed physically, to be strengthened mentally, to be invigorated spiritually, that I might help those who were assembled to worship God.
There are powerful agencies continually at work to oppose those who are sent with messages of warning, reproof, or encouragement to the people of God, to strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die. Satan is continually seeking to defeat the purpose of God, and he has his agents, who are blinded to the results of their evil course, by which he works to accomplish his designs.
There is danger that our brethren and sisters will become careless, and will be blinded to their spiritual needs, so that they will not be on their guard at these general meetings; and when they should grow strong by accepting light, they will become weak by refusing it, because they neglect to watch and pray. Wherever the people of God are assembled, Satan and his angels are found to exercise their power through human agencies. If the evil one can find one soul open to his suggestions, he presses his advantage. When earthly tendencies control the mind, the spiritual nature is benumbed, and men, "seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." The natural current of the thought is not spiritual, and it is difficult for those whose minds are open to suspicion, evil surmisings, envy, and unbelief, to receive the truth, or to be impressed with the message of God.
Satan finds ample opportunity to sow tares in the soil that is all prepared for the seed. If he can secure for his agents those who know the truth, through them he can come to others who have assembled to worship God, and the seeds of unbelief cherished in one mind, will find an entrance into the minds of many others. But although Satan may work diligently, we need not be discouraged; for the Captain of the Lord's host has said. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth;" "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;" "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
When the Lord gives us a work to do, if we do it in his fear, it will be wholly acceptable to God. Not one jot or tittle of his promises will fail to those who act their part with fidelity, who live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. We are to believe and obey the commandments of God. I have to fight many battles with the powers of darkness, that I may not yield to infirmities, and give up aggressive warfare for the cause of truth. I praise God that I have been enabled to look to Jesus, and go forward in my work when my feelings were opposed to the effort; and I bear testimony to the glory of God that his promises have not been like sliding sand to my feet, but as solid rock and a sure foundation. None of his words have failed.
I was never more certain that the Lord strengthened me, than at the Kansan meeting. Brn. A. T. and D. T. Jones, and others, had wrought perseveringly to impress the people with the truth, but it seemed difficult for the people to realize the necessity of exercising living faith. In a vision of the night, my work was laid open before me, and though weak and faint and trembling, I attempted to follow the directions given. No one but myself can know how difficult it was for me to engage in the work when my heart was in so feeble a condition. But the comforting assurance came to me, "Fear not, I am with thee. I have a message which must come to this people." And strength was given me to every effort. At times I was greatly depressed in spirit, and on leaving my tent I would struggle with weakness; but as I stood before the people, strength, freedom, and power from God rested upon me, and I could say with assurance, "I know whom I have believed." I knew that God alone could accomplish the work that was necessary to be done at this meeting. Christ has said, "Without me, ye can do nothing." How vain are the wisdom and help of man!
I greatly feared that the work so essential to be done for the people assembled, would not be accomplished. The prince of darkness exerts his power in every conceivable manner to keep the moral sensibilities of our people paralyzed, that he may hold them under his control to support his cause. He watches every opportunity to work upon human minds, that he may influence them to serve his interest. He seeks to hold men in spiritual blindness, that they may not discern the voice of the True Shepherd.
At the Kansas meeting my prayer to God was, that the power of the enemy might be broken, and that the people who had been in darkness might open their hearts and minds to the message that God should send them, that they might see the truth, new to many minds, as old truth in new framework. The understanding of the people of God has been blinded; for Satan has misrepresented the character of God. Our good and gracious Lord has been presented before the people clothed in the attributes of Satan, and men and women who have been seeking for truth, have so long regarded God in a false light that it is difficult to dispel the cloud that obscures his glory from their view. Many have been living in an atmosphere of doubt, and it seems almost impossible for them to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel of Christ.
On Friday evening a heavy thunderstorm, with sharp lightnings, swept over the camp. We expected that this commotion in the atmosphere would purify the air; and as I listened to the roll of the thunder, my soul earnestly desired that the power of God might be displayed among the people, that the moral atmosphere also might be purified. On Sabbath, truths were presented that were new to the majority of the congregation. Things new and old were brought forth from the treasure house of God's word. Truths were revealed which the people were scarcely able to comprehend and appropriate. Light flashed from the oracles of God in relation to the law and the gospel, in relation to the fact that Christ is our righteousness, which seemed to souls who were hungry for truth, as light too precious to be received. But the labors of the Sabbath were not in vain. On Sunday morning there was decided evidence that the Spirit of God was working great changes in the moral and spiritual condition of those assembled. There was a surrendering of the mind and heart to God, and precious testimonies were borne by those who had long been in darkness. One brother spoke of the struggle that he had experienced before he could receive the good news that Christ is our righteousness. The conflict was severe, but the Lord was at work with him, and his mind was changed, and his strength renewed. The Lord presented the truth before him in clear lines, revealing the fact that Christ alone is the source of all hope and salvation. "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
One of our young ministering brethren said that he had enjoyed more of the blessing and love of God during that meeting than in all his life before. Another stated that the trials, perplexities, and conflicts which he had endured in his mind had been of such a character that he had been tempted to give up everything. He had felt that there was no hope for him, unless he could obtain more of the grace of Christ; but through the influence of the meetings he had experienced a change of heart, and had a better knowledge of salvation through faith in Christ. He saw that it was his privilege to be justified by faith; he had peace with God, and with tears confessed what relief and blessing had come to his soul. At every social meeting, many testimonies were borne as to the peace, comfort, and joy the people had found in receiving light.
We thank the Lord with all the heart that we have precious light to present before the people, and we rejoice that we have a message for this time which is present truth. The tidings that Christ is our righteousness has brought relief to many, many souls, and God says to his people, "Go forward." The message to the Laodicean church is applicable to our condition. How plainly is pictured the position of those who think they have all the truth, who take pride in their knowledge of the word of God, while its sanctifying power has not been felt in their lives. The fervor of the love of God is wanting in their hearts, but it is this very fervor of love that makes God's people the light of the world. The True Witness says of a cold, lifeless, Christless church, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Mark the following words: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Here is represented a people who pride themselves in their possession of spiritual knowledge and advantages. But they have not responded to the unmerited blessings that God has bestowed upon them. They have been full of rebellion, ingratitude, and forgetfulness of God; and still he has dealt with them as a loving, forgiving father deals with an ungrateful, wayward son. They have resisted his grace, abused his privileges, slighted his opportunities, and have been satisfied to sink down in contentment, in lamentable ingratitude, hollow formalism, and hypocritical insincerity. With Pharisaic pride they have vaunted themselves till it has been said of them, "Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing."
Has not the Lord Jesus sent message after message of rebuke, of warning, of entreaty to these self-satisfied ones? Have not his counsels been despised and rejected? Have not his delegated messengers been treated with scorn, and their words been received as idle tales? Christ sees that which man does not see. He sees the sins which, if not repented of, will exhaust the patience of a longsuffering God. Christ cannot take up the names of those who are satisfied in their own self-sufficiency. He cannot importune in behalf of a people who feel no need of his help, who claim to know and possess everything.
The great Redeemer represents himself as a heavenly merchantman, laden with riches, calling from house to house, presenting his priceless goods, and saying, "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
Let us consider our condition before God; let us heed the counsel of the True Witness. Let none of us be filled with prejudice, as were the Jews, that light may not come into our hearts. Let it not be necessary for Christ to say of us as he did of them, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
In every meeting since the General Conference, souls have eagerly accepted the precious message of the righteousness of Christ. We thank God that there are souls who realize that they are in need of something which they do not possess,--gold of faith and love, white raiment of Christ's righteousness, eyesalve of spiritual discernment. If you possess these precious gifts, the temple of the human soul will not be like a desecrated shrine. Brethren and sisters, I call upon you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to work where God works. Now is the day of gracious opportunity and privilege. Let not one be a traitor to holy, sacred trusts, as were the Jews. Resist not grace, abuse not privileges, smother not in your human pride the convictions of the Spirit of God. Despise not warnings, settle not down in hardness of heart, in confirmed impenitence, as did Pharaoh, the rebellious king of Egypt. Let everyone listen to the voice of the True Shepherd, and not only hear but obey, and it will be well with your soul. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #31)
Long before the campmeeting at Williamsport, I had promised the brethren of Pennsylvania that if the Lord would give me strength, I would attend their campmeeting of this season. During the State meeting at Des Moines, Iowa, last fall, the Lord gave me a message for the people, and their hearts were stirred to respond to the light. By a standing vote, an invitation was extended to me to be in attendance at the campmeeting in Iowa. I told the people that if I was on this side of the Rocky Mountains, and the Lord so directed me, I would gladly respond to their invitation. But when the appointments for campmeetings were made known through the Review, I saw that the meetings in Iowa and Pennsylvania had been appointed for the same time. I was perplexed as to my duty, and prayed that the Lord would direct me. After laying the matter before the ministering brethren, in the hope that some change might be made, and finding no change possible, I finally decided to attend the meeting at Williamsport.
I should have been spared a long and wearisome journey, had I attended the Iowa meeting instead of the meeting at Williamsport; but after writing to responsible men in Iowa, and receiving no response as to the condition of things there, my duty seemed clear to go to Pennsylvania, especially since letters from the brethren there came in week after week, urging that I should not disappoint their expectation. The Williamsport meeting was to take place almost immediately after the Kansas campmeeting, where I had been laboring for three weeks. I needed rest as I returned to Battle Creek, but this was not for me then; for fresh burdens of a difficult nature were laid upon me.
Thursday night, May 30, we left Battle Creek on our way to Williamsport. Our train was an hour and a half behind time. On account of continuous rains, the cars were obliged to move slowly, and in the morning we found that we were three hours behind time, and could not make connections with the train for Elmira, New York. We were detained at Buffalo five hours, and when we reached Elmira, we were informed that it was impossible to go on toward Williamsport, because bridges had been swept away, and the roads had been made impassable by washouts. We were advised to remain at Elmira, where we could obtain better accommodation, than farther on in our journey. We stepped from the cars, thinking to remain there. My secretary and myself were alone, but upon a few moments' consideration, we again boarded the train; for we determined to go as far as possible toward our destination, hoping that reports were exaggerated as to the condition of the road. We met Bro. Teft and family on their way to the meeting. About a mile and a half before reaching Canton, the train was stopped by a serious washout. We were switched off on a side track, where we remained all day Sabbath, although we had expected to reach Williamsport on Friday, at 5 P. M.
I could not remain in the sleeper except at the risk of my life; for the air was very oppressive, and the window could not be opened on account of the rain. We were made comfortable, however, in the passenger car. The passengers on the sleeper employed the time in card playing and smoking; but, providentially, we were left to enjoy the peace of the Sabbath day, as no others were in the car except those who observed God's commandments. Although we were anxious, we were enabled to stay our minds upon the Lord.
As we were detained, and could not safely occupy the sleeper, we thought that we ladies, three in number, might have the privilege of making our toilet in the toilet room of the sleeper; but upon making known our desire, the conductor of the sleeper curtly informed us that it was against the rules, and could not be permitted. This man did not seem in the least disposed to do anything to alleviate the difficulties of our situation. But we are glad to state that this is the first instance we have met in our extensive travels, of such a lack of courtesy. Previous to this instance, we have always found those who were placed in positions of trust on the cars, ready to aid passengers placed in disagreeable circumstances. Conductors have displayed tact, manifested the spirit of gentlemen, and sought to make the unavoidable as pleasant as possible. The conductor of the day coaches was very kind and accommodating, and his courteous way was in marked contrast to the surly, disagreeable manner of the conductor of the sleeper.
While we waited at this place, the construction train passed us, and twenty men were soon busily employed in repairing the track that had been swept away by the rising of the creek. At evening we were informed that the road was temporarily repaired, and that we could go on to Canton. We moved very slowly over the newly-made road, but found that it was impossible to proceed farther than Canton by rail, as the deluge had swept everything before it.
We could send no information to our friends as to our whereabouts or condition; for communication was cut off in all directions. We knew that they would be anxious concerning us, and sent a dispatch from Buffalo to Williamsport to the effect that we would reach that place about midnight, but we had no certainty that it would reach its destination. We made an effort to get a telegram to Williamsport by way of New York, but learned that the wires were down, and no connection could be made.
Sixteen miles from Canton, ten lives were lost, and between Canton and Williamsport eighteen bridges had been carried away. Many houses and two large mills had been swept down the valley in the devastating flood. We could see the workmen engaged in repairing the road at Canton. An embankment had been washed away, and from many feet deep a trellis work had been raised to support the train across the gulch; but we were told that it would be many weeks before the road could be repaired to Williamsport. A bridge over the river at Canton, connecting one part of the town with the other, had been swept away, and what had been before a harmless looking creek was then a mad torrent. A man, seeing that a barn near the bank of this stream was doomed to destruction, ventured into it again and again to save the property from ruin; and although warned of his danger, he entered it once too often. The flood swept the barn away, and the man was drowned. His lifeless body was recovered from the wreck five hours afterward. While we were viewing the scene of the wreck, he was lying in his coffin. Our hearts were made sad by the thought of the insecurity of human life.
Those who claimed to be judges, declared that it would be weeks before the railroad would be sufficiently repaired for the running of trains upon it. All the passengers for Williamsport, except our party, decided to go back to Elmira. But we were determined to take no backward steps until we felt assured that it was all we could do. We learned afterward that the road between Canton and Elmira had become impassable. The passengers who thought to return to Elmira were obliged to remain on the track until Monday.
We secured rooms at the hotel in Canton, and felt that we had much for which to be thankful; for our lives had been preserved through many perils. After the Sabbath, we tried to make arrangements to go by team to Williamsport, and the landlord agreed to take us on Monday, providing he found the roads passable. It was about forty miles from Canton to Williamsport. Sunday morning he told us he had decided that it would be folly to attempt the journey until the roads were reconstructed. It was reported that in many places the road was so washed out that only deep gullies were left, and in other places it was filled up with the debris of the flood. All the bridges, both small and great, were gone. Bro. Rockwell, of Roaring Branch, having learned of our situation, came with teams to take us to his home, ten miles from Canton. At Roaring Branch there is a church of our people, and as the brethren and sisters had been kept from going to the meeting at Williamsport because of the flood, they desired that I should speak to them on Tuesday night. We were especially glad to meet those of like precious faith under these circumstances.
The roads were not as bad as we had anticipated, although the marks of destruction were seen on every side. At Ralston two large mills had been carried away, with other buildings, and many lives were lost. The rails of the track were twisted out of shape in a singular manner.
We met a young man who was journeying to Williamsport on foot, and he told us that he thought if we should take the mountain road we could get through. The valley road, he said, was wholly impassable. This seemed like a daring enterprise, but we decided to undertake it, and on Tuesday morning, with a good team, carriage, and two men, we started on our way. Along the way men were diligently at work repairing the breaches, and erecting bridges. The road was in a bad condition, but not impassable, and we decided to go as far as possible. When we should come to an insurmountable obstacle, we would return to Roaring Branch, but not before. We have passed over more perilous roads in Colorado, but never over a worse road than that from Canton to Williamsport. My heart was drawn out in prayer to God that his angels might go before us, and that his protecting care might be over us.
We were obliged to cross streams where bridges had been swept away, and to go through many difficult places; but my secretary and myself always found a way of passage by using a plank, and the men managed the horses skillfully as we came down the steep embankments in the mountain road. We found it was even as the keeper of the hotel had said,--in many places where once had been a good road there were only gullies, while in other places the road was filled up with rocks, not equally distributed, but in great heaps, as though they had been dumped in wagon loads along the way. We were obliged to walk miles on this journey, and it seemed marvelous that I could endure to travel as I did. Both of my ankles were broken years ago, and ever since they have been weak. Before leaving Battle Creek for Kansas, I sprained one of my ankles, and was confined to crutches for some time; but in this emergency I felt no weakness or inconvenience, and traveled safely over the rough, sliding rocks.
At one place in the road our passage was barred by a large fallen tree, and in attempting to drive over it, we broke the double-tree of our carriage; but as we had brought tools and straps for such emergencies, we supplied its place with a limb of a tree, and drove on. Another large tree, partially fallen, filled our road with overhanging branches, and we had to stop to cut them away. The third fallen tree could neither be surmounted nor cut away, and we were obliged to make a road around it. With skillful driving, we made our way through the woods.
When we were miles away from any dwelling-place, it began to rain. The thunder rolled, and the lightning flashed; but for seventeen miles we had to pass on without catching even a glimpse of a habitable place. We had serious fears that we should have to remain in the woods all night, as it would be dangerous to drive on in the darkness. But just as twilight we came in sight of the little village Trout Run, in a basin-like valley. We were sad to see that it was filled with ruin and desolation. We found shelter in a hotel kept by a German, who informed us that he could give us rooms and bed, but little provision, as he could not obtain supplies. This, however, did not trouble us, as we had food enough. Nothing in the way of firewood could be found that was not soaked with rain, but a fire was kindled with some cigar boxes. We could not get sufficient heat to dry our damp clothing. Although we were uncomfortable, our hearts were filled with gratitude that no harm had befallen either ourselves or our horses.
At Trout Run we were told that it would not be possible to go any farther. We could obtain a small boat with which to cross the stream; but there was no provision for getting the horses over. We proposed that a raft be made on which to transport our carriage.
While preparations for crossing were in progress, we went out to look upon the desolated village. Those who have never witnessed such a scene, can hardly appreciate the effect of the flood and the rain. The storm had made terrible work. Fence boards, logs, old cupboards, rubbish and debris of all kinds, had been swept into the valley by the flood. Bridges had been carried away, roads had been washed out, rails had been torn up and twisted and piled in grotesque heaps. One residence was pointed out to me as once the most beautiful place in the village; but the rich, well-cultivated acres were buried under uprooted and broken trees, and the grain field on which I stood, was covered with about three feet of sand. The devastation witnessed in this place in beyond my power to describe.
At the end of three hours the raft was completed, and a boat was provided. A rope was attached to the raft on which the carriage was placed, and it was towed over by the men, who had rowed to the other side of the stream. As the first horse swam across, I was filled with anxiety; for at times the waves covered him. When he came to the bank, he struggled so that he freed himself from the rope that guided him, and as the bank was very steep, and even shelved over, because it was washed out below by the force of the waves, it seemed very difficult to get a footing. After several ineffectual attempts, he succeeded in making the ascent of the bank. The other horse was larger and less nervous, and as an experienced horseman swam him across, he had less difficulty in gaining the bank. When the noble animal emerged from the river, I found myself praising God aloud, and weeping like a child. We were rowed across in a boat, and were soon seated in our conveyance, and again on our journey toward Williamsport.
The marks of devastation and destruction apparent on every hand, forcibly called to mind scenes in connection with the second coming of Christ. How rapidly the signs of his coming are fulfilling before our eyes, an yet how few will be warned of the fast-hastening destruction! How few will humble their souls, repent of their sins, have faith in Christ, and be saved in the everlasting kingdom!
As I looked on every side, and saw the evidences of fulfilling prophecies, I felt more determined than ever to watch and pray, and to listen more carefully for the voice of Christ, our leader. I felt determined to understand more perfectly divine truth, to go forward and onward, catching every ray of God's increasing light, that I might reprove, encourage, inspire to faith and hope and love, and be a light to all for whom I labor with voice and pen. How swiftly the hours of this our day are passing away! Christ says to us, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" "If thou hadst known, even thou,"--he is addressing us in these words. He is pleading with his people, whose minds are darkened in rejecting his grace. While they claim to be rich and increased with goods, and in need of nothing, they do not know that they are wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. It is time for the people of God to awake. It is time to come to the heavenly Merchantman, and buy gold tried in the fire, and white raiment that we may be clothed, that the shame of our nakedness may not appear; to obtain the heavenly anointing, that we may discern the providences of God, and be prepared for the coming of the King of kings.
We arrived at Williamsport at three o'clock Wednesday afternoon. The experience and anxiety through which I passed on this journey, greatly exhausted me in mind and body; but we were grateful that we had suffered no serious trouble, and that the Lord had preserved us from the perils in the land, and prospered us on our way. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #32)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Is there any reason why this lively hope should not give us as much confidence and joy at this time, as it gave the disciples in the early church? Christ is not inclosed in Joseph's new tomb. He is risen, and has ascended up on high, and we are to act out our faith, that the world may see that we have a lively hope, and may know that we have a Friend at the heavenly court.
We are begotten again unto a lively hope, and to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. Our hope is not without foundation; our inheritance is not corruptible. It is not the subject of imagination, but it is reserved in heaven for us "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
In seasons of temptations we seem to lose sight of the fact that God tests us that our faith may be tried, and be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus. The Lord places us in different positions to develop us. If we have defects of character of which we are not aware, he gives us discipline that will bring those defects to our knowledge, that we may overcome them. It is his providence that brings us into varying circumstances. In each new position, we meet a different class of temptations. How many times, when we are placed in some trying situation, we think, "This is a wonderful mistake. How I wish I had stayed where I was before." But why is it that you are not satisfied?--It is because your circumstances have served to bring new defects in your character to your notice; but nothing is revealed but that which was in you. What should you do when you are tried by the providences of the Lord? --You should rise to the emergency of the case, and overcome your defects of character.
It is coming in contact with difficulties that will give you spiritual muscle and sinew. You will become strong in Christ if you endure the testing process, and the proving of God. But if you find fault with your situation, and with everybody around you, you will only grow weaker. I have seen people who were always finding fault with everything and everybody around them, but the fault was in themselves. They had need to fall upon the Rock and be broken. They felt whole in their own self-righteousness. The trials that come upon us, come to prove us. The enemy of our souls is working against us continually, but our defects of character will be made manifest to us, and when they are made plain, instead of finding fault with others, let us say, "I will arise and go to my Father."
When we begin to realize that we are sinners, and fall on the Rock to be broken, the Everlasting arms are placed about us, and we are brought close to the heart of Jesus. Then we shall be charmed with his loveliness, and disgusted with our own righteousness. We need to come close to the foot of the cross. The more we humble ourselves there, the more exalted will God's love appear. The grace and righteousness of Christ will not avail for him who feels whole, for him who thinks he is reasonably good, and is contented with his condition. There is no room for Christ in the heart of such a person; for he does not realize his need of divine light and aid.
Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." There is fullness of grace in God, and we may have his Spirit and power in large measure. Do not feed on the husks of self-righteousness, but go to the Lord. He has the best robe to put upon you, and his arms are open to receive you. Christ will say, "Take away the filthy garments, and clothe him with a change of raiment."
The prophet Zechariah presents a scene before us that reveals the condition of the sinner, and shows the resistance of Satan against the work that Christ would do for his repenting children. The prophet says, "And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair miter upon his head. So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by."
Satan hates those who have taken hold of the strength of Christ, but those who have made a full surrender are reconciled to God, and he will be their defense. He promises that they shall have places to walk among these that stand by. Who are these that stand by?--They are the angels of God that are sent to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. We shall never know what dangers, seen and unseen, we have been delivered from through the interposition of the angels, until we shall see in the light of eternity the providences of God. Then we shall better understand what God has done for us all the days of our life. We shall know then that the whole heavenly family watched to see our course of action from day to day. You should remember when trials come, that you are a spectacle to angels and to men, and that every time you fail to bear the proving of the Lord, you are lessening your spiritual strength. You should hold your peace from complaining, and take your burden to Jesus, and lay your whole soul open before him. Do not carry it to a third person. Do not lay your burden upon humanity. Say, "I will not gratify the enemy by murmuring. I will lay my care at the feet of Jesus. I will tell it to him in faith." If you do this, you will receive help from above; you will realize the fulfillment of the promise, "He is on my right hand that I should not be moved." "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
Do you believe that Jesus is your Saviour? There are many who have merely a nominal faith; but you should have that faith that was displayed by the suffering woman who said, "If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole." Jesus knew of her desire, and her faith called him forth to help her. He would give her the opportunity she wished. When he was on his way to the ruler's house to heal his child, he passed through the town where this suffering woman lived. She came to where he was; but the multitude thronged him, and it seemed impossible for her to reach him. She pressed her way through, and reached forth her hand, and touched his garment, and her faith was rewarded; she felt she was healed. "Jesus said, Who touched me?" The disciples were astonished that he should ask such a question, and they said, "Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me; for I perceived that virtue is gone out of me." He knew the touch of faith. "And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
Jesus is willing that we should come to him today. He is willing that we should touch him with the touch of faith, and receive virtue from him. We should have more health today, if, instead of running to the physicians, we would come to Christ for the balm of Gilead, and apply it to our souls.
"While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not; believe only, and she shall be made whole." When he came to the ruler's house, he found the mourners weeping and bewailing her, but he said, "Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn." They had been impatient that he had not come before, and now they thought it was too late. God tries our faith. He says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." Jesus took the maid by the hand, and said unto her, "Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway, and he commanded to give her meat." We should not doubt the power of our Lord, but commit the keeping of our souls to him as unto a faithful Creator.
There is a great work to be done in the Lord's moral vineyard; but in all the different branches of the work our faith will be tried. Who will endure the test? Who will hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end? There are many of the professed people of God who scarcely know the voice of the True Shepherd. We may have a rich experience in the things of God. We may have an experience similar to that of the prophet Isaiah. He was to go forth with the message of God, and the Lord revealed his glory to him. When he saw the Majesty of heaven, he felt wholly unworthy and unfit for the work, and he cried out, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar, and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." Then he was ready to give the message, and when the Lord asked, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" he could respond, "Here am I; send me."
O, that we could understand the solemnity of the message intrusted to us! Frivolity would cease. We should feel as did the prophet, and cry out, "I am undone." But as soon as the live coal from off the altar touched our lips, instead of complaining and talking of our gloom, we should rejoice that we were begotten again unto a lively hope, and called into the service of the King, the Lord of hosts. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #33)
As we rode through the outskirts of the city of Williamsport, we found evidences that the flood had preceded us in its work of devastation. One field of thirty acres was covered with rich tapestry, with carpets of all colors and qualities, which has been spread out to dry in the sunshine. Lines hanging full of all kinds of dry goods, were stretched in the yards. In front of churches were sofas, chairs, and other articles of furniture that had been damaged by the water. All along the streets, sidewalks had been washed away, save where the precaution had been taken to tie them to the houses. Front steps were gone, and boxes, logs, and rubbish of all kinds, were heaped up in the gardens and yards. The stores throughout the city seemed to have suffered great loss because of the deluge, and boxes of coffee, beans, peanuts, candies, crackers, apothecary goods, and the contents of jewelers' shops were piled up on the streets, waiting for removal. The perishable goods were already in a state of fermentation, and seemed likely to breathe pestilence by their decay.
We were told that the campground had been flooded, and that the tents had been taken down. When we arrived at the place, we found that a number of tents were pitched on a rise of ground beyond the original campground, and that the campers were all safe. We were glad indeed to meet our friends, and they received us with joy. A few hours after reaching the camp, the telegram we had sent from Buffalo by way of New York, arrived. The same day telegrams came from Des Moines, Iowa, urging me to attend the campmeeting there; but this was impossible. The Lord had a work for me to do at Williamsport. I had much freedom in speaking to the brethren and sisters there assembled. They did not seem to possess a spirit of unbelief and of resistance to the message the Lord has sent them. I felt that it was a great privilege to speak to those whose hearts were not barricaded with prejudice and evil surmising. My soul went out in grateful praise that, weary and exhausted as I was, I did not have to carry upon my heart the extra burden of seeing brethren and sisters whom I loved, unimpressed and in resistance of the light of God had graciously permitted to shine upon them.
I did not have to set my face as a flint, and press and urge upon them that which I knew to be truth. The message was eagerly welcomed; and although I had to speak words of reproof and warning, as well as words of encouragement, all were heartily received by my hearers. Says the True Witness, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Those who will give heed to the light that God sends them, will never be left to grope their way in darkness.
Our meetings were well attended, and in the early morning meeting, so many were desirous of bearing testimony, that it was difficult to close the meeting at the appointed time. Since coming from California to labor on this side of the Rocky Mountains, I have realized as never before the love of my Saviour. The good hand of God has sustained me in bearing a decided testimony to the churches. The Lord has worked for his people, and they have received the light with joy as meat in due season. Their souls have craved spiritual food, and they have been supplied. There has been in the churches a great lack of the meekness of Christ, a great lack of that wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, without partiality and without hypocrisy, full of mercy and good fruits.
The churches in Pennsylvania have been passing through discouragements, and some of their members have apostatized. But as the precious message of present truth was spoken to the people by Brn. Jones and Waggoner, the people saw new beauty in the third angel's message, and they were greatly encouraged. They testified to the fact they had never before attended meetings where they had received so much instruction and such precious light. They were now determined to return to their homes and to their churches to impart to their friends and neighbors the light they had received. They felt that they now understood better how to win souls to Christ.
The churches are lukewarm. They have listened to doctrinal discourses, but they have not been instructed concerning the simple art of believing. In every meeting which we attend, we find many who do not understand the simplicity of faith. They do not know what constitutes genuine faith, and they miss a rich experience simply because they do not take God at his word. They need to have Christ set forth before them. They need to have courage and hope and faith presented to them. They ask for bread, and shall they receive a stone? Shall the youth in our ranks say, "No man careth for my soul"? Shall we not give light to the souls that are groping in darkness? Shall we not seek to save them from perdition, and build them up in the most holy faith, ever keeping before them the righteousness of Christ?
God requires more of those who believe the truth than they have yet given him. Our high and holy calling demands that we accomplish all that it is possible to accomplish by pure living, by fervent prayer, and by faithful dealing with souls. In this way alone can we be accounted loyal to Christ who was crucified for every son and daughter of Adam. Learning and eloquence cannot be depended upon to do the great work that must be done; but if the ability of the speakers is wholly consecrated to God, it will be made a power for good. There are great things in store for those who put their trust in God.
As we looked upon the desolation of Williamsport, we thought of the time when the world was deluged by the flood. In our imagination we could behold dimly the scenes of the terrible destruction in the days of Noah. We thought of the burning of wicked Sodom, when the earth was defiled under its inhabitants, and we remembered that we were living in a time similar to the time preceding the judgments which fell upon the old world. The Spirit of God is now withdrawing from the people of the earth. Men, wrapped up in prosperity, seeking and getting gain, have placed their affections upon earthly things. Few have recognized the longsuffering mercy of God. Few have realized or acknowledged his protecting care. Few have appreciated his goodness and love, although he has kept them from dire disaster and death. As in the days that were before the flood, there has been a strange forgetfulness of God. The blessings that God has given to draw men to himself, have been perverted, and made the means of forgetting him. The special directions given from the pillar of cloud to the people in regard to presenting gifts and offerings, and a faithful tithe of all they possess, have been almost wholly ignored. Says the Scripture, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Men have not had God in their thoughts; they have followed the imagination of their own hearts, and that continually, as did the inhabitants of the old world. The Lord sent a message of warning by his servant Noah, but the people who saw no evidences of the impending evil, laughed his message to scorn. In the world today there is a similar indifference to the warnings of the messengers of God. Reproof and entreaty alike fall upon deaf ears. One turns to another, and asks concerning the solemn messenger, "Does he not speak in parables?" Is not spiritual darkness covering the earth, and gross darkness the people? Do not men stand in defiance of the Most High?
The terrible destruction of life and property at Johnstown and Williamsport, the terrible calamities by land and sea, by flood and fire, cyclone and accident, call for most serious reflection. In the calamity at Johnstown, thousands perished without warning. But we are not to think that because of these judgments, Johnstown and other places visited with calamity, were more deserving of punishment than are other cities and villages. There are those who profess to have advanced light on the Scriptures, who profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand. Have these who make such high profession been faithful in presenting the light to the people? Have they been laborers together with Christ? There are those who are living under the very shadow of our institutions, who are sinning against greater light than were the people of Johnstown, and who are, therefore, becoming more guilty than the veriest sinner who has not had such privileges, and they will more certainly fall under the wrath of God's retributive judgments. With most serious reflection we should search our own hearts, and humble our souls before God.
At a time of calamity there were many in Jerusalem who thought that those who perished were the special subjects of the wrath of God. Says the Scripture, "There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."
Our responsibility and accountability are in proportion to the light that we have had--in proportion to the privileges and opportunities that have been given us. The Lord requires that far greater personal effort shall be put forth by the members of our churches. Souls have been neglected, towns and villages and cities have not heard the truth for this time, because wise missionary efforts have not been made. Irreligion and vice prevail on every hand, most earnest work must be done to come close to souls. This time demands that advance moves be made, that resolute, persevering faith be exercised, that a patient, self-denying, longsuffering spirit be manifested by every member of our churches, and that each one who professes to follow Christ shall become a worker in his moral vineyard. The God-fearing members of the church can do more good by devoted, personal effort than our ministers can accomplish when they feel no burden to labor from house to house. Our ordained ministers must do what they can, but it must not be expected that one man can do the work of all. The Master has appointed unto every man his work. There are visits to be made, there is praying to be done, there is sympathy to be imparted; and the piety--the heart and hand--of the whole church is to be employed, if the work is to be accomplished. You can sit down with your friends, and in a pleasant, social way, talk of the precious Bible faith.
At this important moment of earth's history, there are mighty influences at work; for the enemy of God and man is seeking through many classes to thwart the purposes of God. All who profess to believe that the Lord is soon coming, should reveal their faith by corresponding works. It is well to raise money for home and foreign missionary work; but the time demands more than this. Work must be done that money cannot buy. Light must shine forth in vigorous effort, diligent zeal must be manifested to set the truth before the people by personal work. But the most enthusiastic zeal will accomplish nothing without the cooperation of God. Divine power must combine with human effort, and heart must meet heart as you intercede for the souls of men who are out of Christ. Deep, fervent piety at home, in the church, and in the neighborhood, will bring souls to behold wondrous things out of the law, and to see the glorious truth of Christ our righteousness.
There are grand truths, long hidden under the rubbish of error, that are to be revealed to the people. The doctrine of justification by faith has been lost sight of by many who have professed to believe the third angel's message. The Holiness people have gone to great extremes on this point. With great zeal they have taught, "Only believe in Christ, and be saved; but away with the law of God." This is not the teaching of the word of God. There is no foundation for such a faith. This is not precious gem of truth that God has given to his people for this time. This doctrine misleads honest souls. The light from the word of God reveals the fact that the law must be proclaimed. Christ must be lifted up, because he is a Saviour who forgiveth transgression, iniquity, and sin, but will by no means clear the guilty and unrepentant soul.
God has raised up men to meet the necessity of this time who will cry aloud and spare not, who will lift up their voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. Their work is not only to proclaim the law, but to preach the truth for this time,--the Lord our righteousness. The curse of Meroz will be upon those who do not now come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Well may the question be asked in the spirit of Elijah. "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him."
All heaven is interested in the work that is going on upon the earth. But there are those who see no necessity for a special work at this time. While God is working to arouse the people, they seek to turn aside the message of warning, reproof, and entreaty. Their influence tends to quiet the fears of the people, and to prevent them from awaking to the solemnity of this time. Those who are doing this, are giving the trumpet no certain sound. They ought to be awake to the situation, but they have become ensnared by the enemy. If they do not change their course, they will be recorded on the books of heaven as stewards who are unfaithful in the sacred trusts committed to them, and the same reward will be apportioned to them as to those who are at enmity and in open rebellion against God.
Those who have the truth open before them for this time, bear a solemn responsibility. They must proclaim repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. They must dwell upon the cross of Christ, and call the attention of every soul to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Christ in his self-denial, Christ in his humiliation, Christ in his purity, his holiness, Christ in his matchless love,--this is the theme that needs to be brought out in every discourse. I have been shown that there must be a great awakening among the people of God. Many are unconverted whose names are on the church books. Let these words be repeated by men who are consecrated to the work: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Let the sinner grasp this message as the word of God. Let him repeat it as he comes in penitence and faith to Christ. Let him say, "I am sinful and polluted, but the wrath of God rested upon his divine Son. He suffered humiliation and death, and exhausted the curse that belonged to me. I come, I believe. I claim thy sure promise, 'Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' Will such a plea, made in contrition of soul, be turned away?--No, never.
If God has given his only begotten Son to die, the just for the unjust, he wants every voice to proclaim it; for this is the truth that is to work counter to the lies of Satan. Christ's death for man shows that his compassion and love are without a parallel. Christ's resurrection proves that he has power over death and the grave. He is willing and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #34)
I feel thankful that it is the privilege of everyone to do as we have just sung, "Tear every idol from Thy throne, and worship only Thee." I am thankful that it is not too late for wrongs to be righted; it is not too late to examine our own hearts, and prove ourselves, whether we are in the faith or not; it is not too late to assure ourselves that Christ is abiding in our heart by faith. If we compare ourselves with the great moral standard, we shall understand what are our defects of character. But whatever our defects and shortcomings, we should not be discouraged. We must see our sins, and put them away; for Christ cannot abide in a divided heart.
Our greatest sins which separate our souls from God are unbelief and hardness of heart. Why is it that we are so unbelieving and unimpressible? The reason for it is, we are filled with self-confidence. We feel self-sufficient. If we receive some token of God's blessing, we take it as a guarantee that we are all right; and when reproof comes, we say, "I know that God has accepted me, for he has blessed me, and I will not accept this reproof." What a terrible condition we would be in if the Lord did not bless us! We must study Christ, the Pattern of character that God has given us. If we have a garment to cut, we study the pattern. And in the Christian life, we must give up our own ideas and plans, and go according to the Pattern. But instead of this, we work away from the Pattern. We should not be full of self-conceit. We must say as did John, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
The more you study and copy the Pattern, the less confidence you will have in self. How the enemy has brought his own spirit into our work! We do not love one another, as Christ has enjoined upon us, because we do not love Christ. If your track is crossed in any way, if anyone differs in opinion from you, then in place of feeling humility of mind, in place of carrying your burden to Christ, and asking him for wisdom and light to know what is truth, you draw from him, and are tempted to present your brother's views in a false light, that they shall not have influence. We know that this manner of spirit is not of God, no matter by whom it is manifested. When you see your case as it stands before God, you will have different ideas in regard to your own defects of character than you now have. When views are presented that do not seem in harmony with your own, it should drive you to study your Bible, and investigate it to see if you yourself hold the right position on the subject. That another holds a different opinion, should not stir up the very worst traits of your nature. You should love your brother, and say, "I am willing to investigate your views. Let us come right to the word of God, and prove by the law and the testimony what is truth."
We should feel the necessity of searching the Scriptures for ourselves. We should study God's word until we know that our foundation is on the solid rock. We should dig for the gems of truth. We are to test every man's doctrine by the law and the testimony; for, says the prophet, "if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." John says, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." Those who claim to have light from God, and yet turn away their ear from hearing the law, are under great deception. Those who understandingly reject the fourth commandment are in darkness. Says James, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." It is vain for us to think that we are prepared for the finishing touch of immortality, while we live in willful transgression of any of God's holy precepts.
Suppose a brother should come to us, and present some matter to us in a different light from that in which we had ever looked at it before, should we come together with those who agree with us, to make sarcastic remarks, to ridicule his position, and to form a confederacy to misrepresent his arguments and ideas? Should we manifest a bitter spirit toward him, while neglecting to seek wisdom of God in earnest prayer,--while failing to seek counsel of Heaven? Would you think you were keeping the commandments of God while pursuing such a course toward your brother? Would you be in a condition to recognize the bright beams of heaven's light should it be flashed upon your pathway? Would your heart be ready to receive divine illumination?--No; you would not recognize the light. All this spirit of bigotry and intolerance must be taken away, and the meekness and lowliness of Christ must take its place before the Spirit of God can impress your minds with divine truth. We should come right down to the root of the matter presented, and should not be in a position where we shall have no love for our brother because his ideas differ from our views. If you do take this position, you say by your attitude that you consider your own opinion perfection, and your brother's erroneous.
When a doctrine is presented that does not meet our minds, we should go to the word of God, flee to the Lord in prayer, and give no place to the enemy to come in with suspicion and prejudice. We should never permit that spirit to be manifested that arraigned the priests and rulers against the Redeemer of the world. They complained that he disturbed the people, and they wished he would let them alone; for he caused perplexity and dissension. The Lord sends light among us to prove of what manner of spirit we are. We are not to deceive ourselves. In 1844 when anything came to our attention that we did not understand, we kneeled down, and asked God to help us to take the right position, and then we could come to a right understanding and see eye to eye. There was no dissension, no enmity, no evil-surmising, no misjudging of our brethren. If we only understood the evil of this spirit of intolerance, how we would shun it! We join ourselves to the enemy of God and man when we accuse our brethren, for Satan was an accuser of the brethren. We bear false witness when we add a little to our brother's words, and give them a false coloring; and in the sight of God we are not doers, but transgressors of the law. We are not on the Lord's side; we are on the side of him who hurts, destroys, and tears down the cause of truth. We should pray for one another, instead of drawing apart.
He who keeps the word of truth abides in Christ; in him is the love of God perfected. We should be ready to accept light from God from whatever source it may come, instead of rejecting it because it does not come through the channel from which we expected it. When Jesus opened the word of God at Nazareth, and read Isaiah's prophecy of his work and mission, and declared that it was fulfilled in their hearing, they began to doubt and question. They said, "Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? and his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him." They did not expect light from him, and they rejected the message of God. When he who had been born blind, received his sight, and came to the Pharisees and told them of Jesus, they said, "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out." They settled themselves in unbelief, in rejection of Christ, though they professed to believe in God.
God has commanded us to love one another. If you see defects in a brother, do not say, "I have lost all confidence in him." Have you any right to speak in that way of another? The Scripture commands us to build one another up in the most holy faith. We are to be holy in all manner of conversation. Are your minds broad enough to take in all the circumstances, perplexities, and trials of the brother you condemn?
There are many whose religion consists in criticising habits of dress and manners. They want to bring everyone to their own measure. They desire to lengthen out those who seem too short for their standard, and to cut down others who seem too long. They have lost the love of God out of their hearts; but they think they have a spirit of discernment. They think it is their prerogative to criticise, and pronounce judgment; but they should repent of their error, and turn away from their sins. Peter asked of the Lord concerning John, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" Jesus answered, "What is that to thee? follow thou me." We are to follow the Example. A flood of light shines upon us, and all jealousy should be put away; for jealousy is cruel as the grave. Purge out the old leaven; for a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Let us love one another. Let us have harmony and union throughout our ranks. Let us have our hearts sanctified to God. Let us look upon the light that abides for us in Jesus. Let us remember how forbearing and patient he was with the erring children of men. We should be in a wretched state if the God of heaven were like one of us, and treated us as we are inclined to treat one another. Thank the Lord that his thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways. He is full of compassion and love, longsuffering, and abundant in tender mercy. If we have the love of Jesus, we shall love those for whom he has died. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #35)
We left Williamsport, Pa., June 12 for Rome, N.Y. We were glad to leave the flooded district. As I looked at the ruins from the car windows, and as I read the harrowing details of the destruction of human life at Johnstown, I could but think of the greater disasters that are yet to come upon the world. As the restraining power of the Holy Spirit shall be withdrawn, because of the impenitence and ingratitude of men, terrible things will be witnessed in the earth.
The diligent Bible student knows that the end of all things is at hand. Those who look to the word of God for instruction, have light to see the binding claims of the law of God. They see that the love of God underlies every precept, and that obedience to these precepts will keep man from working his own unhappiness and ruin. The paternal character of God is revealed in his holy law, proving him to be full of mercy, goodness, and truth. God has manifested unparalleled love in giving his beloved Son to die for fallen man; but men have not appreciated this love, and have refused the gift of salvation. How patiently God has borne with sinners, and will still bear with them till the measure of ingratitude and iniquity is full, and the world is ripe for judgment and wrath.
As I looked upon the destruction around me, I determined to be more earnest in warning the people, and in presenting the claims of God's law upon them. Have those who have had great light and great privileges made corresponding improvement? Have they become pure, faithful, and humble before God? The Lord calls for the improvement of every talent he has given, and he will accept the efforts of his servants to become channels of light to others.
There were many delays on our journey, but we finally reached Rome Wednesday forenoon. We were heartily welcomed by our friends in New York, and were soon comfortably situated in a tent prepared for us. I felt worn and exhausted, but I esteemed it a privilege to speak to the people who were assembled. I was compelled to use crutches because of again turning my ankle. The pain was so severe that my heart was affected, and has not even yet fully recovered from the shock.
I was unable to attend the Sabbath services; but I was glad to learn that our brethren had an excellent meeting. The Spirit of the Lord moved upon the hearts of those assembled, and quite a number came forward for prayers. On Sunday afternoon I spoke from the words, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Man will have something with which to occupy his thoughts. The soul cannot be empty. We either love and serve God, or we love and serve mammon. The affections of men cannot be broken from earthly objects unless something of higher value is presented to attract the mind. The enduring treasure and glory of heavenly things must be opened before men, and love of the nobler things of God will win the love of men from the inferior things of earth.
As I spoke to the people, the Lord raised me above my infirmities. In my intense interest for souls, I forgot that I was lame and in need of support. On Monday I had special freedom in addressing the people.
I have felt anxious that the grace of Christ should come to our brethren in the New York Conference. Our people in this Conference have had much to discourage them; but the Lord sent them special messages of mercy and encouragement. If our brethren will let the light which they have received shine in the various churches of which they are members, it will be diffused, and their own hearts will be more decidedly enlightened; but if they neglect to communicate the light, they will be left in darkness. The Lord would have his church arise and shine; for the brightness of the light of God has shone upon his people in the message of present truth. If all will heed the precious words given them from the Great Teacher through his delegated servants, there will be an awakening throughout our ranks, and spiritual vigor will be imparted to the church. We should all desire to know the truth as it is in Jesus. There are good things in store for those who love God, and all who fervently desire his blessing, will receive light and truth as meat in due season.
I felt anxious that the light of heaven might shine upon the people of God in this Conference, that they might zealously repent of their sins, and realize in themselves the fulfillment of the truth uttered by Christ: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The affections of the heart must be changed by the life and power of the word of God, and those who profess the name of Christ must live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. We felt thankful to our Heavenly Father that his message of hope and courage and faith could come before our brethren and sisters in New York, and we deeply regretted that there were not many others present to share the important instruction that was given.
It was a pleasure to meet precious souls with whom we have been acquainted for thirty or forty years. Age is telling upon them; but we rejoice that they still hold aloft the banner of Prince Emmanuel. As the servants of the Lord brought forth things new and old from the treasure house of his word, hope came to the hearts of these old soldiers in the truth. They knew that the message was what they needed, and felt that it came from God. The feeling of many hearts might be expressed in the words of the apostle: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
The present message--justification by faith--is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness. Some who greatly need the precious truth that was presented before them, we fear did not receive its benefit. They did not open the door of their hearts to welcome Jesus as a heavenly guest, and they have suffered great loss. There is indeed a narrow way in which we must walk; the cross is presented at every step. We must learn to live by faith; then the darkest hours will be brightened by the blessed beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
We are not safe if we neglect to search the Scriptures daily for light and knowledge. Earthly blessings cannot be obtained without toil, and can we expect that spiritual and heavenly blessings will come without earnest effort on our part? The mines of truth are to be worked. Says the psalmist, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." The word of God must not be kept apart from our life. It must be entertained in the mind, welcomed in the heart, and be cherished, loved, and obeyed. We need also much more knowledge; we need to be enlightened in regard to the plan of salvation. There is not one in one hundred who understands for himself the Bible truth on this subject that is so necessary to our present and eternal welfare. When light begins to shine forth to make clear the plan of redemption to the people, the enemy works with all diligence that the light may be shut away from the hearts of men. If we come to the word of God with a teachable, humble spirit, the rubbish of error will be swept away, and gems of truth, long hidden from our eyes, will be discovered.
There is great need that Christ should be preached as the only hope and salvation. When the doctrine of justification by faith was presented at the Rome meeting, it came to many as water comes to the thirsty traveler. The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, seemed a precious thought.
The enemy of man and God is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken. If he can control minds so that doubt and unbelief and darkness shall compose the experience of those who claim to be the children of God, he can overcome them with temptation. That simple faith that takes God at his word should be encouraged. God's people must have that faith which will lay hold of divine power; "for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Not all will receive the light, forsake their sins, and believe the words of eternal life, and without drawing back, go on from one truth to another, until guided into all truth. Those who believe that God for Christ's sake has forgiven their sins, should not, through temptation, fail to press on to fight the good fight of faith. Their faith should grow stronger until their Christian life, as well as their words, shall declare, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me from all sin."
Many are in a lukewarm condition, because they do not live by faith, increasing in the knowledge of the truth, going on from light to greater light. Such have need to be greatly alarmed lest that which the Lord has placed within their reach at infinite cost, should be taken away, and given to others who will prize the gift and use it for his glory. There is need of fear and trembling, watchfulness and prayer, lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. If the light that God has given us is held in indifference, if it is not appreciated, it will not increase, but will become darkness.
Our only safety is in continually looking to Jesus. By living faith we must appropriate the precious promises; for every promise and command, necessary for our salvation, must become a part of us, that we may become one with Christ.
In the days of Christ, there were many who beheld his mighty works, listened to his divine instruction, were impressed, and almost persuaded; but they did not profit by their privileges, for confession was not made unto salvation. The impressions did not last because they did not act out their convictions, and those who had been almost persuaded, were not reckoned on the side of Christ. It is perilous to the soul to hesitate, question, and criticise divine light. Satan will present his temptations until the light will appear as darkness, and many will reject the very truth that would have proved the saving of their souls. Those who walk in its rays will find it growing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
Every ray of light that Heaven sends is essential for our salvation. We are living in the last days, and the Lord does not mean to leave us in darkness and uncertainty. There are great blessings in store for those who keep the commandments of God, not in name merely, but in sincerity and truth. It has been necessary to exalt the great standard of righteousness, but in doing this, many have neglected to preach the faith of Jesus. If we would have the spirit and power of the third angel's message, we must present the law and the gospel together, for they go hand in hand. As a power from beneath is stirring up the children of disobedience to make void the law of God, and to trample upon the faith of Christ as our righteousness, a power from above is moving upon the hearts of those who are loyal to exalt the law, and to lift up Jesus as a complete Saviour. Unless divine power is brought into the experience of the people of God, false theories and erroneous ideas will take minds captive, Christ and his righteousness will be dropped out of the experience of many, and their faith will be without power or life. Such will not have a daily, living experience of the love of God in the heart, and if they do not zealously repent, they will be among those who are represented by the Laodiceans, who will be spewed out of the mouth of God.
The Lord can do little for his people, because of their limited faith. The ministers have not presented Christ in his fullness to the people, either in the churches or in new fields, and the people have not an intelligent faith. They have not been instructed as they should have been, that Christ is unto them both salvation and righteousness. The love that Christ manifested in taking human nature, in bearing insult, reproach, and the rejection of men, in suffering crucifixion on the cross, should be presented in every discourse. It is Satan's studied purpose to keep souls from believing in Christ as their only hope; for the blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin is only efficacious in behalf of those who believe in its merit, and who present it before the Father as did Abel in his offering.
The offering of Cain was an offense to God, because it was a Christless offering. The burden of our message is not only the commandments of God, but the faith of Jesus. A bright light shines upon our pathway today, and it leads to increased faith in Jesus. We must receive every ray of light, and walk in it, that it may not be our condemnation in the judgment. Our duties and obligations become more important as we obtain more distinct views of truth. Light makes manifest, and reproves the errors that were concealed in darkness; and as light comes, the life and character of men must change correspondingly to be in harmony with it. Sins that were once sins of ignorance because of the blindness of the mind, can no more be indulged in without incurring guilt. When light, searched out carefully and prayerfully, is flashed upon the mind from the living oracles, individuals and churches are placed under greater responsibility than before. As increased light is given, men must be reformed, elevated, and refined by it, or they will be more perverse and stubborn than before the light came.
Our present position is interesting and perilous. The danger of refusing light from heaven should make us watchful unto prayer, lest we should any of us have an evil heart of unbelief. When the Lamb of God was crucified on Calvary, the death knell of Satan was sounded; and if the enemy of truth and righteousness can obliterate from the mind the thought that it is necessary to depend upon the righteousness of Christ for salvation, he will do it. If Satan can succeed in leading man to place value upon his own works as works of merit and righteousness, he knows that he can overcome him by his temptations, and make him his victim and prey. Lift up Jesus before the people. Strike the doorposts with the blood of Calvary's Lamb, and you are safe. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #36)
In the Hebrew economy, one-tenth of the income of the people was set apart to support the public worship of God. Thus Moses declared to Israel: "All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord." "And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, . . . the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord."
But the tithing system did not originate with the Hebrews. From the earliest times the Lord claimed a tithe as his, and this claim was recognized and honored. Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec, the priest of the most high God. Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and wanderer, promised the Lord, "Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." As the Israelites were about to be established as a nation, the law of tithing was re-affirmed, as one of the divinely ordained statutes upon obedience to which their prosperity depended.
The system of tithes and offerings was intended to impress the minds of men with a great truth,--that God is the source of every blessing to his creatures, and that to him man's gratitude is due for the good gifts of his providence.
"He giveth to all life and breath and all things." He declares, "Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine." And it is God who gives men power to get wealth. As an acknowledgment that all things came from him, the Lord directed that a portion of his bounty should be returned to him, in gifts and offerings to sustain his worship.
"The tithe . . . is the Lord's." Here the same form of expression is employed as in the law of the Sabbath. "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." God reserved to himself a specified portion of man's time and of his means, and no man could, without guilt, appropriate either for his own interests.
The tithe was to be exclusively devoted to the use of the Levites, the tribe that had been set apart for the service of the sanctuary. But this was by no means the limit of the contributions for religious purposes. The tabernacle, as afterward the temple, was erected wholly by freewill offerings; and to provide for necessary repairs, and other expenses, Moses directed that as often as the people were numbered, each should contribute a half shekel for "the service of the tabernacle." In the time of Nehemiah a contribution was brought yearly for this purpose. From time to time, sin offerings and thank offerings were brought to God. These were presented in great numbers at the annual feasts. And the most liberal provision was made for the poor.
Even before the tithe could be reserved, there had been an acknowledgment of the claims of God. The first that ripened of every product of the land, was consecrated to him. The first of the wool when the sheep were shorn, of the grain when the wheat was threshed, the first of the oil and the wine, was set apart for God. So also were the firstborn of all animals; and a redemption price was paid for the firstborn son. The firstfruits were to be presented before the Lord at the sanctuary, and were then devoted to the use of the priests.
Thus the people were constantly reminded that God was the true proprietor of their fields, their flocks, and their herds; that he sent them sunshine and rain for their seedtime and harvest, and that everything they possessed was of his creation, and he had made them stewards of his goods.
As the men of Israel, laden with the firstfruits of field and orchard and vineyard, gathered at the tabernacle, there was made a public acknowledgment of God's goodness. When the priest accepted the gift, the offerer, speaking as in the presence of Jehovah, said, "A Syrian ready to perish was my father;" and he described the sojourn in Egypt, and the affliction from which God had delivered Israel "with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders." And he said, "He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which thou, Jehovah, hast given me."
The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes, amounted to fully one-fourth of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity. God's promise to them on condition of obedience, was: "I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field. . . . And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."
A striking illustration of the results of selfishly withholding even freewill offerings from the cause of God, was given in the days of the prophet Haggai. After their return from the captivity in Babylon, the Jews undertook to rebuild the temple of the Lord; but meeting determined opposition from their enemies, they discontinued the work; and a severe drought, by which they were reduced to actual want, convinced them that it was impossible to complete the building of the temple. "The time is not come," they said, "the time that the Lord's house should be built." But a message was sent them by the Lord's prophet, "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes." And then the reason is given: "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands." "When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting, and with mildew, and with hail in all the labors of your hands."
Roused by these warnings, the people set themselves to build the house of God. Then the word of the Lord came to them, "Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, . . . from this day will I bless you."
Says the wise man, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but in tendeth to poverty." And the same lesson is taught in the New Testament by the apostle Paul: "He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. . . God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."
God intended that his people Israel should be lightbearers to all the people of the earth. In maintaining his public worship they were bearing a testimony to the existence and sovereignty of the living God. And this worship it was their privilege to sustain, as an expression of their loyalty and their love to him.
The Lord has ordained that the diffusion of light and truth in the earth shall be dependent upon the efforts and offerings of those who are partakers of the heavenly gift. He might have made angels the ambassadors of his truth; he might have made known his will, as he proclaimed the law from Sinai, with his own voice; but in his infinite love and wisdom, he called men to become co-laborers with himself by choosing them to do this work.
In the days of Israel, the tithes and freewill offerings were needed to maintain the ordinances of divine service. Should the people of God give less in this age? The principle laid down by Christ is, that our offerings to God should be in proportion to the light and privileges enjoyed. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." Said the Saviour to his disciples, as he sent them forth, "Freely ye have received, freely give." As our blessings and privileges are increased,--above all, as we have before us the unparalleled sacrifice of the glorious Son of God,--should not our gratitude find expression in more abundant gifts to extend to others the message of salvation? The gospel, as it extends and widens, requires greater provision to sustain it than was called for anciently; and this makes the law of tithes and offerings of even more urgent necessity now than under the Hebrew economy.
If his people were liberally to sustain his cause by their voluntary gifts, instead of resorting to unchristian and unhallowed methods to fill the treasury, God would be honored, and many more souls would be won to Christ.
The plan of Moses to raise means for the building of the tabernacle was highly successful. No urging was necessary. Nor did he employ any of the devices to which churches in our day so often resort. He made no grand feast. He did not invite the people to scenes of gayety, dancing, and general amusement, neither did he institute lotteries, nor anything of this profane order, to obtain means to erect the tabernacle of God. The Lord directed Moses to invite the children of Israel to bring their offerings. He was to accept gifts from everyone that gave willingly, from his heart. And the offerings came in so great abundance that Moses bade the people cease bringing, for they had supplied more than could be used.
God has made men his stewards. The property which he has placed in their hands is the means that he has provided for the spread of the gospel. To those who prove themselves faithful stewards, he will commit greater trusts. Saith the Lord, "Them that honor me, I will honor." "God loveth a cheerful giver," and when his people, with grateful hearts, bring their gifts and offerings to him, "not grudgingly, or of necessity," his blessing will attend them, as he has promised. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #37)
To promote the assembling of the people for religious service, as well as to provide for the poor, a second tithe of all the increase was required. Concerning the first tithe, the Lord had declared, "I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel." But in regard to the second he commanded, "Thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always." This tithe, or its equivalent in money, they were for two years to bring to the place where the sanctuary was established. After presenting a thank offering to God, and a specified portion to the priest, the offerers were to use the remainder for a religious feast, in which the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow should participate. Thus provision was made for the thank offerings and feasts at the yearly festivals, and the people were drawn to the society of the priests and Levites that they might receive instruction and encouragement in the service of God. Every third year, however, this second tithe was to be used at home, in entertaining the Levite and the poor, as Moses said, "That they may eat within thy gates, and be filled." This tithe would provide a fund for the uses of charity and hospitality.
And further provision was made for the poor. There is nothing, after their recognition of the claims of God, that more distinguishes the laws given by Moses than the liberal, tender, and hospitable spirit enjoined toward the poor. Although God had promised greatly to bless his people, it was not his design that poverty should be wholly unknown among them. He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land. There would ever be those among his people who would call into exercise their sympathy, tenderness, and benevolence. Then, as now, persons were subject to misfortune, sickness, and loss of property; yet so long as they followed the instruction given by God, there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food.
The law of God gave the poor a right to a certain portion of the produce of the soil. When hungry, a man was at liberty to go to his neighbor's field or orchard or vineyard, and eat of the grain or fruit to satisfy his hunger. It was in accordance with this permission that Jesus and his disciples plucked and ate of the standing grain as they passed through the field on the Sabbath day.
All the gleanings of harvest field, orchard, and vineyard, belonged to the poor. "When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field," said Moses, "and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it. . . . When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again. . . . When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward. It shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt."
Every seventh year, special provision was made for the poor. The sabbatical year, as it was called, began at the end of the harvest. At the seedtime, which followed the ingathering, the people were not to sow. They should not dress the vineyard in the spring, and they must expect neither harvest nor vintage. Of that which the land produced spontaneously, they might eat while fresh, but they were not to lay up any portion of it in their storehouses. The yield of this year was to be free for the stranger, the Fatherless, and the widow, and even for the creatures of the field.
But if the land ordinarily produced only enough to supply the wants of the people, how were they to subsist during the year when no crops were gathered? For this the promise of God made ample provision. "I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year," he said, "and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store."
The observance of the sabbatical year was to be a benefit to both the land and the people. The soil, lying untilled for one season, would afterward produce more plentifully. The people were released from the pressing labors of the field; and while there were various branches of work that could be followed during this time, all enjoyed greater leisure, which afforded opportunity for the restoration of their physical powers for the exertions of the following years. They had more time for meditation and prayer, for acquainting themselves with the teachings and requirements of the Lord, and for the instruction of their households.
In the sabbatical year the Hebrew slaves were to be set at liberty, and they were not to be sent away portionless. The Lord's direction was, "When thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty. Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress. Of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt given unto him."
The hire of the laborer was to be promptly paid: "Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land. . . . At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it."
Special directions were also given concerning the treatment of fugitives from service: "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best; thou shalt not oppress him."
To the poor, the seventh year was a year of release from debt. The Hebrews were enjoined at all times to assist their needy brethren by lending them money without interest. To take usury from a poor man was expressly forbidden: "If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase." If the debt remained unpaid until the year of release, the principal itself could not be recovered. The people were expressly warned against withholding from their brethren needed assistance on account of this: "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren, . . . thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. . . . Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him naught; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee." "The poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land," "and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth."
None need fear that their liberality would bring them to poverty. Obedience to God's commandments would surely result in prosperity. "Thou shalt lend unto many nations, " he said, "but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee."
After seven "sabbaths of years," "seven times seven years," came the great year of release,--the jubilee. "Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound . . . throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family."
"On the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement," the trumpet of the jubilee was sounded. Throughout the land, wherever the Jewish people dwelt, the sound was heard, calling upon all the children of Jacob to welcome the year of release. On the great day of atonement, satisfaction was made for the sins of Israel, and with gladness of heart the people would welcome the jubilee.
As in the sabbatical year, the land was not to be sown nor reaped, and all that it produced was to be regarded as the rightful property of the poor. Certain classes of Hebrew slaves--all who did not receive their liberty in the sabbatical year--were now set free.
But that which especially distinguished the year of jubilee was the reversion of all landed property to the family of the original possessor. By the special direction of God, the land had been divided by lot. After the division was made, no one was at liberty to trade his estate. Neither was he to sell his land unless poverty compelled him to do so, and then, whenever he or any of his kindred might desire to redeem it, the purchaser must not refuse to sell it; and if unredeemed, it would revert to its first possessor or his heirs in the year of jubilee.
The Lord declared to Israel, "The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me." The people were to be impressed with the fact that it was God's land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that he was the rightful owner, the original proprietor, and that he would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. It was to be impressed upon the minds of all that the poor have as much right to a place in God's world, as have the more wealthy.
Such were the provisions made by our merciful Creator, to lessen suffering, to bring some ray of hope, to flash some gleam of sunshine, into the life of the destitute and distressed.
The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate love of property and power. Great evils would result from the continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and degradation of another. Without some restraint, the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God's sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren. The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society, and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established, were designed to promote social equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation.
These regulations were designed to bless the rich no less than the poor. They would restrain avarice and disposition for self-exaltation, and would cultivate a noble spirit of benevolence; and by fostering goodwill and confidence between all classes, they would promote social order, the stability of government. We are all woven together in the great web of humanity, and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others, will reflect in blessing upon ourselves. The law of mutual dependence runs through all classes of society. The poor are not more dependent upon the rich than are the rich upon the poor. While the one class ask a share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon their wealthier neighbors, the other need the faithful service, the strength of brain and bone and muscle, that are the capital of the poor.
Great blessings were promised to Israel on condition of obedience to the Lord's directions. "I will give you rain in due season," he declared, "and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. . . . I will walk among you, and will be your God and ye shall be my people. . . . But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments, . . . but that ye break my covenant, . . . . ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies; they that hate you shall reign over you, and ye shall flee when none pursueth you."
There are many who urge with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God, but this was not the purpose of the Creator. A diversity of condition is one of the means by which God designs to prove and develop character. Yet he intends that those who have worldly possessions shall regard themselves merely as stewards of his goods, as intrusted with means to be employed for the benefit of the suffering and the needy.
Christ has said that we shall have the poor always with us; and our Saviour unites his interest with that of his suffering people. The heart of our Redeemer sympathizes with the poorest and lowliest of his earthly children. He tells us that they are his representatives on earth. He has placed them among us to awaken in our hearts the love that he feels toward the suffering, and oppressed. Pity and benevolence shown to them are accepted by Christ as if shown to himself. An act of cruelty or neglect toward them is regarded as though done to him.
If the law given by God for the benefit of the poor had continued to be carried out, how different would be the present condition of the world, morally, spiritually, and temporally! Selfishness and self-importance would not be manifested as now, but each would cherish a kind regard for the happiness and welfare of others; and such widespread destitution as is now seen in many lands, would not exist.
The principles which God has enjoined, would prevent the terrible evils that in all ages have resulted from the grinding oppression of the rich toward the poor, and the suspicion and hatred of the poor toward the rich. While they might hinder the amassing of great wealth, and the indulgence of unbounded luxury, they would prevent the consequent ignorance and degradation of tens of thousands whose ill-paid servitude is required to build up these colossal fortunes. They would bring a peaceful solution of those problems that now threaten to fill the world with anarchy and bloodshed. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #39)
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Eph. 3:14-19.
How can we harmonize our dwarfed spiritual condition with the presentation of our text that describes the fullness of knowledge it is our privilege to possess? How can Heaven look upon us, who have had every spiritual and temporal advantage that we might grow in grace, when we have not improved our opportunities? The apostle did not write these words to tantalize us, to deceive us, or to raise our expectations only to have them disappointed in our experience. He wrote these words to show us what we may and must be, if we would be heirs of the kingdom of God. How can we be laborers together with God, if we have a dwarfed experience? We have a knowledge of the Christian's privilege, and should seek for that deep, spiritual understanding in the things of God that the Lord has desired us to have.
Do we really believe the Bible? Do we really believe that we may attain to the knowledge of God that is presented before us in this text? Do we believe every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God? Do we believe the words that have been spoken by prophets and apostles, by Jesus Christ, who is the author of all light and blessing, and in whom dwelleth all richness and fullness? Do we really believe in God, and in his Son?
There are many who have a merely nominal faith, but this faith will not save you. Many believe in Christ because somebody else does, because the minister has told them this or that; but if you rest your faith only on the minister's word, you will be lost. You must not do as did the foolish virgins, who, when the cry came, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh," found no oil in their vessels. When they discovered their lack, they sought those who were wise, and applied to them for oil for their dying lights; but it was too late to supply them. The wise had only enough for their own use, and they told the foolish virgins they must go and buy oil for themselves. We all must buy oil for ourselves. We must not be content with a mere profession. We are to take a stand for the truth by profession, and the principles of truth must become a part of our life.
There are many who know nothing of the new birth. They do not know that the truth will test them, and make manifest whether they really are in the truth or not. We should see to it that we are not deceived. We should know that we are really rooted and grounded in the truth. The Lord wants us to have the fullness of his blessing, that we may not be on the side of the questioner and the doubter, but have spiritual discernment, and be able to know the voice of the True Shepherd from the voice of a stranger. We must have an individual experience. Do not flatter yourselves that because you have made a high profession, you are the light of the world. The question is, "Are you the light of the world, or are you the darkness of the world?"
All heaven has its expectation of you to whom the precious light has been intrusted. The light has shone upon you in clear, bright rays from the throne of the living God. The question of most vital importance to each one is, "Is it well with my soul?" It is not well with anyone unless he has met and responded to the light that Heaven has permitted to shine upon his mind. The light of truth is more precious than anything besides; it is more precious than gold and silver. The most magnificent palaces are nothing in comparison to the truth, and this light is to test us and to make manifest of what spirit we are.
In the world before the flood, God tested men with his message of warning. He had blessed them with great wealth; they were rich and increased with goods. Did they appreciate their blessings? Did the bestowal of these great and wonderful gifts fill them with gratitude? Did they prepare themselves for the mansions of heaven which Christ will give to all his faithful children? Were their hearts brought nearer to God?--No; they used the gifts of God to glorify themselves; their riches did not commend them to the favor of God. Riches cannot procure his favor. Riches will make no difference with his judgment of character.
Men despise the unfortunate and the poor. They do not appreciate the fact that it is moral worth that makes men of value with God. God estimates character with a different measure from the world. Some men are lifted up with pride when they attain positions of honor. They act as though they were the lords of creation, but a man in the sight of heaven is one who is connected with Christ, who walks in humility of mind, and serves God from the principle of love. God does not need to estimate men by their riches. The cattle upon a thousand hills are his. The beasts of Lebanon would not be sufficient for a burnt offering. He takes up the isles as a very little thing; everything is manifest and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. He knows who are committing robbery toward him in withholding their means from his cause, or in withholding their tact and ability from his service. He knows who have buried their talents in the earth. There is nothing in the history of our life but he understands, and we are to live with an eye single to his glory. What is man in himself? He is only weakness, and yet he is privileged to know the length and depth and breadth and height of God's love, which passeth knowledge.
We cannot explain the great mystery of the plan of redemption. Jesus took upon himself humanity, that he might reach humanity; but we cannot explain how divinity was clothed with humanity. An angel would not have known how to sympathize with fallen man, but Christ came to the world and suffered all our temptations, and carried all our griefs. Are you not glad that he was tempted in all points like as we are, and yet without sin? Our hearts should be filled with gratitude to him. We should be able to present to God a continual thank offering for his wonderful love. Jesus can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. When we are in sorrow and trouble and temptation, we need not think nobody knows, nobody can understand. O, no; Jesus has passed over every step of the ground before you, and he knows all about it.
I have heard those who have been in the faith for years, say that they used to be able to endure trial and difficulty, but since the infirmities of age began to press upon them, they had been greatly distressed when brought under discipline. What does this mean? Does it mean that Jesus has ceased to be your Saviour? Does it mean that when you are old and grayheaded, you are privileged to display unholy passion? Think of this. You should use your reasoning powers in this matter, as you do in temporal things. You should deny self, and make your service to God the first business of your life. You must not permit anything to disturb your peace. There is no need of it; there must be a constant growth, a constant progress in the divine life.
Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, whose base rests upon the earth, and whose topmost round reaches into the highest heaven; and round after round, you must mount this ladder until you reach the everlasting kingdom. There is no excuse for becoming more like Satan, more like human nature. God has set before us the height of the Christian's privilege, and it is "to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #40)
I hope that at the beginning of this meeting our hearts may be impressed with the positive statement of our Saviour, "Without me ye can do nothing." We have a great and solemn truth committed to us for these last days, but a mere assent to and belief in this truth will not save us. The principles of the truth must be interwoven with our character and life. We should cherish every ray of light that falls upon our pathway, and live up to the requirements of God. We should grow in spirituality. We are losing a great deal of the blessing we might have at this meeting, because we do not take advance steps in the Christian life, as our duty is presented before us; and this will be an eternal loss.
If we had a just appreciation of the importance and greatness of our work, and could see ourselves as we are at this time, we should be filled with wonder that God could use us, unworthy as we are, in the work of bringing souls into the truth. There are many things that we ought to be able to understand, that we do not comprehend because we are so far behind our privileges. Christ said to his disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." This is our condition. Would they not have been able to understand what he had to say to them, if they had been doers of his word--if they had improved point after point of the truth which he had presented to them? But although they could not then understand, he told them that he would send the Comforter, who would lead them into all truth. We should be in a position where we can comprehend the teaching, leading, and working of the Spirit of Christ. We must not measure God or his truth by our finite understanding, or by our preconceived opinions.
There are many who do not realize where they are standing; for they are spiritually blinded. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" I trust that none of us will be found to be reprobates. Is Christ abiding in your hearts by faith? Is his Spirit in you? If it is, there will be such a yearning in your soul for the salvation of those for whom Christ has died, that self will sink into insignificance, and Christ alone will be exalted. Brethren and sisters, there is great need at this time of humbling ourselves before God, that the Holy Spirit may come upon us.
There are many who are content with a superficial knowledge of the truth. The precious truths for this time are brought out so clearly in our publications, that many are satisfied, and do not search the Scriptures for themselves. They do not meditate upon the statements made, and bring every proposition to the law and to the testimony, to see if their ideas correspond to the word of God. Many do not feel that it is essential for them to compare scripture with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual; and therefore they do not grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, as it is their privilege to do. They accept the truth, without any deep conviction of sin, and present themselves as laborers in the cause of God when they are unconverted men. One says, "I want to do something in the cause of truth;" another says, "I want to enter the ministry;" and as our brethren are very anxious to get all the laborers they can, they accept these men without considering whether their lives give evidence that they have a saving knowledge of Christ. No one should be accepted as a laborer in the sacred cause of God, until he makes manifest that he has a real, living experience in the things of God. One reason why the church is in a backslidden state is, that so many have come into the truth in this way, and have never known what it is to have the converting power of God upon their souls.
There are many ministers who have never been converted. They come to the prayer meeting and pray the same old, lifeless prayers over and over; they preach the same dry discourses over and over, from week to week, and from month to month. They have nothing new and inspiring to present to their congregations, and it is evident that they are not eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of man, for they have no life in them. They are not partakers of the divine nature; Christ is not abiding in their hearts by faith.
Those who profess to be united to Christ, should be laborers together with God. The people of God are to warn the world, and to prepare a people to stand in the day of wrath when the Son of man shall come in the clouds of heaven. The members of the church of Christ should gather up the divine rays of light from Jesus, and reflect them to others, leaving a bright track heavenward in the world. They are to be as the wise virgins, having their lamps trimmed and burning, representing the character of Christ to the world. We are not to be satisfied with anything short of this. We are not to be satisfied with our own righteousness, and content without the deep movings of the Spirit of God.
Christ says, "Without me ye can do nothing." It is this marked nothingness, so apparent in the labors of many who profess to be preaching the truth, that alarms us; for we know that this is an evidence that they have not felt the converting power of Christ upon their hearts. You may look from the topmost bough to the lowest branch of their work, and you will find nothing but leaves. God desires us to come up to a higher standard. It is not his will that we should have such a dearth of spirituality. There are some young men that say they have given themselves to the work, who need a genuine experience in the things of God before they are fit to labor in the cause of Christ. Instead of going without the camp, bearing reproach for Christ's sake; instead of seeking the hard places, and trying to bring souls into the truth, these beginners settle themselves in an easy position to visit those who are far advanced in experience. They labor with those who are more capable of teaching them than they are of teaching others. They go from church to church, picking out the easy places, eating and drinking, and suffering others to wait upon them. When you look to see what they have done, there is nothing but leaves. They bring in the report, "I preached here, and I preached there;" but where are the sheaves they have garnered? Where are the souls that have embraced the truth through their efforts? Where is the evidence of their piety and devotion? Those who are bringing the churches up to a higher standard, by earnest efforts as soldiers of Jesus Christ, are doing a good work.
Too often the churches have been robbed by the class I have mentioned; for they take their support from the treasury, and bring nothing in return. They are continually drawing out the means that should be devoted to the support of worthy laborers. There should be a thorough investigation of the cases of those who present themselves to labor in the cause. The apostle warns you to "lay hands suddenly on no man." If the life is not what God can accept, the labors will be worthless; but if Christ is abiding in the heart by faith, every wrong will be made right, and those who are soldiers of Christ will be willing to prove it by a well-ordered life. There are many who enter the ministry, and their influence demoralizes the churches; and when they are rejected, they take their dismissal as a personal wrong. They have not Christ in the soul, as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.
I want to exhort those who are in positions of responsibility, to waken to their duty, and not imperil the cause of present truth by engaging inefficient men to do the work of God. We want men who are willing to go into new fields, and to do hard service for the Lord. I remember visiting in Iowa when the country was new, and I saw the farmers breaking the new ground. I noticed that they had heavy teams, and made tremendous efforts to make deep furrows, but the laborers gained strength and muscle by the exercise of their physical powers. It will make our young men strong to go into new fields, and break up the fallow ground of men's hearts. This work will drive them nearer to God. It will help them to see that they are altogether inefficient in themselves. They must be wholly the Lords. They must put away their self-esteem and self-importance, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When they do this, they will be willing to go without the camp, and bear the burden as good soldiers of the cross. They will gain efficiency and ability by mastering difficulties and overcoming obstacles. Men are wanted for responsible positions, but they must be men who have given full proof of their ministry in willingness to wear the yoke of Christ. Heaven regards this class with approval.
I exhort you to have the eyesalve, that you may discern what God would have you do. There are too many Christless sermons preached. An array of powerless words only confirms the people in their backslidings. May God help us that his Spirit may be made manifest among us. We should not wait until we go home to obtain the blessing of Heaven. The ministers should begin right here with the people to seek God, and to work from the right standpoint. Those who have been long in the work, have been far too content to wait for the showers of the latter rain to revive them. We are the people who, like John, are to prepare the way of the Lord; and if we are prepared for the second coming of Christ, we must work with all diligence to prepare others for Christ's second advent, as did the forerunner of Christ for his first advent, calling men to repentance. The truth of God must be brought into the soul temple, to cleanse and purify it from all defilement. May God help us to search the Scriptures for ourselves, and when we are all filled with the truth of God, it will flow out as water from a living spring. We cannot exhaust the heavenly fountain, and the more we draw, the more we shall delight to draw from the living waters. O may we be converted! We want the minister and the young men to be converted. We want to lift up the standard. Let all the people come up to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us pray that we may hunger and thirst after righteousness; for Jesus says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #42)
We should each feel a responsibility resting upon us in regard to the prosperity of the church. There should be an individual sense of what constitutes a Christian's duty in the church of God. New churches will be raised up constantly in different cities and villages, and it is necessary that we should know just how to deal with them. It is of the greatest importance that those who are associated together in the capacity of church members, should be learning how to build up the church of Christ in the most holy faith.
We cannot expect that ministers will be permanently located in settled charges, as they are located in other denominations; but each church member must individually learn to bear responsibility, and become a worker, making the advance of the cause of truth the first and highest interest of his life. Each one must devote his God-given power to the work of God; for everyone has a part to act if the church is to be successfully established and carried on. The ignorance and inexperience of church members in regard to their duty in the church cannot be pleasing to God. The religious life of some is characterized by impulsive movements. They are as likely to be erratic as to be correct. Some are impatient and restless, while others are indolent and indifferent; and there is such a diversity of opinion and action that there is division instead of harmony in the church.
If each member of the church felt an interest to bless and benefit the church, he would have a keen anxiety to see it prosper. It is simple mismanagement that demoralizes our churches. It is because the members of the church do not act their part with fidelity, that the cause of truth is not further advanced. Development and discipline are essential if we would see growth and prosperity in every church. There must be concerted action, and the members of the church must move together like a band of well-trained soldiers. The mind requires constant discipline in order to be trained to do acceptable work for Jesus. The mental faculties must be constantly expanded by exercise, that their highest usefulness may be developed. If church members are educated to be silent and useless members, instead of benefiting the church, they will be a hindrance to its advancement and growth. If they are educated to lean upon the minister, they will become only inefficient and demoralized members, and the church will be powerless, instead of active and efficient.
God has given to his ministers intellectual ability, and this ability they have sought to bring into the work of God under divine direction. But the fact that God has called the minister to a special work in the cause of Christ, is no reason that all the burden and all the responsibility should be laid upon the minister. God has given reasoning powers to all the members of the church; and he says to the members as well as to the minister. "Ye are the light of the world." The minister must set a godly example before the members of the church. Says Christ, speaking of his disciples, "I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
The light of truth is shining upon our pathway, and it is not one light that is shining upon the minister's pathway and another light upon the pathway of the members of the church, but it is the same light. Everyone who professes the name of Christ should be a laborer together with God. We are members one of another, and every member should feel a responsibility to train himself to bless and benefit the church. The members of the church should feel that the house of God is their house, and that they are of the family of heaven. They should so conduct themselves that God will be pleased to abide with them.
Those who profess the name of Christ should not neglect to establish, the family altar, where they can seek God daily with all the earnestness with which they would seek him in a religious assembly. They should make the season of family prayer a season of special interest, and in this way they will be obtaining an education that will fit them to become a benefit to the church. You may obtain a knowledge of how to serve God acceptably in the home. You may learn how to pray, you may learn how to believe in God; and those who neglect this means of grace in their families, are not preparing themselves for usefulness in the church.
If parents educate their children to have the fear of God before their eyes, if they command their households after them as did Abraham, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, they are educating themselves and their children to bear responsibilities in the cause of Christ. But if they are content to omit the daily season of family prayer, then they are disqualifying themselves and their children to take part in the work of the church. It is of more importance to pray and bear testimony in an intelligent manner, than it is to be intelligent about matters of secular business. In association with the family, we have an excellent opportunity to bring religion into our home, and to present our petitions to the throne of grace. Church members should never feel so pressed with secular business as to neglect family prayer. It is impossible to estimate the loss sustained by such neglect, for from what source can you obtain light to guide your feet in the paths of righteousness, except through the channel of prayer? Where will you obtain the light that you are to reflect to the world, if you do not seek God often and earnestly? God is the source of our help and strength, and we should desire the light and blessing which he has to bestow upon us, that we may reflect the light upon others.
We should arouse every energy that God has given us, and should pray without ceasing. We should press our petitions to the throne of grace. We should plead with God to give us the spirit of supplication, that we may seek for those things which he has pledged himself to bestow upon us. If you pray in faith, you will gain a rich experience, because you will be living as in the sight of God; and when you come together on the Sabbath in the capacity of a social or prayer meeting, the angels of God will accompany you, to be round about you in the house of worship. You will not be without a testimony to bear to the glory of God.
Says the prophet, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another. And the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." You can see from this text that the burden of the social meeting does not rest upon one individual, but upon all. We are to speak one to another. There is nothing that will so completely kill out the true spirit of devotion in social worship as for one to occupy the time to the exclusion of others. When one person takes up twenty or thirty minutes in a long-drawn testimony, it is not for the glory of God, but that self may be exhibited; it is not for the prosperity of him who does it, or for the prosperity of the church. It is death to the meeting. Those who are willing to let someone else do their talking for them, are willing to rob themselves of the blessing that God has for them, and they are failing to obtain the experience which it is necessary for them to have in order that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. It is essential that every member of the church should keep himself in working order, so that he can have freedom in speaking his thoughts intelligently to the members of the church.
When one person takes up an undue proportion of the time, he is depriving someone else of his privilege to speak in meeting, and is giving an entirely wrong mold to the service. It would be entirely proper for the one who is appointed to lead the meeting; to call upon others frequently to take his place; and let everyone who names the name of Christ have a testimony to bear in social meeting. Let it be right to the point, relating personal experience as to what God has done for your soul. No one has a right to take up time that belongs to another, and so deprive a brother of his privilege to bear testimony. This long sermonizing does not benefit any of the hearers. But while one person should not occupy all the time, there should be no waiting one upon another. Those who have an abundance to say out of meeting, should not be found silent in meeting. We have certainly subject matter enough about which to talk. We have the great principles of salvation revealed in the word of God, which concern our eternal welfare, and our very souls should be all aglow with the love of God. We should be ready to speak forth his praises. Christ should abide in our hearts by faith, that we may learn of him, and be laborers together with him. We should unitedly go forth, determined, through the help of God, to bear testimony to his glory in every act of our life. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #44)
Just before us is a time of trouble such as never was, and those who are weaving the principles of truth into their practical life will soon understand what the wrath of the dragon means. Every soul who loves God will be tested in regard to his sacred law. Christians must stand on the elevated and holy ground which advanced truth has given them. The light shining forth from the Scriptures for these last days, will qualify those who walk in it, to stand before magistrates and rulers, and will enable them to lift up the true standard of religion by their intelligent knowledge of the word of God. The word of God has been neglected, but it is high time to wake to the necessity of diligent and prayerful study of the Scriptures. God would have us study the history of his dealing with men and nations in the past, that we may learn to respect and obey his messages, that we may take heed to his warnings and counsels.
God tested the world when he sent, through Noah, a message to the antediluvians. He sent warning after warning that the world would be destroyed by the waters of the flood; but the wise men of the age despised the message, and showed contempt for God's messenger. They had so far separated themselves from God that they trusted to the imaginations of their own hearts, and cared not to know the will of God. But the unbelief of great and intelligent men did not prevent the fulfillment of God's pronounced judgments. The judgments came as God had declared by the word of his prophets that they would come. Only faithful Noah and his family entered into the ark, and were saved when the deluge engulfed the world. The days of Noah are pointed to as an illustration of the unbelief that will prevail at the end of the world. Says the Saviour, "But as the days of Noe where, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
If a similar condition of things is to exist in our day, we should be intelligent concerning it, and have sanctified judgment, that we may not take a course like the course of those who perished in the flood. We should be so instructed that we will not follow a multitude to do evil. God has sent reproofs and warnings that men might repent of their transgressions, and forsake the evil of their ways, and so escape his threatened judgments. God has always made a refuge for those who have repented of their sins, believed in his love, and hoped in his mercy.
Heavenly messengers visited Sodom, and told Lot of the impending destruction, and he was permitted to warn his relatives and friends, and to invite them to seek the protection of God. Lot earnestly besought them to believe his words. He knew that their destiny for life or death depended upon their decision to obey or reject the warning. But they had corrupted their ways before God, and Lot's message seemed to them but folly and madness. They mocked at his agonized entreaties. He tarried long with them, so loth to give them up to their own unwise decision, that the angels had to take him by force and hurry him out of the city with his wife and daughters. The angel gave the command, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee." But notwithstanding the warning, Lot's wife, whose heart was in the city devoted to destruction, did not obey, but turned to look behind her, and was changed to a pillar of salt in the way. She did not appreciate the mercy that God had shown her, and was left as an example of warning for future generations.
When Christ came to the world, his own nation rejected him. He brought from heaven the message of salvation, hope, freedom, and peace; but men would not accept his good tidings. Christians have condemned the Jewish nation for rejecting the Saviour; but many who profess to be followers of Christ are doing even worse than did the Jews, for they are rejecting greater light in despising the truth for this time.
When Jerusalem was to be destroyed, the followers of Christ were warned of its impending doom. Christ had told his disciples what they were to do when certain things should come to pass. He said, "When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." All who believed in the warning of Christ, escaped from the city, and not one perished when Jerusalem was overthrown. By the destruction of Jerusalem is symbolized the last great judgment of God that is to come upon the world.
We are living in the last days, and the generation that is to witness the final destruction has not been left without warning of the hastening judgments of God. Says the apostle, "I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. . . . And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities."
Through the warning that God has sent to the world, an opportunity is given to all to escape the general ruin that is threatened to fallen Babylon. The whole earth is to be lightened with the glory of this message, and hearts and minds will be prepared by its reception, for the coming of the King of kings.
But this gracious message will be as generally rejected by the professed Christian world, as was the message of the Messiah by the Jewish nation. Only a few will receive the testimony of truth, for every influence that Satan can bring to bear against the reception of the truth of God will be employed. In these last days the agency of the evil one will be hidden under a cloak of godliness, so that if it were possible even the very elect would be deceived. The word of God declares that Satan will work "with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish." His miracle working power will be displayed to its utmost. But none who wish to know the truth need be deceived. God has promised to give to his people the Spirit of truth, to guide them into all truth.
There are persons who claim to be guided by the Spirit, and yet they are led contrary to the commandments of God. The spirit by which they are directed is not the Spirit of truth. For the word of God declares, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him." It is not enough to give a nominal assent to the truth. Its principles must be interwoven with our life and character. And we may well be afraid of those who make exalted professions, but who do not obey the words of God. There is safety alone in taking the Scriptures as our guide of life and action. Says the prophet, "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Martin Luther exclaimed, "The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the foundation of our faith." It is the work of the people of God to hold up the Bible as the standard of religion and the foundation of hope.
Those who have had living faith in the messages of God for the time in which they have lived, and who have acted out their faith in obedience to his commands, have been accepted of God, and have escaped the judgments that were to fall upon the disobedient and unbelieving. The word came to Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me." Noah obeyed and was saved. The message came to Lot, "Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city." He placed himself under the guardianship of the heavenly messengers, and was saved. Those who obeyed the warning of Christ in marking the sign of the coming ruin, and in fleeing from Jerusalem, were not involved in her destruction. The message comes in our own time, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen. . . . Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Those who obey this message will escape the terrible plagues that will surely be visited upon her.
The sins of the world will have reached unto heaven when the law of God is made void; when the Sabbath of the Lord is trampled in the dust, and men are compelled to accept in its stead an institution of the papacy through the strong hand of the law of the land. In exalting an institution of man above the institution ordained of God, they show contempt for the great Lawgiver, and refuse his sign or seal. The question of most vital importance for this time is, "Who is on the Lord's side? Who will unite with the angel in giving the message of truth to the world? Who will receive the light that is to fill the whole earth with its glory?" Those who cherish the light that they have, will receive more. Increasing light will shine about the souls who yield to the softening, subduing grace of Christ; and those who love the light, will be saved from the delusions of Satan. He will strive with intense energy to exhibit, through his miracle working power, signs and wonders that will seem to eclipse the work that God will do in the earth. And all will be deceived except those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. We need light now at every step, lest we be swept away with the error of the wicked. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #45)
"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." Mal. 3:16, 17.
God has given this precious promise to those who speak often one to another, to those that fear the Lord and that think upon his name. The Lord has a book open before him, and as his children gather together to worship him, as they speak one to another to magnify his name, their testimonies are recorded in the imperishable records.
We are not to bring complaints and murmuring into our testimony in the social meeting, but we are to talk of the blessed hope, to reflect as much light as possible upon the meeting. The Lord of heaven has represented himself as looking on with interest as the names and testimonies of those who fear and love him are written in his book of remembrance. Those who engage in this order of service, who speak often one to another, are to be gathered in the day when the Lord shall make up his jewels; are to be spared as a man spareth his son that serveth him.
Some of the choicest of Heaven's blessings are poured out upon his people when they are assembled together. It was on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were gathered together, and were confessing their sins and offering up petitions to God, that the blessing of God fell upon them in a most wonderful manner. Says the apostle, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. . . . And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language." An immense multitude assembled together on the day of Pentecost, and the blessing of God rested upon them all; for they were to carry the light which God had let shine upon them from heaven, to all parts of the earth. The very same Spirit, the very same God that flashed that light upon the people in the early days of Christianity, will pour out his light and truth upon our assemblies when we seek God as earnestly and perseveringly.
The light that God has given me I have tried to impart to you through an interpreter, and I have evidence that your hearts have been open to receive the truth that God has sent to you. Before I came to Europe, the situation and condition of different nationalities were presented before me. I was shown that of necessity there must be a different mold given to the spirit and the workings of these different peoples, or there would be developed in each nationality a selfish disposition to build up a separate interest. The very first work that God would have us do is to seek to unite the interests of the brethren of different nationalities, that there may be a blending together of sympathies and forces in the work. Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven, and prayed to the Father in behalf of his church. He said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may know that thou hast sent me."
In speaking of plans proposed for the progress of the work in these foreign countries, many have said, "You cannot labor here as you do in America. You must approach the people of different nationalities in a way to meet their peculiar prejudices and opinions." Are these peculiarities fine gold, or are they dross that God would have consumed? The word of God reveals the fact to us that there must be a united phalanx against the enemy. The French have their peculiarities, and the English have theirs, and the Germans theirs; but God has made it manifest that all nations must have the mold of Christ if they would enter the kingdom of heaven.
Says the apostle James, "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." And Paul says, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
There is one God, one faith, one baptism. There is one Lord Jesus, who must abide in the soul of every one of these brethren. When the brethren of one nationality separate themselves from the brethren of another nationality, to build up a separate interest, they are doing that which God never designed should be done. The very same truth which sanctifies my heart will sanctify the hearts of brethren of other nations. The fact that my brethren and sisters are obliged to talk another language is no reason that their characters should not be fashioned according to the one true Pattern, Christ Jesus. In order to be fitted for heaven they need the same discipline that I need. It is because our foreign brethren have thought the work must be carried on to suit the peculiarities and prejudices of the people that the cause of present truth has not advanced as it should have advanced during these years.
Some have thought that you must labor for the Germans in a different way from the way in which you work for the French or English; but the Germans need to learn at the foot of the cross the same lessons that the French must learn there. We have but one Saviour, and but one cross of Calvary. We have but one school in which to learn the lesson of humility. Christ has said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." It is at the cross of Calvary that we all must meet, and learn meekness and lowliness of heart.
My French brethren have many lessons to learn from the great Teacher. Christ says to them, "Take my yoke upon you, lift my burdens." Christ says to the Germans, "Come unto me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." He says to the English, "Take my yoke, bear my burden, learn of me, and ye shall find rest." The yoke of Christ never galls the neck of the wearer. It is the yoke of our own manufacture that is heavy and unendurable. It is when you are not willing to bear the yoke with Christ that you find the burden grievous.
As you learn the lesson of meekness, as you become one with Christ as he is one with the Father, you will draw together. The brethren of different nationalities will have but one interest and hope and work. You will not feel that because the French have habits of thought and action to which you are not accustomed, you must divorce your interests from theirs. The Germans will not feel that because they have some good ideas and customs, they can never learn of others. Every follower of Christ must come to the foot of the cross. I must not say to my French brother, "You stand on that side of the cross, because that is your place," and to my German brother, "You stand on that side, and I will stand on this side because I am English." We must seek for unity and harmony. We should seek for the deep movings of the Spirit of God, that the sweet spirit of Christ may blend heart with heart. When we reach this union, God will let his rich blessing rest upon us as he let it rest upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, and then we shall be able to go forth to proclaim the message of love and mercy to all nations. We must all drink at the same fountain; for Christ has said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." If we all partake of the same nourishment, we shall all have the same testimony to bear. I cannot see that the experience of our German brethren differs from the experience of our French or English brethren. And why should there be a difference in the experience of the children of God?
The idea that there must be a difference in the manner of presenting and carrying forward the work in different nations, must be dispelled from our minds. There must be no separate interest. Distinctions must be broken down, that we may all meet together as brethren of the same household. And this unity must exist before the foreign work will have the strength that it is possible for it to have.
Our work is to elevate one another as brethren. We are to feel a Christian interest for one another and for everyone,--for Germans, French, Italians, English, Scandinavians,--for souls of all nationalities. All who name the name of Christ are to be one in him. Then do not divide the body, but seek to worship God together as brethren. If there is a brother of another nationality in your meeting, take especial interest in him, and invite him to take part in the service. If there is no one who can interpret the stranger's words, this need not deter him from taking part, for God understands all languages, and he will write his testimony and his name in the book of his remembrance. The spirit he manifests will make its impression upon hearts, although the words he utters cannot be comprehended.
Brethren and sisters, we must have less of self and more of Jesus. We must lie lower at the foot of the cross, and the more humble our views of self, the more exalted will be our views of Jesus and heaven. We need the power of the living God. We need to become living channels of light. It is not education or intellectual ability that will bring souls into the light of truth. The power to move souls will be found when you practice the lessons that you have learned in the school of Christ. Self must be hid in Jesus. God has rich blessings to bestow upon our German brethren, for the truth is to be opened more fully before them. He has rich blessings for the French brethren, and for all who are seeking to follow in the steps of the Master. And the lessons we learn of Christ must be repeated to others. There will be power in the testimony that is given in simplicity, and Christ has said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #48)
Enoch walked with God. He was of one mind with God. The prophet asks, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" If we are of one mind with God, our will will be swallowed up in God's will, and we shall follow wherever God leads the way. As a loving child places his hand in that of his father, and walks with him in perfect trust whether it is dark or bright, so the sons and daughters of God are to walk with Jesus through joy or sorrow, through sunshine or shadow, in the pathway of life.
The Lord has committed to us the sacred, solemn work of presenting testing truth to the world. He has greatly honored us in giving us a part to act in his cause, in permitting us to be co-laborers with him. If we are indeed the delegated servants of the Lord, we should walk in the light, that we may be lightbearers to those who sit in darkness. The followers of Christ are to manifest to the world the characteristics of their Lord. They must not become careless or inattentive to their duty, or indifferent as to their influence; for they were to be representatives of Jesus in the earth.
The word of God has served as a mighty cleaver to separate the children of God from the world. As they are taken out of the quarry of the world, they are as rough stones, unfit for a place in the glorious temple of God. But they are brought into the Lord's workshop, to be hewed and squared and polished, that they may become precious, accepted stones. This work of preparation for the heavenly temple is going on continually during probationary time. We are naturally inclined to desire our own way and will, but when the transforming grace of Christ takes hold upon our hearts, the inquiry of our souls is, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" When the Spirit of God works within us, we are led to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure, and there is obedience in heart and action. There are many professing to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, who find difficulty in serving God, because they set up their own proud will against the will of God. They are selfish and world-serving, and want everything to bend to their own desires and opinions. But the language of every soul professing the name of Christ should be, "All that the Lord requires of me, I will do."
Those who do not walk in all faith and purity, find the thought of coming into the presence of God a thought of terror. They do not love to think or speak of God. They say in heart and by their actions, "Depart from us, O God; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." But through faith in Christ, the true Christian knows the mind and will of God. He understands by a living experience something of the length and depth and breadth and height of the love of God that passeth knowledge. The soul that loves God, loves to draw strength from him by constant communion with him. When it becomes the habit of the soul to converse with God, the power of the evil one is broken; for Satan cannot abide near the soul that draws nigh unto God. If Christ is your companion, you will not cherish vain and impure thoughts; you will not indulge in trifling words that will grieve Him who has come to be the sanctifier of your soul. Let every ambassador of Christ cherish pure thoughts, speak refined words, and manifest a courteous behavior toward all with whom he comes in contact. The truth of God never degrades the receiver. The influence of the truth upon him who accepts it, will tend constantly to his elevation. It will not make him coarse and rough in thought, in word, in dress or deportment. Those who are sanctified through the truth, are living recommendation of its power, and representatives of their risen Lord. The religion of Christ will refine the taste, sanctify the judgment, elevate, purify, and ennoble the soul, making the Christian more and more fit for the society of the heavenly angels.
Christians are to be God's noblemen, who will never grovel in bondage to the great adversary of souls, but will bind themselves to God, catching inspiration from him whom they love, who is high and lifted up. The soul that loves God, rises above the fog of doubt; he gains a bright, broad, deep, living experience, and becomes meek and Christlike. His soul is committed to God, hid with Christ in God. He will be able to stand the test of neglect, of abuse and contempt, because his Saviour has suffered all this. He will not become fretful and discouraged when difficulties press him, because Jesus did not fail or become discouraged. Every true Christian will be strong, not in the strength and merit of his good works, but in the righteousness of Christ, which through faith is imputed unto him. It is a great thing to be meek and lowly heart, to be pure and undefiled, as was the Prince of heaven when he walked among men.
Those who teach the truth must have a more thorough knowledge of the height and depth and breadth and length of the perfect love of God. Throughout the Christian's experience there will be battles to fight with self; but in all these conflicts the soul may rise in the triumph of victory, and be more than conqueror over the world, the flesh, and the Devil, through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must have a deeper, higher sense of the consecration which God requires of men whom he has chosen as the depositaries of his holy word. They are not to be careless in any of their ways. A most solemn responsibility rests upon them to be examples to the flock of God, and to the world, in faith, in word, in life and character, that they may adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour. They are to be strictly pure, to be much in prayer, to be diligent students of the Bible. God has given them mind and reasoning powers, that they may search diligently for the jewels of his truth, that are to be presented in all their attraction to the imperiled souls of men. You should lay your souls open before God, that you may be filled with heavenly inspiration. You should keep the fountain of the soul pure, that the streams coming forth from it may be untainted with evil. The whole mind and soul should become imbued with the truth, that you may be a living representation of Christ. My brethren, God would have you filled with his Holy Spirit, endowed with power from on high. Labor not to become great men; labor rather to become good and perfect men, showing forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. God calls for Calebs and Joshuas, fearless, single-hearted men, who will work with faith and courage.
Everyone who is called of God to minister to his people, through the grace of Christ, is to depart from all iniquity, that his words, his life, his character, may point to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. The servants of Christ are to have that wisdom which cometh from above, which is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." The apostle says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering."
Ministers do not qualify themselves for their work by thorough and diligent study of the word of God. Unless they do this, they cannot instruct others, and they will fail to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Many go over large fields of Bible truth, but they do not seek to understand the practical meaning of the deep utterances of God. The Bible will instruct the Christian how he ought to behave before the world. Young men who desire to give themselves to the work of the ministry, or who have already done so, should put their minds to the task of searching the Scriptures. They should cultivate habits of self-control and simplicity. Like Daniel, they should avoid luxurious living, that their bodies may be in health, and their minds may be unclouded, and God will put his impress upon them as he did upon his servant of old.
God gave Daniel wisdom, for he prayed for it in faith, and then he lived out his own prayers. He avoided everything which would weaken physical or mental power, and then committed his soul and body unto God, to be used for his glory. Let the servants of God fill the mind from the treasure house of his word, that they may bring forth things new and old to feed the famishing flock of God. God's word is like a mine full of precious ore, and its truths will be the wealth of the mind. "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." The riches of this mine are open to all; its treasures are inexhaustible. Precious gems of truth lie beneath the surface, and every hour's search will be fully repaid. Store the mind with the principles of the gospel of Christ; seek with painstaking effort for the hidden wealth of God's word. All heaven is watching to see what man will do with the precepts and promises of Jehovah.
The ministers who venture to teach the truth when they have only a smattering knowledge of the word of God, insult his Holy Spirit. But he who begins with little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what he does know, while seeking diligently for further knowledge, will become qualified to do a larger work. The whole heavenly treasure will wait his demand. The more light he gathers to his own soul, the more of the heavenly illumination he will have to impart to others; and thus he will become a channel of light to the world, and Heaven's strength will be given him, that he may resist the powers of darkness, and be more than conqueror through Him who hath loved him. No one can find nourishment and growth unless he feeds on the bread of life. The word of God is our spiritual food; we must hunger for the bread of heaven, and thirst for the waters of life. We must become more heavenly minded. The more we behold the matchless loveliness of Christ, the more we shall desire to become like Him whom our soul loveth. The more we know of Him, the higher will be our ideal of character, and the more will we be elevated in striving to reach the perfect standard.
There is too much Phariseeism among us. Too many are satisfied with themselves, with their forms and ceremonies; but those who are content with their human attainments, are not pleasing in the sight of God; for Jesus is ashamed to call them brethren. They are always purposing to do something great, but they never do it; for they depend upon their own strength, which is only as a broken reed. They have an indistinct view of a higher Christian life, but as time passes, they grow more and more indifferent, and are farther and farther away from its attainment. If these persons would put heart and soul and strength into the work of searching the Scriptures daily, Jesus would become to them sanctification and righteousness. A new power will come to every man who will humbly seek God by living faith. A divine element combines with the human when the soul reaches out after God, and the yearning heart may say, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him."
If the ministers who are engaged in the sacred work of God, would seek those things that are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, they would live a purer, more elevated life; they would know what it means to "look and live." There is no need of the weakness that exists in the ministry today. The message of truth we bear to the world is all-powerful. There is much more embraced in present truth than many dream of. The minds of many are not put to the task of studying, that they may comprehend the deep things of God; but self and ease and lazy habits must be overcome, if we would draw nigh to God, and have him draw nigh to us. Our minds must be employed to the full, or we shall fail of obtaining the deep, rich experience that God is willing to give us. Every minister should seek to take in the meaning of the words of Christ: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." Christ is the minister's example, and the minister should set upon the suggestion of the words of the Saviour, and become an example to the church of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #50)
There are many things which should stir the soul to action at this time. We cannot afford to be sluggards now, my brethren. The Lord has the first claim upon all that we have. The means in our possession has been given to us in trust, and we hold it simply as the stewards of God's bounty. Many have made a mistake in withholding from the Lord that which he has plainly specified as his own. The tithe of all that God has blessed you with, belongs to him; and you have robbed God when you have used it for your own enterprises. The Lord has not left the disposal of the tithe to you, to be given or withheld as your inclination may dictate. He has placed the matter beyond all question, and there has been great neglect on the part of many of God's professed people to fulfill the requirements of his word in regard to tithing.
The prophet asks, "Will a man rob God?" as though such a thing could hardly be possible. And the answer is, "Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground: neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."
Upon what ground may we claim the full and rich promises of God? We can claim them only when we have fulfilled the conditions prescribed in his word. The Lord is constantly giving. He pours down the rain and the sunshine. He promises to give to his people the privilege of eating of the tree of life, and the hidden manna. He holds forth the crown of life, the white stone with the new name written therein. He says, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." God makes man his agent. He places bounties in his hands, not to do with as it suits his natural inclinations, but as shall best serve the cause of God and forward the truth in the earth. If man had cooperated with God as he directed, every part of the work of God would have moved on in perfect order; there would be no empty treasury. God has given to man the use of nine-tenths of his income, but one-tenth, with the addition of gifts and offerings, the Lord has reserved for himself. Have you robbed God in tithes and offerings? What treasure have you been laying up in heaven by giving to the Lord his own? Your hands may be loosening their hold on the things of this world, and while life is still granted you, why not take up your neglected duties, and as God's faithful stewards, bestow your means where it will work for the salvation of souls and the glory of your Redeemer?
Many have waited to devote their means to God's cause until they were laid on their deathbed. They have willed a certain portion of their property to the work of God; but wills are not safe. They are often broken, and the means does not flow into the channel designed by the donor. It is much better to give your means to God while you are in health and strength. A close, selfish spirit seems to prevent men from giving to God his own. The Lord made a special covenant with men, that if they would regularly set apart the portion designated for the advancement of Christ's kingdom, the Lord would bless them abundantly, so that there would not be room to receive his gifts. But if men withhold that which belongs to God, the Lord plainly declares, "Ye are cursed with a curse."
It is the duty of the elders and officers of the church to instruct the people on this important matter, and to set things in order. As laborers together with God, the officers of the church should be sound upon this plainly revealed question. The ministers themselves should be strict to carry out to the letter the injunctions of God's word. Those who hold positions of trust in the church should not be negligent, but they should see that the members are faithful in performing this duty. When Christ took human nature upon him, he bound humanity to him by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Through Christ we have the gift of eternal life, if we comply with the stated conditions; but if we are united to Christ, we are also united to humanity. God has a tender and impartial care for all his children. He is mindful of those who are despised and destitute. The Lord has given us the privilege of becoming co-workers with him, that the truth of heavenly origin may be placed within the reach of all, in all countries. Man has been privileged to become an agent to work out, not his own plans, but the plans of Heaven. His ears must be open to hear when God speaks, his heart in a condition to respond to his claims.
There have been special occasions at large gatherings, when appeals have been made to the professed followers of Christ, for the cause of God, and hearts have been stirred, and many have made pledges to sustain the work. But many of those who pledged have not dealt honorably with God. They have been negligent, and have failed to redeem their pledges to their Maker. But if man is so indifferent about his promises to God, can he expect that the Lord will fulfill a promise made on conditions that have never been kept? It is best to deal honestly with your fellowmen and with God. You are dependent upon Christ for every favor you enjoy; you are dependent upon him for the future, immortal life; and you cannot afford to be without respect unto the recompense of reward. Those who realize their dependence upon God, will feel that they must be honest with their fellowmen, and, above all, they must be honest with God, from whom come all the blessings of life. The evasion of the positive commands of God concerning tithes and offerings, is registered in the books of heaven as robbery toward him.
No man who is dishonest with God or with his fellowmen can truly prosper. The most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, says, "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small; thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small; but thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God." Through the prophet Micah, the Lord again expresses his abhorrence of dishonesty: "Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins."
The Lord has bought us with his own precious blood, and it is because of his mercy and grace that we may hope for the great gift of salvation. And we are enjoined to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. Yet the Lord declares, "Ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." When we deal unjustly with our fellowmen or with our God, we despise the authority of God, and ignore the fact that Christ has purchased us with his own life. The world is robbing God upon the wholesale plan. The more he imparts of wealth, the more thoroughly do men claim it as their own, to be used as they shall please. But shall the professed followers of Christ follow the customs of the world? Shall we forfeit peace of conscience, communion with God, and fellowship with our brethren, because we fail to devote to his cause the portion he has claimed as his own? Let those who claim to be Christians, bear in mind that they are trading on the capital intrusted them of God, and that they are required to faithfully follow the directions of the Scriptures in regard to its disposal. If your heart is right with God, you will not embezzle your Lord's goods, and invest them in your own selfish enterprises. If you are faithful servants of Jesus, you will not rob God yourselves, or connive at those who do it. You will not be men-pleasers, world-servers. You will make your Lord's interest your interest.
Brethren and sisters, if the Lord has blessed you with means, do not look upon it as your own. Regard it as yours in trust for God, and be true and honest in paying tithes and offerings. When a pledge is made by you, be sure that God expects you to pay as promptly as possible. Do not promise a portion to the Lord, and then appropriate it to your own use, lest your prayers become an abomination unto him. It is the neglect of these plainly revealed duties that brings darkness upon the church. Let the elders and officers of the church follow the direction of the sacred word, and urge upon their members the necessity of faithfulness in the payment of pledges, tithes, and offerings. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #50)
The 25th of December has long been commemorated as the day of Jesus' birth, and in this article it is not my purpose to affirm or question the propriety of celebrating this event on this day, but to dwell upon the childhood and life of our Saviour. It is my purpose to call the attention of the children to the humble manner in which the Redeemer came to the world. All heaven was interested in the great event of Christ's advent to earth. Heavenly messengers came to make known the birth of the long-promised, long-expected Saviour to the humble shepherds who were watching their flocks by night on the plains of Bethlehem. The first manifestation that attracted the notice of the shepherds at the birth of the Saviour, was a radiant light in the starry heavens, which filled them with wonder and admiration. "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
Dear children, shall not these precious words, coming from the lips of heavenly angels, find a response in our hearts? Shall they not awaken gladness and melody in the soul because Jesus has come to our world to bring back to God those who through sin were estranged from him? If the angels of heaven glorified God, and poured forth their joy in divine melody and sacred song over the plains of Bethlehem, shall our hearts be cold and unimpressible? Shall we with indifference turn from the salvation brought to light through Christ?
The astonished shepherds could scarcely comprehend the precious message borne to them by the angels, and when the radiant light had passed away, they said one to another, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."
They were filled with joy; they could not keep to themselves the precious knowledge of the advent of the Redeemer, but with glad enthusiasm they told to all whom they met the wonderful things they had seen and heard; and all who heard them, related the wonderful experience of the shepherds to the others, and many wondered and rejoiced, for they believed the words that had been spoken by the heavenly messengers. Glorifying and praising God, the shepherds returned to their flocks on the plains of Bethlehem.
All heaven was moved on the occasion of the Saviour's birth. The triumphant song which the shepherds heard was only an echo of the praise resounding round the throne on high. The whole angelic host rejoiced and sung praises because salvation was presented as a free gift to fallen man. After the proclamation song to the shepherds, the heavenly multitude veiled their faces from human sight, the flood of heavenly light passed away, the thrilling song of praise was no longer heard by the shepherds; but the remembrance of that song could never die out of their hearts. O, what reason have we to praise God that this wonderful revelation from heaven was made to humble men! It is not those who occupy high positions, who hold most honored places in the world, who are selected as bearers of God's message of peace and salvation, which is of the greatest interest to fallen men. The Lord has said, "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Those who love God should feel deeply interested in the children and youth. To them God can reveal his truth and salvation. Jesus calls the little ones that believe on him the lambs of his flock. He has a special love for and interest in the children. Jesus has said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me [let no one place any obstruction in the way of the children's coming to me]; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Jesus has passed through the trials and griefs to which childhood is subject. He knows the sorrows of the young. By his Holy Spirit, he is drawing the hearts of the children to himself, while Satan is working to keep them away from him. The most precious offering that the children can give to Jesus, is the freshness of their childhood. When children seek the Lord with the whole heart, he will be found of them. It is in these early years that the affections are the most ardent, the heart most susceptible of improvement. Everything that is seen and heard makes an impression on the youthful mind. The countenances looked upon, the words uttered, the actions performed, are not the least of the books the young read; for they have a decided influence upon the mind, heart, and character. Then how important it is that the children come to Jesus in their earliest years, and become lambs of his flock! How important it is that the older members of the church, by precept and example, lead them to Jesus, who taketh away the sin of the world, and who can keep them by his divine grace from the ruin it works. The better acquainted they become with Jesus, the more they will love him, and be able to do those things that are pleasing in his sight. God has sanctified childhood in that he gave his only begotten Son to become a child on earth.
What matchless love Jesus has manifested for a fallen world! If angels sung because the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, shall not our hearts echo the glad strain, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men? Although we do not know the exact day of Christ's birth, we would honor the sacred event. May the Lord forbid that any one should be so narrow-minded as to overlook the event because there is an uncertainty in regard to the exact time. Let us do what we can to fasten the minds of the children upon those things which are precious to everyone who loves Jesus. Let us teach them how Jesus came into the world to bring hope, comfort, peace, and happiness to all. The angels explained the reason of their great joy, saying, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Then, children and youth, as you celebrate the coming Christmas, will you not count up the many things for which you are to be grateful, and will you not present a gratitude offering to Christ, and so reveal that you do appreciate the heavenly Gift?
The angels were amazed at the great love of Christ that led him to suffer and die on Calvary to rescue man from the power of Satan. The work of redemption is a marvel to the angels of heaven. Why, then, are we, for whom so great a salvation has been provided, so indifferent, so cold and unloving? Children, you can do errands for Jesus which will be wholly acceptable to him. You can bring your little gifts and offerings to Christ. The wise men who were guided by the star to the place where the young child was, brought offerings of gold and frankincense and myrrh. When they found the Promised One, they worshiped him. Children, you may ask, "What gifts can we bring to Jesus?" You can give him your hearts. What offering is so sacred as the soul temple cleansed from its defilement of sin? Jesus stands knocking at the door of your hearts; will you let him in? He says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Will you let Jesus into your hearts? Will you clear away the rubbish, and throw open the door, and willingly, gladly welcome in your heavenly guest? I shall not need to plead with you to bring you thank offerings to God if you will but let the Saviour in. You will be so grateful, that you cannot be restrained from laying your gifts at the feet of Jesus. Let the hearts of all respond with exceeding joy for the priceless gift of the Son of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #51)
Children may become missionaries for Jesus; and are there not youth who will give themselves to their Saviour before the new year comes? You need not wait for a special revival effort to be made; even today you may become soldiers of Christ. If you would be children of God, come to Jesus just as you are, and tell him you want to be his. Tell him that you want to love and obey him, and no longer do those things which are not pleasing in his sight. You are not to wait for any special feeling to know that you are accepted of him. Jesus bids you come to him, look to him, believe in him. He will accept you just as you are; for he can take away your sin, and give you strength to do those things which are pleasing in his sight. He loves you although you are sinful, and it is because he loves you that he is grieved with your wrongdoing. You cannot be happy while living in sin. You can be at peace only by choosing the right way. The psalmist says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
I need not address you as children and youth who have never been instructed; for you have been taught in the Sabbath school, you have had brought before you the manner of life that is pleasing to God. We sincerely hope that at home your parents have given you instruction in harmony with the teachings of the heavenly Master. The principles and rules taught by those parents who love and fear God, are not new principles or original rules. They are precious old rules from the Lord of heaven. The experience of parents who love Jesus will be valuable to their children, as it will enable them to apply the principles of God to the daily lives of their little ones. Let children and youth understand that the work of disciplining them is required of their parents by the Lord, and that if children become impatient under this discipline, if they are displeased when they are restrained from evil, they are displeased and impatient with Christ and his commands.
Jesus clothed his divinity with humanity that he might have an experience in all that pertains to human life. He did not leave plans for the welfare of youth and children in obscurity and uncertainty. He became a child, and in his life we find an example of what is the proper development of childhood. He was subject to his parents. Then why should children and youth be surprised if their God-fearing parents manifest prayerful solicitude for them, and watch with anxious interest over their course during the period when their characters are forming? Parents realize the perils to which their children are exposed, and they feel the responsibility that rests upon them to teach their children what is the right way both by precept and example.
Abraham is an example of what parents should be. The Lord says of him, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." The Lord commended Abraham because he cultivated home religion, and used his authority and influence as priest of his household, to promote the fear of the Lord. The God of heaven has spoken to parents concerning the course they should pursue in educating and training their children in the way of the Lord. Parents are not only to instruct, but to restrain and command. The wise man says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when is old, he will not depart from it."
There are parents who, through indulgence of their children, fail to give them the discipline that the Lord designs they should have. Abraham did not betray the sacred trust committed to him, through overfondness for his children. He followed the directions of Heaven. He knew that he was answerable to God for the manner in which he instructed his children. He was to train them that they might come from the ranks of Satan, and march under the banner of Prince Emmanuel.
There are a few days before the old year closes and the new year begins. Will it not be most pleasing to the Lord for parents to give earnest attention to the salvation of their children? Will it not be pleasing to God for the children and youth to unite in this work with their parents, that the entire household, without further delay, may seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is nigh? Hear the important words of instruction that the Lord has given: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Let parents confess that they have neglected to properly instruct their children, and let children confess that they have broken the fifth commandment. Satan is working upon the minds of the children to lead them in the path of disobedience, that they may follow in evil ways. If he can obtain the control of one child's mind, he can, through that child, gain the control of others, and turn them from the instruction given in God's word, in the Sabbath school, and from the sacred desk.
Children and youth, will you celebrate the new year in a way that will meet the approval of God? Will you give your hearts to Jesus, who gave his own precious life that he might take you from the enemy's ranks, and place you under this own bloodstained banners? Jesus died that you might no longer remain the property of Satan, but become his own dear children. The inspired apostle says, "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Every day that you remain in sin, you are in Satan's ranks; and should you sicken and die without repentance, you would be lost. No one can force you to give your heart to Jesus, no one can compel you to throw off the yoke of Satan. You may choose to do his bidding, to be children of the wicked one; you may rob God of your time, you may refuse to serve him, because the infatuation of sin, the service of Satan, is acceptable to you. But can you afford this? Can you afford to rob God by withholding that which he has purchased for himself? Would you choose to please the Lord's worst enemy? Would you have Christ make all that sacrifice on Calvary's cross for you in vain? Jesus has given every evidence that he loves you, in that he died to make you happy through the treasures of his grace in this life, and to make you happy in the future immortal life.
Will parents repent on their backslidings from God? Will they obey the laws of God? His heart of love is drawn out to the needy, to the destitute, and to the perishing. What else but blessing will follow those who are obedient? The parents who administer to their children after the example of Abraham, by the combined influence of authority and affection, will find the favor of God. God has told you, fathers and mothers, that a certain course must be pursued by those for whom Christ has died, and this is the very course you should pursue to meet the approval of God. The Holy One of Israel has laid out before you plain rules for the guidance of all within the home circle. From this high standard of the Lord there can be no departure. The first principles of holiness must be taught to the children both by precept and example. The Lord calls upon fathers and mothers in every family to take hold of this work of educating their children in the fear of the Lord. Lose no time. Sabbath-keeping parents, and even ministers, need to closely examine their children's course of action, and their own course in regard to them; for if these children are growing up without a knowledge of Christ, without conforming to the precepts of God, the parents will be held responsible. These children, by words and works, are communicating the knowledge of evil to other children. Their influence is to lead others to disregard the claims of God. Children and youth need to be daily instructed in the fear of the Lord. Their inclinations and desires are to be restrained, and turned in the right channel of the precious lessons of Jesus. Let parents find out the good way of the Lord themselves, and walk circumspectly in that way; and when perplexity comes, carry it, not to your neighbors, but to God, that you may bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Children who have once given their hearts to God, and have grown indifferent and cold, unthankful and self-indulgent, disobedient to their parents, should seek the Lord anew. Let them come to Jesus just as they are, confess to their parents their sins of disrespect, their disregard of home authority; let them confess to their associates their sinful course in dishonoring their Saviour, and Jesus will receive them again to his favor. Let them acknowledge that they have been acting as children do who have never claimed to love and obey God. This is the very work to be carried on in every household; and if the parents have not encouraged their children in keeping the way of the Lord, if they have allowed temporal matters to engross their attention, and have failed to instruct their children in righteousness, leading them step by step up to God's holy standard; if they have been impatient and full of faultfinding, they cannot expect the Lord to bless them, unless they confess their own neglect of duty, not only to their children, but to those who have been injured by their unrighteous course of action.
We ask, Shall there be earnest work done in the few days left of the old year, in preparing our souls to begin the new year aright? Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. In seeking the Lord you may make a degree of progress that will surprise you, if you only enter upon it sincerely, humbling your hearts before God.
Many have discarded home religion. But we have no time to devote to self-serving and unimportant matters. One writer has said, "There are only two kinds of persons who can properly be styled reasonable: those who serve God with all the heart because they know him, and those who seek him with all the heart because they know him not." The truth must be planted in your hearts, and become an abiding principle that controls your life. God is at work. All the angels are doing his bidding in diligently working with parents, that the truth may be imprinted upon the soul. Fathers and mothers must be sanctified through the truth if they would have a sanctifying influence upon their families. God requires Christians to be active and earnest, that the souls of those dearest to them may be saved. Those who work for the souls of their own household, will feel a deep interest for their neighbors and for the youth and children about them. There is plenty of work to be done that involves eternal interests. While the powers of darkness are active, plotting for the suppression of God's truth, and making more dense the darkness that surrounds those who are already in darkness, that they may be zealous, sanguine, and determined in their own evil way, shall not those who know the truth for this time be zealous advocates of it? Shall they not awaken to their God-given privileges? Shall those who are enlightened, who are made the depositaries of heavenly treasures, be cold and indifferent? Why, I ask, do not the works of those who claim to know the truth, correspond to the far-reaching principles of the truth? If death is the wages of sin, as we know it to be, then why not cease to sin? Why not come into sacred nearness to God, and by his grace, repress sin in your family? Why not lay a firm, commanding hand upon your children? Have you the tenderness of Christ? Have you the love of Christ that you can require obedience without mingling impatience with your authority? Will you have power from God and the persuasiveness of Christ in your home rule? Then far more will be done than is now accomplished.
Members of the church must awake, and do their part, and God will work mightily in behalf of his commandment-keeping people. Will every family in our several churches think seriously, prayerfully, before the old year closes? Have you old grudges? have you difficulties, envyings, jealousies, heart-burnings? Let Jesus come in the cleanse the soul temple. Let parents and children make the most of the present opportunity, and set their hearts in order. Where difficulties exist among brethren, let them carry out the injunction of the apostle: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 66, #51)
Dear Brethren and Sisters:-- I have been much burdened in regard to movements that are now in progress for the enforcement of Sunday observance. It has been shown to me that Satan has been working earnestly to carry out his designs to restrict religious liberty. Plans of serious import to the people of God are advancing in an underhand manner among the clergymen of various denominations, and the object of this secret maneuvering is to win popular favor for the enforcement of Sunday sacredness. If the people can be led to favor a Sunday law, then the clergy intend to exert their united influence to obtain a religious amendment to the Constitution, and compel the nation to keep Sunday.
There are many who, if they understood the spirit and the result of religious legislation, would not do anything to forward in the least the movement for Sunday enforcement. But while Satan has been making a success of his plans, the people of God have failed at their post. God had an earnest work for them to do; for the honor of his law and the religious liberty of the people are at stake. God would have us see and realize the weakness and depravity of men, and put our entire trust in him; "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
There are many who are at ease, who are, as it were, asleep. They say, "If prophecy has foretold the enforcement of Sunday observance, the law will surely be enacted;" and having come to this conclusion, they sit down in calm expectation of the event, comforting themselves with the thought that God will protect his people in the day of trouble. But God will not save us if we make no effort to do the work he has committed to our charge. We must be found faithfully guarding the outposts, watching as vigilant soldiers, lest Satan shall gain an advantage which it is our duty to prevent. We should diligently study the word of God, and pray in faith that God will restrain the powers of darkness; for as yet the message has gone to comparatively few, and the world is to be lightened with its glory. The present truth--the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus--has not yet been sounded as it must be. There are many almost within the shadow of our own doors, for whose salvation no personal effort has ever been made. We are not prepared for the time when our work must close. We must take a firm stand that we will not reverence the first day of the week as the Sabbath, for it is not the day that was blessed and sanctified by Jehovah, and in reverencing Sunday we should place ourselves on the side of the great deceiver. The controversy for the Sabbath will open the subject to the people, and an opportunity will be given that the claims of the genuine Sabbath may be presented. Blindness, disloyalty to God, so prevails that his law is made void, but the psalmist says of such a condition, "It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law."
It is time for God's people to work as never before, because of the increase of wickedness. The God-fearing, commandment-keeping people should be diligent, not only in prayer, but in action; and this will bring the truth before those who have never heard it. The world is overborne with falsehood and iniquity, and those whom God has made the depositaries of his law, and of the pure religion of Jesus, must be determined to let their light shine. If they do nothing to disabuse the minds of the people, and through ignorance of the truth our legislatures should abjure the principles of Protestantism, and give countenance and support to the Roman fallacy, the spurious sabbath, God will hold his people who have had great light, responsible for their lack of diligence and faithfulness. But if the subject of religious legislation is judiciously and intelligently laid before the people, and they see that through Sunday enforcement the Roman apostasy would be re-enacted by the Christian world, and that the tyranny of past ages would be repeated, then whatever comes, we shall have done our duty.
The man of sin thinks to change times and laws. He is exalting himself above God, in trying to compel the conscience. But God's people should work with persevering energy to let their light shine upon the people in regard to the law, and thus to withstand the enemies of God and his truth. When the law of God has been made void, and apostasy becomes a national sin, the Lord will work in behalf of his people. Their extremity will be his opportunity. He will manifest his power in behalf of his church.
My brethren, you must have Jesus enthroned within, and self must die. We must be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and then we shall not sit down, saying unconcernedly, "What is to be, will be; prophecy must be fulfilled." O awake, I pray you, awake! for you bear the most sacred responsibilities. As faithful watchmen, you should see the sword coming, and give the warning, that men and women may not pursue a course through ignorance that they would avoid if they knew the truth. The Lord has enlightened us in regard to what is coming upon the earth, that we may enlighten others, and we shall not be held guiltless if we are content to sit at ease, with folded hands, and quibble over matters of minor importance. The minds of many have been engrossed with contentions, and they have rejected the light given through the Testimonies, because it did not agree with their own opinions.
God does not force any man into his service. Every soul must decide for himself whether or not he will fall on the Rock and be broken. Heaven has been amazed to see the spiritual stupidity that has prevailed. You need individually to open your proud hearts to the Spirit of God. You need to have your intellectual ability sanctified to the service of God. The transforming power of God must be upon you, that your minds may be renewed by the Holy Spirit, that you may have the mind that was in Christ.
If the watchmen sleep under an opiate of Satan's and do not recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, and do not take up the warning, I tell you in the fear of God, they will be charged with the blood of souls. The watchmen must be wide awake, men who will not slumber at their post of duty, day nor night. They must give the trumpet a certain sound, that the people may shun the evil, and choose the good. Stupidity and careless indifference cannot be excused. On every side of us there are breakers and hidden rocks which will dash our bark in pieces, and leave us helpless wrecks, unless we make God our refuge and help. Every soul should now be distrustful of self. Our own ways, our own plans and ideas, may not be such as God can approve. We must keep the way of the Lord to do his will, making him our counselor, and then in faith work away from self.
Light must come to the people through agents whom God shall choose, who will give the note of warning, that none may be in ignorance of the purposes of God or the devices of Satan. At the great heart of the work, Satan will use his hellish arts to the utmost. He will seek in every possible way to interpose himself between the people and God, and shut away the light that God would have come to his children. It is his design to keep them in ignorance of what shall come upon the earth. All should be prepared to hear the signal trumpet of the watchman, and be ready to pass the word along the walls of Zion, that the people may prepare themselves for the conflict. The people must not be left to stumble their way along in darkness, not knowing what is before them, and unprepared for the great issues that are coming. There is a work to be done for this time in fitting a people to stand in the day of trouble, and all must act their part in this work. They must be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and be so fortified by the truth, that the delusions of Satan shall not be accepted by them as genuine manifestations of the power of God.
Years have been lost, but will you now awake? Will those in responsible positions take in the situation, or will they by their indifference and inactivity, say to the people, "Peace and safety"? May God help everyone to come up to the help of the Lord now. The watchmen have been asleep, but may God grant that they may not sleep the sleep of death. Let all who are standing upon the walls of Zion give the trumpet a certain sound. It is a solemn time for God's people, but if they stand close by the bleeding side of Jesus, he will be their defense. He will open ways that the message of light may come to great men, to authors, and lawmakers. They will have opportunities of which you do not dream, and some of them will boldly advocate the claims of God's downtrodden law.
Instead of increased power as we enter the perils of the last days, weakness, dissension, and strife for supremacy, are apparent. But if we had a connection with the God of heaven, we should be mighty in him, and yet we would walk with all lowliness of mind, having self hid in Jesus. But now both spiritual and natural feebleness and death are depriving us of workers. God alone, by his Holy Spirit, can arouse us from the slumber of death. There is now need of earnest working men and women who will seek for the salvation of souls; for Satan as a powerful general has taken the field, and in this last remnant of time he is working through all conceivable methods to close the door against light that God would have come to his people. He is sweeping the whole world into his ranks, and the few who are faithful to God's requirements are the only ones who can ever withstand him, and even these he is trying to overcome. Much upon these things has been shown to me, but I can only present a few ideas to you. Go to God for yourselves, pray for divine enlightenment, that you may know that you do know what is truth, that when the wonderful miracle working power of Satan shall be displayed, and the enemy shall come as an angel of light, you may distinguish between the genuine work of God and the imitative work of the powers of darkness. Ministers may do a great work for God if Jesus abides in the heart by faith. "Without me," says Christ, "ye can do nothing." I would that I had the power to present before you your sacred, solemn responsibility.
It is now too late in the day for men to please and glorify themselves. Ministers of God, it is too late to be contending for the supremacy. The solemn time has come when ministers should be weeping between the porch and the altar, crying, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach." It is a day when instead of lifting up their souls in self-sufficiency, ministers and people should be confessing their sins before God and one another. The law of God is made void, and even among those who advocate its binding claims, are some who break its sacred precepts. The Bible will be opened from house to house, and men and women will find access to these homes, and minds will be opened to receive the word of God; and when the crisis comes, many will be prepared to make right decisions even in the face of the formidable difficulties that will be brought about through the deceptive miracles of Satan. Although these will confess the truth and become workers with Christ at the eleventh hour, they will receive equal wages with those who have wrought through the whole day. There will be an army of steadfast believers who will stands as firm as a rock through the last test. But where in that army are those who have been standard bearers? Where are those whose voices have sounded in proclaiming the truth to the sinning? Some of them are not there. We look for them, but in the time of shaking they have been unable to stand, and have passed over to the enemy's ranks.
Brethren and sisters, the Lord wants to impart to us increased light. He desires that we shall have distinct revealings of his glory; that ministers and people shall become strong in his strength. When the angel was about to unfold to Daniel the intensely interesting prophecies to be recorded for us who are to witness their fulfillment, the angel said, "Be strong, yea, be strong." We are to receive the very same glory that was revealed to Daniel, because it is for God's people in these last days, that they may give the trumpet a certain sound. God help us to work unitedly and as we never have worked before, is my prayer. There is need now of faithful Calebs, whose voices will be heard in clear, ringing notes, saying of the immortal inheritance, "Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able." We need now the courage of God's faithful servant of old; not one wavering, uncertain note should come from the watchers' trumpets. They must be true to the sacred, solemn work that has been intrusted to them, and lead the flock of God in right pathways. By Mrs. E. G. White.