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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1894
(Vol. 71, #1)
"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 us not longer deceive ourselves. Let us walk in meekness and humility, daily correcting our faults, and let us never again separate our souls from God by selfish assumption and pride. Let us not cherish a feeling of lofty supremacy, that we may not look upon ourselves as though we were better than we are, and superior to those around us.
When the heart is softened and subdued by the grace of Christ, there is peace and satisfaction in the soul; for the love of Christ rules in the heart, bringing into captivity the secret motives of action. Then the easily aroused temper is soothed by the oil of grace. The tumultuous heart at the word of Christ grows calm. When there is a sense of sins forgiven through the merit of the blood of Christ, and there is a consciousness of union with Christ, we are encouraged to strive more earnestly to correct every wrong habit, and our harsh manner will be refined and cease to work against the sanctifying influences of the truth, against the existence of the union which Christ prayed should be manifested among his disciples. When the people of God are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, all variance will disappear, and that which we have thought should be corrected in our brethren will not serve to alienate us from them; for we shall feel that greater evils have existed in our own hearts than those we have criticised in our brethren.
Christ says, "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out the thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Why is it that so many forget how often they grieve the Holy Spirit by wicked works, and then presume to judge, accuse, and condemn their brethren? The Lord sees in them greater wrongs than they see in their brethren. If the spirit of criticism had not been found in the church; if the affections had not been centered upon self; if there had been no coldness in the association of the members of the church one with another, the influence of the people of God would have been of a vastly different character on the world. But how can the people of God be workers together with God, when in spirit they are wholly unlike Christ, and their actions contrary to his instruction? The Lord cannot be a minister to sin, and reveal himself graciously unto you when you cherish an unyielding, harsh spirit, and are ever ready to manifest unkindness to those with whom you come in contact. By your lack of harmony, by your objectionable spirit, you misrepresent Christ, you falsify the truth. Holy angels cannot work with you in saving precious souls when you do not manifest wisdom in dealing with human minds, and cannot adapt yourself to different individuals in the manner of your work. It is an easy matter to irritate and to destroy; but it takes tact and Christlike wisdom to deal tenderly and kindly and lovingly with those with whom you associate. Many among us will have to learn the A-B-C of Christian courtesy; for their spirit and manner toward those not of the same faith as themselves, are offensive both to man and to God. Better, far better would it be for the truth and its advancement, if none of this class were connected with it unless they shall be transformed in character. O that all among us would cease to think or speak evil of others! O that all might see themselves and their neighbors in a true light! The converting power of God must come upon your hearts, that you may realize your true need. God has not placed those of you who imagine you see faults in others and in the work, to guide the ship of the gospel into the harbor. The Lord himself is at the helm.
God has given to every man his work, and in his vocation he is so to relate himself to his fellowmen that he can work with and for them, ever contributing of his power through the grace given unto him, to enlighten those who sit in darkness. "Let your light so shine before men [not merely before believers, but before unbelievers, in all vocations in life, in every branch of business, in all commerce, in merchandise, in all practical works and professions], that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
It is the day of God's preparation, and every day you need to look carefully to your hearts, and study the lessons, the life, and character of Christ, that you may in no case misrepresent your dear Saviour and lead souls into false paths. Learn to practice the lessons of Christ, learn to follow his example in kindness and courtesy, in uplifting those with whom you associate to what is high and holy. "And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
Let us cultivate the grace of gratitude. Let the praises of God and of the Lamb be continually upon our lips; let the heart be a wellspring of gratitude that cannot be repressed, Christ in you a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
The Lord Jesus is our only helper. Through his grace we shall learn to cultivate love, to educate ourselves to speak kindly and tenderly. Through his grace our cold, harsh manners will be transformed. The law of kindness will be upon our lips, and those who are under the precious influences of the Holy Spirit, will not feel that it is an evidence of weakness to weep with those who weep, to rejoice with them that rejoice. We are to cultivate heavenly excellences of character. We are to learn what it means to have goodwill toward all men, a sincere desire to be as sunshine and not as shadow in the lives of others.
My brethren, let your hearts become broken and contrite. Let expressions of sympathy and love, which will not blister the tongue, flow from your lips. Let others feel that warmth which love can create in the heart, and educate the professed disciples of Christ to correct the evils that have so long existed,--selfishness, coldness, and hardheartedness. All these traits reveal the fact that Christ is not abiding in the soul. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any." The example of the great Pattern is before us; shall we behold and become changed?
The Lord has given special directions in his words as to how we as Christians should conduct ourselves toward all the children of God. God would teach us what is due to us, by teaching us what is due from ourselves to others. He would have us understand what his will is in our relation to those around us. Strengthened in spirit by the grace of God, we are to manifest a living interest in those with whom we associate; for good works are to be the fruit that will manifest itself upon the Christian tree. In the school of Christ we are to find peace and happiness in gentleness and kindness toward others. We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ our Pattern, and live not to please ourselves, but as laborers together with God; practicing his self-denial, and working as Christ worked to draw all men unto him. We are not to indulge ourselves in selfish independence, but to manifest deep, earnest love for the brethren.
"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." This is the lesson that we are to learn both as individuals and as churches. We are to "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." We are to love as brethren, showing that love in sympathy and courtesy. The injunction of the apostle is, "Be pitiful, be courteous." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #2)
I have a very deep interest in the educational institution at Battle Creek. For years my husband and myself were greatly exercised in reference to establishing a school in which our youth and children should have advantages of a superior character to those found in the common public schools, or in the colleges of the world. The Lord plainly specified as to what should be the character of influence and instruction the school should maintain, in order that the important work might be accomplished for which the school was designed. As the knowledge and fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, it was necessary that the study of the Bible should have a prominent place among the various branches of scientific education. The standard of the school was to be of a high order, and the principles of vital godliness were ever to be kept before the students as a most essential feature of education. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." The youth were to be instructed in regard to the times in which we live, and to be made to understand that which will come to pass before the closing up of the world's history.
One reason why it was necessary to establish institutions of our own was the fact that parents were not able to counteract the influence of the teaching their children were receiving in the public schools, and the error there taught was leading the youth into false paths. No stronger influence could be brought to bear upon the minds of the youth and children than that of those who were educating them in principles of science. For this reason it was evident that schools must be established in which our children should be instructed in the way of truth. In our schools it was specified that the youth were to be taught in the principles of Bible temperance, and every influence was to be brought to bear upon them that would tend to help them to shun the follies of this degenerate age, which were fast making the world as a second Sodom.
In our institutions of learning there was to be exerted an influence that would counteract the influence of the world, and give no encouragement to indulgence in appetite, in selfish gratification of the senses, in pride, ambition, love of dress and display, love of praise and flattery, and strife for high rewards and honors as a recompense for good scholarship. All this was to be discouraged in our schools. It would be impossible to teach our children to avoid these things, and yet send them to the public schools, where they would daily be brought in contact with that which would contaminate their morals. All through the world there was so great a neglect of proper home training that the children found at the public schools, for the most part, were profligate, and steeped in vice.
The work that we as a people were to do in this matter, was to establish a school, and do the work that Jesus Christ, from the pillar of cloud, had directed as the work of his people,--train up and educate our children and youth to regard the commandments of God. The manifest disregard of the world for the law of God was contaminating the morals of those who professed to be keeping the law of God. But we were called upon to follow the example of Abraham. Of him the Lord had said, "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."
Abraham had to leave his country and his father's house, and sojourn in a strange land, in order to introduce successfully the new order of things in his household. The providence of God was ever to open up new methods, and progress was to be made from generation to generation, in order to preserve in the world a knowledge of the true God, of his laws and commandments. This could be done only by cultivating home religion. But it was not possible for Abraham to do this while he was surrounded by his idolatrous kinsfolk and friends. He must at God's command go out alone, and listen to the voice of Christ, the leader of the children of Israel. Jesus was on the earth to instruct and educate the chosen people of God. Abraham decided to obey the law of God, and the Lord knew that there would be no betrayal of sacred trust on his part, no yielding to any other guide than him whom he felt under responsibility to obey. He recognized that he was accountable for the instruction of his household and his children, and commanded them after him to do justice and judgment. In teaching them the laws of God, he taught them that the Lord is our judge, our Lawgiver and King, and that parents and children were to be ruled by him; that on the part of parents there was to be no oppression, and on the part of children no unfilial disobedience.
The Lord commanded Moses to go and speak unto Pharaoh, bidding him to allow Israel to leave Egypt. For four hundred years they had been in Egypt, and had been in slavery to the Egyptians. They had been corrupted by idolatry, and the time came when God called them forth from Egypt, in order that they might obey his laws and keep his Sabbath, which he had instituted in Eden. He spoke the ten commandments to them in awful grandeur from Mount Sinai, that they might understand the sacred and enduring character of the law, and build up the foundation of many generations, by teaching their children the binding claims of God's holy precepts.
This is the work that we are called upon to do. From the pulpits of the popular churches it is proclaimed that the first day of the week is the Sabbath of the Lord; but God has given us light, showing us that the fourth precept of the decalogue is as verily binding as are the other nine moral precepts. It is our work to make plain to our children that the first day of the week is not the true Sabbath, and that its observance after light has come to us as to what is the true Sabbath, is idolatry, and in plain contradiction to the law of God. In order to give them instruction in regard to the claims of the law of Jehovah, it is necessary that we separate our children from worldly associations and influences, and keep before them the Scriptures of truth, by educating them line upon line, and precept upon precept, that they may not prove disloyal to God.
The Protestants have accepted the spurious Sabbath, the child of the papacy, and have exalted it above God's holy, sanctified day; and our institutions of learning have been established for the express purpose of counteracting the influence of those who do not follow the word of God. These are sufficient reasons to show the necessity of having educational institutions of our own; for we must teach truth rather than fiction and falsehood. The school is to supplement the home training, and both at home and at school, simplicity of dress, diet, and amusement must be maintained. An atmosphere must be created that will not be deleterious to the moral nature. Line upon line, precept upon precept, our children and households must be educated to keep the way of the Lord, to stand firmly for truth and righteousness. We must maintain a position against every species of sophistry that bewilders in this degenerate age, when error is glossed over, and so mingled with truth that it is almost impossible for those who are not familiar with the distinctions that the Scriptures make between the traditions of men and the word of God, for them to distinguish truth from error. It has been plainly stated that in this age "some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."
As the truth is brought into practical life, the standard is to be elevated higher and higher, to meet the requirements of the Bible. This will necessitate opposition to the fashions, customs, practices, and maxims of the world. Worldly influences, like the waves of the sea, beat against the followers of Christ to sweep them away from the true principles of the meekness and grace of Christ; but they are to stand as firm as a rock to principle. It will require moral courage to do this, and those whose souls are not riveted to the eternal Rock, will be swept away by the worldly current. We can stand firm only as our life is hid with Christ in God. Moral independence will be wholly in place when opposing the world. By conforming entirely to the will of God, we shall be placed upon vantage ground, and shall see the necessity of decided separation from the customs and practices of the world. We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world's standard; but we are to make the line of demarkation decidedly apparent.
There are many in the church who at heart belong to the world, but God calls upon those who claim to believe the advanced truth, to rise above the present attitude of the popular churches of today. Where is the self-denial, where is the cross-bearing that Christ has said should characterize his followers? The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that we have manifested little decided difference in our practices from those of the world. Parents need to awake, and purify their souls by practicing the truth in their home life. When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-day Adventists as odd, singular, straight-laced extremists. "We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men."
We are under solemn, sacred covenant to God to bring up our children, not for the world, not to put their hands into the hands of the world, but to love and fear God, and to keep his commandments. We are to instruct them to work intelligently in Christ's lines, to present a noble, elevated Christian character to those with whom they associate. For this reason our schools have been established, that youth and children may be so educated as to exert an influence for God in the world. Then shall our schools become converted to the world, and follow its customs and fashions? "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
When those who have reached the years of youth and manhood see no difference between our schools and the colleges of the world, and have no preference as to which they attend, though error is taught by precept and example in the schools of the world, then there is need of closely examining the reasons that lead to such a conclusion. Our institutions of learning may swing into worldly conformity. Step by step they may advance to the world; but they are prisoners of hope, and God will correct and enlighten them, and bring them back to their upright position of distinction from the world. I am watching with intense interest, hoping to see our schools thoroughly imbued with the spirit of true and undefiled religion. When the students are thus imbued, they will see that there is a great work to be done in the lines in which Christ worked, and the time they have given to amusements, will be given up to doing earnest missionary work. They will endeavor to do good to all about them, to lift up souls that are bowed down in discouragement, and to enlighten those who are in the darkness of error. They will put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #3)
Jesus died for mankind, and in giving his life he exalted humanity in the scale of moral value with God. The Son of the infinite God clothed his divinity with humanity, and submitted to the death of the cross, that he might become a steppingstone by which humanity might meet with divinity. He made it possible for man to become a partaker of the divine nature, and escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Christ is continually working to uplift and ennoble man, and he requires that every soul whom he has redeemed from hopeless misery, shall cooperate with him in the great work of saving the lost. We are not to lay snares and make secret plans to draw souls into temptation.
O, if everyone could see this matter as it is presented before me in all its bearings, how soon would they quit with the enemy in his artful work! How they would despise his measures to bring sin upon the human family! How they would hate sin with a perfect hatred, as they consider the fact that it cost the life of heaven's Commander, in order that they should not perish, that man should not be bound a hopeless captive to Satan's chariot, a degraded slave to his will, a trophy of his victory and his kingdom.
Who will link up with Satan? Who will wear his badge? Who will choose him as a captain, and refuse to stand under the bloodstained banner of the captain of our salvation? Christ died for every son and daughter of Adam; and when the Son of God has expressed such amazing love, making this great sacrifice for the sinner, in order that through faith in him he need not perish but have everlasting life, how can the subjects of this great love be indifferent, and stand in sin and disobedience, and not heartily confess Christ without one moment's delay? How can anyone love to do evil? How can the youth prostitute their reasoning faculties to Satan, and give their influence to that which will weaken their own moral power and efficiency? In doing the will of Him who loves the world, and who gave his only begotten Son to die for them, they strengthen every faculty of the soul, and increase their own happiness and peace.
The Lord has greatly honored men, by giving Jesus Christ to recover them from Satan's claims. Will you be recovered? Will you have the precious gift of Christ? or will you refuse his service? Jesus has said, "He that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." He has said, "Without me ye can do nothing," and, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Everyone who seeks to do well in his own finite strength, will find his efforts a failure; but those who accept Christ by faith, will find him a personal Saviour. They will enlist in his army, they will become his soldiers, and fight the good fight of faith. If they are students in the school, they will feel that they are enlisted to make the school the most orderly, elevated, and praiseworthy institution in the world. They will put every jot of their influence on the side of God, on the side of Christ, and on the side of heavenly intelligences. They will feel it to be their duty to form a Christian endeavor society, that they may help every student to see the inconsistency of a course of action that God will not approve. They will draw with Christ, and do their utmost to perfect Christian character. They will take upon themselves the work of leading the lame and the weak into the safe, upward path. They will form Christian endeavor meetings to make plans that will be a blessing to the institution of learning, and do all in their power to make the school what God designed and signified that it should be. They will have in mind the value and efficiency of Christian endeavor meetings, in preparing missionaries to go forth to give the warning to the world.
Students should have their own seasons of prayer, where they may offer fervent, simple petitions that God shall bless the president of the school with physical strength, mental clearness, moral power, and spiritual discernment, and that every teacher shall be qualified by the grace of Christ to do his work with fidelity and with fervent love. They should pray that teachers may be the agents through whom God shall work to make good prevail over evil, through a knowledge of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. May God give the students who attend our institutions of learning, grace and courage to act up to the principles revealed in the law of God, which is an expression of his character. Never be found disparaging the schools which God has established. If you have failed at any time, falling under temptation,it is because you did not make God your strength, because you did not have the faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
Let every sincere Christian who has a connection with our schools, be determined to be a faithful servant in the cause of Christ, and help every student to be faithful, pure, and holy in life. Let every one who loves God seek to win those who have not yet confessed Christ. Every day they may exert a silent, prayerful influence, and cooperate with Jesus Christ, the missionary-in-chief to our world. Let every soul,--man, woman, and youth,--grow in excellence of character and devotion, in purity and holiness, and live with an eye single to the glory of God, that the enemies of our faith may not triumph. Let there be such a binding together in the bonds of our holy faith, that our united influence may be wholly on the Lord's side, and may work for the transformation of those with whom we associate. Let it be made manifest that you have a living connection with God, and are ambitious for the Master's glory, seeking to cultivate in yourselves every grace of character by which you may honor him who gave his life for you. May the love of Christ exercise a constraining power to draw others into the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. When the students in our schools shall learn to like God's will, they will find it comparatively easy to do it.
If students see defects of character in others, let them be thankful that they have discerned these defects, and therefore may be put on their guard against them. You will, no doubt, see persons who are not learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ, but who love display, and are vain, frivolous, and worldly. The only remedy for such is to behold Jesus, and by studying his character they will come to despise everything that is vain and frivolous, weak and mean. The character of Christ is full of forbearance, patience, goodness, mercy, and unexampled love. By beholding such a character, they will rise above the littleness of that which has fashioned and molded them, and made them unholy and unlovely. They will say, "I will not sit with vain persons, neither will I go with dissemblers." They will realize that "he that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
Let everyone who is seeking to live a Christian life, remember that the church militant is not the church triumphant. Those who are carnally minded will be found in the church. They are to be pitied more than blamed. The church is not to be judged as sustaining these characters, though they are found within her borders. Should the church expel them, the very ones who found fault with their presence there, would blame the church for sending them adrift in the world; they would claim that they were treated unmercifully. It may be that in the church there are those who are cold, proud, haughty, and unchristian, but you need not associate with this class. There are many who are warm-hearted, who are self-denying, self-sacrificing, who would, were it required, lay down their lives to save souls. Jesus saw the bad and the good in church relationship, and said, "Let both grow together until the harvest." None are under the necessity of becoming tares because every plant in the field is not wheat. If the truth were known, these complainers make their accusations in order to quiet a convicted, condemning conscience. Their own course of action is not wholly commendable. Even those who are striving for the mastery over the enemy, have sometimes been wrong and done wrong. Evil prevails over good when we do not trust wholly in Christ, and abide in him. Inconsistencies of character will then be manifested that would not be revealed if we preserved the faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
We are not compelled to choose as familiar associates those who reject the love of God that has been expressed in giving his Son to our world, "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish," but have everlasting life. Those who love God will not choose the enemies of God to be their friends. The question was asked, "Shouldst thou help the ungodly, and love them which hate the Lord?" Will you prefer the association of the irreligious and disloyal, to that of those who are obeying the commandments of God? Will you choose to separate yourself from those who love God, and place yourself as far as possible from the channel of light? You want to keep in an atmosphere of purity and faith, and bring into your characters, principles that will be as solid timbers. Christians will not choose and cultivate the society of non-Christians. If the Lord gives you a special position in the world, as he did Joseph and Daniel, then he will sustain and keep you in the midst of temptation. But you will never be where you will find too much light, in our world. Then how perilous it is to choose the association of those who love darkness rather than light, and will not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #4)
Let the students remember that to form characters that will stand the test of the judgment, is very serious business. You yourselves are responsible for the manner of character you build. No professor in an institution of learning can make your character. You yourselves decide your own eternal destiny. It is necessary to contemplate such characters as are worthy of imitation. We refer you to Joseph in Egypt, and to Daniel in Babylon. These youths were tried and proved; and because they stood firm to principle, they became representative men, and patterns of integrity. I would say to the youth at our institutions of learning, whether you profess to believe or not, that you are now in probationary time, and a second probation will not come to any of you. This is the only opportunity you will have of standing the test and proving of God.
With the deepest interest the angels of God in the heavenly courts are watching the development of character; and from the records in the books of heaven, actions are weighed, and moral worth is measured. Every day the record of your life is passed unto God, just as it is, whether it is one of merit or of demerit. You are lacking in true elevation and nobility of soul, and no man can give you the character you need. The only way you can attain to the standard of moral worth by which you are to be measured, is to depend upon Christ, and cooperate with him in steadfast, earnest, determined purpose.
Those who do this will not bring into their work a spirit of lightness, of frivolity, and of love of amusement. They will consider that at no small cost to their parents or to themselves, they have come to the school to obtain a better knowledge of the sciences, and to get a more comprehensive understanding of both the Old and the New Testament. I would address you as those who have reasoning minds, and who have an intelligent understanding of your privileges and duties. Would it not be best for you to cooperate with your teachers, in order that you may reach the very highest standard that it is possible for you to attain? Time is more valuable to you than gold, and you should improve every precious moment. You should consider what will be your influence upon others. If one pupil is reckless, and indulges an excessive love of amusements, he should bring himself under the control of principle, lest he may become a working agent for Satan, to counteract, by his wrong influence, the work which teachers are trying to do, and mar that which heavenly intelligences are seeking to accomplish through human agents. He may frustrate the design of God, and fail to accept Christ and to become indeed a son of God.
Obligations between teachers and pupils are mutual. Teachers should make diligent effort that their own souls may be sanctified through the grace of Christ, and that they may labor in Christ's lines for the salvation of their pupils. On the other hand, students should not pursue such a course of action as will make it hard and trying to their teachers, and bring upon them temptations hard to resist. Pupils should not, by a wrong course of action, lower the high standing and reputation of the school, and give reason for the report to go abroad among believers and unbelievers, that Seventh-day Adventist schools, though purported to be established for giving the best of education to those who attend, are no better than the common schools throughout the world. This is not the character nor the reputation that God would have our schools bear; and those who have lent the influence with which God has intrusted them, to give such a character, or reputation, to the school, have lent it in a wrong direction. Those who have shown disrespect for rules, and who have sought to break down authority, whether they are believers or unbelievers, are registered in the books of heaven as those who cannot be trusted as members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. The teachers who carry the burden of the work that they should, will have sufficient responsibility, care, and burden, without having the added burden of your disobedience. They will appreciate every effort that is made on the part of the students to cooperate with them in the work.
One careless, insubordinate student, who does not cultivate self-respect, who is not well disposed, and who does not try to do his best, is doing himself great injury. He is deciding what shall be the tone of his character, and is inducing others to depart from truth and uprightness, who if it were not for his pernicious influence, would dare to be true and noble. One student who feels his accountability to be faithful in helping his instructors, will help himself more than he helps all others. Heaven looks down with approbation upon the students who strive to do right, and have a firm purpose to be true to God. They will receive help from God. Of Daniel and his companions who stood firm as a rock to truth, it is written, "As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: . . . and in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm."
If you do not intend to improve your opportunities and privileges, why do you spend money in attending the school, that your parents have worked hard to obtain? They have sent you away from the home-roof, with high hopes that you would be educated and benefited by your sojourn at college. They have followed you with letters and with prayers, and every line you have written them has been read with eagerness. They have thanked God for every indication that you would make a success of your Christian life, and they have wept for gladness at the indications of your advancement in scientific and spiritual knowledge. O, I want to beseech of you to do nothing that is questionable. Consider in what light your parents would regard your actions, and forbear to do anything that would put thorns in their pillows. Do not be thoughtless, careless, and lawless. Your actions do not end with yourselves; they reflect credit or discredit upon the school, according as they are good or bad. If you do evil, you grieve Jesus Christ, who bought you with the price of his own blood, hurt the soul of your principal, wound the heart of your teachers, and injure and mar your own soul. You make a blot upon your record, of which you will be ashamed. Will it pay? It is always best and safe to do right because it is right. Will you not now do some serious thinking? Right thinking lies at the foundation of right action. Make up your mind that you will respond to the expectations your parents have of you, that you will make faithful efforts to excel, that you will see to it that the money expended for you has not been misapplied and misused. Have a determined purpose to cooperate with the efforts made by parents and teachers, and reach a high standard of knowledge and character. Be determined not to disappoint those who love you well enough to trust you. It is manly to do right, and Jesus will help you to do right, if you seek to do it because it is right.
Those interested in your behalf have flattering hopes for you, that you will become useful men, who will be filled with moral worth and unswerving integrity. For the youth who have gone from New Zealand to America, much has been ventured; and I will say to these students, "Set your aim high, and then step by step ascend to reach the standard, even though it may be by painful effort, through self-denial and self-sacrifice. Christ will be to you a present help in every time of need, if you call upon him, that you may be like Daniel, whom no temptation could corrupt. Do not disappoint your parents and your friends; but above all, do not disappoint Him who so loved you that he gave his own life in order to cancel your sins and become your personal Saviour. Jesus said, "Without me ye can do nothing." Bear this in mind. If you have made mistakes, you may gain a victory by discerning these mistakes, and by regarding them as beacons of warning, to enable you to shun their repetition. I need not tell you that this will be turning your defeat into victory, disappointing the enemy, and honoring your Redeemer, whose property you are.
We feel sorry indeed that any weakness of character should have marred the record of the past, because we know it is an evidence that you did not watch unto prayer. We feel sorry that mistakes have been made, because they have placed upon the teachers burdens which they ought not to have borne. Teachers have their own natural weaknesses of character to contend with, and they are capable of moving unwisely under the stress of temptation. They may think they are doing right when they are enforcing strict discipline, and yet they may be making mistakes in the case with which they are dealing. How much better would it be for both pupils and teachers, if students would place themselves upon their honor, and act from pure and noble motives, so that their very course of action would recommend them to those who were their teachers and educators. If in every possible way and under every circumstance, they would treat those who are in positions of trust, and bearing responsibility, as they themselves would like to be treated, what peace and success would attend the school.
Why should students link themselves with the great apostate, to become his agents, in tempting others, and through others causing the fall of many? Every human being has his own individual trials, peculiar to himself, and no one is free from temptation. If teachers are disciples of Christ, and are engaging in the work in a way which is approved of God, Satan will surely assail them with his temptations. If the great deceiver can stir up evil elements of character in the students, and through them bring perplexity and discouragement upon the educators, he has succeeded in gaining his purpose. If under the temptation the teacher reveals weakness, in any respect, then his influence is marred; but he who proves an agent for the great adversary of souls, must render an account to God for the part he acted in causing the teacher to stumble. Let students carefully consider this phase of the subject, and let them rather study how to encourage and sustain their teachers, than to bring discouragement and temptation upon them. In thus doing, they will not be sowing tares that will spring up among the wheat. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
Students will be tempted to do lawless things, when it is only to please themselves and to have what they call "fun." If they will put themselves upon their honor, and consider the fact that in doing these things they bless no one, they benefit no one, but involve others as well as themselves in difficulty, they will be more likely to take a manly and honorable course, and put their will on the side of Christ's will. They will work in Christ's lines, and help their teachers to carry their burdens, which Satan would make more discouraging by employing thoughtless minds in vain tricks. They will seek to make an atmosphere in the school, which, instead of being depressing and enfeebling to the moral powers, will be healthful and exhilarating. In thus doing, students can have a consciousness that they have acted their part on Christ's side of the question, and have not given one jot of influence or ability to the great adversary of all that is good. With how much more satisfaction can students recall such a course of action, than a course of action where they have sanctioned secret plans to disrespect and disregard authority. They will have reason to praise God that they have resisted the clamorings of inclination, and have put their influence on the side of order, diligence, and obedience. Let every student remember that it is in his power to help and not hinder the cause of education.
Students in our institutions of learning may either form characters after the divine similitude, or degrade their God-given powers, and bring themselves down to a low level, and they will have no one to blame but themselves if they degrade themselves. Everything that God could do has been done in behalf of man. Every want has been anticipated; every difficulty, every emergency, has been provided for. The crooked places have been made straight, the rough places smooth, and therefore no one will be excused in the day of judgment, if he has cherished unbelief and resisted the workings of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ has given himself as a complete offering in behalf of every fallen son and daughter of Adam. O, what humiliation he bore! How he descended, step after step, lower and lower in the path of humiliation, yet he never degraded his soul with one foul blot of sin! All this he suffered, that he might lift you up, cleanse, refine, ennoble you, and place you as a joint heir with himself upon his throne. How shall you make your calling and election sure? What is the way of salvation? Christ says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." However sinful, however guilty you may be, you are called, you are chosen. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh unto you. Not one will be forced against his will to come to Jesus Christ. The Majesty of heaven, the only begotten Son of the true and living God, opened the way for you to come to him, by giving his life as a sacrifice on Calvary's cross. But while he suffered all this for you, he is too pure, he is too just, to behold iniquity. But even this need not keep you away from him; for he says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Let perishing souls come to him just as they are, without one plea, and plead the atoning blood of Christ, and they will find acceptance with God, who dwelleth in glory between the cherubim above the mercy seat. The blood of Jesus is a never-failing passport, by which all your petitions may find access to the throne of God. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #5)
The Lord has condescended to give you an outpouring of his Holy Spirit. At the campmeetings, and in our various institutions, a great blessing has been showered upon you. You have been visited by the heavenly messengers of light and truth and power, and it should not be thought a strange thing that God should thus bless you. How does Christ subdue his chosen people to himself?--It is by the power of his Holy Spirit; for the Holy Spirit, through the Scriptures, speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the hearts of men. Before his crucifixion, Christ promised that the Comforter should be sent to his disciples. He said: "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. . . . When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
This promise of Christ has been made little enough of, and because of a dearth of the Spirit of God, the spirituality of the law and its eternal obligations have not been comprehended. Those who have professed to love Christ, have not comprehended the relation which exists between them and God, and it is still but dimly outlined to their understanding. They but vaguely comprehend the amazing grace of God in giving his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world. They do not understand how far-reaching are the claims of the holy law, how intimately the precepts of the law are to be brought into practical life. They do not realize what a great privilege and necessity are prayer, repentance, and the doing of the words of Christ. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to reveal to the mind the character of the consecration that God will accept. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, the soul is enlightened, and the character is renewed, sanctified, and uplifted.
Through the deep movings of the Spirit of God, I have had opened before me the character of the work of the visitation of the Spirit of God. I have had opened before me the danger in which souls would be placed who had been thus visited; for afterward, they would have to meet fiercer assaults of the enemy, who would press upon them his temptations to make of none effect the workings of the Spirit of God, and cause that the momentous truths presented and witnessed by the Holy Spirit, should not purify and sanctify those who had received the light of heaven, and thus cause that Christ should not be glorified in them. The period of great spiritual light, if that light is not sacredly cherished and acted upon, will be turned into a time of corresponding spiritual darkness. The impression made by the Spirit of God, if men do not cherish the sacred impression, and occupy holy ground, will fade from the mind. Those who would advance in spiritual knowledge must stand by the very fount of God, and drink again and again from the wells of salvation so graciously opened unto them. They must never leave the source of refreshment; but with hearts swelling with gratitude and love at the display of the goodness and compassion of God, they must be continually partakers of the living water.
O, how much this means to every soul,--"I am the light of the world;" "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger [for anything more satisfying]; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." To come to this condition means that you have found the Source of light and love, and have learned when and how you may be replenished, and may make use of the promises of God by continually applying them to your souls.
"But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not." This has been literally fulfilled in the cases of many; for the Lord gave them a deeper insight into truth, into his character of mercy and compassion and love; and yet after being thus enlightened, they have turned from him in unbelief. They saw the deep movings of the Spirit of God; but when the insidious temptations of Satan came in, as they always will come after a season of revival, they did not resist unto blood, striving against sin; and those who might have stood on vantage ground, had they made a right use of the precious enlightenment that they had, were overcome by the enemy. They should have reflected the light that God gave to them upon the souls of others; they should have worked and acted in harmony with the sacred revealings of the Holy Spirit; and in not doing so, they suffered loss.
Among the students the spirit of fun and frolic was indulged. They became so interested in playing games that the Lord was crowded out of their minds; and Jesus stood among you in the playground, saying, O that thou hadst known, "even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" "Ye also have seen me, and believed not." Yes; Christ revealed himself to you, and deep impressions were made as the Holy Spirit moved upon your hearts; but you pursued a course by which you lost these sacred impressions, and failed to maintain the victory. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." You began to come to Christ, but you did not abide in Christ. You forsook him, and the realization you had had of the great favors and blessings he had given you, was lost from your heart. The question of amusement occupied so large a place in your minds, that after the solemn visitation of the Spirit of God, you entered into its discussion with such great zeal that all barriers were broken down; and through your passion for games, you neglected to heed the word of Christ: "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." The place that should have been occupied by Jesus was usurped by your passion for games. You chose your amusements instead of the comfort of the Holy Spirit. You did not follow the example of Jesus, who said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
The minds of many are so bewildered with their own human desires and inclinations, and they have been so in the habit of indulging them, that they cannot comprehend the true sense of the Scriptures. Many suppose that in following Christ they will be obliged to be gloomy and disconsolate, because they are required to deny themselves the pleasures and follies that the world indulge in. The living Christian will be filled with cheerfulness and peace, because he lives as seeing Him who is invisible; and those who seek Christ in his true character have within them the elements of everlasting life, because they are partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Jesus said, "This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
All spiritual life is derived from Jesus Christ. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." But what is the sure result of becoming a child of God? The result is that we become laborers together with God. There is a great work to be done for your own soul's salvation, and to qualify you to win others from unbelief to a life sustained by faith in Christ Jesus. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me [with a casual faith?--No, with an abiding faith that works by love and purifies the soul] hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. . . . I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any 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. . . . Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. . . . It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."
When Jesus spoke these words, he spoke them with authority, assurance, and power. At times he manifested himself in such a way that the deep movings of his Spirit were sensibly realized. But many who saw and heard and participated in the blessings of the hour, went their way, and soon forgot the light he had given them.
The treasures of eternity have been committed to the keeping of Jesus Christ, to give to whomsoever he will; but how sad it is that so many quickly lose sight of the precious grace that is proffered unto them through faith in him. He will impart the heavenly treasures to those who will believe in him, look to him, and abide in him. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and he knows no restraint nor control in bestowing the heavenly treasures upon whom he will. He does not exalt and honor the great ones of the world, who are flattered and applauded; but he calls upon his chosen, peculiar people who love and serve him, to come unto him and ask, and he will give them the bread of life, and endow them with the water of life, which shall be in them as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.
Jesus brought to our world the accumulated treasures of God, and all who believe upon him are adopted as his heirs. He declares that great shall be the reward of them who suffer for his name's sake. It is written, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #6)
"Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen a 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."
These words apply to everyone to whom the Holy Spirit was manifested, and who appreciated its light. But there is a great work for those who have been illuminated to do for the Master. "Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them." In order to increase our spiritual endowment, it is necessary to walk in the light. In view of the event of Christ's soon coming, we must vigilantly working to prepare our own souls, to keep our own lamps trimmed and burning, and to urge upon others the necessity of getting ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. Watching and working must go together; faith and works must be united, or our characters will not be symmetrical and well-balanced, perfect in Christ Jesus. Should we give our lives up to prayerful meditation, our lights would grow dim, for light is given to us that we may impart it to others, and the more we impart light, the brighter our own light will become. If there is any one thing in the world in which we may manifest enthusiasm, it may be manifested in seeking the salvation of the souls for whom Christ died. Work of this kind will not cause us to neglect personal piety. The exhortation is given for us to be "not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."
To have an eye single to the glory of God means to have singleness of purpose, to show forth the work that has been wrought in your heart, that subdues your will to the will of God, and brings into captivity every thought to the glory of God. The world has been looking upon you to see what would be the after-influence of the work of revival that came to the College, the Sanitarium, the Office of publication, and to the members of the church in Battle Creek. What testimony have you borne in your daily life and character? God expected you all to do your best, not to please, amuse, and glorify yourselves, but to honor him in all your ways, returning unto him according to the light and privileges that he had given you through the endowment of his grace. He expected you to testify before heavenly intelligences, and to be living witnesses to the world, of the power of the grace of Christ. The Lord tested you, to see if you would treat his rich blessing as a cheap, light matter, or regard it as a rich treasure to be handled with reverent awe. If all had treated the gift of God in this manner,--for the work was of God,--then, according to the measure of each one's responsibility, the grace given would have been doubled, as were the talents of him who traded diligently with his lord's money.
God has been testing the fidelity of his people, proving them to see what use they would make of his intrusted precious blessing. This blessing came from our Intercessor and Advocate in the heavenly courts; but Satan was ready to enter any avenue that was open for him, in order that he might turn the light and blessing into darkness and cursing. How may the blessing be turned into a curse? By persuading the human agent not to cherish the light, or not to reveal to the world that it has been effective in transforming the character. Imbued with the Holy Spirit, the human agent consecrates himself to cooperate with divine agencies. He bears the yoke of Christ, lifts his burdens, and works in Christ's line to gain precious victories. He walks in the light as Christ is in the light. The scripture is fulfilled to him, "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Another year has now passed into eternity with its burden of record; and the light which shone from heaven upon you was to prepare you to arise and shine, to show forth the praises of God to the world as his commandment-keeping people. Your were to be living witnesses; but if no special endeavor of a high and holy character bears testimony before the world, if no higher effort has been made than that which is seen in the popular churches of the day, then the name of God has not been honored, and his truth has not been magnified before the world, by presenting divine credentials in the people who have received great light. If they have had no greater appreciation of the manifest power of God than to eat and drink, and rise up to play, as did ancient Israel, then how can the Lord trust his people with rich and gracious manifestations? If they act directly contrary in almost every respect to the known will of God, and are found in carelessness, in levity, in selfishness, in ambition and pride, corrupting their way before the Lord, how can he give them another outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
God has the richest blessing for his people; but he cannot bestow it until they know how to treat the precious gift in showing forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." A portion of the joy which was set before Christ, was the joy of seeing his truth armed with the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit, impressing his image upon the life and character of his followers.
Divine intelligences cooperate with human agencies as they seek to magnify the law and make it honorable. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. It is in the converted soul that the world sees a living testimony. Then shall the Lord of heaven have room to work? Shall he find a place in the hearts of those who claim to believe the truth? Shall his pure, disinterested benevolence meet with a response from the human agent? Shall the world see a display of the glory of Christ in the characters of those who profess to be his disciples? Shall Christ be favored and glorified in seeing his own sympathy and love pouring forth in streams of goodness and truth from his human agents? In implanting his gospel in the heart, he is pouring out the resources of heaven for the blessing of the world. "We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."
What has the rich blessing of God done for those who were humble and contrite in heart to receive it? Has the blessing been cherished? Have the receivers been showing forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light? There are some who are already questioning the work that was so good, and that should have been most highly appreciated. They are looking upon it as a certain species of fanaticism. It would be surprising if there were not some, who, not being well-balanced in mind, have spoken and acted indiscreetly; for whenever and wherever the Lord works in giving a genuine blessing, a counterfeit is also revealed, in order to make of none effect the true work of God. Therefore we need to be exceedingly careful, and walk humbly before God, that we may have spiritual eyesalve that we may distinguish the working of the Holy Spirit of God from the working of that spirit that would bring in wild license and fanaticism. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Those who are really beholding Christ will be changed into his image, even by the Spirit of the Lord, and will grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God will inspire men with love and purity; and refinement will be manifest in their characters.
But because some have misappropriated the rich blessing of heaven, shall others deny that Jesus, the Saviour of the world, has passed through our churches, and that to bless? Let not doubt and unbelief question this; for in so doing, you are treading on dangerous ground. God has given the Holy Spirit to those who have opened the door of their hearts to receive the heavenly gift. But let them not yield to the temptation afterward to believe that they have been deceived. Let them not say, "Because I feel darkness, and am oppressed with doubt, and never saw Satan's power so manifest as now, therefore I was mistaken." I warn you to be careful. Sow not one expression of doubt. God has wrought for you, bringing sound doctrines of truth into actual contact with the heart. Blessing was given you, that it might produce fruit in sound practices and upright characters.
The sin for which Christ reproved Chorazin and Bethsaida was the sin of rejecting evidence that would have convinced them of the truth, had they yielded to its power. The sin of the scribes and Pharisees was the sin of placing the heavenly work which had been wrought before them, in the darkness of unbelief, so that the evidence which should have led them into a settled faith was questioned, and the sacred things which should have been cherished were regarded as of no value. I fear that the people have permitted the enemy to work along these very lines, so that the good which emanated from God, the rich blessing which he has given, have come to be regarded by some as fanaticism. If this attitude is preserved, then when the Lord shall again let his light shine upon the people, they will turn from the heavenly illumination, saying, "I felt the same in 1893, and some in whom I have had confidence, said that the work was fanaticism." Will not those who have received the rich grace of God, and who take the position that the working of the Holy Spirit was fanaticism, be ready to denounce the operations of the Spirit of God in the future, and the heart thus be proof against the solicitations of the still, small voice? The love of Jesus may be presented to those who thus barricade themselves against it, and exercise no constraining power upon them. The riches of the grace of heaven may be bestowed and yet rejected, instead of being cherished and gratefully recognized. With the heart men did believe unto righteousness, and for a time confession was made unto salvation; but, sad to relate, the receiver did not cooperate with heavenly intelligences, and cherish the light by working the works of righteousness. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #7)
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The heart is the citadel of the whole man, and until the heart is wholly on the Lord's side, the enemy will find unguarded entrances through which he can take possession. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." If you would have light, you must intelligently cherish it, and constantly exercise faith, and not be controlled by feeling. It is evident that truth has been planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit when it is loved and cherished, and regarded as a sacred endowment. Love will then spring up in the heart like a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life. When this love is in the heart, the worker will find no weariness in the work of Christ.
Let not one ray of light from heaven be held in questioning and doubt. In great power the Lord has revealed to you his grace, his mercy, and his love; and he who charges the work of God to undue excitement, and calls it fanaticism, is certainly standing on dangerous ground. If such do not retrieve their steps, their consciences will become less and less sensitive, and they will have less and less appreciation of the Spirit of God. It will become harder and harder for them to understand the message of God. Why?--Because they are sinning against the Holy Ghost; and as a result of their resistance, they place themselves where they cannot recognize the Spirit of God, but set themselves against every instrumentality that God might use to save them from ruin. "What sign showest thou?" said the Jews to Christ, when at the same time his life and character, his lessons and miracles, were continual signs of his holy mission and divinity.
When God moves upon the hearts of men to draw them to Christ, it seems that a compelling power comes over them, and they believe, and give themselves up to the influence of the Spirit of God. But if they do not maintain the precious victory that God has given; if they permit old practices and habits to revive, and indulge in amusement or worldly luxury; if they neglect prayer, and cease resisting evil, then Satan's temptation are accepted, and they are led to doubt the verity of their former experience. They find that they are weak in moral power, and Satan declares to them that it is of no use for them to try the experiment of living a Christian life. He says, "The experience you thought was of God was only the result of undue emotion and impulse." As soon as the human agent entertains these suggestions of the evil one, they begin to appear plausible, and then those who ought to know better, who have had a longer experience in the work of God, second the suggestions of Satan, and the Holy Spirit is grieved from the soul. There are those who almost imperceptibly come to take this position, who will immediately recover themselves when they realize what they are doing; but there are others who will continue to resist the Holy Spirit, until resistance appears to them as a virtue.
It is a dangerous thing to doubt the manifestations of the Holy Spirit; for if this agency is doubted, there is no reserve power left by which to operate on the human heart. Those who attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to human agencies, saying that an undue influence was brought to bear upon them, are cutting their souls off from the fountain of blessing. Whatever may be the sin, if the soul repents and believes, guilt may be washed away by the atoning blood of Christ; but he who rejects the revealings of the Spirit of God, and charges the work of God to human instrumentalities, is in danger of placing himself where repentance and faith will not come to him. He refuses to permit the Holy Spirit to melt his heart into tenderness and contrition, and that which should have softened him is looked upon as fanaticism; thus he is led to refuse the heavenly gift. Whatever plan God may devise by which to impress his heart, will be thwarted through this suggestion of Satan. The evil one casts his hellish shadow between the soul and God, and the work of God is looked upon as excitement and delusion. The Spirit strives in vain; for all the sufficiency of the gospel is inefficient to subdue the soul and correct the error. The habit of resistance is so fixed, he has so long interpreted light to be darkness and fanaticism, that the most manifest working of God's Holy Spirit becomes to him not a savor of life unto life, but through his unbelief, a savor of death unto death.
We hope and pray that those who have been visited by the Holy Spirit of God, may not come under the control of Satan, and so incase themselves in unbelief that they will misunderstand, misinterpret, and turn aside the deep movings of the Spirit of God, until darkness like the pall of death shall cover them, and not a ray of light from heaven penetrate the dense darkness in which they have become enshrouded. May no one resist the Spirit of God until the Lord shall say, "He is joined to his idols; let him alone."
But those who have failed to preserve their consecration to God, which they made when under the influence of his Spirit, have dishonored their Redeemer, and scattered from Christ. They have grieved the Holy Spirit. They have brought reproach upon the cause of God, and Satan has exulted in his power. The church of God is to hold high her holy ensign, proclaiming the fact to the world that she has been chosen of God out of the world, that through grace and truth she may be in the world, but not of it. A mere profession of godliness, a name registered on the church books, does not constitute one a child of God. To be a true Christian, it is necessary to be renewed in knowledge and true holiness, to come out from the world, and be separate and distinct from its customs and spirit.
Those who are laborers together with God will see, as did our Saviour, the moral degradation that abounds in the world, and will make every possible effort to point men to the sin-pardoning Saviour. They will manifest an intense interest to arouse those who are dead in trespasses and sin. They will not only pray for the perishing, but will seek earnestly to save them. Wisdom must be exercised; great tact, gentleness, and patience must be manifested toward some; while others we must save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted with the flesh. Many seem to be asleep, to be wholly unconcerned about their soul's salvation. We must array before them the terrors of the day of God and urge home upon the conscience the requirements of God's law. Those who labor to win souls must be wise; therefore they need to be much with God in prayer, seeking for wisdom that they may present the truth as it is in Jesus, and use every means to save the perishing. The laborers together with God are not to fail nor become discouraged.
I have a burden upon my soul that does not seem to grow lighter, but heavier, as I converse with responsible men and women in Battle Creek. In the night season I am engaged in giving the most earnest appeals to those who ought to be far in advance of what they are at the present time, because of the mercy and grace that the Lord has bestowed upon them. I shall trace out the substance of the conversations I have with you in your meetings in the Tabernacle and in your schoolroom. Although I have written plain statements, still the burden of appeal, reproof, warning, is upon me, and I am directed to address you in Battle Creek, and through you those in other places.
The school established in Battle Creek is not the savor of life unto life to those who attend that God designed it should be. To a large degree the simplicity of true godliness has departed. The record of the past year, and of the years previous has passed into eternity, but the grace and mercy of God, that have been so abundantly bestowed, have not met with a proportionate response in good works. Grace and truth have been shining forth in distinct rays the past year; but Satan has worked to make of none effect the heaven-sent refreshing of the shower of grace. At the very time when it was necessary that the greatest spiritual discernment should be exercised in educating and disciplining the youth who were then being moved upon by the Holy Spirit so that they might use the rich blessing aright, and progress from light to a greater light, nearly all the educators at Battle Creek had lost their clear spiritual discernment, because they did not maintain the victory by determined watchfulness.
I have had light from God that it is entirely contrary to his plans so heavily to center important interests at Battle Creek; for they are fast becoming as was Jerusalem in the days of Christ, when the people did not appropriate the heaven-sent opportunities nor cherish the rich blessing that God had given them. God has given his blessing to his people, in order that they may be faithful stewards of his grace. But every blessing that is not appreciated, that is not used to advance his work, is misapplied; and that which was given for a blessing is turned into a curse. Men waste their Lord's goods in poor management, and thus reflect dishonor upon God.
The people of God need ever to keep the evidences of his workings fresh in their minds. They need to consider the sacred, heavenly character, and realize how easily they can grieve the Holy Spirit away, by walking contrary to its ennobling, sanctifying, sacred influence. O, how the gift has been abused! Make haste to retrieve the error; for you have given Satan an opportunity to entangle souls, to confuse and perplex them, so that if they do not repent right speedily, and work in an opposite direction, they will have no more divine enlightenment; because they have neglected and misused that which God has already given them. I am afraid for you who have been so greatly favored of God. The heart, the conscience, the affections, and the memory have suffered by the course you have pursued. Draw nigh now to God, humble your hearts before him, and the holy things you have lost, may be restored. The Holy Spirit would bring back to the mind those things that you have forgotten. The peace you have lost will again be left with you. O how different is the peace of Christ from the world's peace! Jesus says, "My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." The words of Christ are echoes of the words of the Father.
Christ said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Satan has planted himself between God and man, and seeks to intercept every ray of light that God would have come to man. He casts his awful shadow across the earth, and envelops the human race in spiritual darkness. But through Jesus Christ, the Father is pleased to reveal his character to his chosen people. O, then walk in the light, appreciate the light, and step by step advance from light to a greater light. O that God might arouse his human agents, so that they would lay aside their schemes and inventions, their love for earthly amusements, and cherish his revealed grace and truth! Shall the Comforter be treated as a common thing, and be cast aside for some earthly, sinful, sensual enjoyment? My heart cries out in pain, "O God, pity thy people; for they will never discern the light from the throne of God, unless they walk circumspectly, and put away their foolishness, and take the cup, the full cup of the Lord's blessing."
The apostle holds out before us the assurance that we may be complete in Christ. What a beautiful character was manifest in him! what a grand example he presented! We can have no higher joy than to be laborers together with God, rescuing souls from the slavery of sin; and upbuilding the kingdom of Christ. This joy is Christ's joy, and every soul who partakes of it has his joy full. Again and again we may drink of this fountain of joy, and rejoice in it, knowing that no other joy can bear any comparison to it. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #8)
"Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Forms of devotion without true sincerity of heart are an abomination unto the Lord. He says: "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. . . . Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?"
The voice of God is speaking to us in clear, distinct utterances. He would see the works of righteousness in our lives. Instead of pleasing ourselves the Lord would have us do deeds of mercy, manifest tender forethought to those who are pressed down with burdens, cramped with poverty, who are hungry and naked and destitute. If you can do no more, he would have you speak words of life, of courage and hope, and give tender sympathy to those who suffer.
The prophet asks, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?. . . . 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." "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? . . . For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment."
"O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me."
If we fail in doing works of mercy, in manifesting true love and sympathy, in helping and blessing others, whatever else we may do, we shall fail of pleasing God. But to those who regard every Christian duty, and manifest kindness and love to the sorrowing, the poor, and the afflicted, for Christ's sake, the promises are rich and abundant. He says, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward." When ancient Israel journeyed, the ark of the covenant went before them. Beneath the mercy seat, which was the cover of the ark, were the tables of the law. The ark was a symbol of the presence of God; and the glory of the Lord, which is his righteousness, shall be the rearward of his people. The Lord says to those who carry out his injunctions: "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger [as an accuser, as a faultfinder, as a judge of others], and speaking vanity [lifting up the soul in self-esteem, in self-righteousness as though your own life was above fault]; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."
The Lord has laid upon us the duty of blessing others, and we cannot do this without a close connection with him. God cannot look upon us with favor while we are wholly absorbed in our own selfish interest, neglecting to acquire a knowledge of his word, that we may give that knowledge to others, and win souls to the Master. In the judgment every case will be decided by what was done, or what was not done, in this life. Every deed is registered in the book of life, and according as we have treated others, it will be registered we have treated the King of kings. Jesus will say, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
The Lord has placed in the care of the church the poor, the widow, and the fatherless. The character of your Christianity will be shown by the way in which you treat the Lord's representative. The best evidence you can give of love for Christ will be shown by your tenderness and liberality for those about you who need your help. Then let us stop doubting and murmuring, and become doers of the word of God. If you become laborers together with God, you will have a vital interest in others, and self will drop out of sight. The Lord has given in trust to us talents by which we may impart blessings to others, and thus become richer and more joyful ourselves. Our characters may become fragrant with good works; for by practice the living principles of righteousness will pass into the character, and unfold in beauty and purity of life.
The disobedient, rebellious children of the human family have long tried the experiment of ruling the world after the imagination of their own heart; but under the rule of the human will, the earth has languished and grown corrupt. The time will soon come when the Lord will take matters into his own hand; for he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man which he has ordained, and it will be demonstrated who is able to govern the heavens and the earth.
"The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." His people are those who have not lifted up their souls unto vanity; who have it not in their hearts to condemn others, or to make a man an offender for a word. They do not wrestle for their own rights, nor seek to avenge themselves when they have been mistreated. They have hidden themselves with Christ in God. Like Moses, whom God commendeth, they endure "as seeing him who is invisible," and "by beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed in the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #9)
We are now building characters for time and for eternity. Then let us not bring rotten timbers into our character-building. The life we live in the flesh must be by faith in the Son of God. It is good that afflictions come upon us; for we may thereby prove the Lord, and find him very precious unto our souls. The Lord designs that his people shall be happy, and he opens before us one source of consolation after another, that we may be filled with joy and peace in the midst of our present experience. We are not to wait until we shall get into heaven for brightness and comfort and joy. We are to have them right here in this life. I testify to all who love and serve God, that we miss very much because we do not grasp the blessings that may be ours in our afflictions. All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, and in short all things, work together for our good. The apostle says, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." All experiences and circumstances are God's workmen whereby good is brought to us. Let us look at the light behind the cloud. O, how much of comfort the murmurers and complainers lose in not bearing all things patiently! Never by thought or word or action give the impression that the Lord is a hard Master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strawed.
Christ has said, "Ye are the light of the world." Then let us individually send forth clear, steady rays of light to the world. Our light is never to grow dim, never to burn low. The Lord is at the door; who will prove to be the wise, and who the foolish virgins? Who will be revealed at last as those who have the lamps, but no oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps? The church has been made the depositary of truth. Light has been imparted to her members, and they are to have works corresponding to their privileges and opportunities. They cannot correctly represent the truth in a single instance, unless they are sanctified through the truth. To sanctify is to set apart for a special service. Those who are controlled by worldly ambition will never shine as lights. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Those who see the preciousness of truth should conform their lives to its principles, and not walk in darkness. They should shine and irradiate the world with their beams of heavenly light. Christ says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Many in the church neither burn nor shine. When those who profess to be Christians are sad and mournful, they make manifest the fact that they are not following Jesus; for he has said, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." If they are not following Christ, whom are they following?--The archdeceiver, who represents himself as an angel of light. Christ is the light of life, and he designs that all who follow him shall represent him in character, and show his all-sufficiency and perfection. If they do not do this, they are not a light, but lead away from the light. They are bodies of darkness, and hinder the rays of the Sun of Righteousness from shining to their fellowmen.
If those who hold positions of trust in connection with our institutions, or in connection with the church, make self first, if their hands are defiled in any way, and they do not reflect in character the image of the divine One, they are bodies of darkness. To be the light of the world is to shine, to send the heavenly rays amid the moral darkness that covers the earth and the gross darkness that prevails among the people. Christians must not follow the customs, the practices, of the world. By so doing they will be ensnared. The world has its captain and leader, who is the prince of darkness; but the sons and daughters of God must look steadfastly to Jesus for an example; and if they walk in the light as Christ is in the light, they cannot but shine. They will do honor to their leader. They will have the light of hope, of joy; they will manifest humility of mind, lowliness of heart; they will reveal that simplicity and purity of character that will testify to the divine source from which it sprang. If the church exemplifies the simple truth, as it has been exemplified by our Lord, she will be a power for good. Just as long as the church maintains her simplicity, she will be the light of the world. The prophet says, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." In letting our light shine to the world, no self-exaltation is exhibited.
What have we to bestow that we have not first received of God? Every gift, every talent, every ray of light, is ours as a sacred trust, bestowed upon us that we may win souls to Christ. If Christ shines in us, he will shine out of us to those who need the light. We have no time to lose. We can read the signs of the times in casualties, in disasters, by sea and by land. The floods, the storms, the fires, the unsettled condition of affairs throughout our world,--all testify that the day of God is at hand.
All heaven is looking with intense interest upon the church, to see what her individual members are doing to enlighten those who are in darkness. The field is the world, and the openings are so many, the work has so enlarged, that it is beyond the proportion of the means on hand to supply the necessary demands. For years the Lord has been warning his people to bind about their wants, to incur no needless outlay of means. But notwithstanding the counsel of Him who knows the end from the beginning, how needlessly has money been expended. The cautions given have been lightly esteemed, and the minds of men have misinterpreted, turned aside, or wrested the counsel of God, in order that they might follow their own ambitious projects, although by so doing, the very means by which God might have been glorified and honored in extending his truth, is lost to the cause. The Lord has graciously honored man, employing him as the human agent to cooperate with heavenly intelligences, that the light of truth may shine in all parts of the earth. The Lord has his agents who will act a part in the mightiest conflict which the world has ever seen. If the workers remain humble, learning daily, in the school of Christ, meekness and lowliness of heart, the Lord Jesus will work with them. He who is a co-worker with Christ will realize that in conferring heavenly benefits on others, he himself will be benefited. He will know that "he that watereth shall be watered also himself."
The plain testimony must be borne upon the necessity of self-denial. Through extravagant, selfish indulgence, the Lord's money is embezzled to gratify unsanctified imaginations, and this needless expenditure binds about the work of God. Messengers cannot be sent into missionary fields without money. The expenditure of their traveling expenses, the outlay for food and simple clothing, for shelter and life's necessities, must be met. Satan is continually suggesting ways whereby men can invest their means to get honor and glory to themselves. They build when the Lord does not say build. They will bind up thousands of dollars when the Lord has warned them not to do this, and the result is that missionary interests must suffer. Mere ambitious enterprises swallow up money that the Lord designed should be invested to set in operation the work in new fields, to aid the missionaries already started, that need encouragement and advancement, that the work should not be lost. Those who have the cause of God at heart, will suffer some inconveniences that the work may go forward. If every institution is to be made all that it might become, and we work to that end exclusively, we shall rob some other field, where missionaries for lack of help are not able to find a standing-place, to exert the influence the Lord would have them exert. We need to think more deeply, and to keep the glory of God constantly in view, and not mingle self in the superintending of the Lord's instrumentalities, thus bringing upon the cause of God a burden that it ought not to carry.
I plead with my brethren and sisters who believe the Lord is soon to come, to have more than finite wisdom. "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." We need not go stumbling along in uncertainty, thinking that the larger our institutions become, the more will they exert influence in the world. The strength of our institutions is not found so much in their worldly prosperity as in the character of their managers. They are to be meek and lowly of heart, learning daily their lessons in the school of Christ, seeking by prayer and supplication to know the will of the Lord, and inquiring at every step, "Is this the way of the Lord?" It is not the imposing buildings that will strike conviction to souls, but the piety, the humility, the love and fear of God, which actuate the hearts of those who occupy positions of trust in the management of the work. Is it God's work? Is it receiving the worldly mold? Are the sacred and the common so mingled that nothing stands clearly defined? O, how the Lord has been dishonored by false ideas! Spiritual things have not been discerned. Appearance and machinery have been exalted as of power, while the virtue of true goodness, noble piety, and heart-holiness, have been made a secondary consideration. That which should have been first has been made last and of least importance.
If we only had some of the means that has been invested in buildings to make a display that will never bring honor to the cause of God, what a good work might be done! How does the Lord, looking down from heaven, regard these things? How does he look upon the perversion of his goods, when money is put to a wrong use? Will he not inquire, Why did you use my goods in this way? Brethren who believe the truth, we must have more of Jesus, and less, a great deal less, of self,--none of self, and all of Jesus. We must have a baptism of the missionary spirit. We should feel that we are a part of God's great whole, united in one common brotherhood. This will lead to a willing consecration of our property to the cause of Christ. Shall the Lord Jesus see his professed followers willing to deny self, to heed the injunction, "Sell that ye have, and give alms;" and to render a portion of their property for the same object for which Christ came to our world and gave his own life? "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Let no one think that he will meet the mind of Christ in hoarding up property through life, and then at death making a bequest of a portion of it to some benevolent cause. Men are expending millions of money for selfish indulgences, to gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.
May the Lord lay our human ambitions in the dust, in order that we may understand whether we are following the unsanctified imaginings of the natural heart or the dictates of the Spirit of God. Self must be abased, and God must be obeyed and exalted. Let every soul who fears and loves God, seek for deeper piety, and let those who are walking in darkness and have no light, stay themselves upon God. We must have a deeper work of grace wrought in the soul, or we shall not be able to endure the test and trial of the conflict coming upon us in these last days. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #10)
We see in these colonies (Australia and New Zealand) that which causes us great burden of heart and suffering of mind. The people are given up to the love of pleasure, and employ a great part of their time in seeking selfish gratification, following a round of exciting amusements. There is a great deal of card playing, gambling, and horse racing. These forms of amusement are the fashion in every town, village, and city; and for days and weeks at a time the theme of conversation is the coming horse race or the athletic exercises of some club. These exercises are carried to an intemperate pass, and minds are fairly drunken with excitement. Eternal things are dropped out of the reckoning of men. A power from beneath is stirring the minds of men, and causing them to act with intense energy. Betting, the giving of bribes and rewards, runs higher and higher, and a panic, little short of madness, seems to actuate the lovers of pleasure. When horse races or athletic sports are in vogue, it seems that there are very few indeed who have any interest in spiritual things, and little can be accomplished. The very atmosphere seems to be polluted with the presence of evil angels, and Jesus, the world's Redeemer, is not in the thoughts of men.
These often-recurring rounds of pleasure are steadily growing more and more frequent; but how does Jesus, who gave his life for men, that they need not perish but have everlasting life, regard these scenes of wild excitement and pleasure-seeking? Satan works with all his power to destroy the souls and bodies of those who participate in these pleasures. Disappointment in the races causes men to go mad, and murder and suicide are the result. What is gained at these scenes of revelry and excitement? What is the after effect? Surely the lovers of pleasure do not come from these places with peace of mind.
Before the races both the older and the younger members of families try to hoard up a stock of money to bet on some trotting horse, and with feverish anticipation they wait for the day of the races. God is put out of their thoughts, and the salvation of their souls is the last thing for which they are concerned. This is the kind of education the youth are receiving. In this wonderful manifestation of folly we see a picture of the days before the flood. These occasions of excitement do not end simply in days of feverish anticipation and in the day of fulfillment, but they lead to worse folly. The venders of wine and beer and tobacco reap a harvest from such occasions, and inebriates are seen everywhere.
Jesus, the Lifegiver, who has paid the ransom of his own life for the life of the world, looks upon these wild scenes; and bending down he says, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" Gisborne, New Zealand, is one of the places where scenes like that I have described take place. The people of this town are now waiting for their turn at the races, and they look forward to the day of the race as if some great blessing were then to be bestowed upon them. Thousands upon thousands of pounds of money are expended every year on horse races and games of a wilder variety. The panic of desire is so contagious that even church members, professed Christians, are carried away with the excitement, and give countenance to the races by presenting themselves as spectators. If they do not bet on the races, they are still one with the transactors in spirit, and their doings are registered and condemned in the courts of heaven. They are reckoned among the godless company, and must give an account to God for their wasted time and money.
"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." "Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit. . . . And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore, their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath, but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land."
We are living in a time when there should be deep thought and solemn consideration. What shall be the end of these things? What profit is there under the sun? "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: . . . yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people: shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! . . . Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil. . . . Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken."
All over the land are the houses of the publican, the places of the liquor venders. The rum seller is licensed to give that to his neighbor which will work him harm in body and soul. It is true that the law has placed a limit to his sale, and has said, When a man reaches a certain stage of inebriety, he is to be denied drink. But there is no law against making our youth into drunkards. The law permits the liquor vender to lead them down step by step, until the liquor habit is established, and the young men are drunkards. Better, far better, would it be to give the liquor to the poor, confirmed drunkard who has already been ruined, than to take the very flower of the country and city, and educate our youth in these dreadful habits. Do not the lawmakers understand what they will become--poor inebriates, ruined in body and soul! O, what a terrible condition our world is in!
The ownership of the world belongs to Christ by creation and redemption. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." In the work of redemption each one is called upon to be an agent for Christ. The apostle says, "Ye are laborers together with God." But Satan also employs men as his agents, and we are either workers together with God or with the enemy of our souls. The Devil is the adversary of God and man. Peter says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." Satan is the tempter. He is the serpent that wounds and bruises the souls of men. He is a liar, an accuser of the brethren, He is a deceiver, and doeth great wonders, and appears in angel robes of light, that if possible he may deceive the very elect. Who will enlist in the warfare against the powerful foe that is seeking to insnare souls? Who will stand forth, and say intelligently, "We are laborers together with God?" Who will build upon the foundation that has been laid, which is Jesus Christ? "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
Principles are here presented that should be prayerfully considered. God has given to every man his work; and if any one turns from the work that God has given him, to do the work of Satan, to defile his own body or lead another into sin, that man's work is cursed, and the brand of Cain is placed upon him. The ruin of his victim will cry unto God, as did the blood of Abel. The whole energies of evil, as in the days of Noah, have gathered themselves together, to make a final effort to obliterate the image of God from the souls of men. What kind of builders are we individually? As human agents, are we strengthening the kingdom of the powers of darkness, seducing men, and leading them in the path of destruction? or are we, by precept and example, seeking to win the feet of the straying into the paths of truth and righteousness? Are we, for the sake of gain, defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit, by putting the bottle to our neighbor's lips? Are we acting a part under the great deceiver who tempted Adam to transgress the law of God? Let us hear the word of the Lord: "If any man defile the temple of God [be it his own or another man's soul], him shall God destroy." The fire shall try every man's work, and it will be seen of what sort it is. If we are laborers with God, our work will not be consumed; for we shall lead the feet of men to Jesus Christ, and direct them in the way to heaven. In the heavenly courts he who does this is registered as a laborer together with God. He is known as one who is wearing the yoke and bearing the burden of Christ; he is building upon the true foundation, and if any man's work which he buildeth thereupon shall abide, he shall receive a reward. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #11)
Watch, pray, work! To be in a position of watching, working, praying, and waiting, is to be in the proper position. We are to act as wise stewards, as faithful servants doing the work of the Master. I am particularly exercised over the mismanagement in the training of families. The father is to be the houseband of the family. This is his position, and if he is a Christian, he will maintain family government. In every respect his authority is to be recognized. In many families the father's authority is never fully acknowledged, and a series of excuses are offered for the disobedience of the children. In many families the daily life is one of variance, full of the counterworking of the father against the mother and the mother against the father. The mother thinks the father unnecessarily severe and exacting. Why?--Because the children do not acknowledge and reverence the father, who, if he is a Christian, represents the divine authority of God, whose vicegerent he is. The father is to carry out the gracious designs of God, and establish his family in upright principles, that they may have virtuous and well-balanced characters.
If fathers and mothers are at variance, one working against the other to counteract each other's influence, the family will be in a demoralized condition, and neither the father nor the mother will receive the respect and confidence that are essential to a well-governed family. The mother will leave the impression upon the minds of the children that the father is too severe or is needlessly particular. Children are quick to discern anything that will cast a reflection upon the rules and regulations of a household, especially those regulations that restrict their actions. Would that parents would work in harmony, guiding their children in the fear of God, and remembering that they are his agents. The family is a divine institution, and parents should be wise, judicious teachers of their little ones. Children are to be patiently instructed, line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. They should be trained, educated, and disciplined until they become obedient to their parents, giving respect to their authority. In this way respect for divine authority will be implanted in their hearts, and the family training will be like a preparatory training for the family in heaven. The training of childhood and youth should be of such a character that children will be prepared to take up their religious duties, and thus become fitted to enter into the courts above.
Let parents consider the fact that they are in place of God to their children. The weakness and inexperience of the children are to be supplied by the practice and precepts of the parents. From the earliest age a wise education in Christ's lines is to be begun and carried forward. When the children's hearts are impressible, they are to be taught concerning eternal realities. Parents should remember that they are living, speaking, and acting in the presence of God. The heavenly intelligences are witnesses to their words and deeds. They know how they are dealing with the younger members of the Lord's family; for the children are the purchase of the only begotten Son of God. The angels look with intense interest upon every family, to see how the children are treated by parents, guardians, or friends. What strange mismanagement they witness in a family where father and mother are at variance! The tones of the voice of father and mother, their looks, their words,--all make it manifest that they are not united in the management of their children. The father casts reflections upon the mother, and leads the children to hold in disrespect the mother's tenderness and affection for the little ones. The mother thinks she is compelled to give large affection to the children, to gratify and indulge them, because she thinks the father is harsh and impatient, and she must work to counteract the influence of his severity.
O how God is dishonored in a family where there is no true understanding as to what constitutes family discipline, and children are confused as to what is discipline and government. It is true that too harsh discipline, too much criticism, unrequired laws and regulations, lead to disrespect of authority, and, to the disregarding finally of those regulations that Christ would have fulfilled. The lack of family government leads to the destruction of confidence in wise regulations in the family economy. Parents should themselves be converted, and know what it is to be in submission to God's will, as little children, bringing into captivity their thoughts to the will of Jesus Christ, before they can rightly represent the government that God designed should exist in the family.
In the family, fathers and mothers should ever present before their children the example they wish to be imitated. They should manifest one to the other a tender respect in word, and look, and action. They should make it manifest that the Holy Spirit is controlling them, by representing to their children the character of Jesus Christ. The powers of imitation are strong, and in childhood and youth, when this faculty is most active, a perfect pattern should be set before the young. Children should have confidence in their parents, and thus take in the lessons they would inculcate. Parents should make manifest in their daily life what it is to love God supremely and their neighbor as themselves. Where religion is a practical thing in the home, great good is accomplished. Religion will lead the parents to do the very work God designed should be done in the home. Children will be brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Children are not to be trained to be the devotees of society. They are not to be sacrificed to Moloch; but they are to become members of the Lord's family. Parents are to be filled with the compassion of Christ, that they may work for the salvation of the souls that are placed under their influence. They are not to have their minds all engrossed in the fashions and practices of the world. They are not to educate their children to attend parties and concerts and dances, to have and attend feasts; because after this manner the Gentiles walk. Eternal vigilance must be exercised, that the children may be led in the paths of righteousness. Satan begins his work upon them from earliest childhood, and creates desires for that which God has forbidden. The safety of children depends largely upon the vigilance, watchfulness, and care of the parents over them. Parents must work in the fear of the Lord, preoccupying the garden of the heart, by sowing good seed. They must instill the right spirit, plant correct habits, and teach the children that the love and fear of God are the foundation of all wisdom. Obedience to parental authority should be inculcated in babyhood and cultivated in youth. The will of the parents must first be under discipline to Christ, molded and controlled by the Holy Spirit, and then parents must have control of the child.
Parents who exercise a spirit of dominion and authority, transmitted to them from their own parents, which leads them to be exacting in their discipline and instruction, will not train their children aright. By their severity in dealing with their errors, they stir up the worst passions of the human heart, and leave their children with a sense of injustice and wrong. They meet in their children the very disposition that they themselves have imparted to them. Such parents drive their children away from God, by talking to them on religious subjects; for the Christian religion is made unattractive and even repulsive by this misrepresentation of truth. Children will say, "Well, if that is religion, I do not want anything of it." It is thus that enmity is often created in the heart against religion; and because of an arbitrary enforcement of authority, children are led to despise the law and the government of heaven. Parents have fixed the eternal destiny of their children by their own misrule. They have placed their children in the ranks of the enemy, to serve the prince of darkness rather than the Prince of Light. Parents will have a fearful reckoning to meet in the day of judgment. The Lord will inquire, What have you done with my heritage in the children I gave into your trust? Where is my revenue, my inheritance? Then the mismanagement will appear with terrible distinctness before the parents, who have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Their neglect to cultivate their children in righteous ways will not only be the ruin of their own families, but the wrong principles they inculcated in them, bear fruit in other lives, and are transmitted from parent to child to the third and fourth generation. There will be a harvest to be gathered that will be hard to be reaped. The irreligious practices of the children produced effects in their own characters and in the characters of others, and instead of being a blessing in the world, they became a curse.
The family circle is to be an educating circle. Father and mother are to be teachers, and unitedly, under the rule of Jesus Christ, they are to bear their responsibility. They cannot give their time to visiting, to the cultivation of worldly habits, to the entertainment of such visitors as will cause them to neglect their children. They are to devote their time to teaching children how to be useful, how to be a blessing to others. Where this is neglected, Satan early takes the children into his school, and teaches them his hellish arts. Jesus spoke of the synagogue of Satan. He has a religion that he teaches, and those who learn in his school soon reveal the fact that he is their teacher. Satan is watching to catch the children through the neglect of their parents. One disobedient child will do great harm to those with whom he associates; for he will fashion other children after his own pattern.
Parents lose much by being half-converted. Of Abraham it was said by the Lord Jesus Christ, "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." By the combined influence of love and authority, Abraham ruled his house. He was to walk before his household without hypocrisy or any deception, and there was no betrayal of sacred trust on his part. With living faith in God he combined works, and met the standard that is erected for masters, servants, and children,--the great moral standard of righteousness. O how few bring religion into their home life! Parents, what course are you pursuing? Are you acting upon the idea that in religious matters your children should be left free of all restraint? Are you leaving them without counsel or admonition through childhood and youth? Are you leaving them to do as they please? If so, you are neglecting your God-given responsibilities. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #12)
The third angel's message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and this truth must be brought before the world; but the great Center of attraction, Jesus Christ, must not be left out of the third angel's message. By many who have been engaged in the work for this time, Christ has been made secondary, and theories and arguments have had the first place. The glory of God that was revealed to Moses in regard to the divine character has not been made prominent. The Lord said to Moses, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee." "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."
A vail has seemed to be before the eyes of many who have labored in the cause, so that when they presented the law, they have not had views of Jesus, and have not proclaimed the fact that, where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. It is at the cross of Calvary that mercy and truth meet together, where righteousness and peace kiss each other. The sinner must ever look toward Calvary; and with the simple faith of a little child, he must rest in the merits of Christ, accepting his righteousness and believing in his mercy. Laborers in the cause of truth should present the righteousness of Christ, not as new light, but as precious light that has for a time been lost sight of by the people. We are to accept Christ as our personal Saviour, and he imputes unto us the righteousness of God in Christ. Let us repeat and make prominent the truth that John has portrayed: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
In the love of God has been opened the most marvelous vein of precious truth, and the treasures of the grace of Christ are laid open before the church and the world. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." What love is this,--what marvelous, unfathomable love!--that would lead Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners. What a loss it is to the soul who understands the strong claims of the law, and who yet fails to understand the grace of Christ which doth much more abound! It is true that the law of God reveals the love of God when it is preached as the truth in Jesus; for the gift of Christ to this guilty world must be largely dwelt upon in every discourse. It is no wonder that hearts have not been melted by the truth, when it has been presented in a cold and lifeless manner. No wonder faith has staggered at the promises of God, when ministers and workers have failed to present Jesus in his relation to the law of God. How often should they have assured the people that "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?"
Satan is determined that men shall not see the love of God, which led him to give his only begotten Son to save the lost race; for it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. O, how shall we succeed in setting forth before the world the deep, precious love of God? In no other way can we compass it than by exclaiming, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God"! Let us say to sinners, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" By presenting Jesus as the representative of the Father, we shall be able to dispel the shadow that Satan has cast upon our pathway, in order that we shall not see the mercy and love of God's inexpressible love as manifested in Jesus Christ.
Look at the cross of Calvary. It is a standing pledge of the boundless love, the measureless mercy, of the heavenly Father. O that all might repent and do their first works. When the churches do this, they will love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. Ephraim will not envy Judah, and Judah will not vex Ephraim. Divisions will then be healed, the harsh sounds of strife will no more be heard in the borders of Israel. Through the grace freely given them of God, all will seek to answer the prayer of Christ, that his disciples should be one, even as he and the Father are one. Peace, love, mercy, and benevolence will be the abiding principles of the soul. The love of Christ will be the theme of every tongue, and it will no more be said by the true Witness, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." The people of God will be abiding in Christ, the love of Jesus will be revealed, and one Spirit will animate all hearts, regenerating and renewing all in the image of Christ, fashioning all hearts alike. As living branches of the true Vine, all will be united to Christ, the living head. Christ will abide in every heart, guiding, comforting, sanctifying, and presenting to the world the unity of the followers of Jesus, thus bearing testimony that the heavenly credentials are supplied to the remnant church. In the oneness of Christ's church it will be proved that God sent his only begotten Son into the world.
When God's people are one in the unity of the Spirit, all of Phariseeism, all of self-righteousness, which was the sin of the Jewish nation, will be expelled from all hearts. The mold of Christ will be upon each individual member of his body, and his people will be new bottles into which he can pour his new wine, and the new wine will not break the bottles. God will make known the mystery which hath been hidden for ages. He will make known what are 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."
Jesus came to impart to the human soul the Holy Spirit, by which the love of God is shed abroad in the heart; but it is impossible to endow men with the Holy Spirit, who are set in their ideas, whose doctrines are all stereotyped and unchangeable, who are walking after the traditions and commandments of men, as were the Jews in the time of Christ. They were very punctilious in the observances of the church, very rigorous in following their forms, but they were destitute of vitality and religious devotion. They were represented by Christ as like the dry skins which were then used as bottles. The gospel of Christ could not be placed in their hearts; for there was no room to contain it. They could not be the new bottles into which he could pour his new wine. Christ was obliged to seek elsewhere than among the scribes and the Pharisees for bottles for his doctrine of truth and life. He must find men who were willing to have regeneration of heart. He came to give to men new hearts. He said, "A new heart also will I give you." But the self- righteous of that day and of this day feel no need of having a new heart. Jesus passed by the scribes and the Pharisees, for they felt no need of a Saviour. They were wedded to forms and ceremonies. These services had been instituted by Christ; they had been full of vitality and spiritual beauty; but the Jews had lost the spiritual life from their ceremonies, and clung to the dead forms after spiritual life was extinct among them. When they departed from the requirements and commandments of God, they sought to supply the place of that which they had lost, by multiplying their own requirements, and making more rigorous demands than had God; and the more rigid they grew, the less of the love and Spirit of God they manifested. Christ said to the people: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do ye not after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
The remnant church is called to go through an experience similar to that of the Jews; and the true Witness, who walks up and down in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, has a solemn message to bear to his people. He says: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." The love of God has been waning in the church, and as a result, the love of self has sprung up into new activity. With the loss of love for God there has come the loss of love for the brethren. The church may meet all the description that is given of the Ephesian church, and yet fail in vital godliness. Of them Jesus said, "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love."
A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. When fastings and prayers are practiced in a self-justifying spirit, they are abominable to God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposed sacrifice,--all proclaim to the world the testimony that the doer of these things considers himself righteous. These things call attention to the observer of rigorous duties, saying, This man is entitled to heaven. But it is all a deception. Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. He who drinks from the water of the fountain of life, will be filled with the new wine of the kingdom. Faith in Christ will be the means whereby the right spirit and motive will actuate the believer, and all goodness and heavenly-mindedness will proceed from him who looks unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith. Look up to God, look not to men. God is your heavenly Father who is willing patiently to bear with your infirmities, and to forgive and heal them. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." By beholding Christ, you will become changed, until you will hate your former pride, your former vanity and self-esteem, your self-righteousness and unbelief. You will cast these sins aside as a worthless burden, and walk humbly, meekly, trustfully, before God. You will practice love, patience, gentleness, goodness, mercy, and every grace that dwells in the child of God, and will at last find a place among the sanctified and holy. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #13)
The followers of Christ are to do the same work that Christ did when he was in the world. Isaiah prophesied of him, saying: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus opened this prophecy to the minds of the people. He announced the fact that he was fulfilling the words that the prophet had spoken. The words were definite in their specifications, so that there might be no excuse on the part of the people who claim to believe the Old Testament teaching, for cherishing unbelief in regard to Christ. God gave the Jews every opportunity and privilege to be called trees of the Lord, that he might be glorified. Jesus designed to make them as living water, as wells of salvation, to refresh and fertilize the world, that souls might be converted, and bring forth fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.
How did the people to whom Christ announced his mission, receive the words he had spoken? Under the influence of the Spirit of God, conviction fastened upon their minds, and they witnessed to the gracious words that came from his lips. But Satan was not willing to let his captives go. They had long been bound under a misconception of the character of God, and he now worked with intense energy to fasten them in unbelief. Doubt sowed the seed of unbelief, and they repudiated Christ, refused his words, and closed the door of their heart to the gracious blessing he was ready to impart. Their hearts were filled with the spirit of Satan and his angels, and the people thrust him out of the synagogue, and would have cast him down from the side of the hill; but the angels of God preserved him, that he might do his appointed work.
The mission described by the prophet is the mission of every disciple of Christ. We are to practice the words of Christ, and present before others the covenant of grace, the righteousness of Christ. We are to make it manifest to the world that we have the oil of grace in our vessels in our lamps. The work of every representative of Christ, both in the ministry and among the laymen, is to tell of the great salvation brought to them as God's free gift. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
The oil of grace gives to men the courage, and supplies to them the motives for doing every day the work that God appoints to them. The five foolish virgins had lamps (this means a knowledge of Scripture truth), but they had not the grace of Christ. Day by day they went through a round of ceremonies and external duties, but their service was lifeless, devoid of the righteousness of Christ. The Sun of Righteousness did not shine in their hearts and minds, and they had not the love of the truth which conforms to the life and character, the image and superscription, of Christ. The oil of grace was not mingled with their endeavors. Their religion was a dry husk without the true kernel. They held fast to forms of doctrines, but they were deceived in their Christian life, full of self-righteousness, and failing to learn lessons in the school of Christ, which, if practiced, would have made them wise unto salvation.
The Lord Jesus requires that every soul who claims to be a son or daughter of God, should not only depart from all iniquity, but be abundant in acts of charity, self-denial, and humility. The Lord has presented the working of a certain law of mind and action, that should warn us in regard to our work. He says: "Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." Those who do not improve upon their opportunities, who do not exercise the grace that God gives them, have less and less inclination to do so, and finally in a sleepy lethargy, lose that which they once possessed. They make no provision for the future time of need in gaining a large experience, in obtaining an increased knowledge of divine things, so that when trial and temptation come upon them, they may be able to stand. When persecution or temptation comes, this class lose their courage and faith, and their foundation is swept away, because they did not see the need of making their foundation sure. They did not rivet their souls to the eternal Rock.
It is simply that which is external that is represented by the lamp; but the lamp is worthless without oil. The inward and spiritual oil of the grace of Christ is to vivify the soul. Unless Christ transforms the character by his divine grace, there is no transformation, no living spring of faith. "And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my Lord? Then the angel that talked with me . . . answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
The lamps are to impress upon the church the necessity of eternal vigilance as the price of safety. Devotion, watching, and prayer are not for a moment to be neglected. The Lord is coming a second time to our world, and there must be found in us a disposition to wait and watch for his appearing, lest coming suddenly he find us sleeping. All whom Christ has united in holy covenant with himself are to feel that it is not safe at any time to be without oil in their vessels. The warning Christ has given is for us, and we shall be found guilty before God if we do not take heed to it. "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
Have we decided to make our dwelling place upon the earth? Are we not strangers and pilgrims seeking a better country, even a heavenly? "Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . . Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name."
The coming of Christ will be as it were at midnight, when all are sleeping. It will be well for every one to have his accounts all straightened up before sunset. All his works should be right, all his dealings just, between himself and his fellowmen. All dishonesty, all sinful practices should be put far away. The oil of grace should be in our vessels with our lamps. There will be some at that late day who will have the appearance of being Christians, but their identity with Christ is only a deception. Sad indeed will be the condition of the soul who has had a form of godliness but has denied the power thereof; who has called Christ, Lord, Lord, and yet who has not his image and superscription. The foolish virgins flattered themselves that they would have mercy, that they would obtain an entrance into the marriage feast; but the Master answered their plea for admission with a stern refusal, saying, "I know you not." "And the door was shut."
The question is asked, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?" "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
God graciously grants a day of probation, a time of test and trial. He gives the invitation: "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. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." If this invitation is disregarded, if the solemn scenes of the judgment make no impression upon the obdurate heart, if there is no repentance and confession and reformation, then the consequence will surely follow that fearfulness shall surprise the hypocrite.
Today the voice of mercy is calling, and Jesus is drawing men by the cords of his love; but the day will come when Jesus will put on the garments of vengeance, and those who have no oil in their vessels with their lamps, will be surprised and confounded in their destitution. The wickedness of the world is increasing every day, and when a certain line is reached, the register will be closed, and the account settled. There will be no more a sacrifice for sin. The Lord cometh. Long has mercy extended a hand of love, of patience and forbearance, toward a guilty world. The invitation has been given, "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." But men have presumed upon his mercy and refused his grace.
Why has the Lord so long delayed his coming? The whole host of heaven is waiting to fulfil the last work for this lost world, and yet the work waits. It is because the few who profess to have the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps, have not become burning and shining lights in the world. It is because missionaries are few. Many voices are saying, "My Lord delayeth his coming." Have we no incentive to work? Does not death enter the doors of your neighbors and friends, telling you that your probation is fast hastening to its close? You are not sure of a day, therefore see to it that the oil of grace is not emptied out of your vessel. Let no one feel, "My mountain standeth sure. I am an old, experienced Christian." Suppose that mortal sickness should come upon you in a moment, could you face eternal realities, and say, "It is well with my soul"?
In the judgment it will be revealed that those who slept and had not the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps, who have gone on in careless indifference, in a self-satisfied state, in negligence of spiritual opportunities and privileges, have led others in the selfsame path, and have caused those whom they had no power to redeem, to imperil their eternal destiny at the cost of the soul's salvation.
Every week counts one week less, every day one day nearer to the appointed time of the judgment. Alas that so many have only a spasmodic religion,--a religion dependent upon feeling and governed by emotion. "He that endureth to the end shall be saved." Then see that you have the oil of grace in your hearts. The possession of this will make every difference with you in the judgment. Those who say, Lord, Lord, and outwardly appear to rejoice in the Saviour, while they do not the works of Christ, are not what they appear to be, and unless they are truly converted, will be numbered with the foolish virgins. "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." The Lord will not save men in disobedience. His perfection of character binds him to deal justly, and the penalty will certainly fall upon all who are found guilty of the transgression of the law in thought, word, or action. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #14)
"But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel."
The work that John came to do could in no way harmonize with the work of the Pharisees. The forerunner of Christ was to be as the "voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Anciently it was the custom, when kings traveled in countries where the roads were rough, to send a company ahead of the royal chariot, to smooth the steep places, and to fill up the hollows. This was the work to be done by John; for he was to prepare the way of the Lord. He was to be as a voice crying in the wilderness: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
The difficulties that were to be met by John were far greater than the difficulties to be met by those who prepared the way of earthly kings. The hearts of men around him were filled with every evil, with strife, envy, malice, and wickedness. They would not be impressed by a message of mercy and love. They were represented by John as a generation of vipers, and to them he gave scathing rebukes because of their self-righteousness. His voice rang out as a trumpet, crying, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." "When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
The message of John the Baptist was a new and startling message, and could not be interwoven with the superstitions and traditions of the Pharisees. The disciples of John were not to think that his self-denial, his self-sacrifice, his prayers, his devotions, his fastings, were like those of the Pharisees. The Pharisees fasted in hypocrisy, and there was no vitality in their religious exercises. To seek to blend the pretense of the Pharisees with the devotion of John would be only to make more evident the breach between them. The work of John was to expose the character of the works of the Pharisees, to set their traditions and heresies in their true light before the people.
At an early stage in his ministry the disciples of John came to Jesus as the One who was mightier than John. But when they saw Jesus eating with publicans and sinners, they were surprised and troubled. They had heard the charges of the Pharisees against Jesus, and they began to think that there was some foundation for their accusations. They thought much of the prescribed rules and rigorous ceremonies practiced by the Pharisees, and even hoped themselves to be justified by the works of the law. They thought their righteousness would entitle them to the favor of God, and went among the class, who, having the law, failed to keep it. They became agents of Satan to prefer charges against Christ at the very time when the Pharisees were questioning the authority of Jesus and seeking to lessen his influence over the people.
The Jews claimed to be the covenant people of God, and as a nation prided themselves in the idea that they were the chosen of heaven, yet many among them did not know God. They had been taught as a nation to look for the Redeemer. Holy men of God had spoken to them as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. In type and shadow and symbol they had been instructed concerning spiritual things, yet many had not understood the import of what had been revealed. A vail seemed to be before their faces, and they did not discern the glory of the dispensation of types and shadows. They needed to have a spiritual teacher always with them, to instruct them in regard to the significance of their rites, to show them the spiritual import of types and shadows. The spiritual worshiper alone was able to do this. There was much that was obscure to the minds of the prophets and teachers. Peter says, "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."
In Jesus Christ type met antitype. He was the One of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets, did write. He was the manifestation of the Father's love, the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person. Christ was the author of truth; not a gem of thought, not a jewel of truth, but he originated. He saw the precious truth buried under a mass of superstition and traditions of men, and he came to rescue truth from its connection with error. He came to rebuild the structure of truth. Fallen man was to be raised from his low estate, lost man was to be recovered, sin was to be pardoned, the sinner saved, and the world was to see in Christ a representation of the Father's love. "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."
The Lord Jesus Christ came first to the Jewish nation. They thought themselves perfect; they were filled with self-righteousness, regarding themselves as rich and increased in goods and in need of nothing in the way of spiritual knowledge. They thought they had no need of depending upon, and drawing from, the resources that Jesus opened before them. He presented to them the field containing the hidden treasure, but they turned from it. The bright and holy seraphim, the hosts of heaven, who wondered at the glorious plan of salvation, watched with intense interest to see how the people of God would receive the divine Son of God, clothed in the garb of humanity. The wisdom of God was in his only begotten Son. The tabernacle of God was with men. God was hidden in the habitation of humanity.
Step by step the angels followed the world's Redeemer as he unfolded his divine wisdom in the truths he restored to humanity; but with amazement they saw that the Jewish priests and rulers, filled with their own self-righteousness, did not wish to be disturbed, and saw nothing desirable in a higher wisdom than they possessed. They had false ideas of God, and were deceived in themselves. They set themselves in resistance of Christ, and after once having taken the step, they were too proud to acknowledge their error, confess their sin, and retrace their steps. As they did not desire to repent and confess that they had erred, they continually beset the steps of Christ, acting as spies, and seeking to catch something from his lips, that they could turn against him, and thereby secure his condemnation.
Jesus, the treasure house of wisdom, came to our world to open to men the jewels of truth. In him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and he desired to reveal the riches of God to the world. He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." The field is to be explored, and the more it is examined, the more treasures will be revealed to the seeker. While Christ was upon earth, he longed to make known to the Jewish nation and especially to his disciples, the hidden treasures of truth and he said unto them, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." He was continually educating his disciples to work in the mine of truth, to sink the shaft deep, and gave them the assurance that their labors would be richly rewarded; for they would discover many precious veins of valuable ore. The field was the unsearchable riches of Christ. But the Lord presented these treasures to the Jewish nation in vain. Their own ideas and opinions, their own false sentiments and traditions, were of more value in their eyes than anything that Jesus could offer. They preferred the commandments of men to the commandments of God.
"No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." How gladly would Jesus have poured into these bottles the new wine; but it would have been of no use. The only way in which they could receive his teaching was to see and hear him without prejudice; but unless they were converted, they could not do this; for they were filled with their own righteousness, and were relying on their own works as a means of salvation. They did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion. Heaven looked with amazement to see the nation that had been blessed with so much light, which had been favored with so many advantages, refusing the precious treasure of truth.
Patriarchs and prophets had foretold that the Jewish nation would not accept the covenant of grace; for they had closed their eyes to the truth, and because of their ignorance of the real meaning of God's word, they added injunction to injunction from their own human knowledge. Because of the pride of their heart, the blindness of their mind, they closed the door to Christ. The goodwill of God to men they did not accept as a thing apart from themselves. They connected it with their own merit, because of their good works.
To the present time, men insist on being saved in some way by which they may perform some important work. If they see there is no way in which to weave self into the work, they reject the salvation provided. They trample under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified as an unholy thing. Jesus could give alone security to God; for he was equal with God. He alone could be a mediator between God and man; for he possessed divinity and humanity. Jesus could thus give security to both parties for the fulfillment of the prescribed conditions. As the Son of God he gives security to God in our behalf, and as the eternal Word, as one equal with the Father, he assures us of the Father's love to usward who believe his pledged word. When God would assure us of his immutable counsel of peace, he gives his only begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain his human nature as a pledge that God will fulfill his word. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #15)
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years."
A refining, purifying process is going on among the people of God, and the Lord of hosts has set his hand to this work. This process is most trying to the soul, but it is necessary in order that defilement may be removed. Trials are essential in order that we may be brought close to our heavenly Father, in submission to his will, that we may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. God's work of refining and purifying the soul must go on until his servants are so humbled, so dead to self, that when called into active service, they may have an eye single to the glory of God. Then they will not move rashly from impulse, and imperil the Lord's cause because they are slaves to temptation and passion, because they follow their carnal desires; but they will move from principle and in view of the glory of God. The Lord brings his children over the same ground again and again, increasing the pressure until perfect humility fills the mind, and the character is transformed; then they are victorious over self, and in harmony with Christ and the Spirit of heaven.
The purification of God's people cannot be accomplished without suffering. God permits the fire of affliction to consume the dross, to separate the worthless from the valuable, in order that the pure metal may shine forth. He passes us from one fire to another, testing our true worth. True grace is willing to be tried. If we are loath to be searched by the Lord, our condition is one of peril. God is the refiner and purifier of souls. He places us in the heat of the furnace, that the dross may be forever separated from the true gold of Christian character. Jesus watches the test. He knows just what fire of temptation and trial is needed to purify the precious metal, in order that the radiance of divine love may be reflected.
It is by close, testing trials that God brings his people near to himself; for in trial and temptation he discovers to them their weakness, and teaches them to lean upon him as their only help and safeguard. When this result is attained, his object is accomplished, and his tried servants are prepared to be used in every emergency, to fill important positions of trust, and to accomplish the grand purposes for which their powers were given them. God takes men upon trial, and he proves them upon the right hand and upon the left, until they are educated, trained, and disciplined for his use.
Trials will come upon us that are originated by the prince of evil. The enemy will contend for the life or the usefulness of the servants of God, and will seek to mar their peace as long as they remain in the world. But his power is limited. He may cause the furnace to be heated, but Jesus and holy angels watch the precious ore; and to the trusting Christian, grace will be found sufficient, and nothing but the worthless dross will be consumed. The fire kindled by the enemy can have no power to destroy the true gold. At times the powers of darkness gather about the soul and shut Jesus from our sight, and we wait in sorrow and amazement until the cloud passes over. While under the trial, these seasons are terrible. Hope seems to fail, and despair seizes upon us. But in these dreadful hours we must learn to trust, to depend wholly upon the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, and cast our souls in their helplessness and unworthiness upon him who is mighty to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by him. We shall never perish while we do this, never.
We need not be astonished at trial. Peter says, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
Jesus says: "I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." There is a constant tendency among the trees of the Lord to be more profuse in foliage than in fruit. Just as the strength and nourishment of the grapevine are taken up in abundant foliage, and the fruit is not brought to perfection unless the vine is pruned, so the strength of the Christian will fail of its true end, unless the heavenly husbandman prunes away the useless growth. In prosperity the followers of Jesus often turn their thoughts and energies toward gratifying themselves, to securing worldly treasure, to the enjoyment of ease and pleasure and luxury, and they bring forth little fruit to the glory of God; then the heavenly husbandman, in order to promote the fruitfulness of the branches, comes with the pruning knife of disappointment, loss, or bereavement, and cuts away the hindering growth.
One evening a gentleman who was much depressed because of deep affliction, was walking in a garden, where he observed a pomegranate tree nearly cut through the stem. Greatly wondering, he asked the gardener why the tree was in this condition, and he received an answer that explained to his satisfaction the wounds of his own bleeding heart. "Sir," said the gardener, "this tree used to shoot out so strong that it bore nothing but leaves. I was obliged to cut it in this manner; and when it was almost cut through, it began to bear fruit."
Our sorrows do not spring out of the ground. In every affliction God has a purpose to work out for our good. Every blow that destroys an idol, every providence that weakens our hold upon earth and fastens our affections more firmly upon God, is a blessing. The pruning may be painful for a time, but afterward it "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness." We should receive with gratitude whatever will quicken the conscience, elevate the thoughts, and ennoble the life. The fruitless branches are cut off and cast into the fire. Let us be thankful that through painful pruning, we may retain a connection with the living Vine; for if we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him. The very trial that taxes our faith the most severely and makes it seem as though God had forsaken us, is to lead us more clearly to him, that we may lay all our burdens at the feet of Christ, and experience the peace which he will give us in exchange. Let no Christian feel that he is forsaken when the hour of trial comes upon him. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your heavenly Father's notice. God loves and cares for the feeblest of his creatures, and we cannot dishonor him more than by doubting his love to us. O let us cultivate that living faith that will trust him in the hour of darkness and trial! Living faith in the merits of a crucified Redeemer will carry men through the fiery furnace of affliction and trial, and the form of the Fourth will be with them in the furnace, however fierce its heat; and they will come forth from its flame with not even the smell of the fire on their garments.
Joseph was sold into Egypt. He was put into prison. The enemy strove to overwhelm him in darkness. The darkness was so great that it seemed every ray of hope was extinguished; but his faith took hold on God, and it was rewarded. God brought him out of the dungeon, and made him a light to the world. Our heavenly Father sees the hearts of men, and he knows their characters better than they do themselves. He sees that some have capabilities which are not directed in the right way, but that if they could be turned into the right channel, they would bring glory to his name by advancing the cause of truth in the world. He places these persons on trial, and in his wise providence brings them into different positions, into a variety of circumstances, where they are tested in order that they may reveal what is in their hearts and make manifest the weak points of their characters, which have been hidden from their own eyes. God gives them opportunities to correct these defects, to polish off the rough corners of their natures, and to fit themselves for his service. If they do this work, then when he calls them into active service, they are ready so that the angels of heaven cooperate with them in their labors, and the purpose is fulfilled for which God called them to his service.
It is in mercy that the Lord reveals to men their hidden defects. He would have them critically examine the complicated emotions and motives of their own hearts, and detect that which is wrong, and modify their dispositions, and refine their manners. God would have his servants become acquainted with their own hearts. In order to bring to them a true knowledge of their condition, he permits the fire of affliction to assail them, so that they may be purified. The trials of life are God's workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our characters, and fit them for the society of pure, heavenly angels in glory. Then as we pass through trial, as the fire of affliction kindles upon us, shall we not keep our eyes fixed upon the things that are unseen, on the eternal inheritance, the immortal life, the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory? and while we do this, the fire will not consume us, but only remove the dross, and we shall come forth seven times purified, bearing the impress of the Divine. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 71, #16)
This world is not the Christian's heaven. It is the place in which to fit up for heaven. It is the scene of our life-battles, our conflicts and sorrows. While here we must, if we would be successful, have a firm grasp of the better world, where, when the warfare is ended, will be found peace and everlasting joy.
Through all our trials, which have never been fully revealed to others, we have had an unfailing Friend, who has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." While upon the earth, Jesus was ever touched with human woe, and although he is now ascended to his Father, and is adored by angels who swiftly speed to obey his commands, yet his heart, which loved, pitied, and sympathized with men, knows no change. It remains a heart of unchangeable tenderness still. "We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are." Jesus is acquainted with all our trials, and he does not leave us to struggle alone with temptations, to battle alone with sin, and to be finally crushed with burden and sorrow. Through his angels he whispers to you, "Fear not; for I am with thee." "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore." "I know your sorrows; I have endured them. I am acquainted with your struggles; I have experienced them. I know your temptations; I have encountered them. I have seen your tears; I also have wept. Your earthly hopes are crushed, but let the eye of faith be uplifted, and penetrate the vail, and there anchor your hopes. The everlasting assurance shall be yours that you have a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
God has always tried his people in the furnace of affliction, in order to prove them firm and true, to purge from them all dross and unrighteousness. It was after Abraham and his son Isaac had borne the severest test that could be brought upon them, that God spoke through his angel to Abraham, and said: "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me."
The work of pruning and purifying the people of God for heaven is a great work, and it will not be accomplished without great suffering on the part of the servants of God, because it will cost them something to bring their wills into harmony with the will of Christ. We must go through the furnace till the fires have consumed the dross, and we are purified so that we reflect the divine image. Those who follow inclination, and judge from appearances, are not good judges of what God is doing. They are filled with discontent. They see failure where there is indeed triumph, a great loss where there is only gain; and like Jacob, they are ready to exclaim, when trial comes upon them, "All these things are against me!" when the fact is, that the very things of which they complained, were working for their good.
"No cross, no crown," One cannot be strong in the Lord and never experience trial. To have strength, we must have exercise. To have strong faith we must be placed in circumstances where our faith will be called forth. Just before his martyrdom, the apostle Paul said to Timothy: "Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God." It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven. Our Saviour was tried in every possible way, and yet he triumphed continually in God. It is our privilege under all circumstances to be strong in the strength of God and to glory in the cross of Christ.
Every follower of Christ will have a cross to bear; and when he takes it up resolutely, though in weakness and trembling, he will find that that which seemed so terrible to him is a source of strength and blessing and courage. It will be a staff to him to help him on in his weary pilgrimage through this earth. Then shall the professed follower of Christ drop his cross, and seek to please those who are deriding his Lord? Shall he, for fear he will not receive honor of men, reject and despise the cross of Christ?
What if you do suffer, dear fellow-Christian? The Master of the house suffered before you. Jesus, our Redeemer, representative and head, endured the testing process. He suffered more than we can be called upon to suffer. He bore our infirmities, and was in all points tempted like as we are. He did not suffer thus on his own account, but because of our sins, that we, relying on the merits of our Overcomer, might be victorious in his name. Christ was the exalted and glorious commander of heaven, before whom the angelic hosts bowed in adoration, yet he condescended to give up his glory that he had with the Father, that he might save a fallen race; and shall we, in our turn, refuse to deny ourselves for his sake and the gospel's? Let the words of Paul be the language of our hearts: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Christ requires all. His sacrifice was too great, too dear, to make it possible that we should give less than all, and be accepted. Our holy faith cries out, Separation. We should not be conformed to the world, or to dead, heartless professors. The Scripture says, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The way to heaven is a self-denying way. But when you think the way is too strait, and there is too much self-denial in the narrow path; when you say, How hard to give up all, ask yourselves the question, What did Christ give up for me? This question puts anything that we might call self-denial in the shade. Behold him in the garden of Gethsemane. Look upon the great drops of blood that are forcing themselves from his pores while he is bearing the inexpressible agony of soul. Look upon him in the judgment hall while he is derided, mocked, and insulted by the infuriated mob. Behold him clothed in that old purple robe, and hear the coarse jest and cruel mocking. See them place the crown of thorns on that noble brow, and smite him with a reed, causing the thorns to penetrate his holy temples, so that the blood-drops trickle down his face and fall upon the ground. Hear the murderous throng eagerly crying for the blood of the Son of God. He is delivered into their hands, and pale, and weak, and fainting, he is led away to the hill of crucifixion. They stretch his form upon the cross, and drive the nails through his tender hands and feet. Behold him hanging upon the cross through dreadful hours of agony until angels vail their faces from the scene, and the sun hides his light, refusing to shine upon the dreadful sight. Think of these things, and then ask, Is the way too strait?
O that every one might realize that Jesus has something in store for him vastly better than that which he would choose for himself! Would that all might come to understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the blessedness of righteousness! Would that all might see how powerless is all effort to contend with Omnipotence! Man is doing the greatest injury to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the mind and will of God. He is sowing to his flesh, and of the flesh he will reap corruption. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by God, who knows what is best, and who plans for the good of his creatures. In order to be happy ourselves, we must live to make others happy. We must yield our possessions, our talents, and our affections, in grateful devotion to Christ, and in this way we may find happiness here and immortality hereafter.
The most trying experiences in the Christian life may be the most blessed. The special providences of the dark hours may encourage the soul in the future attacks of Satan, and equip the soul to stand most fiery trials. The trial of your faith is more precious than gold. But in order to endure the test, you must have that faith, that abiding confidence in God, that will not be disturbed by the arguments and temptations of the deceiver. Take the Lord at his word. Study the promises, and appropriate them as you have need. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Happy is the man, who, when tempted, finds his soul rich in the knowledge of the Scriptures, who finds shelter beneath the promises of God. "Thy word," said the psalmist, "have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." We need that calm, steady faith, that undaunted moral courage, that none but Christ can give, in order that we may be braced for trial and strengthened for duty.
While on earth there will be no escape from conflicts and temptations; but in every storm we have a sure refuge. Jesus has told us, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." The forces of Satan are marshaled against us, and we have to meet a diligent foe; but if we take heed to the admonition of Christ, we shall be safe. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." There are foes to be resisted and overcome, but Jesus is by our side, ready to strengthen us for every attack. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Faith sees Jesus standing as our Mediator at the right hand of God. Faith beholds the mansions that Jesus has gone to prepare for those who love him. Faith sees the robe and the crown all prepared for the overcomer. Faith hears the song of the redeemed, and brings eternal glories near. We must come close to Jesus in loving obedience if we would see the King in his beauty. There is peace in believing, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Believe! Believe! My soul cries, Believe! Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to him, and will bring you off more than conqueror through him that has loved you.
But remember that everyone who shall be found with the wedding garment on will have come out of great tribulation. The mighty surges of temptation will beat upon all. But the long night of watching, of toil, of hardship, is nearly past. Christ is soon to come. Get ready! The angels of God are seeking to attract you from yourself and from earthly things. Let them not labor in vain. Faith, living faith, is what you need; the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Remember Calvary and the awful, the infinite sacrifice there made for man. Jesus now invites you to come to him, just as you are, and make him your strength and your everlasting Friend. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #17)
Satan assailed Christ with his strongest temptations in the wilderness. Jesus was forty days tempted of the Devil. "And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the Devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." Shall the Son of God, the world's Redeemer, take up with the doubt, and prove to the apostate that he is indeed the Son of God, the Prince of heaven? Satan sought to engage him in controversy; but should he concede to the demands of the rebel, nothing for the good of man or the glory of God would be gained. Jesus did not produce any evidence or bring forth any arguments. He did not repeat to Satan that which the rebel already knew of his exalted position as the loved Commander of heaven, who was worshiped and adored by the angelic hosts. What evidence would avail in the case before him? Jesus knew that all evidence would be worthless to break the power of rebellion in Satan's heart. Jesus dealt with the tempter in the way in which all his followers are to deal with him through all time.
In meeting the challenge of the evil one to prove himself the Son of God, Christ answered not a word that would in any way lead to a controversy. He said: "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." The weapon of his warfare was the word of God, thus making it manifest to the tempter that in the conflict he would not depart a jot or tittle from that which had proceeded out of the mouth of God. Satan knew that as long as Jesus held to this position of honoring the word of God, he could not hope for victory over him. Changing his tactics, he bore Christ up and placed him in a most perilous position. "And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
In the second temptation, Satan supposes that he has met the second Adam upon his own ground. The wily foe presented in the temptation the words that had proceeded from the mouth of God. He had come to Christ as an angel of light direct from the courts above, and he makes it appear that he is acquainted with the word of God, and understands also the import of what is written. Christ was tempted to answer the "if;" but he knew that there must be no presumption manifested by him, that he must not imperil his life to give the evidence for which Satan had asked. He withheld himself from the slightest acceptance of the doubt with which Satan so artfully sought to overcome him. Jesus said unto him, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Jesus had humbled himself, clothing his divinity with humanity, and subjecting himself to all the temptations wherewith humanity should be beset; although weakened by his long fast, he would not give Satan the least advantage, or stop to argue with him over his imputation of doubt in regard to the divinity of Christ. He knew that appearances were all against him; for human weakness, human necessities, were upon him, and he felt keenly the want of food and the results of his long fast. In a time like that, he might have allowed a series of suppositions and doubts to assail him, and have given up to the enemy, and have murmured against God in the humiliation of his position, looking at his great want and the lack of that which would supply his needs. He might have parleyed with the enemy, and in doubt have acquiesced in his suggestion that he was not the Son of God. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, he might have said, "Is the Lord among us, or not?" When there was no water for them to drink, and they became thirsty, they murmured against Moses, and said: "Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?. . . And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?" In this the children of Israel manifested the most decided unbelief in God, who had given them every evidence that he was among them, and that he was able and willing to fulfil his promises to them. Afterward instruction was given them to this effect: "Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah."
How different was the action of Jesus when suffering for the real necessities of life. He did not manifest the least doubt of God's care, or give any heed to Satan's suggestion to question his divine character and mission. "And the Devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." Satan had questioned as to whether or not Christ was the Son of God, and now Jesus gives him a proof of his connection with God. Divinity flashed through humanity, and Jesus said, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the Devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
Although the only begotten Son of the infinite God humbled himself and took upon him humanity, his faith wavered not; but under the trial and test, he was equal to the proving of temptation on behalf of humanity. Jesus passed over the ground upon which Adam had fallen, and his feet did not stumble. Satan left the field a vanquished foe, peremptorily dismissed. At the word of Christ, "Get thee hence, Satan," the powerful fallen angel had no choice but to obey. Angels that excel in strength were on the battleground, guarding the interest of the tempted soul, and ready to resist the foe. This is always the case in the trial and temptation of any one of the human race; when man is assailed by the tempter, and the powers of darkness press upon the soul, the angels of heaven are on the ground to fly to the aid of Him who would resist evil and follow after righteousness. The promise of God is, that there shall no temptation overcome those who by living faith lay hold of the word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. "And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.
In the great battle fought between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness, Jesus gained the victory in behalf of humanity. Had Satan gained a degree of advantage, as he did with the first Adam, the human family would have been left under his control, and without one ray of hope they would have perished from the earth. But in behalf of the human race, Jesus conquered the fallen foe; Satan was vanquished. Through the victory of Christ, the human race was elevated in moral value, not because of anything they had done, but because of the great work that had been wrought out for them through the only begotten Son of God. As man's substitute and surety, in human nature through divine power, Christ placed man on vantage ground. In believing on him as our personal Saviour, we place ourselves under his bloodstained banner, and the wicked one cannot take us from under his standard as long as we desire to prove loyal to Him who has died for us.
In all the temptations of Satan, there is a deeply-laid plan, a dark purpose, to compass the ruin of the human soul. But we are to meet the wily foe as Christ met him. He presented to Jesus the three great temptations that overpower the human race. He was tested on the point of appetite, presumption, and the acquisition of worldly power and honor. Satan sought to turn him from his integrity by challenging him to prove his relation to God by some act that would call forth a special miracle on the part of God for his preservation, and he presented to him the bribe of the world and its glory, if he would but fall down and worship him. But in every temptation Christ resisted the tempter in man's behalf, and provided grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ, that every man in him may be more than conqueror. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #18)
"Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord. But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it."
In every phase of the liquor-selling business, there is dishonesty and violence. The houses of liquor dealers are built with the wages of unrighteousness, and upheld by violence and oppression. The effect of the liquor traffic is clearly delineated in the words of the prophets: "Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. . . . But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean."
Through indulgence in sin, the world is becoming as corrupt as it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and as it was in the days that were before the flood. Jesus said that this condition of society would be a sign of his coming. He said: "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." The very sins that brought upon Sodom the fire of destruction are practiced today, and are fast ripening the world for the day of final doom. Indulgence in intoxicating liquor and in licentious practices, is common in all our cities and villages, and the last great day is hastening upon the world.
There are many solemn warnings in the Scriptures against the use of intoxicating liquors. Solomon says, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." "Who hath woe? who hath sorrows? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth on the top of a mast. They have stricken me, thou shalt say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again."
Is not this description true to life? Does it not represent to us the experience of the poor, besotted drunkard, who is plunged in degradation and ruin because he has put the bottle to his lips, and who says, "I will seek it yet again"? The curse has come upon such a soul through indulgence in evil, and Satan has control of his being. "And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: the Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven."
With the awful results of indulgence in intoxicating drink before us, how is it that any man or woman who claims to believe in the word of God, can venture to touch, taste, or handle wine or strong drink? Such a practice is certainly out of harmony with their professed faith. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel." "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: but the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness."
"Woe to them that are at ease in Zion. . . . Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie on beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed."
"Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness." "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted." These words of warning and command are pointed and decided, and let those in positions of public trust take heed, lest through wine and strong drink they forget the law and pervert judgment. Let rulers and judges be in a condition to fulfil the instruction of the Lord: "Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."
The Lord God of heaven ruleth. He alone is above all authorities, over all kings and rulers. The Lord has given special directions in his word in reference to the use of wine and strong drink. He has forbidden their use, and enforced his prohibitions with strong warnings and threatenings. But his warning against the use of intoxicating beverages is not the result of the exercise of arbitrary authority. He has warned men, in order that they may escape from the evil that results from indulgence in wine and strong drink. Degradation, cruelty, wretchedness, and strife follow in the wake of drink. God has laid out the consequences of taking this course of evil, in order that there may not be a turning upside down of his instituted laws; that there may not be misery on all sides, through the increase of evil men who for the sake of gain shall selfishly heap to themselves riches, even through selling strong drink and putting the bottle to their neighbors' lips. The liquor traffic should not be legalized in any of our towns or cities.
The Lord has given special directions in regard to what is to be done in the case of a vicious ox, which injures or causes the death of any person. He has said: "If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him. Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him. If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned."
Remember this instruction in regard to the vicious ox, and apply the principle involved to the man who deals out poisonous alcoholic drinks to his neighbors. Not every man who engages in the liquor business is ignorant of the numberless ways in which it results in degradation, misery, poverty, cruelty, and death. The liquor traffic is a terrible scourge to our land, and is sustained and legalized by those who profess to be Christians. In thus doing, the churches make themselves responsible for all the results of this death-dealing traffic. The liquor traffic has its root in hell itself, and it leads to perdition. These are solemn considerations.
The man who has formed the habit of drinking intoxicating liquor, is in a desperate situation. He cannot be reasoned with, or persuaded to deny himself the indulgence. His stomach and brain are diseased, his will power is weakened, and his appetite uncontrollable. The prince of the powers of darkness holds him in bondage that he has no power to break. For the aid of such victims the liquor traffic should be stopped. Do not the rulers of this land see that awful results are the fruit of this traffic? Daily the papers are filled with accounts that would move a heart of stone; and if the senses of our rulers were not perverted, they would see the necessity of doing away with this death-dealing traffic. May the Lord move upon the hearts of those in authority, until they shall take measures that will prohibit the drink traffic. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #19)
Jesus came to our world to dispute the authority of Satan, who claimed supremacy over the earth. He came to restore in man the defaced image of God, to impart to the repentant soul divine power by which he might be raised from corruption and degradation, and be elevated and ennobled and made fit for companionship with the angels of heaven, to take the position in the courts of God which Satan and his angels lost through their rebellion. But men have failed to cooperate with Jesus in his divine mission, and have placed themselves under the black banner of the prince of darkness, giving themselves up to be the agents through whom the powers of darkness work for the destruction of humanity. It is Satan's purpose to counteract the work of Christ, and in his counsels he lays plans by which to convert every soul into a channel of darkness. The earth is the field of battle in which the powers of light and darkness are in controversy over the human souls for whom Christ died.
When Jesus was upon earth, he announced his mission and the character of his work. He said: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
Thus are pictured the mission and work of Christ and his co-laborers; but how different is the work of the prince of darkness and the work of those who labor on his side of the controversy. Those who are united with the prince of darkness in degrading the souls of their fellowmen, many times cloak their iniquity under the garb of religion; but of them the Lord says: "When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood." There are many who spread forth their hands in Pharisaical self-righteousness and self-importance, who yet deny the principles of the law of God in their daily actions. Let not those whose hands are full of blood think to find acceptance with God because of their forms of worship. Those who sell intoxicating liquor to their fellowmen come under this reproof. They receive the earnings of the drunkard, and give him no equivalent for his money. Instead of this, they give him that which maddens him, which makes him act the fool, and turns him into a demon of evil and cruelty. He exchanges his reason at the bar of the liquor dealer for a glass of rum or brandy; and under its influence he may cruelly beat his wife and children, and may even kill them outright, or do so by piecemeal, through neglect, through failure to supply them with the necessities of life. Because of a lack of proper food, of sufficient clothing, because of discouragements and degradation, sickness and death come upon his family, and at last their misery is over. But angels of God have witnessed every step in the downward path, and have traced every consequence that resulted from a man's placing the bottle to his neighbor's lips. The liquor dealer is written in the records among those whose hands are full of blood. He is condemned for keeping on hand the poisonous draught by which his neighbor is tempted to ruin, and by which homes are filled with wretchedness and degradation. The Lord holds the liquor dealer responsible for every penny that comes to his till out of the earnings of the poor drunkard, who has lost all moral power, who has sunk his manhood in drink.
Christ came to our world and suffered reproach, mockery, and insult. He was maligned and maltreated, and at last put to the shameful death of the cross. He suffered all this that he might rescue man from moral degradation, and restore to the soul the lost image of God. But the liquor dealer, under the prince of the power of darkness, is working in exactly opposite lines, counter to the work of Christ, and is obliterating every trace of the image which Christ would restore. Look at the drunkard. See what liquor has done for him. His eyes are bleared and bloodshot. His countenance is bloated and besotted. His gait is staggering. The sign of Satan's working is written all over him. Nature herself protests that she knows him not; for he has perverted his God-given powers, and prostituted his manhood by indulgence in drink.
If a man has a vicious beast, and he allows it freedom, knowing that it will work injury to men, women, and children, he is brought before the law to answer for his carelessness or malignity. But how much better it would be to let such a beast loose than to license men to deal out poisonous drinks, to rob men of reason and manhood. What common sense in there in licensing men to sell that which destroys men, body and soul, claiming that this infamous business brings into the treasury a revenue by which the orphan children of the drunkard can be cared for? The world knows that intoxicating liquors rob men of the brain nerve-power, and send them into society bereft of reason. The world knows that most horrible crimes have been committed under its influence, and that drunken men have been led by Satan to do as he dictated, and stain their hands in the blood of their neighbors. The law authorizes the sale of liquor, and then has to build prisons for its victims; for nine tenths of those who are taken to prison are those who have learned to drink. They are those who have spent their earnings in the saloon. What revenue from this traffic can pay for the loss of human reason, for the loss of the image of God in men, for families reduced to suffering and degradation, for children made paupers, who grow up in ignorance and vice, to perpetuate in their posterity the inherited evil tendencies of their drunken fathers? Such is the outworking of this dreadful liquor traffic, and thus it perpetuates misery and crime, until the sum cannot be told by human voice or portrayed by human pen.
The hands of both liquor dealers and liquor drinkers are full of blood; yet the word of God comes to them, "Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow;" and he adds this gracious invitation, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." "How is the faithful city become a harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water [and poison]: thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them." Rulers and lawmakers are not ignorant of the misery and degradation, the horrible and unceasing crime that pollutes the world through the influence of the liquor traffic. But though they are not ignorant, they do not take measures to stop the terrible traffic; but will they escape judgment? Hear what the Lord says: "The destruction of the transgressors, and of the sinners shall be together." Those who legalize sin, and those who are dealers in whisky, and those who are defiled by it, will be destroyed together. Let not the man who indulges in drink think that he will be able to cover his defilement by casting the blame upon the liquor dealer; for he will have to answer for his sin and for the degradation of his wife and children. "They that forsake the Lord shall be consumed."
In Europe and America drinking gardens are made most attractive, and musicians are hired to play on instruments, to lure in the young and the old; and all classes patronize these resorts where all kinds of intoxicating liquors are prepared to tempt the depraved appetite. But the time will certainly come when the prophecy will be fulfilled: "For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them."
The evil consequent upon the indulgence of depraved appetite is widespread, and the earth is corrupted under the inhabitants thereof. The earth withereth under the curse of its sin, and the very cattle are diseased. What is the trouble? Why is this? It is because the people have forsaken the law of God, and the earth is cursed under its transgression. Notwithstanding the warnings of God's word, transgression has increased since the days of Adam, and more and more heavily has the curse pressed upon the human family, on the beasts of the earth, and on the earth itself. Continual transgression of the law of God has brought its sure results. With all his hellish arts, Satan has sought to lead men into practices that would destroy and debase, and destruction is sure to him who does not repent and turn to God for his healing grace. The soul that has not the grace of God can make no efforts to resist Satan, but will cooperate naturally with the Satanic agencies, and disregard and oppose the law of God; and the sure result of such a course is that men become the willing slaves of Satan, and work with him in influencing others in the way of disobedience.
The character of true obedience to God is brought out in the instruction of the Lord to his people. He says (Isa. 58:6-10): "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drouth, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be as a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #20)
"And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, the offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not." What could have come upon the sons of Aaron, that they should thus transgress the requirement of God? The sacred fire which God himself had kindled and preserved was at their hand. Direction had been given concerning it, and God had said: "The fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."
It was from this altar that the fire for the censers should be taken to kindle the incense that was to ascend before God. But the sons of Aaron had not taken the required precaution, but had put upon the censer fire that was not called sacred or holy. The reason why they were so neglectful of God's requirement, was that they had been indulging in the drinking of wine, and were confused, and so far stupefied by its influence that they had no discernment as to what was the difference between the sacred and the common, the holy and the unclean. The wine had affected these young men who were officiating in a holy office, in the way it affects everyone who indulges in its use. It had benumbed the moral sensibilities, and had confused in their minds the distinction between the sacred and the common. But the Lord made it manifest that he would have the distinction well defined. "And the Lord spake unto Aaron saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses."
The two young men went into the tabernacle to offer this strange fire before the Lord while they were under the influence of drink; and "there went out a fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified." In the experience of these two young men, the Lord has set up a danger signal to warn the youth and those of mature age against the use of intoxicating liquors. There is no safety in tampering with wine. The voice of this history comes down along the lines of our times, warning everyone that has any connection with the work of the Lord to beware of touching, tasting, or handling that which will contaminate the morals, deaden spiritual life, and bring confusion in regard to the difference between the sacred and the common.
A most serious and terrible punishment was visited upon these young men who dared to enter into the presence of the Lord in an intoxicated condition. They had been solemnly consecrated to the service of the sanctuary, and it was necessary to make an example of them before the children of Israel. But shall this history of God's dealing with them be passed over by us, as though it was a matter in which we have no concern? The Lord has manifested his displeasure with a course of this kind, and sets before us the principle which he would have us heed. Everyone who is connected with the service of God is in sacred office, and the words that Jesus Christ spoke from the pillar of cloud and fire, are to be regarded and put into practice by us. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them."
The Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the earth who are living in this time of peril and corruption. Ministers of the gospel have departed from the Lord, and those who profess the name of Christ are guilty of not holding aloft the banner of truth. Ministers are afraid to be open prohibitionists, and they hold their peace concerning the curse of drink, fearing lest their salaries should be diminished or their congregations offended. They fear lest, if they should speak forth Bible truth with power and clearness showing the line of distinction between the sacred and the common, they would lose their popularity; for there are large numbers who are enrolled as church members who are receiving a revenue, either directly or indirectly, from the drink traffic. These people are not ignorant of the sin that they are committing. No one needs to be informed that the drink traffic is one that entails upon its victims, misery, shame, degradation, and death, with the eternal ruin of their souls. Those who reap a revenue, either directly or indirectly, from this traffic, are putting into the till the money which has come through the loss of souls of men. They know that the drink appetite lowers man to a condition below that of the brute creation. Have these church-goers a conscience? Have they not lost from their hearts all love of humanity? Has not the love of gain so paralyzed their senses that, like Nadab and Abihu, they have no remembrance of the "Thus saith the Lord"? His anger is not only kindled against winebibbers, but against him who opens the door of temptation to the poor, wretched creatures who have lost their moral power, and have destroyed their God-given manhood. His anger is kindled against those who seek to make their disreputable business attractive, and who use every possible enticement to lure souls into their saloons, in order that they may rob them of their money; for liquor dealers give no equivalent, but only that which works a curse upon the victim of the drink habit, and spreads misery and crime in his household and neighborhood.
The heart-broken women who have inebriate husbands, if they do not die of cruel abuse or of outright horrible murder, do die from the effects of starvation, insufficient clothing, and a continual sense of degradation and shame through the poverty, want, and suffering that are consequent upon the drink habit. These poor women see their children suffering, despised, abused, debased. They see them hooted at because of their relation to their drunken fathers, and even the liquor seller is not careful to refrain from adding insult to injury. Everything,--clothing, food, comfort, home, self-respect, happiness, and peace,--is swallowed up, and at last life itself is practically laid down, a sacrifice to the liquor dealer. But every circumstance consequent upon this drink traffic is accurately traced in the ledger of heaven.
The churches that retain members who are connected with this liquor business, make themselves responsible for the transactions that occur through the drink traffic. The drunkard has no knowledge of what he is doing when under the influence of the maddening draught, and yet he who sells him that which makes him irresponsible, is protected by the law in his work of destruction. It is legal for him to rob the widow of the food she requires to sustain life. It is legal for him to entail starvation upon the family of his victim, to send helpless children into the streets to beg for a penny or to beseech for a morsel of bread. Day by day, month by month, year by year, these shameful scenes are reenacted, until the conscience of the liquor dealer is seared as with a red-hot iron. The tears of suffering children, the agonized cry of the mother, only serve to exasperate the rum seller. He knows not, nor cares, that the Lord has an account to settle with him. And when his victim is dead, his heart of stone is unmoved. He has not heeded the instruction. "Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."
The liquor dealer will not hesitate to collect the debts of the drunkard from his suffering family, and will take the very necessaries from the home to pay the drink bill of the deceased husband and father. What is it to him if the children of the dead starve? He looks upon them as debased and ignorant creatures, who have been abused, kicked about, and degraded; and he has no care for their welfare. But the God that rules in the heavens has not lost sight of the first cause or the least effect of the inexpressible misery and debasement that have come upon the drunkard and his family. The ledger of heaven contains every item of the history. The world and the church may unite in eulogizing the man who has tempted the appetite, and answered the craving of the appetite he has helped to create; they may look with a smile upon him who has helped to debase a man who was formed in the image of God, until that image is virtually effaced; but God looks with a frown upon him, and writes his condemnation in the ledger of death. The world may have approval for the man who has gained wealth by degrading the human soul, by leading him down step by step in the path of shame and degradation; but God notes it all, and renders a just judgment. He may be termed by the world a good business man; but the Lord says, "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt thou reign, because thou closeth thyself in cedar?
This very man may make large donations to the church; but will God accept of the money that is wrung from the family of the drunkard? It is stained with the blood of souls, and the curse of God is upon it. God says, "For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering." The church may praise the liberality of one who gives such an offering; but were the eyes of the church members anointed with heavenly eyesalve, they would not call good evil and iniquity righteousness. The Lord says, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?. . . .When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations. Incense is an abomination unto me." "Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of Judgement?" By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #21)
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Calvary is the estimate that heaven has placed upon the human soul. God gave Jesus, the richest gift of heaven, to pay the ransom price for the human family. If the vail could be drawn aside, and we could look into eternity, we should see that which would change our opinions and our actions. We should see the glory of Jesus Christ, who is in the high and holy place, surrounded by seraphim and cherubim, with angels and principalities waiting to do his bidding. We should see that there is no heavenly being indifferent to the joys and woes of any one of the human family.
The angels of God are commissioned to go through the length and breadth of the earth to witness the struggle of every suffering mortal against evil, and to lend to him divine aid. But with what astonishment and horror do the angels look upon those who wear religion as a mask, and who would not put themselves to the trouble of contemplating the character of God or of understanding or obeying his will. They look with wonder upon those who will do as they please, following the imaginations of their own evil hearts; and it is registered that they lived and died, and had no regard for their human brotherhood, but supposed that God was like unto themselves, and would honor the rich, and esteem those who held high positions of trust; and they had little regard for those who were poor, ignorant, and afflicted. They did not wish to retain God in their knowledge, and they placed little restraint upon themselves in their unrighteous business and social relations. They gave no special encouragement to virtue, no particular sanction to methods and institutions by which the poor might receive consolation and substantial help. Thus it is that many live and die.
But how different is the action of the heavenly intelligences. The angels of God are sent to be in active communication with every part of the universe. They visit every part of the vast dominions of God, and work through a variety of channels for the blessing of every creature. He who gave his life for man is stooping down from his throne to catch every sound coming up from the human race, his purchased possession; and he approves or condemns every action according to its good or evil nature. He sends his angels to raise up the fallen and oppressed children of earth. They even visit those who aid the evil one in bringing degradation upon their fellow creatures, who act as if there were no God, no heaven, no hell. If these do not repent and reform, they will receive according to their evil works.
Should the Lord Jesus anoint the eyes of fallen mortals, and lay open to their inspection the mysteries of his providence, they would see that not for a moment has any transaction of any human being been unknown to the Lord. Although men have practiced injustice and cruelty, and have stirred up in their fellowmen the worst passions of the human heart, although they have rejected and scoffed at the mercy of heaven, not for a moment has the divine benevolence ceased to flow earthward. In every age, under every circumstance, divine goodness has worked to press back from the hearts of men the misery and evil with which Satan has sought to overwhelm the world.
I call upon the church and the world to say how God could have done more for the world than he has done. He "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He has poured forth upon the world a flood of heavenly grace. The Lord gave the best gift of heaven, in which all heaven was contained. God so loved the world that he would not suffer it to be possible that the infinite One could do more than has been done. He bestowed a gift that was past all computation, a gift that aroused in Satan the demon spirit of jealousy, and settled him in his determination to make that gift of God of no avail to man, through his misrepresentation of the divine character. The reception of this gift will eradicate from the heart all selfishness, and transform its possessor into the image of Him who abides in the heart by faith.
In view of what God has done for the world in giving his beloved Son, and commissioning all the heavenly intelligences to minister to the human race, how does heaven look upon the work of injustice and cruelty that has been perpetrated by man against his fellowman in originating and preserving the liquor traffic? Do those who are acting a leading part in making men drunkards, realize that they will be held accountable for their deeds, and for not having the mind that was in Christ Jesus? The world's Redeemer estimates the value of the human soul by the price which he has paid for it on Calvary's cross. And no matter what may be the wealth, power, or position of a man in the sight of the world, no matter whether or not he has been permitted by the law of the land to sell poisonous drinks to his neighbor, he will be held accountable in the sight of heaven for degrading the soul that has been redeemed by Christ, and will be arraigned before the judgment for lowering a character that ought to have reflected the image of God, to reflect the image of that which is below the brute creation.
In enticing men to educate themselves in the liquor habit, the rumseller is effectually taking away the righteousness of the soul, and leading men to become the abject slaves of Satan. The Lord Jesus, the Prince of Life, is in controversy with Satan, the prince of darkness. Christ declares that his mission is to lift men up.. He says, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." He healed the sick, and cleansed the leper, and cast out demons. "And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all."
Jesus left the royal courts of heaven, and laid aside his own glory, and clothed his divinity with humanity, that he might come into close connection with humanity, and by precept and example uplift and ennoble humanity, and restore in the human soul the lost image of God. This is the work of Christ; but what is the influence of those who legalize the liquor traffic? What is the influence of those who put the bottle to their neighbors' lips? Contrast the work of the rumseller with the work of Jesus Christ, and you will be forced to admit that those who deal in liquor and those who sustain the traffic, are working in co-partnership with Satan. Through this business they are doing a greater work to perpetuate human woe than are men through any other business in the world. But Christians cannot use intoxicating liquors, nor connect themselves in the least degree with any business that leads to the degradation and downfall of humanity. They will realize that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." They will realize that the Son of God submitted to a life of shame, contempt, and poverty, and for our sake became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich, might possess eternal riches; and knowing this, they will regard themselves as their brothers' keepers.
The rumseller takes the same position as did Cain, and says, "Am I my brother's keeper?" and God says to him as he said to Cain, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." Rumsellers will be held accountable for the wretchedness that has been brought into the homes of those who were weak in moral power, and who fell through temptation to drink. They will be charged with the misery, the suffering, the hopelessness, brought into the world through the liquor traffic. They will have to answer for the woe and want of the mothers and children who have suffered for food and clothing and shelter, who have buried all hope and joy. He who has a care for the sparrow and notes its fall to the ground, who clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, will not pass by those who have been formed in his own image, purchased with his own blood, and pay no heed to their suffering cries. God cares for all this wickedness that perpetuates misery and crime. He charges it all up to those whose influence helps to open the door of temptation to the soul.
The drunkard is capable of better things. God has intrusted to him talents with which to glorify God; but his fellowmen have laid a snare for his soul, and built themselves up out of his property. They have lived in luxury while their poor brethren whom they have robbed, lived in poverty and degradation. But God will require for all this at the hand of him who has helped to speed the drunkard on the way to ruin. O, how many pleasure-lovers there are who spend their thousands of dollars to please and amuse themselves and to gratify their fancies, while the world is full of distress and poverty. The prophet describes these co laborers with Satan, who are degrading those whom God is seeking to uplift. He says: "Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you. For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine; turn back thine hand as a grape-gatherer into the baskets. To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days. And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely."
The warnings and reproofs of the word of God are fearfully applicable to the people of these last days, and everyone will be judged by the light and privileges of the gospel. The advantages of this age are far greater than were the advantages of peoples that for ages have been an astonishment and a reproach before all heaven. Yet had these nations been privileged to have the light that shines upon us, they would have remained unto this day. "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, shall be brought done 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." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #22)
When the lawyer asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, the Master said unto him, "What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." In order to be a recipient of eternal life, it is necessary to love God supremely and our neighbors as ourselves. We are to be our brother's keeper, not his destroyer. We are not to lead him into false paths. The Lord Jesus made the sacrifice of his own life in order to restore man to his first uprightness of character. But Satan is working with every possible device, using his trained confederacy of evil agencies to draw men away from obedience to God's law, and cause them to transgress even as he caused Adam to transgress in the beginning.
There are men who have taken high positions of trust, who have put themselves under solemn vows to work for the good of the people, who are untrue to those vows, who are not acting the part of brother's keepers; but who are violating the principles of God's law, and failing to love their neighbors as themselves. Lawmakers are permitting breweries to be planted all over the land, thus defiling the earth, and supplying to saloons that which they know to be a deadly evil. Drinking houses are scattered all over the cities and towns inviting the traveler to stop and water his horses at the troughs which are so convenient for the purpose, and also to come in and spend his money for a glass of some intoxicating drink. The water in the trough is a blessing to the thirsty horses, but what a curse is the liquor to the man who enters and drinks. The traveler enters the public house with his reason, with ability to walk in an upright manner; but look at him as he leaves. The luster is gone from his eye. The power to walk uprightly is gone; he reels to and fro like a ship at sea. His reasoning power is paralyzed, the image of God is destroyed. The poisoning, maddening draft has left a brand upon him so evil that nature rebels, and refuses to own him. He is the slave of depraved appetite; and his brethren, instead of coming to his help to break every yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, bind him the faster in his chains. They rob his wife and children of his money, and take away from them a kind and sensible father and husband, by dealing out to him a potion that makes him a madman. Body and soul he is in slavery, and he cannot distinguish between right and wrong. The liquor dealer has put his bottle to his neighbors' lips, and under its influence he is full of cruelty and murder, and in his madness actually commits murder.
He is brought before an earthly tribunal, and those who legalized the traffic are forced to deal with the results of their own work. They authorized by law the giving to this man a draft that would turn him from a sane man into a madman, and yet now it is necessary for them to send him to prison and to the gallows for his crime. His wife and children are left in destitution and poverty, to become the charge of the community in which they live. Soul and body the man is lost,--cut off from earth, and with no hope of heaven.
But there is a higher tribunal than that of earth, and in that tribunal the effect is traced to the cause, and the man who put the bottle to his neighbors lips is charged with the sins of him who committed murder through the influence of the draft that robbed him of his reason. The blood of souls is found upon the garments of those who legalize the liquor traffic.
The victims of the drink habit become so maddened under the influence of liquor that they are willing to sell their reason for a glass of whisky. They do not keep the commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Their moral power is so weakened that they have no strength to resist temptation, and their desire for drink is so strong that it eclipses all other desires, and they have no realization of the fact that God requires them to love him with all their hearts. They are practical idolaters; for whatever alienates the affections from the Creator, whatever weakens and deadens moral power, usurps his throne, and receives the service that is due to him alone. In all these vile idolatries Satan is worshiped.
He who tarries at the wine is playing the game of life with Satan. He it is who has made evil men his agents, so that those who begin the drink habit may be made into drunkards. He has his plans laid that when the brain is confused with liquor, he will drive the drunkard to desperation, and cause him to commit some atrocious crime. In the idol he has set up for the man to worship is all pollution and crime, and the worship of the idol will ruin both soul and body, and extend its evil influence to the wife and children of the drunkard. The drunkard's corrupt tendencies are transmitted to his posterity, and through them to the coming generations.
But are not the rulers of the land largely responsible for the aggravated crimes, the current of deadly evil, that is the result of the liquor traffic? Is it not their duty and in their power to remove this deadly evil? Satan has formed his plans, and he counsels with legislators, and they receive his advice, and thus keep in activity, through legislative enactments, a multiplicity of evil, which results in much misery and crime of so terrible a character that human pen cannot portray it. A demon power is at work through human instruments, and men are tempted to indulge appetite until they lose all control of themselves. The sight of a drunken man, were the sight not so common, would arouse public indignation, and cause the drink traffic to be swept away; but the power of Satan has so hardened human hearts, so perverted human judgment, that men can look upon the woe, the crime, the poverty, which floods the world through the drink traffic, and remain indifferent.
When a ship is wrecked in sight of shore, and the people look on powerless to help, they are shocked and pained beyond measure. They talk of every possible means whereby they might save those who are perishing; and after the ship has gone down, and the lives are lost, they still try to think of some means that might have been successful in saving the perishing. But there is a deadly evil in our land, which is sanctioned by law. Day after day, month after month, year after year, Satan's death traps are set in our communities, at our doors, at the street corners, wherever it is possible to catch souls, that their moral power may be destroyed, and the image of God obliterated, and they be sunken in degradation far below the level of the brute. Souls are imperiled and perishing, and where is the active energy, the determined effort on the part of Christians, to raise a warning signal, to enlighten their fellowmen, to save their perishing brothers? We are not to talk of devising methods to save those who are dead and lost, but to move upon those who are not yet beyond the reach of sympathy and help. We are to present to these souls who are guilty and polluted, the truth that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.
Will souls always have to struggle for the victory, and the doors of temptation open before their very faces? Will Satan always find agents to tempt those who are weak in moral power? Drawn into these dens of vice, will he who has resolved to quit drink, be led to seize the glass again, and in the first sip of the intoxicant, find every good resolution overpowered and gone? One taste of the maddening draft, and all thought of the suffering, heart-crushed wife has vanished. The debauched father cares no more that his children are hungry and naked. By legalizing the liquor traffic, the law gives its sanction to the downfall of the soul, and refuses to stop the traffic that floods the world with evil. Let lawmakers consider whether or not all this imperiling of human life, of physical power and mental vision, is unavoidable. Is all this destruction of human life necessary?
How many frightful accidents occur through the influence of drink. Some one at an important railway station fails to give the right signal, or sends an incorrect message. On comes the train. There is a collision , and hundreds of lives are lost. When the matter is investigated, it is found that the man at his post was drunk. A steamer at sea meets with a disaster, and when the matter is traced to its source, it is found that the engineer was drunk, or that the captain had taken too much liquor at supper. What is the portion of this terrible intoxicant that any man can take, and be safe with the lives of human beings? He can be safe only as he abstains from drink. He should not have his mind confused with drink. No intoxicant should pass his lips; then if disaster comes, men in responsible places can do their best, and meet their record with satisfaction, whatever may be the issue.
Let every soul remember that he is under sacred obligations to God to do his best for his fellow creatures. How careful should everyone be not to create a desire for stimulants. By advising friends and neighbors to take brandy for the sake of their health, they are in danger of becoming agents for the destruction of their friends. Many incidents have come to my attention in which through some simple advice, men and women have become the slaves of the drink habit. Physicians are responsible for making many drunkards. Knowing what drink will do for its lovers, they have taken upon themselves the responsibility of prescribing it for their patients. Did they reason from cause to effect, they would know that stimulants would have the same effect on every organ of the body as they have on the whole man. What excuse can doctors render for the influence they have exerted in making fathers and mothers drunkards? These fathers and mothers transmit their appetite to their children, and thus the evil is perpetuated, and crime and misery are increased. Thus it is that degradation, poverty, and woe are filling our world. Thus it is that ignorance and evil are widespread, and that the records show increasing hunger, nakedness, wretchedness, and transgression.
The end of all things is at hand, and if the days were not shortened, there would no flesh be saved; for iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold. The world is becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, like the world before the flood, and terrible scenes are before us. What will be the record that lawmakers will have to meet? The judgment will sit, and the books will be opened, and every man will be judged according to the things written in the books. Jesus says, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Lawmakers and liquor dealers may wash their hands as did Pilate, but they will not be clean from the blood of souls. The ceremony of washing their hands will not cleanse them when by their influence or agency, they have helped to make men drunkards. They will be held accountable for the millions of dollars that have been wasted in consuming the consumers. No one can blind himself to the terrible results of the drink traffic. The daily papers show that the wretchedness, the poverty, the crime, that result from this traffic, are not cunningly devised fables, and that hundreds of men are growing rich off the pittances of the men they are sending to perdition by their dreadful drink business. O that a public sentiment might be created that would put an end to the drink traffic, close the saloons, and give these maddened men a chance to think on eternal realities! By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #22)
[The following notes and observations are taken from a personal letter to the Editor, and we believe they will be of much interest to the readers of the Review. The letter is dated at Sydney, Australia.--Ed.]
"Since leaving Melbourne I have spoken twice at Seven Hills, about eight miles from here. We had a precious meeting. Brother Hickox is laboring there. He has pitched his tent, and held meetings all alone. He has lived in a small tent, and done his own cooking. Some who attend the meetings supply him with milk. He has visited, given Bible readings, and conversed and prayed with families. Some noble, conscientious souls have fully decided to obey the truth, and several more are on the point of deciding. Eight have taken their stand to keep the Sabbath, and the interest holds good.
"A week ago last Sabbath I rode with my son ten miles to Kellyville, and spoke to the church in their own place of worship. In the afternoon he attended the ordinance meeting at Paramatta. The next day I rode eight miles, and spoke again to a good audience that seemed deeply interested. You see I am able to bear considerable work and riding about. This day I have written twenty-four pages of letter paper, and I am feeling real well.
"The failure of banks and the financial pressure make hard times everywhere in this country. It is difficult for students to obtain money to defray their expenses at school, or for our brethren to build even the most humble places of worship. We hear of people starving to death in the cities, and nearly every day persons come to our door begging for something to eat. They are never turned away, and we are constantly called upon to hand out money to keep the work moving. O how thankful I shall be when we can see the work going with power, and many souls compelled to come in from the highways and hedges because of the overwhelming evidence of the truth that the Lord impresses upon the human heart.
"Since writing the above, the president and secretary of the Victorian W. C. T. U., and four other ladies, have taken dinner with us. We became acquainted with them in Melbourne; they have just been attending a temperance convention in Sydney. We had a pleasant interview, and now they have gone out in our carriage to see the country, while I resume my writing. I hope that these sisters will be brought to a knowledge of the truth. We long to see those of intelligence converted, and standing in vindication of the truth.
"Much might be done in this country if there were those who would settle in different localities and cultivate the land as they do in America. Then they would be comparatively independent of the hard times. I think this will be brought about. Most diligent search has been made for a tract of land of several hundred acres on which to locate the school, so that the students may have an opportunity to till the soil, and poor families may have a little piece of land on which to grow vegetables and fruit. This would go far toward sustaining them, and they would have a chance to school their children. But money matters are very close. The people are all hard pressed for means, and know not just what to do unless times change. We must live and have means to carry forward the work.
"Wellington, Christchurch, and many other important places, both in New Zealand and in Australia, must have labor, and we need men and means. Our prayers go up to God, that laborers may be raised up to enter the harvest field. We are nearing the close of this earth's history, and every soul should work now while the day lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work. O that every representative of the truth may lift the burden that is so essential for him to carry, that the light of truth may go to all places of the earth. But the languid measures, the slow movements, the want of deep interest for perishing souls, grieve the heavenly intelligences. He who gave his only begotten Son to die for the sins of the world, has made it manifest that his love is without measure. O that all who have named the name of Christ would arouse from their lethargy and begin to work.
"Our work is to carry the truth to those who know it not. I have said to the church at Paramatta: 'I must not occupy my time with you. It is the duty of every church member to burn and shine, that the rays of light may be seen amid the moral darkness. I have not come to this part of Australia to devote my time and strength to keeping you in good spirits, and holding up you know the truth. It is my mission to go to the regions beyond, to those who sit in darkness, and have no light. Will you as a church help me? Will you hold up my hands? Will you have root in yourselves? Will you send your prayers, as sharp sickles, into the harvest field? Can I rely upon you who know the truth, who have had great light and opportunities, to help me in my labor?
"I think this is the way we shall have to do; we must roll the responsibility upon church members, and tell them God holds them accountable for the exercise of every spiritual power in the saving of the souls of those who have never heard the truth. We must solemnly urge upon them the fact that they are to be witnesses for God; and if they are exercising faith in Christ as their personal Saviour, they will accept the burden of responsibility." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #23)
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." The people described in this message are called the people of God, yet the prophet is directed to lift up his voice like a trumpet, to show them their transgressions and sin. The Lord sees that those who claim to be his children are deceived, but it is not his purpose to leave them to their deception. He mercifully sends them a message that they may discern their duty and return unto the Lord. By obedience they are to ward off everything that has a tendency to debase and corrupt character and misinterpret their faith before the world.
The Lord God is a jealous God, and he will not be silent when his glory is tarnished, his worship corrupted before the world, and his character misrepresented to men. He has regard unto his honor and the glory of his name before all nations. He expects those who claim to be his worshipers to be loyal to the principles of righteousness, not only for their own soul's interest, but for the good of those with whom they are associating. He would have them represent the principles of the government whose subjects they claim to be and whose King they profess to serve.
If one professing to be under the rule of the King of kings is dishonest in his dealings, trifling in his character, actuated by a hard, selfish spirit which leads him to look out for his own interest irrespective of the interests of others, then let those who love the right, who would honor God and represent the principles of his government, lift up their voices and show the professed people of God their sins, and the house of Jacob their transgression. Let not the contagious spirit of selfishness be permitted to leaven others by its influence. Let there be no conniving or deception in the service of God. Let those who love God faithfully present to others what constitutes true service, that men may be doers of the word of God. There must be individual training and culture, that those who profess to be worshipers may understand and be controlled by the high and noble principles of righteousness.
The Lord describes those to whom the prophet is sent with the messages of reproof as those who "seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?" The Lord answers their questioning and reproach, saying, "Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?"
It is possible to manifest apparent zeal in the service of God, to offer prayers and observe fasts, and yet not be acknowledged of the Lord. When our prayers are offered in self-confidence, when we fail to watch, and bring our actions into harmony with our prayers, we are not accounted worshipers in the sight of heaven. We are destitute of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul; for genuine faith will lead the possessor to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and crucify selfishness, self-love, impatience, and self-righteousness. Those who would truly follow Christ must daily learn lessons in meekness and lowliness of heart, that they may speak guardedly, manifest courtesy and kindness, have tender hearts, and bring sympathy and sunshine into the home. All strife, all debate, all smiting with the tongue and the fist of wickedness, must be put away. The overbearing will must be subdued, and gentleness and a disposition to be easily entreated must be cultivated.
Let no one think that to bow the head as a bulrush will take the place of true humility. Such humility is a sham; for where meekness does not exist in the heart, it will not be manifested in the life. Those who are merely professors of truth and not doers of the word, will break down the family altar, and stir up strife and contention in the home, and there will be dearth of holy and beneficent actions that flow from faith in Christ. The most convincing evidence of the power of the gospel to the world is its effect on the lives of those who believe it. He who is a true Christian will represent Christ, and will cease from all murmuring or complaining of God, or of his fellowmen. Those who complain at the providences of God manifest weakness of faith, and show that they lack the knowledge of the character of God and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Of these halfhearted professors the Lord says, "Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered."
But is murmuring, complaining, and rebellion the fruit of the Christian tree? O no; it is the fruit of the heart unsanctified and unsubdued, that is swayed by impulse, the language of one has no regard for the feelings of those about him. By murmuring and complaint it is made manifest that his soul is not under the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Those who are full of murmuring and complaint against God and their fellowmen will have to be converted and transformed before they can enter the kingdom of heaven. It may be necessary that the furnace of trial be kindled and heated sevenfold to purge away the dross from the character, that the gold may come forth purified, refined, and stamped with the image of the Refiner.
Those who are merely surface Christians are no blessing to themselves or others, although they fast and spread sackcloth and ashes under them. The old habits return; quick temper, suspicion, jealousy, judgment of others,--all manifest that they are not controlled by the grace of Christ. Their habits of evil have become a yoke of bondage to themselves and to others. They may observe fasts, practice voluntary humility, and manifest apparent devotion; but as they do not have real humility, they do not find rest and peace and joy. Their accustomed habits control them; and when they fail to manifest a Christlike action, they throw the blame and responsibility upon the circumstances which surround them or the people with whom they are brought in contact. Instead of examining themselves to see wherein their inconsistency lies, they bemoan their case, and think that their difficulties are the results of other's misdeeds. As long as they hold to this opinion, they cannot see their faults, repent of their evil, and confess their wrongdoing.
All heaven is looking upon the inhabitants of the earth. The angels and the God of heaven are looking upon those who claim to be Christians, and weighing their devotional exercises. The light of God's truth has come to the world, and though many have assented that it is truth, but few have been transformed by its power. The grace of God has not been received into the heart to regenerate and renew.
This is an age of profession and pretension. On all sides we see beautiful houses erected, splendidly furnished, adorned with pictures and equipped with everything to delight the eye and gratify the taste. Looking upon outside appearances we might say, Surely here are happy homes. Yet within these mansions lust and evil passions hold sway. Husbands are killing their wives that they may gratify their unholy lust, killing them with neglect, with harshness, with overbearing and self-importance. Those who were once made in the image of God, by indulgence in evil are blotting out every semblance of the divine nature. Not only is evil prevalent in the world, in both the lower and the higher classes, but wickedness is practiced even in the church by those who profess to be worshippers. The names of men are registered on the church records who indulge in card playing, who visit questionable places of amusement, and frequent gambling hells. Under the semblance of prosperity and peace among the higher classes, there is a state of degradation which is hid from all eyes but God's. In beautiful homes, in elegant mansions, cruelty is practiced such as pen can feebly picture. Yet men and women who are written down as cruel in the books of heaven among this class, presume to sing the praises of God in beautiful hymns and songs. Many preserve the appearance of innocence, while they are planning how to commit theft and practice robbery in their positions of trust. By men and women who appear to delight in religious exercises, who profess to be followers of Christ, whose names are on the church record, there are embezzlements, fraud, licentiousness, adultery, and all kinds of wickedness. At such a time as this the Lord has commanded, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand. . . . For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. . . . Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #24)
"Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely. O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. . . . Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? . . . Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you."
"And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them. . . . Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. . . . Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known. . . . Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes." but "ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day."
Man is not to presume to put aside God's great moral standard and erect a standard according to his own finite judgment. It is because men are measuring themselves among themselves and living according to their own standard that iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold. Contempt is shown to the law of God, and because of this many presume to transgress, and even those who have had the light of truth are wavering in their allegiance to the law of God. Will the current of evil that is setting so strongly toward perdition sweep them away? or will they, with courage and fidelity, stem the tide and maintain loyalty to God amid the prevailing evil? Will they not with zeal and pure-hearted devotion say, "I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me. I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity"? The Lord has plainly stated what kind of devotion is acceptable unto him. He says, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" Those who profess to serve God are to do the work of relieving the oppressed. They are to bear the fruit of the good tree. Those who are truly Christ's will not bring oppression in the home or in the church. Parents who are following the Lord will diligently teach their children the statutes and commandments of God; but they will not do it in such a way that the service of God will become repulsive to their children. Where parents love God with all their hearts, the truth as it is in Jesus will be practiced and taught in the home. Fretfulness and impatience will be avoided, because they shut away the light of the Sun of righteousness from the soul. Those who manifest impatience, who are faultfinders, exacters, and accusers will have to be converted and become as little children, or they will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Many evils exist in the church, and they blind the eye and benumb the spiritual senses. The conscience becomes deadened, and does not discern the abhorrent character of sin. We are closely to examine ourselves. Paul says: "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?" "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." We should plead with God for spiritual eyesight, that we may discern our mistakes and understand our defection of character. If we have been critical and condemnatory, full of faultfinding, talking doubt and darkness, we have a work of repentance and reformation to do. We are to walk in the light, speaking words that will bring peace and happiness. Jesus is to abide in the soul. And where he is, instead of gloom, murmuring, and repining, there will be fragrance of character.
Every word that reflects darkness upon others is recorded as cruel in the books of heaven. It depresses souls and aids Satan in his work. When you feel that you must utter words of darkness and discontent, remember that silence is golden, and put a guard at the door of your lips. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
It is time for us to practice the truth we claim to believe. It is time for us to lie as clay in the hands of the potter, that we may be made vessels unto honor. Our former habits, which are termed "lusts in our ignorance," must pass away, and grace and truth must make us peaceable, kind, and courteous, in thought, word, and action. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Hereditary and cultivated tendencies are no longer to control us, but we are to be under the control of Christ. "Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."
The grace of God is to work a transformation in our life, and all our professions of faith, all our forms of devotion, are valueless unless this work of transformation of character is wrought. We are to become like Him who is meek and lowly in heart. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #25)
"And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." The man who asked this from Christ did not receive the benefit that it was his privilege to receive from the lessons that the great Teacher was giving to the people. Selfishness directed his thoughts into a different channel from that in which the Master would direct them, and the man thought within himself that if he could only turn the power of Christ in a direction by which he could be benefited in a pecuniary way, it would be a matter of congratulation. He saw that the words of Christ were attended with convincing power; that he was capable of putting matters in a clear light; that he spoke as one having authority; and the man thought that Jesus would have influence with his brother, and command him to do him the justice he thought was his due. His request was in keeping with his character; for he was one who thought that business, the attainment of property, was the one thing of importance.
Jesus had been presenting to the people the perils that were before them, and had clearly set forth the position which it would be safe for them to occupy in the emergency and crisis soon to come. But in the midst of this solemn instruction the man revealed his selfish, grasping disposition, making manifest the fact that he had not been benefited by spiritual realities; for they had taken no hold upon his mind and heart.
He would have been able to appreciate that ability of the Lord which would work to advance his own temporal affairs, and enable him to gain the financial good that he could not otherwise attain. He reasoned upon the matter that Jesus claimed to have come down from heaven. His brother had defrauded him of his portion of the inheritance. His own efforts to obtain justice having failed, if he could now persuade Christ to tell his brother that he must share the substance with him, it would have proved a very fortunate circumstance that he happened to stop to listen to the instruction that Jesus was giving to the people. He would then be glad that he had heard the stirring appeals, the sweeping denunciations of Christ against the scribes and Pharisees for their injustice and unfaithfulness. O, if the Master will but speak words of such command to my brother, he will not dare longer to refuse me my rightful portion.
The gaining of his inheritance was the all-absorbing theme with this man. He was avaricious, grasping, and there is no evidence given that his heart was moved by any spiritual truth. The solemn admonitions given did not cause him to feel that he desired to know more concerning eternal realities. And Christ said unto him, "Man, who made me a judge or divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Our Lord could not justify the feelings of this man, and could not adjust the difficulties in reference to his earthly possessions; but he could strike a blow at the very root of the trouble, and he said to the people, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness." If your thoughts are running in this channel, you are in peril. No man will become great in the sight of God because he has large possessions. Wealth does not make men either great or happy. The main question to be considered is, How shall I obtain eternal riches? How shall my soul become rich with the heavenly endowment,--the grace of God! Earthly goods, however valuable, sink into insignificance, in comparison with heavenly riches.
"And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?" This man had received everything from God. The sun had been permitted to shine upon his land; for it falls on the just and on the unjust alike. The showers of heaven fall on the evil and the good. The Lord had caused vegetation to flourish, and the fields to yield fruit, and bring to perfection an abundant harvest. The rich man was in perplexity as to what he should do with all his produce. He regarded himself as favored above other men, and took credit to himself for his wisdom. He had great wealth, and could not reproach himself with the sins of which many were guilty. He had obtained his goods, not by gambling, not by taking advantage of another's misfortune who had been involved in financial embarrassment, and who was obliged to sell his goods below cost; but his wealth had been obtained through the providence of God in causing his land to yield abundantly. But the man revealed his selfishness, and manifested that which he did not before suspect was in his character. He did not think of God, the great Giver of all his blessings. He did not consider his accountability to God. He was inconveniently oppressed with a superabundance of earthly treasure; but he expressed no thanks to God, and called his treasures his own. Had he loved and feared God, he would have offered up thanksgiving, and bowed before God, saying, "Instruct me how to use these goods. I could have no such abundance were it not because of thy divine agency, and now enable me to use these gifts of thine in a wise way." This man did no such thing. He did not think of the One from whom his mercies had come, nor realize that God had made him a steward of his goods, in order that he help the needy. He had a blessed opportunity of being God's almoner. His barns were full and overflowing, and he had no place to put the surplus of his harvest. But he did not do as the Lord had directed in his word,--give to the poor. He made himself a center, and thought only of ministering to his own comfort.
Every day the situation of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the suffering, the afflicted, was brought to this rich man's attention, and there were plenty of places in which to bestow his goods. How easily could he have relieved himself of a portion of his goods, and how many homes would have been freed from the pressure of want. How many hungry could have been fed, how many naked clothed, how many hearts made glad, how many prayers answered for bread and clothing, and what a melody of praise could he have caused to ascend to heaven. The Lord was answering the prayers of the poor and needy, and was making abundant provision for the supply of all their wants by the blessing he had bestowed upon the rich man. But the man made suddenly so rich, closed the avenues of his soul to the cry of the needy; and in place of disposing of his superabundance of goods in supplying their needs, he said to his servants, "This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods."
Notwithstanding all the wants and necessities of those around him, notwithstanding the plain directions of the word of God, notwithstanding the statement, "He that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord," he went forward with his plans, which embraced only his own selfish desires. He said, "I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry."
The eye of Him who never slumbers or sleeps was upon the man. He saw that he had proved an unfaithful steward, in neglecting the poor and the needy. And though the man was looking forward to many years of enjoyment, while he was saying, "Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry," the Lord was making different calculations. God's judgment fell upon him. And God said unto him, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." He had thought himself rich and increased in goods, and in need of nothing, and he knew not that he was spiritually poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked. "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness and judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord," "But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 71, #26)
God has made men his stewards, and he is not to be charged with the sufferings, the misery, the nakedness, and the want of humanity. The Lord has made ample provision for all. He has given to thousands of men large supplies with which to alleviate the want of their fellows; but those whom God has made stewards have not stood the test; for they have failed to relieve the suffering and the needy. When men who have been abundantly blessed of heaven with large wealth fail to carry out God's design, and do not relieve the poor and the oppressed, the Lord is displeased and will surely visit them. They have no excuse for withholding from their neighbors the help that God has put it into their power to provide; and God is dishonored, his character is misinterpreted by Satan, and he is represented as a stern judge who causes suffering to come upon the creatures he has made. This misrepresentation of God's character is made to appear as truth, and thus through the temptation of the enemy, men's hearts are hardened against God. Satan charges upon God the very evil he himself has caused men to commit by withholding their means from the suffering. He attributes to God his own characteristics.
If men would do their duty as faithful stewards of their Lord's goods, there would be no cry for bread, none suffering in destitution, none naked and in want. It is the unfaithfulness of men that brings about the state of suffering in which humanity is plunged. If those whom God has made stewards would but appropriate their Lord's goods to the object for which he gave to them, this state of suffering would not exist. The Lord tests men by giving them an abundance of good things, just as he tested the rich man of the parable. If we prove ourselves unfaithful in the righteous mammon, who shall intrust to us the true riches? It will be those who have stood the test on the earth, who have been found faithful, who have obeyed the words of the Lord in being merciful, in using their means for the advancement of his kingdom, that will hear from the lips of the Master, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things."
The psalmist says: "The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." The Lord has claims upon every living soul, and those whom he blesses with means should help those who are not thus blessed. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." The followers of Jesus are required to practice self-denial, to cultivate the same beneficent spirit that characterized our Lord. They are to remember the poor, and be kind and sympathetic to the sorrowing, and thus show that they are following in the footsteps of Jesus. "For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. . . . Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
We are in probationary time, placed here to develop character. We are to do good; for Christ went about doing good. He gave his life a ransom to save from ruin a wicked, fallen race. Let no one who has named the name of Christ, entertain the idea that selfishness and worldliness are in harmony with Christian character. Let no one imagine that he can live for self, spend money to please self, and yet have a place with Christ on his throne. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." "For this ye know, that . . . no covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." "The wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth."
Angels of God are weighing moral worth. Avarice, worldliness, and covetousness are opposed to Christian benevolence. "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase." "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drouth, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."
The second commandment is like unto the first, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." We can love our neighbor as ourselves, only as we love God supremely. The love of God will bear fruit in love to our neighbors. Many think that it is impossible to love our neighbor as ourselves; but it is the only genuine fruit of Christianity. Love to others is putting on the Lord Jesus Christ; it is walking and working with the invisible world in view. We are thus to keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
The solemn warning that was given to the foolish rich man, should be a sufficient warning for all men to the close of time. Lesson upon lesson was given by our Lord to take everyone away from selfishness, and to establish close bonds of fellowship and brotherhood between man and man. He desired that the hearts of believers should be closely knit together in strong bonds of sympathy, so that there might be unity in himself. They are together to rejoice in hope of the glory of God, looking for eternal life through the virtue of Jesus Christ. If Christ is abiding in the heart, his love will diffuse itself to others through its possessor, and will bind heart to heart. The grace of Christ must be the sole dependence of the Christian, and when it is, he will love his brethren as Christ has loved him. Then he can say, "Come," and beseech and woo souls, entreating them to be reconciled to God. His influence will be more and more decided, and he will devote his life to Christ, who was crucified for him. Where love is perfected, the law is kept, and self finds no place. Those who love God supremely, work, suffer, and live for him who gave his life for them. We can keep the law only through making the righteousness of Christ our own. Christ says, "Without me ye can do nothing." When we receive the heavenly gift, the righteousness of Christ, we shall find that divine grace has been provided for us, and that human resources are powerless. Jesus gives the Holy Spirit in large measure for great emergencies, to help our infirmities, to give us strong consolation, to illuminate our minds, and purify and ennoble our hearts. Christ becomes unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. From the first to the last of the Christian life, not one successful step can be taken without Christ. He has sent his Spirit to be with us constantly, and by confiding in Christ to the uttermost, surrendering our will to him, we may follow him whithersoever he goeth. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #27)
Christ taught by means of figures and symbols. On one occasion he spoke a parable in regard to the hiring of laborers to illustrate the way in which God deals with those who devote themselves to his service. He said, "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also in the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive."
It was the custom in Judea for men to wait at the marketplaces for some one to come and employ them; and in Europe this custom is still in vogue. Those who need help go to the marketplace to find servants that they may employ. The man in the parable is represented as going out at different hours to engage workmen. Those he hired at the earliest hour, agreed to work for him for a stated sum of money, while those who were hired later left the wages they were to receive wholly to the discretion of the householder.
"So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last."
The lesson of the laborers had a bearing upon the question about which the disciples had disputed by the way,--who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The world's Redeemer saw the danger that would imperil his church, and sought to arouse his people to an understanding of their position; for this parable was but a continuation of the lesson taught when Peter asked, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
The Lord will have all who receive his grace, believe and trust him that justifieth the ungodly. With implicit trust we are to stay upon God, and let the heart rest in him without a question as to what is to be our measure of reward. The Saviour presents before us the scene of the last judgment when the reward is given to those upon his right hand, and the sentence of condemnation to those upon his left hand. The righteous are represented as wondering what they have done for which they are to be so liberally rewarded. They had had the abiding presence of Christ in their hearts; they had been imbued with his Spirit, and without conscious effort on their part; they had been serving Christ in the person of his saints, and had thereby gained the sure reward. But they had not had in view the reward they were to receive, and the expectation of it had been no part of the motive that had actuated their service. What they did was done from love to Christ and to their fellowmen, and Christ identifies himself with suffering humanity, and accounts that all deeds done in sympathy and compassion and love to men, are done to him.
Those upon his left hand also acted out the natural heart, and had manifested pride, selfishness, and evil, doing deeds of unkindness to others as unconsciously as the good had done good deeds. They had not cherished the principles of sympathy and love. The fatherless and the widow had not had attention, nor received gifts from them. They inquire: "Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
Repeatedly the Saviour says, "Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." Jesus would have those who are engaged in his service, not eager for rewards, nor feel that they must receive compensation for all that they do. The Lord would have our minds run a different channel; for he sees not as man sees. He does not judge by appearances, but estimates a man by the sincerity of his heart. Those who have brought into their service the spirit of true sacrifice, of self-abasement, are the ones who will stand first at last. The laborers who were first hired, represented those who have an envious, self-righteous spirit, and claim that, for their services, preference should be given to them rather than to others. The householder said to the one who questioned his right to give more to others than to him, "Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?" I have kept my part of the agreement.
In a subordinate sense we should all have respect unto the recompense of the reward. But while we appreciate the promise of blessing, we should have perfect confidence in Jesus Christ, believing that he will do right, and give us reward according as our works have been. The gift of God is eternal life, but Jesus would have us not so anxious concerning rewards, as that we may do the will of God because it is right to do it, irrespective of all gain. Paul kept in view the crown of life to be given him, and not only to be given to him, but to all who love His appearing. It was the victory gained through faith in Jesus Christ that made the crown so desirable. He ever exalted Jesus. All boasting of talent, of victory in ourselves, is out of place. "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."
Those who will receive the most abundant reward will be those who have mingled with their activity and zeal, gracious, tender pity for the poor, the orphan, the oppressed, and the afflicted. But those who pass by on the other side, who are too busy to give attention to the purchase of the blood of Christ, who are full of doing the great things, will find themselves least and last. Men act out the true character of the heart. There are about us those who have a meek and lowly spirit, the Spirit of Christ, who do many little things to help those around them, and who think nothing of it; they will be astonished at last to find that Christ has noticed the kind word spoken to the disheartened, and taken account of the smallest gift given for the relief of the poor, that cost the giver some self-denial. The Lord measures the spirit, and rewards accordingly, and the pure, humble, childlike spirit of love makes the offering precious in his sight. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded next week.)
(Vol. 71, #28)
The Lord gave lessons in his parables that are ever to remain fresh in the mind. He saw that the weakness, the curse of the church, would be a spirit of self-righteousness, that it would lead men to think that they could do something by which they might earn a right to a place in the kingdom of heaven. He saw that they would imagine that when they had attained to certain goodness, made certain advancement, then the Lord would come in and help them, and in this way there would be an abundance of self and but little of Jesus. Many who have made but little advancement, are puffed up, eager for flattery, jealous if not regarded first and most important, and they cherish a feeling of superiority over others. But it will be those who work in the greatest humility, who are full of gratitude to God, who have a principle woven into everything they do that makes their works fragrant as was Abel's offering, that heaven will accept as precious. He who is humble, who is trusting as is a little child, is the one to whom God will look. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God. "When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died." Christ said, "Many are called, but few are chosen." If all would bear in mind that we are on test and trial before the heavenly host, and that it is to be made manifest of what spirit we are, there would be more seriousness, more earnestness in prayer.
"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." Salvation is wholly of grace. Love and humility are the essential qualities of character that will give to their possessor the first place in the kingdom of heaven. The actions that express these qualities will call forth from Christ the words of commendation, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Laborers in the vineyard, it is not the length of time in which you are engaged in the work that makes it acceptable to God, but the willingness, fidelity, and sincerity with which you labor. The Jews were first called into the vineyard; but they were proud and self-righteous, and were displeased that the Gentiles, whom they thoroughly despised, were admitted to equal privileges with themselves in the things of the kingdom of God. Nothing was more exasperating to the Jews than to have the apostles intimate that the Gentiles were to be sought after, and brought into, the gospel light. The parable of the laborers showed how sinful it was to cherish such a spirit as did the Jews against the Gentiles. Jesus warned those whom he first called into the church, lest the spirit of emulation should be found among them. They had seen how the rich young man had been warned, and how he had failed to profit by the lesson Jesus gave him. Jesus had showed him how strong were the bands that bound him to earth, although he thought himself perfect in his obedience to God's requirements. When he went away sorrowful, Peter said, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" This question on the part of Peter showed that he thought that a certain amount of work on the part of the apostles would be deserving of a certain amount of reward. Among the disciples there was a spirit of complacency, of self-exaltation, and they made comparisons among themselves. If any one of them signally failed, others felt themselves superior. Jesus saw a spirit coming in that must be checked. He could read the hearts of men, and he saw their tendencies to selfishness in the question, "What shall we have?" He must correct this evil before it assumed gigantic proportions.
The disciples were in danger of losing sight of the true principles of the gospel. By the use of this parable he teaches them that the reward is not of works, lest any man should boast, but it is all of grace. The laborer called into the vineyard at the beginning of the day had his reward in the grace that was given him. But the one to whom the last call came, had the same grace as had the first. The work was all of grace, and no one was to glory over another. There was to be no grudging one against another. No one was privileged above another, nor could anyone claim the reward as his right. Peter expressed the feelings of a hireling.
"What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." The first and the last are to be sharers of the great, eternal reward, and the first should gladly welcome the last. He who grudges the reward to another, forgets that he himself is saved by grace alone.
This parable rebukes all jealousy, envy, and hateful suspicions. Love rejoiceth in the truth, and institutes no comparisons. He who possesses love, only compares the majestic loveliness of Christ and his own imperfect character. Here is a warning to all laborers, however long they may have been in service, however abundant may be their labors, that without love to their brethren, without humility before God, they are nothing. When pride and self-complacency are brought into the work, the work is marred. The value of the Christian's labors is to be found only in the grace given him of Jesus Christ. The spirit that goes with the labor is that which gives it its value. Those who are first through self-complacency and pride may become last of all, while those who cherish meekness may become first; for the reward is not of works but of grace, lest any man should boast, and exalt himself above his fellows. It is the spirit that determines the worthiness or unworthiness of the work. Every call to work in the vineyard is from the Lord. It is Jesus Christ who seeks the laborer, not the laborer who seeks Jesus. Jesus says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." "And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him." "And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men." "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." The first impulse to come to Christ is the result of his drawing power upon the heart.
Jesus says, "I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." All I can give either first or last is myself. If anyone has been laboring for anything else except the Lord's glory, he will be disappointed in receiving a reward. The reception of the penny by the laborers represents the character that God will give to those who follow him. We are to keep in view eternal realities, and our spiritual eyesight must be clear; for those only who behold Christ will be changed into his image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord. All who are teachable, all who are humble, all who serve from love, are as mirrors that are being polished to reflect more perfectly the divine image. Their souls are becoming purified, their ideas are becoming broader, and their characters are being transformed after the divine similitude. But those whose hearts are lifted up in pride, who are self-righteous, full of envy, jealousy, and evil surmising, are enfeebling their capacity for receiving from God that which will make them what he would have them to be. They are clouding the mirror, darkening the vision, marring the vessel, so that it contains less and less of God's blessing.
Jesus says to those who think they should receive more than he gives them, "Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny: Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" So long as I am just with thee, is it not my privilege to be liberal to others? Those who display such wrong feelings, make it manifest that they deserve no reward; for many are called but few are chosen. Many, many are called to work in the Lord's vineyard; but they manifest so little humility, show so little appreciation of the Lord's grace, are so wanting in submission, so poorly comprehend the fact that righteousness is alone from Christ, and that there is none in themselves, that they fail to develop characters that can be called true and faithful, and so lose heaven at last. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #29)
I would have you all realize that each one of us is responsible for making the best use of our time, for improving our opportunities to their utmost, and for being helpful in every way possible, that we may be laborers together with God. How much we lose by shirking responsibilities! What makes the blacksmith's arm so strong?--It is wielding the heavy sledge. It is by exercise that the muscles become strong. All who have enlisted under the banner of Jesus Christ are reckoned as soldiers of the cross of Christ. They have a part to act in the daily warfare against sin and Satan, against unrighteousness and selfishness.
Selfishness and slothfulness creep upon us before we are aware, and we are led to forget that we individually have a part to act as Christ's truehearted soldiers in obeying every order of the Captain of our salvation. We may daily receive aid and comfort in the warfare in which we are called to engage. But many are in a sleepy spiritual condition, and do not realize that they have a part to act in the work of the Lord. While some have been privileged to eat of the bread of life and drink of the living waters, others have been pressed with the responsibility of considering weighty questions that involve the progress and prosperity of the cause. This is no trifling matter, and this heavy burden of responsibility should not be left to be borne by a few workers, while others feel no burden upon them except to criticise the plans devised. What is the part that you who claim to believe the truth should act in reference to those who carry the burden of the work?--It is your part to hold up the hands of the burden bearers, as Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses.
The weaknesses of humanity are upon us all, and no one is able to lay hold of the great responsibilities of the Lord's work unless he is sustained by divine power. Without wisdom from God, grave mistakes will be made that will greatly retard the progress of the work. It is the duty of those who believe the truth most earnestly to seek the Lord in prayer for those who are called to fill important positions of trust, that those engaged in committees and councils may be greatly blessed of God; that they may have unity of thought in arriving at the best methods of pushing on the work, and may secure the cooperation of all in carrying out the plans that have been devised to build up the cause of God.
The question with each one of those who have received the message for this time should be, What can I individually do to advance the truth? Ask God to open the way, that you may have a share in the work that Jesus is doing, and labor with him for the salvation of perishing souls. Let the people pray for the men whom their votes place in office. Let them ask God to grant them wisdom from heaven, in order that they may do their duties wisely and well, and be enabled to plan with that wisdom God has promised to give to those that ask him for wisdom. The Lord Jesus came to the world in order to represent to his workers the spirit that should actuate them, and the best methods whereby they should do his work.
We are in a world where temptation to evil is on every hand. Satan is ruler in his kingdom of darkness. In the world are oppression, want, hunger, and woe. The street children, who are pinched with hunger, shivering with cold, and neglected, have a most pitiful history. Many in our world know nothing save hard work and poverty; and yet this class is not the most unhappy. The greatest unhappiness exists among those who are supposed to have every want supplied, but who are living useless, selfish lives, whose souls are stained with sin. Because of their circumstances it is often hard to reach them. Through selfishness, through the vanity of riches, the higher, nobler qualities of the soul have been paralyzed, and they have become calloused and hardened to the woe and wretchedness of the world, and their sinful indifference testifies that they are not laborers together with God, not junior partners with Christ in his great enterprise of redeeming a lost race from wretchedness and despair.
God has given to men the privilege of becoming instrumentalities in cooperation with divine agencies in the work of redeeming the lost from oppression, degradation, and sin. He will accept warm hearts and willing hands to be laborers together with himself. Men, women, and children are wanted to enlist in this army of Christian endeavor. The Lord calls for soldiers who will not fail nor be discouraged; but who will accept the work with all its disagreeable features. He would have us all take Christ for our pattern.
Jesus calls for rich and poor to unite in service together. What a transformation of character would be seen upon those who have lived simply to please themselves, were their hearts touched with the love of Christ! What a change would be wrought in the life and actions of the wealthy who have consulted but their own ease, should they feel the power of redeeming love! They would then minister to those who need their help. They would then see the necessity of helping the youth to obtain an education, so that they might be fitted to go forth and labor for those who are near and those who are far off. But the selfish, pampered, spoiled children of fashion are miserably unhappy. Their lives are unsatisfactory, because they are depressed with a sense of their uselessness. Had it been their lot to be poor, and to be under the necessity of earning their own livelihood, they would have been far happier. God has given to rich and poor a work to do in blessing others.
After the fall of man, it cost our heavenly Father an infinite price to provide a way to prevent the defaced image of God in man being wholly obliterated, and to provide for the restoration of that image in the soul. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Then will you neglect your God-given capabilities? Will you fail to improve upon the talents that have been bestowed upon you by Heaven? Will you lightly regard the advantages of another trial, another probation, in which it is to be decided whether or not you will have eternal life? Will you trample under foot the great privileges that have been secured to you at infinite cost?
You will meet with strong temptations that will solicit your feet to take a downward course; but there are also the strongest inducements set forth to inspire you to be strong, and to quit you like men. It is not in the parade that soldiers are inured to the battlefield. Men of value are those who have encountered and overcome difficulties. Let no one think to attain to high position, to possess estimable traits of character, without making daily, upward progress. To reach the high standard that is placed before you, will call for the taxation of the highest powers, and will require persevering, untiring energy. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #30)
There always have been and always will be two classes on the earth to the end of time,--the believers in Jesus, and those who reject him. Sinners, however wicked, abominable, and corrupt, by faith in him will be purified, made clean, through the doing of his word. The truth will be a savor of life unto life to those who believe, but the same truth will be to the unbeliever a savor of death unto death. Those who reject Christ and refuse to believe the truth, will be filled with bitterness against those who accept Jesus as a personal Saviour. But those who receive Christ are melted and subdued by the manifestation of his love in his humiliation, suffering, and death in their behalf. They behold him as their substitute and surety, as pledging himself to accomplish their full salvation through a plan that is consistent with the justice of God, and which vindicates the honor of his law. The presentation of the love of God has a convincing power above that of argument, controversy, and debate, and drops the seed of gospel truth in the heart. The fact that Jesus, innocent and pure, should suffer, that God should lay all his wrath upon the head of his dear Son, that the guiltless should bear the punishment of the guilty, the just endure the penalty of sin for the unjust, breaks the heart; and as Jesus is lifted up, conviction strikes to the soul, and the love that prompted the bestowal of the infinite gift of Christ, constrains the sinner to surrender all to God.
But how different is the case of him who refuses to receive the salvation purchased for him at infinite cost. He refuses to look upon the humiliation and love of Jesus. He plainly says,"I will not have this man to reign over me." To all who take this attitude, Jesus says, "I came not to send peace, but a sword." Families must be divided in order that all who call upon the name of the Lord may be saved. All who refuse his infinite love will find Christianity a sword, a disturber of their peace. The light of Christ will cut away the darkness that covers their evildoings, and their corruption, their fraud, and cruelty, will be exposed. Christianity unmasks the hypocrisies of Satan, and it is this unmasking of his designs that stirs his bitter hatred against Christ and his followers.
It is impossible for anyone to become a true follower of Jesus Christ, without distinguishing himself from the worldly mass of unbelievers. If the world would accept of Jesus, then there would be no sword of dissension; for all would be disciples of Christ and in fellowship one with another, and their unity would be unbroken. But this is not the case. Here and there an individual member of a family is true to the convictions of his conscience, and is compelled to stand alone in his family or in the church to which he belongs, and is finally compelled, because of the course of those with whom he associates, to separate himself from their companionship. The line of demarkation is made distinct. One stands upon the word of God, the others upon the traditions and sayings of men.
In one of his confidential talks with his disciples, a short time before his crucifixion, Jesus bequeathed to his followers his legacy of peace. He said: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." The peace that Christ gave to his disciples, and for which we pray, is the peace that is born of truth, a peace that is not to be quenched because of division. Without may be wars and fightings, jealousies, envies, hatred, strife; but the peace of Christ is not that which the world giveth or taketh away. It could endure amid the hunting of spies and the fiercest opposition of his enemies. His peace was that which was born of love toward those who were plotting for his death. His deep love did not lead him to cry, Peace and safety, when there was no peace for the sinner. Christ did not for an instant seek to purchase peace by a betrayal of sacred trusts. Peace could not be made by a compromise of principles; and his followers must often proclaim a message that is directly in opposition to the people's sins, prejudices, and customs. They will be called upon to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine. The heart of Jesus was overflowing with love to every human being that he had made, and this love should have been discerned by those he came to save, inasmuch as he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. Christ understands the strength of Satan's temptations; for he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. But he never lessened the guilt of sin. He was the Saviour, the Redeemer, and came to save his people from their sins.
Jesus could have been at peace with the world only by leaving the transgressors of the law unreproved, unrebuked. This he could not do; for he was to take away the sins of the world. Those who are faithful sentinels will be charged by the world as being the disturbers of its peace, they will be charged with stirring up strife and with creating divisions. But they will only be bearing the reproach that fell on Christ. Christ denounced unrighteousness, and his very presence was a rebuke to sin. The atmosphere that surrounded his soul was so pure, so elevated, that it placed the hypocritical rabbis, priests, and rulers in their true position, and revealed them in their true character as claiming sanctity, and at the same time misrepresenting God and his truth. In the rich loveliness of the character of Christ, zeal for God was always apparent. His righteousness went before him, and the glory of the Lord was rearward. He hated one thing only, and that was sin. But the world loved sin and hated righteousness, and this was the cause of the hostility of the world to Jesus. If Christ had given license to men to exercise their evil passions, they would have hailed this great miracle-worker with shouts of applause; but when he reproved sin, made open war upon selfishness, oppression, hypocrisy, pride, covetousness, and lust, they said, Away with this fellow, and give us Barabbas.
Jesus has said: "The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." There will never be any true unity between or with those who stand under the banner of Satan. The followers of Christ may follow the things that make for peace, they may earnestly desire to overcome the spirit of discord with the spirit of kindness and love, but the enemy will stir up his agents to bring about strife and division. It is a grave mistake on the part of those who are children of God to seek to bridge the gulf that separates the children of light from the children of darkness by yielding principle, by compromising the truth. It would be surrendering the peace of Christ in order to make peace or fraternize with the world. The sacrifice is too costly to be made by the children of God to make peace with the world by giving up the principles of truth. Those who have the mind of Christ will let that light shine forth to the world in good works, but that light will bring about a division. Shall the light, therefore, be hid under a bed or under a bushel, because it will mark a distinction between the followers of Christ and the world? It was the purity of the character of Christ that stirred up the enmity of a profligate world. His spotless righteousness was a continual rebuke to their sin and uncleanness; but no principle of truth was compromised by Christ to win the favor of the world. Then let the followers of Christ settle it in their minds that they will never compromise truth, never yield one iota of principle for the favor of the world. Let them hold to the peace of Christ. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #31)
There are two classes in our world, and they are described by the apostle who says: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." When professed Christians come to a position where they receive words of praise and flattery from the world, and feed upon them as upon a sweet morsel, they are Christians only in name. How pitiful it is to see men and women who have had an experience in the things of God fall completely into the arms of the world, to be swayed and influenced by its voice, and to be dependent upon its favors for strength and success. How manifest it is that such have become alienated from Christ. How full of self-confidence, how full of vaunting and vanity are they! How shortsighted are they in regard to spiritual things! How little discernment have they to distinguish between the value of the counsel of one who is a child of God and the counsel of one who is on the enemy's side, a child of disobedience and unbelief.
There are only two classes in the world,--those who are obedient to Jesus Christ, who seek counsel of the Master, that they may do his will; and the children of disobedience. There are many, who, under the profession of godliness, are yet in alliance with the world, and through them souls are being deluded. The fear and love of God have not a controlling power over them. The world is their master, and they are chasing a delusive mirage.
Let God's people take heed that they do not sign a truce with the enemy of God and man. The church is not to come down to take a position with the world in its ideas, opinions, and maxims. Hear the words of Christ through his servant Paul: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" While this scripture has especial reference to marriage with unbelievers, it also covers all grounds of alliance with the world. The question is asked, "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." This means that the children of God are in no case to be contaminated with the spirit of the world, to receive its evil suggestions, nor to come under its influence. Be afraid of uniting with the world in secret societies, or of being bound in bundles with them. Be afraid of communicating to the world that which concerns the cause of God; for they would have no sympathy with those who love the truth of God. "Be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and my daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
May the Lord bless his people with spiritual eyesight, in order that they may see that the children of God and the children of the world cannot enter into co-partnership. James says: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." But while the children of God are not to be borne away by the spirit and influence of the world, they are to work with Christ to transform the children of darkness, to point them to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.
God's people are not to be swayed by the evil suggestions of worldlings against some of God's chosen ones. There must be unity among the children of God, and nothing must be allowed to enter that will bring alienation and discord. When there is unity with Christ, there is unity among the believers, and then one can chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. Let not unholy bonds be formed between the children of God and the friends of the world. Let there not be marriages made between believers and unbelievers. Let the people of God take their stand firmly for truth and righteousness.
Woe to him whose wisdom is not from above, but from beneath. Men of superficial piety, by their desire to obtain patronage for our institutions, to advance the fame of our colleges or sanitariums, should never be permitted to betray sacred trusts into the hands of unbelievers. Let not money be obtained by touching or by sanctioning any unclean practice or business. Let the grace of Christ be brought into the heart of every worker, and though the workers may be few, God can work with them, and the truth will prevail. There must be no deceptive work, for it is an unclean thing. Hands that are defiled must not handle God's sacred work. It is clean hands and a pure heart only that God will accept. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
The Lord hates all deception, secrecy, and guile. Because of their hypocrisy, the Lord rebuked the Pharisees, likening them to sepulchers that were full of corruption. The work of Satan is after this secret, insidious order. He conceals himself, and yet suggests, instigates, and leads men to work against the truth of God. Let no one work against a child of God on the testimony of an enemy of truth. The members of the church of Christ will sometimes make mistakes, but they are to be dealt with kindly and tenderly, even as Christ has dealt with us. The rebuke of God is upon all those who do his work deceitfully, who are professedly the friends of Christ, yet are working against him in an undercurrent way, by speaking against those who love God. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
This is our work; will we take it up? So little of this kind of work has been done, that the words of the True Witness come home to the church: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." "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." Satan had deceived those who were represented by Joshua; but they had repented of their sins before God, and pardon had been written against their names. Satan was accusing them of the sins he had caused them to commit, and asserted his right to do with them as he pleased because of their transgression. But Jesus looked with tender compassion upon those who believed in him and who trusted in his righteousness. "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." Will the people of God who are placed in positions of trust, give utterance to the accusations of Satan against the children of God? Let us act as Christians, and be as true as steel to God and his holy work. Let us be quick to discern the devices of Satan in his deceptive, hidden workings through the children of disobedience.
"Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet we say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered." These are the words of the unconsecrated who are separating from God, blinded by the enemy. They cannot discern the sacredness, the elevating, ennobling character of the word of God. But there is another class. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another." Their words were not words of evil accusation against their brethren, or complaints against God. They were not words of guile and hypocrisy, spoken in the dark, in an underhand way to damage the reputation of some brother or sister. They were words to which the Lord listened, and thought them worthy of recording in the imperishable records of heaven. "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." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #32)
"Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." How can the truth be laid out before our people that they will every one arouse from the lethargy which has been upon them, and come to a realization of the times in which we are living? How shall we present the need of greater zeal and more determined earnestness in searching the Scriptures, so that they may dig in the mines of truth and bring forth the treasures of God's word? It is not safe for us as reformers to repeat the history of the Reformers in every particular; for after those to whom God gave light advanced to a certain knowledge, many of them ceased to be reformers. We must not for a moment think that there is no more light and truth to be given us, and become careless, and let the sanctifying power of the truth leak out of our hearts by our attitude of satisfaction in what we have already attained. We are not to fold our hands in complacency, and say, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing."
It is a fact that we have the truth, and we must hold with tenacity to the positions that cannot be shaken; but we must not look with suspicion upon any new light which God may send, and say, Really, we cannot see that we need any more light than the old truth which we have hitherto received, and in which we are settled. While we hold to this position, the testimony of the True Witness applies to our cases its rebuke, "And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Those who feel rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, are in a condition of blindness as to their true condition before God, and they know it not. But the True Witness declares, "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."
What is it that constitutes the wretchedness, the nakedness of those who feel rich and increased with goods?--It is the want of the righteousness of Christ. In their own righteousness they are represented as clothed with filthy rags, and yet in this condition they flatter themselves that they are clothed upon with Christ's righteousness. Could deception be greater? As is represented by the prophet, they may be crying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we," while their hearts are filled with unholy traffic and unrighteous barter. The courts of the soul temple may be the haunt of envy, pride, passion, evil surmising, bitterness, and hollow formalism. Christ looks mournfully upon his professed people who feel rich and increased in the knowledge of the truth, and who are yet destitute of the truth in life and character and unconscious of their destitute condition. In sin and unbelief, they lightly regard the warnings and counsels of his servants, and treat his ambassadors with scorn and contempt, while their words of reproof are regarded as idle tales. Discernment seems to have departed, and they have no power to discriminate between the light which God sends them and the darkness that comes from the enemy of their souls.
The voice of the True Witness calls to his chosen people, "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. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." We have tried to arouse our brethren to the fact that the Lord has rich blessings to bestow upon us as a people. The people of God have lost much by not maintaining the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus. This simplicity has been crowded out, and forms and ceremonies and a round of busy activities in mechanical work have taken its place. Pride and lukewarmness have made the professed people of God an offense in his sight. Boastful self-sufficiency and complacent self-righteousness have masked and concealed the beggary and nakedness of the soul; but with God all things are naked and manifest. Yet Jesus is going from door to door, standing in front of every soul temple, proclaiming, "I stand at the door, and knock." As a heavenly merchantman, he opens his treasures, and cries, "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." The gold he offers is without alloy, more precious than that of Ophir; for it is faith and love. The white raiment he invites the soul to wear is his own robes of righteousness, and the oil for anointing is the oil of his grace, which will give spiritual eyesight to the soul in blindness and darkness, that he may distinguish between the workings of the Spirit of God and the spirit of the enemy. Open your doors, says the great Merchantman, the possessor of spiritual riches, and transact your business with me. It is I, your Redeemer, who counsels you to buy of me.
Those to whom God has intrusted sacred truths should be far in advance of what they are; they should have grown in grace and in the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. All who practice the truth will be right and shining lights amid a crooked and perverse nation. Whatever light God sends us, let us be open to receive it, immediately recognizing the voice that says, "Buy of me." Great weakness has been brought upon the church which he has blessed with great light, because their character and work have not corresponded to the light that God has given them. They have misrepresented the truth, and by their attitude have lulled the people to sleep, so that those with whom they have associated have no real sense of the times in which they are living.
The people of God have educated themselves in such a way that they have come to look to those in positions of trust as guardians of truth, and have placed men where God should be. When perplexities have come upon them, instead of seeking God, they have gone to human sources for help, and have received only such help as man can give. If as brave soldiers of Jesus Christ, they had borne their burden, doing their work with courage, with fidelity, and in faith, they would have received great blessings. Christ has sounded the invitation, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" but instead of carrying their perplexities and difficulties to Jesus, as he has told them to do, they have laid their burdens upon human souls, and have looked to human beings and human counsels, and they have received accordingly; for God removes his wisdom from men who are looked up to as God. Those who occupy positions of trust are greatly injured when they are tempted by their brethren to think that they must always be consulted by the workers, and that the people should bring to them their difficulties and trials. It is a mistake to make men believe that the workers for Christ should make no move save that which has first been brought before some responsible man. Men must not be educated to look to men as to God. While it is necessary that there be a counseling together and a unity of action among the laborers, one man's mind and one man's judgment must not be the controlling power.
When Jesus went away, he intrusted to men his work in all its varied branches, and every true follower of Christ has some work to do for him, for which he is responsible to his own Master, and that work he is expected to do with fidelity, waiting for command and direction from his Leader. We are the responsible agents of God, and have been invested with the goods of heaven, and we should have an eye single to the glory of Him who has called us. On our part there should be a faithful execution of duty, doing our appointed task to the full measure of our intrusted capability. No living being can do our work for us. We must do our work through a diligent use of the intellect which God has given, gaining in knowledge and efficiency as we make progress in our work. God never designed that another should do our thinking, while we leave our mental powers to rust through inaction. God has never designed that one man should be crushed under the burden, should be loaded down with various kinds of work as a cart pressed beneath the sheaves, while another should go free of all burden and responsibility. The president of the Conference is not to do the thinking for all the people. He has not an immortal brain, but has capabilities and powers like any other man. And to every man God has given his work. When men place the president of the Conference in the place of God, and make him the depositary of all their difficulties, the bearer of all their burdens and troubles, and the adviser in all their plans and in all their perplexities, they are doing that which is exactly opposite to what Christ has told them to do. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded in next number.)
(Vol. 71, #33)
Jesus has never instructed men to go to their fellowmen with all their cares, no matter in what position of trust he saw fit to place them. His instruction is , "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." In the time employed in writing your grievances to one who was already burdened and bruised with cares, you might have taken your perplexities to Jesus, and have asked him to teach you, and thus have honored God, showing that you made him your trust and your counselor.
Whatever may be the position of trust that a man occupies, he is not raised above the frailties of humanity. His position does not make him sinless or divine. He must receive wisdom and goodness and power from the same source as others; and this source of supply is open to the lowliest and the least. Jesus has invited you to come unto him; and you are not obeying Christ when you go to human sources for support and consolation. Is not this the reason that the people of God are destitute of the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Is not this one reason why their religious experience is of so dwarfed a character?
Satan exults as he sees men looking to men, and trusting in men to be wisdom for them. The soul that looks to men as to God, is left exposed to the temptations and assaults of the enemy, and the evil one sees to it that human defects shall mar the work of God. Satan will make the man whom the brethren look up to as to God, a target for his fiery darts, and will ply him with his fiercest temptations. Though at first the brother may be reluctant to take so great a responsibility as that of being a counselor to his brethren, if he does do it, he will finally encourage the very dependence that he once lamented, and he will come to feel grieved if matters are not brought to his attention. He will want to understand the reason for movements made in the cause, that have no connection with his branch of the work.
To every man is given his work, and every man must do his own thinking and planning, in order that the work may be done in such a manner as to meet the approval of God. The worker must not be bound about too much with reproofs and commands; for God is his Master, and if he looks to him for wisdom, his prayer will be answered. God will give him his own experience, that will not have its foundation in any human being, but in the living God.
Whatever position a brother may hold, he is not lightly to regard another brother who may appear to be a very humble instrumentality. God employs men who have small talents, but if they consecrate their all to him, they may, by diligent exercise of the ability which he has given, through the grace of Christ, so trade with their talents as to be fitted for more important trusts. Many among our people have trifled with the responsibility which God has laid upon them. They have not wrestled with difficulties and overcome obstacles through earnest prayer and effort. They have looked with more eagerness for the approval of mortal man than for the approval of God.
While brethren should counsel together at special seasons, yet they should individually seek for higher counsel than that heard in the assembly. It may be argued that the Lord gives special wisdom to those to whom he has intrusted grave responsibilities. The Lord does give special wisdom to him who has sacred trusts. If the human agent, moment by moment, makes God his only helper, and walks humbly with him, God will then give light and knowledge and wisdom, in order that his human agent may be able to guide his brethren who would look to him for counsel as to their duty. In a clear and forcible manner he will point them to a Source that is untainted and pure from the defects and errors that are so apparent in humanity. He may, for it is his privilege, refuse to be brains and conscience for his brethren. He may tell them with softened heart that he goes to God for supplies of wisdom and grace, and that the Lord will give liberally to all who ask him for wisdom. He will discern and lay bare the peril there is in looking to human agents instead of to God, and will encourage them to do as Jesus has instructed his children to do,--go to God for knowledge, wisdom, power, and grace.
The danger in trusting to men is, that men are liable to err. Even those who are in high positions of sacred trust, are men of like passions with the lowliest brother, and it is often the case that the man in high positions is influenced by the counsel of wife, mother, friend, or child, and his judgment is biased by human influences. But if he is continually appealed to for advice, he is in danger of thinking that he cannot err, and that he is capable of judging the cases of his brethren, and in this way he brings peril upon the church. Spirituality will wane under an influence of this kind, and the knowledge of God's will, will become more and more indistinct, while the sayings of men become of more and more importance in the eyes of the people. In this way God is dishonored, and spiritual discernment is lost. The sacred and the common become intermingled, until nothing is looked upon as sacred. God is not exalted, but is put in the shade by human inventions and by those who may be so deceived as to think that they are doing God service.
The education that should be given to all is, that they should exercise faith, that they should go to God in earnest prayer, and learn to think for themselves. To meet difficulties and plow through them by the help of God is a lesson of the highest value. If men and women do this, they realize that their help has not come from a human source, but from the living God, and that, having sought wisdom of God, they have not sought in vain. It is the privilege of every soul to go to God for himself, and to have a personal connection with the Source of all power. Then the lips can speak forth the praises, not of men, but of God. It is through a humble seeking of God that divine instruction will come to his people. They may receive guidance and wisdom, not through the channel of some other man's mind, but wisdom that is unadulterated, from the Source of all power. Then the people of God will reveal Christ and his grace, living as saints unto the Lord, with an eye single to the glory of God. Then self-sufficiency and self-importance will be abased in the dust, and the light of holiness will be shed upon all with whom they associate. Every soul surrounding those who live unto God will be affected to a greater or less degree by that divine consecration that elevates and ennobles the soul of the receiver of the Spirit of God. Those who are partakers of the divine nature will not manifest forwardness and self-exaltation, but will be filled with the spirit of discretion, and their characters will be fragrant because Christ is enthroned in the heart.
Let us, then, remember that our weakness and inefficiency are largely the result of looking to man, of trusting in man to do those things for us that God has promised to do for those who come unto him. We need Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, to beautify the character and make our lives fragrant with good works, so that we shall be a savor of Christ unto God. Will not our people arouse themselves to investigate the Scriptures, and to pluck from the garden of God the roses, the lilies, and the pinks of his promises?
Jesus loves his people. Before his crucifixion, he said to his followers, "I call you not servants, . . . but I have called you friends." After his resurrection he tenderly drew them to himself, and imparted to them divine instruction. He said, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." But as Jesus ascended, he carried with him the interests of his people. He loves his believing children. Let us trust in him. Let us confide in him, talk of his love, tell of his power. Lift him up, the Man of Calvary. O lift him up, that all may behold him. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #33)
If parents themselves would obtain knowledge, and feel the importance of putting it to a practical use in the education of their dear children, we should see a different order of things among youth and children. The children need to be instructed in regard to their own bodies. There are but few youth who have any definite knowledge of the mysteries of human life. They know but little about the living machinery. Says David, "I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Teach your children to study from cause to effect. Show them that if they violate the laws of their being, they must pay the penalty by suffering disease. If in your effort you can see no special improvement, be not discouraged; patiently instruct, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. If by this means you have succeeded in forgetting yourself, you have taken one step in the right direction. Press on until the victory is gained. Continue to teach your children in regard to their own bodies, and how to take care of them. Recklessness in regard to bodily health tends to recklessness in moral character.
Do not neglect to teach your children how to cook. In so doing, you impart to them principles which they must have in their religious education. In giving your children lessons in physiology, and teaching them how to cook with simplicity and yet with skill, you are laying the foundation for the most useful branches of education. Skill is required to make good light bread. There is religion in good cooking, and I question the religion of that class that is too ignorant and too careless to learn to cook.
We see sallow complexions and groaning dyspeptics wherever we go. When we sit at the tables, and eat the food cooked in the same manner as it has been for months, and perhaps years, I wonder that these persons are alive. Bread and biscuit are yellow with saleratus. This resort to saleratus was to save a little care; in consequence of forgetfulness, the bread is often allowed to become sour before baking, and to remedy the evil a large portion of saleratus is added, which only makes it totally unfit for the human stomach. Saleratus in any form should not be introduced into the stomach, for the effect is fearful. It eats the coatings of the stomach, causes inflammation, and frequently poisons the entire system. Some plead, "I cannot make good bread or gems unless I use soda or saleratus." You surely can if you become a scholar, and will learn. Is not the health of your family of sufficient value to inspire you with ambition to learn how to cook, and how to eat?
That which we eat cannot be converted into good blood unless it is of a proper quality, simple, nutritious. The stomach can never convert sour bread into sweet. Food poorly prepared is not nutritious, and cannot make good blood. These things which fret and derange the stomach will have a benumbing influence upon the finer feelings of the heart. Many who adopt the health reform complain that it does not agree with them; but, after sitting at their tables, I come to the decision that it is not the health reform that is at fault, but the poorly prepared food. Health reformers, above all others, should be careful to shun extremes. The body must have sufficient nourishment. We cannot subsist upon air merely; neither can we retain health unless we have nourishing food. Food should be prepared in good order, so that it is palatable. Mothers should be practical physiologists, that they may teach their children to know themselves, and to possess moral courage to carry out correct principles in defiance of the health-and-life-destroying fashions. To needlessly transgress the laws of our being is a violation of the law of God.
Poor cookery is slowly wearing away the life energies of thousands. It is dangerous to health and life to eat at some tables the heavy, sour bread, and the other food prepared in keeping with it. Mothers, instead of seeking to give your daughters a musical education, instruct them in these useful branches which have the closest connection with life and health. Teach them all the mysteries of cooking. Show them that this is a part of their education, and essential for them in order to become Christians. Unless the food is prepared in a wholesome, palatable manner, it cannot be converted into good blood, to build up the wasting tissues. Your daughters may love music, and this may be all right; it may add to the happiness of the family; but the knowledge of music without the knowledge of cookery, is not worth much. When your daughters have families of their own, an understanding of music and fancy work will not provide for the table a well-cooked dinner, prepared with nicety, so that they will not blush to place it before their most esteemed friends. Mothers, yours is a sacred work. May God help you to take it up with his glory in view, and work earnestly, patiently, and lovingly, for the present and future good of your children, having an eye single to the glory of God.-- Testimony 19. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #34)
In company with my son, W. C. White, I rode in our carriage to Sydney, a distance of twelve miles. We could have taken the cars at the station in Granville, but by riding in our carriage, we escape the confusion that is ever to be found at railway stations; we also had the advantage of riding straight to the meetinghouse without the inconvenience of changing from the cars to the tram, to be left at some distance from the place of meeting. We had a very peaceful ride, and a very favorable opportunity of conversing together. This is a rare treat; for both of us are so occupied that we have but little opportunity for social interchange of thought. We found a good representation of our people at the hall, and I felt constrained by the Spirit of God to speak very plainly to the church.
I spoke from the words, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." The manner in which the sowing was to be done, is presented in the following words: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." No selfish man is a Christian. Jesus says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow men." Genuine self-denial will be practiced by all who follow Christ.
Judas undertook to follow Christ, and at the same time to carry out his selfish, covetous plans. He had the same privileges as had the other disciples. He had the same privileges of hearing the lessons of Christ, which plainly presented practical godliness; but he was not always pleased with the plain truth. It cut him, and instead of taking up personal labor with Judas Iscariot, he found fault with the words and works of Christ, and criticised his plain teachings. Instead of being transformed in character, he was cultivating self-love, self-esteem, and the love of money, and was becoming more and more greedy for gain. His love for Christ was not increasing; for he had not that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. Pure religion and undefiled is a religion that is of an experimental character, and brings forth practical results.
Every member of the church of Christ will be tested and proved. To each one sacred responsibilities are committed; for each one is to be connected with Christ, and to labor earnestly and cheerfully as a free moral agent, becoming more and more intelligent in working as a laborer "together with God." By practice he must learn how to pray, putting his whole soul into his petitions. Through self-denial he must learn how to present gifts and offerings willingly unto God. He must not consume in selfish indulgence everything which he gains, and present nothing to God in acknowledgment of the fact that he is constantly the recipient of Heaven's gifts. The Christian will be constantly imparting that which is bestowed upon him. True religion is imitation of Christ. Not one of Christ's true followers will practice selfish indulgence in any way when the cause of God is languishing because of the poverty of the people. God means that someone shall supply that which is wanting for the needs of the poorer brethren, and for the necessities of his cause. The kingdom of heaven must be the first consideration. To follow Christ means continually to study his life of self-denial, and from high motives to practice his good works. To follow means to render obedience. We are under service to God, and we must obey his commands. No soldier is counted a follower of his commander unless he obeys his general's orders. The master says, "Learn of me." Keep your eye on the model, for Christ gave his life that he might become the teacher of men. Keep yourselves from idols. He desires that everyone who believes in him should learn how to live his life and practice his virtues.
Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity. What is righteousness?--It is the satisfaction that Christ gave the divine law in our behalf. He bore the test on every point on which the sinner must bear it. He was tempted in all points as we are tempted, and through all the temptations that it was possible for the synagogue of Satan to bring upon him, he did not yield in the least degree to the power of the enemy.
Righteousness means being good and doing good. As children of God, are we developing a character that is Christlike? are we individually working daily at the vocation of being a Christian? and through the rich impartation of the gift of the Spirit of God, are we making straight paths for our feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way? The lame are those who are not firmly established in the truth, who are spiritually halting, having defects of character and needing the help of a correct example. If we make crooked paths, others make our errors an excuse for deviating from the path of righteousness. It is not enough to believe sound doctrine; we must put it into practice. A religion built on selfishness is worthless. It is a deplorable, sleazy fabric.
The apostle plainly declares what is the duty of the individual members of the church. He says, "Let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." The promise of God is that "he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." The Lord will not forget your labors of love. In this country, times are very hard, and money is very scarce. Some will learn lessons of economy at this time, who never knew what economy was before. Yet we should not forget that we are in the service of God, and that he owns us, and he owns the world. Though we are all poor and unable to do large things, the Lord calls upon every soul to practice self-denial in this time of scarcity, and be able to give, not grudgingly nor of necessity, but with cheerful gratitude for God's unspeakable gift. We are to engage in this work seriously, remembering that now is the time to lay up treasure in heaven, and to send it on beforehand. We shall have to do this through strict self-denial; but every man, woman, and youth, who claims to be the property of Christ, has a work to do in building up the kingdom of God. Now is the sowing time, the reaping time is in the future. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you. If you do your best, if you impart to others that which you have, God will see your labor of love, and will know the measure of every act of self-denial for his name's sake. You will be tested and proved, that it may be made manifest how deep and genuine is your love for Christ and your neighbor, and these tests will come closer and closer upon us. Churches must be erected. Wherever there is a little flock, it must be fed with meat in due season. The last message of mercy is to be given to the world even to the uttermost part of the earth. Those who have physical strength are to employ that strength in the service of God. They are to labor with their hands, and earn means to use in the cause of God. Those who can obtain work are to work faithfully, and to improve the opportunities they see to help those who cannot obtain labor. God is able to make his grace abound toward you, giving you a heart of tenderness and love for the souls of those for whom Christ has paid the ransom of his own life. "That ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work; (as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth forever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God."
Let every believer in the truth for this time, awake to duty. Instead of studying how to gratify yourselves and follow your inclination, study how you may imitate Christ in self-denial, and thus be able to help and to save the purchase of his blood. Relieve the wants of the needy, and work to help the weak and the poorer sister churches. The Lord has made us his almoners. He places in our hands his gifts, in order that we shall divide with those who are needy, and it is this practical giving that will be to us a sure panacea for all selfishness. By thus expressing love to those who need help, you will cause the hearts of the needy to give thanksgiving unto God because he has bestowed the grace of benevolence upon the brethren, and has caused them to relieve the necessities of the needy. It is through the exercise of this practical love that the churches draw nearer together in Christian unity. Through the love of the brethren, love to God is increased, because he has not forgotten those who were in distress, and thus thank offerings ascend to God for his care. "For the ministration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God." The faith of the brethren is increased in God, and they are led to commit their souls and bodies unto God as to a faithful Creator. "While by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men."
Giving for the necessity of the saints and for the advancement of the kingdom of God, is preaching practical sermons, which testify that those who give have not received the grace of God in vain. A living example of an unselfish character, which is after the example of Christ, has great power upon men. Those who do not live for self, will not use up every dollar meeting their supposed wants, and supplying their conveniences, but will bear in mind that they are Christ's followers, and that there are others who are in need of food and clothing. Those who live to gratify appetite and selfish desire, will lose the favor of God, and will lose the heavenly reward. They testify to the world that they have not genuine faith, and when they seek to impart to others a knowledge of present truth, the world will regard their words as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Let everyone show his faith by his works. "Faith without works is dead," "being alone." "Wherefore show ye to them and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting in your behalf."
I have given you a brief sketch of my discourse to the Sydney church. After the sermon we had a most precious social meeting. W. C. White spoke, presenting some precious thoughts, and many melting testimonies were borne. The meeting was blessed of God, and we knew that Jesus was in the midst, and by his Holy Spirit was moving upon hearts. We were soon in our carriage again, returning to Granville.
How is it with my brethren and sisters in America? How much do you practice self-denial in order that you may show liberality to the needy cause of God at this time? We are doing our work here under great pressure for the want of the very money that many of the members of our churches are expending upon their own fancies, in pleasing and gratifying themselves. If they had accepted the testimonies I have borne to them concerning the great want in these regions beyond, they would not be found expending one dollar in following the example of those who are multiplying pictures of themselves and their families. You would not be purchasing bicycles, which you could do without, but would be receiving the blessing of God in exercising your physical powers in a less expensive way. Instead of investing one hundred dollars in a bicycle, you would consider the matter well, lest it might be at the price of souls for whom Christ died, and for whom he has made you responsible. Please read Isaiah 58, and see what is a sure remedy for poor health. Satan will contrive to bring about many devices to absorb the means which should be devoted to the cause of God at this time. We cannot open new fields in regions beyond, for want of the very means that is used up in various ways, which might be given to destitute missions. God would have you invest in a fund to erect humble houses of worship for those who have newly come to the faith, who cannot possibly command means to do this, on account of their great poverty. Their souls are just as precious as your soul; and could you pass through the experience through which we have passed since coming to this country, you would bind about your supposed wants, and would be ready to help to build humble houses of worship in regions beyond. You would have the satisfaction of denying inclination in thus investing means in the cause of God. Night after night, we have studied the perplexing problem of how we should obtain the means to advance the work of God. It rests with you in America to solve this puzzling question. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #35)
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." "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."
Let the solemn question come home to every one who is a member of our churches, How am I standing before God as a professed follower of Christ? Is my light shining forth to the world in clear, steady rays? Have we as a people who have taken vows of dedication to God, preserved our union with the Source of all light? Are not the symptoms to declension and decay painfully visible among the Christian churches of today? Spiritual death has come upon many who should be examples of zeal, purity, and consecration. Their practices speak more loudly than their professions, and witness to the fact that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the eternal Rock, and they are drifting without chart or compass.
The True Witness desires to remedy the perilous condition in which his professed people are placed, and he says: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Christ will cease to take the names of those who fail to turn to him and do their first works, and will no longer make intercession for them before the Father. He says, "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. 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." Yet the case of those who are rebuked is not a hopeless one; it is not beyond the power of the great Mediator. He says: "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." Though the professed followers of Christ are in a deplorable condition, they are not yet in so desperate a strait as were the foolish virgins whose lamps were going out, and there was no time in which to replenish their vessels with oil. When the bridegroom came, those that were ready went in with him to the wedding; but when the foolish virgins came, the door was shut, and they were too late to obtain an entrance. But the counsel of the True Witness does not represent those who are lukewarm as in a hopeless case. There is yet a chance to remedy their state, and the Laodicean message is full of encouragement; for the backslidden church may yet buy the gold of faith and love, may yet have the white robe of the righteousness of Christ, that the shame of their nakedness need not appear. Purity of heart, purity of motive, may yet characterize those who are halfhearted and who are striving to serve God and Mammon. They may yet wash their robes of character and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Today the question is to come home to every heart, Do you believe in the Son of God? The question is not, Do you admit that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world? and that you should repeat to your soul and to others, "Believe, believe, all you have to do is to believe;" but, Do you have practical faith in the Son of God, so that you bring him into your life and character until you are one with him? Many accept of the theory of Christ, but they make it manifest by their works that they do not know him as the Saviour who died for the sins of men, who bore the penalty of their transgression, in order that they might be brought back to their loyalty to God, and through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, might find acceptance with God in their obedience to his law. Christ died to make it possible for you to cease to sin, and sin is the transgression of the law.
Jesus counsels you to have your eyes anointed with spiritual eyesalve, in order that you may discern the fact that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, that you may exercise repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The plan of salvation is not half discerned. It is made altogether too cheap a thing, and men do not take in the fact of how great an act of condescension it is on the part of Omnipotence to stoop to unite the divine with the human, to impart the Holy Spirit to the repenting transgressor of his holy law. God became man, clothing his divinity with humanity, and thus humanity has been elevated in the scale of moral value with God. But how great was the condescension of the Father and the Son to consent to the working out of the plan of salvation to save the transgressors of Heaven's exalted law!
How great is the spiritual blindness of men who declare that this great condescension on the part of God in giving his only begotten Son, was to abolish the law of God, and to make its precepts of no effect. Calvary is the unanswerable argument for the immutability of the law of God; for could one of its precepts have been altered to meet man in his fallen condition, the Son of God need not have suffered death for a guilty race. The professed Christian world is indeed in need of eyesalve, that they may see. Like David they should pray, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Wherever there has been a departure from God, there must be a returning to him, and a doing of the first works. Jesus says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent." In order to repent, it is necessary to examine the life and character by the great standard of righteousness, that the peculiar sins which have dishonored God and have been an offense to him, may be discovered. That which has quenched the first love must be forsaken, whether it has been pride, sensuality, or the turning of the grace of God into lasciviousness. Those who make a profession of being Christians, that is, Christlike, and who yet live a life of sin, cast dishonor upon the truth of God. Many of this class trample upon the law of God, and teach others that its precepts are not binding, and yet they presume to take the name of Jesus upon their lips, and talk of being saved by his grace. Such teaching tends to enfeeble the moral tone of the church, and true godliness is banished while a miserable, heartless, outward form of godliness remains. Such come under the rebuke of Christ when he says, "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." "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."
"To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Paul asks, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" and answers, "God forbid." Again he asks, "Do we then make void the law through faith?" and answers, "God forbid; yea, we establish the law." God's will is expressed in his holy law, and Jesus says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." The law of God is the standard by which character is to be measured, and he whose life is in harmony with that law is worthy to be trusted, but of what value is the testimony of a man whose life and teaching contradict the law of Jehovah? He then measures himself by his own finite standard, and may claim for himself as much as does the pope of Rome; but in the light of the detector of sin, his character may be wholly wanting. He may claim great spiritual riches, and think that he is in need of nothing, and may boast of the grace of Christ, but at the same time may have turned that precious grace into lasciviousness. This spurious character of religion is on the increase, and many whose hearts are carnal prate of the grace of Christ, while at the same time they openly blaspheme the name of the God of heaven by casting contempt upon the law of God, which rebukes their inconsistent course and detects their unchristlike character.
It is not the grace of Christ that makes void the law of God. Christ declared, "I have kept my father's commandments, and abide in his love." To those who are making void the commandments of God, the True Witness says, "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." Christ's white robe of righteousness will never cover any soul that is found in sin unrepented of and unforsaken. "Sin is the transgression of the law." Therefore those who are trampling upon the law of God, and teaching others to disregard its precepts, will not be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Jesus came not to save people in their sins, but from their sins. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 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." "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned [transgressed the law], we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." We need an advocate with the Father, because it is the Father's law which we have broken, and we need to repent of our transgression, and return to our allegiance to God. "Whoso committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the Devil; for the Devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil," not the royal law that points out what is sin. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." "He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world [overcomers do not unite with the world in transgression of the law of God]; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." These are the words of our Substitute and Surety, the divine Head of the Church, himself the mightiest of conquerors. He points his disciples to his own life, to the tests he bore, to his self-denials and struggles and sufferings, and marks out the path of obedience for their feet through ridicule, contempt, scorn, mockery, rejection, and shameful death. Suffering and humiliation he bore in order to prove obedient to the law of God, to magnify the law and make it honorable; and he lays down the conditions that must be met by those who would inherit eternal life. Victory can come alone through faith and obedience, through following in his footsteps. The work of overcoming is not confined to the martyrs. We, too, are to engage in the conflict in these days of subtle temptation to worldliness, to self-confidence, pride, covetousness, and immorality; and to the overcomers will be given a crown of life and glory. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #36)
One Sabbath, lately, in company with my son, W. C. White, I rode eight miles in our carriage to Seven Hills to meet with the church that was to assemble at three o'clock in the afternoon. Brother Hickox has been laboring in this place since coming to Sydney, and we have tried to help him in his work. Brethren Starr and Mccullagh, W. C. White, and the writer have each labored in turn, and we have every reason to rejoice in the Lord, because twenty have taken their position on the side of truth. This has caused joy among the heavenly angels in the presence of Christ Jesus, and in the presence of the Father, who has made an infinite sacrifice in their behalf.
Upon this occasion I spoke from the eighth and ninth chapters of second Corinthians. Paul, in writing to his brethren at Corinth, sought to kindle their zeal and to stir them up to make contribution for the poor saints at Jerusalem. He presented the example of the church in Macedonia to inspire them to benevolent action. He said: "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God."
The grace of Christ imparted to us individually will give us a knowledge as to how we shall accept of Christ as our personal Saviour, and how we shall imitate his example. He can mold and fashion the character by imparting his divine attributes, and then each one of us can adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, lovely, and of good report, will be revealed as the precious fruits of the Christian tree. The religion of Jesus Christ must be revealed in a winsome character, bright as a light that shineth in a dark place.
Of the church in Macedonia we read that "in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." Then shall any of us who profess to be Christians, think that we shall be excused in doing nothing for the truth because we are poor? We regard the precious light of truth as an inexpressible, inexhaustible treasure. We are to exert an influence in proportion to our intrusted talents, be we rich or poor, high or low, ignorant or learned. We are servants of Jesus Christ, and the Lord expects us to do our best.
I said to the brethren at Seven Hills: You will soon be without a place in which to assemble to worship God. Shall we arise and build? The Lord wants you to be liberal. The members of the Macedonian churches were in deep poverty, yet they urged the apostles to receive their freewill offerings, and were willing to go beyond their power to help the saints in Jerusalem who were in greater need than themselves. We have in this record, a lesson for our instruction. Those who take their position on the side of Christ are to let their light shine forth in good works, and not to act selfishly; but each church is to consider the wants of her sister churches. "Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also." We desire you to abound in the grace of liberality, making your gifts to assist those who have newly come to the faith, and in doing this work your joy will be abundant, according to the measure of your liberality. We call upon the children of God to come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Who is the mighty?--It is Satan, the prince of this world, for the world has chosen him as its ruler.
There is a lesson also in this chapter to those who are working in the cause of God. Paul says, "We desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also;" that is, make you to abound in the grace of liberality. A responsibility rests upon the ministers of Christ to educate the churches to be liberal. Even the poor are to have a part in presenting their offerings to God. They are to be sharers of the grace of Christ in denying self to help those whose need is more pressing than their own. Why should the poor saints be denied the blessing of giving to aid those who are still poorer than themselves? The work of educating the people along these lines has been neglected, and the churches have failed to give for the necessity of poorer churches, and thus the blessing has been withheld that should have been theirs, and will be withheld until they shall have a realizing sense of their neglect. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. And herein I give my advice; for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men should be eased and ye burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want; that there may be equality; as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack."
Thank God that he has put it in the heart of his servants to feel a deep interest for your welfare, causing them to present to you the precious truth. Some of you have hesitated, and have been slow in acting upon the convictions of your conscience; but one after another, you have given your own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. What does this mean? It means that you are to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who have earnestly worked for your salvation, and according to the light and knowledge you have received, to unite with them in communicating in the spirit and love of Jesus, the truth to those who have not had the privileges and opportunities that you have had.
There are some here who are questioning as to whether they shall be obedient to the light which they have seen, or whether they will make a compromise with conscience. Character is being determined by the manner in which the truth is being treated. The voice of Christ is heard saying, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Whom do we love best, Jesus, or the enemy of Christ? On which side are you to stand? You will do the bidding of him whom you love. God wants everyone to come unto him. Christ says, "Follow me."
Brother Hickox and W. C. White made appropriate remarks. Brother Mccullagh spoke a short time right to the point, and it was decided that a meetinghouse should be built at Seven Hills, and that everyone should do his best. Brother Mccullagh said he would give two pounds, ten shillings, and brother Starr had authorized him to say that he would give two pounds, ten shillings, which would be twenty-five dollars. W. C. White had thought it would be impossible for him to give more than one pound, but he would venture to give two, if they would buy two lots instead of one. Then the brethren from Seven Hills, from their poverty, spoke one after another, pledging a pound apiece. One brother who had resided at Seven Hills, but who had removed to Paramatta, pledged five pounds. A man who sees the truth, but who has a large family of children, and has not faith to embrace the Sabbath lest he would lose his situation, pledged a pound. I had purposed to donate five pounds to the enterprise, but when I considered the poverty abounding in those who have recently embraced the truth, I doubled this donation to ten pounds. When I saw that it would be impossible to build a church with the meager sum which would be freely given, I decided to give twenty pounds. The talent of means is the Lord's intrusted talent, and as his faithful steward, I must apply it where the need is greatest.
We had a most precious meeting. Jesus was in the midst of us. The Sun of Righteousness was shining upon us. I was constrained by the Spirit of the Lord to speak words of hope and courage to those who had consented not only to believe the truth but to obey it. They will soon be left without a minister, and it would be necessary for each one to do the utmost of his ability in order that a church might be erected in which they could meet together to worship God. Each one must take upon himself the responsibility of educating and training himself to act a part in the meetings. They must be faithful witnesses for Jesus Christ, and thus become a working church. Christ prayed for his followers, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." Here in this wicked world our light is to shine forth in good works. Christ charged his disciples with this responsibility. He said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
When the precious meeting closed, it was nearly dark. We seated ourselves in our carriage, and as our faithful horse traveled homeward with us, we rejoiced in the peace of Christ. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #37)
When Jesus gave the injunction, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me," the priests and rulers were sitting in Moses's seat, and professing to give to the people the commands of God; but that which was so plain that the common people might clearly understand, they mystified and misinterpreted. Through false interpretation, the Jewish nation had lost the simple, practical knowledge of God and his truth. The command to search implied that they had lost something, and that they must diligently seek to discover it. The plain directions of the Scriptures, which had revealed the will of God, were covered up with mystery and tradition, with false tests, false theories and commands. The Scriptures had been wrested to the ruin of souls, and manmade tests and injunctions had been put in the place of the plain "thus saith the Lord." Jesus said to all, Search for yourselves. Allow no one to be brains for you, allow no one to do your thinking, your investigating, and your praying. This is the instruction we need to take to heart today. Many of you are convinced that the precious treasure of the kingdom of God and of Jesus Christ is in the Bible which you hold in your hand. You know that no earthly treasure is attainable without painstaking effort. Why should you expect to understand the treasures of the word of God without diligently searching the Scriptures?
It is proper and right to read the Bible; but your duty does not end there; for you are to search its pages for yourselves. The knowledge of God is not to be gained without mental effort, without prayer for wisdom in order that you may separate from the pure grain of truth the chaff with which men and Satan have misrepresented the doctrines of truth. Satan and his confederacy of human agents have endeavored to mix the chaff of error with the wheat of truth. We should diligently search for the hidden treasure, and seek wisdom from heaven in order to separate human inventions from the divine commands. The Holy Spirit will aid the seeker for great and precious truths which relate to the plan of redemption. I would impress upon all the fact that a casual reading of the Scriptures is not enough. We must search, and this means the doing of all the word implies. As the miner eagerly explores the earth to discover its veins of gold, so you are to explore the word of God for the hidden treasure that Satan has so long sought to hide from man. The Lord says, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching." John 7:17, Revised Version.
The word of God is truth and light, and is to be a lamp unto your feet, to guide you every step of the way to the gates of the city of God. It is for this reason that Satan has made such desperate efforts to obstruct the path that has been cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. You are not to take your ideas to the Bible, and make your opinions a center around which truth is to revolve. You are to lay aside your ideas at the door of investigation, and with humble, subdued hearts, with self hid in Christ, with earnest prayer, you are to seek wisdom from God. You should feel that you must know the revealed will of God, because it concerns your personal, eternal welfare. The Bible is a directory by which you may know the way to eternal life. You should desire above all things that you may know the will and ways of the Lord. You should not search for the purpose of finding texts of Scripture that you can construe to prove your theories; for the word of God declares that this is wresting the Scriptures to your own destruction. You must empty yourselves of every prejudice, and come in the spirit of prayer to the investigation of the word of God.
The great error of the Romish Church is found in the fact that the Bible is interpreted in the light of the opinions of the "fathers." Their opinions are regarded as infallible, and the dignitaries of the church assume that it is their prerogative to make others believe as they do, and to use force to compel the conscience. Those who do not agree with them are pronounced heretics. But the word of God is not thus to be interpreted. It is to stand on its own eternal merits, to be read as the word of God, to be obeyed as the voice of God, which declares his will to the people. The will and voice of finite man are not to be interpreted as the voice of God.
The blessed Bible gives us a knowledge of the great plan of salvation, and shows us how every individual may have eternal life. Who is the author of the book?--Jesus Christ. He is the True Witness, and he says to his own, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." The Bible is to show us the way to Christ, and in Christ eternal life is revealed. Jesus said to the Jews and to those who pressed about him in great multitudes, "Search the Scriptures." The Jews had the word in the Old Testament, but they had so mingled it with human opinions, that its truths were mystified, and the will of God to man was covered up. The religious teachers of the people are following their example in this age.
Though the Jews had the Scriptures which testified of Christ, they were not able to discern Christ in the Scriptures; and although we have the Old and the New Testament, men wrest the Scriptures to evade their truths; and in their interpretations of the Scriptures, they teach, as did the Pharisees, the maxims and traditions of men for the commandments of God. In Christ's day the religious leaders had so long presented human ideas before the people, that the teaching of Christ was in every way opposed to their theories and practice. His sermon on the mount virtually contradicted the doctrines of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees. They had so misrepresented God that he was looked upon as a stern judge, incapable of compassion, mercy, and love. They presented to the people endless maxims and traditions as proceeding from God, when they had no "thus saith the Lord" for their authority. Though they professed to know and to worship the true and living God, they wholly misrepresented him, and the character of God, as represented by his Son, was as an original subject, a new gift to the world. Christ made every effort so to sweep away the misrepresentations of Satan, that the confidence of man in the love of God might be restored. He taught man to address the Supreme Ruler of the universe by the new name "Our Father." This name signifies his true relation to us, and when spoken in sincerity by human lips, it is music in the ears of God. Christ leads us to the throne of God by a new and living way, to present him to us in his paternal love.
In the system of types and offerings, the sacrifice of the Son of God was shadowed forth, and yet the Jews did not behold in Christ "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." They did not see the value of the treasure that God had given to the world in the gift of his Son. No gift could be imparted that equaled in value the gift of the Son of God, and every other gift that men receive, is an outflowing from this measureless gift. Eternity itself will not exhaust the treasure of the gift of God to the world.
The only begotten Son of God was to teach men the goodness, mercy, and benevolence of the character of God. He taught men to regard God as the fountain of all parental affection which has flowed down, generation after generation, through the channel of the human heart. The pity, the compassion, and the love which have been manifested by parents to their children bear no comparison with the tenderness and compassion of the heart of infinite love. The love of God is constantly exercised in behalf of the happiness and salvation of his people. The Lord sent his Son into the world that, through faith in him, they might contemplate God in Christ, and approach the infinite Father in the name of his Son. We may approach the Father through the Lord our Righteousness. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded in next number.)
(Vol. 71, #38)
The knowledge of God which Jesus brought to our world and unfolded to man we are not to retain as our own possession, without imparting it to our fellowmen. The priceless knowledge of God which through his word has been committed to us, has not been given to us to remain a useless possession. We are to impart to others the knowledge of the fact that to know God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent is eternal life. We are privileged not only to place ourselves under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, but to invite others to admire his loveliness, to dwell upon his charms, and to become partakers of the riches of his glory. Christ is to dwell in the heart 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." If this is your experience, you will certainly represent to the world the fact that "ye are complete in him." "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
The Jews were blinded and confused by their own superstition. They were of those described by the prophet when he says, "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." They had so far separated from God that they knew not the Father, and could not recognize the Father's image in his representative. "Thus saith the Lord; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things; the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up." Jesus said to the Jews, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?"
Christ was the center and the glory of the ancient dispensation. From time to time he drew aside the vail and revealed the glory behind it. Isaiah had an unclouded view of this glory when he described the Lord sitting upon the throne that was high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. "Above it stood the seraphim; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, 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." The seraphim dwelt in the presence of Jesus, yet they veiled with their wings their faces and their feet. They looked upon the King in his beauty, and covered themselves. When Isaiah saw the glory of God, his soul was prostrated in the dust. Because of the unclouded vision he was graciously permitted to behold, he was filled with self-abasement. This will ever be the effect upon the human mind when the beams of the Sun of Righteousness shine gloriously upon the soul. The light of the glory of God will reveal all the hidden evil, and bring the soul to the place of humble confession. As the increasing glory of Christ is revealed, the human agent will see no glory in himself; for the concealed deformity of his soul is laid bare, and self-esteem and self-glorying are extinguished. Self dies, and Christ lives.
The Jews knew not God nor Jesus Christ whom he had sent. They had lost the truths presented to them by both patriarchs and prophets, and did not recognize Christ, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Was it not strange that the only people who claim to be the chosen people of God were in such darkness by departing from God, that they did not recognize the Prince of life, who was the foundation of their system of worship, the very one who was symbolized by their sacrificial offerings? Well may we see the force of the words of Christ, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me." It is not safe to commit this work of searching the Scriptures to any other man to do for us, however learned he may be. If he has not a living connection with God, he will mislead the mind, and cause the destruction of many souls. "Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?" By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #39)
While in the colonies, I have tried to encourage the people to work to the point of building plain houses of worship, and have talked much upon economy, and its necessity in order to advance the work in this field. The hard times which are felt in America have made a serious impression in Australia. But notwithstanding the hard times, we felt it was essential to have a campmeeting in Melbourne before we could leave this country. We felt that, as far as it was consistent with our circumstances, we must make all things in the campmeeting after the divine order, so as to leave the right impression upon the people as to what constitutes a campmeeting after God's plan, that it should give character to our work. We knew this was right; but all such advanced movements involve expense. Tents had to be made, yet every arrangement was planned after the strictest economy. We planned closely, and studied economy in every part, feeling that each one was connected with all, and the whole assembly to God. Some of us who know, had a realization of the fact that we were devising and planning under the supervision of heavenly intelligences. Angels were viewing the care taken by the workers, the neat, tasty appearance of the tents, and the orderly arrangement of the grounds. They saw the effort made rightly to represent us as a people, and the truth we believe.
In this first campmeeting in Australia we felt that we must have everything arranged in a manner that would be approved of God; for we were a spectacle unto the world, who knew us not, and to angels, and to men. We were regarded as a peculiar people by the world. In the sight of God we are regarded as a peculiar people in a different sense from that in which the world regards us. "For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all the people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them; he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them." "But 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."
We knew that all heaven was interested in our preparation for the campmeeting, and the Lord had promised to be our Counselor, if we would be guided by him in all things. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye". In the order of our camp we were to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness, into his marvelous light. The effect upon the people was more than we had dared to expect. The whole encampment left an impression upon those who visited it that the truth was of great importance, and that the missionary spirit is the true spirit of the gospel. Thus we did honor to our cause; but above all we honored God in doing his will, and in making so favorable an impression on the people.
Our people who encamped on the ground, sought to make the visitors as welcome as possible, and thus testified to them that they were seeking to follow Christ. It is the privilege of everyone to have a drawing influence, through the endowment of the Holy Spirit. The Christian is to have an atmosphere surrounding his soul that shall be full of pleasantness, courtesy, and kindness, and represent the Spirit of Christ. These qualities of character are to be perseveringly cherished, and employed in the work of God, giving character to that work in representing Christ to the world. Human influence, deriving its efficacy from heaven, is ordained of God as an instrumentality by which the transforming, sanctifying power of the truth may be demonstrated.
The Lord is dishonored with anything that is done in connection with his service, in a lax, slipshod manner. In everything concerning the campmeeting we desired to show that the influence of the truth was an uplifting influence, and that it fashioned the heart, the manner, and the taste of the human agent after the divine similitude. This we sought to do as far as it lay in our power. We have had a decided purpose not to merge our ways and conform our habits and practices to the mold of the habits and practices of the colonials. God would not be pleased to have us do this, and catch up their sentiments, their manners of speech, and method of pronunciation. Christ is our model, and we are to change our reason, our affections, our speech, our habits, according to his divine example, rather than seek to meet the customs, practices, and habits of education of any nation. We are to receive our mold from Christ. He is to see himself in the character of his followers. We are to copy his Spirit, to have our lives hid with Christ in God. In every true believer the character of Christ is to be reproduced. The Spirit of Christ is to be made manifest through human efforts. As those who have been transformed by the truth come in contact with others who have had a false education, and have received perverted ideas, they are to represent Christ, in order that the deficiencies of those who have had but little experience may disappear, and the mold of Christ may be seen upon them. The followers of Christ are to represent his tenderness, his courtesy, and his love toward others. His solicitude for human souls is to be reproduced in those who believe in him. They are to lift Christ up in order that he may draw all unto him. The world should see a representative of Christ in each of his believers.
It is not in the power of those who have named the name of Jesus to give him more than is his own. He has bought every human agent with an infinite price, and we are his property for both time and eternity. He owns every moment of our time, and our gifts of reason and talent belong to him. We cannot glorify God unless we express our obligation to him. Every soul converted to the truth, not only takes the name of Christian, but is under the responsibility of putting on Christ in spirit, in word, and in conduct. This invests him with the same kind of influence as had the one who through the power of the Holy Spirit led him into the light of truth. Then the likeness of Christ appears in his character; and he is a laborer together with God, and draws souls by the divine power of the grace that has been imparted to him.
Christ took humanity upon him. He was our substitute and surety. He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. . . . For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth; and he will show him greater works than these; that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #40)
God is King, he is high and lifted up, and the train of his glory fills the temple. God is to be feared, he alone is to be worshiped. His laws are holy, the foundation of his government in heaven and earth. How weak and foolish is the position taken by finite opposers of his government, as they declare that the law of the Governor of all intelligences is abolished. Who put these words into the mouth of men? Certainly it is not the One who is mighty in counsel; for God will never contradict himself.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward." One act of disobedience against the law of God on the part of the responsible human agent, could not be outweighed by a recompense of all the honors and kingdoms of this world. Yet Satan will present his most alluring temptations, and use his most deceptive arguments in order to persuade men to make void the commandments of God. Our only safety is in following the example of Christ, and meeting the tempter with, "It is written."
It would be wisdom on our part to make a study of the temptations of Christ in the wilderness, and with humble, contrite hearts, seek to understand their import, and learn their significance to us as individuals. It is not safe for us to enter into controversy with Satan, or to linger to contemplate the advantages to be reaped by yielding to his suggestions. Sin is blinding and deceiving in its nature. Disobedience to God's commandments is too terrible to be contemplated for a moment. Sin means dishonor and disaster to every soul that indulges in transgression of God's holy law, which is immutable.
Although the consequences and the penalty of transgression of God's law have been clearly presented in the word of truth, many are proving disloyal to the God of heaven, and are teaching their children and the world at large by both precept and example, that the law of God is no longer binding upon the human family. Thus they are cutting souls adrift from the great moral standard of righteousness. In the near future it will be demonstrated that it would be better never to have been born than to have been a transgressor of God's holy law; for disobedience means dishonor and disaster. Light is being presented from the Scriptures on this vital question, and those who give no heed to the light will have to suffer the fatal consequences of their indifference to the heavenly message.
God has seen fit plainly to present in his holy word the consequences of the sin of Adam, which opened the floodgates of woe upon our world, that men might be warned not to do as did Adam. The penalty of sin is death; and to listen to the deceitful temptations of Satan, to venture in the path of transgression, is to imperil the soul. We are not to follow the words of men, however wise they may appear to be, unless their testimony is in harmony with a "thus saith the Lord." Temptations will come to us in the most seductive guise, but it is at our peril that we turn from the plain command of God to follow the assertions of men. To follow the word of the Lord, to embrace the truth, involves cross-bearing and self-denial; but it is not safe to do otherwise than to bear the cross. As you see the light, walk in the light. Let a solemn, unalterable purpose take possession of you, and resolve in the strength and grace of God, that henceforth you will live for him, and that no earthly consideration shall persuade you to disown the divine law of ten commandments, and thus disown your Saviour and your God. Seek your counsel of God, and you will find that the path of obedience to his commandments is the path of the just, that "shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
The first step in the path of obedience is to surrender the will to God. This may seem a difficult thing to do; for Satan will present every possible objection, and will manufacture difficulties, and magnify perplexities before the mind; but take the first step, and the next step on the ladder of progress will be easier. The ladder of progress must be climbed round by round; but God is above the ladder, and his glory will illuminate every step of advancement. The path of faith and self-denial is an upward path; its way is heavenward, and as you advance, the misleading clouds of doubt and evil will be left behind.
No one need be blinded by any delusion. He who makes the word of God his guide and counselor, and will listen to no voice that would lead him to take the words of men instead of that word, will always dwell safely. Let him bring the principles of the law of God into his life to regulate and control his conduct, and his life will be a success. He will grasp the righteousness of Christ by faith, and becoming a partaker of the divine nature, will thus become a doer of the divine law.
Nothing but willing obedience on the part of those who profess to love God is acceptable in his sight. He has given to every man his work; but that work is in nowise of such a nature that the worker must needs show disrespect to any of the requirements of God's law. The wisdom and glory of every man's life is to make the ways and the will of God his will and his ways, and every one who takes a course that leads away from obedience to the law of God will meet with disappointment in his plans, failure in his life, and will suffer the loss of his soul at last. Who can afford thus to do? There is no madness in our world so disastrous as that which leads men to live in rebellion against God. We are now deciding our destiny for both time and eternity.
God has given us probationary time in order that it may be made manifest whether we will be loyal, obedient children, rendering obedience to his commandments, his statutes, and his laws, or whether we will persist in following a course of disobedience, and prove ourselves unworthy of eternal life. Those who will be doers of the words of Christ will have their names written in the Lamb's book of life; but those who will not obey God's law after light has come to them from the holy Scriptures, will be written among those whose fate is to perish. For those who choose to follow the traditions of men, and are willing to be turned from the truth of God unto fables, and who train themselves to walk away from the path of God's commandments, and will not listen to the law of God, but take up with the vain excuses devised by man to continue in disobedience, would not listen to the voice of God in the heavenly courts, and would bring rebellion a second time into heaven. When the Father speaks, they hear him not; but their ears are open to hear the suggestions of the enemy of God and man.
God has waited long, and he is waiting still, to have the beings that are his by both creation and redemption, listen to his voice, and obey him as loving, submissive children, whose desire is to be near his side, and to have the light of his countenance shining upon them. We are to bear the third angel's message to the world, warning men against the worship of the beast and his image, and directing them to take their places in the ranks of those who "keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus." God has not revealed to us the time when this message will close, or when probation will have an end. Those things that are revealed we shall accept for ourselves and for our children; but let us not seek to know that which has been kept secret in the councils of the Almighty. It is our duty to watch and work and wait, to labor every moment for the souls of men that are ready to perish. We are to keep walking continually in the footsteps of Jesus, working in his lines, dispensing his gifts as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Satan will be ready to give to anyone who is not learning every day of Jesus, a special message of his own creating, in order to make of no effect the wonderful truth for this time.
Letters have come to me asking me if I have any special light as to the time when probation will close; and I answer that I have only this message to bear, that it is now time to work while the day lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work. Now, just now, it is time for us to be watching, working, and waiting. The word of the Lord reveals the fact that the end of all things is at hand, and its testimony is most decided that it is necessary for every soul to have the truth planted in the heart so that it will control the life and sanctify the character. The Spirit of the Lord is working to take the truth of the inspired word and stamp it upon the soul so that the professed followers of Christ will have a holy, sacred joy that they will be able to impart to others. The opportune time for us to work is now, just now, while the day lasts. But there is no command for anyone to search the Scripture in order to ascertain, if possible, when probation will close. God has no such message for any mortal lips. He would have no mortal tongue declare that which he has hidden in his secret councils.
We are to be laborers together with God, and to follow Jesus' method of teaching. We are to be busy, to be weighted with the last message of mercy to a perishing world. We are to have the truth planted in the heart, and teach it to others as it is in Jesus. The world is in a very solemn period; for souls are deciding what will be their eternal destiny. Satan and his angels are continually plotting to make void the law of God, and thus to enslave the souls of men in the toils of sin. The darkness which is covering the earth is deepening, but those who walk humbly with God have nothing to fear. No one but Christ can save a single soul. But who are willing to be co-laborers with Christ? We are to see far more done in the world than has yet been done. The reason why more has not been done in the past is that men have held so firmly to themselves, and have thought that they were capable of doing some great thing. Satan tempted them because they were self-sufficient.
The truth must be preached in its purity; for the speculations and suppositions of men and boasted eloquence, will amount to nothing in these days. What we must have is the converting, transforming power of the Spirit of God upon life and character, and we must become as little children. The Lord says to his workers, "A new heart will I give you." O, what a work might be accomplished if everyone who attempts to hold forth the word of life would do so in sincerity and truth, having learned and continuing to learn, of Jesus! What a work might be accomplished if the teachers of truth knew how to hide self in Jesus, so that Christ and not self might appear! O that all who profess the name of Christ would draw out their souls after God with yearning desire that they might be filled with his Holy Spirit.
The whole heart is to be given to God, else the truth of God will fail to have a sanctifying effect on life and character. But it is a sad fact that many who profess the name of Christ have never given their hearts to him in simplicity. They have never experienced the contrition of an entire surrender to the claims of Christianity, and the consequence is that the transforming power of the truth is not in their lives; the deep, softening influence of the love of Christ is not made manifest in life and character. But what a work of feeding the flock of God might be done if the undershepherds were crucified with Christ, and were living unto God to cooperate with the Chief Shepherd of the flock! Christ calls upon men to work as he worked. There is need of a deeper, stronger, more constraining testimony on the power of the truth as seen in the practical godliness of those who profess to believe it. The love of the Saviour in the soul will lead to a decided change in the manner in which workers labor for the souls of those who are perishing. When truth occupies the citadel of the soul, Christ is enthroned in the heart, and the human agent can then say, "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." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #41)
"Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it."
Those who will be accounted worthy of an entrance into the city of God, will in character be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. So that He who is the Truth, in whose mouth there was no guile, will be able to say to them, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," and will be justified in saying, "Thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Goodness and faithfulness must be found combined in the characters of those who are to inherit eternal life. The Lord cannot commend in this manner those who take pride in doing injustice, in dealing sharply with men who are related as brethren in the church, or with unbelievers. This kind of dealings is not after God's business standard, but after the standard of the world, and must be repented of by those who would enter into the kingdom of heaven.
There are men and women whose cold, unimpressible hearts have not kindled and glowed under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Message after message has come to them, but they have not heeded the warning, and reformed their evil practices. The Lord Jesus, who is the judge of every man, will inquire in reference to many hardhearted, selfish, scheming transactions, "Who hath required this at your hand?" The spirit, the character, you have manifested has not been at all after the Pattern I have given you in my life and character, when I was upon the earth. Why have you not denied self, lifted the cross, and followed me? Your character is not after the divine similitude, but after the similitude of the character of the prince of evil; because mercy and the love of God have not been manifested. Heaven would be imperiled if any such unholy characters were to enter heaven; for you do not reflect the divine attributes of goodness, mercy, and love.
By beholding you may become changed into the divine image. Jesus has given the parable of the lost sheep for our study. The true Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, and goes into the desert at any expense and suffering to himself, in order that he may find the sheep that was lost. When he finds it, he brings it back with rejoicing. How many of the wandering and lost sheep have you sought for, and brought back to the fold with a heart full of pitying tenderness, forgiveness, and love? How many words of encouragement have you spoken to the wandering sheep, that have cost you pain, anxiety, and much inconvenience? Have you cherished a spirit to upbraid, to reproach, and to whip the poor wanderers back to the fold? or have you spoken soothing words of hope, courage, and pardon, bearing the wanderer home on your shoulders, rejoicing at every step, and saying, "Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep that was lost"?
Jesus says to you, I have given to you the parable of the prodigal son, and how has it influenced your course of action? Have you felt tender sympathy for the erring one? As you have seen him awakening to a sense of the degradation that sin has brought upon him, have you spoken to him words of encouragement and hope? Have you had a sense of his suffering from remorse as he saw the years that he had lost? and have your tears fallen with his as he wept in penitence? Did you descry him afar off, and run forth to meet him with pity and gladness and love in your voice and heart, rejoicing that the poor, sin sick soul was repenting and returning to his father's house, even as I rejoiced to welcome you to my pardoning love? I went to meet you when you were lost; I welcomed you; I took you in my arms; I wept over you. Have you followed my example? Have you welcomed the prodigal to the fold? Have you accepted his repentance, and rejoiced over his return?
How many manifest the spirit of the elder brother, who looked with coldness on the return of the prodigal, and instead of giving him a welcome, reproached those who rejoiced over his return as one who was undeserving and who had cost much trouble. Look at the two figures in the parable, and see whether you are manifesting a spirit similar to that of the self-righteous elder brother, who was full of envy, jealousy, evil surmising, and hatred toward the one whom the father received so graciously. In which class would the Lord Jesus reckon you were you on the ground where such a scene was enacted? These parables have a practical meaning that many do not discern.
Study the life and character of Christ, and seek to imitate his example. The unconsecrated course of some of those who claim to be believers in the third angel's message, has resulted in driving some of the poor sheep into the desert; and who is it that has manifested a shepherd's care for the lost and wandering? Is it not time to be Christians in practice as well as profession? What benevolence, what compassion, what tender sympathy, Jesus has manifested toward suffering humanity! The heart that beats in unison with his great heart of infinite love will give sympathy to every needy soul, and will make it manifest that he has the mind of Christ. "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." Every suffering soul has a claim upon the sympathy of others, and those who are imbued with the love of Christ, filled with his pity, tenderness, and compassion, will respond to every appeal to their sympathy. They will not say, when an appeal is made to them in behalf of those who are perishing out of Christ, "This does not concern me." They will not act the part of the elder brother, but will manifest personal interest and sympathy. They will follow the example of their Master, and will go out to seek and to save that which was lost, obeying the Saviour's words when he said, "Love one another as I have loved you." Every soul who attempts to retrace his wanderings and return to God, needs the help of those who have a tender, pitying heart of Christlike love.
We are not to meet misery and repentance with censure, reproach, with suspicion, distrust, and jealousy, as the elder brother is represented as meeting the repenting prodigal; but we are to welcome the wanderer as he returns to his Father's house with the same compassion and sympathy as Jesus manifested toward us when we sought his pardoning love. He met lost humanity with infinite love. He encircled the perishing, wandering soul in the arms of his mercy, and connected sinful man with his own divine nature, and adopted the child of humanity into his own royal family. He presents this example to you, and says, Go thou and do likewise. When human agents become doers of the words and works of Christ, joy is created throughout the unfallen universe, and songs of rejoicing resound through all the heavenly worlds.
The Lord has committed his goods to the charge of his human agents, and he expects that they will trade upon them. He has given to the trust of his people the fatherless and the widow, and yet souls have been left to perish for the want of personal sympathy and labor. But your neglect of one soul is registered in heaven as neglect of Christ. Jesus has paid the ransom for every soul, and he has identified his interest with that of the weakest and most erring. What befalls the children of men, touches Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. He reproved his own nation for the way in which they treated their fellowmen, and gave them to understand that an abuse inflicted upon the weakest and most sinful, was counted as a personal abuse to himself, the Lord of heaven. The favors shown to the poor and wretched and sinful, were also counted as personal favors to himself, to be remembered and rewarded hereafter. Christ has not left us in darkness as to what are our privilege and duty to our fellowmen, but through various parables and illustrations has presented our obligation to others. He has unfolded before us the scenes of the last great day, when all men are to be arraigned before his tribunal; and the treatment given to the least of his brethren is, according to its nature, commended or condemned by the sentence: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Or, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of them, ye did it not to me."
Christ is our substitute and surety; he stands before God in the place of humanity, and he is affected as his weakest follower is affected. The sympathy of Christ is such that he cannot be an indifferent spectator of his children's sufferings. The heart of him who gave his life for humanity is touched by the wound, however slight, that is given to one of his followers by the spirit revealed in the word or action of another. Let us bear in mind that Christ is the great central heart from which the lifeblood flows to every part of the great body of humanity. He is the head from which extend the nerves that reach even to the most minute and most remote parts of the body. When one member of the body with which Christ is so mystically connected, suffers, the throb of pain is felt by our Saviour.
Will the church arouse? Will her members come into sympathy with Christ, so that they will have his tenderness for all the sheep and lambs of the fold? For their sake the Majesty of heaven made himself of no reputation; for them he came to a world all seared and marred with the curse. He toiled day and night to instruct, to elevate, to bring to everlasting joy a thankless and disobedient people. For their sake he became poor, that they through his poverty might become rich. For them he denied himself; for them he endured privation, scorn, contempt, suffering, and death; for them he took the form of a servant. Christ is our pattern, shall we copy him? Shall we not have a care for God's heritage? Shall we not cherish tender compassion for the erring, the tempted, and the tried?
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
How much of this work has been left undone. But will not the members of our churches take hold in earnest of these matters? God will work with those who will give him a chance. Look after the orphans and the widows and the poor, and see that no wandering one is left in the desert to perish for the want of personal labor and sympathy. Let the peace of God abide in your hearts by faith; and be ye thankful. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #42)
The children of God are commanded, "As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. . . . And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear."
Never was there a time when we needed more special connection with God than at the present time; for there is a constant tendency in human nature that makes men lean on their own understanding. Men trust in men, leaving God out of life and character. There must be more earnest efforts to live out the life of Christ, and the advocates of the truth must learn not to lean upon any man or set of men. There must be repentance of sins, Christlike meekness, and lowliness of heart. Men must be found who have an individual experience, who cannot be enticed from the path of right, of justice, of meekness, of patience, of forbearance, of Christian courtesy. Men must be found who will not manifest anything but a Christlike spirit when opposed by talkative, open-mouthed men who put light for darkness and darkness for light. Men are needed in this time who know that the evidences which God has given are to be relied upon in the face of all the assertions that will come from the enemies of the faith. Talk is very cheap; it is a common article of commerce, and is much more largely dealt in than is prayer or the words that God has spoken through his chosen apostles and prophets.
We may have faith in men who profess to be followers of Christ, only as we see that they are meeting God's great standard of righteousness, not some ideal of their own, but that they are actually copying the perfection of the character of Jesus Christ.
Let not any man feel that the work of God is under his special guardianship; but realize that it is under the control of Omniscience. The Lord will choose men for these times who will be workers together with him. He will choose men of resolute minds, who will follow his guidance, and act in harmony with the great I AM; who will be actuated by heroic principles, and will accomplish the will of God in preventing evil and promoting good in the world. Privations, trials, and hardships will not discourage them; but they will stand forth as examples of undaunted devotion. It is this class that to all intents and purposes are the defenders of the faith once delivered to the saints. In times of proving and trial, in the day of trouble such as never was, it will be revealed who have builded their characters from material that will stand the test. God's true workmen will be forced to speak the truth and unmask hypocrisy and deception in defending every portion of the word of God. Accusation upon accusation from men of high position will come against those who would be true to God, and they will be compelled to stand in defense of the truth. But the servants of the Lord will be men of opportunity, of energy and tact, and will be ready to promote the interests of truth under every circumstance. They will not be selfish, self-important, self-sufficient persons; they will be men who have the mind of Christ. They will be kind, affectionate, loving, prompt, tender, yet resolute. They will be God-fearing men, and in the face of opposition they will move forward, firm and steadfast, to defend Bible truth. Such men will press the triumphs of the cross of Christ to the very end of the conflict. They will boldly, and yet in the Spirit of Christ, confront the agents of Satan who will seek to suppress religious liberty, and they will not give place to them for an hour.
There will be those, who, after a feeble resistance, will yield one point of truth after another. The reason they will do this is that they have never valued truth as they should. They have never enthroned the truth in the inner sanctuary of the heart, and they have not been sanctified through the truth. They will give way to the powers that be, and render obedience to men rather than to God. But those who stand firm to the truth will answer those who demand their surrender to the traditions of men and their compliance with the custom of the majority, that they owe allegiance to a higher authority than that of the State. They will declare that they cannot set aside the Sabbath of the great Creator for a manmade institution. They will declare that as partakers of the divine nature, they are placed in a position where the ordinances of men, when conflicting with the commands of God, are of no force nor value. Those who are empowered with authority will say to them as they said to Paul, "Thou art beside thyself;" and when persuasion and entreaty are in vain, heavier pressure will be brought to bear, and the steadfastness of Christ's followers will be tested to the uttermost. Every conceivable device that men and demons can invent will be brought to bear against them to overcome them; but those who have learned how to cling to God will not abate one jot or tittle of truth.
The fact that times of trouble and persecution are before the people of God must not deter them in the least from proclaiming the truth. They are to proclaim the truth because it is truth. Gems of thought are to be gathered up and redeemed from their companionship with error; for by their misplacement in the association of error, the Author of truth has been dishonored. The precious gems of the righteousness of Christ, and truths of divine origin, are to be carefully searched out and placed in their proper setting, to shine with heavenly brilliancy amid the moral darkness of the world. Let the bright jewels of truth which God gave to man, to adorn and exalt his name, be carefully rescued from the rubbish of error, where they have been claimed by those who have been transgressors of the law, and have served the purposes of the great deceiver on account of their connection with error. Let the gems of divine light be reset in the framework of the gospel. Let nothing be lost of the precious light that comes from the throne of God. It has been misapplied, and cast aside as worthless; but it is heaven-sent, and each gem is to become the property of God's people and find its true position in the framework of truth. Precious jewels of light are to be collected, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit they are to be fitted into the gospel system. God has poured his Spirit upon his servants, and qualified them to use their ability and talent in revealing truth to those who sit in darkness; but the very ability God has given by which to reveal truth to others, men, perverting their talents, employ to deceive; for they use their gifts as did Satan when he deceived the angels of heaven, and exalt self, causing their God-given abilities to administer to their own glory. These become confused by error, their minds are darkened by the enemy, and the truths which God imparted to them are buried by them in a mass of error, or basely perverted to serve the cause of evil. But these heaven-given rays of light are not to be lost to the world. These truths are to be as a lamp unto our feet, and as a light unto our path. It is these gems that will give attractiveness to the gospel plan, and they are to shine as stars amid the moral darkness of the world.
Jesus has said, "Gather up the fragments, . . . that nothing be lost." Many have seen no further meaning in this than the gathering up of the fragments after the feeding of the five thousand; but in all the teachings of Jesus spiritual applications are to be made. When he said, "Gather up the fragments," it was as if he bade them mark all his teachings, gather up every fragment of truth, and of the light which he has given, to let nothing be lost. Open up the truth to others and let every fragment have its place. In dignity and simplicity speak that which your Master has spoken to you, and present that which he has taught you by his daily walk and conversation. Hold up his life and example to those with whom you associate. He has filled every position, from the humblest to the most exalted, with acceptance to the Father, and you are to gather up the fragments of his words and works, that nothing be lost. As you advance heavenward, make use of every common, everyday habit and custom to illustrate truth, and in every calling, however menial, live out the life of Christ. In this way you will be to men a continual revelation of what Christ would have men be in your position.
The great plan of human redemption is as yet but faintly understood, because men do not place themselves in the divine channel of light. There is too much following of men, and limiting the light by men's opinions and traditions. The wonderful truth of God is to be sought out by every mind, and the results of many minds are to be brought together from many sources as God's hereditary trust, and the divine power will work in such a way that true harmony will exist. In the revelation of Christ to the world the necessity of men will be met, and the work of God will move forward with beautiful harmony, as truth is disclosed to the world. Through careful study, through prayerful meditation, men will be enabled to place the truth before men in simplicity, so that the humblest minds can comprehend it, can receive it, and become elevated through its sanctifying influence, if they will but appropriate it, and practice its principles in their daily lives.
Through all ages God has spoken and worked by human instrumentalities. God has given to men their faculties, and he expects them to use them and by use to improve their abilities. They are to employ these faculties in rescuing truth from the rubbish of error where it has been made to serve the cause of the great adversary. The gems of truth are imperishable, and the Lord would have them gathered up and placed in their proper relation, that they may embellish and adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour. Truth is to be communicated from one human agent to another and to be molded into the life and character of those who receive it, in order that glory may redound to God. Truth that has found its proper setting, flashes brilliant rays of divine light into darkened minds, and meets the wants and necessities of the minds and hearts of fallen men who could not be reached by any other agency. It is by living out the truth in human life that souls are to be reached. As the Son of God in human form was perfect in his life, so he requires that his followers shall be perfect in their lives. He was made in all things like unto his brethren. He hungered, he thirsted, he was weary, he slept, he wept, and yet he was the blameless Son of God, he was God in the flesh. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin, and we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows how to succor those that are tempted. In living out the truth of God, man is continually assured that supernatural help will be granted to him, and that while he retains his human nature, yet through an unseen agency he receives the impress of the divine nature through the truth as it is in Jesus. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #43)
Jesus said, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Those who follow Jesus will be laborers together with God. They will not walk in darkness, but will find the true path where Jesus, the Light of the world, leads the way; and as they bend their steps Zionward, moving on in faith, they will attain unto a bright experience in the things of God. The mission of Christ, so dimly understood, so faintly comprehended, that called him from the throne of God to the mystery of the altar of the cross of Calvary, will more and more unfold to the mind, and it will be seen that in the sacrifice of Christ are found the spring and principle of every other mission of love. It is the love of Christ which has been the incentive of every true missionary worker in cities, in towns, in the highways and the byways of the world.
The church of Christ has been organized on earth for missionary purposes, and it is of the highest importance that every individual member of the church should be a sincere laborer together with God, filled with the Spirit, having the mind of Christ, perfected in sympathy with Christ, and therefore bending every energy according to his intrusted ability to the saving of souls. Christ requires that everyone who would be called by his name should make his work the first and highest consideration, and disinterestedly cooperate with heavenly intelligences in saving the perishing for whom Christ has died.
To misapply means or influence or any intrusted capital of mind or body, is to rob God and to rob the world; for it is turning the energies into another channel than that in which God designed they should move for the salvation of the world. When Christ was here upon earth, he sent out his disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God throughout Judea, and in this example, he clearly revealed that it is the duty of his people throughout all time to impart to others the knowledge they have of the way, the life, and the truth. In all his labors Jesus sought to train his church for missionary work, and as their numbers increased, their mission would extend, until eventually the gospel message would belt the world through their ministrations.
Jesus taught his followers that they were debtors both to the Jews and the Greeks, to the wise and the unwise, and gave them to understand that race distinction, caste, and lines of division made by man, were not approved of Heaven, and were to have no influence in the work of disseminating the gospel. The disciples of Christ were not to make distinctions between their neighbors and their enemies, but they were to regard every man as a neighbor who needed help, and they were to look upon the world as their field of labor, seeking to save the lost. Jesus has given to every man his work, taking him from the narrow circle which his selfishness has prescribed, annihilating territorial lines, and all artificial distinctions of society; he marks off no limited boundary for missionary zeal, but bids his followers extend their labors to the uttermost parts of the earth. He says to them, "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." The field of labor presents one vast community of human beings who are in the darkness of error, who are filled with longing, who are praying to One they know not. They need to hear the voice of those who are laborers together with God, saying to them, as Paul said to the Athenians, "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."
The members of the church of Christ are to be faithful workers in the great harvest field. They are to be diligently working and earnestly praying, making progress, and diffusing light amid the moral darkness of the world; for are not the angels of heaven imparting to them divine inspiration? They are never to think of, and much less to speak of, failure in their work. They are not to fail nor to be discouraged. They are to be filled with hope, knowing that they do not rely upon human ability or upon finite resources, but upon the promised divine aid, the ministry of heavenly agencies who are pledged to open the way before them. The promise is given, "Thy righteousness shall go before thee." We of ourselves have no righteousness. We have only that righteousness which is imparted from Christ, the fountain of righteousness. He is "the Lord our righteousness." Angels of God will break the way before us, preparing hearts for the gospel message, and the promised power will accompany the laborer, and "the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward."
We are all under obligation to deny self daily for Christ's sake. Jesus says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me;" "whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." As we call upon God at every step, pleading for divine wisdom as we advance, seeking for light and grace in order that under all and in every circumstance we shall do unto others as we would that they should do unto us were we in their place, we shall feel the necessity of fulfilling the broad and deep requirements of the holy law of God. Thus shall we lose sight of self, and looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we shall lay upon the foundation deeds of mercy, benevolence, compassion, and love, which are compared to gold, silver, and precious stones, which the fires of the last days cannot consume. The Lord Jesus is our efficiency in all things; his Spirit is to be our inspiration; and as we place ourselves in his hands to be channels of light, our means of doing good will never be exhausted; for the resources of the power of Jesus Christ are to be at our command. We may draw upon his fullness, and receive of that grace which has no limit. The Captain of our salvation at every step would teach us that almighty power is at the demand of living faith. He says, "Without me ye can do nothing;" but again declares that "greater works than these shall ye do; because I go unto my Father."
We are to pray without ceasing. In supplicating the throne of grace in the name of Christ, the promise is sure, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." When you make God your trust, when you call upon him with your whole heart, he will be found of you. "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am."
Souls are to be gathered as sheaves to Jesus Christ; but where are the reapers? Christ has commanded, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Not only is there a need of reapers, but of other agencies that will work in various lines according to their ability. Every kind of labor is to be devised and set in operation. Every follower of Christ is to do something in the work, and not to do what you can, is to manifest indifference to the claims of Christ. If you refuse to be a faithful steward working under the Master, then you are following the directions of another leader, and ranging yourself with those who are warring against God. Christ said, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." If we are not active in the service of Christ, we are ranking with those who are in positive hostility against him; for we are in the position of stumblingblocks. Every means of influence that God has given you should be employed to the utmost.
Listen to the voice of Jesus as it comes sounding down along the lines to our time, addressing the professed Christian who stands idle in the marketplace: "Why stand ye here all the day idle? . . . Go ye also into the vineyard." Work while it is day; for the night cometh in which no man can work. The Lord has given to every man talents according to his several ability; but he does not expect the man with the one talent to do the work of the man with the five talents. Jesus designs that each one of us shall train our powers, feeling that they are the property of Christ, and that life itself, as the purchase and gift of Christ, is of great value. Character must be held as sacred because it is Christ's purchased possession, and every power is to be kept in subordination to him. The entire influence of the disciple of Christ, from the moment he takes his position under the bloodstained banner of Immanuel, is to be exerted for Christ. "Ye are laborers together with God." No one is at liberty to say, "This will I do, and no more," and set limits to his endeavors. It is enough for him to know that he is Christ's servant, and that the ransom money has been paid for his soul, and that every jot and tittle of his power and wisdom is the gift of God, and not an inheritance to be used to please and glorify himself, but to be employed as God shall see fit,--to be laid under contribution to God. You are to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #44)
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." To be connected with Jesus Christ is an exalted privilege. He who understands that he is not his own, but that he belongs to Christ, and keeps his eye fixed upon him, grows into oneness with him, and has the mind of Christ. Through this connection he is led to improve his talents, his influence widens, and he becomes responsible not only for his original talent, but for that which he has gained through a wise use of that which was at first given. He who has two talents is not only accountable to God for what has been given him, but for what he may gain; for he is to render to the Lord interest on his intrusted capital. He is not to study selfish gratification, but to deny himself for Christ's sake, who gave every day of his life for the saving of the soul.
Jesus does not present to his followers the hope of attaining earthly glory and riches, and of having a life free from trial; but he presents to them the privilege of walking with their Master in the path of suffering, self-denial, and reproach because the world knoweth them not. He does not hold out to them any false hopes of living at ease. He takes them to an eminence and shows them the confederacy of evil arrayed against them under the leadership of Satan, the great adversary. But while showing to them the foes with which they will have to contend, he also assures them that they will not have to fight alone. They will have the fellowship of heavenly intelligences, and though the world lieth in darkness, they are to catch the radiance from the throne of God, and diffuse the light of heaven amid the moral darkness of the world.
Not only are they to shine to illuminate the immediate darkness, but through the united endeavors of the church of Christ they are to be the light of the world. It was the object kept in view through all Christ's ministry that the church should be united in one, and be one with himself and the Father in the great work of recovering souls from the slavery of sin and the dominion of Satan, to translate them into the kingdom of God. In this work he encourages them with the thought that heavenly intelligences will mingle with their ranks, and at every point of danger the mighty Captain of their salvation will be present to strengthen them with his might, and to lead them on to success. Just before his ascension, Christ gave his last commission to his disciples. As he was about to leave the earth and enter the portals of heaven, he said: "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Christ urges again and again upon his disciples the obligation to make known the gospel to the world. When within one step of the throne of God, he opened their understanding, that they might know the Scriptures, repeating again the old commandment to go forth and preach the message of salvation. And he said unto them: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." The great work committed to them required great efficiency, even the endowment of the Holy Spirit; for the tide of evil ran strong against them. A determined, vigilant leader was in command of the agencies of evil, and the followers of Christ could resist and overcome the powers of darkness only through the help that God could give them. But through the power of the Holy Spirit they were to be successful witnesses of Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. Beginning at Jerusalem, they were to widen the scene of their operations until all nations should hear the sound of the gospel.
In the plan of Christ for the enlightenment of the world, there is, first, home missionary work to be done. The disciples were to begin at Jerusalem, though it would be the very darkest field for their operations. The most unpromising fields are those where much light has been given. Peculiar dangers will beset the feet of him who carries the lamp of life, searching for hidden jewels among the dark rubbish of earth. Yet Christ directed them to do this work, and assured them that they would be under the shield of Omnipotence, as they worked first for those nigh at hand, and afterward for those who were afar off. He bade them to strengthen their forces by uniting, and by working as one, as he and the Father were one, and said: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Thus the Lord Jesus makes every provision whereby the aggressive work may be carried on both nigh at hand and afar off, and he takes upon himself the responsibility of conducting the warfare, of supplying the qualifications, and of eventually giving success to his great missionary enterprise.
The last words of Christ were, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." And spreading his hands above them in benediction, he ascended to heaven, surrounded by hosts of heavenly angels who had come to escort him on his way to the portals of God. His last commission to his disciples made them the agents whereby his gospel of glad tidings was to go to the nations. This was Christ's last will and testament to his followers who walked with him during the years of his earthly ministry, and to those who should believe on him through their word. His first work in heaven was in harmony with his last commission on earth; for he sent the promise of the Father upon them. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the praying disciples, and they testified as to its source to all, wherever they went.
The missionary spirit was poured out in unlimited supplies, and the disciples testified of a crucified and risen Saviour, and convinced the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. They did just as their risen Lord had directed them to do, and began at Jerusalem to publish the gospel, in the very place where the deepest prejudice existed, and where the most confused ideas prevailed in regard to Him who had been crucified as a malefactor. Three thousand received the message, and were converted. They were not intimidated through persecution, imprisonment, and death; but they continued to speak with all boldness the words of truth, setting before the Jews the work and mission and ministry of Christ, his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension; and believers were added daily to the Lord, both of men and women. It was demonstrated that angels were in the assemblies of the saints, and their presence was made visible to some of the soldiers of Christ. "The high priest rose up, and they 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 angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors and brought them forth." The priests and rulers had forbidden them to speak any more in the name of Jesus; but what said the heavenly messenger? "Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." When Peter was held in prison to be offered the next day as a sacrifice for his faith, angels of heaven came and opened the strongly barred gates, wakened Peter, and led him forth to be a witness for the Master.
We have everything to encourage us in engaging in the work of the Lord, in seeking to save souls for whom Christ died. What we need is wholehearted missionaries, who will give themselves to the work of God without reserve, and work for those who are nigh, and for those who are afar off. Now is the time to cooperate with the angels of heaven in bringing the light of present truth before the people. Wake up, brethren and sisters; for the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work. While mercy still lingers, go forth to rescue souls that are perishing, lest while you linger, it become everlastingly too late. "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #45)
The Lord sends his blessing and manifests his love to the children of men. "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust," and yet how rarely is the Lord thanked, how seldom is his praise upon human lips! How few are found to testify to his lovingkindness, and to acknowledge his mercies to the children of men! How many families fail to retain God in their knowledge! The blessings of the Lord surround parents and children, and they are provided with temporal necessities, yet they do not accept them as gifts in trust, nor do they regard themselves as stewards of the grace of Christ. They do not respond to God's liberality, and return to the Lord a portion of his intrusted goods in tithes, gifts, and offerings, thus acknowledging their dependence upon God, and manifesting gratitude for his wonderful mercies toward them. Every earthly wish may be gratified, and yet men pass on as did the ungrateful lepers who had been cleansed and healed of their obnoxious disease. These lepers had been restored to health by Christ, and the parts that had been destroyed by the disease were recreated; but only one, on finding himself made whole, returned to give God glory, and Christ asked, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?"
Why does not every converted soul speak forth the praise of God? Why is it that the recipients of God's continual favors do not give more ready expression to their gratitude? Why is it that the heart is not pure, and filled with thankfulness to God? David says: "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." "Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; . . . worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." "I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee; I will sing praise to thy name, O thou Most High." "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations." "Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth; the generation of the upright shall be blessed."
We are under obligation, because of the relation in which we stand to God and to one another, to display the grace of God for the salvation that has been brought within our reach at infinite cost. God has given his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He has given the Holy Spirit to enlighten, renew, and sanctify the soul, and this should call forth thanksgiving and praise from every human heart. Children and youth should be educated to make God first in their thoughts, and thus a revenue of gifts and offerings, like little rivulets, would flow into the treasury of the Lord. But parents have failed to educate their children to act in an unselfish way, and have cooperated with the enemy in educating them according to a false standard. All Heaven is looking upon our churches, upon parents and children, and asking, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?"
The lesson which is recorded concerning the ten lepers should awaken in every heart a most earnest desire to change the existing order of ingratitude into one of praise and thanksgiving. Let the professed people of God stop murmuring and complaining. Let us remember who is the first great Giver of all our blessings. We are fed and clothed, and sustained in life, and should we not educate ourselves and our children to respond with gratitude to our heavenly Father, by giving gifts and offerings for the support of his cause? Christ has commanded his disciples, saying, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." But how is this work to be accomplished?--It is to be done through the cooperation of human agencies with heavenly intelligences. We are to be earnest laborers together with God. Parents are to bring up and educate and train their children in habits of self-control and self-denial. They are ever to keep before them their obligation to obey the word of God and to live for the purpose of serving Jesus. They are to educate their children that there is need of living in accordance with simple habits in their daily life, and to avoid expensive dress, expensive diet, expensive houses, and expensive furniture. The terms upon which eternal life will be ours are set forth in these words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, . . . and thy neighbor as thyself."
Parents have not taught their children the precepts of the law as God has commanded them. They have educated them in selfish habits. They have taught them to regard their birthdays and holidays as occasions when they expect to receive gifts, and to follow the habits and customs of the world. These occasions, which should serve to increase the knowledge of God and to awaken thankfulness of heart for his mercy and love in preserving their lives for another year, are turned into occasions for self-pleasing, for the gratification and glorification of the children. They have been kept by the power of God through every moment of their life, and yet parents do not teach their children to think of this, and to express thanksgiving for his mercy toward them. If children and youth had been properly instructed in this age of the world, what honor, what praise and thanksgiving, would flow from their lips to God! What a revenue of small gifts would be brought from the hands of the little ones to be put into his treasury as thank offerings! God would be remembered instead of forgotten.
Not only on birthdays should parents and children remember the mercies of the Lord in a special way, but Christmas and New Year's should also be seasons when every household should remember their Creator and Redeemer. Instead of bestowing gifts and offerings in such abundance on human objects, reverence, honor, and gratitude should be rendered to God, and gifts and offerings should be caused to flow in the divine channel. Would not the Lord be pleased with such a remembrance of him? O how God has been forgotten on these occasions. At the very time when his lovingkindness should be remembered, his mercy has been ignored. The lesson of the ungrateful lepers should not be in vain to us. "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" Shall only one in ten who are receiving the rich benefits of the Lord, return to bow at his feet and to give praise for his mercies? Shall presents be purchased, and money be expended for unnecessary things, and no wisdom be manifested in the outlay of God's intrusted means? Will parents come out from the world and be separate from its customs? Let them obey the injunction of God, and put forth judicious labor properly to train and educate the young in true knowledge and wisdom. Those men were called wise men who came from the far East to Jerusalem, led by a star in the heavens, to offer gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the infant Saviour. "Lo, the star, which they saw in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother." Although Christ was the Majesty of heaven, he was born in poverty, and his cradle was a manger. But when the wise men "had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
When you have a holiday, make it a pleasant and happy day for your children, and make it also a pleasant day for the poor and the afflicted. Do not let the day pass without bringing thanksgiving and thank offerings to Jesus. Let parents and children now make earnest effort to redeem the time, and to remedy their past neglect. Let them follow a different course of action from that which the world follows. There are many things which can be devised with taste and cost far less than the unnecessary presents that are so frequently bestowed upon our children and relatives, and thus courtesy can be shown, and happiness brought into the home. You can teach your children a lesson while you explain to them the reason why you have made a change in the value of their presents, telling them that you are convinced that you have hitherto considered their pleasure more than the glory of God. Tell them that you have thought more of your own pleasure and of their gratification and of keeping in harmony with the customs and traditions of the world, in making presents to those who did not need them, than you have of advancing the cause of God. Like the wise men of old, you may offer to God your best gifts, and show by your offerings to him that you appreciate his Gift to a sinful world. Set your children's thoughts running in a new, unselfish channel, by inciting them to present offerings to God for the gift of his only begotten Son. Let a box be made to receive the gifts of the children. The intelligences of heaven are waiting to cooperate with human agents in every work of benevolence, that there may be means in the treasury of the Lord, and "meat in mine house," saith the Lord.
In the days that were before the flood, men left God out of their reckoning, and followed the imagination of their own hearts until violence and cruelty, selfishness and self-exaltation, were the order of the day. The Lord destroyed the inhabitants of the world by a flood, and he declares that as it was in the days before the flood, so it shall be in the days when the Son of man is revealed. We are living near to the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven, and let those who would escape from the doom of those who forget God, be careful to maintain good works. God, the great moral Governor, has a law which is to be obeyed, and the angels of God are his officers, to witness to the deeds of evildoers, and to lay the rebellious under arrest. The transgressors of the law of God will meet a just retribution unless they repent before the Majesty of heaven, and by faith in Christ turn to allegiance before it is everlastingly too late.
A great work is to be accomplished through the instrumentality of man; for we are to cooperate with God in pressing back the tide of human woe. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we may be faithful, wholehearted workers to stand in defense of truth and righteousness, and keep the Lord and his honor continually in mind. Let the perception be clear as to what is due to God for his benevolence in giving the gift of his Son to the human family. Let our liberalities flow toward God. Let thank offerings be presented to Jesus, and as you gain clearer perceptions of your past deficiencies, let it be made manifest that you are seeking to make decided reformation in accordance with your faith.
For long years God has been robbed of tithes, and gifts, and offerings. Men have forgotten him, and through ignorance of his claims, they have allowed their gifts and offerings to flow in a perverted channel. Let parents and children teach the world by self-denial how they may honor the birth of Christ. Parents will have need of patience and moral strength, in order that in the fear of God they may unlearn the customs of the world. Tremendous evils have come into the world through forgetfulness of God, and through the coming holidays Satan will gather a large harvest of souls, and reap a large revenue of means through enticing men to gratify the desires of the unrenewed heart. Many souls will be led into false paths from which they will never recover. Earnest Christian endeavor should be put forth to establish a new order of things, so that the professed people may work in harmony with his plans, and thus glorify God and bless humanity. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #46)
"Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." To whatever field of labor Christians may be called, in whatever part of the Lord's vineyard they may be assigned to work, they cannot conform to the world. The world's way is not God's way. The world would have Christians conform to its ideas, and meet its own standard of Christianity. The world has marked out a line, and demands that Christians follow in its way, and do those things which will suit the world, and make them one with it in purposes and plans. But the voice of God is heard in his word, speaking to the children of men in unmistakable language, and saying, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Will you obey that voice?
The life of Christ manifested in human character will be antagonistic to the world, and in opposition to its customs and practices. Yet there is continual danger on this point among those who profess to have advanced light. It is Satan's purpose to set in operation such agencies as will lead the people of God into conformity to the world's standard, and it becomes every Bible Christian to sound an alarm in every organized body of professed followers of Jesus Christ. The ministers who stand in the sacred desk should be guarded upon this point, and not lose sight of the fact that they are to be laborers together with God. The Lord will not leave his people to the mercy of their own weak inefficiency; but he will gather them in the arms of his mercy, and bind them to his great heart of infinite love. The Lord sets before his ministers the divine standard, and instructs them that they are to be shepherds of the flock of God and ensamples of good behavior, that the ministry be not blamed, or brought down to a low, common level, and shaped according to the desires of the natural, unconverted heart. The ministers are not to carry into their sacred office their own defective spirits and faulty characters; for in all things they are to fulfill the word, and be found approving themselves "as the ministers of God."
"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are a savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men; forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to Godward; not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament." "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but, by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. . . . For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Those who profess the name of Christ, are to represent Christ as their pattern and example. They are to unfold to others the truth in its purity, and make known to them what are the privileges and responsibilities of the Christian life; and this can be done by the professed follower of Christ only as he conforms his character to the sacred principles of truth. There must be no betrayal of sacred trusts on the part of any one who professes to be a child of God. There must be no obliterating of the line of demarkation between Christians and the world. There must be no bringing down of the truth to a low, common level; for this will dishonor God, who has given an infinite sacrifice in the gift of his Son for the sins of the world. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.
Many who claim to be the children of God do not seem to understand that the heart must be regenerated; for their practices ignore the words and works of Christ. By their actions they plainly say, "It is my privilege to act out myself. I should be perfectly miserable, if I did not act out myself." This is the kind of religion that is current in the world; but it bears not the heavenly indorsement. It is a deception, a delusion of the enemy. Science, so-called, human reasoning and poetry, cannot be passed on as of equal authority with revelation; but it is Satan's studied purpose to exalt the maxims, traditions, and inventions of men to an equal authority with the word of God; and, having accomplished this, to exalt the words of man to the place of supremacy. Weak souls who have never realized that to be a follower of Christ means the subordination of every power that God has given to the obedience of Christ, will be drawn into the snare that Satan has set for inexperienced feet. The true voice of God, speaking from his word, was not heard, or being heard, was ignored; for other voices attracted the attention and engaged the mind, and thus they were led astray. They did not realize that God required that every thought should be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. Such restraint as the gospel presented seemed to them a yoke of bondage. They found nothing attractive in the voice of God, which declared unto them what it means to be a child of God, an heir of heaven; but they considered the requirement of God a cruel restriction of their liberty, and one that was wholly unnecessary. They at first neglected the word that pointed out the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, and then despised, and then assailed it as something that restricted and bound them. They were found at last out of conformity to the revealed will of God, and opposed in heart and practice to the word of God.
There is no safety for any of us except as we daily receive a new experience in looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Day by day we are to behold him, and to become changed into his image. We are to represent the divine attributes, and follow the footsteps of Jesus at whatever cost to ourselves. We are to place ourselves under divine guidance, consulting the word of God, and daily inquiring, Is this the way of the Lord? There are various erratic characters that are wholly unlike Jesus, and that are within the church of Christ; but unless they will submit to become as clay in the hands of the potter, and will be willing to receive the heavenly mold, and be shaped into such vessels as God shall choose to make them, they will always bear their deformity of character, always be vessels unto dishonor, and will never receive the finishing touch of immortality. No deficiency of character will be immortalized and mar heaven with its imperfection.
A profession of truth is of no value unless the soul grasps fast the principles, and appropriates and absorbs the rich nourishment of the truth, and thus becomes a partaker of the divine nature. If this is accomplished, the will of the human agent will cooperate with the divine will. The wild, trailing vine which lies prone on the ground, catches at twigs and stumps, and fastens its tendrils about the things of the earth; and in order to have it twine about a proper support, its tendrils must be cut loose from the false supports to which it has attached itself. So it is with the soul. Earthly supports must be removed, and the thoughts and affections must be trained to find their support in God. By Mrs. E. G. White. (Concluded in next number.)
(Vol. 71, #47)
Much is said in the epistles about having sound faith, and this should teach us the necessity of exercising caution so that we shall not weave into our experience our own inclinations and our objectionable traits of character. We should be careful that we do not mix the chaff with the wheat. We should take heed that we do not misrepresent the precious, elevating, ennobling principles of truth, and by so doing lead others astray. Soundness in the faith means the correcting of every error that exists even in the thoughts of our hearts, lest we corrupt the word of God. There is great need of healthfulness of soul, and this condition will be attained by accepting the pure truth, and bringing it into practice in our life. As Christians, we need to keep Jesus ever before our minds, remembering that he is the author and the finisher of our faith. Every soul who is seeking to become one with Jesus Christ, must remember that during this testing period of probation, it is his duty to study the life and character of Jesus Christ, and conform his life to the divine standard. This he can only do by the abundant grace of Christ. When the grace of God is given and appropriated, there will be daily improvement made. While Satan on the one side will be seeking to press the believer into his service, Christ on the other side will seek to win and draw the soul to himself. If you become victor over Satan, you will fight many a sturdy battle with inclination, and will be found on strict guard, in order that you may be loyal to God in all things. Satan continues the warfare in the determined purpose of conquering, and it will require continuous effort on your part to be an overcomer. You will have to bring self to task, asking repeatedly, Is this the way of the Lord? Keeping the eye upon Jesus, drawing from him supplies of grace, the striving one will come forth from the conflict with clearer views of God, and will rejoice in the attainment of new strength and power because he has made the Lord first and best and all in all.
Self-discipline must be carried on by everyone who claims to be a child of God. Through decided discipline a man or a woman of ordinary mind will accomplish far more for the cause of God than the most brilliant talents and most learned mind without the discipline of the grace of God; for all the highly valued natural endowments are wanting in power without the discipline of the grace of God. Christians should daily feel the necessity of so training their intellectual faculties that should they be called to fill positions of trust, or be required to set the truth before the highest earthly powers, or to whatever duty they may be called, they may be able to do it to the glory of God. There is need of men and women of well-balanced minds and of healthful religious experience. There are many who have but a sickly experience. They cannot endure anything that is unfavorable, and are apt to imagine that they are slighted by their brethren and sisters. They are sick; and yet they feel whole in their one-sidedness and deformity, and will not apply to the Great Physician, who could restore them to soundness. They choose to remain as they are rather than be disturbed by reproofs and warnings. The Lord is not at fault in their case; the patients refuse to take the remedy the Great Physician prescribes. They will not apply the word of God to their souls, and become doers of the word; but prefer to come under influences that are more suited to their natural traits of character, but which counteract all that the Great Physician would do for their souls, and thus they thwart the purposes of God.
Many conform themselves to the world's standard, and are influenced by the opinions and statements of various authors of the world, and their worldly maxims floating in the mind, take the place of the pure word of God, because the word of man suits their taste, approves of their customs, and encourages their defects of character, and the word of God condemns their course. To be separate from the world, to be wholly the Lord's, to be uninfluenced by the rules, maxims, practices, and methods of the world, means far more than many comprehend. At times these worldlings at heart are very much elated because certain lines are touched which meet their natural tastes in religious matters, but they know not by practical experience what the religion of Christ means; for when circumstances change, they are as much depressed as they were elated, and they feel the want of their stimulus as much as the drunkard feels the loss of his spirituous liquor. To flash out brightly now and then under the stimulus of the world's praise is not religion. To be separate from the world, to be consecrated to Jesus Christ, mean much more than they seem to take in. The soul consecrated to the service of Christ has a peace that the world cannot give nor take away. Jesus says, "My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, 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." Train the mind by close discipline, and let the thoughts of the heart be brought into subjection to Jesus Christ. As human agents cooperate with God in working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Let those who would be the children of God take heed to the command, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." Association with worldly-minded men and women dims the spiritual perception; for it is in direct disobedience to the plain injunctions of the word of God. In worldly society an earthly influence is at work, an atmosphere of poisonous miasma is there which is disastrous to personal piety. Those who truly love God will not cultivate the society of those who do not love Jesus. They will have some realization of their own individual weakness, and they will study prayerfully the word of God, that they may feed upon the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God, and they will find that Christian society and conversation is food to the soul, that in the society of those who love God, they breathe in the atmosphere of heaven. Christians will exercise love and sympathy one for another. The encouragement given one to another, the esteem manifested one for another, the helps, the instruction, the reproofs, warnings, the Christian counsel that should be found among the followers of Christ, will further them in the spiritual life; for Christian fellowship is according to God's plan. Christians are to cultivate self-restraint, love, forbearance, and unity one to another by the cords of brotherly love. Thus they will together exercise faith, hope, and love toward God; they will have tender consideration for all of like precious faith, and will draw toward those who love God. There will be fellowship such as the world knows not of. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #48)
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him; rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. . . . And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ."
A Christian, as described by the Scriptures, is a person who is separated from the world in his aims and practices, and is united with Christ,--a possessor of the peace which Christ alone can bestow, finding that the joy of the Lord is his strength, and that his joy is full. Christians will not leave the world to perish unwarned, and make no effort for the reclaiming of the lost. The truth of God sanctifies the believer, and he holds sweet communion with Christ. He puts to use every talent God has given him in the service of Christ in grateful love to him who gave his precious life for him, in order that he might not perish, but have everlasting life. Those who truly love Christ become laborers together with God, and they watch for every opportunity to employ the means at their command in doing good, and in patterning after the works of Christ. They will not yield to temptations to make alliances with the world. They will not unite with secret orders and bind themselves by intimacies with unbelievers. But those who are not wholly on the side of Christ are to a large degree controlled by the maxims and customs of the world. They unite in close companionship with the world, and make partners of those who do not love God, but who rather dishonor him. Alliance with the world on the part of those who profess to be Christians, is pleasing to the enemy of all righteousness; for it is favorable to his determined purpose of building up his kingdom. It is conducive to his success that many of his subjects put on a form of godliness, and assume the appearance of the children of God. By this means his power to deceive and decoy souls to ruin is greatly increased. He exercises his wisdom and power through these unconverted agencies who still claim to be the followers of Christ, and wherever this class of his subjects meet for the supposed purpose of worshiping God, Satan is there to suggest words and to exert his influence against the truth. Satan is rich in this world's goods, and he is full of cunning to deceive, and his most effective agents are those whom he can lead to take a form of godliness while they deny the power of God by their unchristlike characters.
The children of God are to stand firmly for the right under all circumstances. They are not to be deceived by those who have the mind and spirit of the world, or be united with them in their spirit or practices. The bands of union will grow stronger imperceptibly, and the professor of religion, united in some alliance with the world, will finally feel resentment against anyone who presents to him the necessity of coming out from the world and being separate. He will come into a condition of such harmony with the world that he will listen to the suggestions of Satan; and as his self-importance is fed by the praise and flattery of the world, and this is more acceptable to him than the self-denial required by the cross of Christ, he turns from the peculiar people of God to those who offer enticements to gratify worldly ambitions and enterprises in harmony with the natural tastes and desires. Backslidden from God, he has tasted the applause of men, and it has become pleasant to him. As he does not receive this praise in the church of Christ, he turns to the world.
The word of God forbids the praising and glorifying of men, therefore Christians cannot glory in men; but the mere professor of religion feels grieved over this lack of human appreciation, and believing that he has wonderful qualifications that his Christian brethren do not discern or rightly estimate, he presses a little closer to the world, loves their deceptive flattery, and thinking he is worthy of being extolled, he drinks more deeply of the turbid streams of the valley, until he no longer thirsts for the snow waters of Lebanon. He is restless and uneasy among true Christians who talk of Jesus and the precious truth. The language of Canaan is a language that he no longer delights in. The atmosphere surrounding the souls of Christians is unlike the atmosphere that surrounds the soul of the worldling, and the halfhearted professor feels uneasy while in the presence of those who love God with all their hearts. He seeks to weed out from his companions those who love and fear God, and he fills up their vacant places with those who do not love and fear him, and who have no respect for his commandments. He makes it evident by his course of action that he does not honor or revere God.
The Lord says, "Them that honor me I will honor." Satan is well pleased with the sentiments of the average Christian whom the people of the world praise and extol, while they cast reproach and contempt on those who truly honor God. The worldly Christian feasting upon the flattery of men will receive no more reward than this that he seeks after. The praise of men will be his whole recompense. But God is grieved by the spirit and action of worldly-minded men and women who yet profess to be on the Lord's side. The personal worldliness of Christians testifies against the religion of Jesus Christ. How few honor God by being his faithful witnesses! Christ says of his true followers, "Ye are the light of the world." "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
God has his faithful witnesses who are not attempting to do that which Christ has pronounced impossible,--that is, seeking to serve God and Mammon at the same time. They are burning and shining lights amid the moral darkness of the world, and amid the gross darkness that covers the people like the pall of death. The members of the church of Christ are individually to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, in order that they may not have a changeable, fluctuating experience. They are to be rooted and grounded in the truth. When the joy of the saving power of Christ's righteousness is rightly understood by experimental knowledge, there will be vital interest in the church, there will be those who will teach transgressors God's ways, and sinners will be converted to the truth as it is in Jesus. It is the professors of religion that need converting; for Satan has brought his deceptions to bear upon their souls. The soul that is brought into personal contact with Christ, becomes a holy temple unto the Lord; for Jesus is made unto the believer wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. He who has fully surrendered to God has a consciousness of Christ's saving presence. He is a possessor of spiritual patience, and has the rest of soul that comes from learning of Him who is meek and lowly of heart. Trusting in Jesus to be his efficiency and righteousness, his soul is filled with a pleasant contentment.
What is the joy of the Christian?--It is the result of the consciousness of the presence of Christ. What is the love of the Christian?--It is the reflection of the love of Christ. It is the effect of the operation of the Holy Spirit. Looking to the cross of Calvary, we see Jesus dying for the sins of the world, in order that by his death, life and immortality might be brought to light in behalf of the contrite soul. Jesus is all in all, and without him we can do nothing. Without Christ, spiritual life would be impossible. But this union of Christ with the soul is the union which Satan is ever seeking to disturb, and through yielding to his temptations, the soul that once was united to Christ may become assimilated to the world, and have no relish for the bread of eternal life. The provision from the table of the Lord, the heavenly manna, is not relished; and the world-loving soul loathes the corn of heaven, and hungers and thirsts for the praise and flattery of the world. The applause of men is the food that is relished by the perverted appetite of the Christless soul. Infatuated by a Satanic ambition to have the supremacy, professed followers of Christ are led on from one delusion to another until eternity is lost out of their reckoning. But he who lives godly in Christ Jesus will have no relish for the forbidden praise of men. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #49)
"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
A healthy Christian is one who has Christ formed within, the hope of glory. He loves truth, purity, and holiness, and will manifest spiritual vitality, having love for the word of God, and seeking communion with those who are acquainted with the word, in order that he may catch every ray of light that God has communicated to them, which reveals Christ and makes him more precious to the soul. He who has sound faith finds that Christ is the life of the soul, that he is in him as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, and he delights to conform every power of the soul to the obedience of his Lord. The Holy Spirit with its vivifying influence ever keeps such a soul in the love of God.
To the Christian it is written: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
In order to grow up into the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, it is necessary to search the Scriptures prayerfully, and to have fellowship with those who love and fear God. If Christ is an indwelling Saviour, we cannot assimilate to the world. The world crucified Jesus Christ, and is at enmity with Christ and with those who love truth, because the truth condemns the children of this world in their sinful, Christless lives. The worldling will betray the children of God, will speak against them, and falsely accuse them. But let no one who claims to be a follower of Christ receive the accusations that spring from the envyings and jealousies of those who love not truth. If you listen to accusations and charges against the children of God who are striving to obey the truth, you thereby become seduced by the enemy, and he will use you as his agent. Those who live in daily communion with Christ will learn to place a proper estimate upon their brethren, and will respect and sympathize with those who are in harmony with the pure, the good, and the true, and will condemn the course of those who are vile, profligate, and unclean before God, and despisers of his truth and righteousness. They will not help the enemy in his work of condemning the righteous and clearing the guilty.
Be afraid to stand on Satan's side, to act as his agent in receiving suggestions that will weaken and discourage those whom God loves. Be afraid to sustain and strengthen the hands of the sinner in aiding him in the least in carrying on his secret, envious workings, and in plotting against the just; for the Lord will surely punish all who engage in this kind of work. The Lord will surely take notice of you in casting reflections upon the child of God, before his brethren or before the unbelievers.
In depreciating the characters of others, the enemies of truth seek to exalt themselves, and look for the praise of men. But the Lord says, "He that loveth his life"--seeks to be the greatest, loving the praise of men more than the praise of God--"shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honor." Here is light on the point of accusing and of seeking to humiliate the servant of God before the eyes of men. Those who profess the truth are to respect their brethren, and they are to treat them as Christ in the person of his saints. If the love of Jesus is ever abiding in the heart, this will be the case.
After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet, he said, "Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." In washing his disciples' feet, Jesus gave us a lesson of humility; and did we practice this ordinance as Jesus has given us the example, it would result in sweeping away the difficulties that arise between brethren, and would heal the estrangement that the enemy would bring into the church; for Jesus is present on such occasions, to bring hearts into fellowship with himself and with one another.
After he had washed the feet of his followers, he said, "I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." O that the professed people of God may also have discernment, and know whom God has chosen. He had washed the feet of Judas, who was to betray him. He said, "Ye are clean, but not all." He would have his followers understand that he had a full knowledge of what Judas would do. He foretold his betrayal at the hand of Judas, and said, "Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He hath receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." Jesus said to the people, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him; that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias saith again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."
The Lord has revealed the fact in his word that Satan is at the head of fallen principalities and powers, and is the ruler of the darkness of this world. Day and night he is plotting against God and against those who are seeking to obey the truth. He transforms himself into an angel of light, and makes darkness appear as light, and light as darkness; and he seeks continually to lead unstable souls to unite with him in thinking evil and in speaking evil of those who will not be turned from the truth. He is described in the Scriptures as a liar, a destroyer, a tormentor, an accuser, a murderer, and it will not be difficult to discern on which side a soul is fighting, or under what leadership he is moving, if he is found accusing and condemning others. If men and women have been placed so that they have gained influence, and they use that influence to further Satan's designs, they are uniting with the great adversary and apostate.
Our chief adversary is the devil. He is represented as going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. When he finds men and women who have become self-exalted, as he himself became in heaven, and full of jealousy, and ambitious for power and prominence, he knows just how to lead them by his temptations so that they will prostitute their powers to his use, and become his agents in ruining their fellowmen. He is ready to work through his human agents in such a way as to conceal himself from view, in order that he may set in operation a train of circumstances that will lead men away from God, lead them away from the association and companionship of those who are connected with Christ, and influence them to do the work of annoying, distressing, and discouraging those who love Jesus. The spell of temptation holds these souls like a bewitching charm. "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." Yielding to the voice of the tempter, the tempted one surrenders virtue and principle, and in place of turning at once to God with contrition and repentance, he severs the last link whereby God's power can work for him, and hell triumphs because he has become the prey of the enemy. When the adversary thus bewitches the soul and entraps the unwary feet, he then represents God as inexorable and unforgiving, declaring that it will be of no use to make a confession of sin now, for God will not pardon. Let not the tempted soul listen to the voice of the accuser and destroyer, and take the way of the hopeless apostate, and plunge into midnight darkness. Remember the promise of God. He says, "Return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously." The Lord answers, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him." Break with the enemy, and seek the presence of Jesus; with tears of confession and with penitential grief urge once more your suit at the throne of grace. The Lord will hear, the Lord will answer; return ere it be too late.
"We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed; but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
Let every man who engages in the work of the ministry not merely read, but study the instruction that the apostle Paul has written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and then practice the same. The life that Paul describes was also the life of our Pattern, the Majesty of heaven, who clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to our world to associate with and to save those who are lost, to lift up the fallen, saying, "Follow me. I am your Redeemer, I am your Restorer. I will restore you." By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #50)
"Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? . . . If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"
I appeal to my brethren in faith, and urge them to cultivate tenderness of heart. Whatever may be your calling or position, if you cherish selfishness and covetousness, the displeasure of the Lord will be upon you. Do not make the work and cause of God an excuse for dealing closely and selfishly with anyone, even if transacting business that has to do with his work. God will accept nothing in the line of gain that is brought into his treasury through selfish transactions. Every act in connection with his work is to bear divine inspection. Every sharp transaction, every attempt to take advantage of a man who is under pressure of circumstances, every plan to purchase his land or property for a sum beneath its value, will not be acceptable to God, even though the money gained is made an offering to his cause. The price of the blood of the only begotten Son of God has been paid for every man, and it is necessary to deal honestly, to deal with equity with every man, in order to carry out the principles of the law of God.
The great principles contained in that law enjoin upon us the duty of loving God supremely and our neighbors as ourselves. Those who love God will keep the first four precepts of the decalogue, which define the duty of man to his Creator. But in carrying out this principle through the grace of Christ, we shall express in our characters the divine attributes, and shall work out the love of God in all our dealing with our fellowmen. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God gave his best gift to the world, and whosoever has the attributes of God will love his fellowmen with the same love wherewith God has loved him. The Spirit of God dwelling in the heart will be manifested in love to others.
In keeping the first four commandments, which reveal the duty of man to his God, the worshiper of God will find that he cannot cherish one fiber of the root of selfishness. He cannot do his duty to his God, and practice oppression toward his fellowmen. The second principle of the law is like unto the first, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." "This do, and thou shalt live." These are the words of Jesus Christ, from which there can be no departure on the part of any man, woman, or youth who would be a true Christian. It is obedience to the principles of the commandments of God, that molds the character after the divine similitude. Those who render this obedience through the grace of Christ, possess the attributes of the Saviour's character, and are partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. The word "lust" here includes not only licentiousness, but covetousness, desire for position, love of money, and that which leads to false dealings and unjust practices.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward." The people who keep God's commandments are to bring the law of God into their lives, and reveal its value in their characters; they are to be Christlike and show forth true charity.
"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 within thy gates; at his day shalt thou give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it; lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee." "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him; the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until morning."
The Lord Jesus gave these commandments from the pillar of cloud, and Moses repeated them to the children of Israel and wrote them in a book, that they might not depart from righteousness. We are under obligation to fulfill these specifications; for in so doing we fulfill the specifications of the law of God. If a brother who has labored disinterestedly for the cause of God, becomes enfeebled in body, and is unable to do his work, let him not be dismissed and be obliged to get along the best way he can. Give him wages sufficient to support him; for remember he belongs to God's family, and that you are all brethren. In the New Testament the world's Redeemer has specified what constitutes pure religion in our dealings with our fellowmen. Obeying the first four commandments with the whole soul causes us to render supreme love to God, and to become co-workers with God in carrying out the will of God toward our fellowmen. Keeping the first four commandments makes us one with Christ, who gave his life as a ransom to deliver all from the thralldom of sin, and to make us free men and women in him. The value of man is to be estimated at the price paid for his redemption.
The last six precepts of the decalogue reveal the duty of man to his fellowmen; and those who render obedience to the first four commandments will also carry out the injunctions of the last six. We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. This command is not that we shall simply love those who think and believe exactly as we think and believe. Christ illustrated the meaning of the commandment by the parable of the good Samaritan. But how strangely these precious words are neglected, and how frequently men oppress their fellowmen, and lift up their souls unto vanity. Men glory in themselves and exalt themselves above their brethren. "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." "Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."
Can we wonder that the curse of God is upon the earth, upon man and beast, when his law is set aside as a thing of naught, and men are following the imagination of their own hearts, as did the inhabitants of the world before the flood? All this foretells the coming of Christ and the end of all things. "But as the days of Noe were, 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." Through selfish pride, through selfish gratification, the blessing of God has been shut away from men and from his professed people, because they have despised his words, and have failed to relieve the sufferings of humanity. "Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God; for I am the Lord your God. Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And all the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety."
To those who are doers of the words of Christ, prosperity is insured. In obeying his words, you become workers together with God in uplifting, in blessing, and strengthening the sons of men, cultivating good impulses, and uprooting that which is evil. Christ said, "Make the tree good, and his fruit good." It is only practical piety that is of value. No spurious religionist will enter into the kingdom of heaven, and those who are genuine will bring forth the fruit that is found upon the Christian tree. The fruit found upon the tree is in harmony with its nature. This law prevails throughout the natural kingdom, and illustrates the truth found in the spiritual kingdom. When there is a decided change from a life of sin to one of purity, there will be a corresponding change in words and actions. Those who exercise faith dwell in the presence of purity, and are one with Christ. Their life is hid with Christ in God.
"Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." The pure in heart ever keep before them their invisible Lord, and they catch his Spirit; they love their Lord with all the heart, and exercise in their lives the love that God has manifested toward all human beings. But "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. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." Let all read and understand these words of John, in order that they may make no mistake. To what commandments is John referring? He says, "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him?"
"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." How tenderly the Lord regards all who are suffering and in want! They are to be helped, not to be oppressed. "Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God."
It would be well if every church would read in its assemblies from the Old Testament the lessons which Christ gave to the people. The Spirit and character of our Heavenly Father in his dealings with men are revealed through these lessons. By Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 71, #51)
"If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanted. 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. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him; because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For 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."
In the Old Testament the very same principles were revealed as those which Christ gave in his sermon on the mount. The scribes and Pharisees knew so little of these principles through everyday practice, that Christ's sermon on the mount was as a new revelation to them, and sounded like heresy to their ears. They had misinterpreted the Scripture, and regarded the maxims and sayings of men that had passed to them from rabbi to rabbi, as having the sanctity of inspiration. But the commands of men were not like the divine commands, and better suited their carnal hearts. Jesus, who had instituted the law, knew just how far these professedly pious teachers had departed from the law, and how far they had made it void by their traditions. They had worshipped God in vain, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Jesus revealed to them the far-reaching principles of the law of God. That which had been said by the rabbis of old time, though it had been oft repeated, and was hoary with age, though it was regarded by men as on a par with divine authority, was put in contrast with his own divine principle. The lessons he had taught to Israel in the Old Testament he repeated in the New Testament. He enjoined upon them the exercise of mercy, compassion, and love toward all with whom they came in contact. Had the Israelites practiced the lessons which Christ spoke from the pillar of cloud, there would have been no oppression by man of his fellowmen. Jesus had said in the Old Testament: "Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take the widow's raiment to pledge; but thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence; therefore I command thee to do this thing. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 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; therefore I command thee to do this thing."
If Israel had carried out the will of God that had been made known unto them, the blessing promised to the pure in heart would have rested upon them. They would have seen God, and by beholding him would have become like him in character. The ever-working principle and power of the Holy Spirit would have wrought upon human nature, till the heart was changed, and the character conformed to the likeness of Christ's character. In daily doing the words of Christ, it becomes a pleasure to do his will. Christ came to our world to live out the law of God, to be our pattern in all things. He placed himself between the mercy seat and the vast number of heartless worshipers who were full of ostentation, pride, and vanity, and by his lessons of truth, which were eloquent with simplicity, he impressed the people with the necessity of spiritual worship. His lessons were impressive, beautiful, and weighty with importance, and yet so simple that a child could understand them. The truth he presented was so deep that the wisest and most accomplished teacher could never exhaust it. Those who work as seeing the invisible, will always preserve simplicity, charging the simplest words with the power of the grandest truths. It was with this kind of teaching that the Lord Jesus exposed the weakness and brought to confusion the theories of the most learned. The spotlessness of his character, untainted with sin, unmarred by a wrinkle, revealed the marked contrast there was between his religion and the pious pretensions of the Pharisees. They could not tolerate Jesus.
Though no fault could be found with Christ, he was rejected of men. With all his accusing power, Satan assaulted him, and could find nothing in him to condemn. Judas, who betrayed him, was constrained to own that he had betrayed innocent blood. Pilate, though he passed the sentence of condemnation upon him, declared that he found no fault in him. Pilate's wife sent word to the Roman governor, saying, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." This was the character of the great Teacher who has commanded us to treat our brethren with tenderness and compassion. Shall we disregard his words, and choosing impurity of heart, fail to see God? In failing to obey the words of Christ we become hardhearted, insensible to the woe of our fellowmen, and lack tenderness and love.
I address those who are in responsible positions. How stands your record when compared with the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments? None of your excuses for neglect of obeying the word of God just as it reads, will stand before Heaven. When you employ a man in any branch of the work, and he does his best, and still falls into decay, and his wife and children are caused to suffer, you may pass judgment upon him because he is not successful in his work, and you may allow the cry of this brother and his family to come up against you into the ears of God; but remember that as you judge, you will be judged, and as you measure unto others, it will be measured unto you again. Are you not afraid that the Lord will bring you over the very same ground upon which your brother has fallen? Your brother was of just as much value in the sight of God as you are; for there is no respect of persons with God. He strips off the tinsel, the glitter, and the show with which men have clothed themselves, and beholds them in their true character. He allows those who boast themselves to pass through the strait places in which others have fallen, that they may be tested and tried upon the very points in which others have failed, that they may understand what it is to be regarded with indifference, contempt, and scorn. When others failed in the same place, they did not help, strengthen, and bless; but turned from them in heart, and regarded not their situation.
The Lord has represented himself as a householder who left his goods with his servants, instructing them to trade upon them for his advantage. "He called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. . . . And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading." The Lord has given talents to his servants according to their several ability, and he means that they will be good stewards of their Lord's goods. In carrying out the principles of the law of his government, they will put their talents to good use in distributing to the poor, in manifesting the compassion and love of Christ to their fellowmen. Those who do this will hear from his lips the benediction, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." By Mrs. E. G. White.