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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1907
(Vol. 84, #1)
During the past night I have received instruction regarding the carrying forward of the work in Oakland and San Francisco. A good work has been begun by Elder Simpson, and the Lord has greatly blessed the effort that has been put forth to lead souls to accept the truth. He desires that this effort shall be continued in the same spirit in which it has been begun. Let those who preach the Word follow Christ's methods, ever realizing the solemnity of the message they proclaim. A lack of foresight may close the door to the hearts of some precious souls.
Whenever a special effort is put forth along missionary lines in any place, the church-members in that vicinity should understand that each one of them has some part to act in making the work a success. He who is truly converted stands as a representative of Christ. Let our brethren and sisters remember that we are living on the verge of the eternal world. The cases of all are being tried in the heavenly courts, and it is high time to put away sin, and to work earnestly to save as many as possible.
Among God's people there should be, at this time, frequent seasons of sincere, earnest prayer. The mind should constantly be in a prayerful attitude. In the home and in the church, let earnest prayers be offered in behalf of those who have given themselves to the preaching of the Word. Let believers pray as did the disciples after the ascension of Christ.
The members of our churches need to be converted, to become more spiritual-minded. A chain of earnest, praying believers should encircle the world. Let all pray in humility. A few neighbors may meet together to pray for the Holy Spirit. Let those who can not leave home, gather in their children, and unite in learning to pray together. They may claim the promise of the Saviour: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
In the Lord's prayer, we have an example of a perfect petition. How simple, yet how comprehensive it is! This prayer should be taught to the children. Let all study carefully the principles contained in it.
In response to the prayers of God's people, angels are sent with heavenly blessings. The Lord desires us to be far more successful in our missionary efforts. Through daily prayer and consecration all may so relate themselves to their Heavenly Father that he can bestow upon them rich blessings.
Especially do those young in the faith need to be wide awake, and on their guard against the strategies of Satan. They must adhere steadfastly to an unwavering faith in the great atoning sacrifice. They need not continue in sin. Through prayer they may receive grace that will enable them to overcome.
By artful devices the enemy is rapidly adding souls to the number of those who are deceived. Many of our church-members are sadly lacking in true missionary zeal. There is a dearth of tithes and offerings. We need to repent of our failure to unite with Christ as laborers together with God. Because of our indifference to the appeals of God, we have not reached one half of those who might be reached. Few have felt a heavy burden for souls. How much more might have been accomplished had the time spent by God's people in faultfinding been spent in encouraging one another, and in active service! How much better for voices to blend in prayer, in holy unison, than to be employed in finding fault! We have no time for faultfinding or criticism.
There are thousands, yes, millions, within the borders of our own country, who need the enlightenment of the Word of God. Vice and crime are rampant. Even in San Francisco, a city where God has spoken in judgment, the saloons are wide open, notwithstanding the fact that the sure results of the open saloon are well known. Will not God punish for this insult? The temperance work should be revived.
O, how differently many would act were God to draw aside the veil that hides him from our eyes, and reveal himself seated on his throne in the high and holy place, not in silent grandeur, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of holy, happy beings, waiting to do his bidding! He notes carefully every earthly transaction, marking with approval or condemnation the course of every inhabitant of the earth.
God's Great Love -- When the fulness of time came, the windows of heaven were opened, and upon the world was poured a flood of heavenly grace. God made to our world the wonderful gift of his only begotten Son. In the light of this act, it could never be said by the inhabitants of other worlds that God could have done more than he did to show his love for the children of men. He made a sacrifice that defies all computation. To save a fallen race he poured forth the whole treasure of heaven in one gift.
Christ laid aside his royal robe and kingly crown, and assumed the form of humanity, in order that humanity, through his merits, might partake of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. He was subjected to the fiercest assaults of Satan, but not for a moment did he yield to the terrible temptations brought against him, or become discouraged in his work of bringing redemption to the race. He gave his life for the salvation of a fallen race. Who can understand the depth and the breadth of love so amazing!
In the world to come, Christ will lead the redeemed beside the river of life, and will teach them wonderful lessons of truth. He will unfold to them the mysteries of nature. They will see that a Master-Hand holds the worlds in position. They will behold the skill displayed by the great Artist in coloring the flowers of the field, and will learn of the purposes of the merciful Father, who dispenses every ray of light, and with the holy angels the redeemed will acknowledge in songs of grateful praise God's supreme love to an unthankful world. Then it will be understood 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."
Sanitarium, Cal., Dec. 1, 1906.
(Vol. 84, #2)
Many a portion of scripture which learned men pronounce a mystery, or pass over as unimportant, is full of comfort and instruction to him who has been taught in the school of Christ. One reason why many theologians have no clearer understanding of God's Word is, they close their eyes to truths which they do not wish to practise. An understanding of Bible truth depends not so much on the power of intellect brought to the search as on the singleness of purpose, the earnest longing after righteousness.
The Bible should never be studied without prayer. The Holy Spirit alone can cause us to feel the importance of those things easy to be understood, or prevent us from wresting truths difficult of comprehension. It is the office of heavenly angels to prepare the heart to so comprehend God's Word that we shall be charmed with its beauty, admonished by its warnings, or animated and strengthened by its promises. We should make the psalmist's petition our own: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Temptations often appear irresistible because, through the neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, the tempted one can not readily remember God's promises and meet Satan with the Scripture weapons. But angels are round about those who are willing to be taught in divine things; and in the time of great necessity, they will bring to their remembrance the very truths which are needed. Thus "when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."
Jesus promised his disciples, "The Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you." But the teachings of Christ must previously have been stored in the mind, in order for the Spirit of God to bring them to our remembrance in the time of peril. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart," said David, "that I might not sin against thee."
All who value their eternal interests should be on their guard against the inroads of skepticism. The very pillars of truth will be assailed. It is impossible to keep beyond the reach of the sarcasms and sophisms, the insidious and pestilent teachings, of modern infidelity. Satan adapts his temptations to all classes. He assails the illiterate with a jest or sneer, while he meets the educated with scientific objections and philosophical reasoning, alike calculated to excite distrust or contempt of the Scriptures. Even youth of little experience presume to insinuate doubts concerning the fundamental principles of Christianity. And this youthful infidelity, shallow as it is, has its influence. Many are thus led to jest at the faith of their fathers, and to do despite to the Spirit of grace. Many a life that promised to be an honor to God and a blessing to the world, has been blighted by the foul breath of infidelity. All who trust to the boastful decisions of human reason, and imagine that they can explain divine mysteries, and arrive at truth unaided by the wisdom of God, are entangled in the snare of Satan.
We are living in the most solemn period of this world's history. The destiny of earth's teeming multitudes is about to be decided. Our own future well-being, and also the salvation of other souls, depends upon the course which we now pursue. We need to be guided by the Spirit of truth. Every follower of Christ should earnestly inquire, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" We need to humble ourselves before the Lord, with fasting and prayer, and to meditate much upon his Word, especially upon the scenes of the judgment. We should now seek a deep and living experience in the things of God.
We have not a moment to lose. Events of vital importance are taking place around us; we are on Satan's enchanted ground. Sleep not, sentinels of God; the foe is lurking near, ready at any moment, should you become lax and drowsy, to spring upon you and make you his prey.
Many are deceived as to their true condition before God. They congratulate themselves upon the wrong acts which they do not commit, and forget to enumerate the good and noble deeds which God requires of them, but which they have neglected to perform. It is not enough that they are trees in the garden of God. They are to answer his expectations by bearing fruit. He holds them accountable for their failure to accomplish all the good which they could have done, through his grace strengthening them. In the books of heaven they are registered as cumberers of the ground. Yet the case of even this class is not utterly hopeless. With those who have slighted God's mercy and abused his grace, the heart of long-suffering love yet pleads. "Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, . . . redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
When the testing time shall come, those who have made God's Word their rule of life will be revealed. In summer there is no noticeable difference between evergreens and other trees; but when the blasts of winter come, the evergreens remain unchanged, while other trees are stripped of their foliage. So the falsehearted professor may not now be distinguished from the real Christian, but the time is just upon us when the difference will be apparent. Let opposition arise, let bigotry and intolerance again bear sway, let persecution be kindled, and the half-hearted and hypocritical will waver and yield the faith; but the true Christian will stand firm as a rock, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, than in the days of prosperity.
Says the psalmist: "Thy testimonies are my meditation." "Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way."
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom." "He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."
(Vol. 84, #3)
The end is fast approaching, and many of our churches are asleep. Let all now make it their chief business to serve the Lord. God has entrusted to his people the talent of means, some more, and some less than others. With many, the possession of wealth has proved a snare. In their desire to follow the fashions of the world, they have lost their zeal for the truth, and they are in peril of losing eternal life. In proportion as God has prospered them, men should return to him of the goods he has entrusted to their stewardship.
As members of the Lord's family we have a decided work to do. We must carefully examine our hearts to see if we are truly converted to God's service. Are we entirely free from the worldly habits, ideas, and customs that are abhorrent to God?
"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. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."
Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent efforts, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away sin, among God's people on earth.
"Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?"
The Lord reveals to his people their special sin. "Will a man rob God?" he asks. "Yet ye have robbed me." Still unconvicted of sin, the disobedient inquire, "Wherein have we robbed thee?"
Definite indeed is the Lord's answer: "In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord."
Here are important matters for our consideration. Read carefully the charge that God makes against those who have not fulfilled the conditions of their agreement with him. In his mercy, the Lord has bestowed rich bounties upon his people, and many have selfishly withheld from him the money for which he calls. Let all carefully examine into their business relations with their Creator. Those who will not hesitate to deal treacherously with their Maker will certainly not hesitate to deal treacherously with their fellow men.
I desire to impress upon all our people that God regards the withholding of tithes and offerings as robbery. We are merely stewards of God. We do not own the money that passes into our hands. In its disbursement we are to be colaborers with Christ.
We should feel an intense interest in the advancement of the work of God. This work has already grown to large proportions, but it is to advance still more rapidly. We need many more laborers, and there must be with all a spirit of self-denial, in order to provide facilities for the carrying forward of the message into new fields. In many places the work has been greatly retarded because of the scarcity of means. The rebuke of God will rest upon those who do not come up to his help.
In the Southern field a beginning has been made, but there is still a great work to be done for all classes. We now call upon all who love Christ to help with their means the work of God in this needy field.
There should be among us an army of people who are prepared to open the Scriptures to many who are perishing in their sins. Let spiritual-minded men and women take hold of this work where they are. As they find opportunity, let them pray for those for whom they labor. All classes are to be reached. Poverty need not hinder any one from coming to Jesus. We should manifest a decided interest for those who are more wealthy, and endeavor to lead them to lay up their treasure in the heavens, an enduring substance, that will never perish.
Let our church-members take up such work where they are, and let all unite in sustaining the work in the regions beyond. Wonderful progress has already been seen, but we still have an exceedingly large work before us, a work that calls for self-denial and cross-bearing.
As we close the year 1906, I plead with my brethren and sisters to make their record right with God, and to be faithful in rendering to him his own in tithes and offerings. May God help each one to act his part in the work of saving souls.
In the Lord's treasury there should be sufficient means to give an adequate support to those who devote their time to the work of saving souls. Their just wages should not be begrudged them. Those who are willing to labor for the Master should not be allowed to lack for the necessities of life. They should be enabled to live comfortably, and also to have enough so that they can make donations to the cause of God; for it frequently happens that they are expected to take the lead in making offerings.
In the great work of warning the world, those who have the truth in the heart, and are sanctified through the truth, will act their assigned part. They will be faithful in the payment of tithes and offerings. Every church-member is bound by covenant relation with God to deny himself of every extravagant outlay of means. Let not the want of economy in the home life render us unable to act our part in strengthening the work already established, and in entering new territory.
Schools and sanitariums are to be established. These should be located out of the cities. Students should be fitted to engage in various lines of God's work. We have been greatly favored in securing land and buildings suitable for sanitarium work, at prices far below the original cost. Through the work done in these institutions, we may reach all classes, high and low. The work in behalf of the sick and suffering was ordained of God.
Christ's chief work was in the preaching of the gospel to the poor. He chose to minister to the needy, the ignorant. In simplicity he opened before them the blessings they might receive, and thus he awakened their souls' hunger for the truth, the bread of life. Christ's life is an example to all his followers. It is the duty of every one who has learned the way of life to teach others what it means to believe in the word of God.
There are many in the shadow of death, who need to be instructed in the truths of the gospel. Nearly the whole world is lying in wickedness, yet we have words of hope for those who sit in darkness.
"The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nepthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
From Christ's methods of labor we may learn many valuable lessons. He did not follow merely one method; in various ways he sought to gain the attention of the multitude; and then he proclaimed to them the truths of the gospel.
"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers disease and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan."
Christians are not only to give freely of their means to sustain the Lord's work; wherever they are, they are to labor disinterestedly for souls. They themselves are to be sanctified through the truth, to be purified and cleansed from all pride and selfishness. Then they will be prepared to meet their solemn obligations to God, and to enlighten the minds of others who are in darkness regarding Bible truth. Not one thousandth part of what should be done is being done by those who understand the plan of salvation. Every true Christian is so to represent the plan of salvation in his own consistent life, and in his unselfish efforts in behalf of others, that no one to whom he has access may say, "No man cares for my soul."
Sanitarium, Cal., Dec. 6, 1906.
(Vol. 84, #4)
I wish to arouse parents to see the importance of their position. Few parents take time to think of how much depends on the instruction and training a child receives during the early years of its life. It is at this time that the foundation of a child's character is laid. "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it," are the words of the wise man. The lessons a child learns at the mother's knee determine its future experience.
How few parents realize this as they should. As I have called mothers' attention to the wrong habits they were encouraging in their little ones, some have listened indifferently, while others have said, with a smile, "I can not bear to cross my children. They will do better as they grow older. They will then be ashamed of these passionate outbursts. It is not well to be too strict with little ones. They will outgrow the inclination to tell untruths, to meddle, to be indolent and selfish."
A very easy way truly to dispose of the matter, but a way that is not in harmony with the will of God. If a field is left uncultivated, a crop of weeds is sure to appear. So it is with children. If the soil of the heart is uncultivated, Satan sows his seeds of anger and hatred, selfishness and pride, and they quickly spring up, to bear a harvest that parents reap with bitter regret. Too late they see their terrible mistake. The wrong they have done can never be wholly undone. Even if the child, by patient, untiring care, is at last won to the Saviour, his character will always bear the marks of Satan's seed-sowing.
Children left to themselves grow up selfish, exacting, unlovable. Unable to enjoy their own society or the society of others, their lives are filled with discontent.
Aided by the grace of Christ, mothers have it in their power to do a great and grand work. This Satan knows, and he works with all his power to prevent them from doing this work. He seeks to fill the mind with thoughts of fashionable dress. Thus he absorbs the time and strength of even Christian mothers so that they have no time to give to the training of their children or to self-improvement. When the enemy thus secures the attention of the mother, he rejoices; for he knows how much he has gained. He looks on the children as an easy prey; for he has won the mother. She thinks more of display, more of what others think and say of her, than she does of the training of the precious souls in her care. As she sets her feet in the path of fashion, she becomes infatuated. In order to keep pace with the demands of the bondage in which she has sold herself, she works early and late, overtaxing mind and body. She becomes so wearied with remodeling unfashionable garments and making new ones, that she has no heart to read her Bible or to pray. She is too tired to give time to her children. She becomes perplexed and distressed. The yoke that she is trying to bear is very galling; but she imagines that it must be borne, and martyr-like she toils on, struggling under her self-imposed burden. Jesus is calling, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . . My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." But she does not hear the gracious invitation. The Saviour's voice is drowned by the clamorous demands of fashion.
Mothers, do not forget that God requires you to give your children constant, loving care. He does not want you to be a slave to your children, but he does want you to teach them to live for him. Day by day give them lessons that will prepare them for future usefulness. One lesson that you will have to repeat over and over again is the lesson of obedience. Teach your children that they are not to rule, that they are to respect your wishes, and yield to your authority. Thus you are teaching them self-control. Give them nothing for which they cry, even though your tender heart would lead you to indulge them. If they gain the victory once by crying, they will expect to do so again, and the next time they will be harder to control.
Children inherit inclinations to wrong, but they also have many lovely traits of character. These should be strengthened and developed, while the tendencies to evil should be carefully guarded against and repressed. Children should never be flattered, for flattery is poison to them; but parents should show a sanctified, tender regard for them, thus gaining their confidence and love.
When children lose their self-control, and speak passionate words, the parents should for a time keep silent, neither reproving nor condemning. At such times silence is golden, and will do more to bring repentance than any words that can be uttered. Satan is well pleased when parents irritate their children by speaking harsh, angry words. Paul has given a caution on this point: "Fathers provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." They may be very wrong, but you can not lead them to the right by losing patience with them. Let your calmness help to restore them to a proper frame of mind.
Jesus loves children and youth. He rejoices when he sees Satan repulsed in his efforts to overcome them. Many a youth is in imminent peril through manifold temptations, but the Saviour has the tenderest sympathy for him, and sends his angels to guard and protect him. He is the good shepherd, ever ready to go into the wilderness to seek for the lost, straying sheep.
Mothers, do you sigh for a missionary field? In your home you have a missionary field in which you may labor with untiring energy and unflagging zeal, knowing that the results of your work will endure through all eternity. Are not the souls of your children of as much value as the souls of the heathen? Then tend them with loving care, bringing God into their thoughts.
Who can do this work so well as a God-fearing mother? The work of the mother who has a close connection with Christ is of infinite worth. Her ministry of love makes the home a Bethel. Christ works with her, turning the common water of life into the wine of heaven.
Christian parents, you are charged with the responsibility of showing the world the power and excellency of home religion. Be controlled by principle, not by impulse. Work with the consciousness that God is your helper. Allow nothing to divert you from your God-given mission. Be true to your trust. God will help you. Guided by him, your children will grow up to bless and honor you in this life and in the life to come.
(Vol. 84, #5)
How many there are who accept Christ, and apparently live a Christian life, until their circumstances change! Perhaps they come into the possession of property. Thus God tests them, to see if they will be wise stewards. But they fail to endure the proving. They use for self-gratification that which they should devote to feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. In want and distress, God's children are calling to him. Many are dying for want of the necessaries of life. Their cries have entered the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. He will call to a strict account those who have neglected his needy ones. What will these selfish rich men do when the Lord asks them, "What did you do with the money I gave you to use for me?" "These shall go away into everlasting punishment." The Lord will say to them, "Depart from me, ye cursed; . . . for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not."
The wails of a world's sorrow are heard all around us. Sin is casting its shadow over us. Let us make ourselves ready to co-operate with the Lord. The pleasure and power of this world will pass away. No one can carry his earthly treasures into the eternal world. But the life spent in doing the will of God will abide forever. The result of that which is given to advance the work of God will be seen in the kingdom of God.
There is a world to be warned. To us has been entrusted this work. At any cost we must practise the truth. We are to stand as self-sacrificing minutemen, willing to suffer the loss of life itself, if need be, in the service of God. There is a great work to be done in a short time. We need to understand our work, and to do it with fidelity. Every one who is finally crowned victor will, by noble, determined effort to serve God, have earned the right to be clothed with Christ's righteousness. To enter the crusade against Satan, bearing aloft the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ--this is the duty of every Christian.
This work calls for self-sacrifice. Self-denial and the cross stand all along the way of life. "He that will come after me," Christ said, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Those who secure the treasures of this world are obliged to toil and sacrifice. Should those who are seeking for an eternal reward think that they need make no sacrifices?
The most difficult sermon to preach and the hardest to practise is self-denial. The greedy sinner, self, closes the door to the good which might be done, but which is not done because money is invested for selfish purposes. But it is impossible for any one to retain the favor of God and enjoy communion with the Saviour, and at the same time be indifferent to the interests of his fellow beings who have no life in Christ, who are perishing in their sins. Christ has left us a wonderful example of self-sacrifice. He pleased not himself, but spent his life in the service of others. He made sacrifices at every step, sacrifices which none of his followers can ever make, because they have never occupied the position he occupied before he came to this earth. He was commander of the heavenly host, but he came here to suffer for sinners. He was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that through his poverty we might be made rich. Because he loved us, he laid aside his glory and took upon him the form of a servant. He gave his life for us. What are we giving for him? Shall we not, in the new year just before us, consecrate ourselves entirely to him? Shall we not make him a New-year's offering of a portion of the means he has given us? As we follow him in the path of self-denial, lifting the cross and bearing it after him to his Father's home, we shall reveal in our lives the beauty of the Christ-life. At the altar of self-sacrifice,--the appointed place of meeting between God and the soul,--we receive from the hand of God the celestial torch which searches the heart, revealing the need of an abiding Christ.
(Vol. 84, #6)
On Sabbath, November 3, and again on Sabbath, November 10, and on the following day, the Lord gave me strength to speak to his people in San Francisco. The meeting for Sunday afternoon was well advertised, and there was a good outside attendance from the city.
I was much pleased to have the privilege of speaking in the church at San Francisco. My husband and I and a few others worked together to obtain the means to erect this building, over thirty years ago. It would have been a heavy loss if this church had been destroyed; but it was not seriously injured by the earthquake.
The ventilation in the San Francisco church is not good, and after my return home, I suffered from the effects of breathing the impure air. The influenza was upon me. For over a month I felt unable to travel. However, my general health was good, and I was able to do considerable writing. And when, the second week in December, I received an invitation from Elder W. W. Simpson to come to Oakland and speak to the people on Sabbath, I had so far recovered from the influenza that I ventured to go.
Elder Simpson held meetings in Oakland for about two months. His labors were greatly blessed. For a few weeks after his meetings began, we were favored with remarkably good weather. The days were clear and mild, and the rainfall was very light. But the workers in Oakland had to meet difficulties; for the tent was blown down twice by severe wind-storms, and badly torn; and toward the close of the series of meetings it rained for several days, and the workers found it necessary to take down the tent for a few days, and temporarily discontinue the meetings.
The manner of Elder Simpson's work reminds me of the efforts that were put forth in 1843 and 1844. He does not make prominent his own words, but reads much from the Bible, explaining one scripture by another. He dwells largely on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, and uses many illustrations and suitable figures to impress the truth. To represent the beasts of Daniel and Revelation, he has prepared lifelike images of papier-mache.
Elder Simpson endeavors to avoid entering into controversy with opponents. He presents the Bible so clearly that it is evident that any one who differs, must do so in opposition to the Word of God.
Friday evening and Sabbath forenoon, December 15 and 16, Elder Simpson spoke upon the subject of Spiritual Gifts, dwelling especially upon the spirit of prophecy. Those who were present at these discourses say that he treated the subject in a clear, forceful manner.
Sabbath afternoon I filled my appointment in the large Congregational church that is now being used by our people. The room was filled, and the doors at one side were thrown up, that many might be accommodated in an adjoining room. I am told that between five and six hundred were present. It was with fear and trembling that I went to the service; for on Friday I was very poorly--so ill, in fact, that I hardly had strength sufficient to enable me to sit up. Sabbath afternoon I feared that it would be impossible for me to stand before the congregation for over half an hour. But as I spoke, the invigorating power of the Spirit of God came upon me, and I was enabled to continue speaking for one hour and fifteen minutes. Such experiences remind me of what I passed through frequently in the earlier days of the message.
For about a year after my husband died, I suffered greatly from sorrow. At that time, when I seemed to be hovering between life and death, my son Willie persuaded me to go a short distance in a phaeton to a camp-meeting in Healdsburg. A sofa had been placed on the platform in the large tent. Here I lay down, thinking I would deliver my farewell address. My face was as the face of one dead, without a particle of color.
After a few testimonies had been borne, I asked Willie to help me to arise to my feet, and let me lean on him. There I stood, and began to tell the people that this was probably the last time they would ever hear my voice in camp-meeting. But after speaking a few words, I felt the Spirit and power of God thrilling through every nerve of my body. Those who saw me said that the blood could be seen as it put color in my lips and reached my forehead. My flesh took on its natural appearance. One of the citizens of Healdsburg, in great surprise, turned to one of his neighbors, and exclaimed, "A miracle is being wrought in sight of this whole congregation!" I could not understand why all were looking so intently at me, some even rising to their feet. The Spirit of the Lord had rested upon me, and I had been healed in the presence of a large congregation. During the remainder of the camp-meeting, I spoke several times.
These special impartations of strength in times of great physical weakness, give me courage. The Lord is my helper. I praise him with heart and voice for his wonderful mercies and his sustaining power.
The efforts put forth in Oakland have borne fruit in the salvation of precious souls. Sunday morning, December 16, I attended a baptismal service at the Piedmont Baths. Thirty-two candidates were buried with their Lord in baptism, and arose to walk in newness of life. This was a scene that angels of God witnessed with joy. Several children were baptized first, and then the older ones. Occasionally a stanza of some hymn of praise was sung. There was no confusion. The entire service was impressive.
(Vol. 84, #7)
The Oakland brethren have decided on a location for their new church building,--on Twenty-fifth Street, near Telegraph Avenue. After the baptism, I drove with Brother and Sister Rice to see this property. It seems to be well located.
Sunday night, December 16, Elder Simpson gave his last discourse in this series of meetings, and the following day the tent was taken down. It was reported that at this service there were fully one thousand persons present to listen to his presentation of the subject, The United States in Prophecy. Those who would refuse to render homage to the beast and his image, were asked to arise, and nearly all present responded.
The expenses connected with these meetings have been fully one thousand dollars. Collections have been taken in the congregation only once a week, but these, with donations that some have given privately, have been sufficient to meet all the expenses, so the effort has cost the conference only the salaries of workers.
The liberality of many from the outside has been surprising. Elder and Mrs. Haskell, on several occasions, received liberal gifts from strangers. One afternoon, after I had spoken in the church, a man handed Elder Haskell one hundred dollars, and then left the building quickly and could not afterward be found. On another occasion, a lady slipped two coins into Sister Haskell's hand. These proved to be two twenty-dollar gold pieces. Sister Haskell afterward met the lady, but she did not wish to tell her name. These things have greatly encouraged our workers.
In these meetings, we have seen evidences of the deep moving of the Spirit of God. Truly the Lord has wrought on minds. Our people need now to be aroused from the lethargy that has come upon them. The language of every heart should be, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.
There is much house-to-house work to be done by faithful laborers. Our efforts are not to cease because public meetings have been discontinued for a time. So long as there are interested ones, we must give them opportunity to learn the truth. And the new converts will need to be instructed by faithful teachers of God's Word, that they may increase in a knowledge and love of the truth, and may grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. They must now be surrounded by the influences most favorable to spiritual growth. The churches at Oakland and Berkeley should now purge out the old leaven of evil-speaking and hypocrisy, of jealousy and malice. The truth must be expressed in word and in spirit; every act should be a revelation of Christian refinement.
That there may be no cessation of effort during the rainy season, I have encouraged Elder S. N. Haskell and his wife to return to Oakland for a time. The Oakland brethren and sisters have offered them the use of the dwelling-house on the new church property. This will serve as a headquarters for city mission work and a Bible training-school.
The work in Oakland must not be cut short. For years I have pleaded that an earnest effort be put forth in this city, and now that this is being done, let us go straight forward in right lines. There is to be no variableness, neither shadow of turning, in the presentation of truth to the people in Oakland.
To my ministering brethren I would say: Every fresh display of the conviction of the grace of God upon the souls of unbelievers, is divine. Everything that you can do to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth, is a means of allowing the light to shine, the light of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. Direct the mind to him who guides and controls all things. Christ will be as manna and spiritual dew to these newly converted souls. In him is no darkness at all.
As faithful laborers of deep spiritual understanding conduct Bible studies with those who have accepted the Sabbath truth; as they instruct those new in the faith how to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit, that they may be fully and firmly established in the truth, the glory of God will be revealed.
In the discourses, let nothing of a theatrical nature be introduced, no sharp thrusts given. We can not expect that eyes that have been blind will be at once opened to see all things clearly. Let labor be put forth wisely for those who are interested. Show those who have seen the truth, how to experience its power in their hearts. Thus the truth imparted will be as a nail driven in a sure place. Many are ignorant of vital godliness--of truth in the life-practise. On the part of these uninstructed ones, there must be a practical reception of Bible truth. The Lord will work with power upon the hearts of all who seek him and who prayerfully study his Word.
The Lord Jesus sent a mighty angel to make plain to John, by the use of symbols, the things that were to come to pass until the coming of Christ. He was bidden to write the instruction in a book for the benefit of the seven churches. This writing we now have preserved in the book of Revelation, but this book is understood by only a very few. It contains the message for the last days, and we are to dwell much upon these prophecies.
Explaining scripture by scripture,--this is the work that should be done by all our ministers who are fully awake to the times in which we live. The Lord will guide his ministering servants. He will lead them in ways that they know not. They will bear aloft the lamp of life in the dark places of the earth, and hasten the coming of our King.
(Vol. 84, #8)
More and more, as the days go by, it is becoming apparent that God's judgments are in the world. Yet God is not executing his wrath without mercy. His hand is stretched out still. And in this time, when the cities of the nations are being visited with judgments, God's people have a special opportunity to give the last warning message to the inhabitants of these cities. Long have we neglected these centers, and now we must labor earnestly to redeem the time. The people must be shown how it is possible for God, by a touch of his hand, to destroy the property they have gathered against the last great day.
In connection with the proclamation of the message in large cities, there are many kinds of work to be done by laborers with varied gifts. Some are to labor in one way, some in another. The Lord desires that the cities shall be worked by the united efforts of laborers of different capabilities. All are to look to Jesus for direction, not depending on man for wisdom, lest they be led astray.
The Lord has given to some ministers the ability to gather and hold large congregations. This calls for the exercise of tact and skill. In the cities of to-day, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God's appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. And when they succeed in bringing together a large number of people, they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned. They must make use of every means that can possibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly. The testing message for this time is to be borne so plainly and decidedly as to startle the hearers, and lead them to desire to study the Scriptures.
Those who do the work of the Lord in the cities must put forth calm, steady, devoted effort for the education of the people. While they are to labor earnestly to interest their hearers and to hold this interest, yet at the same time they must carefully guard themselves against everything that borders on sensationalism. In this age of extravagance and outward show, when men think that it is necessary to make a display in order to gain success, God's chosen messengers are to show the fallacy of expending means needlessly for effect. As they labor with simplicity, humility, and graceful dignity, avoiding everything of a theatrical nature, their work will make a lasting impression for good.
There will be necessity, it is true, for expending money judiciously in advertising the meetings, and in carrying forward the work solidly. Yet the strength of every worker will be found to lie not in these outward agencies, but in trustful dependence of God, in earnest prayer to him for help, in obedience to his Word. Much more prayer, much more Christlikeness, much more conformity to God's will, is to be brought into the Lord's work. Outward show, an extravagant outlay of means, will not accomplish the work to be done.
God's work is to be carried forward with power. We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We need to understand that God will add to the ranks of his people men of ability and influence, who are to act their part in warning the world. All in the world are not lawless and sinful. God has many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal. There are God-fearing men and women in the fallen churches. If this were not so, we should not be given the message to bear, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. . . . Come out of her, my people." Many of the honest in heart are gasping for a breath of life from heaven. They will recognize the gospel when it is brought to them in the beauty and simplicity with which it is presented in God's Word.
Of equal importance with special public efforts, is house-to house work in the homes of the people. As the result of the presentation of truth in large congregations, a spirit of inquiry is awakened; and it is specially important that this interest be followed up by personal labor. Those who desire to investigate the truth need to be taught to study diligently the Word of God. Some one must help them to build on a sure foundation. The Word of God is to be their counselor. At this critical time in their religious experience, how important it is that wisely directed Bible workers come to their help, and open to their understanding the treasure-house of God's Word.
A well-balanced work can be carried on best when a training-school for Bible workers is in progress while the public meetings are being held. Connected with this training-school, or city mission, should be experienced laborers of deep spiritual understanding who can give the Bible workers daily instruction, and who can also unite whole-heartedly in the general public efforts being put forth. And as men and women are converted to the truth, those standing at the head of the city mission should, with much prayer, show these new converts how to experience the power of the truth in their hearts. This united effort on the part of all the workers would be as a nail driven in a sure place.
When personal work is neglected, many precious opportunities are lost, which, were they improved, might advance the work decidedly. In our efforts in behalf of the multitudes dwelling in cities, we must strive to do thorough service. The work in a large center of population is greater than one man can successfully handle. God has different ways of working; and he has workmen to whom he entrusts varied gifts. In a large city, there are certain classes that can not be reached by public meetings. These must be searched out, as the shepherd searches for his lost sheep. Diligent, personal effort must be put forth in their behalf. Let no one feel, when another worker is sent to the place where he is working, that the efforts of one will be counterworked by the efforts of the other. Some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to God's truth as it is presented in a different manner by another laborer. A Paul may plant, an Apollos may water, but God gives the increase.
The Lord desires his chosen servants to learn how to blend together. A decided influence for good is to be brought to bear on the inhabitants of the world. It may seem to some workers that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort. But when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that the Lord is their helper, they will labor together in unity. Their talents, however diverse, may all be under the control of the same Spirit. In every word and act, kindness and love will be revealed. And as each worker fills his appointed place faithfully, the prayer of Christ for the unity of his followers will be answered, and the world will know that these are his disciples.
A little longer will the voice of mercy be heard; a little longer will be given the gracious invitation, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." God sends his warning message to the cities everywhere. Let the messengers whom he sends work so harmoniously that all will take knowledge of them, that they have learned of Jesus.
(Vol. 84, #9)
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." Some conscientious souls, on reading this, immediately begin to criticize their every feeling and emotion. But this is not correct self-examination. It is not the petty feelings and emotions that are to be examined. The life, the character, is to be measured by the only standard of character, God's holy law. The fruit testifies to the character of the tree. Our works, not our feelings, bear witness of us.
The feelings, whether encouraging or discouraging, should not be made the test of the spiritual condition. By God's Word we are to determine our true standing before him. Many are bewildered on this point. When they are happy and joyous, they think that they are accepted by God. When a change comes, and they feel depressed, they think that God has forsaken them.
God does not look with favor upon those self-confident ones who loudly exclaim, "I am sanctified, I am holy, I am sinless." These are Pharisees, who have no foundation for their assertion. Those who, because of their sense of utter unworthiness, dare scarcely lift up their eyes to heaven, are nearer to God than those who claim so much piety. They are represented by the publican, who, with his head on his breast, prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner," and went to his house justified, rather than the self-righteous Pharisee.
But God does not desire us to go through life filled with a distrust of him. We owe our Heavenly Father a more generous view of his goodness than is accorded to him by our manifest distrust of his love. We have an evidence of his love -- an evidence that amazes angels and is far beyond the comprehension of the wisest of human beings. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." While we were yet sinners, God gave his Son to die for us. Can we doubt his goodness?
Behold Christ. Dwell upon his love and mercy. This will fill the soul with abhorrence for all that is sinful, and will inspire it with an intense desire for the righteousness of Christ. The more clearly we see the Saviour, the more clearly shall we discern our defects of character. Confess your sins to Christ, and with true contrition of soul co-operate with him by putting these sins away. Believe that they are pardoned. The promise is positive, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Be assured that the word of God will not fail. He who has promised is faithful. It is as much your duty to believe that God will fulfil his word and forgive you as it is to confess your sins.
Exercise faith in God. How many there are who go through life under a cloud of condemnation! They do not believe God's word. They have no faith that he will do as he has said. Many who long to see others resting in the pardoning love of Christ do not rest in it for themselves. But how can they possibly lead others to show simple, childlike faith in the Heavenly Father when they measure his love by their feelings?
Let us trust God's word implicitly, remembering that we are his sons and daughters. Let us train ourselves to believe his word. We hurt the heart of Christ by doubting, when he has given such evidence of his love. He laid down his life to save us. He says to us: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Do you believe he will do as he has said? Then, after you have complied with the conditions, carry no longer the burden of your sins. Let it roll upon the Saviour. Trust yourself with him. Has he not promised to give you rest? But to many he is obliged to say sorrowfully, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Many manufacture for themselves burdens which are grievous to bear.
Look steadfastly to Jesus. Behold him, full of grace and truth. He will make his goodness pass before you while he hides you in the cleft of the rock. You will be enabled to endure the seeing of him who is invisible, and by beholding you will be transformed.
Faith is not feeling. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There is a form of religion which is nothing more than selfishness. It takes pleasure in worldly enjoyment. It is satisfied with contemplating the religion of Christ, and knows nothing of its saving power. Those who possess this religion regard sin lightly because they do not know Jesus. While in this condition, they estimate duty very lightly. But a faithful performance of duty goes hand in hand with a right estimate of the character of God.
There is earnest work to do for the Master. Christ came to preach the gospel to the poor, and he sent his disciples forth to do the same work he came to do. So he sends forth his workers to-day. Sheaves are to be gathered for him from the highways and hedges. The tremendous issues of eternity demand of us something besides and imaginary religion, a religion of words and forms, where the truth is kept in the outer court, to be admired as we admire a beautiful flower; they demand something more than a religion of feeling, which distrusts God when trials and difficulties come. Holiness does not consist in profession, but in lifting the cross, doing the will of God. Saying, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" will not secure for us an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. "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."
(Vol. 84, #9)
Our artificial habits deprive us of many privileges and much enjoyment, and unfit us for living as useful lives as we might otherwise life. A live of fashion is a hard, thankless life. How much time and money women sacrifice in order to make a sensation! At the cost of their health they beautify the dress. Thus they lose their self-control, overtax their patience, and encourage pride and vanity in their children. Many parents fail to realize that their every action tells upon the future of their children. Mothers complain of weariness. They say that they have so much to do that they can not take time to instruct their children. They have no time to sympathize with them in their little disappointments and trials. I have heard mothers refuse to gratify the innocent desires of their children. They were too hurried to grant their little ones that which would have been to them a great pleasure. The busy fingers and weary eyes were embroidering a garment. But children yearn for sympathy, and if they do not obtain it from their parents, they seek it from other sources, which may prove dangerous to their welfare.
Many mothers teach their daughters to vie with other girls in outward display. To dress as well as others dress -- this is the ambition of their worse than useless lives. As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined. As the children approach manhood and womanhood, their parents deplore their errors. They forget that they have given these youth the lessons that have made them what they are. Parents, remember that the harvest you reap is the fruit of your own planting.
If half the time that mothers spend in preparing the dress in accordance with the demands of fashion, were spent in beautifying the characters of their children, what a change would be seen in families! The inspired apostle writes of women, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Outward display and needless adorning can bear no comparison with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. The desire for outward show proceeds from the pride and vanity of a corrupt heart, and will perish with the user. The inward adorning is as enduring as eternity.
Many mothers spend much time in beautifying their houses. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and it is well to be clean; but this, like many other good things, can be carried too far, to the neglect of things of greater importance. Many mothers beautify their houses to the neglect of weightier matters -- judgment, mercy, and the love of God.
Not long ago I heard a mother express great anxiety to see perfect arrangement and finish in the building of her home. I do not condemn this feeling, but I regretted that this mother could not have brought the same desire for symmetry into the government of her children. In her home she was building and fashioning characters, but she failed to realize the importance of this work, and therefore did not see the mistakes she was making. Passion and self-will ruled in the home. Her children were rough and selfish, uncourteous, and uncultured, seeming to have no sense of true politeness. Their character revealed no uniformity. As I looked upon these self-willed, stubborn pieces of humanity, mismatched indeed, symmetry painfully lacking everywhere, I asked myself involuntarily, Why is the mother so blind? Why is the arrangement of her house of so much more consequence in her eyes than the proper training of her children?
Parents, upon you God has laid the work of educating your children for usefulness. Do not, under any consideration, neglect this work. Do not trust the training of your little ones to any other hands. Take up your life duty bravely and cheerfully, facing your responsibilities candidly. To you has been given the work of bringing your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Make the Word of God your standard. Do not allow the fashions of the world to prevent you from doing your duty. Take great pains to prepare the soil of the heart for the great Sower to scatter in it the seeds of truth.
Mothers, make the education of your children the highest aim of life. Their future happiness depends upon the education they receive in their early years. Do not send them away from you to school when they are young. If your habits and dress are as simple as they should be, you will find ample time to make your children happy, and to lead them to obey you. God will help you to teach them how to submit cheerfully and willingly. Take up your duties, inspired by the noble resolve to do your work faithfully and well. Do not become discouraged. In due time you will reap if you faint not. You will see your children growing up into Christian men and Christian women.
(Vol. 84, #10)
Parents have not yet aroused to understand the amazing power of Christian culture. There are mines of truth to be worked that have been strangely neglected. This careless indifference does not meet the approval of God. Parents, God calls upon you to look at this matter with anointed eyes. You have as yet only skimmed the surface. Take up your long-neglected work, and God will co-operate with you. Do your work with whole-heartedness, and God will help you to make improvement. Begin by bringing the gospel into the home life.
The Lord looks with sadness upon the families in which the parents have not educated and disciplined themselves for the work of training their children. Too often parents have little sense of their accountability. They allow their children to grow up with characters tainted by vice. While they sleep in godless indifference, Satan is sowing in the hearts of their children seeds which will spring up to bear a harvest of death. Yet often such parents resent counsel as to their mistakes. They act as if they would like to ask those who offer advice, What right have you to meddle with my children? But are their children not God's children also? How does he regard their wicked neglect of duty? What excuse will they offer when he asks them why they brought children into the world, and then left them to be the sport of Satan's temptations.
Many seem to think that the declension in the church, the growing love of pleasure, is due to want of pastoral work. True, the church is to be provided with faithful guides and pastors. Ministers should labor earnestly for the youth who have not given themselves to Christ, and also for others, who, though their names are on the church-roll, are irreligious and Christless. But ministers may do their work faithfully and well, yet it will amount to very little if parents neglect their work. It is to a lack of Christianity in the home life that the lack of power in the church is due. Until parents take up their work as they should, it will be difficult to arouse the youth to a sense of their duty. If religion reigns in the home, it will be brought into the church. The parents who do their work for God are a power for good. As they restrain and encourage their children, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they bless the neighborhood in which they live. And the church is strengthened by their faithful work.
The work of forming the character of children, of properly preserving and developing their physical, mental, and moral powers, is no small task. It is chiefly upon the mother that this task devolves. To do this work as it should be done requires talent and skill and patient, thoughtful care. It calls for self-distrust and earnest prayer. Let every mother strive by persevering effort to fulfill her obligations. Let her bring her little ones to Jesus in the arms of faith, and tell him of her great need, asking for grace and wisdom.
The mother should surrender herself and her children to the care of the compassionate Redeemer. Earnestly, patiently, courageously, she should seek to improve her own abilities, that she may use aright the highest powers of the mind in the training of her children. She should make it her highest aim to give her children an education which will receive the approval of God. As she takes up her work understandingly, she will receive power to perform her part.
Mothers, leave not your children to gain impressions of evil, impressions which can never be wholly effaced. Day by day imprint upon their minds the lessons given by the Saviour. This is your work,--a work which no one but you can do. The home is your mission field. Here you are to work for God. Lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset, that you may engage as you should in the work of making your children what God would have them. Teach them self-control. Give them something to do. Make the home a school in which they will learn to help others.
There is untold value in industry. Let the children be taught to do something useful. If parents are so occupied with other things that they can not keep their children usefully employed, Satan will keep them busy. Many parents allow their children to associate with evil companions, to go to questionable places of amusement, to grow up mischievous and idle. Let such parents remember that the sin of Sodom was pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness.
It is the cry of many mothers, "I have no time to be with my children." Then for Christ's sake spend less time on your dress. Neglect if you will to adorn your apparel. Neglect to receive and make calls. Neglect to cook an endless variety of dishes. But never, never neglect your children. What is the chaff to the wheat? Let nothing interpose between you and the best interests of your children. Guard your physical and mental powers, that you may be able to do good work for your little ones. Show your children that you are determined to be a Bible Christian. Dress modestly. Speak wisely. Be gentle, yet as firm as a rock, to principle. Devote no time to needless cooking or stitching. Make your clothes and your food plain. Then you will have time for the culture of your children.
God will call upon you to give a strict account of the work you have done for your little ones. You make them what they are. They will either stand pure and undefiled before God, because you have worked faithfully for them, or, corrupt and defiled, they will be banished from his presence, because you have neglected your work.
Christ placed such a high estimate upon your children that he gave his life for them. Treat them as the purchase of his blood. Patiently and firmly train them for him. Discipline with love and forbearance. As you do this, they will become a crown of rejoicing to you, and will shine as lights in the world.
(Vol. 84, #11)
Soon after the fall of Babylon and the beginning of the universal empire of Medo-Persia, in the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, Daniel the prophet "understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."
Daniel and his companions had been taken to Babylon "in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah." They were members of the first company of captives whom Nebuchadnezzar brought from Jerusalem into the land of Shinar. Daniel was well acquainted with the prophecies of Jeremiah at the time they were given, and he had passed through the periods immediately succeeding the first and the second sieges of Jerusalem, when many false prophets had arisen with the claim that the captivity was to be of short duration.
"In the fourth year of Jehoiakim," very soon after Daniel was taken to Babylon, Jeremiah predicted the captivity of many of the Jews, as their punishment for not heeding the word of the Lord. The Chaldeans were to be used as the instrument by which God would chastise his disobedient people. Their punishment was to be in proportion to their intelligence and to the warnings they had despised. "This whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment," the prophet declared; "and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years . And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations."
In the light of these plain words foretelling the duration of the captivity, it seems strange that any one should hold that the Israelites would soon return from Babylon. And yet there were in Jerusalem and in Babylon those who persisted in encouraging the people to hope for a speedy deliverance. God dealt summarily with some of these false prophets, and thus vindicated the truthfulness of Jeremiah, his messenger.
To the end of time, men will arise to create confusion and rebellion among the people who profess to obey the law of God. But as surely as divine judgment was visited upon the false prophets in Jeremiah's day, so surely will the evil workers of to-day receive their full measure of retribution, for the Lord has not changed. Those who prophesy lies, encourage men to look upon sin as a light thing. When the terrible results of their evil deeds are made manifest, they seek, if possible, to make the one who has faithfully warned them responsible for their difficulties, even as the Jews charged Jeremiah with their evil fortunes.
Those who pursue a course of rebellion against the Lord can always find false prophets who will justify them in their acts, and flatter them to their destruction. Lying words often make many friends, as is illustrated in the case of these false teachers among the Israelites. These so-called prophets, in their pretended zeal for God, found many more believers and followers than the true prophet who delivered the simple message of the Lord.
In view of the work of these false prophets, Jeremiah was directed by the Lord to write letters to the captains, elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been taken captive to Babylon, bidding them not to be deluded into believing their deliverance nigh, but to submit quietly, pursue their vocations, and make for themselves peaceful homes among their conquerors. The Lord bade them not to allow so-called prophets or diviners to deceive them with false expectations. Through his servant Jeremiah he assured them that after seventy years' bondage they should be delivered, and should return to Jerusalem. God would listen to their prayers and show them his favor, when they would turn to him with all their hearts. "I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive."
With what tender compassion did God inform his captive people of his plans for Israel! He knew what suffering and disaster they would have to undergo, were they led to believe, according to the prediction of the false prophets, that they should be speedily delivered and brought back to Jerusalem. He knew that this belief would make their position a very difficult one. Any effort on their part to regain freedom would awaken the vigilance and severity of the king, and their liberty would be restricted in consequence. The Lord desired them to submit quietly to their fate, and make their servitude as pleasant as possible. (To be concluded )
(Vol. 84, #12)
A copy of the letters sent by Jeremiah to the Hebrew captives in Babylon, and of the letters sent by the false prophets to these captives and to the authorities of Jerusalem, together with a story of the controversy between the true and false, is found in the twenty-seventh to the twenty-ninth chapters of Jeremiah.
It was immediately after this interchange of letters between Jeremiah and the elders of the Israelites in captivity, that the prophets was instructed to write in a book all that had been revealed to him regarding the restoration of Israel. This is recorded in the thirtieth and the thirty-first chapters of Jeremiah.
These, with the prophecies of the twenty-fifth chapter, are the letters and the records that Daniel the prophet, during "the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede," prayerfully studied, three-score years and more after they were written. Daniel was familiar with the circumstances connected with Jeremiah's testimonies given very soon after the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. He well knew that the promise of the return was sure; and yet, a short time before, "in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar," the angel of the Lord had instructed him in vision, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
Daniel "sought for the meaning" of the vision. He could not understand the relation sustained by the seventy years' captivity to the twenty-three hundred years that were to elapse before the cleansing of God's sanctuary. Gabriel gave a partial interpretation; and when he declared that the vision "shall be for many days," Daniel fainted. "I Daniel fainted," the prophet writes, "and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision; but none understood it ."
In his perplexity, Daniel studied anew the prophecies of Jeremiah. They were very plain,--so plain that he "understood" by these testimonies recorded in books "the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."
With faith founded on the sure word of prophecy, Daniel pleaded with the Lord for the speedy restoration of the captive exiles to the land of their fathers. "I set my face unto the Lord God," he declares, "to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession." "We have sinned," he acknowledged; "neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets."
"O Lord, according to all thy righteousness," the prophet pleaded, "let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, harken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name."
The prayer of Daniel was not offered in vain. Even before he had finished pleading with God, Gabriel again appeared to him, and called his attention to the vision he had seen prior to the fall of Babylon at the death of Belshazzar. The angel then outlined in detail the period of the seventy weeks, beginning at the time of "the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem."
Daniel's prayer in behalf of his people, as recorded in the ninth chapter, was "in the first year of Darius" the Mede. Darius was favored of heaven; for in the first year of his reign the angel Gabriel "stood up to confirm and to strengthen him." It was this king who, early in the establishment of the Medo-Persian empire, "set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princess, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first. . . . This Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm."
Darius reigned over Medo-Persia two years after the fall of Babylon. During this time, Daniel was cast into the lions' den and came out unharmed. This deliverance led Darius to write "unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion in my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."
Thus, while whose who had remained loyal to God in the midst of Babylon were seeking the Lord and studying the prophecies foretelling their deliverance, God was preparing the hearts of kings to show favor to his repentant people.
(Vol. 84, #13)
Over a century before the birth of Cyrus the Great, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to mention this ruler even by name, and to write a prophecy outlining his work, as recorded in the forty-fifth of Isaiah: --
"Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have summoned thee, though thou last not known me.
"I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."
"Cyrus, he is my shepherd," the Lord declared, "and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." "I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts."
The year that Cyrus succeeded Darius the Mede to the throne of Medo-Persia marked the completion of seventy years since the first company of Hebrews had been carried captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, who was familiar with the prophecies of Jeremiah and Isaiah regarding the duration of the captivity, and with the prophecies of Isaiah regarding the restoration by decree of Cyrus, was still living, and was occupying a position of leading responsibility in the Medo-Persian court. His faith in these prophecies led him to plead with God in behalf of his people. And now, when the time came for the temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt, God moved upon Cyrus as his agent to discern the prophecies concerning himself, and to grant the Jewish people their liberty. And furthermore, Cyrus furnished them the necessary facilities for rebuilding the temple of the Lord.
In the book of Ezra is found an account of this work of Cyrus, and a copy of his decree:--
"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (he is the God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the free-will offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem."
"Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house: and also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is in Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and placed there in the house of God."
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. All kings, all nations, are his, under his rule and government. His resources are infinite. The wise man declares, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."
Those upon whose actions hang the destinies of nations, are watched over with a vigilance that knows no relaxation by him who "giveth salvation unto kings," to whom belong "the shields of the earth."
There were faithful servants of the Most High who were prepared to respond to this decree. Over threescore years before, the Lord had declared that "after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return. . . . Then shall ye call upon me, " the Lord declared, "and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will harken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." Those who were seeking the Lord were prepared to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity afforded them by Cyrus to return to their homes and to restore the temple of God.
"Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.
"Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem."
The company that returned to Jerusalem was led by Zerubbabel (Sheshbazzar), a descendant of King David, and appointed by the king as governor of the restored Israelites. Associated with him were Joshua the high priest, and several of "the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites." "The whole congregation together" that returned to the land of their fathers, under Zerubbabel, "was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore, beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women. Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five; their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.
"And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the Lord which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: they gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pounds of silver, and one hundred priests' garments. So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities."
Soon after their return, in "the seventh month," "the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Joshua the son of Josedech, and his brethren, . . . and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
"They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; and afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were reconsecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the Lord.
"But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid.
"They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia."
The faithful remnant who had returned were greatly cheered and encouraged by the re-establishment of the daily burnt offerings; and they now entered heartily into the preparation necessary for the rebuilding of the temple, in order that they might restore all the ancient services of the house of God.
(Vol. 84, #14)
"Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten."
By this miracle Christ has shown how missionary work is to be bound up with the ministry of the word. Not only did the Master give the people spiritual food; by a miracle he also provided temporal food to satisfy their physical hunger. This merciful provision helped to fasten in the minds of the people the gracious words of truth which he had spoken. Following his example, his disciples are to take the bread of life and the water of salvation and give to those who are longing for spiritual help. And as there is need, they are to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. The beauty and utility of the work we do for God consists in its symmetry and harmony, and in its all-round adaptability and efficiency.
This miracle is an object-lesson for us. It contains lessons of deep import, which, though they lie beneath the surface, will be discerned and appreciated by those who have cultivated their perceptive faculties. By this miracle Christ desires to teach us the truth of the words, "Without me ye can do nothing." He is the source of all power, the giver of all temporal and spiritual blessings. He employs human beings as co-workers, giving them a part to act with him as his helping hand. We are to receive from him, not to hoard for self-gratification, but to impart to others. And as we do this work, let us not suppose that we are to receive the glory. All the glory is to be given to the great Master-Worker. The disciples were not to receive the glory for feeding the five thousand. They were only the instruments used by the Lord.
Those who work for Christ are never to think that the credit for their success belongs to them. God's name is to receive all the glory. He it is who accomplishes the work. He, the great Master-Worker, slumbers not. Constantly he is working for the harmonious accomplishment of his purposes. He entrusts talents to human beings that they may co-operate with him. They are ever to remember that they are but instruments in his hands. "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." "The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble; he sitteth between the cherubim, let the earth be moved. The Lord is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people. Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy."
Christ gave the bread to the disciples, to be given by them to the multitude. By the part which the disciples acted in this miracle is illustrated the part which Christ's disciples in all ages are to act. From him they are to receive the precious truth to give to those who are fainting by the wayside. And as they empty their hands in imparting to the hungry, they receive more to impart.
Christ is the light of the world. Those who walk in this light are charmed by its beauty, and are filled with a desire to share it with others. Their hearts are illuminated by the grace of Christ, and they become light-bearers. Their light shines more and more unto the perfect day.
Thus it was with Philip. After he had been called by Christ, he could not keep to himself the knowledge he had found. Going to Nathanael, he said, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Nathanael asked. But Philip did not stop to argue. "Come and see," was all he said. As he thus showed his faith in the Saviour, he received increased light.
He who has really accepted Christ will not be satisfied to enjoy the divine favor without giving to others the joy that cheers his soul. The purest and holiest devotion is that which leads to persevering, unselfish effort for the salvation of those outside the fold.
Christ calls upon his followers to work earnestly for those for whom he has made such a wonderful sacrifice. When the mind, instead of being centered on self, is occupied in seeking to enrich poverty-stricken souls, the treasure of God's love--the golden oil from the two olive-trees--is poured into the heart. Those who impart to others of the riches of the grace of heaven, will be themselves enriched. The ministering angels are waiting, longing, for channels through which they can communicate the treasures of heaven. Men and women can reach the highest stage of mental and moral development only by co-operating with Jesus in unselfish effort for the good of others. We are never so truly enriched as when we are trying to enrich others. We can not diminish our treasure by sharing it. The more we enlighten others, the brighter our light will shine.
(Vol. 84, #15)
As preparations for building the temple advanced from month to month, the faithful remnant of Israel began to gather courage. Long had they been deprived of every visible token of God's presence with them. And now, surrounded as they were by many sad reminders of the terrible apostasy of their fathers, which had finally resulted in lifelong captivity, they longed for some abiding token of divine forgiveness and favor. Above the restoration of personal property and many ancient privileges, they valued the approval of God. Wonderfully had he wrought in their behalf; and now they longed for an assurance of his pardoning love and protecting care. By working diligently to rebuild the temple, they hoped to hasten the restoration of special blessings connected with the sanctuary service. Within the walls of this second temple they expected to see revealed the glory of the Lord.
Wise plans for the prosecution of the work were laid by Zerubbabel the governor, Joshua the high priest, and their associates in authority. They "appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the Lord." "All they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem" responded nobly, and with willing hands began to prepare the building material. Some of the immense stones brought to the temple site in the days of Solomon, had escaped destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. These stones were made ready for use, and much new material was provided.
The foundation-stone of the temple was laid amid scenes of great rejoicing. Accompanied by the trumpets of the priests and the cymbals of the sons of Asaph, the people "sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel."
The sentiment of this hymn of praise and thanksgiving is that expressed in the one hundred and thirty-sixth psalm--a most appropriate recognition of God's merciful providences in behalf of the children of the captivity:--
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.
"O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever.
"O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth forever.
"To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth forever.
"To him that by wisdom made the heavens;" "that stretched out the earth above the waters;" "that made great lights;" "the sun to rule by day," "the moon and stars to rule by night,"--to him, the Creator of all these, the congregation of Israel gave thanks, acknowledging that "his mercy endureth forever."
"To him that smote Egypt in their first-born," "and brought out Israel from among them," "with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm;" "to him which divided the Red Sea into parts," "and made Israel to pass through the midst of it," "but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea;" "to him which led his people through the wilderness;" "to him which smote great kings," "and slew famous kings," "Sihon king of the Amorites," "and Og king of Bashan," "and gave their land for an heritage," "even an heritage unto Israel his servant,"--to him, the Mighty Leader of the hosts of Israel, the returned exiles now rendered praise as the One whose mercy endureth forever.
And this same Mighty Leader is the One who hath "remembered us in our low estate," "and hath redeemed us from our enemies." O, let us ever "give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth forever!"
The laying of the corner-stone of the second temple should have called forth expressions of gratitude from every heart. The house that was about to be built was the subject of many prophecies. The Lord's servants, and especially those who had had long experience in the things of God, should have recounted the remarkable providences leading up to the work that was being done; and they should have entered heartily into the spirit of the occasion. Especially should all the aged have rejoiced because God in his mercy had not cut them off in their iniquities at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Throughout the long period of captivity they had been spared, and now they were permitted to witness this scene of rejoicing.
But mingled with the music and the shouts of praise ascending on that glad day, was a discordant note of sorrow and dissatisfaction. "Many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice." Among the aged men who had seen the glory of Solomon's temple, there were some who lamented and wept over the inferiority of the building that was now to be erected.
It was but natural and right that these aged men should have feelings of sadness because of the results of long-continued impenitence. Had they and their generation obeyed God and carried out his purpose for Israel, the temple built by Solomon would not have been destroyed, and the captivity would not have been necessary. It was because of their former ingratitude and disloyalty, that they had been scattered among the heathen. Through long years of exile they were brought to realize the sacredness of God's law and the sinfulness of disobedience.
But conditions were now changed. In tender mercy the Lord had once more visited his people, and had allowed them to return to their own land. Feelings of sadness because of the mistakes of the past should have given place to feelings of joy. In a remarkable way God had moved upon the heart of King Cyrus to aid them in rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem, and this should have called forth expressions of profound gratitude. But some failed of discerning God's opening providences. Instead of rejoicing, they entertained thoughts of discontent and discouragement.
This spirit of murmuring and complaining, and of making unfavorable comparisons, had a depressing influence on the minds of many. The expressions of doubt and discouragement weakened the hands of the builders. The workmen were led to question whether they should proceed with the erection of a building that at the beginning was so freely criticized and was the cause of so much lamentation.
There were many in the congregation, however, who did not look upon the lesser glory of this temple, as compared with the first temple, with such dissatisfaction. "Many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off."
Our words and actions have a far-reaching influence for good or for evil. Could those who failed to rejoice at the laying of the foundation-stone of the temple, have foreseen the results of their mournful conduct on that day, they would have been appalled. Little did they realize the weight of their words of disapproval and disappointment. Little did they foresee how much they delayed the final completion of the Lord's house.
"O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" "Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever." "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the Lord."
(Vol. 84, #16)
Christ declares, "The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. . . . I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not."
Are not these words applicable to many to-day? We think that we believe in Christ; but have we his light and life? We do not believe as we should; therefore we do not receive the blessings that God has in store for us. We have seen God working on hearts. We have seen him strengthening men and women to come out from the world and receive Christ as their personal Saviour. Have we thanked God as we should for the wonderful work that he has wrought? Let us recount the blessings of God, and praise him for them. We grieve our Heavenly Father when we are unmindful of his mercies--like the heath in the desert "that knoweth not when good cometh."
When trials come into our lives, when clouds darken the horizon, how ready we are to forget that Jesus is our Saviour, that behind the clouds the Sun of Righteousness is shining; that angels are close beside us, preserving us from harm. I would say to the despairing, Look and live. Hope thou in God; for on Calvary's cross a complete sacrifice was offered for you. Jesus is the sinner's Friend, the sinner's Redeemer. Eternal joy--a life of undimmed happiness--awaits the one who surrenders all to Christ. Look away from yourself to Jesus, who is pleading before the throne of God in your behalf. Listen to his words, "Come unto me, . . . and I will give you rest." "Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out." With the hand of faith grasp the promises of God. Appropriate these blessings to yourself, not at some future time, but to-day.
The strongest temptation can not excuse sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel any one to do evil. Satan attacks us at our weakest points, but we need not be overcome. However severe or unexpected the attack, God has provided help for us, and in his strength we may conquer. In the hour of greatest need when discouragement overwhelms the soul, then it is that Jesus comes very near. The hour of man's necessity is God's opportunity. He sees our danger and provides help for us. Unseen by us, he saves us from the foe. Let us praise him at all times. He is always near us, and he never fails to send us help in every time of need.
Your heart may be so oppressed that all seems dark and dreary, but look to Jesus constantly. Take all your troubles to him. He will never misunderstand you. He is the refuge of his people. Under the shadow of his protection they can pass unharmed. Believe in him and trust in him. He will not give you up to the spoiler. Flee to the stronghold, and learn that the power of Christ to strengthen and help passes all comprehension. Open the door of the heart and let Jesus enter to fill your life with his peace, his grace, his joy. Then you can say: "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olives shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
Dear Christian friends, drop the burdens that God does not ask you to carry. The more you think and talk of these self-imposed burdens, the larger they grow, until at last they will utterly destroy your faith and courage. Do not think that when you walk with Jesus, you must walk in the shadow. The happiest people in the world are those who trust in Jesus and gladly do his bidding. He is the light of life. From the lives of those who follow him, unrest and discontent are banished. With a full heart they echo the words of the wise man, Wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Though they meet with trials and difficulties, their lives are full of joy; for Christ walks beside them, and his presence makes the pathway bright.
(Vol. 84, #17)
From the time the foundation-stone of the second temple was laid, Satan brought to bear upon the builders many influences that greatly hindered the rapid prosecution of the work. The enemy did not have far to go in order to find men through whom to carry out his evil designs. Close by the Israelites, a few miles northward, dwelt the Samaritans.
More than a century before the beginning of the Babylonish captivity, the Assyrian kings had devastated Samaria and Galilee, and had taken into captivity many thousands of Israelites belonging to the ten tribes. The conquering kings repopulated Samaria with colonies of heathen peoples from widely separated parts of the Assyrian realm. These heathen intermarried with the Israelites who had been allowed to remain in the land; and thus originated a mixed race known as the Samaritans.
In later years, the Samaritans claimed to worship the true God; but in heart and practise they were idolaters. It is true, they held that their idols were only to remind them of the living God, the ruler of the universe; nevertheless the people were led to reverence their graven images.
These idolatrous Samaritans were "the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin." About the time of the laying of the corner-stone, they "heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel." Coming "to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers," they expressed their desire to join them in its erection. "Let us build with you," they proposed, "for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither." This privilege was refused them. "Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God," the leaders of the Israelites declared; "but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus of Persia hath commanded us."
In the light of the circumstances surrounding the remnant people of God in the days of Zerubbabel, this decision reveals the character of the leaders of Israel at that time. Only a feeble remnant had chosen to return from Babylon; and now, as they undertake a work seemingly beyond their strength, their nearest neighbors come with an offer to help. The Samaritans refer to their worship of the true God, and express a desire to share in the privileges and blessings connected with the temple service. "We seek your God, as ye do," they declared. "Let us build with you."
Had the Jewish leaders accepted this offer of assistance, they would have opened a door for the entrance of idolatry. They discerned the insincerity of the Samaritans. They realized that all the help that could be gained through an alliance with men, would be as nothing in comparison with the prosperity that would accompany strict obedience to the plain commands of Jehovah.
Regarding their relations with surrounding peoples, the Lord had declared to ancient Israel through Moses: "Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: neither shalt thou make marriages with them; . . . for they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly."
"Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all 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. . . . Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them."
The result that would follow a breaking of their covenant with God, and an entrance into covenant relation with surrounding nations, was plainly foretold through Moses: "The Lord shall scatter you among the nations," he declared, "and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul." Precious assurance! Then follows the promise to the penitent, that God would not forsake them, nor forget the covenant that he had made with their fathers.
Zerubbabel and his associates were familiar with these scriptures. Their fathers had lost sight of the sacred relationship that should ever exist between God and his chosen people. Forgetting their solemn covenant with the Lord of hosts, they had entered into covenant relation with heathen nations. The prophecies of Moses were literally fulfilled. The chosen nation was scattered among heathen nations. And only a remnant, "few in number," had repented and turned to God. Only a few had renewed their covenant with him, and had returned to restore that which had been destroyed because of the disobedience of their fathers. And now, having solemnly rededicated themselves to the Lord at the ancient altar set up before the ruins of his temple, should they, at the very beginning of their work, enter into a covenant with a people who worshiped idols?
"Thou shalt make no covenant with them." God's servants in responsibility realized that the line of demarcation between his people and the people of the world is ever to be kept unmistakably distinct. They refused to be guided by the counsel of those who for years had known the requirements of God's law, but who had refused to yield to its claims.
The principles set forth in Deuteronomy for the instruction of Israel, are to be followed by God's people to the end of time. Our prosperity is dependent on the continuance of our covenant relationship with God. In no instance can we afford to compromise principle by entering into covenant with those who fear not God.
There is constant danger that professed Christians will come to think that in order to have influence with worldlings, they must conform to the world to a certain extent. But although the propositions of Satan may appear to afford great advantages, as did the offer of the Samaritans to assist in the construction of the temple, they always end in spiritual ruin. God's people must guard against every subtle influence that is seeking entrance by means of flattering inducements from the enemies of his truth.
We are pilgrims and strangers in this world, traveling a path beset with dangers from those who have rejected the only One who can save them. Ingenious subterfuges and scientific problems will be held out before us, to tempt us to swerve from our allegiance, but we are not to heed them. Every one must seek God for himself.
It is not always open and avowed enemies that are most to be feared. We shall have enemies who come, like "the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin," with smooth words and fair speeches, and who would deceive if possible the very elect. It is thus that Satan often works; and again, when it suits his purpose, he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Let every soul be on the alert. The adversary is on your track. Vigilantly watch lest some carefully concealed and masterly snare take you unawares. Let the careless and indifferent beware lest the day of the Lord come upon them as a thief in the night. Many will wander from the path of humility, and, casting aside the yoke of Christ, will walk in strange paths. Blinded and bewildered, they will leave the narrow path that leads to the city of God.
A man can not be a happy Christian unless he is a watchful Christian. He who overcomes must watch; for with worldly entanglements, error, and superstition, Satan strives to win Christ's followers from him. It is not enough that we avoid glaring errors and perilous, inconsistent moves. We are to keep close to the side of Christ, walking in the path of self-denial and sacrifice. We are in an enemy's country. He who was cast out of heaven has come down with great power. With every conceivable artifice and device he is seeking to take souls captive. Unless we are constantly on guard, we shall fall an easy prey to his deceptions.
In the closing scenes of this earth's history, when intensity is taking possession of every earthly element, the Lord requires of us a vigilance that knows no relaxation. But we are not left to struggle alone. Amid the dangers increasing on every hand, those who walk humbly before God, distrustful of their own wisdom, will have angels as their helpers and protectors. In times of special peril they will know the power of God's keeping care. Those who do not realize their danger because they do not watch, will pay, with the loss of their souls, the penalty of their presumption and their wilful ignorance of Satan's devices.
Let us trust fully, humbly, unselfishly, in God. We are his children, and he deals with us as such. When we draw near to him, and renew our covenant with him, he mercifully preserves us from the assaults of the enemy. Never will be betray one who trusts in him as a child trusts in its parents. He sees the humble, trusting souls drawing near to him, and in pity and love he draws near to them, and lifts up for them a standard against the enemy. Touch them not, he says; for they are mine. I have graven them upon the palms of my hands. He teaches them to exercise unquestioning faith in his power to work in their behalf. With assurance they say, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(Vol. 84, #18)
God has given to every man his work, and we are to acknowledge the wisdom of his plan for us by a hearty co-operation with him. It is in a life of service only that true happiness is found. He who lives a useless, selfish life is miserable. He is dissatisfied with himself and with every one else.
The Lord disciplines his workers, that they may be prepared to fill the places appointed them. Thus he desires to fit them to do more acceptable service.
A life of monotony is not the most conducive to spiritual growth. Some can reach the highest standard of spirituality only through a change in the regular order of things. When in his providence God sees that changes are essential for the success of the character-building, he disturbs the smooth current of the life.
There are those who desire to be a ruling power, and who need the sanctification of submission. God brings about a change in their lives. Perhaps he places before them duties that they would not choose. If they are willing to be guided by him, he will give them grace and strength to perform these duties in a spirit of submission and helpfulness. Thus they are being qualified to fill places where their disciplined abilities will make them of great service.
Some God trains by bringing to them disappointment and apparent failure. It is his purpose that they shall learn to master difficulty. He inspires them with a determination to make every apparent failure prove a success.
Often men pray and weep because of the perplexities and obstacles that confront them. But if they will hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, he will make their way clear. Success will come to them as they struggle against apparently insurmountable difficulties; and with success will come the greatest joy.
Again, God sees that a worker needs to be more closely associated with him; and to bring this about, he separates him from friends and acquaintances. When he was preparing Elijah for translation, he moved him from place to place that he might not settle down at ease, and thus fail of obtaining spiritual power. And it was God's design that Elijah's influence should be a power to help many souls to gain a wider, more helpful experience.
Let those who are not permitted to rest in quietude, who must be continually on the move, pitching their tent to-night in one place, and to-morrow night in another place, remember that the Lord is leading them, and that this is his way of helping them to form perfect characters. In all the changes that we are required to make, God is to be recognized as our companion, our guide, our dependence.
There are many who are not satisfied to serve God cheerfully in the place that he has marked out for them, or to do uncomplainingly the work that he has placed in their hands. It is right for us to be dissatisfied with the way in which we perform duty, but we are not to be dissatisfied with the duty itself, because we would rather do something else. In his providence God places before human beings service that will be as medicine to their diseased minds. Thus he seeks to lead them to put aside the selfish preference, which, if cherished, would disqualify them for the work he has for them. If they accept and perform this service, their minds will be cured. If they refuse it, they will be left at strife with themselves and with others.
Many are ignorant of how to work for God, not because they need to be ignorant, but because they are unwilling to submit to his training. Moab is spoken of as a failure because, the prophet, declares, "Moab hath been at ease from his youth, . . . and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity; therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed."
Thus it is with those whose hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are not purged from them. Their hearts are not cleansed from defilement. They were given an opportunity to do a work for God, but this work they did not choose to do, because they wished to carry out their own plans.
The Christian is to be prepared for the doing of a work that reveals kindness, forbearance, long-suffering, gentleness, patience. The cultivation of these precious gifts is to come into the life of the Christian, that, when called into service by the Master, he may be ready to use his highest powers in helping and blessing those around him.
(Vol. 84, #19)
Our perplexities will be removed and our anxieties lightened when we heed the invitation, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and by burden is light."
At the entrance gate of the path that leads to everlasting life, God places faith, and he lines the whole way with the light and peace and joy of willing obedience. The traveler in this way keeps ever before him the mark of his high calling in Christ. The prize is ever in sight. To him God's commands are righteousness and joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. The things that first appeared to be crosses are found by experience to be crowns.
"Learn of me," is the Saviour's command. Yes, learn of him how to live the Christ-life,--a life pure and holy, free from any taint of sin. There is power for those who receive Christ; for we read, "As many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God." His promise is that if we accept his invitation to learn of him, we shall be anointed with the oil of gladness. Shall we not place ourselves where we can receive this anointing?
Progression the Law of Heaven -- Progression, not stagnation, is the law of heaven. Progression is the law of every faculty of mind and body. The things of nature obey this law. In the field there is seen first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. In the spiritual life, as in the physical life, there is to be growth. Step by step we are to advance, ever receiving and imparting, ever gaining a more complete knowledge of Christ, daily approaching more closely the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
The Christian is first a babe in Christ. Then he becomes a child. Constantly he is to make advancement proportionate to the opportunities and privileges granted him. Ever he is to remember that he is not his own, that he has been bought with a price, and that he must make the best possible use of the talents entrusted to him. Even in the infancy of his spiritual understanding, the Christian is to do his best, making steady advancement toward the higher, holier life. He is to realize that he is a laborer together with God. He is to notice the way in which God works, and then strive to attain to the possibilities held out to him, saying, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." He is never to become self-sufficient, but is to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. He is to walk and work in the Saviour's companionship. As he does this, his faith will increase. Constantly beholding Christ, he will be changed into the same image from character to character.
(Vol. 84, #20)
God will accept nothing less than unreserved surrender. Half-hearted, sinful Christians can never enter heaven. There they would find no happiness; for they know nothing of the high, holy principles that govern the members of the royal family.
The true Christian keeps the windows of the soul open heavenward. He lives in fellowship with Christ. His will is conformed to the will of Christ. His highest desire is to become more and more Christlike, that he may say with Paul: "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."
Earnestly and untiringly we are to strive to reach God's ideal for us. Not as a penance are we to do this, but as the only means of gaining true happiness. The only way to gain peace and joy is to have a living connection with him who gave his life for us, who died that we might live, and who lives to unite his power with the efforts of those who are striving to overcome.
Holiness is constant agreement with God. Shall we not strive to be that which Christ so greatly desires us to be--Christians in deed and in truth,--that the world may see in our lives a revelation of the saving power of truth? This world is our preparatory school. While here we shall meet with trials and difficulties. Continually the enemy of God will seek to draw us away from our allegiance. But while we cleave to him who gave himself for us, we are safe. The whole world was gathered into the embrace of Christ. He died on the cross to destroy him who had the power of death, and to take away the sin of every believing soul. He calls upon us to offer ourselves on the altar of service, a living, consuming sacrifice. We are to make an unreserved consecration to God of all that we have and are.
In this lower school of earth we are to learn the lessons that will prepare us to enter the higher school, where our education will continue under the personal instruction of Christ. Then he will open to us the meaning of his word. Shall we not, in the few days of probation remaining to us, act like men and women who are seeking for life in the kingdom of God, even an eternity of bliss? We can not afford to miss the privilege of seeing Christ face to face, and of hearing from his lips the story of redemption. Shall we put our whole souls into the work of preparing for admission into the higher school, or shall we trifle away the gracious opportunity, wasting the months and years so rapidly passing into eternity?
(Vol. 84, #21)
What shall we render to God for all his benefits to us? We are to acknowledge our dependence upon him by returning to him a portion of the bounty he has bestowed upon us. At a stated time each week we are to lay by in store, as God has prospered us, something for the advancement of his work.
All that we have is lent us by God, to be used in his service. Were this more faithfully remembered, the selfishness which exists in so many hearts would be uprooted. But men refuse to give themselves to God. They forget that they have been bought with the blood of his only begotten Son; forget that they are indebted to him for every breath they breathe, for every dollar they possess. They use his money in building houses and adding acre to acre, solely for self-gratification. A just God will call them to account for misapplying his means, robbing his needy children of the necessaries of life in order to gratify their expensive tastes.
Those who refuse to place themselves on the Lord's side are robbing him of the service he claims. What rent are they paying him for living in his house, this world? They act as if they had created the world, as if they had a right to use their possessions as they please. God marks their misuse of his talents. He graciously permits the unrepentant sinner to live out his probation; but his time is appointed. He is wasting his physical, mental, and moral strength. He is squandering his God-given opportunities. Instead of using brain, bone, and muscle in accomplishing all he can for the advancement of the kingdom of God, he is studying how he can please and glorify self. He is closing the door to the improvement of his capabilities. The adoption of false theories has placed him in opposition to the law of God.
The Scriptures speak of the large class of professors who are not doers. Many who claim to believe in God deny him by their works. Their worship of money, houses, and lands marks them as idolaters and apostates. All selfishness is covetousness, and is, therefore, idolatry. Many who have placed their names on the church roll, as believers in God and the Bible, are worshiping the goods the Lord has entrusted to them that they may be his almoners. They may not literally bow down before their earthly treasure, but nevertheless it is their god. They are worshipers of mammon. To the things of this world they offer the homage which belongs to the Creator. He who sees and knows all things records the falsity of their profession.
From the soul-temple of a worldly Christian, God is excluded, in order that worldly policy may have abundant room. Money is his god. It belongs to Jehovah, but he to whom it is entrusted refuses to let it flow forth in deeds of benevolence. Did he appropriate it in accordance with God's design, the incense of his good works would ascend to heaven, and from thousands of converted souls would be heard songs of praise and thanksgiving.
To advance God's kingdom, to arouse those dead in trespasses and sins, to speak to sinners of the healing balm of the Saviour's love,--it is for this that our money should be used. But too often it is used for self-glorification. Instead of being the means of bringing souls to a knowledge of God and Christ, thus calling forth praise and gratitude to the Giver of all good, earthly possessions have been the means of eclipsing the glory of God and obscuring the view of heaven. By the wrong use of money the world has been filled with evil practises. The door of the mind has been closed against the Redeemer.
God declares, "The gold and the silver is mine." He keeps a strict account with every son and daughter of Adam, that he may know how they are appropriating his means. Worldly men and worldly women may say, "But I am not a Christian. I do not profess to serve God." But does this make them any less guilty for burying his means, his resources, in worldly enterprises, to advance their selfish interests?
I speak to you who know not God, who may read these lines; for in his providence they may be brought to your notice. What are you doing with your Lord's goods? What are you doing with the physical and mental powers he has given you? Are you able of yourself to keep the human machinery in motion? Did God speak but one word to say that you must die, you would at once be still in death. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, God works by his infinite power to keep you alive. It is he who supplies the breath which keeps life in your body. Did God neglect man as man neglects God, what would become of the race?
The great Medical Missionary has an interest in the work of his hands. He presents before men the peril of closing the door of the heart against the Saviour, saying, "Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die?"
(Vol. 84, #22)
We bear the name of Christian. Let us be true to this name. To be a Christian means to be Christlike. It means to follow Christ in self-denial, bearing aloft his banner of love, honoring him by unselfish words and deeds. In the life of the true Christian there is nothing of self--self is dead. There was no selfishness in the life that Christ lived while on this earth. Bearing our nature, he lived a life wholly devoted to the good of others.
Christ "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." He made an offering so complete that through his grace every one may reach the standard of perfection. Of those who receive his grace and follow his example it will be written in the book of life, "Complete in him--without spot or stain."
In word and deed Christ's followers are to be pure and true. In this world--a world of iniquity and corruption--Christians are to reveal the attributes of Christ. All they do and say is to be free from selfishness. Christ desires to present them to the Father "without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," purified through his grace, bearing his likeness.
In his great love, Christ surrendered himself for us. He gave himself for us to meet the necessities of the striving, struggling soul. We are to surrender ourselves to him. When this surrender is entire, Christ can finish the work he began for us by the surrender of himself. Then he can bring to us complete restoration.
Christ gave himself for the redemption of the race, that all who believe in him may have everlasting life. Those who appreciate this great sacrifice receive from the Saviour that most precious of all gifts--a clean heart. They gain an experience that is more valuable than gold or silver or precious stones. They sit together in heavenly places in Christ, enjoying in communion with him the joy and peace that he alone can give. They love him with heart and mind and soul and strength, realizing that they are his blood-bought heritage. Their spiritual eyesight is not dimmed by worldly policy or worldly aims. They are one with Christ as he is one with the Father.
Think you not that Christ values those who live wholly for him? Think you not that he visits those who, like the beloved John, are for his sake in hard and trying places? He finds his faithful ones, and holds communion with them, encouraging and strengthening them.
Said the great apostle to the Gentiles, "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 faith Paul appropriated the grace of Christ, and this grace supplied the necessities of his soul. By faith he received the heavenly gift, and imparted it to souls longing for light. This is the experience we need, that, in a time when iniquity prevails, we may say, "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Pray for this faith. Strive for it. Believe that God will give it to you.
There is a great work to be done in our world. This is no dreamland. Before us are living realities. On every hand are to be seen the manifestations of Satan's power. Let us co-operate with him who works to restore and uplift. And let us not forget that he who works for Christ must recruit his strength at the source of all strength, that he may press forward in the power of God, filled with the faith that will not let go. Christians need power of thought, firmness of will, and knowledge that comes from the study of God's Word. They can not afford to fill their minds with trifles. Every day they must be renewed in spiritual power.
Learn of him who has said, "I am meek and lowly in heart." Learning of him, you will find rest. Day by day you will gain an experience in the things of God, day by day realize the greatness of his salvation and the glory of a union with him. Constantly you will learn better how to live Christlike, and constantly you will grow more like the Saviour.
If we will die to self, if we will enlarge our idea of what Christ can be to us and what we can be to him, if we will unite with one another in the bonds of Christian fellowship, God will work through us with mighty power. Then we shall be sanctified through the truth. We shall indeed be chosen by God and controlled by his Spirit. Every day of life will be precious to us, because we shall see in it an opportunity to use our entrusted gifts for the blessing of others.
(Vol. 84, #23)
Every true child of God will be sifted as wheat, and in the sifting process every cherished pleasure which diverts the mind from God must be sacrificed. In many families the mantel-shelves, stands, and tables are filled with ornaments and pictures. Albums filled with photographs of the family and their friends are placed where they will attract the attention of visitors. Thus the thoughts, which should be upon God and heavenly interests, are brought down to common things. Is not this a species of idolatry? Should not the money thus spent have been used to bless humanity, to relieve the suffering, to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry? Should it not be placed in the Lord's treasury to advance his cause and build up his kingdom in the earth?
This matter is of great importance, and it is urged upon you to save you from the sin of idolatry. Blessing would come to your souls if you would obey the word spoken by the Holy One of Israel: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Many are creating unnecessary cares and anxieties for themselves by devoting time and thought to the unnecessary ornaments with which their houses are filled. The power of God is needed to arouse them from this devotion; for to all intents and purposes it is idolatry.
He who searches the heart desires to win his people from every species of idolatry. Let the Word of God, the blessed book of life, occupy the tables now filled with useless ornaments. Spend your money in buying books that will be the means of enlightening the mind in regard to present truth. The time you waste in moving and dusting the multitudinous ornaments in your house, spend in writing a few lines to your friends, in sending papers or leaflets or little books to some one who knows not the truth. Grasp the word of the Lord as the treasure of infinite wisdom and love; this is the guide-book that points out the path to heaven. It points us to the sin-pardoning Saviour, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." O that you would search the Scriptures with prayerful hearts, and a spirit of surrender to God! O that you would search your hearts as with a lighted candle, and discover and break the finest thread that binds you to worldly habits, which divert the mind from God! Plead with God to show you every practise that draws your thoughts and affections from him. God has given his holy law to man as his measure of character. By this law you may see and overcome every defect in your character. You may sever yourself from every idol, and link yourself to the throne of God by the golden chain of grace and truth.
The apostle writes: "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; leave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality." "The night is far spent; the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
There is none too much self-denial, none too much self-sacrifice, none too much overcoming evil with good. If all the inclinations to gratify the taste for frivolous things were firmly resisted, there would be more money to use for God. Shall we not make decided changes in this respect? Shall we not set money flowing in channels where it will glorify God?
When I see families poorly clad, and houses destitute of those things that are necessary for comfort, and then visit the homes where every niche and corner is filled with useless ornaments, I am tired of the sight of my eyes. Let us search the Word and see if there is not some instruction there that will teach us how to relieve the maladies that have become chronic in the spiritual life of many. "Is not this the fast that I have chosen?" God asks, "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 rereward. . . . If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness shall 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."
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity," Paul declares, "I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil."
The Son of the infinite God came to this earth, and honored it with his presence. He emptied himself of his glory, and clothed his divinity with humanity, that humanity might touch humanity, and reveal to fallen man the perfect love of God. Christ did not come to earth to live a life of pleasure, of self-indulgence. He lived not to please himself. "The Son of man," he said, "is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
We have great changes to make before we reach perfection. God calls for complete self-surrender. We must guard diligently our lips, lest they speak guile. We must be strict with ourselves, that we bring not false principles into our dealings with others, and lead souls from the safe path. We must work the works of God. Adhere to correct principles, whatever the cost to yourself. In appeals and warnings let your light shine forth to others. Economize your pence that you may have pounds with which to help the cause of truth. Keep your tables free from many pictures and ornaments, which are as nothing in comparison with the Word of God. Let your holy example lead the sympathies of your friends heavenward: "for he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written. The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Jesus Christ: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Vol. 84, #24)
During the night I was sorely distressed. A great burden rested upon me, I had been pleading with God to work in behalf of his people. My attention was called to the money which they have invested in photographs. I was taken from house to house, through the homes of our people, and as I went from room to room, my Instructor said, "Behold the idols which they have accumulated!"
As I visit the homes of our people and our schools, I see that all the available space on tables, what-nots, and mantelpieces is filled up with photographs. On the right hand and on the left are seen the pictures of human faces. God desires this order of things to be changed. Were Christ on earth, he would say, "Take these things hence." I have been instructed that these pictures are as so many idols, taking up the time and thought which should be sacredly devoted to God.
These photographs cost money. Is it consistent for us, knowing the work that is to be done at this time, to spend God's money in producing pictures of our own faces and the faces of our friends? Should not every dollar that we can spare be used in the upbuilding of the cause of God? These pictures take money that should be sacredly devoted to God's service; and they divert the mind from the truths of God's Word.
This making and exchanging photographs is a species of idolatry. Satan is doing all he can to eclipse heaven from our view. Let us not help him by making picture-idols. We need to reach a higher standard than these human faces suggest. The Lord says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Those who claim to believe in Christ need to realize that they are to reflect his image. It is his likeness that is to be kept before the mind. The words that are spoken are to be freighted with heavenly inspiration.
Christ looks upon a world filled with the din of merchandise and trade, with the dishonesty and scheming of buyers and sellers. In their desire to get gain, men have lost sight of the laws of justice and equity. "It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth." Satan has devised a multitude of ways in which to keep men from serving God. He has invented sports and games, into which men enter with such intensity that one would suppose a crown of life was to reward the winner. At the horse races and football matches, which are attended by thousands and thousands of people, lives for which Christ shed his blood are thrown away. What will become of the souls of the men and boys whose lives are thus extinguished? Will they be counted worthy of the redemption which Christ died to secure for them?
Looking upon these God-dishonoring scenes, Christ asks, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" He calls the attention of men to the nobler world which they have lost from view. He points them to the threshold of heaven, flushed with the glory of the infinite God.
Those who have taken part in the solemn rite of baptism have pledged themselves to seek for those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; pledged themselves to labor earnestly for the salvation of sinners. God asks those who take his name, How are you using the powers that have been redeemed by the death of my Son? Are you doing all in your power to rise to a greater height in spiritual understanding? Are you adjusting your interests and actions in harmony with the momentous claims of eternity?
Let there be a reformation among the people of God. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Those upon whom the Lord has placed the burden of his work are struggling to proclaim the message, that souls perishing in ignorance may be warned. Can you not, by self-denial, do something to help them in their work? Arouse, and show by your unselfish zeal and earnestness that you are converted.
Every dollar is required in the work of saving souls. The money invested by the professed people of God in getting pictures made of human faces would support several missionaries in the field. Many small streams, when put together, swell into a large river. We embezzle our Lord's goods when we use for selfish pleasure the means which should be used to proclaim the last message of warning. If you spend the Lord's money for self-gratification, how can you expect him to continue to bestow his goods on you? How does the Master regard those who selfishly invest his money in photographs? That very money could have been used to purchase reading-matter to send to those in the darkness of ignorance.
The truth that God has given us must be heralded to the world. We have been given the privilege of doing this work. We are to sow the seed of truth beside all waters. The Lord calls upon us to practise self-denial and self-sacrifice. The gospel demands entire consecration. The necessities of the cause demand all that we can give. Our indulgence in photographs has been a selfish gratification on our part, which bears silent witness against us. By this indulgence a large amount of wood, hay, and stubble has been brought to the foundation, to be consumed by the fires of the last day.
After going from home to home, and seeing the many photographs, I was instructed to warn our people against this evil. This much we can do for God. We can put these picture-idols out of sight. They have no power for good, but interpose between God and the soul. They can do nothing to help in sowing the seeds of truth. Christ calls upon those who claim to be following him to put on the whole armor of God. Our educational institutions need to feel the reforming power of the Spirit of God. "If the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Those who are engaged as teachers in our schools and sanitariums should reach a high standard of consecration. And the students in these institutions, who are fitting themselves to go forth as missionaries, should learn to practise self-denial.
We are God's stewards, and "it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." The money that God has entrusted to us is to be carefully husbanded. We are to increase in efficiency by putting to the best use the talents given us, that at God's coming we may return to him his own with usury.
(Vol. 84, #25)
God says of his people, "I . . . will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God."
By trial the Lord proves the strength of his children. Is the heart strong to bear? Is the conscience void of offense? Does the Spirit bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God? This the Lord ascertains by trying us. In the furnace of affliction he purifies us from all dross. He sends us trials, not to cause us needless pain, but to lead us to look to him, to strengthen our endurance, to teach us that if we do not rebel, but put our trust in him, we shall see of his salvation.
Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. It is a conflict, a battle, a march day after day. It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven. If we sit with Christ on his throne, we must first be partakers with him in his suffering. Individually we must experience that which was spoken of Christ. It became him, "in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering." "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Shall we then be timid and cowardly because of the trials we must meet as we advance? Shall we not meet them without repining or complaint? In this world we shall have tribulation; but the Lord Jesus will give us all the help that we ask, and believe that he will bestow.
By God's mighty cleaver of truth we have been taken from the quarry of the world and brought into the workshop of the Lord to be prepared for a place in his temple. In this work the hammer and chisel must act their part, and then comes the polishing. Rebel not under this process of grace. You may be a rough stone, on which much work must be done before you are prepared for the place God designs you to fill. You need not be surprised if with the hammer and the chisel of trial God cuts away your defects of character. He alone can accomplish this work. And be assured that he will not strike one useless blow. His every blow is struck in love, for your eternal good and happiness. He knows your defects, and works to restore, not to destroy. He sends trials to you to make you strong to do and to suffer for him.
During the march of the children of Israel through the wilderness, God tried their faith, to lead them to trust in him. Before they left Egypt, he began to give them these lessons, to lead them to look to him as their deliverer and protector. The tribulations through which they passed were a part of his great plan. It was not by chance that they came to Marah, where they could not drink of the water, "for it was bitter." Thus God desired to teach them a lesson of trust. But they murmured and complained, crying out in distrust, "What shall we drink?" Do we not too often, like the Israelites, forget God, and by murmuring and complaining lose the blessing of the trial?
Remember that in every time of trouble Jesus is near you, seeking to impress his image upon you. He is trying to help you to carry the cross. He is close beside you, seeking to lead you to see how sorry he is that you make mistakes. He is always ready to clasp the hand stretched out for aid.
Christ's love for his children is as strong as it is tender. It is a love stronger than death; for he died for us. It is a love more true than that of a mother for her children. The mother's love may change; but Christ's love is changeless. "I am persuaded," Paul says, "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
In every trial we have strong consolation. Is not our Saviour touched with the feeling of our infirmities? Has he not been tempted in all points like as we are? And has he not invited us to take every trial and perplexity to him? Then let us not make ourselves miserable over to-morrow's burdens. Bravely and cheerfully carry the burdens of to-day. To-day's trust and faith we must have. But we are not asked to live more than a day at a time. He who gives strength for to-day will give strength for to-morrow. Let us take our sorrows to the Lord in prayer, saying, "My burdens are too heavy for me. Wilt thou bear them?" Christ will say, "I will take them. With everlasting kindness will I have mercy upon thee." Nothing wounds the soul like the sharp doubts of unbelief. When trial comes, as it will, do not worry or complain. Silence in the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. "Then are they glad because they be quiet." Remember that underneath you are the everlasting arms. "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." He is guiding you into a harbor of gracious experience, and he bids you. "Be still, and know that I am God."
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which 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." If you are patient, "the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth," will be found "unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
(Vol. 84, #26)
The parable of the talents should receive prayerful, critical attention. By it we are shown the importance of trading diligently and conscientiously on our Lord's goods. Not one thread of selfishness is to be woven into his work. Worldly ambition is not to be cherished. We are to keep self out of sight, holding Christ before the world. We are to bring glory to God by doing our best to be perfect men and perfect women.
Christ gave the parable of the talents to show us that all the blessings we have come from God. Our gifts belong to him. They are not to be used according to human judgment, but according to the directions given in God's Word. We are to study how we may use these gifts for the up-building of the cause of truth.
In the parable our Saviour says, "And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability." Here we are shown that different gifts are entrusted to different individuals. With the talents given him, be they many or few, each one is to do his utmost to glorify God. Talents improve and multiply as they are used in the service of the Master.
In the parable, the one who received five talents and the one who received two are represented as trading wisely on their talents, so that when their Lord returned, they were able to present to him that which he had entrusted to them, together with what they had gained by trading. And to each were spoken the words of commendation, "Well done, 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."
"But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money." When the time came for him to render an account, he said, "Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."
To-day thousands are doing as the unfaithful servant did. They live for self, when God desires them to improve their abilities for him, that they may act their part in his work. They excuse themselves by saying that they have but one talent. But if used for God, that one talent would accomplish much. By careful use the slothful servant might have doubled the talent, which instead of using he hid in the ground.
This parable shows the need of using every gift aright. To all comes the opportunity of blessing others by speaking helpful, uplifting words. This is a talent, and the failure to improve it brings great loss.
In our work this thought of glorifying God is to be made prominent. The business man is to bring the principles of heaven into every line of his work. In all he does the Christlikeness is to be clearly revealed. He who tills the soil is to make his work an object-lesson of the careful, thorough work which must be done in the culture of the soil of the heart. The mechanic is to do his very best, bringing his work as near perfection as possible.
"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." The Lord can not unite with those who are careless and slothful in their work. He leaves them to themselves, choosing for his service those who do well every piece of work they handle, those who manage economically, gathering up the fragments, so that nothing will be lost.
Those who work for the Lord must remember that they are members of the royal family, and that they are to do all that their hands find to do as in the sight of the heavenly universe. Never must they slight their work, doing it in such a way that he who has redeemed them will be ashamed of it. They are to guard against doing anything that will lead to carelessness or irreverence. They are ever to remember the words. "Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." By following principles of strict integrity, they are to build up a symmetrical character.
Christ will increase the talents of every faithful worker. This is the principle he always follows in dealing with his servants in this world. But the full honor in store for the one who in this life works with an eye single to the glory of God, will not be bestowed until the day of judgment. Then Christ will say to him, "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."
(Vol. 84, #27)
Those who search for worldly distinction and glory make a sad mistake. It is the one who denies self, giving to others the preference, who will sit nearest to Christ on his throne. He who reads the heart sees the true merit possessed by his lowly, self-sacrificing disciples, and because they are worthy he places them in positions of distinction, though they do not realize their worthiness and do not seek for honor.
To them Christ's words of encouragement are spoken, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." What a promise is this! Christ's faithful ones are to be sharers with him in the kingdom he has received from his Father. This is a spiritual kingdom, in which those who are most active in serving their brethren are the greatest. Christ's servants, under his direction, are to administer the affairs of his kingdom. They are to eat and drink at his table, that is, be admitted to near communion with him.
The Saviour said again, "And every one 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 an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."
God places no value on outward display or boasting. Many who in this life are looked upon as superior to others, will one day see that God values men according to their compassion and self-denial. When the scenes of the judgment are enacted before them, they will see the mistake they have made. Those who follow the example of him who went about doing good, who help and bless their fellow men, trying always to lift them up, are in God's sight infinitely higher than the selfish ones who exalt themselves.
God does not accept men because of their capabilities, but because they seek his face, desiring his help. God sees not as man sees. He judges not from appearances. He searches the heart, and judges righteously. "To this man will I look," he declares, "even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."
He accepts and communes with his lowly, unpretentious followers; for in them he sees the most precious material, which will stand the test of storm and tempest, heat and pressure.
Our object in working for the Master should be that his name may be glorified in the conversion of sinners. Those who labor to gain applause are not approved of God.
The Lord uses many gifts in the work of saving sinners. In the future, common men will be impressed by the Spirit of God to leave their ordinary employment to go forth and proclaim the last message of mercy. They are to be strengthened and encouraged, and as fast as possible prepared for labor, that success may crown their efforts. They cooperate with unseen, heavenly agencies, for they are willing to spend and be spent in the service of the Master. They are laborers together with God, and their brethren should bid them Godspeed, praying for them as they go forth to fulfil the great commission. No one is authorized to hinder such workers. They are to be treated with the greatest respect. No taunting word is to be spoken of them as in the rough places of the earth they sow the gospel seed.
How dare any one bar the way of God's servants by unjust, unfeeling speeches? But this has been done, and thereby laborers have been discouraged, and many souls lost who might have been saved. Those who do this work are not prompted by the Spirit of God, but by another spirit. Scornful criticisms and discourteous remarks are wholly of Satan. If ministers, teachers, and people would practise Bible courtesy, they would find hearts open to receive the truth, and God would be glorified.
Those who search for something with which to find fault have taken Satan's side of the question. Christ can not say of them, "Well done, good and faithful servant." They are not giving the trumpet a certain sound.
All who can should do personal work. As they go from house to house, explaining the Scriptures in a clear, simple way, the Lord will make the truth powerful to save. But in order to do this work successfully, all worldly ambition must be left behind. Every weight, every besetting sin, must be laid aside. The church can not measure herself by the world, nor by the opinions of men, nor yet by what she once was. Her position in the world is to be compared with what it would have been had she continually pressed onward and upward from victory to victory. God's watchmen are to lift up the voice, saying, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, . . . and touch not the unclean thing." "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord."
Some look with contempt upon those whom the Lord honors. They regard them with indifference because they have not had the educational advantages they themselves have enjoyed. But though not highly educated, these children of God are consecrated to his service, and they work for him with self-denial. In his sight they are much farther advanced than many who have had greater opportunities and have been entrusted with a greater number of talents. Let us rejoice that the Lord does not measure the workers in his vineyard by their learning or by the educational advantages they have had. The tree is judged by its fruit. The Lord will co-operate with those who co-operate with him, even though, judged by the world's standard, they may not be educated.
Life's best things--simplicity, honesty, truthfulness, purity, unsullied integrity--can not be bought or sold; they are as free to the ignorant as to the educated, to the black man as to the white man, to the humble peasant as to the king upon his throne. Humble workers, who do not trust in their great gifts, but who work in simplicity, trusting always in God, will share in the joy of the Saviour. Their persevering prayers will bring souls to the cross. Heavenly angels will respond to their self-sacrificing efforts. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will move upon the hearts, working miracles in the conversion of sinners. Men and women will be gathered into church fellowship, meeting-houses will be built, and schools established. The hearts of the workers will be filled with joy as they see the salvation of God.
These workers are trees of the Lord's planting. In a peculiar sense they bear fruit equal to the fruit borne by the apostles. A rich reward awaits them in the future life.
(Vol. 84, #28)
God designs that improvement shall be the life-work of his followers, and that this improvement shall be guided and controlled by correct experience. The true man is the one who is willing to sacrifice his own interests for the good of others, who forgets himself in binding up the wounds of the broken-hearted. But many fail of understanding the true object of life. Under the influence of cherished errors, they sacrifice all in life that is really valuable.
Nero and Caesar were acknowledged by the world as great men; but did God so regard them?--No! They were not connected with unselfish love with the great Heart of humanity. They were satanic in their cruelty. Wherever they went, bloodshed and destruction marked their path. They were lauded while living; but when they died, the world rejoiced. How wide the contrast between the lives of these men and the life of Martin Luther. He was not born a prince; he wore no royal crown. It was from a cloistered cell that his voice was heard and his influence felt. But he had a noble, generous heart, and a vigorous intellect, and all his powers were exercised for the good of humanity. He stood bravely for the right, and breasted the world's opposition, in order to benefit his fellow men.
Intellect is mightier than wealth or physical power. If sanctified and controlled by the Spirit of God, it exerts a strong influence for good. But intellect alone does not give true manhood. Lord Byron had rare intellectual gifts, but he was not a true man, according to God's standard. His passions were fierce and uncontrollable. Throughout his life he sowed seeds that ripened into a harvest of corruption. This man was one of the world's distinguished men, but the Lord regarded him as one who had abused his talents and wasted his life. When great intellect is made to minister to vice, it is a curse to its possessor and to all who come within the sphere of its influence.
One's claim to manhood is determined by the use he makes of the powers that God has given him. The members of the human family are entitled to the name of men and women only as they employ their talents for the good of others. It is when ministering to others that man is most closely allied to God. He who is true to his God-given manhood will not only promote the happiness of his fellow beings in this life, but will aid them to secure the reward of the life to come.
Before human beings, God has set a high standard. Christ's word to us is, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." It should be our life-work to press forward continually toward perfection of character, ever striving for conformity to the will of God.
Man is required to love God supremely, with his might, mind, and strength; and his neighbor as himself. This he can not possibly do unless he denies himself. To deny self means to rule the spirit when passion is striving for the mastery; to resist the temptation to censure and to speak words of faultfinding; to have patience with the child that is dull, and whose conduct is grievous and trying; to stand at the post of duty even though others may fail; to lift responsibilities wherever and whenever duty requires, not to gain applause, not for policy, but for the sake of the Master, who has given each of his followers a work that is to be done with unwavering fidelity. To deny self means to do good when inclination would lead us to serve and please ourselves. It means to work patiently and cheerfully for the good of others, even though our efforts may not seem to be appreciated.
Those who are partakers of Christ's love have no right to think that there is a limit to their influence and work in trying to benefit humanity. Christ is our example. He did not become weary in his efforts to save fallen man. And angels are engaged day and night for the uplifting of humanity, in accordance with the plan of salvation. Our work is to be continuous and persevering. Until the Master bids us lay our armor at his feet, we are to fight manfully for him. We are to work and wait, submissive to God's will, ready and willing to spring to duty at every call.
Fellow Christians, search carefully and see whether the Word of God is indeed the rule of your life. Do you take Christ with you when you leave the place of prayer? Does your religion stand guard at the door of your lips? Is your heart drawn out in interest and sympathy for those in need of help? Are you seeking earnestly for a clearer understanding of God's will, that you may let the light shine forth to others? Is your speech seasoned with grace? Does your demeanor show Christian nobility? "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Remember that you need to be braced by constant watchfulness and prayer. So long as you look to Christ, you are safe; but the moment you trust in yourself, you are in great peril. He who is in harmony with God will continually depend upon him for help.
It is difficult for human beings to give attention to the lesser matters of life while the mind is engaged in business of seemingly greater importance. But should this be? Do not become so engrossed with business cares that you neglect to give your children the instruction they need. Do not look upon your home work as a lesser duty. This work lies at the foundation of the well-being of society. The happiness of families and of churches depends upon home influence. The world is not so much in need of great minds as of good men, men who are a blessing in their homes.
(Vol. 84, #29)
I have a message to speak to the churches. If we are to make known the story of the cross in all parts of the world, our missionary efforts must not be allowed to weaken. They must be kept vigorous and strong. The efforts we put forth to dispel the darkness of error will always be proportionate to our faith in God, manifested in our obedience to his commandments. With faith and courage and hope we are to extend the knowledge of present truth. We have not always met as we should the obligations in missionary effort that our knowledge of present truth places upon us.
The manifold wisdom of God has been displayed in the organization of his church in the earth for the representation of the truth in the world. In their zeal for the cause of righteousness, his servants are to reveal a faith that works by love and purifies the soul from every slothful habit, a zeal that reveals itself in watchfulness unto prayer, humble heart-searching, a readiness to examine self, that they may detect their own defects of character, and avoid the evils of self-exaltation. This faith and zeal are essential, or our labors for the perishing will weaken, and Christ will be disappointed in his church.
The three powers of the Godhead have pledged their might to carry out the purpose that God had in mind when he gave to the world the unspeakable gift of his Son. Every act of self-denial, every earnest surrender to God, is an element in God's design for the increase of the piety and zeal and earnest faith of his people. The Holy Spirit unites with the powers of grace that God has provided to turn souls to Christ. We are to labor as Christ labored for the salvation of dying souls. And as we work, our hearts are to be encouraged by the thought that every soul converted through our efforts will become another instrumentality in the work of recovering the lost. Guided by the same Spirit that led some one to work for him, he will take up the work and labor in the spirit of the Master.
God has given me this message to bear to those who are out of line: "Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid."
In these last days, there are arising strange fallacies and man-made theories which God declares shall be broken in pieces. The spirit of covetousness has led men to seek worldly advantage, and by extravagance and display they have tried to hide their wicked deeds which they have done in order to reach their object. Men occupying high positions of trust have revealed this unlawful desire for gain; they have practised extortion and robbery, and have gratified the evil passions of their hearts, until our cities are corrupted through their wickedness. God has declared that he will uncover these works of deceit and robbery by their own working. In some cases the judgments of God have already fallen heavily on these cities.
"The Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not. A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples."
In this representation of the prophet, we see that Satan is at work not only with worldlings, who have not the fear and love of God before them, but also with those who profess faith in Christ. Here are plainly represented two distinct parties, formed from a company that was once united. The members of one of these parties are in resistance to the will of God. They have taken themselves from the side of the loyal and true, and are now resisting the warnings of the Spirit of God. To the obedient the Lord will be "for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem."
Every professed believer in Christ will be tempted by Satan. "And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared [mark that word], and be taken." Notwithstanding all their knowledge of the Word of God, all their light, and their position as expositors of Bible truth, many shall "stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken." The ruin of this class is certain. Then the charge is given, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples."
"And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him, Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion.
"And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter: shall not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
This warning is given for the days in which we are now living. Read carefully the third chapter of Second Timothy. This chapter refers to the "many" spoken of by Isaiah who have departed from the faith. "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse," the apostle says to Timothy, "deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast heard and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
A wealth of moral influence has been brought to us in the last half century. Through his Holy Spirit the voice of God has come to us continually in warning and instruction, to confirm the faith of the believers in the spirit of prophecy. Repeatedly the word has come, Write the things that I have given you to confirm the faith of my people in the position they have taken. Time and trial have not made void the instruction given, but through years of suffering and self-sacrifice have established the truth of the testimony given. The instruction that was given in the early days of the message is to be held as safe instruction to follow in these its closing days. Those who are indifferent to this light and instruction must not expect to escape the snares which we have been plainly told will cause the rejecters of light to stumble, and fall, and be snared, and be taken. If we study carefully the second chapter of Hebrews we shall learn how important it is that we hold steadfastly to every principle of truth that has been given.
"I am now ready to be offered," the apostle Paul declared as his warfare drew a close; "the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
"Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia; Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee."
"Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
This letter was written to Timotheus, the first bishop of the church at Ephesus, after Paul had been brought before Nero the second time to witness with his life to the faith he held. In placing on record this account of his trials through men who turned from the faith, Paul speaks words which should encourage our hearts as we pass over the same ground. We are having trials to encounter similar to those that Paul met. There are some who once were with us as teachers, but who are now denying the faith, and are working against the truth they once advocated. In this experience we need not lose our faith and confidence in God. It is the privilege of each to be able to say, "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
(Vol. 84, #30)
During the first few months of the year, I received from our brethren connected with important enterprises in southern California urgent invitations to visit the institutions in that part of the State. And indeed I felt desirous of visiting once more that portion of the field, concerning which the Lord has given me much instruction regarding the establishment of medical missionary and educational institutions.
About the middle of April, the Drs. Kress and their family arrived from Australia, and stayed with us for a few days before going on to Washington, D. C., to which place they have been called to connect with the Sanitarium at Takoma Park. As we were anxious for them to visit the sanitariums on the Pacific Coast, we thought this a favorable time to take our southern trip in company with them.
We left St. Helena on the afternoon of Thursday, April 18. Our party was made up of Dr. Kress, and his wife, who is also a physician; their daughter Ora, and two smaller children; Miss Stevens, who accompanied them from Australia; Dr. H. F. Rand, physician at the St. Helena Sanitarium; my son, W. C. White; Dores Robinson, one of my copyists; Sara McEnterfer, my attendant; and myself.
On our arrival at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, we were taken in a carriage to the station at Third and Townsend Streets. During the past year the sins that called forth the judgments of God on San Francisco have been continued. Violence and crime have greatly increased. A startling record of dishonesty and conniving has been brought to light in the investigation of the actions of men in official positions.
We passed through San Francisco on the anniversary of the great earthquake of last year. The day had been declared a holiday, and many were celebrating the occasion with revelry and in pleasure seeking.
Plans are being laid to rebuild the city on a grand scale. Several earthquake shocks have been felt, but these warnings are being disregarded by many. "We will have," they say, "larger and more magnificent buildings than we have ever had before." Christ says, "When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, . . . and they shall not escape."
At 8 P. M. we left San Francisco by the Coast Line to Los Angeles. At Burbank, a few miles from Los Angeles, W. C. White, Sara McEnterfer, and I left the train, and after waiting for a few minutes took the cars to San Fernando. Here we were met at the station, and taken to the school.
The Fernando School -- We are thankful that the Lord in his providence opened the way for us to establish an educational work at Fernando. Our brethren purchased this property about five years ago for about one third of the amount originally invested in it. Besides buildings that were in every way adapted to school work, there were about twelve and a half acres of land, suitable for orchard and garden. The large school building is a modern, two-story structure with an attic. On the first floor there are fine recitation rooms, and a chapel that will seat about two hundred. On the second floor there are seven good schoolrooms. The attic has been partitioned off, and provides a number of sleeping-rooms for the boys. Besides this large building there is a two-and-a-half story structure used as a ladies' dormitory.
We were glad to learn that success has attended the Fernando school during the year that has just closed. The attendance has been good, and we rejoice to know that many of the students have offered themselves for service during the summer.
A spirit of missionary zeal will surely result from a proper study of the Word of God. In May, 1903, I wrote the following words to those in charge of the Fernando school:--
"The light given me is that the educational branch of our work will be of great importance. What is it that will make our schools a power? It is not the size of the buildings. It is not the number of advanced studies taught. It is the faithful work done by teachers and students, as they begin at the lower rounds of the ladder of progress, and climb diligently round by round.
"Intermediate schools are highly essential. There are many parents who do not know how to train their children to be workers together with God. They have not in all things outgrown their childishness, and therefore they know not how to care properly for the church in their homes. Fathers and mothers have become indifferent to their obligations to God, and unmindful of their duty to their children. Therefore we must establish schools that will be as the schools of the prophets.
"The Word of God is to lie at the foundation of all the work done in these schools. And the students are to be taught the true dignity of labor. They are to be shown that God is a constant worker. Let every teacher take hold heartily with a group of students, working with them, and teaching them how to work. As the teachers do this, they will gain a valuable experience. Their hearts will be bound up with the hearts of the students, and this will open the way for successful teaching.
"Thorough work must be done in these schools; for many students will go forth from them directly into the great harvest-field. They will go forth to use what they have learned, as canvassers, and as helpers in various lines of evangelistic work. Many workers, after studying for a time in the field, will feel the need of further study, and with the experience gained in the field will be prepared to value school privileges, and to make rapid advancement. Some will desire an education in the higher branches of study. For these our colleges have been established.
"It would be a sad mistake for us to fail to consider thoroughly the purpose for which each of our schools is established. This is a matter that should be faithfully studied by our responsible men in each union conference. All the different educational interests should be given careful consideration."
We have before us a great work, and there is need of many educated laborers who have fitted themselves for positions of trust. In the training for service in the cause of God, the Bible must lie at the foundation. The principles of truth taught in the Word of God will act as a safeguard against the evil influences that are in the world. In the home and in the school the Bible is to be made the great text-book.
Efforts to educate children in the fear of the Lord, without making the study of the Word prominent, are sadly misdirected. Unless there is such a training as will lead to a recognition and an abhorrence of sin, moral deformity will result. Our children should be removed from the evil influences of the public schools, and placed where thoroughly converted teachers may educate them in the Holy Scriptures. The students in our schools should take the Word of God as the grand rule of their lives.
While at Fernando I spoke twice in the school chapel, and on Sabbath afternoon my son talked to the students. At the Sabbath morning service, the room was well filled, and I was thankful for the privilege of addressing so many who during the past few months had been receiving instruction in the Word of God. I based my remarks upon the first chapter of First Peter. I dwelt at some length upon the subject of the earthly mission of Christ, who "according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
In view of the great sacrifice of Christ in our behalf, we are to purify our souls in obeying the truth "through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren," and to "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."
(Vol. 84, #31)
On Monday morning, April 22, we left Fernando for Loma Linda, where we were to join the rest of our party, who had made short visits to Glendale and Paradise Valley.
At Loma Linda we found the work moving forward encouragingly. Since my last visit to this place about one year ago, some improvements have been made in the property. Two cottages have been added, and a three-story addition, forty by eighty feet in size, has been made to the main building. This addition was necessary to provide satisfactory bath-rooms, and offices for the physicians. The new bath-rooms are roomy and convenient, and they add greatly to the popularity of the place.
The patronage at the sanitarium during the winter months has been better than at any previous period. Favorable impressions have been made upon the patients who have visited the institution. Some of these have been converted, and others are deeply interested in our message. For this we are thankful. This is the object for which our sanitariums have been established, the conversion of souls.
This beautiful sanitarium property, that in the wonderful providence of God has come into our possession, is in the midst of the orange district, and is noted for the excellency of its fruit. It is within easy access of Redlands, Riverside, Colton, San Bernardino, and other cities. As a result of the labors of Elder Simpson, Elder Haskell, and others, strong companies of believers have been raised up in Riverside and Redlands, and there is also a small company at San Bernardino. Elder Hare and Elder Whitehead have just concluded a series of meetings at Redlands, as a result of which five new converts have been added to the church there.
The Work of Dr. Starr -- In San Bernardino Dr. Lillis Wood-Starr has found many openings for educational work. About three months ago she began to conduct studies in cooking, healthful dress, and general hygiene, with some of the families of our own church. She was assisted in her work by some of the helpers from the sanitarium who were able to give practical demonstrations in healthful cooking and in simple nursing.
Neighbors were invited to attend these demonstrations, and some who were present by invitation requested that similar studies be given in their homes, to which they might invite some of their friends. Thus the work grew rapidly, until Dr. Starr was unable to respond to all the requests she received. Her work was brought to the attention of the superintendent of public schools, and at his invitation she gave health talks before as many as fifteen hundred children in the schools of the city. Her co-operation with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union has enabled her to become acquainted with many excellent ladies. Such efforts as these are powerful factors in removing from the minds of many the prejudice that exists against our people.
Death of Elder Simpson -- While we were at Loma Linda, we were made sad to hear of the death of Elder W. W. Simpson. Brother Simpson was a man who thoroughly believed the message for this time, and he preached it with power. His winning way of presenting Bible doctrines, and his ability to devise and to use suitable illustrations, enabled him to hold the close attention of large congregations. He had confidence in the power of the word of God to bring conviction, and the Lord greatly blessed his efforts in the salvation of many souls. We may say of our brother, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."
Sabbath Sermon -- On Sabbath, April 27, many of our brethren and sisters from neighboring churches gathered in the parlors with the sanitarium family, and I spoke to them there. I read the first chapter of Hebrews as the basis of my discourse. This chapter clearly indicates the individual personalities of the Father and the Son. Speaking of the Son, the apostle says, "God . . . hath appointed [him] heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
If men and women could be once inspired by a view of the great and grand work that has been accomplished through God's gift of his Son, their days would no longer be given up to pleasure-seeking and frivolity. Our ears would no longer be pained by the drunkard's song and the story of crime and wickedness. Men would endeavor to place themselves where they could realize the meaning of the great salvation offered through Jesus Christ. It means life, eternal life to the receiver.
Christ was the greatest medical missionary that ever trod the earth. Did he come with grandeur, making a wonderful display, as some seem to think is necessary in order to make a favorable impression? Souls are not converted by such impressions. Had it been best for the success of his mission, Christ would have come in great glory, accompanied by myriads of angels. But no; he laid aside his glory and his high authority as commander of the hosts of heaven, and came to our world as a humble child. He was born in poverty. His early years were spent in an obscure village, toiling at the carpenter's bench. Even here, thoroughness characterized his work. Nothing left his hands that was not perfect in workmanship.
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." To all who believe in him he promises power to become sons of God. But there must be a continuance in that belief. So long as we maintain a living connection with God, his Holy Spirit will enable us to preserve our faith in him and in his word. But unless we continue to lay hold of the hope set before us in the gospel, we shall drift,--drift away from the truth on the tide of skepticism and infidelity.
Few have any idea of the battles that are before us. The stronger the conflict, however, the more strength will the Holy Spirit impart to us. We are not left to struggle alone against the mighty opposing forces of evil. Were our eyes opened, we should see heavenly angels about us, to protect us from the influence of the hosts of evil. Jesus watches over every one. He will not suffer us to be tempted above that which, with his help, we are able to bear. He desires us to have faith and confidence in him, that he may fill us with peace and happiness.
As laborers together with God, we are not left in our poverty-stricken condition to do the great work that lies before us. Christ does not send forth his disciples upon their world-wide mission without promising to sustain them. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," he declares. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
How wonderfully the Lord has wrought for us in the securing of the Loma Linda Sanitarium! He knew that we could not unaided have purchased these buildings and their furnishings. But he opened the way before us, that we might secure the property, and make it a blessing to others. And so he will open the way in other places where sanitariums should be established. These institutions should be out of the cities, yet near enough to make it possible for the workers to give the message of warning in the great centers of population. Let all connected with our sanitariums work under the guidance of our Heavenly Father, seeking to improve every opportunity to reach the hearts of those with whom they are associated. As they do this, they will increase in capability, in judgment, and in the fear of the Lord.
Let the workers realize that this is God's property. Each one should know for himself that he is faithfully performing the duties that are laid upon him. Let us all be kind and patient, tenderhearted and forgiving. Never let us give expression to a rough or an impatient-word. Let us pray that the Lord's name may be glorified in us.
God will surely work through us, and cause the power of his truth to reach human hearts, if we will, as workers, give ourselves unreservedly to him, and diligently study his Word. O how inexpressibly precious is his Word! Shall we not study it more faithfully? It has been wonderfully preserved for us through the ages. As we present its principles to others, it will have a holy influence upon mind and character; for there is life in obedience to its commandments: there is strength and encouragement in its promises.
My soul is drawn out in intense earnestness for the salvation of souls. At times the burden rests upon me so heavily that I can not sleep, and I arise in the early morning hours, and write, urging our brethren to labor earnestly for the salvation of their fellow men. I am now nearly eighty years of age, and although my enthusiasm is still strong, I desire to see many who are younger than I stepping into the ranks. We do not want the judgments of God to fall upon our world, while so little has been done to warn its inhabitants. We must put forth intense efforts to cause the light of truth to shine forth in every city and town. Much more would be accomplished if all were laboring for souls with the intensity that Christ put into his ministry. Night after night he spent in the open air, with strong crying and with agonizing prayer to his Father.
Let us resist the enemy, that he may flee from us. Let us lay hold upon eternal life. God has prepared for us a city, whose glories it is impossible to describe. In this beautiful city, in the earth made new, we may spend eternity. There we shall be free from the sufferings and the heartaches of this earth. Christ is calling us to hide our lives in him by living faith. He opens before us the privilege of being "partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
(Vol. 84, #32)
Wednesday, May I, we left Loma Linda for National City, to visit the Paradise Valley Sanitarium. Brother and Sister P. T. Magan accompanied us as far as Santa Ana, where they stopped to visit relatives. At Orange we met Elders H. W. Cottrell and G. W. Reaser, and Prof. E. S. Ballenger, who were on their way from Los Angeles to attend a meeting of the Paradise Valley Sanitarium Board. Brother L. O. Johnson, another member of the Board, joined us at Oceanside.
At the sanitarium we received a hearty welcome from Brother J. J. Wessels, who has recently accepted the management, and from the other members of the sanitarium family.
Sanitarium Board Meeting -- Wednesday afternoon and Thursday were spent by the members of the Board in laying plans for the future work of the institution. At their request I met with them on Thursday afternoon, and made a few remarks relative to the mission of our sanitariums. I said in part:--
In the building of our sanitariums, we must guard carefully against any unnecessary extravagance in our outlay of means. It is our duty to study simplicity. Yet there are a few places of special importance and influence where better accommodations and more room are needed than for sanitarium work in other places. The impression that we desire to be left upon the minds of the patients is that of the truths we teach rather than of the grandeur of the buildings.
We have none too many sanitariums. There is in our world a great field for true medical missionary work. Our sanitariums are to be as lights shining amid the moral darkness. In them the sick and suffering are to behold the miracle-working power of Christ as revealed in the lives of the workers. "Let your light so shine before men," says Christ, "that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Let the lamp of light from the Word of God shine forth unmistakably.
Let everything connected with the sanitarium and its surroundings be kept orderly and neat, that the work may stand high in the esteem of the people, and may exert constantly an uplifting influence. The Paradise Valley Sanitarium may exert a decided influence for good in National City, in San Diego, and in Coronado. The truth must be proclaimed in these places; for there are some who have not yet heard the last message of warning.
An educational work should be carried on in connection with all our sanitariums. There is a close relation between the work of our schools and our sanitariums, and wherever it is practicable, there are decided advantages in having a school in close connection with a sanitarium. There would be in such an arrangement decided advantages to both lines of work.
Let us not discourage one another. Let us take hold unitedly to make every line of the Lord's work a success. If some one comes to you and talks discouragingly about the work in one or another of our institutions, telling you that they are extravagant beyond measure, say to them, "I am sorry if that is so, but let us help them out, if they are in difficulty." If you will speak thus, you may avoid much of the evil that might result were you to withdraw your sympathy, and should refuse to help those who, possibly, may have been misrepresented. Let us never discourage even those who have done wrong, by treating them as if they had committed against us an unpardonable sin. Let us rather encourage them in every way possible, and if we see that they are lifting hard in a worthy enterprise, let us lift with them.
I feel of good courage regarding the future of the Paradise Valley Sanitarium. If all who are connected with the institution will place themselves upon the platform of eternal truth, and will work unitedly and sympathetically, they may exert an influence that will increase in its uplifting power.
Talks to Patients and Helpers -- During the week which we spent at the Paradise Valley Sanitarium, I spoke twice in the parlor to the patients and helpers. I recounted before them the mercies of God in securing the property for sanitarium purposes, and his providences by which we had been led step by step in the opening up of the institution. I also spoke to them of the great privileges that are ours through Christ, and of the blessings that will follow harmonious action.
We need to be instant in prayer. It is our great privilege to hang our helpless souls upon Jesus Christ, and to rest for our salvation upon his merits. Let us speak words that will elevate and ennoble, and that will make pleasant impressions on the minds of those with whom we converse. The Lord wants us to be sanctified, and to walk in humility of mind before him. If we are obedient to his commandments, not a reproach can fall on us justly. Others may talk about us, they may spread evil reports concerning us, but these reports need not be true.
In our institutions, where many persons of varied temperaments are brought together, it is necessary that each should cultivate a spirit of unselfishness. Let no one feel that it is his place to mold others to his individual mind or opinions. While each will manifest an individuality, yet it should be an individuality that is under the control of the Holy Spirit. If we are kind and Christlike, there will be a blending of hearts and of interests that will be beneficial to all alike.
Our sanitariums are to be agencies for imparting to the sick a health that is maintained in happiness and peace of soul. Every worker is to co-operate with the physician; for by the manifestation of kindness and tenderness, he may bring to the suffering ones a healing balm.
Every one is responsible to God for the use he makes of his abilities. He is responsible for making a daily growth in grace. Let no one feel, even though he may theoretically be established in the present truth, that he makes no mistakes. But if mistakes are made, let there be a readiness to correct them. And let us avoid everything that is likely to create dissension and strife; for there is a heaven before us, and among its inhabitants there will be no strife.
We are to live, not to elevate ourselves, but that we may, as God's little children, do to the very best of our ability the work that he has committed to us. It is our business to give a right impression to others. We are preparing for eternity, for the sanitarium above, where the Great Physician shall wipe away the tears from every eye, and where the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nation.
Let us all take hold of Christ Jesus by a living faith, and walk in humility of mind. Then the grace of God will be revealed in us, and we shall see of his salvation. We shall greet the holy family of the redeemed, and hear the words of Christ, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." We shall touch our golden harps, and heaven will ring with rich music. We shall cast our glittering crowns at his feet, and give glory to him who has overcome in our behalf.
There may be some things here that we do not understand. Some things in the Bible may appear to us mysterious, because they are beyond our finite comprehension. But as our Saviour leads us by the living waters, he will make clear to our minds that which was not before clearly understood.
As I think of the future glory of heaven, I feel an intense desire that every living soul may know about it. I often wish that I might have the vigor and strength of younger years, and that I might go from place to place, speaking the truth as it is in Jesus. I long to hold him up as the mighty Healer, and to present his eternal life insurance policy.
It means much to us whether we are in pursuit of the heavenly things, or of the earthly. The earthly will soon pass away. In these days, there is great destruction of earthly treasures. There are "earthquakes in divers places," and trouble and difficulties are seen on every hand. But it is our privilege to be preparing to become members of the heavenly family, children of the heavenly King.
Let us strive to overcome. "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." Let us overcome the hasty words which mar the happiness and peace of mind of those about us. Let us overcome our impetuous tempers. Let us be kind and patient, accommodating, pleasant, thinking evil of no one. If we resist the devil, he will flee from us. Around every tempted soul there are angels of God, ready to lift up the standard of righteousness, if the tempted one will only show a spirit of resistance to evil.
Each may be an overcomer. Christ has, in our behalf, withstood the fiercest temptations of the enemy. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." He is our Pattern. Through his virtues and his grace, we may be sure of an entrance into "the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
(Vol. 84, #33)
During our visit at the Paradise Valley Sanitarium, the Lord strengthened me to speak twice to the members of the church in San Diego. During the past year, as a result of efforts put forth by Elder W. W. Simpson and other laborers, there had been a good increase in the membership of this church. I felt a heavy burden for the work in this important center for tourist resort. There should be an earnest, united effort on the part of our brethren and sisters in San Diego, and the workers connected with the sanitarium, to make known the truth for this time.
Sabbath Sermon at San Diego -- On Sabbath, May 4, the Lord gave me a message to our brethren and sisters in San Diego. I based my remarks on the first chapter of Hebrews:--
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
Here the position of Jesus Christ in reference to his Father is brought to view. While they are one in purpose, and one in mind, yet in personality they are two. May we not learn from this that there is to be unity between believers? There is no reason why one should feel that it is necessary for him to bring others to the exact line of his own individuality. So long as we are subject to the temptations of Satan, we shall each have all we can possibly attend to, in order to maintain a right relation to God, that Christ may do for us his atoning work. And though we may differ in the form of words, and in the expression of our individuality, yet our words may be sanctified, and our characters purified through the sacrifice of Christ.
We should now make diligent inquiry of ourselves, Can I, with my present attainments, stand before the face of the holy God? If in the great day of judgment, we come short, we shall have no excuse; for we have access to the Word of God. Take the Bible for your lesson book; for it is by obedience to its truths that we shall be sanctified. To ensure the work of our salvation, God gave to our world the gift of his only begotten Son. Shall we accept the blessing that Christ has bought for us at such infinite sacrifice? He has made it possible for us to be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Let us not give the impression that our religion consists principally in coming to the church on Sabbath, and numbering one among a number who listen to a sermon, and then go back to their homes to continue in sinful practises. Christ said to his disciples, "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." Christ has given us the pattern to which we are to work, but unless we make diligent effort with the help of God, we shall miss the mark. We must be sanctified to God, soul, body, and spirit.
Do we learn from Christ every day? If we do not, we shall certainly come short of the knowledge that is essential. We can not afford to be weaklings in our Christian experience: for we can not tell when our account may be settled for eternity. We must constantly increase in faith, and in likeness to Jesus Christ. If we will humble ourselves, the Lord will lift us up. We may try to lift ourselves up, but this will not be reckoned in our favor, in the day when Christ estimates character.
O, we are, many of us, so filled with self! We are fastened so firmly to our peculiar temperaments and dispositions. Shall we now follow the Word closely, that this great "I" may die, and that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith?
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 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; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
The Essential Knowledge -- O, that we all might more fully realize our accountability to God for the wonderful privileges he has bestowed upon us! In the Word of God are grand truths that are worthy of intense study. Shall we neglect these great fundamental truths, in order that we may enter into speculation over what has not been clearly revealed? I am frequently asked, regarding some theoretical doctrine, questions that I feel no liberty to answer. I sometimes reply to those who ask me such questions, "You have the Word. If the Lord desired you to know in regard to this matter, you would find your knowledge in the Word of God, and would not need to ask me. If we reach heaven, we may then understand the matters that are not clear to us now." Let us study the great truths of the Scriptures: they are sufficient to tax our minds to their utmost capacity.
"This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." O, do we know God as we should? What comfort, what joy, we should have if we were to learn daily the lessons he desires us to learn! We must know him by an experimental knowledge. It will be profitable for us to spend more time in secret prayer, in becoming personally acquainted with our Heavenly Father. In our weakness, we may come to him, and ask him to impart to us an understanding of what he will do for us, in separating from us everything that is unlike his own character.
Labor for Others -- When our own hearts are right with God, we shall feel an intense desire to do all we can in bringing the light of truth before those who have not heard it. In the great work of warning the world, God has committed to his people a sacred trust. "We are laborers together with God." "As thou hast sent me into the world," said Christ, speaking of his disciples, "even so have I also sent them into the world." In the formation of character, we are to represent the One who gave his life for the world, and if we are alert, we shall see, on the right hand and on the left, opportunities to speak words for the Master.
If we neglect these opportunities, the time will come when there will be spoken to us by those we have not warned, words of reproach and bitterness: "You knew of these terrible judgments that were coming. We were associated together, but you did not tell us. Why did you not warn us, that we might have escaped?" May God help us that we may not have upon our garments, because of our neglect, the blood of souls!
We have a work to do in our world, a work similar to that which Christ performed. This spiritual work must precede every other interest of our lives. That which is temporal must ever be made secondary to the requirements of God. It will not profit us to put ourselves forward in this world, at the expense of our Christianity.
United Action -- In the carrying forward of God's work, we shall not be as separate, independent agents. The unity of God's people is to be to the world a convincing argument that God sent his Son to save the world. Christ prayed for his disciples, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
Such is the unity for which we are to seek,--such unity as exists between the Father and the Son. If we find ourselves inclined to separate from our brethren if they do not do exactly as we think best, this is an evidence that we are not genuine Bible Christians. We need to study the relation of Christ to his Father, and we need to understand his love for the world.
Opposition -- The great enemy of our souls is vigilant and alert. He is especially active when he sees us putting forth efforts to do the work of the Lord. Do you think that the work of God will go forward smoothly, without any opposition from the enemy of the faith? Do you think there will be no opposition against those who seek to perfect their characters in harmony with the Word of God? This we can not expect. We must arm for conflict. But God will be with us. He has provided a complete gospel armor, and if we will put on every piece of this armor, we may be safe from defeat.
Those who think that everything must meet their own mind, and that they need make no sacrifice, will not be numbered with the overcomers, nor will they receive the overcomer's reward. We must brace ourselves against the opposing elements. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
God is in earnest with every one of us. Our greatest consideration now is to form characters for eternity. May he who has given for our salvation his only begotten Son strengthen and bless his people.
(Vol. 84, #33)
I have a message to bear to our people throughout the field. There is a decided and thorough work to be done in Washington, D.C. The time is long past that should have seen this field faithfully worked. The last message of warning must be carried to those who need the truth. Men of God who have this message in their hearts should be chosen to carry it to the people of Washington and neighboring towns. One of authority was represented to me as standing before our people, and pleading that workers be sent to Washington; and I was instructed to urge this subject upon the minds of our laborers.
Brethren and sisters, God has given to every man his work. He calls upon church-members in every place to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to his service. Let us go forth, and present the truth from house to house, to souls who are starving for the bread of life. We must come into line.
"Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." These words teach us how the field is to be supplied with workers who will labor for the salvation of souls. When church-members bring the precepts of Christ into the life practise; when they confess their sins to one another, and offer up prayers to God, he will graciously manifest his power through them.
In every possible way, humble efforts should be made to win souls to the truth. The third angel's message is to be proclaimed all through the suburbs of Washington. The people living in these suburbs are precious to God. Those who believe the truth for this time must now arouse, and earnestly take hold of the work that needs to be done. We must be wide awake to the needs of the situation, and perform the work with wisdom.
There should be no cramping of the sanitarium work at Takoma Park. I have been shown that the national capital should have every advantage. The workers there are to bring the truth before the ruling powers, and means must flow into that field in order that the work there shall make a presentation that will commend it to those who are accustomed to refinement and plenty. No mean impression must be given to these statesmen, whose only knowledge, perhaps, of this people and the third angel's message, may be received through the sanitarium work. It will be very essential that the means expended for the work in Washington shall be economically handled.
We need to realize that we are living in critical times. There is no time to be lost if we would make the right impression regarding the work. Satan is making every effort possible to undermine the confidence of men in the law of God, causing them to regard it as of little importance. But men should remember that the God of heaven proclaimed his law from Mount Sinai with his own voice, that men might realize its importance. The Lord does not want the people who stand for his law in the earth, and who are to accomplish his closing work in the world, to represent that law and that work in a cheap manner. God's purposes in guiding us to Washington, the capital of our nation, was that we might represent his work there in a sensible way. In connection with his work he would not have anything of a cheap and faulty character.
It would also be a great mistake to close up the work of the branch sanitarium we have operated in Washington. Some have thought that when our institution at Takoma Park should be in running order, we might do this. But instruction regarding this matter has been given me by higher authority than that of man; and I have been shown that to close up the work of the first institution would be a grievous mistake. There are men holding positions of responsibility in the world who are patronizing our treatment rooms there, and we must not cut off from them this opportunity of gaining a knowledge of the truth for this time.
A branch sanitarium in the city will lead to an acquaintance with the larger institution at Takoma Park. Through these institutions the light of truth is to shine forth to counselors and statesmen.
From the light the Lord has given me, I know there is a great work to be accomplished in Washington, and every laggard power must be aroused to act its part. A special work should also be done in this city in the establishing of schools, that the people may be educated along Christian lines. In our schools established in this city, the Word of God is to be exalted as the study book, and the law of God is to be honored and obeyed. The discipline of our schools is to be of the highest type.
God calls for us to advance step by step in the building up of his work. We are now doing what should have been done twenty years ago. Some have thought that we as a people were unable to stem the current of inquiry and criticism. But I have been shown that if we had advanced in the way of reform as the light came to us, we would have a very different showing than now appears. In following the instruction of our Great Leader, difficulties would have been overcome; the consciousness of the approval of God would have made our ministers and physicians and the teachers in our schools valiant men of God. In the fullest sense of the word, they would have been laborers together with God.
We must individually learn the lesson that the treasures of knowledge are with the Most High. The discourses of the men who profess to honor and reverence the law of God must be earnest, sincere, and solemn, as befits the time in which they live. Their appeals for temperance must speak powerfully to the senses of men. The love of God is to be expressed in word and action.
Those who are engaged in the work for these last days must identify themselves with Christ. They must become partakers of the divine nature, and thus escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
I appeal to my brethren and sisters throughout the American field. See that the work in Washington is not delayed for want of means. It is very important that the Sanitarium be fully equipped for its work. Let the cause of truth in Washington triumph gloriously.
These words were spoken regarding the work in Washington: "The work at the heart of the nation is not to be handicapped. The Sanitarium must do its part in convincing the influential men of America of the importance of the third angel's message. And our books must be handled in a way that will secure their largest circulation."
In the completion of the Washington Sanitarium, let simplicity and good taste prevail. This institution is to do an important work for the people of Washington. Through its influence inquiries will be made concerning our faith, and information will be given that will find a lodgment in some minds. One is standing back of the cause of present truth in Washington who will be a present help in every emergency. Hold firmly to the principles of truth. Guard the soul vigilantly, that you may not be found warring against the Spirit of God. Gird on the armor of Christ's righteousness. Be strong; yea, be strong. Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 84, #34)
Clad in the vestments of humanity, the Son of God came down to the level of those he wished to save. In him was no guile or sinfulness; he was ever pure and undefiled; yet he took upon him our sinful nature. Clothing his divinity with humanity, that he might associate with fallen humanity, he sought to redeem for man that which by disobedience Adam had lost, for himself and for the world. In his own character Jesus manifested to the world the character of God; he pleased not himself, but went about doing good. His whole history, for more than thirty years, was of pure, disinterested benevolence.
Can we wonder that men were astonished at his teaching? "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." The teaching of the scribes and the Pharisees was a continuous repetition of fables and childish traditions. Their opinions and ceremonies rested on the authority of ancient maxims and rabbinical sayings, which were frivolous and worthless. Christ did not dwell on weak, insipid sayings and theories of men. As one possessing higher authority, he addressed his hearers, presenting before them momentous subjects; and his appeals carried conviction to their hearts. The opinion of all, expressed by many who were not able to keep silent, was, "Never spake man like this man."
The Bible teaches the whole will of God concerning us. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The teaching of this Word is exactly that needed in all circumstances in which we may be placed. It is a sufficient rule of faith and practise; for it is the voice of God speaking to the soul, giving the members of his family directions for keeping the heart with all diligence. If this Word is studied, not merely read, but studied, it furnishes us with a storehouse of knowledge which enables us to improve every God-given endowment. It teaches us our obligation to use the faculties given us. Guided by its precepts, we may render obedience to God's requirements.
All who will come to the Word of God for guidance, with humble, inquiring minds, determined to know the terms of salvation, will understand what saith the Scripture. But those who bring to the investigation of the Word a spirit which it does not approve, will take away from the search a spirit which it has not imparted. The Lord will not speak to a mind that is unconcerned. He wastes not his instruction on one who is willingly irreverent or polluted. But the tempter educates every mind that yields itself to his suggestions and is willing to make of none effect God's holy law.
We need to humble our hearts, and with sincerity and reverence search the Word of life; for that mind alone that is humble and contrite can see light. The heart, the mind, the soul must be prepared to receive light. There must be silence in the soul. The thoughts must be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. The boastful self-confidence and self-sufficiency must stand rebuked in the presence of the Word of God. The Lord speaks to the heart that humbles itself before him.
Stirring times are before us, and it is fatal to be careless and indifferent. "Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." We can not afford to be disobedient to God's requirements. The wrath which the impenitent are now treasuring up against that day when the judgment shall sit, and every case shall be judged, according to the things written in the books of heaven, will soon burst upon them. Then the voice of mercy will not longer plead in behalf of sinners.
If the invitations given now are refused, if we persist in disobedience, we shall have no second probation. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve,"--God or mammon. Now, while it is called to-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, lest it be the last invitation of mercy.
(Vol. 84, #35)
Thursday afternoon, May 9, we left San Diego for Escondido. Here we were met by Dr. Sophie Judson and Brother L. O. Johnson, who took us in their carriages to San Pasqual, ten miles further.
San Pasqual is a beautiful valley, where are located several families of our people. At this place was raised up one of the earliest churches in southern California. They have for their worship a neat little church, capable of seating over one hundred. Our brethren in the neighborhood also maintain a church-school, and on Friday afternoon I spoke to the children in this school.
The Sabbath Sermon -- Sabbath morning quite a number of our brethren and sisters from Escondido drove over to San Pasqual, and when I entered the church, I found the room crowded. In my discourse, I dwelt largely upon the importance of a close union of the members of Christ's church one with another, and with him, as illustrated in the parable of the vine, in the fifteenth chapter of John.
"I am the true vine," says Christ, "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."
Sometimes this pruning process consists in permitting some trial to come upon us that will drive us to an earnest seeking of the Lord. Shall we then think it strange, or shall we feel rebellious, when these trials come to us? Let us rather rejoice in the knowledge that "every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
To maintain a constant union with Christ is essential to Christian growth, and is the great hope of those who are seeking a preparation for his coming. "Abide in me," he continues, "and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. . . . If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
From the study of the vine we may learn also of the close union that is to exist among believers, all of whom must draw their strength and their life from the same stock. There are differences in the characteristics of the various branches and leaves of the vine, and so there will be in our various experiences. In our thoughts, our words, and our actions, we shall not be exact duplicates one of another. Yet as in the life of the vine every branch and every leaf acts its part, so the members of the church--the body of Christ--are to be as one harmonious whole.
God is hungry for fruit. The form may be perfect, the appearance beautiful, but unless there is a manifestation of fruit, the great Vine-dresser will take away the unprofitable branches. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
The Responsibilities of Parents -- I also dwelt at some length on the solemn obligations that rest upon parents. Children are a heritage from the Lord. They are to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the work of their training, the father and the mother are to work in harmony. The position of the father, as priest of the household, and of the mother, as queen in the home, are most solemn. The mother is not to occupy the position of a slave or of a drudge. Upon her rests largely the burden of educating the little ones in the fear of the Lord.
Into this important work of child training, we must bring all the sweetness of a subdued, tender disposition. We can not afford to wound the tender hearts of the little ones by undue harshness. They have a keen sense of justice, and their feelings naturally rise in rebellion if they are unnecessarily scolded or blamed. Draw them to Christ by the tender cords of love. It will be necessary to correct wrongs, and at times even to administer punishment, but this may be done in such a manner as will attract them, and not repel them.
In their position as parents, fathers and mothers should study the dealings of God with his "little children." His government is founded on love. Yet "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." So in the correction of children, punishment is sometimes necessary, but this punishment should not be such as is prompted by feelings of anger or revenge.
It is of great importance that the work of training to obedience should be begun during the infancy of the child. From their very babyhood, children should be taught to overcome passion, but this can not be done by a manifestation of passion on the part of the parent. There must be an exercise of patient gentleness.
When we consider that the future destiny of the child is largely dependent upon the faithfulness with which he is educated and trained by the parents, we can but urge with all our power that there be more earnest diligence on the part of fathers and mothers. Let not the father so burden himself with business cares that he must neglect his duties as the priest of the household. O that there may be such faithfulness in this matter that when parents come up to the gates of the city of God, they may say, Here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me!
Visit to Escondido -- Sunday forenoon we were taken in a carriage to Escondido, and entertained at the home of Brother H. E. Olmstead. The brethren and sisters in this place had urged us to hold services with them before we left, so an appointment was given out that I would speak in the afternoon in our church. This building is a substantial brick structure that was purchased at a very low cost from the Baptist denomination. Besides the main chapel, there is a room in which a church-school is conducted.
Afternoon Meeting -- The service for the afternoon had been advertised in the local paper, and through the courtesy of the ministers of other churches had been announced in their morning services. As a result there was a good attendance from the public of Escondido, besides several of our brethren from San Pasqual.
I felt richly blessed of God as I stood before this congregation and presented the Christian duties as set forth in the first chapter of Second Peter. The working of God on our behalf according to the plan of multiplication, and our duty to work on the plan of addition, are here set forth. "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. . . . And beside 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."
In the attainment of these virtues, there must be a reasoning from cause to effect. Following the knowledge,--"the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,"--we are to add the grace of temperance.
The Temperance Reform -- There needs to be a great reformation on the subject of temperance. The world is filled with self-indulgence of every kind. Because of the benumbing influence of stimulants and narcotics the minds of many are unable to discern between the sacred and the common. Their mental powers are weakened, and they can not discern the deep spiritual things of the Word of God.
The Christian will be temperate in all things,--in eating, in drinking, in dress, and in every phase of life. "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." We have no right to indulge in anything that will result in a condition of mind that hinders the Spirit of God from impressing us with the sense of our duty. It is a masterpiece of satanic skill to place men where they can with difficulty be reached with the gospel.
Shall there not be among us as a people a revival of the temperance work? Why are we not putting forth much more decided efforts to oppose the liquor traffic, which is ruining the souls of men, and is causing violence and crime of every description? With the great light that God has entrusted to us, we should be in the forefront of every true reform. The use of drugged liquors is making men mad, and leading them to commit the most horrible crimes. Because of the wickedness that follows largely as the result of the use of liquor, the judgments of God are falling upon our earth to-day. Have we not a solemn responsibility to put forth earnest efforts in opposition to this great evil?
"And beside 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" -- whoever is not putting forth diligent efforts to work out this sum in addition--"he that lacketh these things is blind, and can not see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
Upon the condition of our "giving all diligence" in adding grace to grace, is based our great eternal life insurance policy, as expressed in the following words:--
"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."
(Vol. 84, #36)
Monday morning, May 13, we left Escondido, and in the afternoon were once more at Loma Linda. I found myself somewhat wearied with the efforts put forth in traveling and speaking, and was glad to be able to rest here for a few days. However, I was able to speak twice during the week to the students of the Loma Linda College of Evangelists.
The students of this school are accommodated in the cottages that were erected on the property when it was purchased by our people. A building that was formerly used for recreation, now serves for the class work of both the college and the church-school. The work of the sanitarium and the school are closely united. Those who are training for medical missionary work are able to receive in the sanitarium practical experience in the giving of simple treatments, and in the college they may be educated in the Bible and the sciences. Thus in the union of the school with the sanitarium, there are facilities for the training of true medical missionaries.
Sabbath Services at Loma Linda -- On Sabbath, May 18, the members of the neighboring churches gathered at Loma Linda, and we held meetings under the pepper-trees on the lawn at the back of the sanitarium. In the forenoon I spoke for one hour, and the Lord blessed me in speaking from the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Before closing my remarks, I made a strong appeal to those who had means to help in the Lord's work, and I presented the needs of the Loma Linda Sanitarium. I urged them not to spend all their efforts merely in commercial lines, but to lay up treasure beside the throne of God.
Among those present was a man who had been brought to the sanitarium in such a diseased condition that his case was thought to be hopeless. But he was carefully treated, and the crisis was safely passed. In response to my appeal for means he showed his appreciation of what has been done for him, by lending one thousand dollars for a year without interest. No collection was taken up, but some money was placed in Brother Burden's hands after the meeting.
After the morning service, a lunch was provided by the sanitarium for the visitors, and was served on the lawn. In the afternoon, Elder Luther Warren gave an excellent discourse. Brother Warren is an able worker, and we hope that he may labor for a time in this needy field. He was then resting somewhat, on account of his own and his wife's health.
After this service, the visitors left for their homes, and all were agreed that they had spent a pleasant day, and had been blessed by the discourses.
Meeting at Los Angeles -- I had promised to speak at Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, so it was necessary for us to hasten away by the early train from Loma Linda. We had about sixty miles to travel. On our arrival at Los Angeles we went to our restaurant and treatment rooms on Hill Street, and while waiting there before the service, I prayed to the Lord for strength for the work before me.
At the Carr Street church, we found a large number had gathered. Every foot of room inside the building was occupied, even the aisles being filled, and I was told that some were unable to find entrance to the building. Among those present were a number not of our faith.
I presented the importance of obedience to the commandments of God, dwelling upon the instruction given in Exodus and Deuteronomy in connection with the proclamation of the law from Mount Sinai. Never before had these scriptures appealed to me so forcibly. I spoke for a full hour, and the interest was marked throughout. At the last I became somewhat hoarse, but I felt very thankful that the Lord had permitted me to speak so long and so distinctly.
To us as verily as to ancient Israel the words of Jehovah are spoken. In awful grandeur the Lord manifested himself in the giving of his law. The impressions of that scene were never forgotten by those who beheld it. In his rehearsal of the experiences of Israel, Moses said concerning this law:--
"Now therefore harken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord did because of Baal-peor: for all the men that followed Baal-peor, the Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you. But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.
"Behold I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?"
Then follows the solemn warning: "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, . . . and he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone."
We can not afford to allow the spirit of commercialism to take such possession of us that we shall neglect the study of the requirements of God's Word. O, if we as a people would study the Scriptures as we should, there would be seen among us such a reformation as we have never yet seen! Our children would be taught the ways of the Lord, and the enemy of souls would be unable to gain control of them. And we should be filled with energy and zeal to make known to others the great truths that God has revealed to us.
Obedience to God's law is the condition of salvation. Many declare that in giving his life to redeem the race, Christ abolished the law of God. It was because the law of God could not be abolished, that Christ died as the victim of the world's transgressions. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary is the strongest evidence that could be given to the world that the law of God is an immutable law.
Satan has tried through the working of his deceptive powers, to cause the great humiliation of Christ to exalt sin, and to invite rebellion in the world. He would have the cross of Calvary testify to a falsehood. The enemy has not gained his purpose. The truth stands fast forever. The law which God spoke in awful grandeur from the mount will endure throughout eternity, despite the efforts of Satan to counterwork the work of God by instituting the observance of the first day in the place of the Sabbath of the Lord.
The law is God's standard, from which there must be no swerving. The will and way of God must be made paramount. That no detail may be forgotten, we must constantly peruse the Word of God. It makes a great difference to men whether they receive or reject the precepts of Jehovah. It is because many are not real students of the prophecies and the requirements found in the Bible, that they are so easily diverted to the consideration of matters of but little importance.
God has set us in the world to be light bearers. Our lives should be an acknowledgment of his holy precepts. We should bear to the world a living testimony of the possibility of spiritual growth. It is the good and faithful servant who is promised eternal life and an entrance into the joy of his Lord. The good and faithful servant is he who performs unselfish acts to those with whom he comes in contact, in his life representing the beautiful character of Christ.
The Lord is coming soon. Let us repeat it over and over. What are we doing as those who profess to believe that the Lord is at the door, and that his judgments are already in the world? There are many who are so overwhelmed with temporal business cares that they can give but little heed to the solemn truths that are all-important. We must work for eternity; for we know not how long we shall have the opportunity to preach the gospel freely. We can not tell when in Los Angeles and in other cities, the heavy judgments of God may fall as they have in San Francisco. Wickedness, idolatry, drunkenness, self-indulgence, and corruption abound more and more, and God's Spirit will not always strive with men.
We must cultivate the spirit of self-sacrifice. It would seem sometimes as if we forgot that there are souls to be saved, and that God is calling for men and for means. Do you have money lying idle in the banks? It is God's money, every dollar of it. You have only been made the steward of his means, and you are being tested. Shall we not follow the example of our Lord, and make large sacrifices for the salvation of souls?
It is not commercialism that will ripen a people for the kingdom of God. The interests of the Christian will not be absorbed in the temporal things of earth. He will lay up for himself "treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
From every land come calls for the gospel. Doors are opening that have long been closed. We must as a people move rapidly to keep pace with the opening providences of God. May God help his people to arouse, and to buckle on the armor for the mighty struggle that is before them.
(Vol. 84, #37)
After the service in the Los Angeles church, we went out to Glendale Sanitarium, six miles from Los Angeles. There I rested until Wednesday night, May 22, when we took the cars for Merced, where the camp-meeting for the California-Nevada Conference was to be held. Our train left Los Angeles at 11:30 P. M. I was very weary, but unable to sleep much during the night.
We arrived at Merced a little after noon the following day, and found our brethren very busy preparing the camp for the meetings, which were to begin that evening. This camp-meeting was the first effort put forth by our people in that city. Before the camp-meeting there were only two families in Merced who were keeping the Sabbath, and one of these lived some miles out of the city.
Camp-Meetings as Missionary Efforts -- The church of Christ is organized for missionary purposes. Our camp-meetings are among the most important agencies in our work for fulfilling these purposes. Through them we may reach many with the gospel message. Our camp-meetings ought to be planned with a view to warning the world, and converting souls to the truth.
The holding of camp-meetings in such places as Merced is in harmony with the following instruction in "Testimonies for the Church," Vol. VI, page 33:--
"If our camp-meetings are conducted as they should be, they will indeed be a light in the world. They should be held in the large cities and towns where the message of truth has not been proclaimed. And they should continue for two or three weeks.
"It may sometimes be advisable to hold a camp-meeting for several successive seasons in the same place; but as a rule the place of meeting should be changed from year to year. Instead of having mammoth camp-meetings in a few localities, more good would be done by having smaller meetings in many places. Thus the work will be constantly extending into new fields.
"Just as soon as the standard of truth is lifted in one locality, and it is safe to leave the new converts, we must plan to enter other new fields. Our camp-meetings are a power, and when held in a place where the community can be stirred, they will have far greater power than when, for the convenience of our own people they are located where, because of previous meetings and the rejection of truth, the public interest is deadened."
The importance of our camp-meetings as a strong missionary effort is by many not fully realized. Some who profess to believe the truth look upon it as a loss of time and money to assemble once a year to worship God. They place their worldly interests before God's requirements. Many remain away from camp-meeting because to attend would require a small sacrifice of time and means. So small an offering they begrudge to Him who has blessed them in basket and store!
We should make more of our camp-meetings. For these gatherings we should secure all the ministerial talent that can be spared from other lines of labor. Let the laborers do personal work with the people. Let them meet the brethren and sisters in little companies for seasons of prayer. Even if the outward circumstances seemingly make it difficult to hold the attention of the people, their interest must not be allowed to flag. To maintain an interest we may find it necessary to work very hard; but we should remember that God has entrusted us with a message that we must bear to the people.
An Impressive Dream -- Shortly before attending the Merced camp-meeting, in the night season I seemed to be in a meeting where the truth was being presented in clear lines. Many souls were convinced, and they were pleading for the grace of Christ to be revealed in them. Those who had accepted the message were praying for sanctification through the truth, that they might be enabled to reveal it in all its beauty to others.
There were others present who were persuaded that the message being presented was the truth of God, but they were not prepared to yield to its claims. I saw that the Holy Spirit was moving upon their hearts. Then a voice was heard, "Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep." I heard voices saying, "I want the endowment of the grace of God. Christ has given his life for me, and I will give my life for him. I want to have his efficiency, that I may reveal his grace to others."
Other scenes passed before me. I saw converts being baptized, and as they went forward in this solemn ordinance, their faces shone with the assurance of the love and approval of God.
I have hoped that this representation given me might be fulfilled as the result of the meetings at Merced, and that many souls would take their position as loyal subjects of God, obeying his commandments, and grasping the promise of complete forgiveness. I felt a heavy burden that the laborers at the meeting might do all in their power to clear the King's highway, and to become purified channels of God's grace.
Sabbath Services -- I spoke in the large tent Sabbath forenoon, and my soul was drawn out with an intense longing for the power of God to be bestowed upon the congregation. I spoke of the self-denial and self-sacrifice of our Saviour, that we might have an opportunity to win a life that measures with the life of God. I felt impressed to call for a humbling of soul and an earnest effort to remove everything from the life that would hinder the free working of the Spirit of God, that our brethren and sisters might go back to their homes with an experience far in advance of what they had had heretofore.
We need to search well our own hearts, that we may not be found among the commandment-breakers. We need more prayer, more of earnest seeking of the Lord. The camp-ground is a favorable place to carry forward this work. We may come to God, knowing that he hears and answers the sincere petitions of his people. If we will come to God with the simplicity of children, asking him for what we need, and at the same time manifest a willingness to make any sacrifice for him, he will answer the prayer of humble faith.
Many of us need yet to learn what it really means to sacrifice for the truth. Self has grown to such proportions that we are unable to realize our duty, in view of the world that must be warned of God's impending judgments. God will not accept the web until every thread of selfishness is withdrawn.
It is because of the manifestation of selfishness that the labor of some results in few if any conversions, and the salvation of our God is not revealed as it should be. We are all, ministers and people, in danger of coming short. Many are far from where they should be. Self is striving for the mastery, and the heart naturally craves self-indulgence. We must lay aside our natural temperaments, and our perverted ideas. We are to stand before the world as representatives of Christ in his self-denial.
Let the church become united in Christ Jesus in working for purity and perfection of character. There needs to be a practical daily sanctification of the spirit. Before one is prepared for Christ's coming there must be seen in the life the fruits of the Spirit. There must be a self-discipline, a wrestling with God for victory till the victory is gained. Then will ascend a shout of praise to God.
Unless those who are supposed to have in their possession large gifts maintain unwearied diligence, they will, because of self-confidence and self-righteousness, become careless and move unguardedly. Forgetting their need of continuing instant in prayer, they will lightly regard their moral responsibilities. Those who do not continually sanctify their souls through the grace that Christ is ever ready to supply, will be on losing ground.
The time has come when we must seek for the power of the Holy Spirit, a power that shall give force to the warnings that are to be given to the world. Souls are thirsting for the living waters of life, and to us the Lord has entrusted the sacred work of opening to them the Scriptures in clear, distinct, positive testimony. The words we speak are to be an evidence that the Holy Spirit is speaking through us as his messengers. God will speak to our souls as we labor for him. Angels of God will ever surround his humble, consecrated workman.
When the laborers for God consecrate their services unreservedly to their Master, and by drawing very near to him, learn how to draw near to the people, he will manifest his grace through them, and hearts will be softened and subdued under its influence. It is the privilege of the laborers so to represent the truth in their words and deportment, that their lives will be a power to convince unbelievers of the truths they are teaching. When the workers come into the place where God can work through them, they will understand the words of Christ, "I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."
Christ has given ample evidence of his love for the human race. He gave his precious life that men and women might be redeemed from the power of Satan. I beseech my brethren, as the ambassadors of Christ, to labor earnestly for the salvation of souls. Leave no means untried that will bring the truth before the people, that they may become cleansed in heart and refined in character. Teach the repenting ones to come in faith to the One who has given his life for all mankind. Labor for them until they come to the place where they will say, "I will no longer dishonor God by transgression of his law. I will be obedient to all his commandments. I give my life to him who gave his life for me. By obedience to the will of God I will reveal that I am transformed by his grace."
At the close of my discourse on Sabbath in the tent at Merced, I asked those who desired to seek the Lord with full determination of purpose to come forward. To this appeal there was an earnest response on the part of many. Some gave themselves to the Lord for the first time, and some who had backslidden renewed their consecration to God. Prayer was offered for these, and another meeting appointed especially for them, that they might unite in seeking the Lord.
Return to St. Helena -- Sunday afternoon I spoke again in the large tent. There was a good attendance from the outside public. The next day at noon, we took the cars for St. Helena, and reached our home in the evening.
After the strain of my six weeks' traveling and speaking, I was glad for an opportunity to rest for a time before I should attend the camp-meeting in St. Helena. I do not regret having made this journey; for the Lord has given strength to bear testimony to his people in every place I visited. I am grateful to God for his blessing which attended me. I have sometimes been weak, and have suffered physically, but I was not compelled to leave any appointment unfilled, and whenever I stood before the people, I felt the power of the Spirit imparted to me. I praise the Lord that even in my old age, I am still able to do something in the work of the Lord. Sanitarium, Cal.
(Vol. 84, #38)
Those who submit to the solemn rite of baptism pledge themselves, before the heavenly universe, to come out from the world. They have taken their position under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, to be laborers together with God, and as such to make known his will to those who are perishing in sin. They are to search the Scriptures diligently, feeling that it is of the highest importance for them to understand what saith the Lord. Having learned his will, they are to do it heartily, remembering that the truth is the seed they must sow in order to reap a harvest for God. But many of those who claim to believe the truth are not striving as they should for perfection of character.
Christ says, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 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."
In these words our work is plainly outlined. Those who represent Christ must obey God's commandments; for Christ obeyed them.
In order to keep God's commandments, we must have an intelligent knowledge of the Scriptures. We can not obey God until we know what his commandments are. It was that we might understand his will that God gave us the Bible. By a study of its teachings, we learn to deny self and to conform our lives to its requirements.
Dear friends, you are without excuse if you fail of obtaining a clear understanding of God's will. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." God has kept back nothing that is necessary for the enlightenment of his children. No one can plead an excuse for transgression that he was left in ignorance, that the way to heaven was not clearly marked out. We have not been left to serve God in a vague, uncertain way.
How can you educate your children in the things of God unless you first know for yourselves what is right and what is wrong; unless you realize that obedience means eternal life, and disobedience eternal death? Make it your lifework to gain an understanding of the will of God. Thus only can you train your children aright. Bring your every word and action into harmony with the Word of God, irrespective of the opinions and practises of those who refuse to obey him.
Had the inhabitants of the old world kept God's law, they would have continued to enjoy his favor. But they disobeyed, and their wickedness became unbearable to him. The words of Jude vividly portray the condition of the world at that time: "These are spots in your feasts of charity, . . . clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever."
God determined to purify the world by a flood; but in mercy and love he gave the antediluvians a probation of one hundred and twenty years. During this time, while the ark was building, the voices of Noah, Methuselah, and many others were heard in warning and entreaty, and every blow struck on the ark was a warning message.
Today the past is repeated. God is sending men plain warnings. The recent earthquakes show how quickly the ungodly will perish when the judgments of God fall upon the earth. Already, in flood and flame, his judgments are falling upon evildoers. All who refuse to repent will perish.
Those parents who know the truth, but who do not fulfil the obligations resting upon them, must soon meet the result of their neglect. Those who do not perform the duties that God gives them because it is not convenient to be so particular, so different from the world, are training their children to become more and more like the world, and to perish in disobedience.
Parents, be loyal to God. Represent him in the home life. Look upon the training of your children as a sacred work, entrusted to you by the Most High. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #39)
Sanitarium, Cal., Sept. 10, 1907.--To My Brethren and Sisters in America: I have a deep interest in the work of the Southern field. I am especially interested in those branches of our work that are established at Huntsville and other places where efforts are being put forth for the training of laborers to work for the spiritual uplifting of the colored race.
The work at Huntsville has been in special need of help since the fire. In Huntsville promising colored youth are to be trained to labor as missionaries for their own race. Many teachers must be educated and sent forth to enlighten those in the darkness of error. Our donations are needed that this work may go forward.
Our buildings in Huntsville are being put up with as little expenditure of means as possible; and our workers have gone forward almost as far as they can with this work until means come in so that they can advance. The work there now demands that we have a modest but roomy sanitarium, where the sick can be taken in and treated. The colored race should have the benefits of such an institution as verily as should the white people. In this sanitarium colored nurses are to be trained for service in the field as gospel medical missionaries.
Our ideas of what should be done for this people are too narrow and limited. Years ago they should have had the benefits of an all-round education. As I consider how much is needed in order to do for this people all that God expects us to do, I am urged to call upon our church members to give of their abundant fulness that the work may be accomplished.
In a few places in the South, noble efforts have been put forth for the salvation of the colored people; but God asks that they be labored for more diligently. We can all pray for them; some of our missionaries can work among them; and many of us who have not done so in the past, can help with our means. We may not be able to do all that we desire; but if we will remember that the colored race is the purchased possession of Christ, bought by the shedding of his precious blood, this thought will teach us to deny self in order that they may have the privileges that Christ died to give them.
When I see those who claim to believe present truth spending their means for useless trimmings and personal adornment; when I see their tables loaded down with story-magazines which have cost money; when I see the many photographs which have called for the outlay of means that might have been used in blessing the needy, my heart is made sad, and I pray, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." I wish such souls could understand the spirit in which Christ, the Prince of heaven, came to this world. He laid off his kingly crown and royal robe, and for our salvation assumed human nature. He would give to every church that should be established in his name an example of what every true missionary worker should be. He was in the world as "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Though he was one with God, and had made the world, he became a member of a humble family, and experienced the privations of the poor. Throughout his life he ever manifested a burden for the soul!
s of men.
The example of the humble life of Christ should lead us to ask ourselves the question, Do I practise his humility? Fathers and mothers, are you educating your children to follow the example of him who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor that he might give to us eternal riches? Are you teaching them to deny self, and take us the cross of Christ, and follow him?
I do not speak these words to wealthy men and women only, but to those also who by works of self-denial and self-sacrifice can have a part in giving the message to the colored race. This work should not be confined to the few places where a good beginning has been made. It should extend to every place where the colored people live; for every soul needs the knowledge of this last message of mercy of the world.
There is a great and grand work to be done in the South. Shall we not, my brethren and sisters, redeem our past neglect? Shall we not appreciate the gift of God to us, and work for the salvation of the colored people with a zeal that is proportionate to the light we have had? To as many as receive him God will give power to become the sons of God.
The collection for the work among the colored people has been left until near the close of the year. Many other calls for means have been made. But I would say to my brethren and sisters who have been liberal in their offerings to other missionary enterprises, Let your gifts for the support of this branch of the work in the Southern field be generous. Keep in mind the great need of this mission field within the shadow of our doors. Let every member of the family have a part in the work of giving, and let each feel that it is a work for God.
Through the efforts that have been put forth by faithful workers, churches have been raised up among the colored people in the South. When the company in Vicksburg, who had received the truth under the labors of Elder J. E. White and his associates, met for the dedication of their church, I was present with them, and the Lord gave me freedom in speaking to those assembled. Quite a large number of persons from other churches were present, and many of them were surprised to see the neatly dressed women, and to hear the excellent singing. These colored people had learned to know that Christ had died for them, and their hearts were glad in the truth. They bore sincere testimonies to the goodness of the Lord. My heart rejoiced as I saw these converts to the faith. And this is an illustration of what can be accomplished in other places for this people.
We must never forget that Christ died for all,--the negroes as well as the white people. All may alike be the recipients of his grace. The apostle Paul declares, "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
My brethren and sisters, your talent of means is needed. The Lord grant that you may use it at this time to his name's glory. Just as long as we drift with the current of the world, we need neither canvas nor oar; our labors begin when we turn to stem the tide. Now, just now, let your works of self-denial testify that you are stemming the current of selfishness. It is the duty of every soul who names the name of Christ to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. My brethren, yoke up with Christ. He left the royal courts and clothed his divinity with humanity, that he might make all humanity partakers of the divine nature, and enable them to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. He practised self-denial that he might save perishing souls; his followers are to work his works. Shall we not let the Spirit of Christ take possession of our hearts, that we may be cleansed from every taint of selfishness? When we allow our lives to be controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, we shall with willing hearts bring our gifts and offerings to him, that he may use them where they are most needed. Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 84, #40)
"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
"There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."
"The liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand."
Divine wisdom has appointed, in the plan of salvation, the law of action and reaction, making the work of beneficence, in all its branches, twice blessed. He that gives to the needy blesses others, and is blessed himself in a still greater degree. God could have reached his object in saving sinners without the aid of man; but he knew that man could not be happy without acting a part in the great work in which he would be cultivating self-denial and benevolence.
That man might not lose the blessed results of benevolence, our Redeemer formed the plan of enlisting him as his coworker. By a chain of circumstances which would call forth his charities, he bestows upon man the best means of cultivating benevolence, and keeps him habitually giving to help the poor and to advance his cause. By their necessities, a ruined world are drawing forth from us talents of means and of influence, to present to them the truth, of which they are in perishing need. And as we heed these calls by labor and by acts of benevolence, we are assimilated to the image of him who for our sakes became poor. In bestowing, we bless others, and thus accumulate true riches.
The Glory of the Gospel.--It is the glory of the gospel that it is founded upon the principle of restoring in the fallen race the divine image by a constant manifestation of benevolence. This work began in the heavenly courts. There God decided to give human beings an unmistakable evidence of the love with which he regarded them. He "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The spirit of liberality is the spirit of heaven. Christ's self-sacrificing love is revealed upon the cross. He gave all he had, and then gave himself, that man might be saved. The cross of Christ appeals to the benevolence of every follower of the blessed Saviour. The principle there illustrated is to give, give. This, carried out in actual benevolence and good works, is the true fruit of the Christian life. The principle of worldlings is to get, get, and thus they expect to secure happiness; but, carried out in all its bearings, the fruit is misery and death.
The light of the gospel shining from the cross of Christ rebukes selfishness, and encourages liberality and benevolence. It is not to be a lamented fact that there are increasing calls to give. God in his providence is calling his people out from their limited sphere of action, to enter upon greater enterprises. Unlimited effort is demanded at this time when moral darkness is covering the world. Many of God's people are in danger of being ensnared by worldliness and covetousness. They should understand that it is his mercy that multiplies the demands for their means. Objects that shall call benevolence into action, must be placed before them, or they can not imitate the character of the Great Exemplar.
The Blessings of Stewardship.--In commissioning his disciples to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," Christ assigned to men the work of spreading the gospel. But while some go forth to preach, he calls upon others to answer his claims upon them for offerings, with which to support his cause in the earth. This is one of God's ways of exalting man. It is just the work that man needs; for it will stir the deepest sympathies of his heart, and call into exercise the highest capabilities of the mind.
Every good thing of earth was placed here by the bountiful hand of God, as an expression of his love to man. The poor are his, and the cause of religion is his. He has placed means in the hands of men, that his divine gifts may flow through human channels in doing the work appointed us in saving our fellow men. Every one has his appointed work in the great field.
The all-wise God knew that man must have something to do in order that life might be a blessing to him. The gold and silver are the Lord's, and he could rain them from heaven if he chose; but instead of this, he has made man his steward, entrusting him with means, not to be hoarded, but to be used in benefiting others. He thus makes man the medium through which to distribute his blessings on earth. God planned the system of beneficence, in order that man might become, like his Creator, benevolent and unselfish in character, and finally be a partaker with him of the eternal, glorious reward.
Meeting Around the Cross.--The love expressed on Calvary should be revived, strengthened, and diffused among our churches. Shall we not do all we can to give power to the principles which Christ brought to this world? Shall we not strive to establish and give efficiency to the benevolent enterprises which are now called for without delay? Christ's believing people are to perpetuate his love. This love is to draw them together around the cross. It is to divest them of all selfishness, and bind them to God and to one another.
Meet around the cross of Calvary in self-sacrifice and self-denial. As you stand before the cross, and see the Royal Prince of heaven dying for you, can you seal your heart, saying, "No; I have nothing to give"? God will bless you as you do your best. As you approach the throne of grace, as you find yourself bound to this throne by the golden chain let down from heaven to earth to draw men from the pit of sin, your heart will go out in love for your brethren and sisters who are without God and without hope in the world. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #41)
The Needs of a Mission Field.--For many years, the Lord has been keeping before his people the needs of the work among the colored people in the Southern States of America. The moral darkness of this field is, in itself, a powerful plea for the exercise of liberality. In the past, some have done what they could to support this branch of our work; and their beneficence has borne fruit in the conversion of many souls.
Although much remains to be done for the colored people, we have cause for rejoicing over the good beginning that has been made. In a recent number of The Gospel Herald it is reported that "fifteen years ago there were not over twenty colored Seventh-day Adventists south of Mason and Dixon's line; but today there are seven hundred. Twelve years ago there was only one colored Seventh-day Adventist church; today there are fifty, not counting those in Africa and the West Indies. . . . The tithes of the colored people last year in the United States amounted to five thousand dollars; fifteen years ago it was not over fifty dollars."
Let us thank God, dear brethren and sisters, and take courage! God is laying bare his arm to do a mighty work in this mission field within the borders of our own land. He is now giving his people an opportunity to extend the message rapidly in the South, by revealing a spirit of beneficence at the time the yearly offering for the support of the colored work is taken up, the first Sabbath in October. God has reposed confidence in us by making us stewards of means and of his rich grace; and he now points us to the poor and suffering and oppressed, to souls bound in chains of superstition and error, and assures us that if we do good to these, he will accept the deed as though done to himself. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren," he declares, "ye have done it unto me."
The poor are not excluded from the privilege of giving. They, as well as the wealthy, may act a part in this work. The lesson that Christ gave in regard to the widow's two mites, shows us that the smallest willing offerings of the poor, if given from a heart of love, are as acceptable as the largest donations of the rich. In the balances of the sanctuary, the gifts of the poor, made from love to Christ, are not estimated according to the amount given, but according to the love which prompts the sacrifice.
Thousands of colored people in the South may now be uplifted, and become human agents to help their own race, if they can receive the help God is calling upon us to give them. Multitudes of men and women in this field feel their deep poverty and necessity of elevation. And when faithful teachers shall come in to open to them the Scriptures just as they read, presenting truth in its native purity, the darkness will disappear. Bright beams of light will shine upon the soul searching for truth. And with those who have had advantages, a close and intelligent investigation will take place upon the subjects of truth revealed in the Scriptures. Many will be taught of God. They will learn aright from the Great Teacher, and will accept with joy the truths that will sanctify and uplift. The moral image of God will be restored in the soul, and many will be eternally saved.
My dear brethren and sisters, Christ is now saying to you, Lift up your eyes and look on this Southern field; for it needs workers--sowers of the seed, and reapers. It needs your means for the maintenance of these workers. The grace of Christ is unlimited, it is God's free gift. Then why should not this neglected people have some hope and courage and faith brought into their lives? There is sunshine in the heart for all who will accept Christ.
Sharing in the Joys of the Redeemed.--There is reward for the wholehearted, unselfish workers who enter this field, and also for those who contribute willingly for their support. Those engaged in active service in the field, and those who give of their means to sustain these workers, will share the reward of the faithful.
Every wise steward of the means entrusted to him, will enter into the joy of his Lord. What is this joy?--"Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." There will be a blessed commendation, a holy benediction, on the faithful winners of souls. They will join the rejoicing ones in heaven, who shout the harvest home. How great will be the joy when the redeemed of the Lord shall all meet,--gathered into the mansions prepared for them! O, what rejoicing for all who have been impartial, unselfish laborers together with God in carrying forward his work in the earth! What satisfaction will every reaper have, when the clear, musical voice of Jesus shall be heard, saying, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
The Redeemer is glorified because he has not died in vain. With glad, rejoicing hearts, those who have been co-laborers with God see of the travail of their soul for perishing, dying sinners, and are satisfied. The anxious hours they have spent, the perplexing circumstances they have had to meet, the sorrow of heart because some refused to see and receive the things which make for their peace, are forgotten. The self-denial they have practised in order to support the work, is remembered no more. As they look upon the souls they sought to win to Jesus, and see them saved, eternally saved--monuments of God's mercy and of a Redeemer's love--there ring through the arches of heaven shouts of praise and thanksgiving.
"And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy; . . . for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
"They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #42)
As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when, after the fall, there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. To all men this covenant offered pardon, and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God's law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.
This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Gen. 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Gal. 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God's law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Gen. 17:1. The testimony of God concerning his faithful servant was, "Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Gen. 26:5. And the Lord declared to him, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." Gen. 17:7.
Though this covenant was made with Adam and renewed to Abraham, it could not be ratified until the death of Christ. It had existed by the promise of God since the first intimation of redemption had been given; it had been accepted by faith; yet when ratified by Christ, it is called a new covenant. The law of God was the basis of this covenant, which was simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God's law.
Another compact--called in Scripture the "old" covenant--was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the "second," or "new" covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant. That the new covenant was valid in the days of Abraham, is evident from the fact that it was then confirmed both by the promise and by the oath of God,--the "two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie." Heb. 6:18.
But if the Abrahamic covenant contained the promise of redemption, why was another covenant formed at Sinai?--In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. In delivering them from Egypt, God sought to reveal to them his power and his mercy, that they might be led to love and trust him. He brought them down to the Red Sea--where, pursued by the Egyptians, escape seemed impossible--that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then he wrought deliverance for them. Thus they were filled with love and gratitude to God, and with confidence in his power to help them. He had bound them to himself as their deliverer from temporal bondage.
But there was a still greater truth to be impressed upon their minds. Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in themselves, to render obedience to God's law, and their need of a Saviour. All this they must be taught.
God brought them to Sinai; he manifested his glory; he gave them his law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: "If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." Ex. 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God's law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, "All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient." Ex. 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant, and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. Now by faith and love they were bound to God as their deliverer from the bondage of sin. Now they were prepared to appreciate the blessings of the new covenant.
The terms of the "old covenant" were, Obey and live: "If a man do, he shall even live in them" (Eze. 20:11; Lev. 18:5); but "cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them." Deut. 27:26. The "new covenant" was established upon "better promises,"--the promise of forgiveness of sins, and of the grace of God to renew the heart, and bring it into harmony with the principles of God's law. "This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts. . . . I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jer. 31:33, 34.
The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone, is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness, we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth "the fruits of the Spirit." Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as he walked. Through the prophet he declared of himself, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Ps. 40:8. And when among men he said, "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." John 8:29.
The apostle Paul clearly presents the relation between faith and the law under the new covenant. He says, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law." "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,"--it could not justify man, because in his sinful nature he could not keep the law,--"God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom. 5:1; 3:31; 8:3, 4.
God's work is the same in all time, although there are different degrees of development, and different manifestations of his power, to meet the wants of men in the different ages. Beginning with the first gospel promise, and coming down through the patriarchal and Jewish ages, and even to the present time, there has been a gradual unfolding of the purposes of God in the plan of redemption. The Saviour typified in the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law is the very same that is revealed in the gospel.. The clouds that enveloped his divine form have rolled back; the mists and shades have disappeared; and Jesus, the world's Redeemer, stands revealed. He who proclaimed the law from Sinai, and delivered to Moses the precepts of the ritual law, is the same that spoke the sermon on the mount. The great principles of love to God, which he set forth as the foundation of the law and the prophets, are only a reiteration of what he had spoken through Moses to the Hebrew people: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Deut. 6:4, 5; Lev. 19:18. The teacher is the same in both dispensations. God's claims are the same. The principles of his government are the same. For all proceed from him "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17.--Patriarchs and Prophets." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #43)
The most essential education for our youth today to gain, and that which will fit them for the higher grades of the school above, is an education that will teach them how to reveal the will of God to the world. To neglect this phase of their training, and to bring in to our schools a worldly method, is to bring loss to both teachers and students.
Just before Elijah was taken to heaven, he visited the schools of the prophets, and instructed the students on the most important points of their education. The lessons he had given them on former visits, he now repeated, impressing upon the minds of the youth the importance of letting simplicity mark every feature of their education. Only in this way could they receive the mold of heaven, and go forth to work in the ways of the Lord. If conducted as God designs they should be, our schools in these closing days of the message will do a work similar to that done by the schools of the prophets.
Those who go forth from our schools to engage in mission work will have need of an experience in the cultivation of the soil and in other lines of manual labor. They should receive a training that will fit them to take hold of any line of work in the fields to which they shall be called. No work will be more effectual than that done by those who, having obtained an education in practical life, go forth prepared to instruct as they have been instructed.
In his teachings the Saviour represented the world as a vineyard. We would do well to study the parables in which this figure is used. If in our schools the land were more faithfully cultivated, the buildings more disinterestedly cared for by the students, the love of sports and amusements, which causes so much perplexity in our school work, would pass away.
When the Lord placed our first parents in the garden of Eden, it was with the injunction that they "dress it" and "keep it." God had finished his work of creation, and had pronounced all things very good. Everything was adapted to the end for which it was made. While Adam and Eve obeyed God, their labors in the garden were a pleasure; the earth yielded of its abundance for their wants. But when man departed from his obedience to God, he was doomed to wrestle with the seeds of Satan's sowing, and to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Henceforth he must battle in toil and hardship against the power to which he had yielded his will.
It was God's purpose to remove by toil the evil which man brought into the world by disobedience. By toil the temptations of Satan might be made ineffectual, and the tide of evil be stayed. The Son of God was given to the world, by his death to make atonement for the sins of the world, by his life to teach men how the plans of the enemy were to be thwarted. Taking upon himself the nature of man, Christ entered into the sympathies and interests of his brethren, and by a life of untiring labor taught how men might become laborers together with God in the building up of his kingdom in the world.
If those who have received instruction concerning God's plan for the education of the youth in these last days, will surrender their wills to God, he will teach them his will and his way. Christ is to be the teacher in all our schools. If teachers and students will give him his rightful place, he will work through them to carry out the plan of redemption.
Students are to be taught to seek the counsel of God in prayer. They are to be taught to look to their Creator as their unerring guide. They are to be taught the lessons of forbearance and trust, of true goodness and kindness of heart. They are to learn the lesson of perseverance. Their characters are to answer to the words of David. "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace." In all this they are qualifying for service in the missionary field.
The converted student has broken the chain which bound him to the service of sin, and has placed himself in right relation to God. His name is enrolled in the Lamb's book of life. He is under solemn obligation to renounce evil, and come under the jurisdiction of God. Through earnest prayer he is to cleave to Christ. To neglect this, to refuse his service, is to forfeit the favor of the Great Teacher, and to become the sport of Satan's wiles. It was the design of heaven by the infinite sacrifice of Christ, to bring men and women into favor again with God. That education that brings the student into close relation with the Teacher sent from God, is true education.
God's people are his chosen instrumentalities for the enlargement of his church in the earth. They are to seek the counsel of God. Worldly amusements and entertainments are to have no place in the life of the Christian. In following the way of the Lord is to be the strength of his people. Their faith in the gift of God's only begotten Son is to be manifest. This will make its impression on the mind of the worldling. He who takes his position as separate from the world, and strives to become one with Christ, will be successful in drawing souls to God. The grace of Christ will be so apparent in his life that the world will take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus, and has learned of him.
"Go work today in my vineyard," the Saviour commands. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Let every one who claims to be a child of the Heavenly King seek constantly to represent the principles of the kingdom of God. Let each remember that in spirit, in words, and in works he is to be loyal and true to all the precepts and commandments of the Lord. We are to be faithful, trustworthy subjects of the kingdom of Christ, that those who are worldly wise may have a true representation of the riches, the goodness, the mercy, the tenderness, and the courtesy of the citizens of the kingdom of God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #44)
"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." He has conquered self,--the strongest foe man has to meet.
The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who can stand unmoved amid a storm of abuse is one of God's heroes.
To rule the spirit is to keep self under discipline; to resist evil; to regulate every word and deed by God's great standard of righteousness. He who has learned to rule his spirit will rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and these will cease to cast a gloom over his spirit.
It is God's purpose that the kingly power of sanctified reason, controlled by divine grace, shall bear sway in the lives of human beings. He who rules his spirit is in possession of this power.
In childhood and youth the character is most impressible. The power of self-control should then be acquired. By the fireside and at the family board influences are exerted the results of which are as enduring as eternity. More than any natural endowment, the habits established in early years will decide whether a man shall be victorious or vanquished in the battle of life.
In the use of language, there is, perhaps, no error that old and young are more, ready to pass over lightly in themselves than hasty, impatient speech. They think it is a sufficient excuse to plead, "I was off my guard, and did not really mean what I said." But God's Word does not treat it lightly. The Scripture says: "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him." "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
The largest share of life's annoyances, its heartaches, its irritations, is due to uncontrolled temper. In one moment, by hasty, passionate, careless words, may be wrought evil that a whole lifetime's repentance can not undo. O, the hearts that are broken, the friends estranged, the lives wrecked, by the harsh, hasty words of those who might have brought help and healing!
Overwork sometimes causes a loss of self-control. But the Lord never compels hurried, complicated movements. Many gather to themselves burden that the merciful Heavenly Father did not place on them. Duties he never designed them to perform chase one another wildly. God desires us to realize that we do not glorify his name when we take so many burdens that we are overtaxed and, becoming heart-weary and brain-weary, chafe and fret and scold. We are to bear only the responsibilities that the Lord gives us, trusting in him, and thus keeping our hearts pure and sweet and sympathetic.
There is a wonderful power in silence. When impatient words are spoken to you, do not retaliate. Words spoken in reply to one who is angry, usually act as a whip, lashing the temper into greater fury. But anger met by silence quickly dies away. Let the Christian bridle his tongue, firmly resolving not to speak harsh, impatient words. With the tongue bridled, he may be victorious in every trial of patience through which he is called to pass.
In his own strength man can not rule his spirit. But through Christ he may gain self-control. In his strength he may bring his thoughts and words into subjection to be the will of God. The religion of Christ brings the emotions under the control of reason, and disciplines the tongue. Under its influence the hasty temper is subdued, and the heart is filled with patience and gentleness.
Hold firmly to the One who has all power in heaven and in earth. Though you so often fail to reveal patience and calmness, do not give up the struggle. Resolve again, this time more firmly, to be patient under every provocation. And never take your eyes off your divine Example.
God's ideal for his children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil. And he has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul to keep him from sinning.
The tempter's agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is attainable by every repenting, believing child of God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #45)
A message has been given me for the teachers in all our schools. Those who accept the sacred responsibility resting upon teachers need to be constantly advancing in their experience. They should not be content to remain upon the lowlands, but should ever be climbing heavenward. With the Word of God in their hands, and the love of souls pointing them to diligence, they should advance step by step in efficiency.
A deep Christian experience will be combined with the work of true education. Our schools are to advance steadily in Christian development; and in order to do this, the words and example of the teacher should be a constant help. "Ye also, as lively stones," the apostle declares, "are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." It would be well for every teacher and student to study carefully these words, asking himself the question, Am I, through the abundant grace given, obtaining the very experience that as a child of God I must have in order to advance constantly step by step to the higher grade?
In every line of instruction, teachers are to seek to impart light from the Word of God, and to show the importance of obedience to a "Thus saith the Lord." The education should be such that the students will make right principles the guide of every action: this is the education that will abide through the eternal ages.
I am given words of caution to the teachers in all our established schools. The work of our schools must bear a different stamp than that borne by some of our most popular schools. The mere study of the ordinary textbook is not sufficient; and many of the books that are used are unnecessary for those schools that are established to prepare students for the school above. As a result, the students in these schools are not receiving the most perfect Christian education. The very points of study are neglected that are most needed to prepare the students to stand the last great examination, and to fit them for missionary work in home and foreign fields. The education that is needed now is one that will qualify the students for practical missionary work, by teaching them to bring every faculty under the control of the Spirit of God. The study book which is of the highest value is that which contains the instruction of Christ, the Teacher of teachers.
The Lord expects our teachers to expel from our schools those books that teach sentiments which are not in accordance with his Word, and to give place to those books that are of the highest value. The Lord designs that the teachers in our schools shall excel in wisdom the wisdom of the world, because they study his wisdom. God will be honored when the teachers in our schools, from the highest grades to the lowest, show to the world that a more than human wisdom is theirs, because the Master Teacher is standing at their head.
Our teachers need to be constant learners. All reformers need to place themselves under discipline to God. Their own lives need to be reformed, their own hearts subdued by the grace of Christ. Every worldly habit and idea that is not in harmony with the mind of God should be renounced.
When Nicodemus, a learned teacher in Israel, came to Jesus to inquire of him, Christ laid before him the first principles. Nicodemus, though holding an honorable position in Israel, had not a true conception of what a teacher in Israel should be. He needed instruction in the very first principles of the divine life, for he had not learned the alphabet of true Christian experience.
In response to Christ's instruction Nicodemus said, "How can these things be?" Christ answered, "Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" The same question might be asked of many who are holding responsible positions as teachers, physicians, and ministers of the gospel, but who have neglected the most essential part of their education, that which would fit them to deal in a Christlike manner with human minds.
In the instruction that Christ gave to his disciples, and to the people of all classes who came to hear his words, there was that which lifted them to a high plane of thought and action. If the words of Christ, instead of the words of men, were given to the learner today, we would see evidences of higher intelligence, a clearer comprehension of heavenly things, a deeper knowledge of God, a purer and more vigorous Christian life.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you," Christ said, "he that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever."
"When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
We are slow to understand how much we need to study the words of Christ and his methods of labor. If his teachings were better understood, much of the instruction that is now given in our schools would be valued at its true worth. It would be seen that much that is now taught does not develop the simplicity of godliness in the life of the student. Then finite wisdom would receive less honor, and the Word of God would have a more honored place.
When our teachers are truly converted, they will experience a soul hunger for the knowledge of God, and as humble learners in the school of Christ, they will study to know his righteousness. Righteous principles will rule the life, and will be taught as the principles that rule in the education of heaven. When teachers seek with all their heart to bring true principles into the work of education, angels of God will be present to make impressions upon the heart and mind. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #46)
The work of judging his brother has not been placed upon any man. "Judge not," the Saviour says, "that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." He who takes upon himself the work of judging and criticizing others, lays himself open to the same degree of judgment and criticism. Those who are ready to condemn their brethren, would do well to examine their own works and character. Such an examination, honestly made, will reveal the fact that they, too, have defects of character, and have made grave blunders in their work. If the great Judge should deal with men as they deal with their fellow workers, they would regard him as unkind and unmerciful.
"Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye," the Saviour asked, "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 of 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."
The scribes and Pharisees were very rigid in their rules, very severe in their judgment of others, and unmerciful in condemning. They exalted themselves as judges among the people; and while they justified the course of forbidden action that they themselves indulged in, they were quick to condemn with scornful words the course of others, even of those whom God was using to do his work. Their criticism of Christ and his disciples was severe and denouncing, and placed them in a false light before the people. To the view of the Pharisee his individual sins were as the mote, but that which he saw to condemn in others he represented as a beam. Christ declared to such, "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."
Christ did not make himself a judge among men; but he was heaven-appointed to lay down correct principles for the rule of the human family. He appoints agencies to carry out these principles; and by him "princes decree justice." In the advancement of his cause in the earth, he would have men appointed to deal with the erring who will be kind and considerate, and whose characters reveal the similitude of the divine,--men who will show the wisdom of Christ in dealing with matters that should be kept private, and who, when a work of correction and reproof must be done, will know how to keep silence before those whom it does not concern. Unbelievers should not be given opportunity to make God's people, be they ministers or laymen, the objects of their suspicion and unrighteous judgment.
When it becomes necessary for a minister to do a work of correction, he should be very careful to act righteously and wisely. He is not to denounce the erring harshly before those who know not the truth. The unconverted judge the servants of God by such actions, and conclude that this can not be the work of God. Those who are not of our faith, but who are convicted of the truth, when they see a lack of unity among the ministers who claim to be obeying the truth, close the door of their hearts, saying, We want none of these things. Thus by the exercise of unsanctified speech, souls are turned from the truth, and an example given that opens the way for the things of truth and righteousness to be lowered in the dust. Our workers, when tempted to speak hasty words of criticism and judgment, should remember that silence is golden.
I am instructed to bear this message to ministers: Judge not after the desire of your own mind. Do not, in order to carry out your own plans, bring forward that which will condemn another. Such a work is not a work of righteousness, and is one which God forbids. If you are under the sweet influence of Christ's Spirit, it is your privilege to give counsel to your brother; but if you are not under the direction of the Spirit of God, keep silence. It is God's prerogative to judge, not man's. Man is debarred from the seat of judgment by the words of Christ, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
My brethren, the time has come for every man to examine critically his own case. The time has come for men to keep their words of faultfinding for their individual selves. Let those who have been free to express their ideas regarding the error of their brother's course, examine their own lives by the light of the Word of God. There is a great work of reconversion to be done before the way for the Lord's coming shall be prepared. Men and women who have long professed to serve the Lord need to experience the quickening power of the Holy Spirit.
Great care should be exercised in choosing men to occupy positions of responsibility as guardians of the churches. My brethren, do not make this choice blindly, lest the flock of God be given an example that will teach them to tear and devour. The men who bear responsibilities in the cause of Christ should be men of prayer and humility. They are to act like men who in all their dealings with their brethren are guided by the Spirit of God. They are to give an example of righteousness. They are sacredly to guard the reputation of those who are doing the work of God.
I have been shown that some of the leaders in the work have acted the part of an inconsiderate father who loses control of his words and spirit, and who acts severely with his children because he supposes it necessary to show his authority. Often such a father, in exercising his ruling power, gives an example of passion and injustice, which strengthens the evil. The parent who deals thus with his child does it a great wrong, and needs to turn his indignation and censure against himself. I have been instructed to say that those workers who have carried this spirit into their labors and plans in the conference are as surely stumblingblocks to souls as is the inconsistent parent to his child.
God never intended that in his work the mind of one man should control the mind of another. Those who are trying to carry out their personal plans should carefully consider whether they are following the example of him who said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Those who follow in the footsteps of Christ will not act the part of an accuser, passing judgment on those who they suppose make mistakes.
We have a most solemn message to bear to the world. Let those who suppose that they are to have authority, remember that they are men under authority. A higher power than that of any earthly potentate is to rule them. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #47)
(Reading for Sabbath, December 14)--The world's greatest need is consecrated effort for the salvation of souls. Christ desires by the fulness of his power so to strengthen his people that through them the whole world shall be encircled with an atmosphere of grace. When his people shall make a wholehearted surrender of themselves to God, walking before him in humility and faith, he will carry out through them his eternal purpose, enabling them to work harmoniously in giving to the world the truth as it is in Jesus. He will use all, men, women, and children, in making the light shine forth to the world, and calling out a people who will be true to his commandments.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The salvation of souls was the great object for which Christ sacrificed his royal robe and kingly crown, the glory of heaven, and the homage of angels, and laying aside his divinity, came to earth to labor and suffer with humanity upon him. He who has been transformed into the likeness of Christ, he who cherishes the spirit of the great Missionary Worker, is filled with a desire to bear the tidings of salvation to the regions beyond, to those who know not the Saviour. To the work of soul-saving he consecrates time and strength, means and influence. He uses every joy of his ability in an effort to win souls to Christ. The sacrifice made on the cross of Calvary is the motive that inspires him to put forth untiring efforts and to show unflagging zeal. His determination is, "I will not fail nor be discouraged." By his consistent life he draws those around him to the Saviour.
Those who give their lives to Christian ministry know the meaning of true happiness. Their interests and their prayers reach far beyond self. They themselves are growing up as they try to reach others. They become familiar with the largest plans, the most stirring enterprises; and how can they but grow when they place themselves in the channel of light and blessing? They become more and more identified with Christ in all his plans. There is no opportunity for spiritual stagnation. Selfish ambition and self-seeking are rebuked by constant contact with the absorbing interests which belong to high and holy aspirations.
All who surrender themselves to God in unselfish service for humanity are in cooperation with the Lord of glory. This thought sweetens all toil, it braces the will, it nerves the spirit for whatever may befall. Working with unselfish heart, ennobled by being partakers of Christ's sufferings, sharing his sympathies, they help to swell the tide of his joy, and bring honor and praise to his exalted name.
Very much more might be done for Christ if all who have the light of truth would practice the truth. There are whole families who might be missionaries, engaged in personal labor, toiling for the Master with busy hands and active brains, devising new methods for the success of his work. There are earnest, prudent, warmhearted men and women who could do much for Christ if they would give themselves to God, drawing near to him, and seeking him with the whole heart.
The Lord is calling his people to take up different lines of work. Those in the highways and byways of life are to hear the gospel message. Church members are to do evangelistic work in the homes of their neighbors who have not yet received full evidence of the truth for this time. The presentation of the truth in love and sympathy, from house to house, is in harmony with the instruction that Christ gave to his disciples when he sent them out on their first missionary tour. By songs of praise to God, by humble, heartfelt prayers, by a simple presentation of Bible truth in the family circle, many will be reached. The divine workers will be present to send conviction to hearts. "I am with you alway," is his promise. With the assurance of the abiding presence of such a Helper, we may labor with hope and faith and courage.
Those who have long known the truth need to seek the Lord most earnestly, that their hearts may be filled with a determination to work for their neighbors. My brethren and sisters, give yourselves to the Lord for service. Allow no opportunity to pass unimproved. Visit those who live near you, and by sympathy and kindness try to reach their hearts. Visit the sick and suffering, and show a kindly interest in them. If possible, do something to make them more comfortable. Through this means you can reach their hearts, and speak a word for Christ. Eternity alone will reveal how far-reaching such a line of labor can be.
Other lines of usefulness will open before those who are willing to do the duty nearest them. It is not learned, eloquent workers that are most needed now, but humble, Christlike men and women, who have learned from Jesus of Nazareth to be meek and lowly, and who, trusting in his strength, will go forth into the highways and hedges to give the invitation, "Come, for all things are now ready." This work will give life and vigor to the mental and spiritual powers. Light from Christ will shine into the mind. The Saviour will abide in your hearts, and in his light you will see light.
Consecrate yourselves wholly to the work of God. He is your strength, and he will be at your right hand, helping you to carry out his merciful designs. By personal labor reach those around you. Preaching alone will not do the work that needs to be done. A perfect work can not be done by proxy. Money lent or given will not accomplish all that is to be done. By visiting the people, talking, praying, sympathizing with them, you will win hearts. This is the highest missionary work that you can do. To do it, you will need resolute, persevering faith, unwearying patience, and a deep love for souls.
My sisters, do not spend your money lavishly for dress. Fathers and mothers teach your children to dress inexpensively; teach them to save their pennies for missionary work. Let every member of the family practise self-denial. Christ is our example. He was the Prince of glory, but he had such an interest in our world that he left his riches and came to this earth to live a life that should be an example to rich and poor alike. He taught that all should come together in love and unity, to work as he worked, to sacrifice as he sacrificed, and to love as children of God.
Parents, gather your children around you each morning and evening, and in humble supplication lift the heart to God for help. Your dear ones are exposed to temptations. Daily annoyances beset the pathway of old and young. Those who would live patient, loving, cheerful lives, must pray. Only by receiving constant help from God can we gain the victory over self.
Each morning consecrate yourselves and your children to God for that day. Make no calculation for months or years; these are not yours. One brief day is given you. As if it were your last on earth, work during its hours for the Master. Lay all your plans before God, to be carried out or given up, as his providence shall indicate. Accept his plans instead of your own, even though their acceptance requires the abandonment of cherished projects. Thus the life will be molded more and more after the divine example; and "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Brethren and sisters, arouse, and show a living interest in the unworked portions of the Lord's vineyard. Consecrate yourselves unreservedly to the work of giving the rich treasures of truth to those in darkness. Catch the spirit of the great Master Worker. Learn from the Friend of sinners how to minister to sin-sick souls. His heart was ever touched with human woe. Why are we so cold and indifferent? Why are our hearts so unimpressible? Christ placed himself upon the altar of sacrifice, a living sacrifice. Why are we so unwilling to give ourselves to the work to which he consecrated his life? Something must be done to cure the terrible indifference that has taken hold upon us. Let us bow our heads in humiliation as we see how much less we have done that we might have done to sow the seeds of truth.
When we are converted, our desire for ease and elegance will be changed. Christ brought his desires and wishes into strict abeyance to his mission--a mission that bore the insignia of heaven. He made everything subordinate to the great work that he came into the world to accomplish for the fallen race. When in his youth his mother found him in the school of the rabbis, and said to him, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing," he answered--and his answer is the keynote of his lifework--"How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
My brethren and sisters, I speak to you in words of love and tenderness. Every earthly interest must be made subordinate to the great work of redemption. Remember that in the lives of the followers of Christ must be seen the same devotion, the same subjection to God's work of every social claim and every earthly affection, that was seen in his life. God's claims must ever be made paramount. "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me."
Eternity stretches before us. The curtain is about to be lifted. What are we doing, what are we thinking of, that we cling to our selfish love of ease, while all around us souls are perishing? Have our hearts become callous? Can we not see and understand that we have a work to do in behalf of others? My brethren and sisters, are you among those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not? Is it in vain that God has sent you a knowledge of his will? Is it in vain that he has sent you warning after warning of the nearness of the end? Do you believe in the declarations of his Word concerning what is coming upon the world? Do you believe that God's judgments are hanging over the inhabitants of the earth? How, then, can you sit at ease, careless and indifferent?
Every day that passes brings us nearer the end. Does it bring us also nearer God? Are we watching unto prayer? Those with whom we associate day by day need our help, our guidance. They may be in such a condition of mind that a word in season will be sent home by the Holy Spirit as a nail in a sure place. Tomorrow some of these souls may be where we may never reach them again? What is our influence over these fellow travelers? What effort do we make to win them to Christ?
Time is short, and our working forces must be organized to do a larger work. Workers are needed who comprehend the greatness of the work, and who will engage in it, not for the wages they receive, but from a realization of the nearness of the end. The time demands great efficiency and deeper consecration. O I am so full of this subject that I cry to God, "Raise up and send forth messengers filled with the sense of their responsibility, messengers in whose hearts self-idolatry, which lies at the foundation of all sin, has been crucified." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #48)
On one occasion the Jewish rulers sent messengers to John the Baptist to make the inquiry, "Who art thou?" John "confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias."
Had the minds of his hearers been keen to recognize spiritual truth, they would have discerned the significance of John's words. Allusion was made to a custom prevailing in those Eastern countries. When a monarch was about to make a journey, men were sent before him to clear obstructions from the way, that the king might travel in safety and without hindrance. "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness," John declared, "Make straight the way of the Lord."
"Why baptizest thou then," the messengers asked, "if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?" To the listening people John the Baptist looked as if he might be the prophet Elijah. His authoritative proclamation, his manner as he spoke of himself as the messenger of the coming One, aroused a great expectation in the hearts of the people. The Jews had studied only one side of this question. To them the Messiah was to be a mighty prince who would work powerfully in their behalf. "John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."
None who listened to the words of John and marked the earnestness of his manner, could doubt that he referred to the Christ who had been so long promised to the world. The messengers from Jerusalem had their answer. The message they were to carry back to the rulers at Jerusalem was decided and unequivocal. The Messiah was among them.
There was much in the places about them to remind the Jews of God's wonderful works for them in the past. Just below where John was baptizing, God's power had divided the waters, making a path for the Israelites to cross the Jordan and to pass on to the promised land. Not many miles away stood Jericho, whose walls had fallen before the command of the Prince of heaven. What might they not expect if the Messiah had actually come to earth! The whole nation was stirred.
"Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But 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 to say 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 doctrine that John preached was, first, repentance for past sins; then, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." They must show repentance toward God; then they would be prepared to show faith in the One who was about to declare himself unto them. Truth must be allowed to exercise its cleansing power upon the lives of these rulers.
To those who were untaught in the oracles of God, it was enough for John to say, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." But when the Baptist saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he was stirred to give them a decided message. These men held themselves as a power among the people. Though they held different theories regarding some Bible subjects they were united in their desire to hear the words of the wilderness prophet. Some who came from curiosity, arrested by his words, became interested in the message he was giving, and were moved to be baptized. To them John said, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." Christ was about to appear as the revealer of the character of God. His very presence would make known to men their sin. Only as they were willing to be purged from sin, could they enter into fellowship with him. Those who were corrupt in heart could not abide in his presence.
Multitudes accepted the preaching of John, and followed him from place to place. Many cherished in their hearts the hope that he was the Messiah. But as John saw the people turning to him, he sought to direct their minds to the coming One. Later, Christ, speaking of John and his mission, declared, "What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately are in king's courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
In this age, just prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, such a work as that of John the Baptist is to be done. God calls for men who will prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The message preceding the public ministry of Christ was, "Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; 'repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" As a people who believe in Christ's soon appearing, we have a message to bear: "Prepare to meet thy God." Our message is to be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. Notwithstanding that his life was imperiled, he did not hesitate to declare God's word. And our work in this age must be done as faithfully.
In order to give such a message as John gave, we must have a spiritual experience like his. The same work must be wrought in us. We must behold God, and in beholding him lose sight of self.
John had by nature the faults and weaknesses common to humanity; but the touch of divine love had transformed him. When, after Christ's ministry began, the disciples of John came to him with the complaint that all men were following the new teacher, John showed how clearly he understood his relation to the Messiah, and how gladly he welcomed the One for whom he had prepared the way.
"A man can receive nothing," he said, "except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the light of life.
Those who are true to their calling as messengers for God, will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. They will recognize that it is their work to proclaim, as did John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." They will lift up Jesus, and with him humanity will be lifted up. "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." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #49)
During the earlier years of the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, the Samaritans were untiring in their opposition. They "weakened the hands of the people in Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius." By their false reports they aroused suspicions in minds easily led to suspect. At times, the rulers in authority seemed to be influenced to work against the purposes of God. But for many years the influences for evil were held in check, and the people of God had liberty to continue their work.
Throughout these years, Satan was striving to influence the highest powers of the kingdom of Medo-Persia to show disfavor to God's people. It was Satan who prompted the Samaritans to persevere in their opposition. But angels of God were working in behalf of the returned exiles, and all heaven was intensely interested in the controversy. In the tenth chapter of Daniel is given a glimpse of this mighty struggle waged for many years between the forces for good and the forces for evil.
In this vision of the prophet, the angel Gabriel declared: "The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia." For three weeks Gabriel had been wrestling with the powers of darkness, and seeking to counteract the influences at work on the mind of King Cyrus. Before the contest closed, Christ himself came to Gabriel's help. All that heaven could do in behalf of the people of God, was done. The victory was finally gained, and the forces of the enemy were held in check all the days of Cyrus, who reigned for seven years, and all the days of his son Cambyses, who reigned about seven years and a half.
This was a period of wonderful opportunity for the Jews. While the highest agencies of heaven were working on the hearts of kings, the people of God might have been most active in carrying out the decree of Cyrus to restore the temple and its services, and in re-establishing themselves in their Judean homes. But many failed of cooperating with God. In the day of his power, they proved unwilling.
The opposition of the enemies of God's truth was strong and determined. Gradually the builders lost heart. Some could not forget the scene at the laying of the cornerstone, when "many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men,"and who had seen the temple that Solomon built, gave expression to their lack of faith in the enterprise by lamenting because of the seeming inferiority of the plans for this second temple. And as the Samaritans grew more and more bold, many of the Jews began to question whether, after all, the time had come for rebuilding. This feeling soon became widespread. Many of the workmen, disheartened and discouraged, returned to their homes, and engaged in the ordinary pursuits of life,--in sowing and reaping, and in building and beautifying houses for themselves.
During the reign of Cambyses, the work on the temple progressed very slowly. Finally, in the brief reign of the false Smerdis (named Artaxerxes in Ezra 4:7), the Samaritans induced the unscrupulous impostor to issue a decree forbidding the Jews to rebuild their temple and city.
For over a year the temple was neglected,--well-nigh forsaken,--while the people dwelt in their homes, and labored to attain temporal prosperity; but their situation was deplorable. Work as they might, they could not prosper. The very elements of nature seemed to conspire against them. A drought prevailed, and the harvests were meager.
These were the conditions existing during the early part of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, king of Medo-Persia. Spiritually as well as temporally, the Israelites were in a pitiable state. So long had they murmured and doubted; so long had they chosen to make their personal interests first, while they viewed with apathy the Lord's temple in ruins, that many had lost sight of God's purpose in restoring them to Judea.
For a time, the forces of evil seemed to triumph. But even this dark hour in the history of God's people was not without hope for those whose trust was in the Lord God of Israel.
In tender compassion, the Lord wrought in a marked manner to save his chosen people from utter spiritual ruin. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were raised up to meet the crisis. In stirring testimonies these appointed messengers of God revealed to the people the cause of their troubles. Their lack of temporal prosperity was the result of their neglect to consider God's interests first. By honoring God and by showing him due respect and courtesy, through the building of his house, they would have invited his presence and blessing.
"In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built."
The expression, "This people say," is significant. In the hour of their opportunity, the Israelites had not shown themselves willing. Prompt obedience is expected of those whom the Lord chooses and leads. Pleas for delay are a dishonor to God. And yet those who choose to follow their own way, often frame ingenious excuses in self-justification. Thus the Israelites declared that they had begun to rebuild, but that they were broken off in their work because of the hindrances devised by their enemies. These hindrances, they reasoned, were an indication that it was not the proper time to rebuild. They declared that the Lord had interposed difficulties to reprove their hot haste. This is why, in a communication through his prophet, he referred to them not as "my people," but as "this people."
The Israelites had no real excuse for leaving their work on the temple. The time when the most serious objections were raised, was the time for them to persevere in building. But they were actuated by a selfish dislike to encounter danger by arousing the opposition of their enemies. They did not possess the faith that is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. They hesitated to move forward by faith in the opening providences of God, because they could not see the end from the beginning. When difficulties arose, they were easily turned from the work.
This history will be repeated. There will be religious failures because men do not have faith. When they look at the things that are seen, impossibilities appear; but God can lead them step by step in the course he desires them to take. His work will advance only as his servants move forward by faith. While they may be called upon to pass through trying times, yet they should ever remember that they are contending with a weakened, beaten foe. God's people will finally triumph over every power of darkness.
"Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways." Why have you been so passive? Why have you done so little? Why do you feel concern for your own buildings, and unconcern for the Lord's building? Why have you lost the burning zeal you once manifested in behalf of the restoration of the Lord's house? What have you gained by serving self at the sacrifice of the best interests of God's cause? The desire to escape poverty has led you to neglect the temple; but this very neglect has brought upon you that which you feared. Nothing has prospered. "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."
The Lord calls upon them to consider the situation carefully."Consider your ways," he repeats. "Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord." He gives the reason for their having been brought to actual want: "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands."
How striking is the contrast between the prompt obedience of the things of nature, and the slothful disobedience of men, those for whom Christ has died! The Lord calls upon the dew and the rain and the varied agencies of nature, and they obey his call, to be used either in blessings or in judgments. Inanimate nature is represented as being shocked at man's disregard for God's word. God calls for famine and plague and pestilence, for calamities by sea and by land, to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. In response to the call of God, the things of nature spring to do his bidding, either in wasting and destruction or in mercies and blessings.
Because the Israelites let God's house lie waste, the Lord sent upon all their substance a wasting drought. This judgment affected not only all the fruits of the ground, but the living creatures as well. The cattle must suffer because of the sins of men. God has bestowed on his remnant people the fruits of field and garden, the corn and the wine and the oil, as a token of his favor. It was because of the sins of Israel, the Lord declared through Haggai his messenger,--because the people had used all these bountiful gifts so selfishly,--that the blessings were removed.
The messages of counsel and reproof given through Haggai were taken to heart by the leaders of Israel and "all the remnant of the people." Roused by these warnings, "Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #50)
The messages of Haggai led the people to feel that the Lord was in earnest with them. They dared not disregard repeated instruction that their prosperity, both temporal and spiritual, was dependent on faithful obedience to the commands of the God of heaven. As soon as they decided to obey "the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him," the messages of reproof that had been given were followed by words of encouragement.
"Then spake Haggai the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord."
How comforting are these words! The Lord God omnipotent, who reigneth in the heavens, declares, "I am with you." He assures his people that those who are obedient are in a position where he can bless them, to the glory of his name. And if God's people today choose to rely on him, and believe in him, he will bless them. He will be a present help to all who serve him in preference to serving self. When the Lord sees that his people have a heart to do his will, he will cause them to know of the doctrine. He will be with them.
The presence of God includes every other blessing. He who abides under the shadow of the Almighty can well say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust;" for of every such an one the Lord declares: "Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation."
Having assured the Israelites of his presence, "the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king."
In less than a month after the work on the temple was resumed, the Lord in mercy sent to the builders another comforting message regarding his presence with them. He inspired Haggai to explain to them wherein the glory of the house they were now building was to exceed the glory and magnificence of the former house. It was because of the promised presence of him who is the Desire of nations.
"In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not."
In this comforting message, the prophet refers to the promise of God given through Moses while the Israelites were encamped before Mount Sinai, when he declared: "I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God." Throughout the wilderness-wandering the Lord had revealed "great goodness toward the house of Israel," which he "bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old."
And now, notwithstanding the fact that repeatedly they have "rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit," God again in his infinite mercy stretches out his hand to save and to restore. As a recognition of their cooperation with his purposes, he renews his covenant with them that his Spirit shall remain among them; and he bids them, "Fear not." To his children today, as in days of old, he says" "Be strong, . . . and work: for I am with you." What an assurance! What an incentive to faithful service!
Haggai now prophesies regarding the first advent of Christ, to which event the Israelites were looking forward with longing expectancy: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts."
The outward glory of the temple was not the glory of the Lord. Instruction was given as to what constituted the blessing that was to rest upon the temple. Its restoration in a plainer style than that of the first temple, was to place before the people in a proper light their past error in depending upon the pomp and splendor of outward form and ceremony. The temple was to be erected at this time, also, to remove the reproach of their disloyalty to God. Haggai instructed the people that by heartfelt repentance and by a speedy completion of the temple, they were to seek to be cleansed from the sin of disobedience that had led away from God and had delayed the carrying out of the command to arise and build.
During the time of delay, the people had not been spiritually sharp-sighted. They had seen many things that they desired to do for themselves, to advance personal interests. Many had spent much time and had put forth laborious effort in beautifying their own homes while taking but little thought for the house of God. Haggai strengthened himself in the Lord of hosts, and presented his message plainly both to the religious and to the civil authorities, as well as to the people. He felt that the Lord's work must no longer be hindered, but that all must obey implicitly, and carry out fully the purposes of God in restoring them from Babylon to the promised land.
In neglecting the temple, which was the mirror of God's presence, the people had greatly dishonored God. They were now instructed to hold his house in sacred honor, not because of its magnificence, as did the Jews in the days of Christ, but because God had promised to be there. And this second temple was to be superior to the first because in a special sense the Messiah would honor it with his personal presence. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #51)
"Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet," began to prophesy "in the eighth month, in the second year of Darius"--only a few days after the Lord had assured the Israelites through Haggai that the glory of the house they were building would be greater than the glory of the former temple built by Solomon. Zechariah's first message was an assurance that God's word never fails, and a promise of blessing to those who harken unto the sure word of prophecy.
"The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers," the God of Israel declared unto Zechariah: "therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor harken unto me, saith the Lord. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us."
The Israelites has resumed the work of the Lord in faith. The difficulties under which they began to labor were of a most discouraging nature. Adversity had attended their efforts to attain temporal prosperity. Their fields were lying waste; their scant store of provisions was rapidly failing. Yet in the face of famine, and surrounded by unfriendly peoples, they moved forward in response to the call of God's messengers, and began anew to restore the ruined temple. Such a work required great faith, and the Lord gave them special assurances through Haggai and Zechariah that their faith would be richly rewarded, and that his word would not fail. The builders were not left to struggle on alone; "with them were the prophets of God helping them;" and the Lord of hosts himself had declared, "Be strong, . . . and work: for I am with you."
The Lord, in mercy, warned his people against the danger of falling back into their old ways of negligence and selfish indifference. He revealed to them the necessity of worshiping him in the beauty of holiness. In former years some whose hearts were polluted with sin had sought to please him with the splendor of many rites and ceremonies in the beautiful temple built by Solomon; but their worship was not pleasing to the God of whom it is written: "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity."
In the dark days of apostasy before the captivity, God had declared to his impenitent people: "I hate, I despise your feast days. . . . Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts." "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
The Israelites who were so diligently engaged in rebuilding the Lord's house, needed to realize constantly that "the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?" "Thus saith the high and holy 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."
In order that the builders of the second temple might make no mistakes, the Lord plainly instructed them, in the form of a parable, regarding the nature of service acceptable in his sight. About a month after Zechariah began to prophesy, and just three months after the people had resumed work on the temple, "in the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.
"Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean."
A soul corrupted by sin is represented by the figure of a dead body in a state of putrefaction. All the washings and sprinklings enjoined in the ceremonial law were lessons in parables, teaching the necessity of a work of regeneration in the inward heart for the purification of the soul dead in trespasses and sins, and also the necessity of the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.
"Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean."
A mere participation in religious services and ordinances does not make a sinner a Christian. A wicked man does not become righteous merely by associating with those who fear God. A man is made holy, and acceptable with God, only when his unclean heart is made clean by the grace of Christ, through faith, and by obedience to words of truth and righteousness. A work of reformation and restoration must take place in every heart. Those who have had great light and many privileges may perform some good works, notwithstanding their impenitence and their refusal to be saved in God's appointed way. But these good works do not cleanse the soul from corruption. Only those who accept the light of God's truth, choosing to obey him, will be cleansed from the defilement of sin.
Having admonished the builders not to fall into the same error that had brought their forefathers into trial and captivity, and had resulted in the destruction of the first temple, Haggai continued:--
"And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the Lord: since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the press-fat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labors of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you."
Wonderful promise! Wonderful assurance of divine favor! Never, never, by their own efforts, could the Israelites have become pure and holy. But when, sinful and polluted as they were, the sport of their enemies, and suffering because of a terrible drought, they turned to the Lord in humility of heart, confessed their sins, and chose to obey the testimonies of his messengers, God recognized their effort to carry out his instruction, and he accepted them as his obedient children. He accepted them not because of their zeal and good works, but because of their faith in the power of the coming Saviour to cleanse from sin.
On the day when rich blessings were promised the Israelites because of their faith and their willing obedience, a message was given to Zerubbabel, their leader. "The word of the Lord came unto Haggai, . . . saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts."
This personal testimony to Zerubbabel has been left on record for our special encouragement in time of trial. Zerubbabel had been sorely tried through all the years since he had led the Israelites forth from Babylon. God has a purpose in sending trial to his children. He never leads them otherwise than they would choose to be led if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling. He subjects them to discipline to humble them,--to lead them, through trial and affliction, to see their weakness and to draw near unto him. As they cry to him for help, he responds, saying, "Here am I."
Christians are Christ's jewels. They are to shine brightly for him, shedding forth the light of his loveliness. Their luster depends on the polishing they receive. They may choose to be polished or to remain unpolished. But every one who is pronounced worthy of a place in the Lord's temple must submit to the polishing process. Without the polishing that the Lord gives they can reflect no more light than a common pebble.
Christ says to man, You are mine. I have bought you. You are now only a rough stone, but if you will place yourself in my hands, I will polish you, and the luster with which you shall shine will bring honor to my name. No man shall pluck you out of my hand. I will make you my peculiar treasure. On my coronation day, you will be a jewel in my crown of rejoicing.
The divine Worker spends little time on worthless material. Only the precious jewels does he polish after the similitude of a palace, cutting away all the rough edges. This process is severe and trying; it hurts human pride. Christ cuts deep into the experience that man in his self-sufficiency has regarded as complete, and takes away self-uplifting from the character. He cuts away the surplus surface, and putting the stone to the polishing, wheel, presses it close, that all roughness may be worn away. Then, holding the jewel up to the light, the Master sees in it a reflection of himself, and he pronounces it worthy of a place in his casket.
"In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, . . . and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts." Blessed be the experience, however severe, that gives new value to the stone, and causes it to shine with living brightness. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 84, #52)
Stirring were the times during which Israel worked by faith to restore the temple of Jerusalem. Through the messages delivered by Haggai and Zechariah, the people were roused to put forth every possible effort to build. As they labored, they were sadly harassed by the Samaritans and others who feared not God.
The enemies of the faithful builders devised many discouraging hindrances. The provincial officers of the Medo-Persian realm visited the returned exiles, and requested them to state the name of the one who had commanded them to rebuild. If the Jews at that time had not been trusting the Lord for guidance, this inquiry made by men high in authority might have resulted disastrously to the builders. "But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius." The officers were answered so wisely that they decided to write a letter to Darius Hystaspes, king of Medo-Persia, directing his attention to the original decree made by Cyrus, commanding that the house of God at Jerusalem be builded, and that the expenses for the same be paid from the king's treasury.
Darius searched for this decree, and found it, whereupon he directed those who had made inquiry, "Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.
"Moreover," Darius declared, " I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: that they may offer sacrifices of sweet savors unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons."
The king further decreed that most severe penalties be meted out on any who should in any wise alter the decree; and he closed with the remarkable statement: "The God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed."
Thus the Lord, in his providence, prepared the way for an early completion of the temple. But for months before this decree was made, the Israelites had kept on working by faith, "the prophets of God helping them."
Just two months after Haggai's last recorded message was delivered, Zechariah had a most encouraging series of visions regarding the work of God in the earth. These messages, written out in the first six chapters of the book of Zechariah, were given in the form of parables and symbols. They came at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety, when it seemed as if the permission granted the Jews to rebuild was to be withdrawn. The future appeared very dark. God saw that his people were in need of being sustained and cheered by a revelation of his infinite compassion and love. His testimonies at this time were of peculiar significance to the men who were advancing in the name of the God of Israel.
After an introductory view of the nations having universal dominion in the earth, Zechariah hears "the angel of the Lord" inquiring, "O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me," Zechariah declares, "with good words and comfortable words.
"So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.
"Therefore thus saith the Lord: I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem."
The prophet is now directed to cry out saying, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem."
Next the prophet sees the powers that had "scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem," symbolized by "four horns." Immediately afterward he sees "four carpenters," representing the agencies used by the Lord in restoring his people and the house of his worship, as decreed by Cyrus and his successors, as well as by God himself.
"I lifted up mine eyes again," says Zechariah, "and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: for I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire around about, and will be the glory in the midst of her."
God had commanded that Jerusalem be rebuilt, and the measuring of the city was a symbol that he would give comfort and strength to his afflicted ones. His protecting care, they were assured, would be like "a wall of fire round about." O, how compassionate is our Heavenly Father! What comfort and hope there are in his promises!
The prophet is now inspired with an earnest message to the children of Israel who are still in Babylon, the land of their captivity. At the time the decree of Cyrus was given, nearly a score of years before, only a comparatively small number, a mere "remnant," had returned to Judea. By far the greater portion had failed of discerning the opening providence of God, as revealed in the decree of King Cyrus. They had chosen to remain behind, in a heathen land, rather than to return to Jerusalem.
And now, many years later, the Lord was preparing the way for these thousands who had lingered, to return. A chain of circumstances was rapidly leading to the confirmation of the decree of Cyrus and the issuance of a second decree by Darius Hystaspes. The Lord foresaw the troublous times that would soon follow in the reign of Xerxes--the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. And so, in a time of special favor and opportunity, the message was given through Zechariah:--
"Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the Lord: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the Lord. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith the Lord of hosts: After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me."
How sad it is to contemplate that this touching appeal met with so little response! Had this entreaty to flee from Babylon been heeded, how different might have been the condition of the Jews in the trying times of Mordecai and Esther!
The Lord's purposes for his people have ever been the same. He desires to bestow on the children of men the riches of an eternal inheritance. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. When those who choose to become obedient subjects of the Most High are finally saved in the kingdom of glory, God's purpose for mankind will have been fulfilled.
To us who are praying and longing for the coming of this most glorious kingdom, as well as to the children of Israel in the days of Zechariah, are spoken the words: "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation." Mrs. E. G. White.