Foreword: (this Foreword and Contents written May, 2010 (updated 2021) by Daniel Winters; earlysda hotmail.com)
This book was printed in 1872, and some of this Testimony was compiled into books in later years, and some was not.
Some interesting quotes are:
"A Saviour should be presented before the people, while the heart of the speaker should be subdued and imbued with his spirit. The very tones of the voice, the look, the words, should possess an irresistible power to move the hearts and control the minds. Jesus should be found in the heart of the minister."
"you do not realize your true state. I saw you enveloped in darkness."
"if she rids herself of this unholy slime of Satan,"
"Bro. ——'s daughter has an education to gain, as she is no more competent for the duties and difficulties of life as a wife, than a school girl of ten years old."
This Testimony seems to be the first public written place where Ellen White called for missionaries to go to foreign lands. Perhaps this appeal worked on J. N. Andrews' heart, as he became the first Seventh-day Adventist missionary to go overseas just two years later.
Her husband's case, with the Brethren in the Publishing House throwing the burden of the work on him, and charging him more than necessary for his order of books is interesting, but even more interesting, is how much time is spent showing her own husband that he must freely forgive them, and let it go.
This book was made to look as close to the original as possible. There are 200 pages in the original book, and you can view an exact PDF copy on www.earlysda.com.
This particular book was taken from a photo-copy of a photo-copy of a photo-copy.... and as such, the original spellings were left as in the original. There are several spelling/typesetting mistakes, listed at the end. If there are other spelling/typesetting mistakes in this book, please email me.
May the Holy Spirit impress God's words upon our hearts as we read, and may they help us overcome our tendencies to selfishness.
As i personally scanned/typed this in, there are no copyright violations, and i make this Testimony available to be copied or printed with no copyright restrictions. It is freely available for reading or downloading at www.earlysda.com.Contents:
DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS: I feel compelled at this time to fulfill a long-neglected duty.
Previous to my husband's dangerous and protracted illness, he performed, for years, more labor than two men should have done in the same time. He could not see any period where he could be relieved from the pressure of care, and obtain mental and physical rest. My husband was warned by testimony of his danger. I was shown that he was doing too much brain labor. I will here copy a written testimony, given as far back as Aug. 26, 1855:
"I was shown while at Paris, Maine, that my husband's health was in a critical condition, and that his anxiety of mind had been too much for his strength. When the present truth was first published, he put forth great exertion, and labored with but little encouragement and help from his brethren. From the first, he has taken burdens upon him which were too taxing for his physical strength.
"These burdens, if equally shared, need not have been so wearing. While my husband took much responsibility, some of his brethren in the ministry were not willing to take any. And those who shunned responsibilities and burdens did not realize his burdens, and were not as interested in the advancement of the work and cause of God as they should have been. My husband felt this lack, and laid his shoulder under burdens that were too heavy, and they nearly crushed him. As the result of these extra efforts, more souls will be saved. But it is these efforts that have told upon his constitution and deprived him of strength. I have been shown that my husband should lay aside his anxiety in a great measure; for God is willing he should be released from such wearing labor, and that he should devote more time to the study of the Scriptures, and in the society of his children, seeking to cultivate their minds.
"I saw that it was not our duty to perplex ourselves with individual trials. Such mental labor endured for others' wrongs should be avoided. My husband can now labor with all his energies, as he has done, and as the result go down to the grave, and his labors be lost to the cause of God; or he can now be released while he has some strength left, and last longer, and his labors be more efficient."
I will copy from a testimony given in 1859: "In my last vision, I was shown that the Lord would have my husband give himself more to the study of the Scriptures that he might be better qualified to labor effectually in word and doctrine, both by speaking and writing.
"I was shown that we had, in the past, exhausted our energies through much anxiety and care to bring the church up in a right position. Such wearing labor in various places, bearing the burdens of the church, is not required; for the church should bear their own burdens. Our work was to instruct them in God's word, pressing upon them the necessity of experimental religion, defining as clearly as possible the correct position in regard to the truth. God would have us raise our voices in the great congregation upon points of present truth, which are of vital importance. These should be presented with clearness, and with decision, and should also be written out, that the silent messengers may bring it before people everywhere.
"I have been shown that there is required of us a more thorough consecration on our part to the essential work, and we must be earnest to live in the light of God's countenance. If our minds were less exercised with the trials of the church, they would be more free to be exercised upon Bible subjects; and a closer application to Bible truth will accustom the mind to run in that channel, and we shall be better qualified for the important work devolving upon us.
"I was shown that God did not lay upon us such heavy burdens as we have borne in the past. We have a duty to talk to the church, and show them the necessity of their working for themselves. The church have been carried too much.
"I was shown the reason why we should not be required to take upon ourselves heavy burdens, and engage in perplexing labor. The Lord has work of another character for us to perform. He would not have us exhaust our physical and mental energies, but they should be held in reserve, that upon special occasions, whenever help was actually needed, our voices could be heard.
"I saw that important moves would be made that would demand our influence to lead out. Influences would arise, errors would occasionally be brought into the church, and then our influence would be required. But if exhausted by previous labors, we would not possess that calm judgment, discretion, and self-control, for the important occasion in which God would have us act a prominent part.
"Our efforts have been crippled by Satan's affecting the church to call forth from us almost double labor to cut our way through the darkness and unbelief. These efforts to set things in order in the churches have exhausted our strength. Lassitude and debility have followed.
"I saw that we had a work to do, and the adversary of souls would resist every effort that we might attempt to make. The people may be in a state of backsliding, so that God cannot bless them, and this will be disheartening; but we should not be discouraged. We should do our duty in presenting the light, and leave the responsibility with the people."
I will here copy from another testimony, written June 6, 1863: "I was shown that our testimony was still needed in the church, and that we should labor to save ourselves trials and cares, and that we should preserve a devotional frame of mind. It is duty for those in the Office to tax their brains more, and my husband to tax his less. Much time is spent by him upon various matters which confuse and weary his mind, and unfit him for study, or for writing, and hinder his light from shining in the Review as it should.
"I saw that my husband's mind should not be crowded and overtaxed. His mind must have rest, and he be left free to write and attend to matters which others cannot do. Those engaged in the Office can lift from him a great weight of care if they would dedicate themselves to God, and feel a deep interest in the work. No selfish feelings should exist among those who labor in the Office. It is the work of God in which they are engaged, and they are accountable to God for the motives and manner in which this branch of his work is performed. They are required to discipline their minds, and to bring their minds to task. Forgetfulness is sin. Many feel that no blame should be attached to forgetfulness. There is a great mistake here; and this leads to many blunders, and much disorder, and many wrongs. The mind must be tasked. Things that should be done should not be forgotten. The mind must be disciplined until it will remember.
"My husband has had much care, and he has done many things which others ought to have done, fearing they would, in their heedlessness, make mistakes which would involve losses not easily remedied. This has been a great perplexity to his mind. Those who labor in the Office should learn. They should study, and practice, and exercise their own brains; for they have this branch of business alone, while my husband has the responsibility of many departments of the work. If the workmen make a failure, they should feel that it rests upon them to repair damages from their own purses, and not allow the Office to suffer loss through their carelessness. They should not cease to bear responsibilities, but should try again, avoiding their former mistakes. In this way they would learn to take that care which the word of God ever requires, and then they will do no more than their duty.
"I was shown that my husband should take time to do those things which his judgment tells him would preserve his health. He has thought that he must throw off the burdens and responsibilities which were upon him, and leave the Office, or his mind would become a wreck. I was shown that when the Lord released him from his position, he would give him just as clear evidence of his release as he gave him when he laid the burden of the work upon him. But he has borne too many burdens, and those laboring with him at the Office, and his ministering brethren also, have been too willing that he should bear them. They have, as a general thing, stood back from bearing burdens, and have sympathized with those that were murmuring against him, and left my husband to stand alone while he was bowed down beneath censure, until God has vindicated his own cause. If they had taken their share of the burdens, he would have been relieved.
"I saw that now God required us to take special care of the health he has given us; for our work was not yet done. Our testimony must still be borne, and would have influence. I saw we should both preserve our strength to labor in the cause of God when it is needed. We should be careful of our strength, and not take upon ourselves burdens that others can, and should, bear. We should encourage a cheerful, hopeful, peaceful frame of mind; for our health depends upon our doing this. The work God requires of us will not prevent our caring for our health, that we may recover the effect of overtaxing labor. The more perfect our health, the more perfect will be our labor. When we overtax our strength, and overlabor, and become exhausted, then we are liable to take colds, and are at such times in danger of disease assuming a dangerous form. We must not leave the care of ourselves with God, when he has left the responsibility upon us."
Oct. 25, 1869, while at Adams Center, I was shown that some ministers among us fail to bear all the responsibility God would have them. Their lack throws extra labor upon those who are burden-bearers, especially upon my husband. There is a failure in ministers moving out and venturing something in the cause and work of God. Important decisions are to be made, and, as the end cannot, by mortal man, be seen from the beginning, there is a shrinking from venturing and advancing as the providence of God leads. Some one must advance. Some one must venture in the fear of God, trusting the result with him. Those ministers who shun this part of the labor are losing much. They are failing to obtain the experience God designed they should have, to make them efficient, strong men that be relied upon in any emergency.
Bro. ——, you shrink from running risks. You are not willing to venture when you cannot see the way all clear. Yet some one must do this very work, and move by faith, or no advance moves would be made, and nothing would be accomplished. Your fear lest you shall make mistakes, and mismoves, and then be blamed, binds you. You should move according to your best judgment, trusting the result with God. Some one must do this, and it is a trying position for any one. One should not bear all this responsibility alone. This burden, with much reflection, and earnest prayer, should be equally shared. You excuse yourself from taking responsibility because you have made some mistakes in the past.
During my husband's affliction, the Lord proved, tested, and tried, his people, to reveal what was in their hearts; and, in thus doing, showed to them what was undiscovered in them that was not according to the Spirit of God. The trying circumstances under which we were placed called out that from our brethren which otherwise would never have been revealed. The Lord proved to his people that the wisdom of man is foolishness, and that their plans and calculations, without thorough trust and reliance upon God, would prove a failure. We are to learn from all these things. If errors are committed, they should teach and instruct, but not lead to the shunning of burdens and responsibilities. Where much is at stake, and where matters of vital consequence are to be entered into, and important questions settled, God's servants should take individual responsibilities. They cannot lay off the burden, and yet do the will of God. Some ministers are deficient in the qualifications necessary to build up the churches, and they are not willing to wear in the cause of God. They have not a disposition to give themselves wholly to the work, with their interest undivided, their zeal unabated, their patience and perseverance untiring. With these qualifications in lively exercise, the churches will be kept in order, and my husband's labors will not be so heavy. It is not constantly borne in mind by all ministers that the labor of all must bear the inspection of the Judgment, and every man be rewarded as his works have been.
Bro. ——, you have a responsibility to bear in regard to the Health Institute. You should ponder, you should reflect. Frequently the time you occupy in reading is the very best time for you to reflect, and study what must be done to set things in order at the Health Institute and at the Office. My husband takes on these burdens because he sees that the work for these institutions must be done by some one. As others would not lead out, he stepped into the gap and supplied the deficiency.
God has cautioned and warned my husband in regard to the preservation of his strength. I was shown that he was raised up by the Lord, and that he lives as a miracle of mercy¯not for the purpose of gathering the burdens upon him again under which he has once fallen, but that the people of God might be benefited with his experience in advancing the general interests of the cause and in connection with the work he has given me, and the burden he has laid upon me to bear.
Bro. ——, great care should be exercised by you, especially at Battle Creek. In visiting, your conversation should be upon the most important matters. Great care should be exercised to back up precept by example. This is an important post, which will require labor, and while you are here, you should take time to ponder the many things which need to be done, which require solemn reflection, careful attention, and most earnest, faithful prayer. You should feel as strong an interest in the things relating to the cause and burden of the work at the Health Institute, and the Office of publication, as my husband, and feel that the work is yours. You cannot do the work God has especially qualified my husband to do, neither can he do the work God has especially qualified you to do. Yet both of you together, united in harmonious labor, can accomplish much, you, in your office, and my husband, in his.
The work in which we have a mutual interest is great, and efficient, willing, burden-bearing laborers are very few indeed. God will give you strength, my brother, if you will move forward and wait upon him. He will give my husband and myself strength in our united labor, if we do all to his glory, according to our ability and strength to labor. You should be located where you would have a more favorable opportunity to exercise your gift according to the ability God has given you. You should lean your whole weight upon God, and give him an opportunity to teach, lead, and impress you. You feel a deep interest in the work and cause of God, and you should look to God for guidance and light. He will give it you. But, as an ambassador of Christ, you are required to be faithful, to correct wrong in love, and meekness, and your efforts will not prove unavailing.
Since my husband has recovered from his feebleness, we have labored earnestly. We have not consulted our ease or our pleasure. We have traveled, and labored in camp-meetings, and overtaxed our strength, so that it has brought upon us debility, without the advantages of rest. During the year 1870, we attended twelve camp-meetings. In a number of these meetings, the burden of labor rested almost wholly upon my husband and myself. We traveled from Minnesota to Maine, and to Missouri and Kansas.
My husband and myself united our efforts to improve the Reformer, and make it interesting and profitable, that it should be desired, not only by our people, but by all classes. This was a severe tax upon my husband. He also made very important improvements in the Review and Instructor. He accomplished the work which should have been shared by three men. And while all this labor fell upon him, in the publishing department, the business department at the Health Institute and at the Publishing Association required the labor of two men to relieve them of financial embarrassments.
Unfaithful men who had been entrusted with the work at the Office and the Institute, had, through selfishness and lack of consecration, placed matters in the worst condition possible. There was unsettled business that had to be settled. My husband stepped into the gap, and worked with all his energies. He was wearing. We could see that he was in danger; but how he could stop, we could not tell, unless the work in the Office should cease. Almost every day some new perplexity would arise, some new matter of difficulty, caused by the unfaithfulness of the men who had taken charge of the work. His brain was taxed to the utmost, until the worst perplexities are now overcome, and the work is moving on prosperously.
At the General Conference, my husband plead to be released from the burdens upon him; but notwithstanding his pleading, the burden of editing of Review and Reformer was placed upon him, with encouragement that men, who would take responsibilities and burdens, would be encouraged to settle at Battle Creek. But as yet no help has come to my husband to lift from him the burdens of the financial work at the Office of publication.
My husband is fast wearing. We attended the four camp-meetings west. Our brethren are urging our attending the camp-meetings east. But we dare not take additional burdens upon us. We came from the labor of camp-meetings west, in July, 1871, to find a large amount of business that had been left to accumulate in my husband's absence. We have seen no opportunity for rest yet. My husband must be released from the burdens upon him. There are too many that use his brain in the place of using their own. In view of the light which God has been pleased to give us, we plead for you, my brethren, to release my husband. I am not willing to venture the consequences of his going forward and laboring as he has done. He served you faithfully and unselfishly for years, and finally fell under the pressure of the burdens placed upon him. Then his brethren, in whom he had confided, left him. They let him drop into my hands, and forsook him. I was his nurse, his attendant, and physician, for nearly two years. I do not wish to pass through the experience a second time. Brethren, will you lift the burdens from us, and allow us to preserve our strength as God would have us, that the cause at large may be benefited with the efforts we may make in his strength? Or will you leave us to become debilitated so that we will become useless to the cause?
The foregoing portion of this appeal was read at the New Hampshire Camp-meeting, August, 1871.
When we returned from Kansas in the autumn of 1870, Bro. —— was at home sick with fever. Sister Van Horn, at this very time, was absent from the Office in consequence of fever brought upon her by the sudden death of her mother. Bro. Smith was also from the Office in Rochester, N. Y., recovering from a fever. There was a great amount of unfinished work at the Office; yet Bro. —— left his post of duty to gratify his own pleasure. This fact in Bro. ——'s experience is a sample of the man. Sacred duties rest lightly upon him.
It was a great breach of the trust reposed in him to pursue the course he did. In what marked contrast to this is the life of Christ our pattern. He was the Son of Jehovah, and the author of our salvation. He labored and suffered for us. He denied himself, and his whole life was one continued scene of toil and privation. He could, had he chosen so to do, passed his days in a world of his own creating, in ease and plenty, and claimed for himself all the pleasures and enjoyment the world could give him. But he did not consider his own convenience. He lived not to appropriate pleasure to himself, but to do good and lavish his blessings upon others.
Bro. —— was sick with fever. His case was critical. In justice to the cause of God, I feel compelled to state that Bro. —— sickness was not the result of unwearied devotion to the interests of the Office. Imprudent exposure on a trip to Chicago, for his own pleasure, was the cause of his long, tedious, suffering sickness. God did not sustain him in leaving the work, when so many were absent who had filled important positions in the Office. At the very time when he should not have excused himself for an hour, he left his post of duty. And God did not sustain him. There was no period of rest for us however much we might need it. The Review, the Reformer, and Instructor, must be edited. Very many letters had been laid aside until we should return to examine them. Things were in a sad state at the Office. Everything needed to be set in order.
My husband commenced his labor, and I helped him what I could; but that was but little. He labored unceasingly to straighten out perplexing business matters, and to improve the condition of our periodicals. He could not depend upon help from any of his ministering brethren. His head, heart, and hands, were full. He was not encouraged by Brn. —— and —— when they knew he was standing under the burdens at Battle Creek alone. They did not stay up his hands. They wrote in a most discouraging manner of their poor health, and being in so exhausted a condition that they could not be depended on to accomplish any labor. My husband saw that nothing could be hoped for in that direction. And notwithstanding his double labor through the summer, he could not rest. He reined himself up to do the work others had neglected, irrespective of his weakness.
The Reformer was about dead. Bro. —— had urged the extreme positions of Dr. Trall, which had influenced the doctor to come out in the Reformer stronger than he otherwise would have done, in discarding milk, sugar, and salt. The position to leave these things entirely may be right in their order. But the time had not come to make a general stand upon these points. And those who do take their position, and advocate the entire disuse of milk, butter, and sugar, should have their own tables tree from these things. Bro. ——, even while taking his stand in the Reformer with Dr. Trall in regard to the injurious effects of salt, milk, and sugar, did not practice the things he taught. Upon his own table these things were daily used.
Many of our people had lost their interest in the Reformer, and letters were daily received with this discouraging request, "Please discontinue my Reformer." Letters were received from the West, where the country is new and fruit scarce, inquiring how the friends of health reform live at Battle Creek. Did they dispense with salt entirely? If so, we cannot at present adopt the health reform. We can get but little fruit, and we have left meat, tea, coffee, and tobacco; but we must have something to sustain life.
We had spent some time in the West, and we knew the scarcity of fruit, and we sympathized with our brethren who were conscientiously, in the fear of God, seeking to be in harmony with the body of Sabbath-keeping Adventists. They were becoming discouraged, and some were backsliding upon the health reform, fearing that at Battle Creek they were radical and fanatical. We could not raise an interest anywhere in the West to obtain subscribers for the Health Reformer. We saw that the writers in the Reformer were going away from the people, and leaving them behind. If we take positions that conscientious Christians, who are indeed reformers, cannot adopt, how can we expect to benefit that class whom we can reach only from a health standpoint?
We must go no faster than we can take those with us whose consciences and intellects are convinced of the truths we advocate. We must meet the people where they are. Some of us have been many years in arriving at our present position in health reform. Reform in diet is slow to obtain. We have powerful appetite to meet; for the world is given to gluttony. If we should allow the people as much time as we have required to come up to the present advanced state in reform, we should be very patient with them, and allow them to advance step by step, as we have done, until their feet are firmly established upon the health-reform platform. But we should be very cautious to not take one step too fast, that we shall be obliged to retrace. In reforms, we had better come one step short of the mark than to go one step beyond it. And if there is error at all, let it be on the side next to the people.
And, above all, we should not with our pens advocate positions that we do not put to a practical test in our own families, upon our own tables. This is dissimulation, and a species of hypocrisy. In Michigan we can do better in leaving salt, sugar, and milk, than many who are situated in the far West, or in the far East, where there is a scarcity of fruit. There are but very few families in Battle Creek who do not use these articles upon their tables. We know that a free use of these articles is positively injurious to health, and, in many cases, we think if they were not used at all, a much better state of health would be enjoyed. At present, our burden is not upon these things. The people are so far behind that we see it is all they can bear to have us draw the line upon their injurious indulgences and stimulating narcotics. We bear positive testimony against tobacco, spirituous liquors, snuff, tea, coffee, flesh-meats, butter, spices, rich cakes, mince pies, a large amount of salt, and all exciting substances used as articles of food.
If we come to persons who have not been enlightened in regard to health reform, and present our strongest positions at first, there is danger of their becoming discouraged as they see how much they have to give up, so that they will make no effort to reform. We must lead the people along patiently and gradually, remembering the hole of the pit whence we were digged.
I was shown that Bro. —— has serious deficiencies in his character, which disqualify him for being closely connected with the work of God where important responsibilities are involved. He has head work, but the heart, the affections, have not been sanctified to God, therefore he cannot be relied upon as qualified for so important a work as the publication of the truth in the Office at Battle Creek. A mistake, or neglect of duty in this work, affects the cause of God at large. Bro. —— has not seen his failings, therefore he does not reform.
It is by small things that our characters are formed to habits of integrity. You, my brother, have been of that disposition to undervalue the importance of the little incidents of careful, every-day life. This is a great mistake. Nothing with which we have to do is really small. Every action is of some account, either on the side of right, or on the side of wrong. It is only by exercising principle in the small transactions of ordinary life that we are tested and our characters formed. In the varied circumstances of life we are tested and proved, and thereby we acquire a power to stand the greater and more important tests that we are called to endure, and are qualified to fill still more important positions. The mind must be trained through daily tests to habits of fidelity, to a sense of the claims of right and duty above inclination and pleasure. Minds thus trained are not wavering between right and wrong, as the trembling reed in the wind, but as soon as matters come before them, they discern at once that there is a principle involved, and they will instinctively choose the right without long debating the matter. They are loyal because they have trained themselves to habits of faithfulness and truth. By being faithful in that which is least, it becomes easy for them, through acquired power, to be faithful in greater matters.
Bro. ——'s education has not been such as to strengthen the high moral qualities that would enable him to stand alone in the strength of God in defense of truth, amid the severest opposition, firm as a rock to principle, true to his moral character, unmoved by censure, or human praise, or rewards, preferring death rather than a violated conscience. Such integrity is needed in the Office of publication, where solemn, sacred truths are going forth, upon which the world are to be tested.
The work of God calls for men of high moral powers to engage in its promulgation. Men are wanted whose hearts are nerved with holy fervor, men of strong purpose, that are not easily moved, who can lay down every selfish interest and give all for cross and crown. The cause of present truth is suffering for men who are loyal to a sense of right and duty, whose moral integrity is firm, and their energy equal to the opening providence of God. Such qualifications as these are of more value than if men had untold wealth to invest in the work and cause of God. Moral integrity, energy, and strong purpose for the right, are qualities that cannot be supplied with any amount of gold. Men possessing these qualifications will have influence everywhere. Their lives will be more powerful than lofty eloquence. God calls for men of heart, men of mind, men of moral integrity, whom he can make the repositaries of his truth, who will correctly represent and exemplify its sacred principles in their daily life.
Bro. —— has ability in some respects that but few have. He could fill an important position in the Office with acceptance to God, if his heart was sanctified to the work. He needs to be converted, and to humble himself as a little child, in seeking pure, heart religion, in order for his influence in the Office, or in the cause of God anywhere, to be what it ought to be. As his influence has been, it has injured all connected with the Office, but more especially the young. His position as foreman gave him influence. He did not conduct himself conscientiously in the fear of God. He favored particular ones above others. He neglected those who, for their faithfulness and ability, deserved special encouragement. He brought distress and perplexity upon those in whom he should have had a special interest. Those who link their affections and interest to one or two, and favor them to the disadvantage of others, should not retain their position in the Office for a day. This unsanctified partiality for special ones who may please the fancy, to the neglect of others who are conscientious and God-fearing, and in his sight of more value, is offensive to God. That which God esteems, we should value. The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, God regards of higher value than external beauty, outward adornment, riches, or worldly honor.
The true followers of Christ will not choose intimate friendship with those whose characters have serious defects, and whose example as a whole it would not be safe to follow, while it is their privilege to associate with persons who observe a conscientious regard to their duties in their business, and the duties of religion. Those who lack principle and devotion generally have a more positive influence to mold the minds of their intimate friends than those have whose characters seem well balanced to control and influence the defective in character, and those lacking spirituality and devotion.
Bro. ——'s influence, if unsanctified, endangers the souls of those who follow his example. His ready tact and ingenuity is admired, and leads those in connection with him to give him credit for qualifications that he does not possess. At the Office he was reckless of his time. If this affected only himself it would have been a small matter; but his position as foreman gave him influence. His example before those in the Office, and especially the apprentices, was not circumspect and conscientious. If Bro. —— had, with his ingenious talent, a sense of high moral obligation, his services would be invaluable to the Office. If his principles had been such that no motive could have moved him from the straight line of duty, no inducement which could have been presented to him would have purchased his consent to a wrong action, his influence would have molded others; but his desires for pleasure allured him from his post of duty. If he had stood in the strength of God, unmoved by censure or flattery, his soul steady to principle, faithful to his convictions of truth and justice, he would have been a superior man, and would have won a commanding influence everywhere. Bro. —— lacks frugality and economy. He lacks tact which would enable him to adapt himself to the opening providence of God to make him a minute man. He loved human praise. He was swayed by circumstances, subject to temptation, and his integrity could not be relied upon.
Bro. ——'s religious experience was not sound. He moved from impulse, not from principle. His heart was not right with God, and he did not have the fear of God and his glory before him. He acted very much like a man engaged in common business. He had but very little sense of the sacredness of the work in which he was engaged. He had not practiced self-denial and economy, therefore he had no experience in this. At times he labored earnestly, and manifested a good interest in the work. Then again he would be careless of his time, and spend precious moments in unimportant conversation, hindering others from doing their duty, and setting an example to others of recklessness and unfaithfulness. The work of God is sacred and holy, and calls for men of lofty integrity. Men are wanted who have a sense of justice, even in the smallest matters, that will not allow them to make entries of their time that are not minute and correct. Men that will have a sense that they are handling means that belong to God, and who would not unjustly appropriate one cent to their own use. Men who will be just as faithful and exact, careful and diligent in their labor, in the absence of their employer, as in his presence, proving by their faithfulness that they are not eye-servants, not merely men-pleasers, but conscientious, faithful, true workmen, doing right, not for human praise, but because they love and choose the right from a high sense of their obligation to God.
Parents are not thorough in the education of their children. They do not see the necessity of molding the minds of their children by discipline that they should. They give them a superficial education, manifesting greater care for an ornamental rather than a solid education which would develop the faculties, and direct them to bring out the energies of the soul, that the powers of the mind should expand and strengthen by exercise. The faculties of the mind need cultivation, that they may be exercised to the glory of God. Careful attention should be given to the culture of the intellect, that the varied organs of the mind may have equal strength, by being brought into exercise, each in their distinctive office. If parents allow their children to follow the bent of their own minds, and follow their inclination and pleasure, to the neglect of duty, they will form their character after this pattern, and will not be competent for any responsible position in life. The desires and inclinations of youth should be restrained, their weak points of character strengthened, their over-strong tendencies depressed.
If one faculty is suffered to remain dormant, or turned out of its proper direction, the purpose of God is not carried out. The faculties should be all well developed. Care should be given to each, for they have a mutual bearing upon each other, and must all be exercised that the mind be properly balanced. If one or two organs are cultivated, and in continual use, because it is the choice to put the strength of the mind in one direction, to the neglect of other powers of the mind, your children will come to maturity with unbalanced minds, and they will not have harmonious characters. They will be apt and strong in one direction, and greatly deficient in other directions just as important. They will not be competent men and women. Their deficiencies will be marked, and mar the entire character.
Bro. —— has cultivated an almost ungovernable propensity for sight-seeing and trips of pleasure. And time and expense are wasted to gratify his desire for pleasure excursions. His selfish love of pleasure leads to the neglect of sacred duties. Bro. —— loves to preach, but he has never taken up this work, feeling the woe upon him if he preach not the gospel. He frequently left his work in the Office which demanded his care, to comply with calls from some of his brethren in other churches. If he had felt the solemn sense of the work of God for this time, and gone forth, making God his trust, practicing self-denial, and lifting the cross of Christ, he would have accomplished good. But he frequently had so little sense of the holiness of the work, that he would improve the opportunity of visiting other churches, in making the occasion a scene of self-gratification, in short, a pleasure trip. What a contrast in the course pursued by the apostles, who went forth burdened with the word of life, and in the demonstration of the Spirit, preaching Christ crucified. They pointed out the living way through self-denial and the cross. They had fellowship with their Saviour in his sufferings, and their greatest desire was to know Christ Jesus, and him crucified. They considered not their own convenience, nor counted their lives dear unto themselves. They lived not to enjoy, but to do good, and save souls for whom Christ died.
Bro. —— can present arguments upon doctrinal points, but the practical lessons of sanctification, self-denial, and the cross, he has not experienced in himself. He can speak to the ear, but the truth is not urged home upon the consciences with a deep sense of its solemnity and importance in view of the Judgment, when every case must be decided, because he has not felt the sanctifying influence of these truths upon his own heart, and practiced them in his own life. Bro. —— had not trained his mind, and his deportment out of meeting was not exemplary. He did not seem to have the burden of the work resting upon him, but was trifling and boyish. He lowered the standard of religion by his example. Sacred and common things were placed on a level.
Bro. —¯ has not been willing to endure the cross, and he has not been willing to follow Christ from the manger to the judgment hall and Calvary. He has brought upon himself sore affliction in seeking his own pleasure. Bro.—¯ has yet to learn that his strength is weakness and his wisdom is folly. If he had felt that he was engaged in the work of God, and that he was indebted to him who required of him to improve the time and talents he has given him to his glory¯had he stood faithfully at his post¯he would not have suffered that long, tedious sickness. His exposure upon that pleasure trip caused him months of suffering.
Bro. ¯— would have died had it not been for the earnest, effectual prayer of faith, put up in his behalf, by those who felt that he was not prepared to die, for God to spare him. Had he died at that time, his case would have been far worse than that of the unenlightened sinner. But God mercifully heard the prayers of his people, and spared Bro. —— and gave him a new lease of his life, that he might have opportunity to repent of his unfaithfulness and redeem the time. His example had influenced many in Battle Creek in the wrong direction.
Bro. —— came up from his sickness; but how little did he or his family feel humbled under the hand of God. The work of the Spirit of God, and wisdom from him, are not manifested that we may be happy and satisfied with ourselves, but that our souls may be renewed in knowledge and true holiness. How much better would it have been for Bro. —— if his affliction had prompted to faithful searching of heart, to discover the imperfections in his character, that he might put them away, and with humble spirit come forth from the furnace as gold purified, reflecting the image of Christ.
The sickness that he had brought upon himself, the church helped him bear. His watchers were provided, his expenses, in a great measure, borne by the church; yet neither he nor his family appreciated this generosity and tenderness on the part of the church. They felt they deserved all that was done for them. As Bro. —— came up from his sickness, he felt wrong toward my husband, because he disapproved his course which was so censurable. He united with others to injure my husband's influence, and since he has left the Office, he has not felt right. He would poorly stand the test of being proved by God.
Bro. —¯ has not yet learned the lesson that he will have to learn if he is saved at last, to deny self, resist his desire for pleasure. He will have to be brought over the ground again, and tried still more closely, because he failed to endure the trials of the past. He has displeased God in justifying self. He has but little experience of the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. He loves display, and does not economize his means. The Lord knows. He weighs the inward feelings and intentions of the heart. He knows man. He tests our fidelity. He requires that we should love and serve him with the whole mind, and heart, and strength. The lovers of pleasure may put on a form of godliness that even involves some self-denial, and they may sacrifice time and money, and yet self not be subdued, and the will not brought into subjection to the will of God.
The influence of the ¯— girls was very bad in Battle Creek. They had not been trained. Their mother had neglected her sacred duty, and had not restrained her children. She had not brought them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. They had been indulged and shielded from bearing responsibilities until they had no relish for the plain, homely duties of life. The mother had educated the daughters to think much of their dress. But the inward adorning was not exalted before them. These young girls were vain and proud. Their minds were impure. Their conversation was corrupting, and yet a class in B. C. would associate with this stamp of minds, and they could not associate with them without coming down to their level They were not dealt as severely with as their case demanded. They love the society of the young men, and the young men are the theme of their meditation, and of their conversation. These girls have corrupted manners; they were headstrong and self-confident.
The —— family love display. The mother is not a prudent, dignified woman. She is not qualified to bring up children. The dress of her children, to make a show, is of greater consequence to her than the inward adorning. She has not disciplined herself. Her will has not been brought into conformity to the will of God. Her heart is not right with God. She is a stranger to the operation of his Spirit upon the heart, bringing the desires and affections in conformity to the obedience of Christ. She does not possess ennobling qualities of mind, and does not discern sacred things. She has let her children do as they pleased. The fearful experience she has had with two of her elder children has not made the deep impression on her mind that the circumstances demanded. She has educated her children to love dress, vanity, and folly. She has not disciplined her two younger girls. —— under a proper influence, would be a worthy young man; but he has much to learn. He follows inclination rather than duty. He loves to follow his own will and pleasure, and has not a correct knowledge of the duties devolving upon a Christian. Self-gratification, and his own inclination, he would gladly interpret to be duty. Self-gratification he has not overcome. He has a work to do to clear his spiritual vision, that he may understand what it is to be sanctified to God, and learn the high claims of God upon him. The serious defects in his education have affected his life.
If Bro. —¯ was, with his good qualifications, well balanced and faithful as foreman of the Office, his labor would be of great value to the Office, and he could earn double wages. But for the past years, considering his deficiency, with his unconsecrated influence, the Office could better afford to do without him, even if his services could be had for nothing. Bro. and sister —— have not learned the lesson of economy. The gratification of the taste and desire for pleasure and display has had an overpowering influence upon them. Small wages would be of more advantage to them than large, for they would use all, were it never so much, as they pass along. They would enjoy as they go, and then when affliction draws upon them, would be wholly unprepared. Twenty dollars a week would be laid out about the same as twelve. Had Bro. and sister ¯— been economical managers, denying themselves, they could ere this have had a home of their own, and besides this, means to draw upon in case of adversity. But they will not economize as others have done, upon whom they have sometimes been dependent. If they neglect to learn these lessons, their character will not be found perfect in the day of God.
Bro. —— has been the object of the great love and condescension of Christ, and yet he has never felt that he could imitate the great Exampler. He claims, and all his life has sought after, a better portion in this life than was given our Lord. Bro. —— has never felt the depths of ignorance and sin from which Christ has proposed to lift him, and to link him to his divine nature.
It is a fearful thing to minister in sacred things when the heart and hands are not holy. To be a co-worker with Jesus Christ, involves fearful responsibilities. To stand as a representative of Christ is no small matter. The fearful realities of the Judgment will test every man's work. The apostles said, "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;" "for God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, bath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The sufficiency of the apostle was not in himself, but in the gracious influence of the Spirit of Christ which filled his soul, and brought every thought into subjection to the obedience of Christ. The power of truth attending the word preached, will be a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. Ministers are required to be living examples of the mind and Spirit of Christ, living epistles, known and read of all men. I tremble when I consider that there are some ministers, even among Seventh-day Adventists, who are not sanctified by the truths which they preach. Nothing less than the quick and powerful Spirit of God working in the hearts of his messengers to give the knowledge of the glory of God, can gain for them the victory.
Bro. ——'s preaching has not been marked by the sanction of God's Spirit. He could talk fluently, and could make a point plain; but his preaching lacked spirituality. His appeals have not touched the heart with a new tenderness. There has been an array of words, but the hearts of his hearers have not been quickened and melted with a sense of a Saviour's love. Sinners have not been convicted and drawn to Christ by a sense that "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." Sinners should have a clear impression given them of the nearness and willingness of Christ to give them present salvation. A Saviour should be presented before the people, while the heart of the speaker should be subdued and imbued with his spirit. The very tones of the voice, the look, the words, should possess an irresistible power to move the hearts and control the minds. Jesus should be found in the heart of the minister. If Jesus is in the words, in the tones of the voice that is mellow with his tender love, this will prove a blessing of more value than all the riches, pleasures, and glories of the earth, for such blessings will not come and go without they accomplish a work. Convictions will be deepened, impressions will be made, and the question will be raised, "What shall I do to be saved?"
GOD has committed to us each sacred trusts, for which he holds us accountable. It is his purpose that we so educate the mind as to enable us to bring into exercise the talents he has given us in such a manner as will accomplish the greatest good, and reflect back the glory to the Giver. We are indebted to God for all the qualities of the mind. These powers can be cultivated, and so discreetly directed and controlled as to accomplish the purpose for which God gave them.
It is duty to so educate the mind as to bring out the energies of the soul, and develop every faculty, that they may accomplish the purpose for which they were given. The intellect may be strengthened by every faculty being exercised.
Many are not doing the greatest amount of good, because they exercise the intellect in one direction and neglect to give careful attention to those things for which they think they are not adapted; therefore some faculties that are weak are lying dormant for want of exercise, because the work that should call them into exercise and consequently give them strength, is not pleasant to them. All the faculties should be cultivated. All the powers of the mind should be exercised. Perception, judgment, memory, and all the reasoning powers, should have equal strength in order to have well-balanced minds.
If certain faculties are used to the neglect of others, the design of God is not fully carried out in us; for all the faculties have a bearing, and are dependent, in a great measure, upon each other. One cannot be effectually used without the operation of all the other faculties, that the balance may be carefully preserved. If all the attention and strength are given to one, while others lie dormant, the development is strong in that one, and will lead to extremes, because all the powers have not been cultivated. Some are dwarfed, and the intellect is not properly balanced. All minds are not naturally constituted alike. We have varied minds, and strong points of character, and great weaknesses, upon some points. These deficiences, so apparent, need not, and should not, exist. If those who possess them would strengthen the weak points in their character, by cultivation and exercise, they would become strong.
It is agreeable, but not to the greatest profit, to put into exercise the faculties which are naturally the strongest, while we neglect those that are weak, that need to be strengthened. The feeblest faculties should have careful attention, that all the powers of the intellect may be nicely balanced, and all do their part like well-regulated machinery.
All our faculties are dependent upon God for their preservation. Christians are under obligation to God to train the mind, that all the faculties may be strengthened, and more fully developed by cultivation. If we neglect to do this, our faculties will never accomplish the purpose for which they were designed. We have no right to neglect any one of the powers God has given us. We see monomaniacs all over the country. They are frequently sane upon every subject but one. The reason of this is, one organ of the mind has been specially exercised, while the others have been permitted to lie dormant. The one that has been in constant use has become worn and diseased, and the man is a wreck. God was not glorified in his pursuing this course. Had he exercised all the organs equally, all would have strengthened into healthy development, and no one would have broken down because all the labor was thrown upon one.
Ministers should be guarded, that they do not thwart the purposes of God by plans of their own. They are in danger of narrowing down the work of God, and confining their labor to certain localities, and not cultivating a special interest for the work of God generally, and in all its various departments. There are some who concentrate their minds upon one subject, to the exclusion of others which may be of equal importance. They are one-idea men. All the strength of their being is concentrated upon the subject the mind is exercised upon for the time. Every other consideration is lost sight of. The burden of the thoughts, and the theme of conversation, is upon the one subject¯their favorite theme. All the evidence which has a bearing in that direction is eagerly seized and appropriated, and dwelt upon at great length, until minds are wearied in following them.
Time is frequently lost in explaining points which are really unimportant, and would be taken for granted without producing proof; for they are self-evident. But the real, vital points should be made as plain and forcible as language and proof can make them. The power to concentrate the mind upon one subject to the exclusion of all others, is well in a degree; but this faculty, constantly cultivated, wears upon certain organs that are called into exercise to do this work, which will tax them too much, and there will be a failure in accomplishing the greatest amount of good. The principal wear comes upon one set of organs, while the others lie dormant, and the mind cannot be healthfully exercised, and, in consequence, life is shortened.
All the faculties should bear a part of the labor, working harmoniously, each balancing the other. Those who put the whole strength of their minds into one subject are greatly deficient on other points; for the reason that the faculties are not cultivated equally. The subject matter before them enchains them, and they are led on, and on, and go deeper and deeper into the matter. They see knowledge and light as they become interested and absorbed. But there are very few minds that can follow them, unless they give the subject the depth of thought they have done. There is danger of such minds plowing, and planting the seed of truth, so deep that the tender, precious blade will never find the surface.
Much hard labor is often expended that is not called for, and that will never be appreciated. If those who have large concentrativeness cultivate this faculty to the neglect of others, they cannot have well-proportioned minds. They are like machinery¯only one set of wheels work at the same time. While some wheels are rusting from inaction, others are wearing from constant use. Men who cultivate one or two faculties, and do not exercise all equally, cannot accomplish one-half the good in the world that God designed they should. They are one-sided men¯only half the powers God has given them is put to use, while the other half is rusting with inaction.
If this class of minds have a special work, requiring thought, they should not exercise all their powers upon one branch, to the exclusion of every other interest. While they make the subject matter before them their principal business, other branches of the work should have a portion of their time, which would be much better for themselves, and for the cause generally. One branch of the work should not have exclusive attention, to the neglect of all others. In their writings, some need to be constantly guarded, that they do not make points blind that are plain, by covering them up with many arguments, which will not have a lively interest to the reader. If they linger tediously upon points, giving every particular which suggests itself to the mind, their labor is nearly lost. The interest of the reader will not be deep enough to pursue the subject to its close. The most essential points of truth may be made indistinct by giving attention to every minute point. Much ground is covered; but the work upon which so much labor is expended is not calculated to do the greatest amount of good, by awakening a general interest.
In this age, when pleasing fables are drifting upon the surface and attracting the mind, truth presented in an easy style, backed up with a few strong proofs, is better than to search, and bring forth an overwhelming array of evidences; for the point then is not standing so distinct in many minds as before the objections and evidences were brought before them. In many minds, assertions will go farther than long arguments in proof. Many things may be taken for granted. Proof does not help the case in some minds.
Our most bitter opponents are found among the first-day Adventists. They do not engage in the warfare honorably. They will pursue any course, however unreasonable and inconsistent, to cover up the truth, and try to make it appear that the law of God is of no force. And they flatter themselves that the end will justify the means. Men of their own number, in whom they do not have confidence, will commence a tirade against the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and they will give publicity to their statements, however untrue, and unjust, and even ridiculous, if they can make them bear against the truth which they hate.
We should not be moved, or disconcerted, by this unjust warfare from unreasonable men. Those who will receive, and be pleased with, what these men may speak and write against the truth, are not the ones to be convinced of the truth, or that would honor the cause of God if they should accept the truth.
Time and strength can be better employed than to dwell at length upon the quibbles of our opponents who deal in slander and misrepresentations. While precious time is employed in following the crooks and turns of dishonest opponents, the people who are open to conviction are dying for want of knowledge. A train of senseless quibbles are brought before minds, which are of Satan's own invention, while the people are crying for food¯meat in due season.
It takes those who have trained their minds to war against the truth to manufacture quibbles. And we are not wise to take them from their hands, and hand them out to thousands who would never have thought of them had we not published them to the world. This is what they want to have done, to be brought to notice, and we publish for them. This is especially true of some. This is their main object in writing out their falsehoods, and misrepresenting the truth and the characters of those who love and advocate the truth. They will die out more speedily to be left unnoticed, treating their falsehoods and errors with silent contempt. They do not want to be let alone. Opposition is the element that they love. If it was not for this, they would have but little influence.
The first-day Adventists are a class that are the most difficult to reach. They will generally reject the truth, as did the Jews. We should, as far as possible, go forward as though there was not such a people in existence. They are the elements of confusion, and immoralities exist among them to a fearful extent. It would be the greatest calamity to have many of their number embrace the truth. They would have to unlearn everything, and learn anew, or they would cause us great trouble. There are occasions where their glaring misrepresentations will have to be met. When this is the case, it should be done promptly, and briefly, and we should then pass on to our work. The plan of Christ's teaching should be ours. He was plain and simple, striking directly at the root of the matter, and the minds of all were met.
And it is not the best policy to be so very explicit, and say all upon a point that can be said, when a few arguments will cover the ground and be sufficient for all practical purposes in convincing or silencing opponents. You may remove every prop to-day, and close the mouths of objectors so that they can say nothing, and to-morrow they will go over the same ground again. Thus it will be, over and over, because they do not love the light, and will not come to the light lest their darkness and error should be removed from them. It is a better plan to keep a reserve of arguments and reasons than to pour out a depth of knowledge upon a subject which would be taken for granted without labored argument. Christ's ministry lasted only three years, and a great work was done in that short period. In these last days, there is a great work to be done in a short time. While many are getting ready to do something, souls will perish for the light and knowledge.
If men who are engaged in presenting and defending the truth of the Bible, undertake to investigate and show the fallacy and inconsistency of men who dishonestly turn the truth of God into a lie, Satan will stir up opponents enough to keep their pens constantly employed, while other branches of the work are left to suffer.
We must have more of the spirit of those men who were engaged in building the walls of Jerusalem, who said, "We are doing a great work, and we cannot come down." If Satan sees he can keep men's voices silent from the most important work for the present time in answering objections of opponents, his object is accomplished.
The Sabbath History has been kept from the people too long. They need this precious work, even if they do not have it in all its perfections. It never can be prepared in a manner to fully silence unreasonable opponents, who are unstable, and who wrest the Scriptures unto their own destruction.
This is a busy world. Men and women, as they engage in the business of life, have not time to meditate, and read even the word of God enough to understand all its important truths. And long-labored arguments will interest but a few. For as the people run, they have to read. You can no more remove the objections to the Sabbath commandment from the minds of the first-day Adventists, than the Saviour of the world could, by his great power and miracles, convince the Jews that he was the Messiah after they had once set themselves to reject him. Like the obstinate, unbelieving Jews, they have chosen darkness rather than light, and should an angel direct from the courts of Heaven speak to them, they would say it was Satan.
The world needs labor now. Calls are coming in from every direction like the Macedonian cry, "Come over and help us." Plain, pointed arguments, standing out as mile posts, will do more in convincing minds generally than a large array of argument, covering a great deal of ground, that none but investigating minds will have interest to follow.
The Sabbath History should be given to the people. While one edition is circulating, and the people are being benefited by it, greater improvements may be made until all has been done possible to bring it to perfection. Our success will be in reaching common minds. Those who have talent and position are so exalted above the simplicity of the work, and so well satisfied with themselves, that they feel no need of the truth. They are exactly where the Jews were, self-righteous, self-sufficient. They are whole, and have no need of the physician.
Bro. ——, Dec. 10, 1871, I was shown that you and your sisters were in a very dangerous condition, and that which makes your state the more dangerous, is, that you do not realize your true state. I saw you enveloped in darkness. This darkness has not settled upon you suddenly. You commenced to enter the mist of darkness gradually, and almost imperceptibly, until the darkness is as light to you, yet the cloud is becoming more dense every day. I saw, now and then, a gleaming of light separating the darkness from you; then again it would close about you, firmer and more dense than before.
Your singing schools have ever been a snare to you. Neither you, nor your sisters, have a depth of experience that will enable you to associate with the influences you are brought in contact with in your singing schools without being affected. It would take stronger minds, with greater decision of character than you three possess, to be brought into the society you are, and not be affected. Listen to the words of Christ: "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." Have your example and influence been of that positive character that has impressed and convicted your associates? I think not. You have been injured. Darkness has settled upon you, and dimmed your light; and your light has not burned with that luster to dispel the darkness about others. You have been separating farther and farther from God. You, my brother, have but a faint sense of what you have been doing.
You have been standing directly in the way of your sisters' advancement in the divine life. Your sisters, more especially ——, have been entangled with the bewitching, Satanic wiles of spiritualism, and if she rids herself of this unholy slime of Satan, which has perverted her sense of eternal things, she will have to make a mighty effort. It will be but a hair's breadth escape. You have been blinded, deceived, and enchanted, yourself. You do not see yourself. You are all three of you very weak, when you might be strong in the precious, saving truth, strengthened, stablished, and settled upon the rock Christ Jesus. I feel deeply. I tremble for you. I see temptations on every hand, and you with so little power and strength to resist them.
Bro. ——, I was shown you infatuated and deceived as to your motives and real purposes of your heart. I saw you in the society of Bro. ——'s daughter. She has never yielded her heart to Christ. I was shown her affected and convicted. But your course was not of that character to deepen conviction, or to give her the impression that there was special importance attached to these matters. You profess to hold sacred the salvation of the soul, and the present truth. She does not respect the Sabbath from principle. She loves the vanity of the world. She enjoys the pride and amusements of life. But you have been departing so gradually from God and from the light, that you do not see the separation which the truth necessarily brings between those who love God and the lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. I saw you were attracted to her society. Religious meetings and sacred duties are of minor importance, while the presence of a mere child, without any knowledge of the truth or of heavenly things, fascinates you. You have overlooked self-denial and the cross, which lie directly in the pathway of every disciple of Christ.
I was shown that if you had been walking in the light, you would have taken your position decidedly for the truth. And your example would have shown that you considered the truth you profess of that importance that your affections and heart could go only where the image of Christ was discernible. Christ now says to you, ——, Which will you have, me, or the world? Here is your decision to be made. Will you follow the promptings of the unsanctified heart? turn away from self-denial for Christ's sake? step over the cross without lifting it? or will you lift that cross, heavy though it may be, and make some sacrifice for the truth's sake? May God help you to see where you are, that you may place a true estimate upon eternal things. You now have so little spiritual eyesight that the holy and sacred are placed upon a level with the common. You have responsibilities. Your influence affects to a great extent your sisters. Your only safety is separation from the world.
I was shown you, ——, taking the young with you to scenes of amusement at the time of a religious interest, and also engaging in singing schools with worldlings who are all darkness, and who have evil angels all around them. How would your feeble, dim light appear amid this darkness and temptation? Angels of God do not attend you upon these occasions. You are left to go in your own strength. Satan is well pleased with your position, for he can make you more efficient in his service than if you did not profess to be a Christian, keeping all the commandments of God. The True Witness addresses the Laodicean church, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and. that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous, therefore, and repent."
You are blinded and infatuated. You have felt strong when you were weakness itself. You can be strong in the Mighty One. You can be an instrument of righteousness, if you are willing to suffer for Christ's sake. You and your sisters may redeem the time if you will. But it will cost an effort. Your younger sister is linked to one who is not worthy of her affections. There are serious defects in his character. He has not reverence for sacred and holy things. His heart has not been changed by the Spirit of God. He is selfish, boastful, loving pleasure more than duty. He has no expereince in self-denial and humiliation. In choosing friendship, there should be great caution that an intimacy is not contracted with one whose example it would not be safe to imitate, for the effect of such an intimacy is to lead away from God, from devotion, and the love of the truth. It is positively dangerous for you to be intimate with friends who have not a religious experience. If either of you, or all three of you, follow the leadings of God's Spirit, or value your soul's salvation, you will not choose as your particular and intimate friends those who do not maintain a serious regard for religious things, and who do not live under its practical influence. Eternal considerations should come first with you. Nothing can have a more subtle and positively dangerous influence upon the mind, and serve to banish serious impressions, and convictions of the Spirit of God, than to associate with those who are vain and careless, and whose conversation is upon the world and vanity. The more engaging these persons may be in other respects, the more dangerous is their influence as companions, because they would throw around an irreligious life so many pleasing attractions.
God has claims upon all three of you, which you cannot lightly throw aside. Jesus has bought you with the price of his own blood. "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Have you no sacrifice to make for God? Great responsibilities stand in the passages of your every-day life. Your record is daily passing up to God. Great dangers lie hidden in your pathway. If I could, I would take you in my arms and bear you safely over them; but this I am not permitted to do. Your are in the most critical period of your life-history. If you arouse and direct the energies of the soul after things of eternal interest, and if you make everything subordinate to this, you will make a success of perfecting Christian characters. You may all engage in the spiritual warfare against besetting sins, and you may, through Christ, come off victors. But this is no child's play. It is a stern warfare, involving self-denial and cross-bearing. Your dangers are that you will not fully realize your backslidings and your perilous condition. Unless you view life as it is, cast aside your brilliant fancies of imagination, and come down to the sober lessons of experience, you will awake when it is too late. You will then realize the terrible mistake you have made.
Your education has not been of that kind to form solid, substantial characters, therefore you have this education to obtain now, which you should have had years ago. Your mother was too fond of you. A mother cannot love her children too well, but she may love unwisely, and allow her affection to blind her to their best interest. You have had an indulgent, tender mother. She has shielded her children too much. She has taken the burdens of life which have nearly crushed out her life, while her children should have taken them. They could have borne them better than she.
The deficiencies in your characters of firmness and self-denial is a serious drawback in obtaining a genuine religious experience that will not be sliding sand. Firmness, and integrity of purpose, should be cultivated. These qualifications are positively necessary for a successful Christian life. If you have integrity of soul, you will not be swerved from the right. No motive will be sufficient to move you from the straight line of duty; you will be loyal and true to God. The pleadings of affection and love, the yearnings of friendship, will not move you to turn aside from truth and duty, you will not sacrifice duty to inclination.
If you are allured to unite your life-interest with an young, inexperienced girl, who is really deficient in an education in the common, practical, daily duties of life, you make a mistake; but this is small in comparison with her ignorance in regard to her duty to God. She has not been destitute of light. She has had religious privileges, and yet her heart has not felt her wretched sinfulness without Christ. If you, in your infatuation, can turn from the prayer-meeting, repeatedly, where God meets with his people, in order to enioy the society of one who has no love for God, and sees no attractions in the religious life, how do you expect God can prosper such a union? Be not in haste. Early marriages should not be encouraged. If a young woman, or a young man, have not respect to the claims of God, and heed not the claims which bind them to religion, there will be danger that they will not properly regard the claims of the husband, or the wife. The habit of frequently being in the society of the one of your choice, and that, too, at the sacrifice of religious privileges and of your hours of prayer, is dangerous; and you sustain a loss you cannot afford. The habit of sitting up late at night is customary, but it is not pleasing to God, even if you were both Christians. These untimely hours injure health, unfit the mind for the next day's duties, and have an appearance of evil. My brother, I hope you will have self-respect enough to shun this form of courtship. If you have an eye single to the glory of God, you will move with deliberate caution. You will not suffer love-sick sentimentalism to so blind your vision that you cannot discern the high claims your God has upon you as a Christian.
I address myself to you three, dear youth. Let it be your aim to glorify God, and attain his moral likeness. Invite the Spirit of God to mold your character. Now is your golden opportunity to wash your robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. I regard this as the turning-point in your destiny. Which will you choose, says Christ, me, or the world? God calls for an unconditional surrender of the heart and affections to him. If you love friends, brothers or sisters, father or mother, houses or lands, more than me, says Christ, ye are not worthy of me. Religion lays the soul under the greatest obligation to her claims, to walk by her principles. As the mysterious magnet points to the north, so do the claims of religion point to the glory of God. You are bound, by your baptismal vows, to honor your Creator, and to resolutely deny self and crucify your affections and lusts, and have even your thoughts brought into obedience to the will of Christ.
Shun running into temptation. But when temptations surround you, and you cannot control the circumstances which expose you to them, then you may claim the promise of God, and with confidence and conscious power exclaim, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." There is strength for you all in God. But you will never feel your need of that strength which alone is able to save you, unless you feel your sinfulness and weakness. Jesus, your precious Saviour, now calls you to take your position firmly upon the platform of eternal truth. If you suffer with him, he will crown you with glory in his everlasting kingdom. If you are willing to sacrifice all for Christ, then he will be your Saviour. But if you choose your own way, you will follow on in darkness until it is too late to secure the eternal reward.
What have you been willing to suffer for the truth's sake? You have a short, very short, period in which to cultivate the noble traits of your character. You have all been, to some extent, dissatisfied and unhappy. You have had many complaints to make. You have talked, especially —— and ——, your unbelief, and censured others. You have had hearts filled with pride, and even bitterness, at times. Your closets have been neglected, and you have not loved the exercises of religious duties. If you had been persevering in your efforts to grow up into Christ your living head, you would now be strong, and competent to bless others with your influence.
If you had cultivated a steady, uniform, unwavering energy, you would now be strong to resist temptation. But these precious qualities can only be gained through a surrender of the soul to the claims of religion.
Then your motives will be high, the intellect and affection will be balanced by high principles. God will work with us if we will only engage in healthy action. We must feel the necessity of uniting our human efforts and zealous action with divine power. We can stand forth in God, strong to conquer. ——, you have greatly failed in energy of purpose to do, and to endure.
What a great mistake is made in the education of children and youth, in indulging, and favoring, and petting them. They become selfish and inefficient. There is a lack of energy exercised in the little things of life. The character has not been trained to acquire strength in the performance of the every-day duties, lowly though they may be. There is a neglect of doing willingly and cheerfully what lies directly before you to do, which some one must do. There is a great desire with us to find a more exalted, larger work.
No one is qualified for the important and great work, unless he has been faithful in the performance of the little duties.
It is by degrees the character is formed and the soul trained to put effort and energy proportionate for the task which is to be accomplished. If we are creatures of circumstance, we shall surely fail of perfecting Christian character.
You must master circumstances; not allow circumstances to master you. You can find energy at the cross of Christ. You can now grow by degrees, and conquer difficulties, and overcome force of habit. You need to be stimulated by the life-giving force of Jesus. You should be attracted to Christ, and clothed with his divine beauty and excellence. Bro. ——'s daughter has an education to gain, as she is no more competent for the duties and difficulties of life as a wife, than a school girl of ten years old.
Religion should dictate and guide you in all your pursuits, and should hold absolute control over your affections. If you yield yourselves unreservedly into the hands of Christ, making his power your strength, then will your moral sense be clear to discern the quality of character that you may not be deceived by appearances and make great mistakes in your friendship. You want your moral power keen and sensitive, that it may bear severe tests and not be marred. You want your integrity of soul so firm that vanity, display, or flattery, will not move you.
Oh! it is a great thing to be right with God, the soul in harmony with its Maker, that amid the contagion of evil example, which in its deceitful appearance would lure the soul from duty. Angels may be sent to your rescue; but bear in mind, if you invite temptation, you will not have divine aid to keep you from being overcome. The three worthies endured the fiery furnace, for Jesus walked with them in the fiery flame. If they had, of themselves, walked in the fire, they would have been consumed. Thus will it be with you. If you do not walk deliberately into temptation, God will sustain you when the temptation comes.
While in Vermont, Dec. 10, 1871, I was shown some things in regard to New York. The cause in the State seemed to be in a deplorable condition. There were but few laborers, and these were not as efficient as their profession of faith in the sacred truths for this time demanded of them. There are those in the State, who minister in word and doctrine, who are not thorough workmen. Although they have believed the theory of the truth, and have been preaching for years, never will they be competent laborers until they work upon a different plan. They have spent much time among the churches when they are not qualified to benefit them. They themselves are not consecrated to God. They need the spirit of endurance to suffer for Christ's sake, to "drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism," before they are prepared to help others. Unselfish, devoted workmen are needed, to bring things up in New York to the Bible standard. These men have not been in the line of their duty in traveling among the churches. If God has called them to his work, it is to save sinners. They should prove themselves by going out into new fields, that they may know for themselves whether God has committed to them the work of saving souls.
Had Brn. Taylor, Saunders, Cottrell, Whitney, and Bro. and sister Lindsay, labored in new fields, they would now be far in advance of what they are. Meeting opposition of opponents would drive them to their Bibles for arguments to sustain their position, which would increase their knowledge in the Scriptures, and would give them a conscious power of their ability in God to meet opposition in any form. Those who are content to go over and over the same ground among the churches, will be deficient in the experience they should have. They will be weak¯not strong to will, and do, and suffer, for the truth's sake. They will be inefficient workmen.
Those who have the cause of God at heart, and feel love for precious souls for whom Christ died, will not seek their ease or pleasure. They will do as Christ has done. They will go forth to "seek and to save that which was lost." He said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
If ministers in New York wish to help the church, they can do so in no better way than to go out in new fields and labor to bring souls into the truth. When the church see that their ministers are all aglow with the spirit of the work, feeling deeply the force of the truth, and seeking to bring others to the knowledge of the truth, it will put new life and vigor in them. Their hearts will be stirred to do what they can to aid in the work. There is not a class of people in the world that are more willing to sacrifice of their means to advance the cause than Seventh-day Adventists.
If the ministers do not discourage them to death by their indolence, and inefficiency, and lack of spirituality, they will generally respond to any appeal that may be made that will commend itself to their judgment and consciences. But they want to see fruit. And it is right that the brethren in New York should demand fruits of their ministers. What have they done? What are they doing? Ministers in New York should have been far in advance of what they are. But they have not engaged in that kind of labor which called forth earnest effort, and strong opposition which would drive them to their Bibles, and to prayer, that they could answer opponents, and, in the exercise of their talents, doubled them. There are ministers in New York who have been preaching for years who cannot be depended upon to give a course of lectures. They are dwarfed. They have not exercised their minds in the study of the word, and in meeting opposition, so that they might be strong men in God. Had they gone forth "without the camp," like faithful soldiers of the cross of Christ, and depended upon God and their own energies, rather than leaning so heavily upon their brethren, they would have obtained an experience, that now they would be qualified to engage in the work anywhere their help is most needed.
If the ministers generally in New York had left the churches to labor for themselves, and they not stood in their way, both churches and ministers would be now further advanced in spirituality, and in the knowledge of the truth.
Many of our brethren and sisters in New York have been backsliding upon health reform. There is but a small number of genuine health reformers in the State. Light and spiritual understanding have been given to the brethren in New York. The truth that has reached the understanding, the light that has shone on the soul, that has not been appreciated and cherished, will witness against them in the day of God. Truth has been given to save those who would believe and obey. Their condemnation is not because they did not have the light, but because they had the light and did not walk in it.
God has furnished man with plentiful means for the gratification of natural appetite. He has spread before him a bountiful variety in the products of the earth that are palatable to the taste, and nutritious to the system. Of these, saith our benevolent Heavenly Father, "ye may freely eat." We may enjoy the fruits, the vegetables, and grains, without doing violence to the laws of our being. Grains, fruits, and vegetables, prepared in the most simple and natural manner, will nourish the body, and preserve its natural vigor without the use of flesh-meats.
God has created man a little lower than the angels, and has bestowed upon him attributes that will, if properly used, make him a blessing to the world, and reflect back the glory to the Giver. But man, made in the image of God, has, through intemperance, violated principle and God's law in his physical nature. Intemperance of any kind will benumb the perceptive organs, and so weaken the brain-nerve power, that eternal things will not be appreciated, but placed upon a level with common. The higher powers of the mind, designed for elevated purposes, are brought into slavery to the baser passions. If our physical habits are not right, the mental and moral powers cannot be strong; for great sympathy exists between the physical and moral. The apostle understood this, and raises his voice of warning to his brethren: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
There is but little moral power in the professed Christian world. Wrong habits have been indulged, and physical and moral laws have been disregarded, until the general standard of virtue and piety is exceedingly low. Habits which lower the standard of physical health, enfeeble the mental and moral strength. The indulgence of unnatural appetite and passions has a controlling influence upon the organs of the brain. The animal organs are strengthened, while the moral are depressed. It is impossible for an intemperate man to be a Christian, for his higher powers are brought into slavery to the passions.
Those who have had the light upon the subjects of eating and dressing with simplicity, in obedience to physical and moral law, and turn from the light which points out their duty, will shun duty in other things. If they blunt their consciences to avoid the cross which they will have to take up to be in harmony with natural law, they will, in order to shun reproach, violate the ten commandments.
There is a decided unwillingness with some to endure the cross and despise the shame. Some will be laughed out of their principles. Conformity to the world is gaining ground among God's people, who profess to be as pilgrims and strangers, waiting and watching for the Lord's appearing. There are many among professed Sabbath-keepers in New York who are more firmly wedded to worldly fashions and lusts than they are to healthy bodies, sound minds, or sanctified hearts.
God is testing and proving individuals in New York. He has permitted some to have a measure of prosperity, to develop what is in their hearts. Pride and love of the world have separated them from God. The principles of truth are sacrificed, virtually, while they profess to love the truth. Christians should wake up and act. Their influence is telling upon, and molding, the opinions and habits of others. The weighty responsibility they will have to bear of deciding by their influence the destiny of souls.
The Lord, by close and pointed truths for these last days, is cleaving a people from out the world, and purifying them unto himself. Pride and unhealthful fashions, the love of display, the love of approbation, all must be left with the world, if we would be renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created us. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
The church in Roosevelt need sifting. A thorough conversion is necessary before they can be in working order. Selfishness, pride, envy, malice, evil surmising, backbiting, gossiping, and tattling, have been cherished among them, until the Spirit of God has but little to do with them. The prayers of some who profess to know God are, in their present state, an abomination in the sight of the Lord. They do not sustain their faith by their works, and it were better if some had never professed the truth, than to have dishonored their profession as they have. While they profess to be servants of Jesus Christ, they are servants of the enemy of righteousness, and their works testify of them that they are not acquainted with God, and that their hearts are not in obedience to the will of Christ. They make child's play of religion. They act like pettish children.
The children of God, the world over, are one great brotherhood. Our Saviour has clearly defined the spirit and principles which should govern the actions of those who, by their consistent, holy lives, distinguish themselves from the world. Love for one another, and supreme love to their Heavenly Father, should be exemplified in their conversation and works. The present condition of many of the children of God is like a family of ungrateful, quarrelsome children.
There is danger of even ministers in New York being of that class who are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They do not practice what they learn. They are hearers, but not doers. These ministers need to experience the truth that will enable them to comprehend the elevated character of the work.
We are living in a most solemn, important time of this earth's history. Important and fearful events are before us. We are amid the perils of the last days. How necessary that all those that do fear God and love his law, should humble themselves before him, and be afflicted, and mourn, and confess their sins that have separated God from his people. And that which should excite the greatest alarm is that we do not feel our condition, and understand our low estate, and are satisfied to remain as we are. We should flee to the word of God and to prayer. We should make this matter our first business. We should individually seek the Lord earnestly, that we may find him. The church is responsible for the talents committed to their trust, and it is impossible for Christians to meet their responsibilities unless they stand on that elevated and exalted position that is in accordance with the sacred truths which they profess. The light that shines upon our pathway holds us responsible to let that light shine forth to others in such a manner that they will glorify God.
The advancement of the church in ——, in spiritual things, is not in proportion to the light which has shone upon their pathway. God has committed to each talents to be improved, by being put out to the exchangers, that when the Master shall come, he may receive his own with usury. The church at —— are largely composed of valuable material; but there is a failure in reaching the high standard which it is their privilege to attain.
The working material in the church is mostly branches of three families, connected by marriage. There is talent, and good material to make workmen, in the church at ——, more than can be employed to good advantage in that locality. The entire church is not growing in spirituality. They are not favorably situated to call into exercise the talents God has given them, and develop strength. There is not room for all to work. One gets in the way of the other. There is a lack of spiritual strength. If the church in —— was less a family church, each would feel individual responsibility.
If the talent and influence of several of its members should be exercised in other churches, where they would be drawn out to help where help is really needed, they would be obtaining an experience of the highest value in spiritual things, and would be a blessing to others by bearing responsibilities and burdens in the work of God. They would, while engaged in helping others, be following the example of Christ. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister to others. He pleased not himself. He made himself of no reputation. He took upon himself the form of a servant, and spent his life in doing good. He could have spent his days on earth in ease and plenty, and appropriated to himself the enjoyments of this life. He lived not to enjoy, but to do good, and save others from suffering. The example of Christ is for us to follow.
The brethren —— and —— are men who can, if consecrated to God, bear a greater weight of responsibilities than they have done. They have thought they would be prompt to respond to any call that should be made for means, and that this was the principal burden they had to bear in the cause of God. But God requires more of them than this. If they had trained their minds to a more critical study of the word of God, that they might have become laborers in his cause, and work for the salvation of sinners, as earnestly as they have to obtain the things of this life, they would have developed strength and wisdom to engage in the work of God where laborers are greatly needed.
These brethren, by remaining in a family community, are being dwarfed in mental and spiritual strength. It is not the best policy for children of one, two, or three families, who are connected by marriage, to settle within a few miles of each other. The influence is not good on the parties. The business of one is the business of all. The perplexities and troubles which every family must experience, more or less, and which, as far as possible, should be confined to limits of the family circle, are extended to family connections, and have a bearing upon the religious meetings. There are matters which should not be known to a third person, however friendly and closely connected they may be. Individuals and families should bear them. But the close relationship of several families, brought into constant intercourse, has a tendency to break down the dignity which should be maintained with every family. The delicate duty of reproof and admonition given, will be in danger of injuring feelings unless done with the greatest tenderness and care. The best models of characters will be liable to errors and mistakes, and great care should be exercised that too much is not made of little things.
Such family and church relationship as exist in —— is very pleasant to the natural feelings; but is not the best, all things considered, for the development of a symmetrical Christian character. The close relationship, and familiar associations with each other, while united together in church capacity, render the weight and strength of influence feeble. There is not that dignity preserved, and that high regard, and confidence, and love, that make a prosperperous church. All parties would be much happier to be separated, and visit occasionally. Their influence then upon each other would be tenfold greater.
These families, united as they are by marriage, mingling in each other's society, are awake to the faults and errors of each other, and feel in duty bound to correct them; and because these relatives are really dear to each other, they are grieved over little things that they would not notice in those not as closely connected. Keen sufferings of mind are endured, because feelings will arise with some, that they have not been treated impartially, and with all that consideration they deserved. Petty jealousies sometimes arise, and molehills become mountains. These little misunderstandings, and petty variances, cause severer suffering of mind than trials that come from other sources.
These things make these truly conscientious, noble-minded men and women feeble to endure, and they are not developing the character they might were they differently situated. They are dwarfed in mental and spiritual growth, which threatens to destroy their usefulness. Their labors and interests are confined mostly to each other. Their influence is narrowed down, when it should be widening, and more general, that they may, by being placed in a variety of circumstances, bring into exercise the powers which God has given them, in such a manner as shall contribute most to his glory. All the faculties of the mind are capable of high improvement. The energies of the soul need to be aroused, and brought out to operate for the glory of God.
God calls for missionaries. There are talent and ability in the church at —— that will grow in capacity and power as they are exercised in the work and cause of God. If these brethren will educate their minds in making the cause of God their first interest, and will sacrifice their pleasure and inclination for the truth's sake, the blessing of God will rest upon them. These brethren, who love the truth, and have been for years rejoicing because of increasing light shining upon the Scriptures, should let their light shine forth to those who are in darkness. God will be to them wisdom and power, and will glorify himself in working with and by those who wholly follow him. "If any man will serve me, him will my Father honor." The wisdom and power of God will be given to the willing and faithful.
The brethren in —— have been willing to give of their means for the various enterprises; but they have withheld themselves. They have not said, Here am I, Lord, send me. It is not the strength of human instruments; but the power and wisdom of Him who employs them, and works with them, that makes them successful in doing the work that is necessary to be done. The offering of our goods to the Possessor of Heaven and earth, while we withhold ourselves, cannot meet his approbation, or secure his blessing. There must be in the hearts of the brethren and sisters in —— a principle to yield all, even themselves, upon the altar of God.
Men are needed who can and will take burdens and bear responsibilities in Battle Creek. The call has been given, time and again, but hardly a response has been made. Some would have answered the call, if their worldly interests would have been advanced by so doing. But as there was no prospect of increasing their means by coming to Battle Creek, they could see no duty to come. To obey is better than sacrifice. And without obedient and unselfish love, the richest offerings are too meager to be presented to the Possessor of all things.
God calls upon brethren and sisters in —— to arise, and come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The reason there is so little strength among those who profess the truth is, they do not exercise the ability God has given them. Very many have wrapped up their talent in a napkin, and hid it in the earth. It is by using the talents that they increase. God will test and prove his people. Bro. and sister —— have been faithful burden-bearers in the cause of God, and now their children should not stand back, and let the burdens rest so heavily upon them. It is time that the powers of their less worn minds should now be exercised, and they work more especially in their Master's vineyard.
Some of the brethren and sisters in New York have felt anxious that Bro. and sister ——, especially sister ——, should be encouraged to labor among the churches. But this is the wrong place for them to prove themselves. If God has indeed laid upon them the burden of labor, it is not for the churches; for they are generally in advance of them.
There is a world before Bro. and sister ——, lying in wickedness. Their field is a large one. They have plenty of room to try their gifts and test their calling without entering into other men's labors, and building upon a foundation they have not laid. Bro. and sister —— have been very slow to obtain an experience in self-denial. They have been slow to come up to health reform in all its branches. The churches are in advance of them in the denial of appetite. Therefore they cannot be a benefit to the churches in this direction, but rather a hindrance.
Bro. —— has not been a blessing to the church in Roosevelt, but a great burden. He has stood directly in the way of their advancement. He has not been in a condition to help the church when and where they needed help the most. He has not correctly represented our faith. His conversation and life have not been unto holiness. He has been far behind, not ready or willing to discern the leadings of God's providence. He has stood in the way of sinners. He has not been in that position where his influence would recommend our faith to unbelievers.
His example has been a hindrance to the church, and to his unbelieving neighbors. If Bro. —— had been wholly consecrated to God, his works would have been fruitful and productive of much good. But that which more especially distinguishes God's people from the popular religious bodies is not their profession alone, but their exemplary character, and their principles of unselfish love. The powerful and purifying influence of the Spirit of God upon the heart, carried out in words and works, separates them from the world, and designates them as God's peculiar people. The character and disposition of Christ's followers will be like the Master. He is the pattern, the holy and perfect example given for Christians to imitate. The true followers of Christ will love their brethren and be in harmony with them. They will love their neighbors, as Christ has given them an example, and will make any sacrifice if they can by so doing persuade souls to leave their sins and be converted to the truth.
The truth, deeply rooted in the heart of believers, will spring up and bear fruit unto righteousness. Their words and works are the channels through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. Especial blessings and privileges are for those who love the truth, and walk according to the light they have received. If they neglect to do this, their light will become darkness. When the people of God become self-sufficient, the Lord leaves them to their own wisdom. Mercy and truth are promised to the humble in heart, the obedient and faithful.
Bro. —— has stood in the way of his children. If he had been consecrated to God, his heart in the work, and living out the truth he professed, he would have felt the importance of commanding his household after him, as did faithful Abraham.
The lack of harmony and love between the two brothers —— is a reproach to the cause of God. Both are at fault. Both have a work to do in subduing self and cultivating the Christian graces. God is dishonored by their dissensions, and I do not go too far when I say hatred, that exists between these two natural brothers. Bro. A. —— is greatly at fault. He has cherished feelings that have not been in accordance with the will of God. He knows the peculiarities of his brother ——, that he has a fretful, unhappy temperament. Frequently, he cannot see good when it lies directly in his path. He sees only evil, and becomes discouraged very easily. Satan magnifies a molehill into a mountain before him. All things considered, M. —— has pursued in many things a course less censurable, because less injurious to the cause of present truth.
These natural brothers must be reconciled fully to each other before they can lift the reproach from the cause of God that their disunions have caused. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now." Those who labor for God should be clean vessels, sanctified to the Master's use. "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
The embassadors of Christ have a responsible and sacred work before them. They are savors of life unto life, or of death unto death. Their influence decides the destiny of souls for whom Christ died. Bro. and sister —— both lack experience. Their life has not been unto holiness. They have not had a deep and thorough knowledge of the divine will. They have not been steadily advancing onward and upward in the divine life, so that their experience could be of value to the church. Their course has burdened the church not a little.
Sister ——' past life has not been of that character that her experience could be a blessing to others. She has not lived up to her convictions of conscience. Her conscience has been too many times violated. She has been a pleasure seeker, and given her life to vanity, frivolities, and fashion, in face of the light of truth which has shone upon her pathway. She knew the way, but neglected to walk in it. The Lord gave sister —— a testimony of warning and reproof. She believed the testimony, and separated herself from that class who were lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Then, as she viewed her past life, so full of wrongs and neglect, she gave up to unbelief and stolid gloom. Despair spread its dark wings over her. Her marriage with Bro. —— changed the order of things somewhat. At times since she has been very gloomy and desponding.
Sister —— has a good knowledge of the prophecies, and can trace them and speak upon them very readily. Some of the brethren and. sisters have been anxious to urge out Bro. and sister —— as active laborers. But there is danger of Bro. and sister —— working from a wrong standpoint. She has received the advantages of education superior to many by whom she is surrounded. As sister —— has labored publicly, she has depended upon her own strength more than upon the Spirit of God. She has had a spirit of lofty independence, and has thought she was qualified to teach rather than to be taught. Sister ——, with her lack of experience in spiritual things, is unprepared to labor among the churches. She has not the discernment and spiritual strength necessary to build them up. If they should engage in this work at all, they should commence in the church at Roosevelt, by exerting a good influence there. Their work should be where the work most needs to be done.
There is work to be done in new fields. Sinners need to be warned who never have heard the warning message. Here, Bro. and sister —— have ample room to work and prove their calling. No one should hinder them in their effort in new fields. There are sinners to save in every direction. But some ministers are inclined to go over and over the same ground among the churches, when their labors cannot help them, and their time is wasted.
We would wish all the Lord's servants were laborers. This work should not be confined alone to the ministers, but brethren who have the truth in their hearts, and have exerted a good influence at home, should feel that a responsibility rests upon them of devoting a part of their time to go out among their neighbors, and in adjoining towns, to be missionaries for God. They should carry the publications, and engage in conversation, and, in the spirit of Christ, pray with and for those whom they visit. This is the work that will arouse a spirit of reformation and investigation.
The Lord has been for years calling the attention of his people to health reform. This is one of the great branches of the work of preparation for the coming of the Son of Man. John the Baptist went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord, and turn the people to the wisdom of the just. He was a representative of those living in these last days to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people, to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ. John was a reformer. The angel Gabriel, direct from Heaven, gave a discourse upon health reform to the father and mother of John. He said he should not drink wine or strong drink, and should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth.
John separated himself from friends, and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel's hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests, and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite, and the gluttony that prevailed everywhere. The prophet Malachi declares, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of children to their fathers." Here the prophet describes the character of the work. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for his first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, their extravagance in dress and other things.
The self-denial, humility, and temperance, required of the righteous, whom God has especially led and blessed, is to be presented to them in contrast to the extravagant, health-destroying habits of the people who live in this degenerate age. God has shown that health reform is as closely connected with the third angel's message as the hand is united to the body. And there is nowhere to be found so great a cause of physical and moral degeneracy, as a neglect of this important subject. Those who are indulging their appetite and passions, and close their eyes to the light for fear they shall see sinful indulgences which they are unwilling to forsake, are guilty before God. Whoever turns from the light in one instance hardens his heart to disregard the light in other matters. Whoever violates moral obligations in the matter of eating and dressing, prepares the way to violate the claims of God in regard to eternal interests. Our bodies are not our own. God has claims upon us to take care of the habitation he has given us, that we may present our bodies to him a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. Our bodies belong to him who made them, and we are in duty bound to become intelligent in regard to the best means of preserving the habitation he has given us from decay. If we enfeeble the body by self-gratification, by indulging the appetite, and by dressing in accordance with health-destroying fashions, in order to be in harmony with the world, we become enemies of God.
Bro. and sister —— have not appreciated the light upon health reform. They have not seen a place for it in connection with the third message. Providence has been leading the people of God out from the extravagant habits of the world, away from the indulgence of appetite and passion, upon the platform of self-denial and temperance in all things. The people whom God is leading will be peculiar. They will not be like the world. If they will follow the leadings of God, they will accomplish his purposes, and will yield their will to the will of God. Christ will dwell in the heart. The temple of God will be holy. Your body, says the apostle, is the temple of the Holy Ghost. God does not require his children to deny themselves to the injury of the physical strength. He requires of them to obey natural law, to preserve physical health. Nature's path is the road he marks out, and it is broad enough for any Christian. God has, with a lavish hand, provided us with rich and varied bounties for our sustenance and enjoyment. In order for us to enjoy the natural appetite which will preserve health and prolong life, he restricts the appetite. He says, Beware, restrain, deny, unnatural appetite. If we create a perverted appetite, we violate the laws of our being, and take upon ourselves the responsibility of abusing our bodies, and of bringing disease upon ourselves.
The spirit and power of Elijah have been stirring hearts to reform, and directing them to the wisdom of the just. Bro. and sister —— have not been converted to the health reform, notwithstanding the amount of evidence God has given upon this subject. Self-denial is essential to genuine religion. Those who have not learned to deny themselves are destitute of vital, practical godliness. We cannot expect anything else but that the claims of religion will come in contact with the natural affections and worldly interest. There is work in the vineyard of the Lord for all and every one to do. None should be idle. Angels of God are all astir, ascending to Heaven, and descending to earth again with messages of mercy and warning. The heavenly messengers are moving upon minds and hearts. There are men and women whose hearts are susceptible of being inspired with the truth, everywhere. If men and women who have a knowledge of the truth would now work in unison with the Spirit of God, we should see a great work accomplished.
New fields are open for all to test their calling by experimental effort, and in bringing out souls from darkness and error, and establishing them upon the platform of eternal truth. If Bro. and sister —— feel that God has called them to engage in his work, they have enough to do to call sinners to repentance. In order to have God working in them, and. by them, they need a thorough conversion. The work of fitting a people in these last days for the coming of Christ, is a most sacred, solemn work, and calls for devoted, unselfish laborers. Those who have humility, faith, energy, perseverance, and decision, will find plenty to do in their Master's vineyard. There are responsible duties to be performed which require earnestness, and exertion of all their energies. It is the willing service God accepts. If the truth we profess is of such infinite importance as to decide the destiny of souls, how careful should we be in its presentation.
"The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Bro. and sister ——, if you had walked in the light as it has shone upon your pathway, had you been drawing nearer and closer to God, steadfastly believing the truth, and walking humbly before God in the light he has given, you would now have an experience that would be of inestimable value. Had you improved the talents lent you of God, you would have shone as lights in the world. But light becomes darkness to all those who will not walk in it. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as our fathers were, we must be faithful, as they were faithful. We must improve our light as the ancient faithful prophets improved theirs. God requires of us according to the grace he has bestowed upon us. He will not accept less than he claims. All his righteous demands must be fully met. In order for us to meet our responsibilities, we must stand on that elevated ground that the order and advancement of holy, sacred truth has prepared for us.
Bro. C. B. —— fails to realize the sanctifying influence of the truth of God upon the heart. He is not patient, humble, and forbearing, as he should be. He is easily stirred. Self arises, and he says and does many things without due reflection, and he does not exert a saving influence at all times. If Bro. —— was imbued with the Spirit of Christ, he could with one hand take hold of the Mighty One, while with the hand of faith and love he would reach the poor sinner. Bro. —— needs the powerful influence of divine love, for this will renew and refine the heart, sanctify the life, and elevate and ennoble the entire man. Then his words and works will savor of Heaven rather than of his own spirit.
If the words of eternal life are sown in the heart, fruit will be produced unto righteousness and peace. A spirit of self-sufficiency and self-importance must be overcome by you, my dear brother. You should cultivate a spirit willing to be instructed and counseled. Whatever others may say or do, you should say, What is that to me; Christ has bid me follow him. You should cultivate a spirit of meekness. You need an experience in genuine godliness, and unless you have this, you cannot engage in the work of God understandingly. Your spirit must soften, and be subdued by being brought into obedience to the will of Christ. You should at all times maintain the lowly dignity of a follower of Jesus. Our deportment, our words and actions, preach to others. We are living epistles, known and read of all men.
You should be careful not to preach the truth from contention or strife; for if you do, you will most assuredly turn the battle against yourself, and be found advancing the cause of the enemy, rather than the truth of God. Every contest wherein you engage should be from a sense of duty. If you make God your strength, and subdue yourself, and let the truth bear away the victory, the devices of Satan and his fiery darts will fall upon himself, and you be strengthened, and kept from error, and guarded from every false way. You need to cultivate caution, and not rush on in your own strength. The work is important and sacred, and you need great wisdom. You should counsel with your brethren who have had experience in the work. But, above everything else, you should obtain a thorough knowledge of your own weakness and your dangers, that you may not make shipwreck of faith. You should strengthen the weak points in your character.
We are living amid the perils of the last days, and if we have a spirit of self-sufficiency and independence, we shall be exposed to the wiles of Satan, and be overcome. Self-importance must be put away from you, and you be hid in God, depending alone upon him for strength. The churches do not need your labor. If you are consecrated to God, you can labor in new fields, and God will work with you. Purity of heart and life God will accept. Anything short of this, he will not regard. We must suffer with Christ if we would reign with him.
Bro. S —— could have accomplished good if he had, years ago, given all for Christ. He has not been sanctified through the truth. His heart has not been right with God. His talent he has hid in the earth. What will he say who has put his talents to a wrong use when the Master shall require him to give account of his stewardship. Bro. —— has not been an honor to the cause of God. It is dangerous to contend with the providence of God, and to be dissatisfied with almost everything, as though there had been a special arrangement of circumstances to tempt and destroy. The work of pruning and purifying, to fit us for Heaven, is a great work, and will cost us a great deal of suffering and trial, because our will is not subjected to the will of Christ. We must go through the furnace till the fires have consumed the dross, and we are purified, and reflect the divine image. Those who follow their inclinations and are governed by appearances, are not good judges of what God is doing. They are filled with discontent. They see failure where there is indeed triumph, a great loss where there is gain; and, like Jacob, they have been ready to exclaim, "All these things are against me," when the very things whereof they complained were all working together for their good.
No cross, no crown. How can one be strong in the Lord without trials. To have strength, we must have exercise. To have strong faith, we must be placed in circumstances where our faith will be called forth. The apostle Paul, just before his martyrdom, exhorted Timothy, "Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God." It is through much tribulation we enter the kingdom of God. Our Saviour was tried in every possible way, and yet he triumphed in God continually. It is our privilege to be strong in the strength of God under all circumstances, and to glory in the cross of Christ.
DEAR SISTER ——: In my view of Dec. 10, 1871, I saw that some things had been great hindrances to your recovery of health. Your peculiar traits of character have prevented you from receiving the good you might have received, and from improving in health as you might have improved. You have a special routine you go through, and in this you will not be turned aside. You have your ideas, which you carry out, when frequently these ideas are not in harmony with physical law, but they are in harmony with your judgment.
You have a strong mind and set will, and you think you understand your own case better than any others can, because you trace your feelings. You are guided by your feelings. You are governed by your experience. You have tried this and that plan to your entire satisfaction, and you have proved that your judgment was best to be followed in regard to your own case. But what has been your standard? Answer: Your feelings. Now, my sister, what has this to do with the real facts in the case? But very little. Feelings are a poor criterion, especially when under the control of a strong imagination and firm will. You have a very determined mind, and your course is mapped out before you; but you do not view your case from a correct standpoint. Your judgment is not safe to be relied upon when it relates to your own case.
I was shown that you had made some improvements, but not as many, and as fast, and as thorough, as you might; for the reason that you take your case in your own hands. This is the reason I wished you to come to the Health Institute, that you should feel it your duty to be guided by the judgment of the more experienced. The physicians of the Health Institute understand the matter of disease, and its causes, and the proper treatment of diseases, better than you can; and if you. will yield willingly your set ideas, and abide by their judgment, there is hope of your recovery. But if you refuse to do this, I see no hope of your becoming what you might be with proper treatment.
You, my sister, as I have before stated, rely upon experience. Your experience decides you to pursue a certain course. But that which many term experience is not experience at all, but a course of habit, or mere indulgence, blindly, and frequently ignorantly, followed, with a firm, set determination, without intelligent thought or inquiry relative to the laws and causes at work in the accomplishment of the object and the result.
Real experience is a variety of experiments entered into carefully, with the mind freed from prejudice, and uncontrolled by previously established opinions and habits; marking the results with careful solicitude, anxious to learn, improve, and reform, on every or any habit, if that habit is not in reason with physical and moral law. The idea of others gainsaying what you have learned by experience seems to you to be folly, and even cruelty itself. But there are more errors received and firmly retained under the false idea of experience than from any other cause, for the reason that what is generally termed experience is no experience at all, because there has never been a fair trial by actual experiment and thorough investigation, with a knowledge of the principle involved in the action.
Your experience was shown to me as not reliable, because opposed to natural law. Your experience is in conflict with the unchangeable principles of nature. Superstition, my dear sister, arising from diseased imagination, arrays you in conflict with science and principle. Which shall be yielded? Your strong prejudices and very set ideas in regard to what course was best to be pursued relative to yourself, has long held you from good. I have understood your case for years, but felt incompetent to present the matter in that clear manner that you could see and comprehend it, and put to a practical use the light given you.
There are many invalids to-day who will ever remain so, because they cannot be convinced that their experience is not reliable. The brain is the capital of the body, the seat of all the nervous forces, and of mental action. The nerves proceeding from the brain control the body. By the brain nerves mental impressions are conveyed to all the nerves of the body as by telegraphic wires; and they control the vital action of every part of the system. All the organs of motion are governed by the communication they receive from the brain.
If your mind is impressed and fixed that a bath will injure you, the mental impression is communicated to all the nerves of the body. The nerves control the circulation of the blood; therefore the blood is, through the impression of the mind, confined to the blood-vessels, and the good effects of the bath are lost, because the blood is prevented by the mind and will from flowing readily, and from coming to the surface and stimulating, arousing, and promoting circulation. For instance, you are impressed that if you bathe you will become chilly. The brain sends this intelligence to the nerves of the body, and your blood-vessels, held in obedience to your will, cannot perform their office and you react after a bath. There is no reason in science or philosophy why an occasional bath, taken with studious care, should do you anything but real good. Especially is this the case where there is but little exercise to keep the muscles in action, and to aid the circulation of the blood through the system. Bathing frees the skin from accumulation of impurities which are constantly collecting, keeps the skin moist and supple, thereby increasing and equalizing the circulation.
Persons in health should on no account neglect bathing. They should by all means bathe as often as twice a week. Those who are not in health have impurities of the blood, and the skin is not in a healthy condition. The multitude of pores, or little mouths, through which the body breathes, become clogged and filled with waste matter. The skin needs to be carefully and thoroughly cleansed, that the pores may do their work in freeing the body from impurities; therefore, feeble persons who are diseased, surely need the advantages and blessings of bathing as often as twice a week, and frequently even more than this is positively necessary. Respiration is more free and easy if bathing is practiced, whether sick, or well. By bathing, the muscles become more flexible, the mind and body are alike invigorated, the intellect is brighter, and every faculty is livelier. The bath is a soother of nerves. It promotes general perspiration, quickens the circulation, overcomes obstructions in the system, and acts beneficially on the kidneys and urinary organs. Bathing helps the bowels, stomach, and liver, giving energy and new life to each. Digestion is promoted by bathing, and instead of the system being weakened, it is strengthened. Instead of increasing the liabilities to cold, a bath properly taken fortifies against cold, because the circulation is improved, and the uterine organs which are more or less congested, are relieved, for the blood is brought to the surface, and a more easy and regular flow of the blood through all the blood-vessels is obtained.
Experience is said to be the best teacher. Genuine experience is indeed superior to book knowledge. But habits and customs gird men and women as with iron bands, and they are generally justified by experience, according to the common understanding of experience. Very many have abused precious experience. They have clung to their injurious habits, which are decidedly enfeebling to physical, mental, and moral health, and when you seek to instruct them, they sanction their course by referring to their experience. But true experience is in harmony with natural law, and science.
Here is where we have met with the greatest difficulties in religious matters. The plainest facts may be presented, the clearest truths brought before the mind, sustained by the word of God, but the ear and heart are closed, and the all-convincing argument is, my experience. Some will say, The Lord has blessed me in believing and doing as I have; therefore, I cannot be in error. My experience is clung to, and the most elevating, sanctifying truths of the Bible are rejected for what they are pleased to style experience. Many of the grossest habits are cherished, with the plea of experience. Many fail to reach that physical, intellectual, and moral improvement it is their privilege and duty to attain, because they will contend for the reliability and safety of their experience, although that misjudged experience is opposed to the plainest revealed facts. Men and women, with constitution and health gone, because of their wrong habits and customs, will be found recommending their experience, which has robbed them of vitality and health, as safe for others to follow. Very many examples might be given to show how men and women have been deceived in relying upon their experience.
The Lord made man upright in the beginning. He was created with a perfectly balanced mind. The size and strength of the organs of the mind were perfectly developed. Adam was a perfect type of man. Every quality of mind was well proportioned, each having a distinctive office, and yet dependent one upon another for the full and proper use of any one of them. Adam and Eve were permitted to eat of all the trees in the garden, save one. The Lord said to the holy pair, In the day that ye eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ye shall surely die. Eve was beguiled by the serpent to believe that God would not do as he said he would. Ye shall not surely die, said the serpent. Eve ate, and imagined that she felt the sensations of a new and more exalted life. She bore the fruit to her husband, and that which had an overpowering influence upon him was her experience. The serpent had said that she should not die, and she felt no ill effects from the fruit which could be interpreted to mean death, but just as the serpent had said, a pleasurable sensation, which she imagined was as the angels felt. Her experience stood arrayed against the positive command of Jehovah, and Adam permitted himself to be seduced by the experience of his wife. Thus it is with the religious world generally. God's express commands are transgressed, and because "sentence against the evil-doer is not executed speedily, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil."
Men and women, in the face of the most positive commands of God, will follow their own inclination, and then dare to pray over the matter, to prevail upon God to consent to allow them to go contrary to his expressed will. God is not pleased with such prayers. Satan comes by their side, as he did to Eve in Eden, and impresses them, and they have an exercise of mind, and this they relate as a most wonderful experience which the Lord has given them. A true experience will be in perfect harmony with natural and divine law. False experience will array itself against science and the principles of Jehovah. The religious world is covered with a pall of moral darkness. Superstition and bigotry control the minds of men and women, and blind their judgment so that they do not discern their duty to their fellow-men, and their duty to yield unquestioned obedience to the will of God.
Balaam inquired of God if he might curse Israel, because in so doing he had the promise of great reward. God said, Ye shall not go; but he was urged by the messengers, and greater inducements were presented. Balaam had been shown the will of the Lord in this matter, but he was so eager for the reward that he ventured to ask God the second time. The Lord permitted Balaam to go. Then he had a wonderful experience; but who would wish to be guided by such an experience as that of Balaam? There are those who would understand their duty clearly if their duty was in harmony with their natural inclinations. Circumstances and reason may indicate clearly their duty, but when against their natural inclination, these evidences are frequently set aside. Then these persons will presume to go to God to learn their duty. But God will not be trifled with. He will permit such persons to follow the desires of their own hearts. Ps. 81:11, 12: "But my people would not hearken to my voice; so I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust; and they walked in their own counsels."
Those who are desirous to follow a course which pleases their fancy, are in danger of being left to follow their own inclinations, supposing them to be the leadings of God's Spirit. Some have their duty indicated by circumstances and facts sufficiently clear, but have, through the solicitations of friends, in harmony with their own inclinations, been swerved from the path of duty, and passed over the clear evidences in the case; and, with apparent conscientiousness, they have prayed long and earnestly for light. They have had earnest feeling in the matter, and they interpret this to be the Spirit of God. But they have been deceived. This course has grieved the Spirit of God. They had light, and in the very reason of things, should have understood their duty; but a few pleasing inducements balance their minds in the wrong direction, and they urge these before the Lord, and press their case, and the Lord allows them to have their own way. They have so strong an inclination to follow their own course that God permits them to do so, and to suffer the results. These imagine they have a wonderful experience.
My dear sister, firmness is a strong and controlling influence in your mind. You have acquired strength to stand up and brace against opposition, and carry through difficulties and perplexing enterprises. You do not love contention. You are highly sensitive, and feel deeply. You are strictly conscientious, and your judgment must be convinced before you will yield to the opinions of others. Had your physical health been unimpaired, you would have made an eminently useful woman. You have long been diseased, and this has affected your imagination so that your thoughts have been concentrated upon yourself, and the imagination has affected the body. Your habits have not been good in many respects. You have eaten too largely, and of a poor quality of food, which could not be converted into good blood. Your food has not been of the right quantity or quality. You have educated the stomach to this manner of diet. This, your judgment has taught you, was the best, because you realized the least disturbance from it. But this was not a correct experience. Your stomach was not receiving that vigor that it should from your food. Your food taken in a liquid state would not give healthful vigor or tone to the system. And when you change this habit, and eat more solids and less liquids, your stomach will feel disturbed. But notwithstanding this, you should not yield the point; you should educate your stomach to bear a more solid diet. You have worn too great an amount of clothing, and have debilitated the skin by thus doing. You have not given your body a chance to breathe. The pores of the skin, or little mouths through which the body breathes, have become closed, and the system has been filled with impurities.
Your habit of riding out in the open air and sunshine has been very beneficial to you. Your life out of door has sustained you, so that you have the measure of physical strength that you now enjoy. But you have neglected other exercise which was even more essential than this. You have depended upon your carriage to go even a short distance. You have thought if you walked even a little way it would injure you, and you have felt weary in doing so. But in this your experience is not reliable.
The same power of motion you exercise in getting in and out of a carriage, in going up and down stairs, could just as well be exercised in walking, and performing the ordinary and necessary duties of life. You have been very helpless in regard to domestic duties. You have not felt that you could have care of your husband's clothes, or his food. Now, my sister, this inability exists more in your imagination than in your inability to perform. You think it will weary and tax you to do this and that; and it does. You have strength that if put to a practical and economical use would accomplish much good, and make you far more useful and happy. You have so great a dread of becoming helpless, that you do not exercise the strength the Lord has blessed you with. In many things you have helped your husband. At the same time you have taxed his patience and strength. You have felt that he did not understand your case when he has thought that you could change some of your habits, and improve. Your friends have felt that you might be more useful in your home, and not so helpless. This has grieved you. You thought they did not understand. Some have unwisely pressed their opinion of your case upon you, and you have been grieved. You have felt that God, in answer to prayer, would help you, and you have many times been helped in this way. But you have not come up to the point of physical strength it was your privilege to enjoy, because you did not do on your part. You have not fully worked in union with the Spirit of God.
God has given you a work to do which he does not propose to do for you. You should move out, from principle, in harmony with natural law, irrespective of feeling. You should begin to act upon the light God has given you. You may not be able to do this all at once, but you can do much by moving out gradually in faith, believing that God will be your helper, and will strengthen you to perform. You could have exercise in walking, and in performing duties requiring light labor in your family, and not be so dependent upon others. The consciousness that you can do, will give you increased strength. If your hands were more employed, and your brain less exercised in planning for others, your physical and mental strength would increase. Your brain is not idle, but there is not corresponding labor with the other organs of the body. Exercise, to be of decided advantage to you, should be systematized and brought to bear upon debilitated organs, that they may become strengthened by use. The movement cure is a great advantage to a class of patients who are too feeble to exercise. But for all who are sick to rely upon it, making it their dependence, while they neglect to exercise their muscles themselves, is a great mistake.
Thousands are sick and dying around us who might get well and live if they would; but their imagination holds them, fearing they shall be made worse if they labor or exercise, when this is just the change they need to make them well. Without this, they never can improve. They should exercise the power of the will, and rise above their aches and debility, engage in useful employment, and forget they have aching backs, sides, lungs, and head. Want of exercise of the entire body, or neglecting to exercise a portion of the body, will bring on morbid conditions. Inaction of any of the organs of the body will be followed by decrease of size and strength of the muscles, and cause the blood to flow sluggishly through the blood-vessels.
In your domestic life, if there are duties to be done, you do not think it possible that you could do them, but you depend upon others. Sometimes it is exceedingly inconvenient for you to obtain the help you need. You frequently expend double the strength required to perform the task, in planning and searching for some one to do the work for you. If you would only bring your mind to do these little acts and family duties yourself, you would be blessed and strengthened in it, and your influence in the cause of God would be far greater. God made Adam and Eve in Paradise, and surrounded them with everything that was useful and lovely. God planted for them a beautiful garden. No herb, nor flower, nor tree, was wanting, which might be for use and ornament. The Creator of man knew that this workmanship of his hands could not be happy without employment. Paradise delighted their souls, but this was not enough; they must have labor to call into exercise the wonderful organs of the body. The Lord had made the organs for use. If happiness consisted in doing nothing, man, in his state of holy innocence, would have been left unemployed. But he who formed man knew what would be for his best happiness, and he no sooner made him, than he gave him his appointed work. In order to be happy, he must labor.
God has given us all something to do. In the discharge of the various duties which we are to perform, which lie in our pathway, we shall be blessed and our lives be useful. Not only will the organs of the body be gaining strength by their exercise, but the mind will be acquiring strength and knowledge, in the action of all of the organs of the body. The exercise of one muscle, while other muscles are left with nothing to do, will not strengthen the inactive ones any more than the use of one of the organs of the mind, if continually exercised, will develop and strengthen the organs not brought into use. Each faculty of the mind and each muscle have their distinctive office, and all require to be exercised in order to become properly developed and retain healthful vigor. Each organ and muscle has its work to do in the living organism. Every wheel in the machinery must be a living, active, working wheel. Nature's fine and wonderful works need to be kept in active motion in order to perform the object for which they were designed. All the faculties have a bearing upon each other, and all need to be exercised, in order to be properly developed. If one muscle of the body is exercised more than another, the one used will become much the larger, and destroy the harmony and beauty of the development of the system. A variety of exercise will call into use all the muscles of the body.
Those who are feeble and indolent should not yield to inclination to be inactive and deprive themselves of air and sunlight, but should practice exercising out of door, in walking or working in the garden. They will become very much fatigued, but this will not hurt them. You, my sister, will experience weariness, yet it will not hurt you, but your rest will be sweeter after it. Inaction weakens the organs that are not exercised. And when the organs that have been idle are used, pain and weariness are experienced because the muscles have become feeble. It is not good policy to give up the use of certain muscles because pain is felt when they are exercised. The pain is frequently caused by the effort of nature to give life and vigor to these parts that have become partially lifeless through inaction. The motion of these long disused muscles will cause pain, because nature is awakening them to life.
Walking, in all cases where it is possible, is the best remedy for diseased bodies, because in walking, all the organs of the body are exercised. Many who depend upon the movement cure, could, by muscular exercise, accomplish more for themselves than the movements can do for them. There is no exercise that can take the place of walking. Want of exercise, with some cases, causes the bowels and muscles to become enfeebled and shrunken. Exercise will strengthen these organs that have become enfeebled for want of use. The circulation of the blood is greatly improved by the act of walking. The active use of the limbs will be of the greatest advantage to you, sister ——. You have had many notions, and you have been very sanguine, which has been to your injury. While you fear to trust yourself in the hands of the physicians, and think you understand your case better than they do, you cannot be benefited, but only harmed, by their treatment of your case. Unless the physicians can obtain the confidence of their patients, they can never help them. If you prescribe for yourself, and think you know what treatment you should have better than the physicians, you cannot be benefited. You must yield your will and ideas, and not rein yourself up to resist their judgment and advice in your case.
May the Lord help you, my sister, to have not only faith, but corresponding works.
DEAR SISTER ——: I think you are not happy. In seeking for some great work to do, you overlook present duty, lying directly in your path. You are not happy, because you are looking above the little every-day duties of life, for some higher and greater work to do. You are restless, uneasy, and dissatisfied. You love to dictate better than you love to perform. You love better to tell others what to do, than with ready cheerfulness to take hold and do yourself.
You could have made your father's home more happy had you studied your inclination less, and the happiness of others more. When engaged in the common, ordinary duties of life, you fail to put your heart into your labor. Your mind is reaching forward and beyond, to a work more agreeable, higher, or more honorable. Somebody must do these very things that you take no pleasure in, and even dislike. These plain, simple duties, if done with willingness and faithfulness, will give you an education that is necessary for you to obtain in order for you to have a love of household duties. Here is an experience highly essential for you to gain, but you do not love it. You murmur at your lot, and make those around you unhappy, and are meeting with a great loss yourself. You may never be called to a work which would call you before the public. But all the work we do that is necessary to be done, were it washing dishes, setting tables, waiting upon the sick, cooking, or washing, is of moral importance; and until you can cheerfully and happily take up these duties, you are not fitted for greater and higher duties. The humble tasks before us are to be taken up by some one; and those who do them should feel that they are doing a necessary and honorable work, and that their mission, humble though it may be, is doing the work of God just as surely as Gabriel, when sent to the prophets, was doing his. All are working in their order in their respective spheres. The woman in her home, doing the simple duties of life that must be done, can, and should, exhibit faithfulness, obedience, and love, as sincere as angels in their sphere. Conformity to the will of God makes any work honorable that must be done.
What you need is love and affection. Your character needs to be molded. Your worrying must be laid aside, and in place of this, cherish gentleness and love. Deny self. We were not created angels, but lower than the angels; yet our work is important. We are not in Heaven, but upon the earth. When we are in Heaven, then we shall be qualified to do the lofty and elevating work of Heaven. It is here in this world that we must be tested and proved. We should be armed for conflict and for duty.
The highest duty that devolves upon youth is in their own homes, blessing father and mother, brothers and sisters, by affection and true interest. Here they can show self-denial and self-forgetfulness in caring and doing for others. Never will woman be degraded by this work. It is the most sacred, elevated office she can fill. What an influence a sister may have over brothers. If she is right, she may determine the character of her brothers. Her prayers, her gentleness, and her affection, may do much in a household. My sister, these high qualities of mind can never be communicated to other minds unless they first exist in your own. That contentment of mind, sunniness of temper, affection, and gentleness, which will reach every heart, will reflect back to you again what your heart gives forth. If Christ does not reign in the heart, there will be discontent and moral deformity. Selfishness will require of others that which we are unwilling to give them. If Christ is not in the heart, the character will be unlovely.
It is not a great work and great battles alone which try the soul and demand courage. Every-day life brings its perplexities, trials, and discouragements. It is the humble work which frequently draws upon the patience and the fortitude. Self-reliance and resolution will be necessary to meet and conquer all difficulties. Secure the Lord to stand with you, in every place to be your consolation and comfort. A meek and quiet spirit you much need, and without it, you cannot have happiness. May God help you, my sister, to seek meekness and righteousness. It is the Spirit of God that you need. If you are willing to be anything or nothing, God will help, and strengthen, and bless, you. But if you neglect the little duties, you will never be intrusted with greater.
DEAR CHILDREN —— AND ——: You are deceived in regard to yourselves. You are not Christians. To be true Christians is to be Christ-like. You are far from the mark in this respect; but I hope you will not be deceived until it is too late for you to form characters for Heaven.
Your example has not been good. You have not come to the point to obey the words of Christ: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Here are lessons you have not learned. The denial of self has not been a part of your education. You have neglected to study the words of life. "Search the Scriptures," said the heavenly Teacher. He knew that this was necessary for all, in order to be Christ's true followers. You love to read story books, but do not find the word of God interesting. You should restrict your reading to the word of God, and to books that are of a spiritual and useful character. In so doing, you will close a door against temptation, and you will be blessed.
Had you improved the light that has been given in Battle Creek, you would now be far in advance of what you are in the divine life. You are vain and proud children. You have not felt that you must give an account of your stewardship. You are accountable to God for all your privileges, and for all the means which passes through your hands. Your pleasure and your selfish gratification have been indulged at the expense of conscience and the approval of God. You do not act like servants of Jesus Christ, responsible to your Saviour who has bought you by his own precious blood. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness?" "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you; being then made free from sin, ye become the servants of righteousness."
You are professedly the servants of Jesus Christ. Do you then yield to him ready and willing obedience? Do you earnestly inquire how you shall best please Him who has called you to be soldiers of the cross of Christ? Do you both lift the cross and glory in it? Answer these questions to God. All your acts, however secret you may think they may be, are open to your Heavenly Father. Nothing is hidden, nothing covered. All your acts, and the motives which prompt them, are open to his sight. He has full knowledge of all your words and thoughts. You have a duty to control your thoughts. You will have to war against a vain imagination. You may think that there can be no sin in permitting your thoughts to run as they naturally would without restraint. But this is not so. You are responsible to God for the indulgence of vain thoughts, for from vain imagination arises the actual doing of the things the mind has dwelt upon, and the commital of sins. Govern your thoughts, and it will then be much easier to govern your actions. Your thoughts need to be sanctified. Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." When you come into this position, the work of consecration will be better understood by you both. Your thoughts will be pure, chaste, and elevated. Your actions will be pure and sinless. Your bodies will be preserved in sanctification and honor, that you may present them "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." You are required to deny self in little as well as greater things. You should make an entire surrender to God. You are not approved of God in your present state.
You have had an unsanctified influence over the youth in ——. Your love of show leads to the expenditure of means, which is wrong. You do not realize the claims the Lord has upon you. You have not become acquainted with the sweet result of self-denial. Its fruits are sacred. To serve yourselves, and to please yourselves, has been the order of your lives. To spend your means to gratify pride, has been your practice. Oh! how much better it would have been for you to have restrained your desires, and made some sacrifice for the truth of God, and in thus denying the lust of the eye, and the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, have something to put into the treasury of God. Instead of purchasing frivolous things, put your little into the bank of Heaven, that when the Master comes, you may receive both principal and interest.
Have you both studied how much you could do to honor your Redeemer upon the earth? Oh, no! You have been pleased to honor yourselves, and to receive honor of others; but to study to show yourselves approved of God has not been the burden of your lives. Religion, pure and undefiled, with its strong principles, would prove to you an anchor. In order to answer life's great ends, you must avoid the example of those who are seeking for their own enjoyment and their own pleasure, who have not the fear of God before them. God has made provisions for you that are ample, that if you comply with the conditions laid down in his word, separation from the world, you may receive strength from him to repress every debasing influence, and develop that which is noble, good, and elevating. Christ will be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The will, the intellect, and every emotion, when controlled by religion, has a transforming power.
"Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Here is a principle lying at the foundation of every act, thought, and motive; the consecration of the entire being, both physical and mental, to the control of the Spirit of God. The unsanctified will and passions must be crucified. This may be regarded as a close and severe work. Yet it must de done, or you will hear the terrible sentence from the mouth of Jesus, "Depart." You can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth you. You are of that age when the will, the appetites, and passions, clamor for indulgence. God has implanted these in your nature for high and holy purposes. It is not necessary that these should become to you a curse by being debased. They only will be found so when you refuse to submit to the control of reason and conscience. Restrain, deny, are words and works you are not familiar with by experience. Temptations have swayed you. Unsanctified minds fail to receive the strength and comfort God has provided for them. They are restless, and possess a strong desire for something new, to gratify, to please and excite the mind, and this is called pleasure. Satan has alluring charms to engage the interest and excite the imagination of the youth in particular, that he may fasten them in his snare. You are building upon the sand. You need to cry earnestly, "O Lord, my inmost soul convert." You can have an influence for good over other young people, or you can have an influence for evil.
May the God of peace sanctify you wholly, soul, body, and spirit.
IN a vision given me at Bordoville, Vt., Dec. 10, 1871, I was shown that the position of my husband has been a very difficult one. The pressure of care and labor has been upon him. His brethren in the ministry have not had these burdens to bear, and they have not appreciated his labors. The constant pressure upon him has taxed him mentally and physically. I was shown his position to the people of God was similar, in some respects, to that of Moses to Israel. There were murmurers against Moses, when in adverse circumstances, and there have been murmurers against him.
There has been no one in the ranks of Sabbath-keepers who would do as my husband has done. He has devoted his interest almost entirely to the building up of the cause of God, regardless of his own personal interests, and at the sacrifice of social enjoyment with his family. In his devotion to the cause, he has frequently endangered his health and life. He has been so much pressed with the burden of this work that he has not had suitable time for study, meditation, and prayer. God has not required of him to be in this position, even for the interest and progress of the work of publishing at Battle Creek. There are other branches of the work, other interests of the cause, that have been neglected through his devotion to this one. God has given us both a testimony which will reach hearts. He has opened before me many channels of light, not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of his people at large. The Lord has also given my husband great light upon Bible subjects, not for himself alone, but for others. I saw that these things should be written and talked out, and new light would continue to shine upon the word. I saw that we could accomplish tenfold more to build up the cause, in laboring among the people of God, bearing the varied testimony to meet the wants of the cause of God in different places and under different circumstances, than to remain at Battle Creek. Our gifts are needed in the same field in writing and in speaking. While my husband is overburdened, as he has been, with an accumulation of cares and financial matters, his mind cannot be as fruitful in the word. And he will be liable to be assailed by the enemy, for he is in a position where there is a constant pressure, and men and women will be tempted, as were the Israelites, to complain and murmur against him who stands in the most responsible position to the cause and work of God. While standing under these burdens that no other one would venture to take, he has sometimes, under the pressure of care, spoken without due consideration and with apparent severity. He has sometimes censured those in the Office because they did not take care. And when needless mistakes have occurred, he has felt that indignation for the cause of God was justifiable in him. This course has not always been attended with the best results. It has sometimes resulted in a neglect to do the very things which they should do, for fear they should not do them right, and then would be blamed for it. Just as far as this has gone, the burden has fallen heavier upon my husband.
The better way would have been for him to have been from the Office more than he has, and left the work with others to do. And if they prove themselves unfaithful, or not capacitated for the work, after patient and fair trial, they should be discharged, and left to engage in business where their blunders and mistakes will effect their own personal interests and not the cause of God.
There were those who stood at the head of the business of the Publishing Association who were, to say the very least, unfaithful. And had those in particular who were associated with them as trustees been awake, and their eyes not blinded, and their sensibilities unparalyzed, they would have been separated from the work long before they were.
When my husband recovered from his long and severe sickness, he took the work confused and embarrassed as it was left by unfaithful men. He worked with all the resolution and strength of mind and body that he possessed, to bring the work up, and to redeem it from the disgraceful perplexity it had been brought into by those who had their own interests prominent, and who did not feel that it was a sacred work in which they were engaged. God's hand has been reached out in judgment over these unfaithful ones. Their course and the result should prove a warning to others, not to do as they have done.
The experience of my husband during the period of his sickness was unfortunate for him. He worked in this cause with interest and devotion as no other man had done. He had ventured and taken advance positions as Providence had led, regardless of censure or praise. He had stood alone and battled through physical and mental sufferings, not regarding his own interests, while those whom God designed should stand by his side left him when he most needed their help. He was not only left to battle and struggle without their help and sympathy, but frequently he had their opposition to meet, and they murmured against him who was doing tenfold more than any of them to build up the cause of God. All these things have had their influence, and have molded the mind that was once free from suspicion, trustful, and confiding, to lose confidence in his brethren. Those who have acted their part in bringing about this work will, in a great degree, be responsible for the result. God would have led them if they had earnestly and devotedly served him.
I was shown that my husband had given his brethren unmistakable evidences of his interest in, and devotion to, the work of God. After he had spent years of his life in privation and unceasing toil to establish the publishing interests upon a sure basis, he then gave away to the people of God that which was his own, and that which he could just as well have kept, and have received the profits from, had he chosen so to do. He showed the people in this act that he was not seeking to advantage himself, but to promote the cause of God.
When sickness came upon my husband, many acted in the same unfeeling manner toward him that the Pharisees did toward the unfortunate and oppressed. The Pharisees would tell the suffering ones that their afflictions were on account of their sins, and that the judgments of God had come upon them. In thus doing, they would increase their weight of sufferings. When my husband fell under his weight of care, there were those who were merciless.
When beginning to recover, so that in his feebleness and poverty he commenced to labor some, he asked of those who then stood at the head of matters at the Office forty per cent discount on a one hundred dollar order for books. He was willing to pay sixty dollars for the books which he knew cost the Association only fifty dollars. He asked this special discount in view of his past labors and sacrifices in favor of the publishing department. But he was denied this small favor. He was coolly told that they could give him but twenty-five per cent discount. My husband thought this very hard, yet he tried to bear it in a Christian manner. God in Heaven marked the unjust decision, and from that time took the case in his own hands, and has returned the blessings removed, as he did to faithful Job. And from the time of that heartless decision he has been working for his servant. God raised him up above his former health of body, clearness and strength of mind, and freedom of spirit. And he has, since that time, had the pleasure of passing out with his own hands thousands of dollars' worth of our publications without price. God will not utterly forget nor forever forsake those who have been faithful, even if in their course errors sometimes occur.
My husband has had a zeal for God and for the truth, and at times this zeal has led him to overlabor, to the injury of physical and mental strength. But this was not regarded of God as great a sin as that of neglect and unfaithfulness of his servants in reproving wrongs. Those who praised the unfaithful, and flattered the unconsecrated, were sharers in their sin of neglect and unfaithfulness.
God has given my husband especial qualifications, natural ability, and he selected him and gave him an experience to lead out his people in the advance work. There have been murmurers among Sabbath-keeping Adventists as was among ancient Israel, and these jealous, suspicious ones have given occasion to the enemies of our faith, by their suggestions and insinuations, to distrust my husband's honesty. These jealous ones of the same faith have placed matters before the unbelievers in a false light. These impressions stand in the way of many embracing the truth. They regard my husband as a schemer, a selfish, avaricious man, and they are afraid of him, and the truth we as a people hold. Ancient Israel, when their appetite was restricted, or when any close requirement was brought to bear upon them, reflected upon Moses; that he was arbitrary, that he wished to rule them, and be altogether a prince over them, when Moses was only an instrument in God's hands to bring his people into a position of submission and obedience to God's voice.
Modern Israel have murmured and become jealous of my husband because he has plead for the cause of God. He has encouraged liberality, he has rebuked those who loved this world, and has censured selfishness. He has plead for donations to the cause of God, and has led off by liberal donations himself, to encourage liberality with his brethren; but by many murmurers and jealous ones, even this has been interpreted that he wished to be personally benefited with the means of his brethren, and that he had enriched himself at the expense of the cause of God, when the facts in the case are, that God has entrusted means in his hands to raise him above want so that he need not be dependent upon the mercies of a changeable, murmuring, and jealous people. Because we have not selfishly studied our own interest, but have cared for the widow and the fatherless, God has in his providence worked in our behalf, and blessed us with prosperity and an abundance.
Moses had sacrificed a prospective kingdom, a life of worldly honor and luxury in kingly courts, chosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season, for he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. Had we chosen a life of ease and freedom from labor and care we might have done so. But this was not our choice. We chose active labor in the cause of God, an itinerant life with all its hardships, privations, and exposure, to a life of indolence. We have not lived for ourselves, to please ourselves, but we have tried to live for God, to please and glorify him. We have not made it an object to labor for property; but God has fulfilled his promise in giving us an hundred-fold in this life. He may prove us by removing it away from us. If so, we pray for submission to humbly bear the test.
While he has committed to our trust talents of money and influence, we will try to invest it in his cause, that should fires consume and adversity diminish, we can have the pleasure of knowing that all our treasure is not where fires can consume or adversity sweep away. The investment of our time, our interest, and our means in the cause of God is a sure bank that can never fail¯a treasure in the Heavens that faileth not.
I was shown that my husband has had three-fold the care he should have had. He has felt tried that brethren —— and —— did not help him bear his responsibilities, and has felt grieved because they did not help him in the business matters in connection with the Institute and Association. There has been a continual advance of the work of publication since the unfaithful have been separated from it. As the work increased, there should have been men to have shared the responsibilities; but some who could do this had no desire, because it would not increase their possessions as much as some more lucrative business. There is not that talent in our Office that there should be. The work demands the most choice and select persons to engage in it. With the present state of things in the Office, my husband will still feel the pressure that he has felt, but which he should no longer bear. And it is only by a miracle of God's mercy that he has stood under the burden so long. But there are now many things to be considered. He has by his devotion to the work, and persevering care, shown what may be done in the publishing department. Men with unselfish interests combined with sanctified judgment, may make the work at the Office a success. My husband has so long borne the burden alone that it has told fearfully upon his strength, and there is a positive necessity for a change. He must be relieved from care to great degree, and yet he can work in the cause of God in speaking and writing.
When we returned from Kansas in the autumn of 1870, we both should have had a period of rest. Weeks of freedom from care was necessary to bring up our exhausted energies. But when we found the important post at Battle Creek nearly deserted, we felt compelled to take hold of the work with double energies, and labored beyond our strength. I was shown that my husband should stand there no longer, unless there are men who will feel the wants of the cause and bear the burdens of the work, while he shall simply act as a counsellor. He must lay the burden down; for God has an important work for him to do in writing and speaking the truth. Our influence in laboring in the wide field will tell more for the upbuilding of the cause of God. There is a great amount of prejudice in many minds. False statements have placed us in a wrong position before the people, and this is in the way of many embracing the truth. If they are made to believe that those who occupy responsible positions in the work at Battle Creek are designing and fanatical, they conclude that the entire work is wrong, and that our views of Bible truth must be incorrect, and they fear to investigate and receive the truth. But we are not to go forth to call the people to look to us; we are not to generally speak of ourselves, and vindicate our character; but to speak the truth, exalt the truth, speak of Jesus, exalt Jesus, and this, attended by the power of God, will remove prejudice and disarm opposition. Brn. —— and —— love to write; so does my husband. And God has let his light shine upon his word and let him into a field of rich thought that would be a blessing to the people of God at large. While he has borne a triple burden, some of his ministering brethren have let the responsibility drop heavily upon him, consoling themselves with the thought that God had placed Bro. White at the head of the work and qualified him for it, and he had not fitted them for the position, therefore they have not taken the responsibility and borne the burdens they might have borne.
There should be men to feel the same interest my husband has felt. There never has been a more important period in the history of Seventh-day Adventists than at the present time. Instead of the publishing work diminishing, the demand for our publications is greatly increasing. There will be more to do instead of less. My husband has been murmured against so much, and has contended with jealousy and falsehood so long, and he has seen so little faithfulness in men, that he has become suspicious of almost every one, even of his own brethren in the ministry. The ministering brethren have felt this, and for fear that they should not move wisely, in many instances, have not moved at all. But the time has come when these men must unitedly labor and lift the burdens. The ministering brethren lack faith and confidence in God. They believe the truth, and in the fear of God they should unite their efforts and bear the burdens of this work which God has laid upon them. If after one has done the best he can in his judgment, and the other thinks he can see where he could have improved the matter, he should kindly and patiently give the brother the benefit of his judgment, but should not censure or question his integrity of purpose any sooner than he would wish to be suspected or unjustly censured himself. If the brother who feels the cause of God at heart sees, in his earnest efforts to do, that he has made a failure, he will feel deeply over the matter, for he will be inclined to distrust himself, and lose confidence in his own judgment; nothing will weaken his courage and God-like manhood, like a sense of his mistakes and errors that he has made in the work God has appointed him to do, which work he loves better than his life. How unjust then for his brethren that discover his errors to keep pressing the thorn deeper and deeper into his heart, to make him feel more intensely when with every thrust he is weakening faith, courage, and confidence, in himself to do, and to work successfully in the upbuilding of the cause of God. Frequently the truth and facts are to be plainly spoken to the erring to make them see and feel their error, that they may reform. But this should ever be done with pitying tenderness, not with harshness or severity, but consider their own weakness, lest they also be tempted. When the fault is seen and acknowledged, then comfort should be given instead of grieving him, and seeking to make him feel more deeply. In the sermon of Christ upon the mount, he said, "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." Our Saviour reproved for rash judgment. "Why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother's eye;" and, "behold a beam is in thine own eye." It is frequently the case that while one is quick to discern the errors of his brethren, he may be in greater faults himself, and is blind to his own errors. We should, all who are followers of Christ, deal with one another exactly as we wish the Lord to deal with us in our errors and weaknesses, for we are all erring, and need pity and forgiveness of God. Jesus consented to take human nature, that he might know how to pity, and that he might know how to plead with his Father in behalf of sinful, erring mortals. He volunteered to become man's advocate, and he humiliated himself to become acquainted with the temptations wherewith man was beset, that he might succor those who should be tempted, and he be a tender and faithful high priest.
There is frequent necessity for plainly rebuking sin and reproving wrong. But ministers engaged in the work of the salvation of their fellow-men, should not be pitiless toward the errors of one another, and should not make prominent the defects in their organization. They should not expose or reprove their weaknesses. They should inquire if such a course would bring about the desired effect with themselves, would it increase their love for, and confidence in, the one who thus made prominent their mistakes. Especially should the mistakes of ministers who are engaged in the work of God be kept within as small a circle as possible, for there are many weak ones who will take advantage if they are aware that those who minister in word and doctrine have weaknesses like other men. And it is a most cruel thing for the faults of a minister to be exposed to unbelievers, if that minister in future is counted worthy to labor for the salvation of souls. No good can come of this exposure, but only harm. God frowns upon this course, for it is undermining the confidence of the people in those whom God accepts to carry forward his work. The character of every fellow-laborer should be jealously guarded by brother ministers. Saith God, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." Love and confidence should be cherished. A lack of love and confidence in one minister for another does not increase the happiness of the one thus deficient, but as he makes his brother unhappy, he is unhappy himself. There is greater power in love than was ever found in censure. Love will melt its way through barriers, while censure will close up every avenue of the soul.
My husband must have a change. Losses may occur at the Office of publication for want of his long experience; but the loss of money cannot bear any comparison to the health and life of God's servant. The income of means may not be as large for want of economical managers. But if my husband should fail again it would dishearten his brethren and weaken their hands. Means cannot come in as an equivalent.
There is much to be done. Missionaries should be in the field, willing, if need be, to go to foreign countries to present the truth before those who sit in darkness. But there is little disposition among young men to consecrate themselves to God, and to devote their talents to his service. They are too willing to shun responsibilities and burdens. They are not obtaining an experience in burden-bearing, nor in the knowledge of the Scriptures, that they should have to fit them for the work that God would accept at their hands. It is the duty of all to see how much they can do for the Master who has died for them. But many are seeking to do just as little as possible, and cherish the faint hope of getting into Heaven. It is their privilege to have stars in their crown because of souls saved through their instrumentality. But, alas! indolence and spiritual sloth prevail everywhere. Selfishness and pride occupy a large place in their hearts, and there is but little room for heavenly things.
In the prayer Christ taught his disciples was the request, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." We cannot repeat this prayer from the heart and dare to be unforgiving, for we ask the Lord to forgive our trespasses against him in the same manner we forgive those who trespass against us. But few realize the true import of this prayer. If those who are unforgiving did comprehend the depth of its meaning, they would not dare to repeat it, and ask God to deal with them as they deal with their fellow-mortals. And yet this spirit of hardness and lack of forgiveness exists, even among brethren, to a fearful extent. Brother is exacting with brother.
THE position that my husband has so long occupied in the cause and work of God has been one of peculiar trials. His adaptation to business and his clear foresight have led his ministering brethren to drop responsibilities upon him which they should have borne themselves. This has made his burdens very great. And while his brethren have not taken their share of the burdens, they have lost a valuable experience which it was their privilege to have obtained had they exercised their minds in the direction of caretaking, in seeing and feeling what must be done for the upbuilding of the cause.
Great trials have been brought upon my husband by his ministering brethren not standing by him when he most needed their help. The disappointment he has repeatedly felt when those whom he depended upon failed him in times of greatest need has nearly destroyed his power to hope and believe in the constancy of his ministering brethren. His spirits have been so wounded, he has felt that he was justified in being grieved, and he has allowed his mind to dwell upon discouragements. This channel of darkness God would have him close; for he is in danger of making shipwreck here. When his mind becomes depressed, it is natural for him to bring up the past and dwell upon his past sufferings, and unreconciliation takes hold upon his spirits, that God had suffered him to be so beset with trials unnecessarily brought upon him.
The Spirit of God has been grieved that he has not fully committed his ways to God, and trusted himself entirely in his hands, not allowing his mind to run in the channel of doubt and unbelief in regard to the integrity of his brethren. In talking doubts and discouragements he has not remedied the evil, but he has weakened his own powers, and given Satan advantage to annoy and distress him.
My husband has erred in talking out his discouragements and dwelling upon the unpleasant features of his experience. In thus talking, he scatters darkness but not light. He has at times laid a weight of discouragement upon his brethren, which did not bring to him the least help, but only weakened their hands. My husband should make it a rule not to talk unbelief or discouragement, or dwell upon his grievances. His brethren generally have loved and pitied him, and have excused this in him, knowing the pressure of care and his devotion to the cause of God.
My husband has labored untiringly to bring up the publishing interests to its present state of prosperity. I saw that he had had more sympathy and love from his brethren than he has thought he had. They eagerly search the paper to find something from his pen. If there is a tone of cheerfulness in his writing, he speaking encouragingly, their hearts are lightened, and some even weep with tender feelings of joy. But if gloom and sadness are expressed in his writings, the countenances of his brethren and sisters, as they read, grow sad, and the spirit which characterizes his writing is reflected upon them.
The Lord is seeking to teach my husband to have a spirit of forgiveness, and forgetfulness of the dark passages in his experience. The remembrance of the unpleasant past only saddens the present and he lives over again the unpleasant portion of his life's history. In so doing, he is clinging to the darkness and is pressing the thorn deeper into his spirit. This is my husband's infirmity, and it is displeasing to God. This brings darkness and not light. He may feel apparent relief for the time in expressing his feelings, but it is only making more acute a sense of how great his sufferings and trials have been, until the whole becomes magnified in his imagination, and the errors of his brethren, who have aided in bringing these trials upon him, look so grievous that their wrongs seem to him past endurance.
My husband has cherished this darkness so long by living over the unhappy past that he has but little power to control his mind when dwelling upon these things. Circumstances and events which once he would not have minded, magnify before him into grievous wrongs on the part of his brethren. He has become so sensitive to the wrongs under which he has suffered that it is necessary that he should be as little as possible in the vicinity of Battle Creek, where many of the unpleasant circumstances occurred. God would heal his wounded spirit if he will let him. But in doing this, he will have to bury the past. He should not talk of it, or write of it.
It is positively displeasing to God for my husband to recount his difficulties and his peculiar grievances of the past. If he had looked upon these things in the light that they were not done to him, but to the Lord, whose instrument he is, then he would have received a great reward. My husband has taken these murmurings of his brethren as though done to himself, and he has felt called upon to make all understand the wrong and wickedness of thus complaining of him, when he did not deserve their censure and abuse.
Had my husband felt that he could leave this matter all with the Lord, and that their murmurings and their neglect were against the Master instead of the servant in the Master's service, he would not have felt so aggrieved, and it would not have hurt him. He should have left it with the Lord, whose servant he is, to fight his battles for him and vindicate his cause. He would then have received a precious reward finally for all his sufferings for Christ's sake.
I saw that my husband should not dwell upon the painful facts in our experience. Neither should he write his grievances, but keep as far from them as he can. The Lord will heal the wounds of the past if he will turn his attention away from them. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." When confessions are made by his brethren who have been wrong he should accept the confessions and generously, nobly, seek to encourage the one who has been deceived by the enemy. My husband should cultivate a forgiving spirit. He should not dwell upon the mistakes and errors of others, for in doing this he not only weakens his own soul, but he tortures the minds of his brethren who have erred, when they may have done all that they can do by confessions to correct their past errors. If God sees it necessary that any portion of their past course should be presented before them, that they may understand how to shun errors in future, he will do this work; but my husband should not trust himself to do it, for it awakens past scenes of suffering that the Lord would have him forget.
I was referred to the parable of the lost sheep. The ninety and nine sheep were to be left in the wilderness, and search instituted for the lost one that had strayed. When the lost sheep was found, the shepherd elevated the sheep to his shoulder and returned with rejoicing. He does not return censuring and murmuring at the poor, lost sheep for making him so much trouble, but his return with the burden of the sheep is with rejoicing.
And still greater demonstration of joy is demanded. Friends and neighbors are called to rejoice with the finder, "for I have found my sheep which was lost." The finding was the theme of rejoicing; the straying was not dwelt upon, for the joy of finding over-balanced the sorrow of the loss and the care, perplexity and peril, incurred in searching and restoring to safety the lost sheep. "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which needeth no repentance."
The lost piece of silver is designed to represent the erring, straying sinner. The carefulness of the woman to find the piece of lost silver, is to teach the followers of Christ a lesson in regard to their duty to those erring and straying from the path of right. The woman lighted the candle to increase her light, and then swept the house, and sought diligently till she found it.
Here the duty of Christians is clearly defined toward those who need their help because of their straying from God. The erring one is not to be left in his darkness and error; but every available means is to be used to bring him again to the light. The candle is lighted. The word of God is searched for clear points of truth, with earnest prayer for heavenly light to meet the case of the ones enshrouded in darkness and unbelief, that they may be fortified with arguments from the word of God, threatenings, reproofs, and encouragements, that these cases may be reached. Indifference or neglect will meet the frown of God.
When the woman found the silver she called her friends and her neighbors together, saying, "Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
If angels of God rejoice over the erring who see their error and confess their wrongs, and return to the fellowship of their brethren, how much more should the followers of Christ, who are themselves erring, and who need forgiveness of God, and of their brethren, every day, feel joy over the brother or sister who has been deceived by the enemy and taken a wrong course, and become deceived by the sophistry of Satan, and suffered for their error.
Instead of holding them off, they should meet them where they are. Instead of finding fault with them because they are in the dark, they should light their own lamp by obtaining more divine grace and a clearer knowledge of Scripture, and dispel the darkness by the light they bring to them. And when they succeed, and the erring feel their error and submit to follow the light, gladly should they be received, and not with a spirit of murmuring or an effort to press upon them their exceeding crime, which had called forth extra exertion, anxiety, and wearisome labor.
If the pure angels of God hail the event with joy how much more should their brethren, who have themselves needed sympathy, love, and help, when they have erred and have in their darkness not known how to help themselves.
My attention was called to the parable of the prodigal son. He made a request that his father should give him his portion of the estate. He desired to separate his interest from his father, and manage his share as best suited his own inclination. His father complied with the request, and the son selfishly withdrew from his father, that he might not be troubled with his counsel, reproofs, or advice.
The son thought he should be happy when he could use his portion according to his own pleasure without being annoyed with advice or restraint. He did not wish to be troubled with mutual obligation. If he shared his father's estate, his father had claims upon him as a son. But he did not feel under any obligation to his generous father, but braced his selfish, rebellious spirit with the thought that a portion of his father's property belonged to him. He requested his share, when rightfully he could claim nothing, and should have had nothing.
After his selfish heart had received the treasure, of which he was so undeserving, he went his way at a distance from his father, that he might even forget that he had a father. He despised restraint, and was fully determined to have pleasure in any way and manner that he chose. After he had, by his sinful indulgences, spent all that his father gave him, the land was visited by a famine, and he felt pinching want, and he began to regret his sinful course of extravagant pleasure, for he was now destitute and needed the means he had squandered. He was obliged to come down from his life of sinful indulgence to the low business of feeding swine.
After the prodigal son had come as low as he could come he thought of the kindness and love of his father. He felt then the need of a father. His position of friendlessness and want he had brought upon himself through disobedience and sin, which had resulted in his separating himself from his father. He thought of the privileges and bounties of his father's house, that the hired servants of his father freely enjoyed, while he who had alienated himself from his father's house was perishing with hunger. He was humiliated through adversity, and decided to return to his father by humble confession. He was a beggar, destitute of comfortable, or even decent, clothing. He was wretched in consequence of privation, and was emaciated with hunger.
While at a distance from his home, his father sees the wanderer, and his first thought is of that rebellious son who had left him years before to follow a course of unrestrained sin. The paternal feeling is stirred. Notwithstanding all the marks of his degradation he discerned his own image. He did not wait for his son to come all the distance to him, but he hastened and met his son. He did not reproach him, but with the tenderest pity and compassion that he had in consequence of his own course of sin brought upon himself so much suffering, he hastens to give him proofs of his love and tokens of his forgiveness.
Although his son was emaciated and his countenance plainly indicated the dissolute life he had passed, and although he was clothed with beggar's rags and his naked feet were soiled with the dust of travel, the father's tenderest pity was excited as the son fell prostrate in humility before him. He did not stand back upon his dignity. He was not exacting. He did not array the past course of wrong and sin before his son to make him feel how low he had sunken.
The father lifted up his son and kissed him. He took the rebellious son to his breast, and he wrapped his own rich robe about the nearly naked form of his son. He took him to his heart with such warmth, and evinced such pity, if the son had ever doubted the goodness and love of his father, he could do so no longer. If he had a sense of his sin when he decided to return to his father's house, he had a much deeper sense of his ungrateful course as he was thus received.
His heart, before subdued, was now broken that he had grieved that father's love. The penitent, trembling son, who had greatly feared that he would be disowned, was unprepared for such a reception. He knew he did not deserve it. He acknowledged his sin in leaving his father. "I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." He begged only to be accounted as a hired servant. But the father requested his servants to pay especial tokens of respect, to clothe him as if he had ever been his own, obedient son.
The father made the return of his son an occasion of special rejoicing. The elder son in the field knew not that his brother had returned, but he heard the general demonstrations of joy and inquired of the servants what it all meant. It was explained that his brother had returned whom they thought dead, and his father had killed the fatted calf for him because he had received him again as from the dead.
The brother then was angry, and he would not go in to see or receive his brother. Ms indignation was stirred that this unfaithful brother who had left his father and thrown the heavy responsibilities upon him of fulfilling the duties which should be shared by both, should now be received with such honor. He had pursued a course of wicked profligacy, wasting the means his father had given him until he was reduced to want, while he had been faithfully performing the duties of a son, and now his profligate brother comes to his father's house and is received with respect and honor beyond anything he had ever received.
The father entreated his elder son to go and receive his brother with gladness because he is lost and is found, was dead in sin and iniquity, but is alive again, he has come to his moral senses and abhors his course of sin, but his eldest son pleads, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends; but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf."
He assured his son that he was ever with him, and all that he had was his, but it was right that they should show this demonstration of joy, for "thy brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found." This fact overbears all other considerations with the father, The lost is found, the dead is alive again.
This parable was given by Christ to represent the manner our Heavenly Father receives the erring and repenting. The Father was the one sinned against, yet he, in the compassion of his soul, all full of pity and forgiveness, meets the prodigal and shows his great joy that his son whom he believed to be dead to all filial affection, had become sensible of his great sin and his neglect, and had come back to his father, appreciating his love, and acknowledging his claims. He knew that the son who had pursued a course of sin and now repented, needed his pity and his love. He had suffered. He felt his need. He came to his father as the only one who could supply his great need.
The fact of his son's returning was a source of the greatest joy. The complaints of the elder brother were natural, but not right. Yet it is frequently the course brother pursues toward brother. There is too much effort to make them feel where they have erred, and keep reminding them of their error. These who have erred need pity, they need help, they need sympathy. They suffer in their feelings and are frequently desponding and discouraged. Above everything else, they need free forgiveness.
In the work done for the church at Battle Creek in the spring of 1870, there was not all that dependence upon God that the important occasion demanded. Brn. —— and —— did not fully make God their trust, and move in his strength, and with his grace, as they should.
When Bro. —— thinks a person is wrong, he is frequently too severe. He fails to exercise that compassion and consideration that he would have shown him under like circumstances. He is also in great danger of misjudging and erring in dealing with minds. It is the nicest work, and the most critical ever given to mortals, to handle minds. Those who engage in this work should have clear discernment, and good powers of discrimination. True independence of mind is an element entirely different from rashness. Independence, that is of that quality which leads to a cautious, prayerful, deliberate opinion, should be not easily yielded, until the evidence is sufficiently strong to make it certain that we are wrong. This independence will keep the mind calm, and unchangeable amidst the multitudinous errors which are prevailing, and will lead those in responsible positions to look carefully at the evidence on every side, and not be swerved by the influence of others, or by the surroundings, to form conclusions without intelligent and thorough knowledge of all the circumstances.
The investigation of cases in Battle Creek was very much after the order that a lawyer criticises a witness, and there was a decided absence of the Spirit of God. And there were a few united in this work who were active and zealous. Some were self-righteous and self-sufficient, and their testimonies were relied upon, and their influence swayed the judgment of Brn. —— and ——. Sister —— and sister —— were not received as members of the church because of some trivial deficiency. These brethren should have had judgment and discrimination to have seen that these objections were not of sufficient weight to keep those sisters out of the church. They both had been long in the faith, and had been true to the observance of the Sabbath for eighteen or twenty years.
Sister ——, who brought up these things, should have urged more weighty reasons against herself, why she should not have become a member of the church. Was she without sin? Were all her ways perfect before God? Was her patience, her self-denial, her gentleness, and forbearance, and calmness of temper, perfect? If she was without the weaknesses of common women, then she could cast the first stone. But these sisters who were left out of the church were beloved of God. They were worthy of a place in the church. These were dealt with unwisely, without a sufficient cause, and there were others whose cases were handled with no more heavenly wisdom, or without even sound judgment. Bro. ——'s judgment and power of discrimination have been perverted for very many years through the influence of his wife, who has been a most effective medium of Satan. If Bro. —— had possessed the genuine quality of independence, he would have had a proper self-respect, and with becoming dignity built up his own house. If he has started upon a course designed to command respect in his family, he has generally carried the matter too far, and has been severe, and has talked harshly and overbearing. He would become conscious of this after a time, and then go to the opposite extreme and come down from his independence.
In this state of mind he receives reports from his wife, gives up his judgment, and would be easily deceived by her intrigues. She would sometimes feign to be a great sufferer, and would relate what she endured of neglect from her brethren, and privation in the absence of her husband. Her prevarications and cunning artifices to abuse the mind of her husband have been great. Bro. —— has not fully received the light in times past which the Lord has given him in regard to his wife, or he would not have been deceived by her as he has. He has been brought into bondage many times by her spirit, because his own heart and life have not been fully consecrated to God. His feelings kindled against his brethren and he oppressed them. Self has not been crucified. He should seek earnestly to bring all his thoughts and feelings into subjection to the obedience of Christ. Faith and self-denial would have been Bro. ——'s strong helpers. If he had girded on the whole armor of God, and chosen no other defense than that which the Spirit of God and the power of truth gives him, he would have been strong in the strength of God.
But Bro. —— is weak in many things. If God required him to expose and condemn a neighbor, to reprove and correct a brother, and resist and destroy his enemies, this would be to him a comparatively natural and easy work. But a warfare against self, subduing the desires and the affections of his own heart, searching out and controlling the secret motives of the heart, is a more difficult warfare. How unwilling to be faithful in such a contest as this. The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, and being clothed with humility, possessing that love that is pure, peaceable, and easy to be entreated, full of gentleness and good fruits, is not an easy attainment. And yet it is his privilege and his duty to be a perfect overcomer here. The soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in knowledge and true holiness. The holy life and character of Christ is a faithful example. His confidence in his Heavenly Father was unlimited. His obedience and submission were unreserved and perfect. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister to others. He came not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him. In all things he submitted himself to Him that judgeth righteously; and from the lips of the Saviour of the world was heard these words, "I can of my own self do nothing."
He became poor, and made himself of no reputation. He was hungry, and frequently thirsty, and many times weary in his labors, and he had not where to lay his head. When the damp, cold shades of night gathered about him, frequently the earth was his bed. He blessed those who hated him. What a life! what an experience! Can we, the professed followers of Christ, cheerfully endure privation and suffering, as did our Lord, without murmuring? Can we drink of the cup, and be baptized with the baptism? If so, we may share with him in his glory, in his heavenly kingdom. If not, we shall have no part with him.
Bro. —— has an experience to gain, without which his work will do positive injury. He is affected too much by what others tell him of the erring, and he is apt to decide according to the impressions made upon his mind, and he deals with severity when a milder course would be far better. He does not bear in mind his own weakness, and how hard it is for him to have his course questioned, even when he is wrong.
When Bro. —— decides in his judgment that a brother or sister is wrong, he is inclined to carry the matter through, and press his censure, although in doing so he hurts his own soul, and endangers the souls of others. Bro. —— should shun church trials, and should have nothing to do in settling difficulties, if he can possibly avoid them. He has a valuable gift, which is needed in the work of God. But he should separate himself from influences which draw upon his sympathies, and confuse his judgment, and lead him to move unwisely. This should not and need not be. Bro. —— exercises too little faith in God. He dwells too much upon his bodily infirmities, and strengthens unbelief by dwelling upon poor feelings. God has strength and wisdom in store for those who seek for it earnestly, in faith believing.
I was shown that Bro. —— is a strong man upon some points, while upon other points he is as weak as a child. His course in dealing with the erring has had a scattering influence. Bro. —— has confidence in his ability to labor in setting things in order where he thinks it is needed, but he does not view the matter aright. He weaves into his labors his own spirit, and he does not discriminate, but often deals without tenderness. There is such a thing as overdoing the matter in doing strict duty to individuals. "And of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
Duty, stern duty has a twin sister, which is kindness. If duty and kindness are blended, there will be decided advantage gained; but if duty is separated from kindness, and there is not mingled with duty tender love, there will be a failure, and much harm will be the result. Men and women will not be driven. Many can be won by kindness and love. Bro. —— has held aloft the gospel whip, and his own words have frequently been the snap to that whip, which has not had the influence to spur others to greater zeal, and provoke to good works; but has aroused their combativeness to repel his severity.
If Bro. —— had walked in the light he would not have made so many serious failures. "If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." The path of obedience is the path of safety. "He that walketh uprightly walketh surely." Walk in the light and then shalt thou walk in thy way safely and thy foot shall not stumble. Those who do not walk in the light will have a sickly and stunted religion. Bro. —— should feel the importance of walking in the light however crucifying to self. It is earnest effort prompted by love for souls which strengthens the heart, and develops the graces.
Bro. —— is naturally independent and self-sufficient. He estimates his ability to do more highly than will bear. Bro. ——, you pray for the Lord to humble you, and fit you for his work, and when the Lord answers your prayer, and puts you under a course of discipline necessary for the accomplishment of the object, you frequently give way to doubts and despondency, and think you have reasons for discouragements. You frequently think Bro. —— is restraining you, when he has cautioned and held you back from engaging in church difficulties.
I was shown your labors in Iowa. There was a decided failure to gather with Christ. You distracted, confused, and scattered, the poor sheep. You had a zeal, but it was not according to knowledge. Your labors were not in love, but in sternness and severity. You were exacting and overbearing. You did not strengthen the sick and bind up the lame. Your injudicious harshness pushed some out of the fold who can never be reached and brought back. Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Words unfitly spoken are the reverse. Their influence will be like desolating hail.
Bro. ——, you have felt restless under restraint because Bro. —— has cautioned, advised, and reproved you. You have thought that if you could be free and act yourself, you could do a good and great work. But your wife's influence has greatly injured your usefulness. You have failed to command your household after you. You have not ruled well your own house. You have thought you understood how to manage your home matters. But how have you been deceived. You have too often followed the promptings of your own spirit, which has resulted in perplexities and discouragements which have clouded your discernment and weakened you spiritually, so that your labors have been marked with great imperfections.
The labors of Brn. —— and ——in —— were premature. These brethren had their past experience with its mistakes before them, which should have been sufficient to guard them from engaging in a work which they were not qualified to perform. There was enough that needed to be done. —— was a hard place to raise up a church. Opposing influences surrounded them. Every move made should have been with due caution and prayerful consideration.
These two brethren had been warned and reproved repeatedly for moving injudiciously, and they should not have taken the responsibilities upon themselves that they did. Oh how much better would it have been for the cause of God in —— if they had been laboring in new fields. Satan's seat is in ——, as well as in other wicked cities; and he is a wily foe to contend with. There were disorderly elements among Sabbath-keepers in —— that —— were hindrances to the cause. But there is a proper time to speak and act, a golden opportunity which will show the best results of labor put forth.
If things had been left to more fully develop before they were touched, there would have been a separation of the disorderly, unconsecrated ones, and there would not have been an opposition party. This should ever be saved if possible. The church might better suffer much annoyance and exercise the more patience than to get in a hurry, drive matters, and provoke a combative spirit. Those who really loved the truth for the truth's sake, should have pursued their course with the glory of God in view, and let the light of truth shine out before all.
They might expect that the elements of confusion and dissatisfaction among them would make them trouble. Satan would not remain quiet and see a company raised up in —— to vindicate truth, and dispel sophistry and error. His ire would be kindled, and he institute a war against those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. But this should not have made the faithful believers impatient or discouraged. These things should have the influence to make the true believer more guarded, watchful, and prayerful¯more tender, pitiful, and loving, to those who are making so great a mistake in regard to eternal things. As Christ has borne and continues to bear with our errors, our ingratitude, and our feeble love, so should we bear with those who test and try our patience. Shall the followers of the self-denying, self-sacrificing Jesus be unlike their Lord? Christians should have hearts of kindness and forbearance.
Christ presented before his hearers the parable of the gospel sower, which contains a lesson we should study. Those who preach present truth and scatter the good seed will realize the same results as the gospel sower. All classes will be affected more or less by the presentation of pointed and convincing truth. Some will be wayside hearers. They will be affected by the truths spoken, but they have not cultivated the moral powers. They have followed inclination rather than duty. Evil habits have hardened their hearts like the hard, beaten road. These may profess to believe the truth, but will have no just sense of its sacredness and elevated character. They do not separate from the friendship of the lovers of pleasure and corrupt society. They place themselves where they are constantly tempted, and may well be represented by the unfenced field. They invite the temptations of the enemy and finally lose the regard they seemed once to have for the truth when the good seed was dropped into their hearts.
Some are stony-ground hearers. They readily receive anything new and exciting. The word of truth they receive with joy. And with ardor and zeal they talk earnestly in reference to their faith and hope, and may even administer reproof to those of long experience for some apparent deficiency or for their lack of enthusiasm. But when they are tested and proved by the heat of trial and temptation, when the pruning-knife of God is applied, that they may bring forth fruit unto perfection, their zeal dies, their voice is silent. No longer do they boast in the strength and power of truth. This class are controlled by feelings. They have not depth and stability of character. Principle does not reach down deep, underlying the springs of action. They have in word exalted the truth, but are not doers of that word. The seed of truth has not rooted down below the surface. The heart has not been renewed by the transforming influence of the Spirit of God. And when the truth calls for working men and women, when sacrifices have to be made for the truth's sake, they are somewhere else; and when trials and persecution come, they fall away because they have no deepness of earth. The truth, plain, pointed, and close, is brought to bear upon the heart, and reveals the deformity of character. Some will not bear this test, but frequently close their eyes to their imperfections, although their consciences tell them that the words spoken by the messengers of God, which bears so closely upon their Christian characters, are truth; yet they will not listen to the voice. They are offended because of the word, and yield the truth rather than to submit to be sanctified through the truth. They flatter themselves that they may get to Heaven an easier way.
Still another class is represented in the parable. Men and women who listen to the word are convinced of the truth, and accept it without seeing the sinfulness of their hearts. The love of the world holds a large place in their affections. In their deal, they love to get the best of the bargain. They prevaricate, and by deception and fraud gain means which ever will prove as a thorn to them; for it will over-balance their good purposes and intentions. The good seed sown in their hearts is choked. They frequently are so anxious and full of care, fearing they shall not gain means, or shall lose what they have gained, they make their temporal matters primary. They do not nourish the good seed. They do not attend meetings where their hearts can be strengthened by religious privileges. They fear they shall meet with some loss in temporal things; and the deceitfulness of riches leads them to flatter themselves that it is duty to toil and gain all they can, that they may help the cause of God; and yet the more they increase in their earthly riches the less is their heart inclined to part with their treasure, until their hearts are fully turned from the truth they loved. The good seed is choked because overgrown with unnecessary worldly cares and needless anxiety¯with love for earthly pleasures and worldly honors which riches give.
Another parable Jesus presents to his disciples¯the field wherein good seed was sown, and, while sleeping, the enemy sowed tares. The question was asked the householder, "Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?" "He said unto him, An enemy hath done this." "The servant said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn." If faithfulness and vigilance had been preserved, if there had been no sleeping or negligence upon the part of any, the enemy would not have had so favorable an opportunity to sow tares among the wheat. Satan never sleeps. He is watching, and improves every opportunity to set his agents to scatter error, which finds good soil in many unsanctified hearts.
The sincere believers of truth are made sad, and their trials and sorrows greatly increased, by the elements among them which annoy, dishearten, and discourage, them in their efforts. But the Lord teaches a lesson to his servants of great carefulness in all their moves. Let both grow together. Do not forcibly pull up the tares, lest in rooting them up, the precious blades will become loosened. The ministers and church should be very cautious, lest they get a zeal not according to knowledge. There is danger of doing too much to cure difficulties in the church which, if let alone, frequently work their own cure. It is bad policy to take hold of matters in any church prematurely. We shall have to exercise the greatest care, patience, and self-control, to bear these things and not go to work in our own spirit to set things in order.
The work done in —— was premature, and caused an untimely separation in that little church. If the servants of God could have felt the force of our Saviour's lesson in the parable of the wheat and tares, they would not have undertaken the work they did. It should always be a matter of the most careful consideration and prayer before steps are taken which will give even those who are utterly unworthy the least occasion to complain of being separated from the church. Steps were taken in —— which created an opposition party. Some were wayside hearers, others were stony-ground hearers. And still others were of that class who receive the truth while the heart had a growth of thorns, which choked the good seed, and those would never have perfected Christian character. But, there were a few that might have been nourished and strengthened, and become settled and established in the truth, but the positions taken by Brn. —— and —— brought a premature crisis, and then there was a lack of wisdom and judgment in managing the faction.
If persons are as deserving to be separated from the church as Satan was of being cast out of Heaven, they will have sympathizers. There is always a class who are more influenced by individuals than they are controlled by the Spirit of God and sound principles; and they are, in their unconsecrated state, ever ready to take up upon the wrong side, and give their pity and sympathy to the very ones who least deserve it. These sympathizers have a powerful influence with others, and things are seen in a perverted light, and great harm is done, and many souls ruined. Satan, in his rebellion, took a third part of the angels. They turned from the Father and from his Son, and united with the instigator of rebellion. With these facts before us, we should move with the greatest caution. What can we expect in our connection with men and women with peculiar minds but trials and perplexity. We must bear this, and avoid the necessity of rooting up the tares, lest the wheat be rooted up also.
In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace. The trials to which Christians are subjected in sorrow, adversity, and reproach, are the appointed means of God to separate the chaff from the wheat. Our selfishness, love of worldly pleasure, evil passions, and pride, must be all overcome, and therefore God sends us afflictions to test and prove us, and show us that these evils exist in our characters; and we must, through his strength and grace, overcome, that we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. "For our light affliction," says Paul, "which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." Afflictions, crosses, temptations, adversity, and our varied trials, are God's workmen to refine us, sanctify us, and fit us for the heavenly garner.
The harm done to the cause of truth by premature moves can never be fully repaired. The cause of God in —— has not advanced as it might, and will not stand in as favorable light before the people as before this work was done. There are frequently persons among us whose influence seems to be but a cipher on the right side. Their lives seem to be useless; but let them become rebellious and combative, and they become zealous workmen for Satan. This work is more in accordance with the feelings of the natural heart. There is great need of self-examination and secret prayer. God has promised wisdom to those who ask him. Missionary labor is frequently entered into by those unprepared for the work. Outward zeal is cultivated while secret prayer is neglected. When this is the case, much harm is done, for these laborers seek to regulate others' consciences by their own rule. Self-control is much needed. Hasty words stir up strife. Bro. —— is in danger of indulging in a spirit of sharp criticism. This does not become ministers of righteousness.
Bro. —— you have much to learn. Your failures and your discouragements you have been inclined to charge to Bro. ——; but close investigation of your motives and of your course of action would reveal other causes which exist in yourself for these discouragements. Following the inclinations of your own natural heart brings you into bondage. Your severe and torturing spirit which you sometimes indulge in cuts off your influence. Bro. ——, you have a work to do for yourself which no other can do for you. Each must give an account of himself to God. God has given us his law as a mirror into which we may look and discover the defects in our character. This mirror into which we are to look is not for the purpose of seeing our neighbor's faults reflected, for us to watch to see if he comes up to the standard, but to see the defects in ourselves, that we may remove these defects. Knowledge is not all that we need. We must follow the light. We are not left to choose for ourselves, and to obey that which is agreeable to us, and disobey to suit our convenience. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
AT the camp-meeting in Vermont, in 1870, I felt urged by the Spirit of God to bear a plain testimony relating to the duty of aged and wealthy parents in the disposition of their property. I had been shown that some men, shrewd, prudent, and sharp, in regard to the transaction of business generally; men distinguished for promptness and thoroughness, manifest a want of foresight, and promptness in regard to a proper disposal of their property while they are living. They know not how soon their probation may close, yet they pass on from year to year with their business unsettled, and finally their life frequently closes without their having the use of their reason. Or they may die suddenly, without a moment's warning, and their property is disposed of in a manner that they would not have approved. These are guilty of negligence. They are unfaithful stewards.
Christians who believe the present truth should manifest wisdom and foresight. They should not leave the disposition of their means, expecting a favorable opportunity to adjust their business during a long illness. They should have their business in a shape where, if they were called at any hour to leave it, and have no voice in its arrangement, it may be settled as they would have had it were they alive. Many families have been robbed of all their property dishonestly, and have been subjected to poverty, because work that might have been well done in an hour, had been neglected. Those who make their wills should not spare pains or expense to obtain legal advice, and to have them drawn up in a manner to stand the test.
I saw that those who profess to believe the truth should show their faith by their works. They should, with the unrighteous mammon, make friends, that they may finally be received into everlasting habitations. God has made men stewards of means. He has placed in the hands of stewards, money to carry forward the great work of the salvation of souls for whom Christ left his home, his riches, his glory, and became poor, that he might, by his own humiliation and sacrifice, bring many sons and daughters of Adam to God. God, in his providence, has ordained that the work in his vineyard should be sustained by the means intrusted in the hands of his stewards. A neglect on their part to answer the calls of the cause of God in carrying forward his work, shows them to be unfaithful and slothful servants.
I had been shown some things in reference to the cause in Vermont, but more especially at Bordoville and vicinity. The following is from testimony No. 20: "There is a work to be accomplished for many who live at Bordoville. I saw that the enemy was busily at work to carry his points. Men, to whom God has intrusted talents of means, have shifted the responsibility which Heaven has appointed them, of being stewards for God, upon their children. Instead of their rendering to God the things that are God's, they claim all that they have as their own, as though by their own might, and power, and wisdom, they had obtained their possessions.
"Some put their means beyond their control, into the hands of their children. Their secret motives are, to place themselves in a position where they will not feel responsible to give of their property to spread the truth. These love in word, but not in deed and in truth. It is the Lord's money they are handling, not their own. They do not see this.
"Parents should have great fear in intrusting children with the talents of means that God has placed in their hands, unless they have the surest evidence that their interest in, and love for, and devotion to, the cause of God is greater than that which they themselves possess, and that these children will be more earnest and zealous in forwarding the work of God, and be more benevolent than themselves in carrying forward the various enterprises in connection with the work which calls for means. But many place their means in the hands of their children, thus throwing upon them the responsibility of their own stewardship, because Satan prompts them to do it. In doing this, many have placed means effectually in the enemy's ranks. Satan has worked the matter to suit his own purpose, to keep from the cause of God means which it needed, that it might be abundantly sustained.
"Many who have made a high profession of faith are deficient in good works. If they should show their faith by their works, they could exert a powerful influence on the side of truth. But they do not improve upon their talents of means lent them of God. Those who think to ease their consciences by willing their means to their children, or by withholding from God's cause, and suffering their means to pass into the hands of unbelieving, reckless children, for them to squander, or hoard up and worship, will have to render an account to God, because they are unfaithful stewards of their Lord's money. They allow Satan to outgeneral them through these children whose minds are controlled by the power of Satan. Satan's purposes are accomplished in many ways, while the stewards of God are stupefied, and seem paralyzed, and do not realize their great responsibility and the reckoning which must shortly come."
I was shown that the probation of some in the vicinity of —— was soon to close, and it was important that their work should be finished to God's acceptance, that in the final settlement they should hear the "Well done," from the Master. I was shown the inconsistency of those who profess to believe the truth withholding their means from the cause of God, that they may leave it for their children. Many fathers and mothers are poor in the midst of abundance. They abridge, in a degree, their own personal comforts, and frequently deny themselves those things necessary for the enjoyment of life and health, while they have ample means at their command. They feel, as it were, forbidden to appropriate their means for their own comfort or for charitable purposes. They have one object before them, which is to save property to leave for their children. This idea is so prominent, so interwoven with all their actions, that children learn to look forward to this property finally to be theirs. They depend on it. And this prospect has an important, but not a favorable, influence upon their characters. Some become spendthrifts, others, selfish and avaricious. Some are indolent and reckless. Many do not cultivate habit of economy. They do not seek to become self-reliant. They are aimless, and have but little stability of character. The impressions received in childhood and youth are wrought in the texture of character and become the principle of action in mature life.
Those who have become acquainted with the principles of the truth, should follow the word of God closely as their guide. They should render to God the things that are God's. I was shown that several in Vermont were making a great mistake in regard to appropriating means that God has intrusted to their keeping. They were overlooking the claims of God upon all that they have. Their eyes were blinded by the enemy of righteousness, and they were taking a course which would result disastrously for themselves and their dear children.
Children were influencing their parents to leave their property in their hands, for them to appropriate according to their judgment. With the light of God's word, so plain and clear in reference to money lent to the stewards, and the warnings and reproofs through testimony which God has given them in regard to the disposition of means, children who in a direct or indirect way influence the parents to divide while living, or will their property mainly to them to come into their hands after their death, with this light before them, take upon themselves fearful responsibilities. Children of aged parents who profess to believe the truth should in the fear of God counsel, advise, and entreat their parents to be true to their profession of faith, and take a course in regard to their means which God can approve. Parents should lay up for themselves treasures in Heaven, by appropriating their means themselves, to advance the cause of God. They should not rob themselves of their heavenly treasure by leaving a surplus of means to those who have enough, and rob the treasury of God and deprive themselves the precious privilege of laying up for themselves a treasure in the Heavens that faileth not.
I stated at the camp-meeting that property willed principally to children while none is appropriated to the cause of God, or, if any, a meager pittance, unworthy to be mentioned, this property inherited by the children would frequently prove a curse to them. It would be a source of temptation, and a door open where they will be in danger of falling into many dangerous and hurtful lusts. Parents should exercise the right God has given them. He intrusted to them the talents he would have them use to his glory. The children were not to become responsible for the talents of the father. Parents should, while they are of sound mind and judgment, with prayerful consideration and with the help of proper counsellors who have experience in the truth and a knowledge of the divine will, make disposition of their property. If they have children afflicted or struggling in poverty who will make a judicious use of means, they should be considered. If they have unbelieving children who have abundance of this world and who are serving the world, they commit a sin against the Master who has made them his stewards to place means in their hands merely because they are children. God's claims are not to be lightly regarded.
And it should be distinctly understood that because parents have made their will, this will not prevent them from giving means to the cause of God while they live. This they should do. They should have the satisfaction here, and the reward hereafter, of disposing of their surplus means while they live. They should do their part to advance the cause of God. They should use the means lent of the Master to carry on the work in his vineyard, which needs to be done.
The love of money lies at the root of nearly all the crimes committed in the world. Fathers who selfishly retain their means to enrich their children, and do not see the wants of the cause of God and relieve them, make a terrible mistake. The children whom they think to bless with their means are cursed with it.
Money left to children frequently becomes a root of bitterness. They often quarrel over the property left them, and seldom are all satisfied with the disposition made by the father, in case of a will. And instead of the means left exciting gratitude and reverence for his memory, it is dissatisfaction, murmuring, envy, and disrespect.
Brothers and sisters who were at peace with one another are sometimes made at variance, and family dissensions are often the result of inherited means. Riches are desirable only as a means of supplying present wants and of doing good to others. But inherited riches oftener become a snare to the possessor than a blessing. Parents should not seek to have their children encounter the temptations to which they expose them in leaving them means which they made no effort to earn themselves.
I was shown that some children professing to believe the truth would in an indirect manner influence the father to keep his means for his children instead of appropriating it, while he was alive, to the cause of God. Those who have influenced the father to shift his stewardship upon them, little know what they are doing. They are gathering upon themselves double responsibility, that of balancing the father's mind, that he did not fulfill the purpose of God in the disposition of the means lent him of God, to be used to his glory, and the additional responsibility of becoming stewards of means that should have been put out to the exchangers by the father, that the Master could have received his own with usury.
Many parents make a great mistake in placing their property out of their hands into the hands of their children while they are themselves responsible for the use or abuse of the talents lent them of God. Neither parents nor children are made happier by this transfer of property. And the parents, if they live a few years even, generally regret this action on their part. Parental love in their children is not increased by this course. The children do not feel increased gratitude and obligation to their parents for their liberality. A curse seems to lay at the root of the matter, which only crops out in selfishness on the part of the children, and unhappiness and miserable feelings of cramped dependence on the part of the parents.
If parents, while they live, assist their children to help themselves, it would be better than to leave them a large amount at their death. Children who are left to rely principally upon their own exertions make better men and women, and are better fitted for practical life, than those children who have depended upon their father's estate. The children left to depend upon their own resources will generally prize their abilities, and will improve their privileges, and cultivate and direct their faculties to accomplish a purpose in life. They will frequently develop characters of industry, and frugality, and moral worth which lie at the foundation of success in the Christian life. Those children for whom parents do the most, frequently feel under the least obligation toward them. The errors of which we have spoken have existed in ——. Parents have shifted their stewardship upon their children.
I appealed, at the camp-meeting at ——, in 1870, to those who had means as faithful stewards of God to use their means in the cause of God, and not leave this work for their children. It was their work which God had left them to do, and when the Master should call them to account, they could as faithful stewards render back to him that which he had lent them, both principal and interest.
Brn. S., C., and S., were presented before me. These men were making a mistake in regard to the appropriation of their means. Some of their children were influencing them in this work, and were gathering upon their souls responsibilities that they were ill-prepared to bear. They were opening a door, and inviting the enemy to come in with his temptations to harass and destroy them. Bro. S.'s two youngest sons were in great danger. They were associating with individuals of a stamp of character which would not elevate, but would debase them. The subtle influence of these associations was gaining an imperceptible influence over these young men. The conversation and deportment of evil companions were of that character to separate these young men from the influence of their sisters and their sisters' husbands. While speaking upon this subject at the camp-meeting, I felt deeply. I knew the persons were before me whom I had seen in vision. I urged upon those who heard me, the necessity of thorough consecration to God. I called no names, for I was not permitted to do this. I was to dwell upon principles, appeal to the hearts and consciences, and give those who professed to love God and keep his commandments an opportunity to develop character. God would send them admonitions and warning, and if they really desired to do his will, they had an opportunity. Light was given, and then we were to wait and see if they would come to the light.
I left the camp-meeting with a burden of anxiety upon my mind in reference to the persons whose danger I had been shown. In a few months, news reached us of Bro. C.'s death. His property was left to his children. Last December, we had an appointment to hold meetings in Vermont. My husband was indisposed, and could not go. In order to save too great a disappointment, I consented to go to Vermont in company with sister Hall. I spoke to the people with some freedom, but our conference meetings were not free. I knew that the Spirit of the Lord could not have free course until confessions were made, and there was a breaking of heart before God. I could not keep silent. The Spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I related briefly the substance of what I have written. I called the names of some present who were standing in the way of the work of God.
The result of leaving property to children by will, and also of parents shifting the responsibility of their stewardship upon children while the parents were living, had been verified before them. Covetousness had led Bro. C.'s sons to pursue a wrong course, especially his son ——. I labored faithfully relating the things which I had seen in reference to the church, especially the sons of Bro. C. One of these brothers, himself a father, was corrupt in heart and life, a reproach to the precious cause of present truth. His low standard of morals was corrupting to the youth.
The Spirit of the Lord came into the meetings, and humble confessions were made by some, accompanied by tears. After the meeting, I had an interview with the youngest sons of Bro. S. I plead with them, and entreated them for their souls' sake to turn square about, and break away from the company of those who were leading them on to their ruin, and seek for the things which make for their peace. While pleading for these young men, my heart was drawn out after them, and I longed to see them submit to God. I prayed for them, and urged them to pray for themselves. We were gaining the victory. They were yielding. The voice of each was heard in humble, penitential prayer, and I felt that indeed the peace of God rested upon us. Angels seemed to be all around us, and I was shut up in a vision of God's glory. The state of the cause at —— was again shown me. I saw that some had backslidden far from God. The youth were in a state of backsliding.
I was shown that the two youngest sons of Bro. S. were naturally good-hearted, conscientious young men, but Satan had blinded their perception. Their companions were not all of that class which would strengthen and improve their morals, or increase their understanding and love for the truth and heavenly things. "One sinner destroyeth much good." Their ridicule and corrupt conversation had had its effect to dispel serious and religious impressions. It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which would occupy time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and ruin.
It is dangerous to be conversant with those whose minds naturally take a low level. Imperceptibly those naturally conscientious and loving purity will gradually come to the same level, and partake of, and sympathize with, the imbecility and moral barrenness which it is so constantly brought in contact with. It was important that the associations of these young men should change. Evil communications corrupt good manners. Satan worked through agents to ruin these young men. Nothing could work more effectually to prevent or banish serious impressions and good desires than association with vain, careless, and corrupt-minded persons, whatever attractions such persons may possess by their wit, sarcasm, and fun, the fact that they treat religion with levity and indifference is sufficient reason why they should be discarded. The more engaging they are in other respects, the more should this influence be dreaded as companions, because they throw around an irreligious life so many dangerous attractions.
These young men should choose for their associates those who love the purity of truth, whose morals are untainted, and whose habits are pure. They must comply with the conditions laid down in the word of God if they would indeed become sons of God, members of the royal family, children of the Heavenly King. Come out from among them, and be separate, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you. God loves these young men, and if they will follow the leadings of his Spirit and walk in his counsel, he will be their strength.
God has given Bro. —— —— good abilities, quick perception, and a good understanding of his word. He could, if his heart was sanctified, have an influence for good with his brothers, as well as his neighbors, and those with whom he associates. But the love of money has taken so firm a hold of his soul, which has been carried out in all the transactions of life, that he has become conformed to the world, instead of being transformed, by the renewing of the mind. His powers have been perverted and debased by sordid love of gain, which has made him selfish, penurious, and overbearing. If his qualities had been put in active use in his Master's service, rather than to selfishly serve his own interest, had his object and aim been to do good and glorify God, the qualities of mind God had given him would impart to his character an energy, and efficiency, and humility which could not fail to command respect, and would give him an influence over all with whom he associated.
I was shown that the property left by the father had indeed been a root of bitterness to his children. Their peace and happiness, and confidence, in each other were greatly disturbed by it. —— —— did not need his father's property. He had enough talents to handle that God had intrusted to his management. If he made a right disposition of that which he had he would at least be among that number who were faithful in that which is least. The addition of the stewardship of his father's property, which he had covetously desired, was a heavier responsibility than he could well manage.
For several years the love of money has been rooting out the love of humanity and the love of God. And as the means of his father was within his reach, he desired to retain all that was possible in his own hands. He pursued a selfish course toward his brothers, because he had the advantage and could do so. His brothers have not had right feelings. They have felt bitter toward this brother. He had in deal advantaged himself to the disadvantage of others until his course has reproached the cause of God. He lost command of himself. His greatest object was gain, selfish gain. The love of money in the heart was the root of all this evil. I was shown that had —— —— turned his powers to labor in the vineyard of the Lord, he would have done much good; but these qualifications perverted can do a great deal of harm.
The brothers B. have not had the help they ought to have had. A. C. B. has labored to great disadvantage. He has taken too many burdens upon him, which has crippled his labors so that he has not increased in spiritual strength and courage as he should. The church, who have the light of truth, and should stand in God strong to will, and do, and sacrifice, if need be, for the truth's sake, have been like weak children. They have required the time and labor of Bro. A. C. B. to settle difficulties which should never have existed. And when they have arisen, because of selfishness and unsanctified hearts, they could have been put away in an hour had there been humility and a spirit of confession.
The brothers B. make a mistake in remaining at ——. They should change their location, and not see —— oftener than a few times in the year. They would have greater freedom in bearing their testimony. These brethren have not felt freedom to speak out truth and facts as they existed. If they had lived elsewhere, they would have been more free from burdens, and their testimony would have had tenfold more weight when they should visit the church at ——. While brother A. C. B. has been weighed down with petty church trials, and kept at ——, he should have been laboring abroad. He has served tables until his mind has become clouded, and he has not comprehended the force and power of the truth. He has not been awake to the real, wants of the cause of God. He has been losing spirituality and courage. The work of keeping up Systematic Benevolence has been neglected. Some of the brethren, whose whole interest has once been in the advancement of the cause of God, have been growing selfish and penurious, instead of being more self-sacrificing, and their devotion and love for the truth increasing. They have been growing less devotional, and more like the world. Father B. is one of this number. He needs a new conversion. Brother B. has been favored with superior privileges, and if these are not improved, condemnation and darkness will follow equal to the light he has had, for the non-improvement of the talents lent of God for him to improve.
The brethren in Vermont have grieved the Spirit of God, in allowing their love for the truth and their interest in the work of God to decline.
Bro. D. T. B. overtaxed his strength last season, in laboring in new fields with the tent, without suitable help. God does not require brother D., or any of his servants, to injure their health by exposure and taxing labor. The brethren at —— should have felt an interest that would have been shown by their works. They could have secured help if they had been awake to the interest of the cause of God, and felt the worth of souls. While brother D. was feeling a deep sense of the work of God and the value of souls, which called for continual effort, a large church at —— was holding brother A. from helping his brother by their petty difficulties. These brothers should come up with renewed courage, shake themselves from the trials and discouragements which have held them at ——, and crippled their testimony, and they should claim strength from the Mighty One. They should have borne a plain, free testimony to Brn. S. and C., and urged the truth home, and done what they could to have these men make a proper distribution of their property. Brother A., in taking so many burdens, is lessening his mental and physical strength.
If Bro. —— ——, for a few years past, had been walking in the light, he would have felt the value of souls. Had he been cultivating a love for the truth, he might have been qualified to teach the truth to others. He might have helped Bro. B. in his work with the tent. He might, at least, have taken the burdens of the church at home. If he had love for his brethren, and was sanctified through the truth, he could have been a peacemaker, instead of a stirrer-up of strive, which, united with other difficulties, called Bro. A. from his brother's side at a most important time, which resulted in Bro. D.'s laboring far beyond his strength. And yet, after Bro. D. had done all that he could, the work was not accomplished that might have been, had there been the interest there should have been in —— to supply help when it was so much needed. A fearful responsibility rests upon that church for their neglect of duty.
I was shown that the result of Bro. S.'s course in dividing his property among his children was shifting the responsibility upon them which he should not have laid off. He now sees that the result of this course has brought to him no increase of affection from his children. They have not felt under obligation to their parents for what they have done for them. These children were young and inexperienced. They were not qualified to bear the responsibilities laid upon them. Their hearts were unconsecrated, and true friends were looked upon by them as designing enemies, while those who would separate very friends were accepted. These agents of Satan were continually suggesting to the minds of these young men false ideas, and hearts of brothers and sisters, father, mother, and children, were at variance.
Father S. made a mistake. Had he confided more in his daughters' husbands, who loved the truth in sincerity, and had he been more willing to have been helped by the advice of these men of experience, great mistakes might have been prevented. But this is the way the enemy generally succeeds in managing matters in regard to the appropriation of means.
These cases mentioned were designed of God to be developed, that all may see the deceitfulness of riches upon the heart. The result in these cases, which is apparent to all, should prove a warning to fathers and mothers, and to ambitious children. Covetousness, the word of God defines as idolatry. It is impossible for men and women to keep the law of God and love money. The heart's affections should be placed upon heavenly things. Our treasure should be laid up in Heaven; for where our treasure is there will our heart be also.
The following spelling/typesetting mistakes are left as in the original:
"Your are" should be "You are"
"strive" should be "strife"