Foreword: this Foreword and Contents written October, 2001 (updated 2021) by Daniel Winters; email@example.com
This page has numbers 4, 5, 6, and 7 in a series of 33 Testimonies to the Church written by Seventh-day Adventist co-founder, Ellen White, that were published over the years from 1855 to 1889. These are the original Testimonies, most of which were compiled into the familiar 9-volume Testimony books in later years, some of which were changed in the 9-volume set, and some parts were just left out.Contents:
Young Sabbath-keepers.Number Five.
ANSWER TO PRAYER.Number Six.
SLACKNESS REPROVED.Number Seven.
GREAT DISTRESS COMING, AND GOD'S PEOPLE NOT PREPARED FOR IT
AUGUST 22, 1857, at the house of prayer in Monterey, I was shown that many have not yet heard the voice of Jesus, and the saving message has not taken hold of the soul, and worked a reformation in the life.
Many of the young, I saw, have not the Spirit of Jesus. The love of God is not in their hearts, therefore all the natural besetments hold the victory instead of the Spirit of God and salvation.
Those who really possess the religion of Jesus, will not be ashamed nor afraid to bear the cross before those who have more experience than they have. They will, if they earnestly long to be right, desire all the help from older Christians they can get. Gladly will they be helped by them; and a heart that is warmed by love to God will not be hindered by trifles in the Christian course. They will talk out what the Spirit of God works in. They will sing it out, pray it out. It is the lack of religion, lack of holy living, that makes the young backward. Their life condemns them. They know they do not live as Christians should, therefore they have not confidence toward God, or before the church.
Why the young feel more liberty when the older ones are absent, is, they are with those of their kind.Each think they are as good as the other. All fail of the mark, but measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, and have neglected the only perfect and true standard. Jesus is the true pattern. His self-sacrificing life is our example.
I saw how little the Pattern was studied, how little exalted before them. How little do the young suffer, or deny self, for their religion! To sacrifice is scarcely thought of among them. They entirely fail of imitating the Pattern in this respect. I saw that this was the language of their lives, Self must be gratified, pride must be indulged. They forget the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief. The sufferings of Jesus in Gethsemane, his sweating as it were great drops of blood in the garden, the platted crown of thorns that pierced his holy brow, do not move them. They have become benumbed. Their sensibilities are blunted, and they have lost all sense of the great sacrifice made for them. They can sit and listen to the story of the cross, the cruel nails that were driven through the hands and feet of the Son of God. It does not stir the depths of the soul.
Said the angel, "If such should be ushered into the city of God, and told that all its rich beauty and glory was theirs to enjoy eternally, they would have no sense of how dearly that inheritance was purchased for them. They would never realize the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. They have not drank of the cup, nor been baptized with the baptism. Heaven would be marred if such should dwell there. Those only who have partaken of the sufferings of the Son of God, and have come up through great tribulation, have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, can enjoy the indescribable glory and unsurpassed beauty of Heaven.
The want of this necessary preparation will shut out the greatest portion of the young professors, for they will not labor earnestly and zealously enough to obtain that rest that remains for the people of God. They will not honestly confess their sins, that they may be pardoned and blotted out. These sins in a short time will be revealed in just their enormity. God's eye does not slumber. He knows every sin that is hidden from mortal eye. The guilty know just what sins to confess, that their souls may be clean before God.
I saw that Jesus was now giving them opportunity to confess, to repent in deep humility, and purify their lives by obeying and living out the truth. I saw that now was the time for wrongs to be righted, sins to be confessed, or appear before the sinner in the day of God's wrath.
I saw that parents generally put too much confidence in their children, and often when their parents are confiding in them, they are in concealed iniquity. Parents, watch your children with a jealous care. Exhort, reprove, counsel them when you rise up, and when you sit down; when you go out, and when you come in; "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little." Subdue your children when they are young. With many parents this has been sadly neglected.
I saw that many parents do not take as firm and decided a stand as they should in regard to their children. They suffer them, and (by so doing) encourage in their children a disposition to be like the world, to love dress, and associate with those that hate the truth, whose influence is poisonous.
I saw that in Christian parents there should always be a fixed principle with them to be united in the government of their children. I saw there was a fault in this respect with some parents-a lack of union. The fault is sometimes with the father, but oftener with the mother. The fond mother pets and indulges her children. The father's labor calls him from home often, and from the society of his children. The mother's influence tells. Her example does much toward forming the character of the children.
Some fond mothers suffer wrongs in their children, which should not be suffered in them for a moment. The wrongs of the children are sometimes concealed from the father. Articles of dress or some indulgence is granted by the mother, with the understanding that the father is to know nothing about it; for he would reprove for these things.
Here is a lesson of deception effectually taught the children. Then if the father discovers these wrongs, vain excuses are made, and but half the truth told. The mother is not open-hearted. She does not consider as she should that the father has the same interest in the children as herself, and that he should not be kept ignorant of their wrongs or besetments that ought to be corrected while young. Things have been covered. The children know the lack of union in their parents. It has its effect. The children begin young to deceive, cover up, tell things in a different light from what they are, to their mother, as well as their father. Exaggeration becomes habit. Blunt falsehoods are told with but little conviction or reproof of conscience.
These wrongs commenced by the mother's concealing things from the father, who has a mutual interest in the character his children are forming. The father should have been consulted freely. All should have been laid open to him. But the opposite course taken to conceal and hide the wrongs of the children, encourages in them a disposition to deceive, a lack of truthfulness and honesty.
The only hope of these children, whether they profess religion or not, is to be thoroughly converted. Their whole character must be changed. Thoughtless mother, do you know, as you teach your children, that their whole religious experience is affected by their teaching when young? Subdue them young; teach them to submit to you, and the more readily will they learn to yield obedience to the requirements of God. Encourage in your children a truthful, honest disposition. Let them never have occasion to doubt your sincerity and exact truthfulness.
I saw that the young profess, but do not enjoy, the saving power of God. They lack religion, lack salvation. And oh! the idle, unprofitable words they speak. There is a faithful, fearful record kept of them, and mortals will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. Young friends, your deeds and your idle words are written in the book. Your conversation has not been on eternal things, but upon this, that, and the other-common, worldly conversation that Christians should not engage in. It is all written in the book.
I saw that unless there is an entire change in the young, a thorough conversion, they may despair of Heaven. From what has been shown me there is not more than half of the young who profess religion and the truth, who have been truly converted. If they had been converted, they would bear fruit to the glory of God. Many are leaning upon a supposed hope without a true foundation.
The fountain is not cleansed, therefore the streams proceeding from that fountain are not pure. Cleanse the fountain, and the streams will be pure. If the heart is right, your words, your dress, your acts, all will be right. True godliness is lacking. I would not dishonor my Master so much as to admit that a careless, trifling, prayerless person is a Christian. No; a Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions. There is a remedy for the sin-sick soul. That remedy is in Jesus. Precious Saviour! his grace is sufficient for the weakest; and the strongest must also have his grace, or perish.
I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacob like, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus in the garden sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray, you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can, and will, appear in you.
God forbid that I should cease to warn you. Young friends, seek the Lord with all your heart. Come with zeal, and when you sincerely feel that without the help of God, you perish; when you pant after him as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, then will the Lord strengthen you speedily. Then will your peace pass all understanding. If you expect salvation, you must pray. Take time. Be not hurried and careless in your prayers. Beg of God to work in you a thorough reformation, that the fruits of his Spirit may dwell in you, and you shine as lights in the world. Be not a hinderance or curse to the cause of God; you can be a help, a blessing. Does Satan tell you that you cannot enjoy salvation, full and free? Believe him not.
I saw it was the privilege of every Christain to enjoy the deep movings of the Spirit of God. A sweet, heavenly peace will pervade the mind, and you will love to meditate upon God and Heaven. You will feast upon the glorious promises of his word.
But know first that you have begun the Christian course. Know that the first steps are taken in the road to everlasting life. Be not deceived. I fear, yea, I know, that many of you know not what religion is. You have felt some excitement, some emotions; but you have never seen sin in its enormity. You have never felt your undone condition, and turned from your evil ways with bitter sorrow. You never have died to the world. You still love its pleasures; you love to engage in conversation on worldly matters. But when the truth of God is introduced, you have nothing to say. Why so silent? Why so talkative upon worldly things, and so silent upon the subject that should most concern you? a subject that should engage your whole soul? The truth of God does not dwell in you.
I saw that many are fair in their profession, but within is corruption. Deceive not yourselves, false-hearted professors. God looks at the heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The world, I saw, is in the heart of such; but the religion of Jesus is not there. If the professed Christian loves Jesus better than the world, he will love to speak of him, his best friend, in whom his highest affections are centered.
He came to their aid when they felt their lost and perishing condition. When weary and heavy laden with sin, they turned unto him. He removed their burden of guilt and sin, took away their sorrow and mourning, and turned the whole current of their affections. The things they once loved, they now hate; and the things they hated, they now love.
Has this great change taken place in you? Be not deceived. I would never name the name of Christ, or I would give him my whole heart, my undivided affections. I saw that we should feel the deepest gratitude that Jesus will accept this offering. Jesus demands all. When we are brought to yield to his claims, and give up all, then, and not till then, will he throw around us his arms of mercy. But what do we give, when we give all? A sin-polluted soul to Jesus, to purify, to cleanse by his mercy, and save from death by his matchless love. And yet I saw that some thought it hard to give up all. I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.
Do we talk about self-denial? What did Christ give for us? When you think it hard that Christ requires all, go up to mount Calvary and weep there over such a thought. Behold the hands and feet of your Deliverer torn by the cruel nails, that you may be washed from sin by his own blood.
Those who feel the constraining love of God ask not how little may be given, in order to obtain the heavenly reward; they ask not for the lowest standard, but aim at perfect conformity to the will of their Redeemer. With ardent desire they will yield all, and manifest zeal proportionate to the value of the object they are in pursuit of. What is the object? Immortality, eternal life.
Young friends, many of you are sadly deceived. You have been satisfied with something short of pure and undefiled religion. I want to arouse you. The angels of God are trying to arouse you. Oh! that the important truths in the word of God may arouse you to a sense of your danger, and lead you to a thorough examination of yourself. Your heart is yet carnal. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. This carnal heart must be changed, and you see such beauty in holiness, that you will pant after it as the hart panteth after the water-brooks. Then you will love God, and love his law. Then the yoke of Christ will be easy, and his burden light. Although you will have trials, yet these trials, well borne, only make the way more precious. The immortal inheritance is for the self-denied Christian.
I saw that the Christian should not set too high a value, or depend too much upon a happy flight of feeling. These feelings are not always true. I saw that it should be the study of every Christian to serve God from principle, and not be ruled by feeling. By so doing, faith will be brought into exercise, and will increase. I was shown that if the Christian lives a humble, self-sacrificing life to God, peace and joy in the Lord will be the result. But the greatest happiness experienced, will be in doing others good, in making others happy. Such happiness will be lasting.
I have been shown that many of the young have not a fixed principle to serve God. They do not exercise faith. They sink under every cloud. They have no power of endurance. They do not grow in grace. They appear to keep the commandments of God. They pray now and then a formal prayer, and are called Christians. Their parents are so anxious for them, that they accept anything that appears favorable, and do not labor with them, and teach them that the carnal mind must die. They encourage the young to come along and act a part, but they fail to lead them to search their own hearts diligently, to examine themselves, and to count the cost of what it is to be a Christian. The young come along without sufficiently trying their motives, and profess to be Christians.
Says the True Witness, "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Satan is willing you should be a Christian in name, for you can suit his purposes better. You can have a form and not true godliness, and Satan can use you to decoy others in the same self-deceived way. Some poor souls look to you, instead of looking to the Bible standard. They come up no higher than you; they are as good as you, and are satisfied.
The young are often urged to do duty, to speak or pray in meeting; urged to die to pride. Every step they are urged. Such religion is worth nothing. Let the carnal heart be changed, and it will not be such drudgery, ye cold-hearted professors, to serve God; and all that love of dress and pride of appearance will be gone. The time that you spend standing before the glass, to prepare the hair, to please the eye, should be devoted to prayer and searching of heart. There will be no place for outward adorning in the sanctified heart; but there will be an earnest, anxious seeking for the inward adorning, the Christian graces, the fruits of the Spirit of God.
Says the apostle: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
Subdue the carnal mind, reform the life, and the poor, mortal frame will not be so idolized. If the heart is reformed, it will be seen in the outward appearance. If Christ be in us the hope of glory, we shall discover such matchless charms in him that the soul will be enamored. It will cleave to him, choose to love him, and in his admiration self will be forgotten. Jesus will be magnified, adored, and self abased and humbled.
But a profession, without this deep love, is mere talk, dry formality, and heavy drudgery. Many of you may retain a notion of religion in the head, an outside religion, when the heart is not cleansed. God looks at the heart; "all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Will he be satisfied with anything but truth in the inward parts? Every truly converted soul will carry the unmistakable marks that the carnal mind is subdued.
I speak plainly; I do not think this will discourage a true Christian; and I do not want any of you to come up to the time of trouble without a well-grounded hope in your Redeemer. Determine to know the worst of your case. Ascertain if you have an inheritance on high. Deal truly with your own soul. Remember that a church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, will Jesus present to his Father.
How are you to know that you are accepted of God? Study his word prayerfully. Lay it not aside for any other book. This book convinces of sin. It reveals plainly the way of salvation. It brings to view a bright and glorious reward. It reveals to you a complete Saviour, and teaches you that through his boundless mercy alone can you expect salvation.
Do not neglect secret prayer, for it is the soul of religion. With earnest, fervent prayer plead for purity of soul. Plead as earnestly, as eagerly, as you would for your mortal life, were it at stake. Remain before God until unutterable longings are begotten within you for salvation, and the sweet evidence is obtained of pardoned sin.
The hope of eternal life is not to be taken up upon slight grounds. It is a subject to be settled between God and your own soul; settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin. Since you are to stand or fall by the word of God, it is to that word you must look for testimony in your case. There you can see what is required of you to become a Christian. Do not lay off your armor, or leave the battlefield until you have obtained the victory, and triumph in your Redeemer.
The following view was given me at Ulysses, Penn., July 6, 1857. It relates to things as they have existed in Roosevelt, N. Y., and Oswego Co. in particular, also to other places in that State.
I have seen that there have been so many church trials among the brethren in the State of New York, that God has not had the least to do with, that the church have lost their strength, and they know not how to regain it. The love for one another has gone, and a fault-finding, accusing spirit has prevailed. It has been considered a virtue to hunt up everything about one another that looked wrong, and make it appear full as bad as it really was. The bowels of compassion that yearn in love and pity toward brethren, have not existed. The religion of some has consisted in fault-finding, picking at everything bearing the appearance of wrong, until the noble feelings of the soul are withered. The mind should be elevated to dwell upon eternal scenes, Heaven, its treasures, its glories, and should take sweet and holy satisfaction in the truths of the Bible. They should love to feed upon the precious promises that God's word affords, draw comfort from it, and the mind should be lifted above trifles to weighty, eternal things.
But, oh, how differently has the mind been employed! Picking at straws! Church meetings as they have been held, have been a living curse to many in New York. These manufactured trials have given full liberty to evil surmising. Jealousy has been fed. Hatred has existed, but they knew it not. A wrong idea has been in the minds of some, to reprove without love, hold others to their idea of what is right, and spare not, but bear down with crushing weight.
I saw that many in New York have had so much care for their brethren, to keep them straight, that they have neglected their own hearts. They are so fearful that their brethren will not be zealous, and repent, that they forget that they have wrongs which must be righted. With their own hearts unsanctified, they try to right their brethren. Now the only way the brethren and sisters in New York can rise, is to attend to their own individual cases, and each set his own heart in order. And if sin is plain upon a brother, breathe it not to another, but with love for the brother's soul, with a heart full of compassion, with bowels of mercies, tell him the wrong, then leave it upon the brother and the Lord. You have discharged your duty. You are not to pass sentence.
You have made it too light an affair to rein up a brother, condemn, and hold under condemnation. There has been a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. If all set their own hearts in order, when they meet together their testimony would be ready, and come from a full soul; and the people around that believe not the truth would be moved. The manifestation of the Spirit of God would tell to their hearts that you are the children of God. Our love for each other should be visible to all. It will tell. It will have influence.
I saw that the church in New York might rise. Individually take hold of the work in earnest, be zealous, and repent; and after all wrongs are righted that you have knowledge of, then believe that God accepts you. Go not mourning, but take God at his word. Seek him diligently, and believe that he receives you. A part of the work is to believe. He is faithful who has promised. Climb up by faith.
I saw in New York the brethren can arise as well as in other places; they can drink in the salvation of God. They can move understandingly, and all have an experience for themselves in this message of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. The church feel that they are down, but know not how to rise. The intentions of some may be very good; they may confess; yet, I saw that they were watched with suspicion, they were made an offender for a word, until they have no liberty, no salvation. They dare not act out the simple feelings of the heart, because they are watched. It is God's pleasure that his people should fear him, and have confidence before each other.
I saw that many have taken advantage of what God has shown in regard to the sins and wrongs of others. They have taken the extreme meaning of what has been shown in vision; and then have pressed it, until it has had a tendency to weaken the faith of many in what God has shown, and also to discourage and dishearten the church.
I was shown that with tender compassion should brother deal with brother. Delicately should he deal with feelings. And I saw that it is the most important work that ever yet was done, and the nicest point to touch the wrongs of another. With the deepest humility should a brother do this, considering his own weakness, lest he also be tempted.
I have seen the great sacrifice Jesus made to redeem man. He did not consider his own life too dear to sacrifice. Said Jesus, "Love one another as I have loved you." Do you feel when a brother errs that you could give your life to save him? If you feel thus, you can approach him and affect his heart. You are just the one to visit that brother; but it is a lamentable fact that many who profess to be brethren are not willing to sacrifice any of their opinions or their judgment to save a brother. There is but little love for one another. A selfish spirit has been manifested.
Discouragement has come upon the church. They have been loving the world, loving their farms, their cattle, &c. Now Jesus calls them to cut loose, to lay up treasure in Heaven, to buy gold, white raiment, and eye-salve. Precious treasures are these. They will obtain for the possessor an entrance into the kingdom of God.
The people of God must move understandingly. They should not be satisfied until every known sin is confessed; then it is their privilege and duty to believe that Jesus accepts them. They must not wait for others to press through the darkness and obtain the victory for them to enjoy. Such enjoyment will last only till the meeting closes. But there must be a serving of God from principle, instead of feeling. Morning and night obtain the victory for yourselves in your own family. Let not your daily labor keep you from this. Take time to pray, and believe as you pray that God hears you. Have faith mixed with your prayers. You may not feel the immediate answer at all times; then it is that faith is tried. You are proved to see whether you will trust in God, whether you have living, abiding faith. "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." Walk the narrow plank of faith. Trust all on the promises of God. Trust God in darkness. That is the time to have faith. But you often let feeling govern you. You look for worthiness in yourselves, when you do not feel comforted by the Spirit of God, and despair because you cannot find it. You do not trust enough in Jesus, precious Jesus. You do not make his worthiness to be all, all. The very best you can do will not merit the favor of God. It is Jesus' worthiness that will save you; his blood will cleanse you. But you have efforts to make. You must do what you can on your part. Be zealous, and repent; then believe.
Confound not faith and feeling together. They are distinct. Faith is ours to exercise. Believe, believe. Let your faith take hold of the blessing, and it is yours by faith. Your feelings have nothing to do with this faith. When faith brings the blessing to your heart, then you rejoice in the blessing. It is no more faith, but feeling.
The people of God in New York must steadily arise, and come out from the darkness, and let their light shine. They are standing right in the way of the work of God. They must let the message of the third angel do its work upon their hearts. God is dishonored by your long, faithless prayers. Look away from the unworthiness of self, and exalt Jesus. Talk of faith, of light, and Heaven, and you will have light, faith and love, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The following was addressed to two brethren, but being applicable to many, it is here given for the benefit of the church.
Dear brethren, in the vision given me at your place, I was shown something concerning you both. The angel pointed to you, and repeated these words: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares."
I saw that you both have a great conflict before you; you will have a constant warfare to keep this world out of your hearts. You love this world; now the great study must be with you, how to love Jesus and his service better than the world. If you love the world the most, your works will testify to the fact. If you love Jesus and his service most, your works will testify to that fact also. I saw that the gaze of many of this world is upon you. Many would exult in your downfall, others rejoice in your advancement. Satan and evil angels will present to you the glory of the kingdoms of this world. If you will worship him, or worship a worldly treasure, he will hold it up in every light to attract and lead you to love and worship.
Jesus and your guardian angels are pointing you above your farms, your cattle, and your earthly treasure, to the kingdom of Heaven, to an immortal inheritance, an eternal substance in the kingdom of glory.
Said the angel, "You must die to this world." "Love not the world, neither the THINGS that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
I saw that if in the providence of God, wealth has been acquired, there was no sin in possessing it; and if no opportunities presented themselves to use this means to advance the cause of God, there is no sin in still possessing it. But if opportunities are presented to use property to the glory of God and the advancement of his cause, and they withhold it, it will be a cause of their stumbling. In the day of trouble, that which was their hoarded treasure will be an offense unto them. Then all opportunities will be passed for using their substance to the glory of God, and they will cast it from them in anguish of spirit to the moles and to the bats. Their gold and silver cannot save them in that day. It falls upon them with crushing weight, that an account must be given of their stewardship, and what use they have made of their Lord's money. Self-love made them believe it was all their own, and that they might want it all; but they feel, bitterly feel then, and understand that their means was only lent them of God, to be freely handed to him again, in being used to advance his cause. Their riches deceived them. They felt poor, and lived for themselves, and at last find that the portion they might have used for God's cause is a terrible burden.
Said the angel of God, "Lay all upon the altar, a living, consuming sacrifice. Bind it with cords, if you cannot keep it there. Give yourselves to prayer. Live at the altar. Strengthen your purposes by the promises of God."
"Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the Heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth."
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven."
I saw that if God had given you wealth above the plainest and poorest, it should humble you, for it lays you under the greatest obligations. Where much is given, even of a worldly substance, much will be required. Upon this principle you are bound to possess noble, generous dispositions. Seek for opportunities to do good with what you have. "Lay up treasures in heaven."
I saw that the least that has been required of every Christian in past days, is to possess a spirit of liberality, and consecrate to the Lord a portion of all his increase. Every Christian has considered this a privilege. Some who have borne the name only, have considered it a task; but the grace and love of God had never wrought in them the good work, or they would gladly advance the cause of their Redeemer. But Christians in the last days, who are waiting for your Lord, God requires even more of you than this. He requires you to sacrifice.
Said the angel, "Jesus left a bright track for you to follow. Tread closely in his footsteps. Share his life of self-denial, his self-sacrificing life, and inherit with him the crown of glory."
At Monterey, Oct. 8, 1857, I was shown in vision that the condition of many Sabbath-keepers was like the young man who came to Jesus to know what he should do to inherit eternal life.
"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
"And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
"He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
"The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?
"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come and follow me.
"But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
"When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Matt. 19:16-26.
Jesus quoted five of the last six commandments to the young man, also the second great commandment on which the last six commandments hang. These mentioned, he thought he had kept. Jesus did not mention the first four commandments, containing our duty to God. In answer to the inquiry of the young man, "What lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven."
Here was his lack. He failed of keeping the first four commandments, also the last six. He failed of loving his neighbor as himself. Said Jesus, "Give to the poor." Jesus touches his possessions. "Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." In this direct reference he pointed out his idol. His love of riches was supreme, therefore it was impossible for him to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind. And this supreme love for riches shut his eyes to the wants of his fellow-men. He did not love his neighbor as himself, therefore he failed to keep the last six commandments. His heart was on his treasure. It was swallowed up with his earthly possessions. He loved his possessions better than God, better than the heavenly treasure. He heard the conditions from the mouth of Jesus. If he would sell and give to the poor, he should have treasure in Heaven. Here was a test of how much higher he prized eternal life than his riches. Did he eagerly lay hold of the prospect of eternal life? Did he earnestly strive to remove the obstacle that was in his way of having a treasure in Heaven? Oh, no! "he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."
I was pointed to these words, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Said Jesus, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Said the angel, "Will God permit the rich men to keep their riches, and yet they enter into the kingdom of God?" Said another angel, "No, never!"
I saw that it was God's plan that these riches should be used properly, and distributed to bless the needy and to advance the work of God. I saw that if men love their riches better than their fellow-men, better than God or the truth of his word, and their hearts are on their riches, they cannot have eternal life. They would rather yield the truth than sell and give to the poor. Here they are proved to see how much God is loved, how much the truth is loved, and like the young man in the Bible, many go away sorrowful, because they cannot have their riches and a treasure in Heaven too. They cannot have both. They venture to risk their chance of eternal life for a worldly possession.
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Then I saw that with God all things are possible. Truth set home to the heart by the Spirit of God, will crowd out the love of riches. The love of Jesus and riches cannot dwell in the same heart. The love of God so far surpasses the love of riches that the possessor breaks away from his riches and transfers his affections to God. And then he is led through his love to God to administer to the wants of God's cause. It is his highest pleasure to make a right disposition of his Lord's goods. Love to God and his fellow-men predominates, and he holds all that he has as not his own, and faithfully discharges his duty as God's steward. Then can he keep the first four commandments, and the last six. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." In this way it is possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
Here is the reward for those who sacrifice for God. They receive an hundred-fold in this life. But many, I saw, that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first. I was shown those who receive the truth, but do not live it. They cling to their possessions, and are not willing to distribute of their substance to advance the cause of God. They have no faith to venture and trust God. Their love of this world swallows up their faith. God has called for a portion of their substance, but they heed it not. They reason thus, that they have labored hard to obtain what they have, and they cannot lend it to the Lord, for they may come to want. "O ye of little faith!" That God who cared for Elijah in the time of famine, will not pass by one of his self-sacrificing children. He that has numbered the hairs of their heads, will care for them, and in days of famine they will be satisfied. While the wicked are perishing all around them for want of bread, their bread and water will be sure. Those who will still cling to their earthly treasure, and will not make a right disposition of that which is lent them of God, will lose their treasure in Heaven, lose everlasting life.
I saw that God in his providence has moved upon the hearts of some of those who have riches, and has converted them to the truth, that they with their substance may assist to keep his work moving. And if those who are wealthy will not do this, if they do not fulfill the purpose of God, he will pass them by, and raise up others to fill their place who will fulfill his purpose, and with their possessions gladly distribute to meet the necessities of the cause of God. In this they will be first. God will have those in his cause who will do this.
I saw that God could send means from Heaven to carry on his work; but this is out of his order. He has ordained that men should be his instruments, that as a great sacrifice was made to redeem them, they should act a part in this work of salvation, by making a sacrifice for each other, and by thus doing show how highly they prize the sacrifice that has been made for them.
I was directed to James 5: "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days."
I saw that these fearful words apply particularly to the wealthy who profess to believe the present truth. The Lord calls them to use their means to advance his cause. Opportunities are presented to them, but they shut their eyes to the wants of the cause, and cling fast to their earthly treasure. Their love of the world is greater than their love of the truth, the love of their fellow-men, or their love of God. He has called for their substance, but they selfishly, covetously, retain what they have. They give a little now and then to ease their consciences, but have not overcome their love for this world. They do not sacrifice for God. The Lord has raised up others that prize eternal life, that can feel and realize something of the value of the soul, and their means they have freely bestowed to advance the cause of God. The work is closing; the rich men have kept their riches, their large farms, their cattle, &c. Their means are not wanted then, and I saw the Lord turn to them in anger, in wrath, and repeat these words: "Go to now, ye rich men." He has called, but ye would not hear. Love of this world has drowned his voice. Now he has no use for you, and lets you go, bidding you, "Go to now, ye rich men."
Oh! I saw it was an awful thing to be let go by the Lord. A fearful thing to hold on to a perishable substance here, when he has told you, if you will sell and give alms, you can lay up treasure in Heaven.
I was shown that as the work was closing up, and the truth going forth in mighty power, these rich men will bring their means and lay them at the feet of the servants of God, begging them to accept them. The answer from the servants of God is, "Go to now, ye rich men. Your means are not needed. Ye withheld it when ye could do good with it in advancing the cause of God. The needy have suffered, they have not been blessed by your means. God will not accept your riches now. Go to now, ye rich men."
Then I was directed to these words: "Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth."
I saw that God was not in ALL the riches that have been obtained. Satan has much more to do with it than God. It has, much of it, been obtained by oppressing the hireling in his wages. The naturally covetous, rich man has obtained these riches by grinding down the hireling, and taking advantage of individuals where he could, and adding to his treasure here, that will eat his flesh as it were fire. A strictly honest, honorable course has not been taken by some. Such must work fast, and take a very different course to redeem the time.
I saw that many Sabbath-keepers are at fault here. Advantage is taken even of their poor brethren, and those who have of their abundance exact more than the real worth of things, more than they would pay for the same thing, while these same brethren are embarrassed and distressed for want of means. God knows all these things. Every selfish act, every covetous extortion, will bring its reward.
I saw it was cruel and unjust to have no consideration of a brother's situation. If he is distressed, or poor, yet doing the best he can, allowance should be made for him, and even the full value of the things he may purchase of the wealthy should not be exacted; but they should have bowels of compassion for him. God will approve of such kindly acts, and the doer will not lose his reward. But I saw a fearful account will stand against many Sabbath-keepers for close, covetous acts.
I was pointed back, and saw when there was but few that listened to, and embraced, the truth, they had not much of this world's goods. The wants of the cause were divided among a very few. Then there was a necessity for houses and lands to be sold and obtain cheaper to serve them as a shelter or home, while their means were freely and generously lent to the Lord, to publish the truth, and to otherwise aid in advancing the cause of God. As I beheld these self-sacrificing ones, I saw they had endured privation for the benefit of the cause. I saw an angel standing by them pointing them upward, and saying these words, "Ye have bags in heaven! Ye have bags in Heaven, that wax not old! Endure unto the end, and great will be your reward."
I saw that God had been moving on hearts. The truth that a few sacrificed so much for, in order to get it before others, has triumphed, and multitudes have laid hold of it. God has in his providence moved upon those that have means and has brought them into the truth, that as the work of God increases, the wants of the cause may be met. Much means are brought into the ranks of Sabbath-keepers.
I saw that at present God did not call for the houses his people have to live in, unless expensive houses are exchanged for cheaper ones. But if those who have of their abundance do not hear his voice, and cut loose from the world, and dispose of a portion of their property and lands, and sacrifice for God, he will pass them by, and call for those who are willing to do anything for Jesus, even to sell their homes to meet the wants of the cause. God will have a free-will offering. Those who give must esteem it a privilege to do so.
I have seen that some give of their abundance, but yet they feel no lack. They do not particularly deny themselves of anything for the cause of Christ. They still have all that heart can wish. They give liberally and heartily. God regards it, and the action and motive is known, and strictly marked by him. They will not lose their reward. You that cannot bestow so liberally, must not excuse yourselves, because you cannot do as much as some others. Do what you can. Deny yourselves of some article that you can do without, and sacrifice for the cause of God. Like the widow, cast in your two mites. You will actually give more than all those who have given of their abundance. And you will know how sweet it is to give to the needy, to deny self, and sacrifice for the truth, and lay up treasure in heaven.
I was shown that the young, especially young men, who profess the truth, have yet a lesson of self-denial to learn. I saw that if they made more sacrifice for the truth, they would esteem the truth more highly. It would affect their hearts, purify their lives, and they would hold it more dear and sacred.
I saw that the young do not take the burden, or feel the responsibility of the cause of God. Is it because God has excused them? Oh, no! I saw that they excuse themselves. They are eased, and others are burdened. They do not realize that they are not their own. Their strength, their time, are not their own. They are bought with a price. A dear Sacrifice was made for them, and unless they possess the spirit of self-denial, and sacrifice, they can never possess the immortal inheritance.
The following relates to the Battle Creek church, but describes the condition and privileges of brethren and sisters scattered abroad.
I saw that a thick cloud enveloped them, and that a few rays of light from Jesus pierced this cloud. I looked to see those who received this light, and saw individuals earnestly praying for victory. It was their study to serve God. Their persevering faith brought them returns. The light of Heaven was shed upon them; but the cloud of darkness over the church generally was thick. They were stupid and sluggish. My agony of soul was great. I asked the angel if that darkness was necessary. Said he, "Look ye!" I then saw the church begin to rise, and earnestly plead with God, and rays of light began to penetate this darkness, and the cloud was removed. The pure light of Heaven shone upon them, and with holy confidence their attention was attracted upward. Said the angel, "This is their privilege and duty."
Satan has come down in great power, knowing his time is short. His angels are busy, and a great share of the people of God suffer themselves to be lulled to sleep by him. The cloud again passed over and settled upon the church.
I saw that extra effort must be made, that the spell may be broken. It must be by earnest efforts and persevering prayer.
I saw that the alarming truths of the word of God had stirred the people of God a little. Now and then there would be feeble efforts made; but they soon tired, and sunk back into the same lukewarm state. I saw they did not have perseverance and fixed determination. Let the seeker possess the same energy and earnestness for the salvation of God that he would have for a worldly treasure, and the object would be gained. I saw that the church may drink of a full cup just as well as to hold an empty one in the hand or to the mouth.
I saw that it was not the plan of God to have some eased and others burdened. Some feel the weight and responsibility of the cause, and the necessity of their acting, that they may gather with Christ, and not scatter abroad. Others go on free from any responsibility. They act as though they had no influence. Such scatter abroad. God is not partial. All who are made partakers of his salvation here, and hope to share the glories of the kingdom hereafter, must feel the responsibility of their own cases, and for the influence they exert over others, and gather with Christ. If they maintain their Christian walk, Jesus will be in them the hope of glory, and they will love to speak forth his praise that they may be refreshed. The cause of their Master will be near and dear to them. It will be their study to advance his cause, and to honor it by holy living. Said the angel, "Every talent God will require with usury." Every Christian must go on from strength to strength, and employ all his powers in the cause of God.
Nov. 20, I was shown the people of God, and saw them mightily shaken. I saw some with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale, and marked with deep anxiety which expressed their internal struggle. There were firmness and great earnestness expressed in their countenances, while large drops of perspiration rose upon their foreheads, and fell. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God's approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look settled upon them.*1
Evil angels crowded around them, pressing their darkness upon them, to shut out Jesus from their view, that their eyes might be drawn to the darkness that surrounded them, and they distrust God, and next murmur against him. Their only safety was in keeping their eyes directed upward. Angels were having the charge over the people of God, and as the poisonous atmosphere from these evil angels was pressed around these anxious ones, the angels which had charge over them, were continually wafting their wings over them, to scatter the thick darkness that surrounded them.
Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left them, and went to the aid of those earnest, praying ones. I saw the angels of God hasten to the assistance of all who were struggling with all their energies to resist those evil angels, and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance. But the angels left those who made no effort to help themselves, and I lost sight of them.
As these praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, and encouraged their hearts and lighted up their countenances.
I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen. I was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. It will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver of the testimony, and it will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. This straight testimony some will not bear. They will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God's people.
I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs, has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance, and all that truly receive it, will obey it, and be purified.
Said the angel, "List ye!" Soon I heard a voice that sounded like many musical instruments, all sounding in perfect strains, sweet and harmonious. It surpassed any music I had ever heard. It seemed to be so full of mercy, compassion, and elevating, holy joy. It thrilled through my whole being. Said the angel, "Look ye!" My attention was then turned to the company I had seen before, who were mightily shaken. I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping and praying with agony of spirit. I saw that the company of guardian angels around them had doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, firm like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, shone now with the glory and light of Heaven. They had obtained the victory, and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude, and holy, sacred joy.
The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out and left by the way.*2 The careless and indifferent who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to agonize, persevere, and plead, for it, did not obtain it; and they were left behind in darkness, and their numbers were immediately made up by others' taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks. Still the evil angels pressed about them, but they could have no power over them.*3
I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth in great power. It had effect. I saw those who had been bound; some wives had been bound by their husbands, and some children had been bound by their parents. The honest who had been held or prevented from hearing the truth, now eagerly laid hold of the truth spoken. All fear of their relatives was gone. The truth alone was exalted to them. It was dearer and more precious than life. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, "It is the latter rain; the refreshing from the presence of the Lord; the loud cry of the third angel."
Great power was with these chosen ones. Said the angel, "Look ye!" My attention was turned to the wicked, or unbelievers. They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side. I saw measures taken against this company, who were having the power and light of God. Darkness thickened around them; yet there they stood, approved of God, and trusting in him. I saw them perplexed. Next I heard them crying unto God earnestly. Through the day and night their cry ceased not.*4 I heard these words, "Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify thy name, make a way of escape for thy people! Deliver us from the heathen round about us! They have appointed us unto death; but thine arm can bring salvation." These are all the words I can bring to mind. They seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness, and manifested entire submission to the will of God. Yet every one, without an exception, was earnestly pleading and wrestling like Jacob for deliverance.
Soon after they had commenced their earnest cry, the angels, in sympathy, would have gone to their deliverance. But a tall, commanding angel suffered them not. Said he, "The will of God is not yet fulfilled. They must drink of the cup. They must be baptized with the baptism."
Soon I heard the voice of God, which shook the heavens and the earth.*5 There was a mighty earthquake. Buildings were shaken down, and fell on every side. I then heard a triumphant shout of victory, loud, musical, and clear. I looked upon this company who, a short time before, were in such distress and bondage. Their captivity was turned. A glorious light shone upon them. How beautiful they then looked! All weariness and marks of care were gone. Health and beauty were seen in every countenance. Their enemies, the heathen round them, fell like dead men. They could not endure the light that shone upon the delivered, holy ones. This light and glory remained upon them, until Jesus was seen in the clouds of heaven, and the faithful, tried company were changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, from glory to glory. And the graves were opened, and the saints came forth, clothed with immortality, crying victory over death and the grave, and together with the living saints, were caught up to meet their Lord in the air; while the rich, musical shouts of glory and victory were upon every immortal tongue, and proceeding from every sanctified, holy lip.
*1 "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders. . . . Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them; wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?" Joel 2:15-17.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." James 4:7-10.
"Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Zeph. 2:1-3.
*2 "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew 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." Rev. 3:15-17.
*3 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. [Or, wicked spirits in heavenly places, as it reads in the margin.]
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Eph. 6:12-18.
*4 "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:7, 8; see also Rev. 14:14, 15.
*5 "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." Joel 3:16; see also Heb. 12:26; Rev. 16:17.
THE Lord has visited me again in great mercy. I have been greatly afflicted for a few months past. Disease has pressed me heavily. For years I have been afflicted with dropsy and disease of the heart. It has had a tendency to depress my spirits, and destroy my faith and courage. The message to the Laodiceans has not accomplished that zealous repentance with God's people I expected to see, and my perplexity of mind has been great. Disease seemed to make continual progress upon me, and I thought I must lie down in the grave. I had no desire to live, therefore could not take hold of faith and pray for my recovery. Often when I retired to rest at night, I realized that I was in danger of losing my breath before morning. In this state I fainted at midnight. Brn. Andrews and Loughborough were sent for, and earnest petitions were offered to God in my behalf. The depression and heavy weight were lifted from my aching heart, and I was taken off in vision, and saw these things which I present before you.
I saw that Satan had been trying to drive me to discouragement and despair, to make me desire death rather than life. I was shown that it was not God's will that I should now cease from the work, and lie down in the grave; for then the enemies of our faith would triumph, and the hearts of God's children would be made sad. I saw that I should often suffer anguish of spirit; that I should suffer much; yet I had the promise that those around me would encourage and help me, that my courage and strength might not fail while so fiercely buffeted by the Devil.
I saw that the testimony to the Laodiceans applied to God's people at the present time, and the reason it has not accomplished a greater work is because of the hardness of their hearts. But God has given the message time to do its work. The heart must be purified from sins which have so long shut Jesus out. This fearful message will do its work. When it was first presented it led to close examination of heart. Sins were confessed, and the people of God were stirred everywhere. Nearly all believed that this message would end in the loud cry of the third angel. But as they failed to see the powerful work accomplished in a short time, many lost the effect of the message. I saw that this message would not accomplish its work in a few short months. It was designed to arouse the people of God, to discover to them their backslidings, and to lead to zealous repentance, that they might be favored with the presence of Jesus, and be fitted for the loud cry of the third angel. As this message affected the heart, it led to deep humility before God. Angels were sent in every direction to prepare unbelieving hearts for the truth. The cause of God began to rise, and his people were acquainted with their position. If the counsel of the true Witness had been fully heeded, God would have wrought for his people in greater power.
The efforts made since the message has been given, have been blessed of God, and many souls have been brought from error and darkness to rejoice in the truth. I saw that God would prove his people. Patiently Jesus bears with them, and does not spue them out of his mouth in a moment. Said the angel, "God is weighing his people." If the message had been of as short duration as many of us supposed, there would have been no time for God's people to develop character. Many moved from feeling, not from principle and faith, and this solemn, fearful message stirred them. It wrought upon their feelings, excited their fears, but did not accomplish the work God designed that it should. God reads the heart. Lest his people should be deceived in regard to themselves, he gives them time for the excitement to wear off, and he proves them to see if they will obey the counsel of the true Witness.
God leads his people on step by step. He brings them up to different points which are calculated to manifest what is in the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advanced point the heart is tested, and tried a little closer. If the professed people of God find their hearts opposed to the straight work of God, it should convince them that they have a work to do to overcome, or be spued out of the mouth of the Lord. Said the angel, "God will bring his work closer and closer to test them, and prove every one of his people." Some are willing to receive one point, but when God brings them to another testing point, they shrink from it and stand back, because they find it strikes directly at some cherished idol. Here they have opportunity to see what is in their hearts that shuts out Jesus. They prize something higher than the truth, and their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved a length of time to see if they will sacrifice their idols, and heed the counsel of the true Witness. If they will not be purified through obeying the truth, and overcome their selfishness, their pride, and evil passions, the angels of God have their charge,-"They are joined to their idols, let them alone,"-and they pass on to their work, leaving them with their evil traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the true Witness, and they will be fitted for translation by the latter rain.
God proves his people in this world. This is the fitting up place to appear in his presence. Here in this world, in these last days, individuals will show what power affects their hearts, and controls their actions. If it is the power of divine truth, it will lead to good works. It will elevate the receiver, and make him noble-hearted and generous, like his divine Lord. But if the evil angels control the heart, it will be seen in various ways. The fruit will be selfishness, covetousness, pride, and evil passions. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Professors of religion are not willing to closely examine their own selves to see whether they are in the faith, and it is a fearful fact that many are leaning on a false hope. Some lean upon an old experience; but when brought down to this heart-searching time, when all should have a daily experience, they have nothing to relate. They seem to think a profession of the truth will save them. When those sins which God hates are subdued, Jesus will come in and sup with you, and you with him. You will then draw divine strength from Jesus, and you will grow up in him, and be able with holy triumph to say, Blessed be God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. It would be more pleasing to the Lord if lukewarm professors of religion had never named his name. They are a continual weight to those who would be faithful followers of Jesus. They are a stumbling-block to unbelievers, and evil angels exult over them, and taunt the angels of God with their crooked course. Such are a curse to the cause at home or abroad. They draw nigh to God with their lips, while their heart is far from him.
I was shown that the people of God should not imitate the fashions of the world. Some have done this, and are fast losing their peculiar, holy character, which should distinguish them as God's people. I was pointed back to God's ancient people, and then was led to compare their dress and apparel with the mode of dress in these last days. What a difference! What a change! Then the women were not so bold as now. When they went in public they covered their face with a vail. In these last days fashions are shameful and immodest. They are noticed in prophecy. They were first brought in by a class over whom Satan has entire control, who, "being past feeling (without any conviction of the Spirit of God), have given themselves over unto laciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." If God's professed people had not departed greatly from him, there would now be a marked difference between their dress and that of the world. The small bonnets, exposing the face and head, show a lack of modesty. The hoops are a shame. The inhabitants of earth are growing more and more corrupt, and the line of distinction must be more plain between them and the Israel of God, or the curse which falls upon worldlings will fall on God's professed people.
I was directed to the following scriptures. Said the angel, "They are to instruct God's people." 1 Tim. ii, 9, 10. "In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." 1 Peter iii, 3-5. "Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time, the holy women also who trusted in God, adorned themselves."
Young and old, God is now testing you. You are deciding your own eternal destiny. Your pride, your love to follow the fashions of the world, your vain and empty conversation, your selfishness, are all put in the scale, and the weight of evil is fearfully against you. You are poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. While evil is increasing and taking deep root, it is choking the good seed which has been sown in the heart, and soon the word will be spoken to the angels of God concerning you, as was given concerning Eli's house, that your sins shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever. Many, I saw, were flattering themselves that they were good Christians, who have not a single ray of light from Jesus. They know not what it is to be renewed by the grace of God. They have no living experience for themselves in the things of God. And I saw that the Lord was whetting his sword in heaven to cut them down. Oh! that every lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that God is about to make among his professed people. Dear friends, do not deceive yourselves concerning your condition. You cannot deceive God. Says the true Witness, "I know thy works." The third angel is leading up a people, step by step, higher and higher. At every step they will be tested.
I saw that many feel at liberty to use the means freely that is lent them of God, for their own convenience in fitting up pleasant homes here; but when they build a house in which to worship the great God, who inhabiteth eternity, they cannot afford to let the Lord have the use of the means he has lent them. Each is not striving to excel the other in showing his gratitude to God for the truth, by doing all he can to prepare a suitable place of worship; but some are trying to do just as little as possible; and they feel that their means is as good as lost which they spend in preparing a place for the Most High to visit them. Such an offering is lame, and not acceptable to God. I saw that it would be much more pleasing to God if his people would show as much wisdom in preparing a house for him, as they do in their own dwellings.
The sacrifices and offerings of the children of Israel were commanded to be without blemish or spot, the best of the flock, and every one of the children of Israel shared in that work. The work before us will be extensive. If you build a house for God, do not offend and limit him in casting in your lame offerings. Put the very best offering into a house built for God. Let it be the very best you have, and show an interest to have it convenient and comfortable. Some think time is so short it is no matter. Then carry out the same in your dwellings, and in all your worldly arrangements.
I saw that God could carry on his work without any of man's help; but this is not his plan. The present world is designed as a scene of probation for man. He is here to form a character which will pass with him into the eternal world. Good and evil are placed before him, and his future state depends upon the choice he makes. Christ came to change the current of his thoughts and affections. His heart must be cut off from his earthly treasure, and placed upon the heavenly. By his self-denial, God can be glorified. The great sacrifice has been made for man, and now man will be tested and proved to see if he will follow the example of Jesus, and make a sacrifice for his fellowman. Satan and his angels are combined against the people of God; but Jesus is seeking to purify them unto himself. He requires them to advance his work. God has deposited enough in this world among his people to carry forward his work, without embarrassment, and it is his plan that the means which he has entrusted to his people be used judiciously. Sell that ye have and give alms, is a part of God's sacred word. The servants of God must arise, cry aloud, and spare not, "Show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." The work of God is to be more extensive, and if his people follow his counsel, there will not be much means in their possession to be consumed in the final conflagration. All will have laid up their treasure where moth and rust cannot corrupt, and the heart will not have a cord to bind it to earth.
I was then shown that the parable of the talents has not been fully understood. This lesson of importance was given to the disciples for the benefit of Christians living in the last days. And these talents do not represent merely the ability to preach and instruct from the word of God. The parable applies to the temporal means which God has entrusted to his people. Those to whom the five and two talents were given, traded and doubled that which was committed to their trust. God requires of those who have their possessions here to put their money out to usury for him, to put it into the cause to spread the truth. And if the truth lives in the heart of the receiver, he also will aid with his substance in sending the truth to others, and through his efforts, his influence, and his means, other souls embrace the truth, and begin also to work for God. I saw that some of God's professed people are like the man who hid his talent in the earth. They keep their possessions and means from doing good to God's cause. They claim that it is their own, and that they have a right to do what they please with their own; and souls are not saved by any judicious effort they make with their Lord's money. As judgment passes upon the house of God, the angels keep a faithful record of every man's work, their sentence is recorded by their name, and the angel is commissioned to spare them not, but to cut them down at the time of slaughter. And that which was committed to their trust is taken from them. Their earthly treasure is then swept away, and they have lost all. And the crowns they might have worn, had they been faithful, are put upon the heads of those saved by the faithful servants whose means were constantly in use for God. And every one they have been the means of saving, adds stars to their crowns in glory, and increases their eternal reward.
I was also shown that the parable of the unjust steward was to teach us a lesson. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations." If we use our means to God's glory here, we lay up in Heaven a treasure, and when earthly possessions are all gone here, the faithful steward has Jesus and angels for his friends, to receive him home to everlasting habitations.
"He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much." He that is faithful in his earthly possessions, which is least, to make a judicious use of what God has lent him here, will be true to his profession. "He that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much." He that will withhold from God that which he has lent him, will be unfaithful in the things of God in every respect. "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" If we prove unfaithful in the management of what God lends us here, he will never give us the immortal inheritance. "And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" Jesus has purchased for us redemption. It is ours; but we are placed here on probation to see if we will prove worthy of eternal life. God proves us by entrusting us with earthly possessions. If we are faithful to freely impart of what he has lent us, to advance his cause, God can entrust to us the immortal inheritance. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." "If ye love the world, the love of the Father is not in you."
I saw that God was displeased with the slack, loose manner in which many of his professed people conduct their worldly business. They seem to lose all sense of the fact that the property they are using belongs to God, and they must render to him an account of their stewardship. Some leave their worldly business in perfect confusion. Satan has his eye on it all, and he strikes at a favorable opportunity, and by his management takes much means out of the ranks of Sabbath-keepers. And this means goes into his ranks. Some who are aged are unwilling to make any settlement of their worldly business, and in an unexpected moment they sicken and die. Their children who have no interest in the truth, take the property. Satan has managed it as it has suited him. "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" I saw the awful fact that Satan and his evil angels have had more to do with the management of the property of God's professed people, than the Lord has. Stewards of the last days are unwise. They suffer Satan to control their business matters, and get into his ranks what belongs to, and should be in, the cause of God. God takes notice of you, unfaithful stewards; he will call you to account. I saw that the stewards of God can by faithful, judicious management, keep their business in this world square, exact, and straight. And if they should be suddenly taken away, it is their privilege and duty, especially for the aged, feeble, and those who have no children, to have their means where it can be used in the cause of God. But I saw that Satan and his angels exult over their success in this matter. And those who should be wise heirs of salvation almost willingly let their Lord's money slip out of their hands into the enemy's ranks. In this way they strengthen Satan's kingdom, and seem to feel very easy about it!
I saw that God was displeased with his people for being surety for unbelievers. I was directed to these texts. Prov. xxii, 26. "Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are surety for debts." Prov. xi, 15. "He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it; and he that hateth suretyship is sure." Unfaithful stewards! They pledge that which belongs to another-their heavenly Father-and Satan stands ready to aid his children to wrench it out of their hands.
I saw that Sabbath-keepers should not be in partnership with unbelievers. God's people trust too much to the words of strangers, ask their advice and counsel, when they should not. The enemy makes them his agents, and works through them to perplex and take from God's people.
I was shown that some have no tact at wise management of worldly matters. They lack the qualifications, and Satan takes advantage of them. When this is the case, such should not remain in ignorance of their lack. They should be humble enough to counsel with their brethren, whose judgment they can have confidence in, before they carry out plans. I was directed to this text, "Bear ye one another's burdens." Some are not humble enough to let those who have judgment, calculate for them, until they have followed their own plans, and have involved themselves in difficulties. Then they see the necessity of having the counsel and judgment of their brethren; but how much heavier the burden then, than at the first. Brethren should not go to law, if it can be possibly avoided; for they give the enemy great advantage to entangle and perplex them. It would be better to make a settlement at some loss.
I saw that some of God's children have made a mistake in regard to oath-taking, and Satan has taken advantage of this to oppress them, and take from them their Lord's money. I saw that the words of our Lord, "Swear not at all," do not touch the judicial oath. "Let your communication be yea, yea; and nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil." This refers to common conversation. Some exaggerate in their language. Some swear by their own life. Others swear by their head. As sure as they live-as sure as they have a head-some take Heaven and earth to witness that such things are so. Some hope that God will strike them out of existence if what they are saying is not true. It is this kind of common swearing that Jesus warns his disciples against.
I was shown that we have men placed over us for rulers, and laws to govern the people. Were it not for these laws, the world would be in a worse condition than it is now. Some of these laws are good, and some bad. The bad have been increasing, and we are yet to be brought into straight places. But God will sustain his people in being firm, and living up to the principles of his word. Where the laws of men conflict with God's word and law, we are to obey the word and law of God, whatever the consequences may be. The laws of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey, and we must abide the consequences of the violation of this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful Master, and man has no right to take God's workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own.
I saw that the Lord yet has something to do with the laws of the land. While Jesus is in the sanctuary, God's restraining Spirit is felt by rulers and people. But Satan controls to a great extent the great mass in the world, and were it not for the laws of the land, we should experience great suffering. It was shown me that it was no violation of God's word, when it is actually necessary, for his children, when called upon to testify in a lawful manner, to solemnly take God to witness that what they say is the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Man is so corrupt that laws are made to throw the responsibility upon his own head. Some men do not fear to lie to their fellow-man; but they have been taught, and the restraining Spirit of God has impressed them, that it is a fearful thing to lie to God. The case of Ananias and Sapphira his wife, is given for an example. The matter is carried from man to God, so that if he bears false witness, it is not to man, but to the great God. He reads the heart and knows the exact truth in every case. Our laws make it a high crime to take a false oath. God has often visited the one who has taken the false oath, and even while the oath was on his lips, the destroying angel has cut him down. This was to prove a terror to evil-doers.
And I saw if there was any one on earth who could consistently testify under oath, it is the Christian. He lives in the light of God's countenance. He grows strong in his strength. And when matters of importance must be decided by law, there is no one who can so well appeal to God as the Christian. I was bid by the angel to notice that God sware by himself. Gen. xxii, 16; Heb. vi, 13, 17. He sware to Abraham, Gen. xxvi, 3, to Isaac, Ps. cv, 9; Jer. xi, 5, and to David, Ps. cxxxii, 11; Acts ii, 30. God required of the children of Israel an oath between man and man. Ex. xxii, 10, 11. Jesus submitted to the oath in the hour of his trial. The high priest said unto him, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said." If Jesus meant the judicial oath in his teachings to his disciples, he would have reproved the high priest, and there enforced his teachings for the good of his followers present.
Satan has been pleased to have some view oath-taking in a wrong light, for it has given him opportunities to oppress them, and take from them their Lord's money. The stewards of God must be more wise, lay their plans, and prepare themselves to withstand Satan's devices; for he is to make greater efforts than he has ever made.
Some, I saw, have a prejudice against our rulers and laws; but if it was not for law, this world would be in an awful condition. God restrains our rulers, for the hearts of all are in his hands. Bounds are set, beyond which they cannot go. Many of our rulers are those whom Satan controls; but I saw that God has his agents, even among the rulers; and some of them will yet be converted to the truth. They are now acting the part that God would have them. When Satan works through his agents, propositions are made that, if carried out, would impede the work of God, and would produce great evil. The good angels move upon these agents of God to oppose the propositions, with strong reasons, which Satan's agents cannot resist. A few of God's agents will have power to bear down a great mass of evil. Thus the work will go on until the third message has done its work, and at the loud cry of the third angel, these agents will have an opportunity to receive the truth, and some of them will be converted, and endure with the saints through the time of trouble. When Jesus leaves the most holy, his restraining Spirit is withdrawn from rulers and people. They are left to the control of evil angels. Then such laws will be made by the counsel and direction of Satan, that unless time should be very short, no flesh could be saved.
THE Lord has again visited me in mercy, in a time of bereavement and great affliction. December 23, 1860, I was taken off in vision, and was shown the wrongs of individuals which have affected the cause, and I dare not withhold the testimony from the church to spare the feelings of individuals.
I was shown the low state of God's people; that God had not departed from them; but that they had departed from God, and become lukewarm. They possess the theory of the truth, but lack its saving power. As we near the close of time, Satan comes down with great power knowing his time is short. Especially upon the remnant will his power be exercised. He will war against them, he will seek to divide and scatter them, that they may grow weak and be overthrown. The people of God should move understandingly; their efforts should be united. They should be of the same mind, of the same judgment; then their efforts will not be scattered, but will be of force, and tell in the upbuilding of the cause of present truth. Order must be observed, and there must be union in regard to order, or Satan will take advantage of them.
I was shown that the enemy would come in every way possible to dishearten the people of God, and perplex and trouble them, and that they should move understandingly and prepare themselves for the attacks of Satan. The matters of the church should not be left in an unsettled condition. Steps should be taken to secure church property for the cause of God, that the work may not be retarded in its progress, and that the means which persons wish to dedicate to God's cause, may not slip into the enemy's ranks. I saw that God's people should act wisely, and leave nothing undone on their part to place matters of the church in a secure state. Then after all is done that they can do, they should trust the Lord to overrule these things for them, that Satan take no advantage of God's remnant people. It is Satan's time to work, and a stormy future is before us, and the church should be awake to make an advance move that they may stand securely against Satan's plans. It is time that something was done. God is not pleased to have his people leave the matters of the church at loose ends, and suffer the enemy to have the whole advantage, and control affairs as best pleases him.
And while God's people are justified in a lawful manner to secure church property, they should be careful to maintain their peculiar and holy character. I saw that unconsecrated persons would take advantage of the position the church have recently taken, and will overstep the bounds, carry matters to extremes, and wound the cause of God. Some will move without wisdom or judgment, and engage in lawsuits that might be avoided, mingle with the world, partake of their spirit, and influence others to follow their example. One professed Christian who moves unadvisedly, does much harm to the cause of present truth. Evil takes root much more readily than good, and flourishes when good and right languish, unless they are carefully nourished.
I was pointed back and saw that in every important move, every decision made, or point gained, by God's people, there have been those who have arisen to carry matters to extremes, and to move in an extravagant manner, which has disgusted unbelievers and distressed God's people, and brought the cause of God into disrepute. The people whom God is leading out in these last days, will be troubled with just such things. But much evil will be avoided if the ministers of Christ will be of one mind, unite in effort, unite in their plans of action, sustain each other, stand together, and be faithful to reprove and rebuke wrong, which will soon cause it to wither. But Satan has controlled these matters very much. Private members, and even preachers, have sympathized with disaffected ones who have been reproved for their wrongs, and division of feeling has been the result. The one who has ventured out and faithfully met error and wrong, and discharged his disagreeable duty, is grieved and wounded that he receives not the fullest sympathy of his preaching brethren. He becomes discouraged in discharging such painful duties, lays down the cross and withholds the pointed testimony. His soul is shut up in darkness, and the church suffer for the lack of the very testimony God designed should live in the church. Satan's object is gained when the faithful testimony is suppressed. Those who so readily sympathize with the wrong, consider it a virtue, but they realize not that they are exerting a scattering influence, and that they themselves help to carry out Satan's plans.
I saw that many souls have been destroyed by their brethren unwisely sympathizing with them, when their only hope was to be left to see and realize the full extent of their wrongs. But as they eagerly receive the sympathy of unwise brethren, they receive the idea that they are abused; and if they attempt to retrace their steps, they make half-hearted work. They divide the matter to suit their natural feelings, lay blame upon the reprover, and so patch up the matter. It is not healed, it is not probed to the bottom, and they fall into the same wrong again, because they were not left to feel the extent of their wrong and humble themselves before God, and let him build them up. False sympathizers have worked in direct opposition to the mind of Christ and ministering angels.
Ministers of Christ should arise and engage in the work of God with all their energies. God's servants are not excused if they shun pointed testimony. They should reprove and rebuke wrong, and not suffer sin upon a brother.
I have been shown that parents generally have not taken a proper course with their children. They are not restrained as they should be. They are left to indulge in pride, and follow their own inclinations. Anciently parental authority was regarded, and children were in subjection to their parents. They feared and reverenced them; but the order in these last days is reversed. Some parents are in subjection to their children. They fear their children, and yield to them. They fear to cross the will of their children; but just as long as children are under the roof of their parents, dependent upon them, they should be subject to them. Parents should move with decision, requiring the following out of their views of right.
Eli might have restrained his wicked sons, but he feared their displeasure. He suffered them to go on in their rebellion, until they were a curse to Israel. Parents are required to restrain their children. The salvation of children depends very much upon the course pursued by their parents. In their mistaken love and fondness for their children, they indulge them to their hurt, nourish their pride, and put upon them trimmings and fixings which make them vain, and lead them to think that dress makes the lady or gentleman. But a short acquaintance convinces those with whom they associate that an outside appearance is not sufficient to hide the deformity of a heart void of the Christian graces, but filled with self-love, haughtiness, and uncontrolled passion. Those who love meekness, humility, and virtue, should shun such society, even if it be Sabbath-keepers' children. Their company is poisonous, their influence leads to death. Parents realize not the destructive influence of the seed which they are sowing. It will spring up and bear fruit which will make their children despise parental authority.
Children, even after they are of age, are required to respect, and look after the comforts of their parents. They should listen to the counsel of godly parents, and not feel because a few years are added to their life, that they have grown out of their duty to them. There is a commandment with promise to those who honor their father and their mother.
Children in these last days are so noted for their disobedience and disrespect, that God has especially noticed it, and it constitutes a sign that the end is near. It shows the power of Satan upon minds, and the almost complete control he has of the minds of the young. By many, age is no more respected. It is considered too old-fashioned to respect the aged, for it dates back as far as the days of Abraham. Says God, "I know him, that he will command his children and household after him." Anciently, children were not permitted to marry without the consent of their parents. Parents chose for their children. It was considered a crime for children to contract marriage upon their own responsibility. The matter was first laid before the parents, and they were to consider whether the person to be brought into a close relation to them was worthy, and whether the parties could provide for a family. It was considered by them of the greatest importance that they, the worshipers of the true God, should not intermarry with an idolatrous people, lest they lead their families away from God.
Even after their children were married, the most solemn obligation rested upon them. Their judgment then was not considered sufficient without the counsel of their parents, and they were required to respect and obey their wishes, unless they should conflict with their duty to God.
Again I was directed to the condition of children in these last days. Children are not controlled. Parents should commence their first lesson of discipline when their children are babes in their arms. Teach them to yield their will to yours. This can be done by bearing an even hand, and manifesting firmness. Parents should have perfect control over their own spirits, and with mildness, and yet firmness, bend the will of the child until it shall expect nothing else but to yield to their wishes.
Parents do not commence in season. The first manifestation of temper is not subdued, and the children grow stubborn, which increases with their growth, and strengthens with their strength. Some children, as they grow older, think it a matter of course that they must have their own way, and that their parents must submit to their wishes. They expect their parents to wait upon them. They are impatient of restraint, and when old enough to be a help to their parents, they do not bear the burdens they should. They have been released from responsibilities, and grow up worthless at home, and worthless abroad. They have no power of endurance; the parents have borne the burden, and have suffered them to grow up in idleness, without habits of order, industry, and economy. They have not been taught habits of self-denial, but have been petted and indulged, their appetites gratified, and they come up with enfeebled health. Their manners and deportment are not agreeable. They are unhappy themselves, and make those around them unhappy. And when the children are but children still, and while they need to be disciplined, they are allowed to go out in company, mingle with the society of the young, and one has a corrupting influence over the other.
The curse of God will surely rest upon unfaithful parents. Not only are they planting thorns which shall wound them here, but they must meet their own unfaithfulness when the judgment shall sit. Many children will rise up in judgment and condemn their parents for not restraining them, and charge upon them their destruction. The false sympathy and blind love of parents, causes them to excuse the faults of their children, and to pass them by without correction, and their children are lost in consequence, and the blood of their souls will rest upon unfaithful parents.
Children, who are thus brought up undisciplined, when they profess to be Christ's followers, have everything to learn. Their whole religious experience is effected by their bringing up in childhood. The same self-will often appears; the same lack of self-denial; the same impatience manifest under reproof; the same love of self, and unwillingness to seek counsel of others, or to be influenced by others' judgment; the same indolence, shunning of burdens, lack of bearing responsibilities, is seen in their relation to the church. It is possible for such to overcome, but how hard the battle! how severe the conflict! How hard to pass through a course of thorough discipline, which is necessary for them to reach the elevation of Christian character. Yet if they overcome at last, they will be permitted to see before they are translated how near the precipice of eternal destruction they came, caused by the lack of right training in youth, and by not learning submission in childhood.
I was pointed back to the children of Israel anciently. God required of them all a sacrifice, both poor and rich, according as he had prospered them. The poor were not excused because they had not the wealth of their rich brethren. They were required to exercise economy and self-denial, that they come not before the Lord empty-handed. And those who were so poor that it was utterly impossible for them to bring an offering to the Lord, if sickness or misfortune had deprived them of the ability to bestow, those who were wealthy were required to help them to a humble mite, that they come not before the Lord empty-handed. This arrangement preserved a mutual interest.
In the arrangement of Systematic Benevolence, some have not come up and united in this work, and have excused themselves because they were not free from debt. They plead that they must first "owe no man anything." But being in debt does not excuse them. I saw that they should render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things that are God's. Some feel conscientious to "owe no man anything," and think that God can require nothing of them until their debts are all paid. Here they deceive themselves. They fail to render to God the things that are God's. Every one must bring to the Lord a suitable offering. Those who are in debt should take the amount of their debts from what they possess, and give a proportion of the remainder.
Some have felt under sacred obligations to their children. They must give them each a portion, but feel themselves unable to raise means to aid the cause of God. They make the excuse that they have a duty to do to their children. This may be right, but their first duty belongs to God. Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to God the things that are God's. Rob not God by withholding from him your tithes and offerings. It is the first, sacred duty, to render to God a suitable proportion. Let no one throw in their claims and lead you to rob God. Let not your children steal your offering from God's altar for their own benefit.
I saw that anciently the covetousness of some led them to withhold a suitable proportion. They made their offering stinted, which was recorded in Heaven, and they were cursed in their harvest and their flocks just as they withheld. Some were visited with affliction in their families.
God would not accept a lame offering. It must be without blemish, the best of their flocks, and the best fruits of their fields. And it must be a free-will offering, if they would have the blessing of the Lord rest upon their families and their possessions.
The case of Ananias and Sapphira was presented before me to illustrate the course of those who put down their property below its value. They pretended to make a free-will offering of their possessions to the Lord. Said Peter, "Sold ye the land for so much?" The answer was, "Yea, for so much." Some in this evil age would not consider that a lie, but the Lord regarded it thus. They had sold it for so much, and much more. Their consecration was professedly made to God. To him they had dissembled, and their retribution lingered not.
I saw that in the arrangement of Systematic Benevolence hearts will be tested and proved. It is a constant, living test. It brings one to understand his own heart, whether the truth or the love of the world predominates. Here is a test for the naturally selfish and covetous. They will put down their possessions at very low figures. Here they dissemble. Said the angel, "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully." Angels are watching the development of character, and the doings of such are carried to heaven by the heavenly messengers. Some will be visited of God for these things, and their increase will be brought down to their figures. "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." Prov. xi, 24, 25.
All are required to have an interest in this work. Those who use tobacco, tea and coffee should lay these idols aside, and put their cost into the treasury of the Lord. Some have never made any sacrifice for the cause of God, and are asleep as to what God requires of them. Some of the very poorest will have the greatest struggle to deny themselves of these stimulants. This individual sacrifice is not required because the cause of God is suffering for means. But every heart will be tested and its character developed. It is principle that God's people must act upon. The living principle must be carried out in the life.
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings; ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts." I saw that this scripture has been misapplied to speaking and praying in meeting. The prophecy has a special application to the last days, and teaches God's people their duty to bring a proportion of their substance as a freewill offering to the Lord.
I was shown in regard to the remnant people of God taking a name. Two classes were presented before me. One class embraced the great bodies of professed Christians. They were trampling upon God's law and bowing to a Papal institution. They were keeping the first day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord.
The other class were but few in number, and were bowing to the great Law-giver. They were keeping the fourth commandment. The peculiar and prominent features of their faith were the observance of the seventh day, and waiting for the appearing of our Lord from Heaven.
The conflict is between the requirements of God and the requirements of the beast. The first day, a Papal institution which directly contradicts the fourth commandment, is yet to be made a test by the two-horned beast. And then the fearful warning from God declares the penalty of bowing to the beast and his image. They shall drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.
No name which we can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession, and expresses our faith, and marks us as a peculiar people. The name, Seventh-day Adventist, is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world. Here is the line of distinction between the worshipers of God, and those who worship the beast, and receive his mark. The great conflict is between the commandments of God and the requirements of the beast. It is because the saints are keeping all ten of the commandments that the dragon makes war upon them; and if they will lower the standard and yield the peculiarities of their faith, the dragon will be at peace. But God's people excite the ire of the dragon because they have dared to raise the standard, and unfurl their banner in opposition to the Protestant world, who are worshiping the institution of Papacy.
The name, Seventh-day Adventist, carries the true features of our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the Lord's quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God's law, and will lead to repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I was shown that almost every fanatic who has arisen, who wishes to hide his sentiments that he may lead away others, claims to belong to the church of God. Such a name would excite suspicion at once, for the most absurd errors are concealed under this name. This name is too indefinite for the remnant people of God. The influence of such a name would lead to the supposition that we had a faith we wished to cover up.
Some, who are poor in this world's goods, are apt to place all the straight testimony upon the shoulders of the men of property. But they do not realize that they also have a work to do. God requires them to make a sacrifice. He requires of them to sacrifice their idols. They should lay aside such hurtful stimulants as tobacco, tea, and coffee. If they are brought into straightened circumstances while exerting themselves to do the best they can, it will be a pleasure for their wealthy brethren to help them out of trouble.
Many lack wise management and economy. They do not weigh matters well, and move cautiously. Such should not trust to their own poor judgment, but counsel with their brethren who have experience. Those who lack good judgment and economy are often unwilling to seek counsel. They generally think that they understand how to conduct their temporal business, and are unwilling to follow advice. They make bad moves, and suffer in consequence. Their brethren are grieved to see them suffer, and they help them out of difficulty. Their unwise management affects the church. It takes means from the treasury of God which should have been used to advance the cause of present truth. If these poor brethren would take an humble course, and be willing to be advised and counseled by their brethren, and then are brought into straightened places, their brethren should feel it their duty to cheerfully help them out of difficulty. But if they choose their own course, and rely upon their judgment, they should be left to feel the full consequences of their unwise course, and learn by dear experience that "in a multitude of counselors there is safety." God's people should be subject one to another. They should counsel with each other, that the lack of one be supplied by the sufficiency of the other. I saw that the stewards of the Lord have no duty to help those persons who persist in using tobacco, tea, and coffee.
I saw that some have excused themselves from aiding the cause of God, because they were in debt. Had they closely examined their own hearts, they would have discovered that selfishness, was the true reason why they brought no freewill offering to God. And some will remain in debt. Because of their covetousness the prospering hand of God will not be with them to bless their undertakings. They love this world better than they love the truth. They are not being fitted up and made ready for the kingdom of God.
If a new patent passes through the country, men who profess to believe the truth have found a way to raise means and join the enterprise. God is acquainted with every heart. Every selfish motive is known to him, and he suffers things to arise to try the hearts of his professed people, to prove them and develop character. In some instances the Lord will suffer men to go on, and meet with an entire failure. His hand is against them to disappoint their hopes and scatter what they possess. Individuals who have really felt an interest in the cause of God, and have been willing to venture something for its advancement, will find it a sure and safe investment. Some will have a hundred-fold in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting. But all will not receive their hundred-fold in this life, because they cannot bear it. They would, if entrusted with much, become unwise stewards. The Lord withholds it for their good; but their treasure in Heaven will be secure. How much better is such an investment as this! The desire that some of our brethren possess, to earn means fast, leads them to engage in a new enterprise and invest means, and their expectations of making money are not realized. They sink that which they could have spent in God's cause. There is an infatuation in these new enterprises. And notwithstanding these things have been acted over so many times, and the example of others is before them, who have made investments and have met with an utter failure, yet they are slow to learn. Satan allures them on, and makes them drunk with anticipated hopes. When these hopes are blasted, they suffer many discouragements in consequence of their unwise adventures. If means are lost, the person looks upon it as a misfortune to himself-as his loss. But he must remember that it is the means of another that he is handling, that he is only a steward, and God is displeased with the unwise management of that means which could have been used to advance the cause of present truth. The unfaithful steward must give an account of his stewardship at the reckoning day.
I SAW greater distress in the land than we have yet witnessed. I heard groans and cries of distress. I saw large companies in active battle. I heard the booming of the cannon, the clash of arms, the hand-to-hand fight. I heard the groans and prayers of the dying. The ground was covered with the wounded and the dead. I saw desolate, despairing families, and pinching want in many dwellings. I saw that even now many families are suffering want, but this will increase. The faces of many families looked haggard, pale, and pinched with hunger. I was shown that the people of God should be closely united in the bonds of Christian fellowship and love. God alone can be our shield and strength in this time of our national calamities.
The people of God should awake. Their opportunities to spread the truth should be improved, for they will not thus last long. I was shown distress, and perplexity, and famine, in the land; and Satan is now seeking to hold God's people in a state of inactivity, to keep them from acting their part in spreading the truth, and that they may be at last weighed in the balance and found wanting.
I saw that God's people must take warning and discern the signs of the times. The signs of Christ's coming are too plain to be doubted; and in view of these things every one who professes the truth should be living preachers. God calls upon all to awake; preachers and people must awake. All Heaven is astir. The scenes of this earth's history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake. This lack of activity and earnestness in the cause of God is dreadful. This death-stupor is from Satan. He controls the minds of unconsecrated Sabbath-keepers, and leads them to be jealous of each other, fault-finding, and censorious. It is Satan's special work to divide hearts, that the influence, strength, and labor, of God's servants may be kept among unconsecrated Sabbath-keepers, and precious time be occupied to settle little differences, which should be spent in proclaiming to unbelievers the truth.
I was shown God's people waiting for some change to take place-a compelling power to take hold of them. But they will be disappointed. They are wrong. They must act. They must take hold of the work themselves, and earnestly cry unto God for a true knowledge of themselves. The scenes which are passing before us are of sufficient magnitude to cause us to arouse. In view of these things we must urge the truth home to the hearts of all whom we can get to listen to it. The harvest of the earth is nearly ripe.
I was shown how important that ministers be right who engage in the solemn, responsible work of proclaiming the third angel's message. The Lord is not straightened for means or instruments to do his own work. He can speak at any time by whom he will, and his word is powerful and will accomplish the thing whereunto it is sent. But if the truth has not sanctified, and made pure and clean the hands and heart of him who ministers in holy things, he is liable to speak according to his own imperfect experience; and when he speaks of himself, according to the decisions of his own unsanctified judgment, his counsel is not then of God, but of himself. As he that is called of God is called to be holy, so he that is approved and set apart of men must give evidence of his holy calling, and show forth in his heavenly conversation and conduct that he is faithful to Him who hath called him.
I saw that there were fearful woes for those who preach the truth and are not sanctified by it, and there are woes also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine, I am alarmed for the people of God who profess to believe solemn, important truth, for I know that many who now profess to believe the truth are not converted nor sanctified through the truth. Men can hear and acknowledge the whole truth, and yet know nothing of the power of godliness. All who carry the truth will not themselves be saved by the truth they preach. Said the angel, "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord."
I saw that the time has come when those who choose the Lord for their present and future portion, must trust in him alone. Every one professing godliness must have an experience of their own. The recording angel is making a faithful record of the words and acts of God's people. Angels are watching the development of character, and weighing moral worth.
I saw that those who profess to believe the truth should be right themselves, and exert all their influence to enlighten and win others to the truth. Their words and works are the channel through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. They are the salt of the earth, and the light thereof. I saw that in looking Heavenward we shall see light and peace, but in looking to the world we shall see that every refuge must soon fail us, and every good soon pass away. There is no help for us but in God, and in this state of earth's confusion we cannot be composed, strong, or safe, only in the strength of living faith; nor can we be in peace, only as we rest in God, and wait for his salvation. Greater light shines upon us than shone upon our fathers. We cannot be accepted or honored of God in rendering the same service, or doing the same works, our fathers have done. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as our fathers were, we must imitate their faithfulness and zeal,-improve our light as they improved theirs,-and do as they would have done if they had lived in our day. We must improve and walk in the light which shines upon us, otherwise our light will become darkness. God requires us to exhibit to the world, in our character and works, that measure of the Spirit, union, and oneness, which are in accordance with the sacred truths we profess, and the spirit of those prophecies that are being fulfilled in these last days. The truth which has reached our understanding, the light that has shone on the soul, will judge and condemn us, if we turn away and refuse to be led by them.
What shall I say to arouse the remnant people of God? I was shown that dreadful scenes are before us, and Satan and his angels are bringing all their powers to bear upon God's people. He knows if they sleep a little longer he is sure of them, for their destruction is certain. I warn all who profess the name of Christ to closely examine themselves, and make full and thorough confessions of all their wrongs, and let them go beforehand to judgment, that opposite their names the recording angel may write, Pardon. If these precious, merciful moments are not improved, you are left without excuse. If you will make no special effort to arouse, if you will not manifest zeal in repenting, these golden moments will soon pass, and you will be weighed in the balance and found wanting, and then your agonizing cries will be of no avail. "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil."
The unbelieving world will soon have something to think of beside their dress and appearance; and as their minds are torn from these things by distress and perplexity, they have nothing to turn to. They are not prisoners of hope, and therefore do not turn to the Strong Hold. Their hearts will fail them for repining and fear. They have not made God their refuge, and he will not be their consolation then, but will laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh. They have despised and trampled upon the truths of God's word. They have indulged in extravagant dress, and have spent their lives in hilarity and glee. They have sown to the wind, they must reap the whirlwind.
In the time of distress and perplexity of nations there will be many who have not given themselves wholly to the corrupting influences of the world and the service of Satan, who will humble themselves before God, and turn to him with their whole heart and find acceptance and pardon.
Those among Sabbath-keepers who have been unwilling to make any sacrifice, but have yielded to the influence of the world, are to be tested and proved. The perils of the last days are upon us, and a trial is before the young which they have not anticipated. They are to be brought into most distressing perplexity. The genuineness of their faith will be proved. They profess to be looking for the coming of the Son of man, yet some of them have been miserable examples to unbelievers. They have not been willing to give up the world, but have united with them, have attended picnics, and other gatherings of pleasure, flattering themselves that they were engaging in innocent amusement. Yet I was shown that it was just such indulgences that separate them from God, and make them children of the world. God owns not the pleasure, or amusement-seeker as his follower. He has given us no such example. Those only who are self-denying, and who live a life of sobriety, humility and holiness, are true followers of Jesus; and such cannot engage in, and enjoy the frivolous, empty conversation of the lovers of the world.
Isa. iii, was presented before me. I was shown that this prophecy has its application to these last days; and the reproofs are given to the daughters of Zion who have thought only of appearance and display. Read verse 25: "Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war." I was shown that this scripture will be strictly fulfilled. Young men and women professing to be Christians, yet having no Christian experience, and having borne no burdens, and felt no individual responsibility, are to be proved. They will be brought low in the dust, and long for an experience in the things of God, which they failed to obtain.
Inquiries are often made in regard to our duty to the poor who embrace the third message; and we have long been anxious to know, ourselves, how to manage with discretion the cases of poor families who embrace the Sabbath. But while at Roosevelt, New York, August 3, 1861, I was shown some things in regard to the poor.
God does not require our brethren to take charge of every poor family that shall embrace this message. If they should do this, the work of the messengers to enter new fields must cease, for the fund would be exhausted. Many are poor from their lack of diligence and economy, and they know not how to use means aright. If they should be helped it would hurt them. Some will always be poor. If they should have the very best advantages, their cases would not be helped. They have not good calculation, and would use all the means they could obtain, be it much or little. Some know nothing of denying self and economizing to keep out of debt, and get a little ahead for a time of need. If the church should help such individuals instead of leaving them to rely upon their own resources, they would injure them in the end; for they look to the church, and expect to receive help from them, and do not practice self-denial and economy when they are well provided for. And if they do not receive help every time, Satan tempts them, and they become jealous, and very conscientious for their brethren, fearing they will fail to do all their duty to them. The mistake is on their own part. They are deceived. They are not the Lord's poor.
The instructions given in the word of God in regard to helping the poor do not touch such cases, but are for the unfortunate and afflicted. God in his providence has afflicted individuals to test and prove others. Widows and invalids are in the church to prove a blessing to the church. They are part of the means God has chosen to develop the true character of Christ's professed followers, and to call into exercise the precious traits of character manifested by our compassionate Redeemer.
Many who are single, and can but barely live, choose to marry and raise a family, when they know they have nothing to support them. And worse than this, they have no family government. Their whole course in their family is marked with their loose, slack habits. They have but little control of themselves, are passionate, impatient, and fretful. Such embrace the message, and then feel that they are entitled to assistance from their more wealthy brethren; and if their expectations are not met, they complain of the church, and accuse them of not living out their faith. Who must be the sufferers in this case? Must the cause of God be sapped, and the treasury in different places exhausted, to take care of these large families of poor? No. The parents must be the sufferers. They will not as a general thing suffer any greater lack after they embrace the Sabbath than they did before.
There is an evil among some of the poor which will certainly prove their ruin unless they overcome it. They have embraced the truth with their coarse, rough, uncultivated, habits, and it takes some time for them to see and realize their coarseness, and that it is not in accordance with the character of Christ. They look upon others who are more orderly and refined, as being proud, and you may hear them say, "The truth brings us all down upon a level." Here is an entire mistake, in thinking that the truth brings the receiver down. It brings him up, refines his taste, sanctifies his judgment, and if lived out, is continually fitting him for the society of holy angels in the city of God. The truth is designed to bring us all up upon a level.
The more able should ever act a noble, generous, part in their deal with their poorer brethren, and also give them good advice, and then leave them to fight life's battles through. I was shown that a most solemn duty rests upon the church, to have an especial care for the destitute widows, orphans, and invalids.
In the epistle of Paul to Titus, chap. ii, 13, 14, we read, "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." This great work is to be performed for those only who are willing to be purified, willing to be peculiar, and who manifest a zeal in good works. How many shrink from the purifying process! They are unwilling to live out the truth, unwilling to appear singular in the eyes of the world. It is this mingling with the world which destroys our spirituality, pureness, and zeal. Satan's power is constantly exercised to stupefy the sensibility of God's people, that their consciences may not be sensitive to wrong, and that the sign of distinction between them and the world may be destroyed.
I have frequently received letters of inquiry in regard to dress, and some have not rightly understood what I have written. The very class which have been presented before me, who were imitating the fashions of the world, have been very slow, and the last to be affected or reformed. There has been another class who lacked taste and order in dress, who have taken advantage of what I have written, and taken the opposite extreme, and considered that they were free from pride, and have looked upon those who dress orderly and neat as being proud. Oddity and careless dress have been considered by some a special virtue. Such take a course which destroys their influence over unbelievers. They disgust those who might be benefited. While the visions have reproved pride and imitating the fashions of the world, they have reproved those who were careless of their apparel, and lacked cleanliness of person and dress. Especially have I been shown that those who profess present truth should have a special care to appear before God to worship him upon the Sabbath, in a manner showing that we respect the Creator who has sanctified and placed special honors upon that day. All who have any regard for the Sabbath should be cleanly in person, neat and orderly in dress, for they are to appear before a jealous God, who marks every token of disrespect. God is offended at uncleanness and disorder. Individuals have thought it would be wrong to wear anything upon their heads but a sun-bonnet. Such go to great extremes. It cannot be called pride to wear a neat, plain, straw or silk bonnet. Our faith, if carried out, will lead us to be so plain in dress, and zealous of good works, that we shall be marked as peculiar. But when we lose taste for order and neatness in dress, we virtually leave the truth, for the truth never degrades, but elevates. Unbelievers look upon Sabbath-keepers as degraded, and when individuals are neglectful of their dress, and are coarse and rough in their manners, their influence strengthens unbelievers in their conclusions.
Those who profess to be Christians in these last days which are full of peril, and do not imitate the humble, self-denying Pattern, place themselves in the enemy's ranks. He considers them his subjects, and they serve as important a purpose for Satan as any of his subjects, for they have a name to live and are dead. Others take them for example, and by following them lose Heaven, when if they had not professed to be Christians, they would have shunned their example. These unconsecrated professors are not aware of the weight of their influence. They make the conflict much more severe for those who would be God's peculiar people. Paul, in Titus ii, 15, refers to God's people who are looking for the appearing of Christ. He says, "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke, with all authority. Let no man despise thee." As we bear testimony against pride and following the fashions of the world, we are met with excuses and self-justification. Some urge the example of others. Such a sister wears hoops; if it is wrong for me to wear them, it is wrong for her. Children urge the example of other children, whose parents are Sabbath-keepers. Bro. A. is a deacon of the church. His children wear hoops, and why is it any worse for me to wear them than it is for them? Those who by their example furnish unconsecrated professors with arguments against those who would be peculiar, are laying a cause of stumbling in the way of the weak, and to God they must render an account for such example. I am often asked, "What do you think of hoops?" I reply, I have given you the light which has been given me. I was shown that hoops were a shame, and that we should not give the least countenance to a fashion carried to such ridiculous lengths. I am often surprised to hear that "sister White says it is not wrong to wear small hoops." No one has ever heard me say this. After being shown what I have in regard to hoops, nothing would induce me to give the least encouragement to any to wear them. Heavy quilts and hoops are alike unnecessary. He that framed us never designed that we should be deformed with hoops, or anything to look like them. It is the inventions and fashions of the world that have led God's people, and they are unwilling to move out independent of the fashions and customs of the world. While I study God's word, I am alarmed for the Israel of God in these last days. They are exhorted to flee from idolatry. I fear that God's people are asleep, and so conformed to the world that we can hardly know them, or discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. The distance is widening between Christ and his people, and lessening between them and the world. The marks of distinction between Christ's professed people and the world, have almost disappeared. They follow after the abominations of the nations around them, as did ancient Israel. From what has been shown me, hoops are an abomination. They are indecent, and God's people err if they follow, in the least degree, or give countenance to, this fashion.
Sabbath-keepers who profess to be God's chosen, peculiar, people, should discard hoops, and their practice and example should be a living rebuke to those who wear them. Some may plead convenience. I have traveled much, and have seen a great deal of inconvenience attending the wearing of hoops; and those who plead the necessity on account of health, wear them in winter, which is a greater injury than quilted skirts. While traveling in the cars and stages I have often been led to exclaim, O modesty, where is thy blush? I have seen large companies crowding into the cars, and in order to make any headway, the hoops had to be raised and placed into a shape which was indecent. And the exposure of the form was ten-fold more with those who wore hoops, than with those who did not; and were it not for fashion, those who immodestly expose themselves would be hissed at, but modesty and decency must be sacrificed to the god of fashion. May the Lord deliver his people from this grievous sin. God will not pity those who will be slaves to fashion. But supposing there is some little convenience in wearing hoops, does this prove that it is right to wear them? Let the fashion change, and convenience would no longer be mentioned. It is the duty of every child of God to inquire, Wherein am I separate from the world? Let them suffer a little inconvenience and be on the safe side. What crosses do God's people bear? They mingle with the world, partake of their spirit, dress, talk, and act, like them.
Read 1 Tim. ii, 9, 10. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh godliness) with good works."
1 Pet. iii, 3-5. "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands."
The power of example is great. Sister A. ventures to wear small hoops. Sister B. says, It is no worse for me to wear hoops than sister A., and she wears hoops a little larger. Sister C. imitates the example of sisters A. and B., and wears her hoops a little larger than A. and B., but all contend that their hoops are small.
Parents who would teach their children the evil of following the fashions of the world, have a hard battle. They are met with, "Why, mother, sisters A., B., and C., wear hoops; if it is wicked for me, it is for them." What can the parents say? They should set a right example before their children, and although the example of professed followers of Christ causes the children to think that their parents are too careful and severe in their restrictions, yet God will bless the efforts of these conscientious parents. If the parents do not take a decided, firm, course, their children will be borne down with the current, for Satan and his evil angels are working upon their minds, and the example of unconsecrated professors is against their efforts, which makes the work of overcoming far more laborious for their children. Yet with faith in God, and earnest prayer, believing parents may press on in this rugged path of duty. The way of the cross is an onward, upward, way. And as we advance therein, seeking the things that are above, we must leave farther and farther in the distance the things which belong to the earth. While the world and carnal professors are rushing downward to death, those who climb the hill will have to put forth efforts or they will be carried down in the broad road.
The children of the world are called the children of darkness. They are blinded by the god of this world, and are led by the spirit of the prince of darkness. They cannot enjoy heavenly things. The children of light have their affections set on things above. They leave behind them the things of this world. They fulfill the command, "Come out from among them and be ye separate." Here is the conditional promise. "I will receive you." Christ from the beginning has chosen his people out of the world, and required them to be separate, having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. If they love God and keep his commandments, they will be far from having the friendship, and loving the pleasures, of the world. There is no concord between Christ and Belial.
The prophet Ezra, and faithful servants of the Jewish church, were astonished when the princes came to them, saying, "The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations. And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this, should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? Wouldst not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous; for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses, for we cannot stand before thee because of this." Ezra ix, 1, 13-15.
2 Chron. xxxvi, 14-16. "Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending; because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling-place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against this people, till there was no remedy."
Lev. xviii, 26, 27. "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you (for all these abominations have the men of the land done which were before you, and the land is defiled.")
Deut xxxii, 16-22. "They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods, that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities, and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains."
We here read the warnings which God gave to ancient Israel. It was not his good pleasure that they should wander so long in the wilderness, and he would have brought them immediately to the promised land, if they had submitted, and loved to be led by him; and because they so often grieved him in the desert, he sware in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest, save two, who wholly followed him. God required his people to trust in him alone. He did not wish them to receive help of those who did not serve him. Please read Ezra iv, 1-5. "Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel, then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you; for we seek your God as ye do: and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon, king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Isral, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose."
Ezra viii, 21-23. "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way; because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this, and he was entreated of us."
The prophet and these fathers did not consider them the worshipers of the true God, and though they professed friendship and wished to help them, they dare not unite with them in anything relating to his worship. When going up to Jerusalem, to build the temple of God and to restore his worship, they would not ask help of the king to assist them in the way, but by fasting and prayer sought the Lord for help. They believed God would defend and prosper his servants in their efforts to serve him. The Creator of all things needeth not the help of his enemies to establish his worship. He asks not the sacrifice of wickedness, nor accepts the offering of those who have other gods before the Lord.
We often hear the remark, You are too exclusive. As a people we would make any sacrifice to save souls, or lead them to the truth; but to unite with them, to love the things that they love, and have friendship with the world, we dare not, for we should then be at enmity with God.
By reading the following scriptures we shall see how God regarded his ancient Israel.
Ps. cxxxv, 4. "For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure."
Deut. xiv, 2. "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."
Deut. vii, 6, 7. "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people."
Ex. xxxiii, 16. "For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth."
How frequently ancient Israel rebelled, and how often were they visited with judgments, and thousands slain because they would not heed the commands of God who had chosen them.
The Israel of God in these last days are in constant danger of mingling with the world, and losing all signs of their being the chosen people of God. Read again Titus ii, l3-15. We are brought down to the last days, when God is purifying unto himself a peculiar people. Shall we provoke God as did ancient Israel? Shall we bring his wrath upon us by departing from him and mingling with the world, and following the abominations of the nations around us?
The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself, and this consecration to God, and separation from the world, is plainly declared and positively enjoined in both the Old and New Testaments. There is a wall of separation which the Lord himself has established between the things of the world and the things he has chosen out of the world, and sanctified unto himself. The calling and character of God's people are peculiar. Their prospects are peculiar, and these peculiarities distinguish them from all people. All of God's people upon the earth are one body, from the beginning to the end of time. They have one Head that directs and
governs the body. The same injunctions rest upon God's people now, to be separate from the world, as rested upon ancient Israel. The great Head of the church has not changed. The experience of Christians in these days is much like the travels of ancient Israel. Please read 1 Cor. x, especially from the 6th to the 15th verse.
"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. . . . Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape; that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."
1 John iii, 1. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
1 John ii, 15-17. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
2 Pet. ii, 2. "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
James iv, 4. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James i, 27. "Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
Titus ii, 12-14. "Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
Rom. xii, 2. "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
John xvii, 14, 15, 17. "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."
Luke vi, 22, 23. "Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."
John xv, 16-19. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
1 John iv, 4, 5. "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them."
1 John ii, 5, 6. "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk even as he walked."
1 Pet. ii, 9. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
As we read the word of God, how plain that God's people are peculiar and distinct from the unbelieving world around them. Our position is interesting and fearful; living in the last days, how important that we imitate the example of Christ, and walk even as he walked. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." The opinions and wisdom of men must not guide nor govern us. They always lead away from the cross.
The servants of Christ have not their home or their treasure here. Would that all of them could understand that it is only because the Lord reigns that we are even permitted to dwell in peace and safety among our enemies. It is not our privilege to claim special favors of the world. We must consent to be poor and despised among men, until the warfare is finished and the victory won. The members of Christ are called to come out and be separate from the friendship and spirit of the world, and their strength and power consists in their being chosen and accepted of God.
The Son of God was the heir of all things, and the dominion and glory of the kingdoms of this world were promised to him. Yet when he appeared in this world it was without riches or splendor. The world understood not his union with the Father; and the excellency and glory of his divine character were hid from them. He was therefore "despised and rejected of men," and "we did esteem him smitten of God and afflicted."
Even so the members of Christ are as he was in this world. They are the sons of God and joint heirs with Christ; and the kingdom and the dominion belong to them. The world understand not their character and holy calling. They perceive not their adoption into the family of God. Their union and fellowship with the Father and Son are not manifest to the world, and while they behold their humiliation and reproach, it does not appear what they are, or what they shall be. They are strangers. The world knows them not, and appreciate not the motives which actuate them.
The world is ripening for its destruction. God can bear with sinners but a little longer. They must drink the dregs of the cup of his wrath unmixed with mercy. Those who will be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to the immortal inheritance, will be peculiar. Yes, so peculiar that God places a mark upon them as his, wholly his. Think ye that God will receive, honor and acknowledge a people so mixed up with the world that they differ from them only in name? Read again Titus ii, 13-15. It is soon to be known who is on the Lord's side, who will not be ashamed of Jesus. Those who have not moral courage to take their position conscientiously in the face of unbelievers, and leave the fashions of the world, and imitate the self-denying life of Christ, are ashamed of him, and do not love his example.
Sabbath-keepers will be tested and proved. A close and searching work must go on among the people of God. How soon, like ancient Israel we forget God and his wondrous works, and rebel against him. Some look to the world, and desire to follow its fashions, and participate in its pleasures in the same manner that the children of Israel looked back into Egypt, and lusted for the good things they had enjoyed there, which God chose to withhold from them to prove them, and thereby test their fidelity to him. He wished to see if his people valued more highly his service, and the freedom he had so miraculously given them, than the indulgences they enjoyed in Egypt while in servitude to a tyrannical, idolatrous people.
Every true follower of Jesus will have sacrifices to make. God will prove them, and test the genuineness of their faith. I have been shown that picnics, donations, shows, and other gatherings of pleasure, the true followers of Jesus will discard. They can find no Jesus there, and no influence which will make them heavenly-minded, and increase their growth in grace. The word of God obeyed, leads us to come out from all these things and be separate. The things of the world are sought for, and considered worthy to be admired and enjoyed by all those who are not devoted lovers of the cross, and are not spiritual worshipers of a crucified Jesus.
There is chaff among us, and this is why we are so weak. Some are constantly leaning to the world. Their views and feelings harmonize much better with the spirit of the world than with Christ's self-denying followers. It is perfectly natural for them to prefer the company of those whose spirit will best agree with their own. And such have quite too much influence among God's people. They take a part with them, and have a name among them, and are a text for unbelievers and the weak and unconsecrated ones in the church. These persons of two minds will ever have objections to the plain, pointed, testimony which reproves individual wrongs. In this refining time, these persons will either be converted wholly, and sanctified by obeying the truth, or they will be left with the world, where they belong, to receive their reward with them.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." All of Christ's followers bear fruit to his glory. Their lives testify that a good work has been wrought in them by the Spirit of God, and their fruit is unto holiness It is elevated and pure. Those who bear no fruit have no experience in the things of God. They are not in the vine. Read John xv, 4, 5. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
If we would be spiritual worshipers of Jesus Christ, we must sacrifice every idol, and fully obey the first four commandments. Matt. xxii, 37, 38. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."
The first four commandments allow us no separation of the affections from God. Nor is anything allowed to divide, or share, our supreme delight in him. Whatever divides the affections, and takes away from the soul supreme love to God, takes the form of an idol. Our carnal hearts would cling to, and seek to carry along, our idols; but we cannot advance until we put them away; for they separate from God. The great Head of the church has chosen his people out of the world, and required them to be separate. He designs that the spirit and life of his commandments shall draw them to himself, and separate them from the elements of the world. To love God and keep his commandments is to be far from loving the world's pleasures and friendship. There is no concord between Christ and Belial. The people of God may safely trust in him alone, and without fear press on in the way of obedience.
I have been shown that we must be guarded on every side, and perseveringly resist the insinuations and devices of Satan. He has tranformed himself into an angel of light, and is deceiving and leading thousands captive. The advantages he takes of the science of the human mind, is tremendous. Here, serpent-like, he imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God. The miracles and works of Christ, he makes all human. If Satan should make an open, bold attack upon Christianity, it would bring the Christian in distress and agony at the feet of his Redeemer, and the strong and mighty Deliverer would affright the bold adversary away. But Satan, transformed into an angel of light, works upon the mind to allure from the only safe and right path. The sciences of phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism, have been the channel through which Satan has come more directly to this generation, and wrought with that power which was to characterize his work near the close of probation.
Read 2 Thess. ii, 8-12. "And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming; even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Satan has come unperceived through these sciences, and poisoned the minds of thousands and led them to infidelity. He is well pleased to have them spread wide. It is his own plan, laid out by himself, that he may have access to minds, and influence them as he pleases. And while it is believed that one human mind so wonderfully affects another, Satan, ready at hand, insinuates himself, and works on the right hand and on the left. And while those devoted to these sciences laud them to the heavens, because of the great and good works they affirm are wrought by them, they are cherishing and glorifying Satan himself, who steps in and works with all power and signs and lying wonders-with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.
Said the angel, "Mark its influence. The controversy between Christ and Satan is not yet ended." This entering in of Satan through the sciences, is well devised by his Satanic majesty, and will eventually root out of the minds of thousands true faith in Christ's being the Messiah, the Son of God.
I was directed to the power of God manifested through Moses, when the Lord sent him in before Pharaoh. Satan understood his business, and was upon the ground. He well knew that Moses was chosen of God to break the yoke of bondage upon the children of Israel; and that he in his work prefigured Christ's first advent to break Satan's power over the human family, and deliver those who were made captives by his power. Satan knew that when Christ should appear, mighty works and miracles would be wrought by him, that the world might know that the Father had sent him. He trembled for his power. He consults with his angels to accomplish a work which shall answer a two-fold purpose: 1. To destroy the influence of the work wrought by God through his servant Moses, by working through his agents, and thus counterfeiting the true work of God. 2. The influence of his work through the magicians would reach down through all ages, and would destroy in the minds of many, true faith in the mighty miracles and works of Christ, which would be performed by him when he should come to this world. He knew that his kingdom would suffer, for the power which he held over mankind would be subject to Christ. It was no human influence or power Moses possessed, which wrought on the minds, that produced those miracles before Pharaoh. It was the power of God. These signs and wonders were wrought through Moses, to convince Pharaoh that the great "I AM" sent him to command Pharaoh to let Israel go, that they might serve him.
Pharaoh called for the magicians to work with their enchantments. They also showed signs and wonders, for Satan came to their aid, to work through them. Yet even here, the work of God was shown superior to the power of Satan, for the magicians could not perform all those miracles God wrought through Moses. Only a few of them could they do. The magicians' rods did become serpents, but Aaron's rod swallowed up theirs. After the magicians sought to produce the lice, and could not, then they were compelled by the power of God to acknowledge even to Pharaoh, saying, "This is the finger of God." Satan wrought through the magicians in a manner calculated to harden the heart of the tyrant Pharaoh against the miraculous manifestations of God's power. Satan thought to stagger the faith of Moses and Aaron in the divine origin of their mission, and then his instruments, the magicians, would prevail. Satan was unwilling to have the people of Israel released from Egyptian servitude, that they might serve God. The magicians failed to produce the miracle of the lice, and could no more imitate Moses and Aaron. God would not suffer Satan to proceed further, and the magicians could not save themselves from the plagues. "And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians." Ex. ix, 11.
God's controlling power here cut off the channel through which Satan worked, and caused even those through whom Satan wrought so wonderfully to feel his wrath. Sufficient evidence was given to Pharaoh to believe, if he would. Moses wrought by the power of God. The magicians wrought not by their own science alone, but by the power of their god-the Devil. Satan has ingeniously carried out his deceptive work in counterfeiting the work of God.
As we near the close of time, the human mind is more readily affected by Satan's devices. He leads deceived mortals to account for the works and miracles of Christ upon general principles. Satan has ever been ambitious to counterfeit the work of Christ, and establish his own power and claims. He does not generally do this openly and boldly. He is artful, and knows that the most effectual way for him to accomplish his work, is to come to poor fallen man in the form of an angel of light. Satan came to Christ in the wilderness in the form of a beautiful young man-more like a monarch than a fallen angel. He came with scripture in his mouth. Said he, "It is written," &c. Our suffering Saviour meets him with scripture, saying, "It is written." Satan takes advantage of the weak, suffering condition of Christ, who had taken upon him our human nature.
Read Matt. iv, 8-11. "Again the Devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the Devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
Here Satan spread the world before Christ in the most attractive light, and intimates to him that he need not endure so much suffering to obtain the kingdoms of earth. He will yield all his claims if he will but worship him. Satan's dissatisfaction first commenced in Heaven because he could not be first and highest in command-equal with God, exalted above Christ. He rebelled and lost his estate, and he, and those who sympathized with him were turned out of Heaven. In the wilderness he hoped to gain advantage through the weak and suffering condition of Christ, and obtain from him that homage he could not obtain in Heaven. Jesus, even in his faint and exhausted condition, yields not to the temptation of Satan for a moment, but shows his superiority and exercises his authority by bidding Satan, "Get thee hence"-or, depart from me. Satan was baffled, and then studied how he could accomplish his purpose and receive the honor from the human race which was refused him in Heaven, and by Jesus upon earth. Could he have succeeded in tempting Jesus Christ, then the plan of salvation would have failed, and he would have succeeded in bringing hopeless misery upon mankind. That which Satan failed to effect in coming to Christ, he has accomplished in coming to man.
If Satan can so befog and deceive the human mind, and lead mortals to think there is an inherent power in themselves to accomplish great and good works, they cease to rely upon God to do that for them which they think exists in themselves to do. They acknowledge not a superior power. They give not God the glory he claims, and which is due to his great and excellent Majesty. Satan's object is thus accomplished. He exults that fallen man presumptuously exalts himself, as he exalted himself in Heaven, and was thrust out. He knows that the ruin of man is just as sure if he exalts himself, as his was certain. He has failed in his temptations to Christ in the wilderness. The plan of salvation has been carried out. The dear price has been paid for man's redemption. And now Satan seeks to tear away the foundation of the Christian's hope, and turn the minds of men in a channel that they may not be benefitted or saved by the great sacrifice offered. He leads fallen man, through his "all deceivableness of unrighteousness," to believe that he can do very well without an atonement; that he need not depend upon a crucified and risen Saviour; that man's own merits will entitle him to God's favor, and then he destroys man's confidence in the Bible, well knowing if he succeeds here, and the detecter which places a mark upon himself is destroyed, he is safe. And he fastens the delusion upon minds that there is no personal Devil, and those who believe this make no effort to resist and war against that which does not exist, and poor blind mortals finally adopt the maxim-"Whatever is, is right." They acknowledge no rule to measure their course. Satan leads many to believe that prayer to God is useless, and but a form. He well knows now needful is meditation and prayer, to keep Christ's followers aroused to resist his cunning and deceptions. Satan's devices will divert the mind from these important exercises, that the soul may not lean for help upon the mighty One, and obtain strength from him to resist his attacks.
I was pointed to the fervent, effectual prayers of his people anciently. "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly." Daniel prayed unto his God three times a day. Satan is enraged at the sound of fervent prayer, for he knows that he will suffer loss. Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him. Fallen angels feared his influence would weaken their control over the rulers of the kingdom, for Daniel was high in command. The accusing host of evil angels stirred up the presidents and princes to envy and jealousy, and they watched Daniel closely to find some occasion against him that they might report him to the king, but they failed. Then these agents of Satan sought to make his faithfulness to God the cause of his destruction. Evil angels laid out the plan for them, and these agents readily carried it into effect. The king was ignorant of the subtle mischief purposed against Daniel. With the full knowledge of the king's decree he still bows before his God, "his windows being open." He considers supplication to God of sufficient importance to sacrifice his life rather than to relinguish it. On account of his praying to God he was cast into the lions' den. Evil angels accomplished their purpose thus far. But Daniel continues to pray, even in the den of lions. Was Daniel suffered to be consumed? Did God forget him there? Oh, no; Jesus, the mighty Commander of the host of Heaven, sent his angel to close the mouths of those hungry lions that they should not hurt the praying man of God, and all was peace in that terrible den. The king witnessed his preservation, and brought him out with honors. Satan and his angels were defeated and enraged. The agents Satan had employed were doomed to perish in the terrible manner they had plotted to destroy Daniel. The prayer of faith is the great strength of the Christian, and will assuredly prevail against Satan. This is why he insinuates that we have no need of prayer. The name of Jesus, our advocate, he detests, and when we earnestly come to him for help, Satan's host is alarmed.
It will serve his purpose well if we neglect the exercise of prayer, for then his lying wonders are more readily received. Satan accomplishes his object in setting his deceitful temptations before man, that which he failed to accomplish in tempting Christ. He sometimes comes in the form of a lovely young person, or in a beautiful shadow. He works cures, and is worshiped by deceived mortals as a benefactor of our race. Phrenology and mesmerism are very much exalted. They are good in their place, but they are seized upon by Satan as his most powerful agents to deceive and destroy souls. The detector, the Bible, is destroyed in the minds of thousands, and Satan uses his arts and devices, which are received as from Heaven. And Satan here receives the worship which suits his Satanic majesty. Thousands are conversing with and receiving instructions from this demon-god, and acting according to his teachings. The world, which is considered to be benefitted so much by phrenology and animal magnetism, never was so corrupt. Satan uses these very things to destroy virtue and lay the foundation of Spiritualism.
I was directed to this scripture as especially applying to modern Spiritualism. Col. ii, 8. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Thousands, I was shown, have been spoiled through the philosophy of phrenology and animal magnetism, and have been driven into infidelity. If the mind commences to run in this channel, it is almost sure to lose its balance, and be controlled by a demon. "Vain deceit" fills the minds of poor mortals. They think there is such power in themselves to accomplish great works, that they realize no necessity of a higher power. Their principles and faith are "after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Jesus has not taught them this philosophy. Nothing of the kind can be found in his teachings. He did not direct the minds of poor mortals to themselves to a power which they possessed. He was ever directing their minds to God, the Creator of the universe, as the source of their strength and wisdom. Especial warning is given in verse 18. "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." The teachers of Spiritualism will come in a pleasing, bewitching manner to deceive you, and if you listen to their fables you are beguiled by the enemy of righteousness, and will surely lose your reward. When once the fascinating influence of the arch deceiver overcomes you, you are poisoned, and its deadly influence adulterates and destroys your faith in Christ's being the Son of God, and you cease to rely on the merits of his blood. Those deceived by this philosophy are beguiled of their reward through the deceptions of Satan. They rely upon their own merits, exercise voluntary humility, are willing to even make sacrifices, and debase themselves, and yield their minds to the belief of supreme nonsense, receiving the most absurd ideas through those whom they believe to be their dead friends. Satan has so blinded their eyes, and perverted their judgment, that they perceive not the evil. They follow out the instructions purporting to be from their dead friends, now angels in a higher sphere. Satan has chosen the most certain, fascinating delusion, calculated to take hold of the sympathies of those who have laid their loved ones in the grave. Evil angels assume the form of these loved ones, and relate incidents connected with their lives, and perform acts which their friends performed while living. In this way they deceive, and lead the relatives of the dead to believe their deceased friends are angels hovering about them, and communing with them, which they regard with a certain idolatry. What they may say has greater influence over them than the word of God. These evil angels who assume to be dead friends will either utterly reject God's word as idle tales, or if it suits their purpose best, will select the vital portions which testify of Christ and point out the way to Heaven, and change the plain statements of the word of God to suit their own corrupt nature, and ruin souls. All may, with due attention to the word of God, be convinced if they will of this soul-destroying delusion. The word of God declares in positive terms that "the dead know not anything." Eccl. ix, 5, 6. "For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun."
Deceived mortals are worshiping evil angels, believing them to be the spirits of their dead friends. The word of God expressly declares that "the dead have no more a portion in anything done under the sun." Spiritualists say the dead know everything that is done under the sun, that they communicate to their friends on earth, give valuable information, and perform wonders. Ps. cxv, 17. "The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence." I have been shown that Satan, transformed into an angel of light, works with all deceivableness of unrightousness. He who could take up the Son of God, who was made a little lower than the angels, and place him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and take him up into an exceeding high mountain to present before him the kingdoms of the world, can exercise his power upon the human family, who are far inferior in strength and wisdom to the Son of God, even after he had taken upon himself man's nature. In this degenerate age, Satan holds control over mortals who depart from the right, and venture upon his ground. He exercises his power upon such in an alarming manner. I was directed to these words, "Intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." Some, I was shown, gratify their curiosity, and tamper with the Devil. They have no real faith in Spiritualism, and would start back with horror at the idea of being a medium. Yet they venture, and place themselves in a position where Satan can exercise his power upon them. They do not mean to enter deep into this work, but such know not what they are doing. They are venturing upon the Devil's ground, and are tempting him to control them. This powerful destroyer considers such his lawful prey, and will exercise his power upon them, and that against their will. When they wish to control themselves they cannot. They yielded their mind to Satan, and he holds them captive, and he will not release his claims. No power can deliver the ensnared soul but the power of God, in answer to the earnest prayers of his faithful followers.
The only safety now is to search for the truth as revealed in the word of God, as for hid treasure. The Sabbath question, and man not immortal, and the testimony of Jesus, are the great and important truths to be understood, which will prove as an anchor to hold God's people in these perilous times. But the mass despise the truths of God's word, and prefer fables. 2 Thess. ii, 11, 12. "Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved: and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie."
The most licentious and corrupt are highly flattered by these Satanic spirits, which they believe to be the spirits of their dead friends, and they are "vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds." Col. ii, 19. "And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God," they deny Him who ministers strength to the body, that every member may increase with the increase of God.
"Vain philosophy." The members of the body are controlled by the head. Spiritualists lay aside the Head, and every member of the body they believe must act themselves, and fixed laws will lead them on in a state of progression to perfection without a head. Jno. xv, 1-6. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
Christ is the source of our strength. He is the vine, we are the branches. We must receive nourishment from the living vine. Deprived of the strength and nourishment of the vine, we are as members of the body without a head, and are in the very position Satan wishes us to be in, that he may control these members as pleases himself. He works "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions that they should believe a lie." Spiritualism is a lie. It is founded upon the great original lie, "Thou shalt not surely die." Thousands cut off the Head, and the members act without Jesus for their head, and the result is, another guides the body. Satan controls them.
I was shown that Satan cannot control minds unless they are yielded to his control. Those who depart from the right are in serious danger now. They separate themselves from God, and from the watch-care of the angels of God, and Satan, ever upon the watch to destroy souls, begins to present to such his deceptions, and they are in the utmost peril. And if they see and try to resist the powers of darkness, and to free themselves from Satan's snare, it is not an easy matter. They have ventured on Satan's ground, and he claims them. He will not hesitate to engage all his energies, and call to his aid all his evil host to wrest a single human being from the hand of Christ. And those who have tempted the Devil to tempt them will have to make desperate efforts to free themselves from his power. When they begin to work for themselves, then angels of God whom they have grieved will come to their rescue. Satan and his angels are unwilling to lose their prey. They contend and battle with the holy angels, and the conflict is severe. And if those who have erred continue to plead, and in deep humility confess their wrongs, angels who excel in strength will prevail, and wrench them from the power of the evil angels.
As the curtain was lifted, and I was shown the corruption of this age, my heart sickened, my spirit nearly fainted within me. I saw that the inhabitants of the earth were filling up the measure of the cup of their iniquity. God's anger is kindled, and will be no more appeased until the sinners are destroyed out of the earth.
Satan is Christ's personal enemy. He is the originator and leader of every species of rebellion in Heaven and earth. His rage increases, and we do not realize his power. If our eyes could be opened to discern the fallen angels at their work with those who feel at ease and consider themselves safe, we should not feel so secure. Evil angels are upon our track every moment. We expect a readiness on the part of bad men to act as Satan suggests; but while our minds are unguarded against Satan's invisible agents, they will assume new ground, and will work marvels and miracles in our sight. Are we prepared to resist them by the word of God, the only weapon we can use successfully? Some will be tempted to receive these wonders as from God. The sick will be healed before us. Miracles will be performed in our sight. Are we prepared for the trial when the lying wonders of Satan shall be more fully exhibited? Will not many souls be ensnared and taken? Forms of error, and departure from the plain precepts and commandments of God, and giving heed to fables, is fitting minds for these lying wonders of Satan. We must all now seek to arm ourselves for the contest in which we must soon engage. Faith in God's word, prayerfully studied and practically applied, will be our shield from Satan's power, and will bring us off conquerors through the blood of Christ.