The Cause in New York. While in Vermont, Dec. 10, 1871, I was shown some things in regard to New York. The cause in the State seemed to be in a deplorable condition. There were but few laborers, and these were not as efficient as their profession of faith in the sacred truths for this time demanded of them. There are those in the State, who minister in word and doctrine, who are not thorough workmen. Although they have believed the theory of the truth, and have been preaching for years, never will they be competent laborers until they work upon a different plan. They have spent much time among the churches when they are not qualified to benefit them. They themselves are not consecrated to God. They need the spirit of endurance to suffer for Christ's sake, to "drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism," before they are prepared to help others. Unselfish, devoted workmen are needed, to bring things up in New York to the Bible standard. These men have not been in the line of their duty in traveling among the churches. If God has called them to his work, it is to save sinners. They should prove themselves by going out into new fields, that they may know for themselves whether God has committed to them the work of saving souls.
Had Brn. Taylor, Saunders, Cottrell, Whitney, and Bro. and sister Lindsay, labored in new fields, they would now be far in advance of what they are. Meeting opposition of opponents would drive them to their Bibles for arguments to sustain their position, which would increase their knowledge in the Scriptures, and would give them a conscious power of their ability in God to meet opposition in any form. Those who are content to go over and over the same ground among the churches, will be deficient in the experience they should have. They will be weak―not strong to will, and do, and suffer, for the truth's sake. They will be inefficient workmen.
Those who have the cause of God at heart, and feel love for precious souls for whom Christ died, will not seek their ease or pleasure. They will do as Christ has done. They will go forth to "seek and to save that which was lost." He said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
If ministers in New York wish to help the church, they can do so in no better way than to go out in new fields and labor to bring souls into the truth. When the church see that their ministers are all aglow with the spirit of the work, feeling deeply the force of the truth, and seeking to bring others to the knowledge of the truth, it will put new life and vigor in them. Their hearts will be stirred to do what they can to aid in the work. There is not a class of people in the world that are more willing to sacrifice of their means to advance the cause than Seventh-day Adventists.
If the ministers do not discourage them to death by their indolence, and inefficiency, and lack of spirituality, they will generally respond to any appeal that may be made that will commend itself to their judgment and consciences. But they want to see fruit. And it is right that the brethren in New York should demand fruits of their ministers. What have they done? What are they doing? Ministers in New York should have been far in advance of what they are. But they have not engaged in that kind of labor which called forth earnest effort, and strong opposition which would drive them to their Bibles, and to prayer, that they could answer opponents, and, in the exercise of their talents, doubled them. There are ministers in New York who have been preaching for years who cannot be depended upon to give a course of lectures. They are dwarfed. They have not exercised their minds in the study of the word, and in meeting opposition, so that they might be strong men in God. Had they gone forth "without the camp," like faithful soldiers of the cross of Christ, and depended upon God and their own energies, rather than leaning so heavily upon their brethren, they would have obtained an experience, that now they would be qualified to engage in the work anywhere their help is most needed.
If the ministers generally in New York had left the churches to labor for themselves, and they not stood in their way, both churches and ministers would be now further advanced in spirituality, and in the knowledge of the truth.
Many of our brethren and sisters in New York have been backsliding upon health reform. There is but a small number of genuine health reformers in the State. Light and spiritual understanding have been given to the brethren in New York. The truth that has reached the understanding, the light that has shone on the soul, that has not been appreciated and cherished, will witness against them in the day of God. Truth has been given to save those who would believe and obey. Their condemnation is not because they did not have the light, but because they had the light and did not walk in it.
God has furnished man with plentiful means for the gratification of natural appetite. He has spread before him a bountiful variety in the products of the earth that are palatable to the taste, and nutritious to the system. Of these, saith our benevolent Heavenly Father, "ye may freely eat." We may enjoy the fruits, the vegetables, and grains, without doing violence to the laws of our being. Grains, fruits, and vegetables, prepared in the most simple and natural manner, will nourish the body, and preserve its natural vigor without the use of flesh-meats.
God has created man a little lower than the angels, and has bestowed upon him attributes that will, if properly used, make him a blessing to the world, and reflect back the glory to the Giver. But man, made in the image of God, has, through intemperance, violated principle and God's law in his physical nature. Intemperance of any kind will benumb the perceptive organs, and so weaken the brain-nerve power, that eternal things will not be appreciated, but placed upon a level with common. The higher powers of the mind, designed for elevated purposes, are brought into slavery to the baser passions. If our physical habits are not right, the mental and moral powers cannot be strong; for great sympathy exists between the physical and moral. The apostle understood this, and raises his voice of warning to his brethren: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
There is but little moral power in the professed Christian world. Wrong habits have been indulged, and physical and moral laws have been disregarded, until the general standard of virtue and piety is exceedingly low. Habits which lower the standard of physical health, enfeeble the mental and moral strength. The indulgence of unnatural appetite and passions has a controlling influence upon the organs of the brain. The animal organs are strengthened, while the moral are depressed. It is impossible for an intemperate man to be a Christian, for his higher powers are brought into slavery to the passions.
Those who have had the light upon the subjects of eating and dressing with simplicity, in obedience to physical and moral law, and turn from the light which points out their duty, will shun duty in other things. If they blunt their consciences to avoid the cross which they will have to take up to be in harmony with natural law, they will, in order to shun reproach, violate the ten commandments.
There is a decided unwillingness with some to endure the cross and despise the shame. Some will be laughed out of their principles. Conformity to the world is gaining ground among God's people, who profess to be as pilgrims and strangers, waiting and watching for the Lord's appearing. There are many among professed Sabbath-keepers in New York who are more firmly wedded to worldly fashions and lusts than they are to healthy bodies, sound minds, or sanctified hearts.
God is testing and proving individuals in New York. He has permitted some to have a measure of prosperity, to develop what is in their hearts. Pride and love of the world have separated them from God. The principles of truth are sacrificed, virtually, while they profess to love the truth. Christians should wake up and act. Their influence is telling upon, and molding, the opinions and habits of others. The weighty responsibility they will have to bear of deciding by their influence the destiny of souls.
The Lord, by close and pointed truths for these last days, is cleaving a people from out the world, and purifying them unto himself. Pride and unhealthful fashions, the love of display, the love of approbation, all must be left with the world, if we would be renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created us. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
The church in Roosevelt need sifting. A thorough conversion is necessary before they can be in working order. Selfishness, pride, envy, malice, evil surmising, backbiting, gossiping, and tattling, have been cherished among them, until the Spirit of God has but little to do with them. The prayers of some who profess to know God are, in their present state, an abomination in the sight of the Lord. They do not sustain their faith by their works, and it were better if some had never professed the truth, than to have dishonored their profession as they have. While they profess to be servants of Jesus Christ, they are servants of the enemy of righteousness, and their works testify of them that they are not acquainted with God, and that their hearts are not in obedience to the will of Christ. They make child's play of religion. They act like pettish children.
The children of God, the world over, are one great brotherhood. Our Saviour has clearly defined the spirit and principles which should govern the actions of those who, by their consistent, holy lives, distinguish themselves from the world. Love for one another, and supreme love to their Heavenly Father, should be exemplified in their conversation and works. The present condition of many of the children of God is like a family of ungrateful, quarrelsome children.
There is danger of even ministers in New York being of that class who are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They do not practice what they learn. They are hearers, but not doers. These ministers need to experience the truth that will enable them to comprehend the elevated character of the work.
We are living in a most solemn, important time of this earth's history. Important and fearful events are before us. We are amid the perils of the last days. How necessary that all those that do fear God and love his law, should humble themselves before him, and be afflicted, and mourn, and confess their sins that have separated God from his people. And that which should excite the greatest alarm is that we do not feel our condition, and understand our low estate, and are satisfied to remain as we are. We should flee to the word of God and to prayer. We should make this matter our first business. We should individually seek the Lord earnestly, that we may find him. The church is responsible for the talents committed to their trust, and it is impossible for Christians to meet their responsibilities unless they stand on that elevated and exalted position that is in accordance with the sacred truths which they profess. The light that shines upon our pathway holds us responsible to let that light shine forth to others in such a manner that they will glorify God.
The advancement of the church in ——, in spiritual things, is not in proportion to the light which has shone upon their pathway. God has committed to each talents to be improved, by being put out to the exchangers, that when the Master shall come, he may receive his own with usury. The church at —— are largely composed of valuable material; but there is a failure in reaching the high standard which it is their privilege to attain.
The working material in the church is mostly branches of three families, connected by marriage. There is talent, and good material to make workmen, in the church at ——, more than can be employed to good advantage in that locality. The entire church is not growing in spirituality. They are not favorably situated to call into exercise the talents God has given them, and develop strength. There is not room for all to work. One gets in the way of the other. There is a lack of spiritual strength. If the church in —— was less a family church, each would feel individual responsibility.
If the talent and influence of several of its members should be exercised in other churches, where they would be drawn out to help where help is really needed, they would be obtaining an experience of the highest value in spiritual things, and would be a blessing to others by bearing responsibilities and burdens in the work of God. They would, while engaged in helping others, be following the example of Christ. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister to others. He pleased not himself. He made himself of no reputation. He took upon himself the form of a servant, and spent his life in doing good. He could have spent his days on earth in ease and plenty, and appropriated to himself the enjoyments of this life. He lived not to enjoy, but to do good, and save others from suffering. The example of Christ is for us to follow.
The brethren —— and —— are men who can, if consecrated to God, bear a greater weight of responsibilities than they have done. They have thought they would be prompt to respond to any call that should be made for means, and that this was the principal burden they had to bear in the cause of God. But God requires more of them than this. If they had trained their minds to a more critical study of the word of God, that they might have become laborers in his cause, and work for the salvation of sinners, as earnestly as they have to obtain the things of this life, they would have developed strength and wisdom to engage in the work of God where laborers are greatly needed.
These brethren, by remaining in a family community, are being dwarfed in mental and spiritual strength. It is not the best policy for children of one, two, or three families, who are connected by marriage, to settle within a few miles of each other. The influence is not good on the parties. The business of one is the business of all. The perplexities and troubles which every family must experience, more or less, and which, as far as possible, should be confined to limits of the family circle, are extended to family connections, and have a bearing upon the religious meetings. There are matters which should not be known to a third person, however friendly and closely connected they may be. Individuals and families should bear them. But the close relationship of several families, brought into constant intercourse, has a tendency to break down the dignity which should be maintained with every family. The delicate duty of reproof and admonition given, will be in danger of injuring feelings unless done with the greatest tenderness and care. The best models of characters will be liable to errors and mistakes, and great care should be exercised that too much is not made of little things.
Such family and church relationship as exist in —— is very pleasant to the natural feelings; but is not the best, all things considered, for the development of a symmetrical Christian character. The close relationship, and familiar associations with each other, while united together in church capacity, render the weight and strength of influence feeble. There is not that dignity preserved, and that high regard, and confidence, and love, that make a prosperperous church. All parties would be much happier to be separated, and visit occasionally. Their influence then upon each other would be tenfold greater.
These families, united as they are by marriage, mingling in each other's society, are awake to the faults and errors of each other, and feel in duty bound to correct them; and because these relatives are really dear to each other, they are grieved over little things that they would not notice in those not as closely connected. Keen sufferings of mind are endured, because feelings will arise with some, that they have not been treated impartially, and with all that consideration they deserved. Petty jealousies sometimes arise, and molehills become mountains. These little misunderstandings, and petty variances, cause severer suffering of mind than trials that come from other sources.
These things make these truly conscientious, noble-minded men and women feeble to endure, and they are not developing the character they might were they differently situated. They are dwarfed in mental and spiritual growth, which threatens to destroy their usefulness. Their labors and interests are confined mostly to each other. Their influence is narrowed down, when it should be widening, and more general, that they may, by being placed in a variety of circumstances, bring into exercise the powers which God has given them, in such a manner as shall contribute most to his glory. All the faculties of the mind are capable of high improvement. The energies of the soul need to be aroused, and brought out to operate for the glory of God.
God calls for missionaries. There are talent and ability in the church at —— that will grow in capacity and power as they are exercised in the work and cause of God. If these brethren will educate their minds in making the cause of God their first interest, and will sacrifice their pleasure and inclination for the truth's sake, the blessing of God will rest upon them. These brethren, who love the truth, and have been for years rejoicing because of increasing light shining upon the Scriptures, should let their light shine forth to those who are in darkness. God will be to them wisdom and power, and will glorify himself in working with and by those who wholly follow him. "If any man will serve me, him will my Father honor." The wisdom and power of God will be given to the willing and faithful.
The brethren in —— have been willing to give of their means for the various enterprises; but they have withheld themselves. They have not said, Here am I, Lord, send me. It is not the strength of human instruments; but the power and wisdom of Him who employs them, and works with them, that makes them successful in doing the work that is necessary to be done. The offering of our goods to the Possessor of Heaven and earth, while we withhold ourselves, cannot meet his approbation, or secure his blessing. There must be in the hearts of the brethren and sisters in —— a principle to yield all, even themselves, upon the altar of God.
Men are needed who can and will take burdens and bear responsibilities in Battle Creek. The call has been given, time and again, but hardly a response has been made. Some would have answered the call, if their worldly interests would have been advanced by so doing. But as there was no prospect of increasing their means by coming to Battle Creek, they could see no duty to come. To obey is better than sacrifice. And without obedient and unselfish love, the richest offerings are too meager to be presented to the Possessor of all things.
God calls upon brethren and sisters in —— to arise, and come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The reason there is so little strength among those who profess the truth is, they do not exercise the ability God has given them. Very many have wrapped up their talent in a napkin, and hid it in the earth. It is by using the talents that they increase. God will test and prove his people. Bro. and sister —— have been faithful burden-bearers in the cause of God, and now their children should not stand back, and let the burdens rest so heavily upon them. It is time that the powers of their less worn minds should now be exercised, and they work more especially in their Master's vineyard.
Some of the brethren and sisters in New York have felt anxious that Bro. and sister ——, especially sister ——, should be encouraged to labor among the churches. But this is the wrong place for them to prove themselves. If God has indeed laid upon them the burden of labor, it is not for the churches; for they are generally in advance of them.
There is a world before Bro. and sister ——, lying in wickedness. Their field is a large one. They have plenty of room to try their gifts and test their calling without entering into other men's labors, and building upon a foundation they have not laid. Bro. and sister —— have been very slow to obtain an experience in self-denial. They have been slow to come up to health reform in all its branches. The churches are in advance of them in the denial of appetite. Therefore they cannot be a benefit to the churches in this direction, but rather a hindrance.
Bro. —— has not been a blessing to the church in Roosevelt, but a great burden. He has stood directly in the way of their advancement. He has not been in a condition to help the church when and where they needed help the most. He has not correctly represented our faith. His conversation and life have not been unto holiness. He has been far behind, not ready or willing to discern the leadings of God's providence. He has stood in the way of sinners. He has not been in that position where his influence would recommend our faith to unbelievers.
His example has been a hindrance to the church, and to his unbelieving neighbors. If Bro. —— had been wholly consecrated to God, his works would have been fruitful and productive of much good. But that which more especially distinguishes God's people from the popular religious bodies is not their profession alone, but their exemplary character, and their principles of unselfish love. The powerful and purifying influence of the Spirit of God upon the heart, carried out in words and works, separates them from the world, and designates them as God's peculiar people. The character and disposition of Christ's followers will be like the Master. He is the pattern, the holy and perfect example given for Christians to imitate. The true followers of Christ will love their brethren and be in harmony with them. They will love their neighbors, as Christ has given them an example, and will make any sacrifice if they can by so doing persuade souls to leave their sins and be converted to the truth.
The truth, deeply rooted in the heart of believers, will spring up and bear fruit unto righteousness. Their words and works are the channels through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. Especial blessings and privileges are for those who love the truth, and walk according to the light they have received. If they neglect to do this, their light will become darkness. When the people of God become self-sufficient, the Lord leaves them to their own wisdom. Mercy and truth are promised to the humble in heart, the obedient and faithful.
Bro. —— has stood in the way of his children. If he had been consecrated to God, his heart in the work, and living out the truth he professed, he would have felt the importance of commanding his household after him, as did faithful Abraham.
The lack of harmony and love between the two brothers —— is a reproach to the cause of God. Both are at fault. Both have a work to do in subduing self and cultivating the Christian graces. God is dishonored by their dissensions, and I do not go too far when I say hatred, that exists between these two natural brothers. Bro. A. —— is greatly at fault. He has cherished feelings that have not been in accordance with the will of God. He knows the peculiarities of his brother ——, that he has a fretful, unhappy temperament. Frequently, he cannot see good when it lies directly in his path. He sees only evil, and becomes discouraged very easily. Satan magnifies a molehill into a mountain before him. All things considered, M. —— has pursued in many things a course less censurable, because less injurious to the cause of present truth.
These natural brothers must be reconciled fully to each other before they can lift the reproach from the cause of God that their disunions have caused. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now." Those who labor for God should be clean vessels, sanctified to the Master's use. "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
The embassadors of Christ have a responsible and sacred work before them. They are savors of life unto life, or of death unto death. Their influence decides the destiny of souls for whom Christ died. Bro. and sister —— both lack experience. Their life has not been unto holiness. They have not had a deep and thorough knowledge of the divine will. They have not been steadily advancing onward and upward in the divine life, so that their experience could be of value to the church. Their course has burdened the church not a little.
Sister ——' past life has not been of that character that her experience could be a blessing to others. She has not lived up to her convictions of conscience. Her conscience has been too many times violated. She has been a pleasure seeker, and given her life to vanity, frivolities, and fashion, in face of the light of truth which has shone upon her pathway. She knew the way, but neglected to walk in it. The Lord gave sister —— a testimony of warning and reproof. She believed the testimony, and separated herself from that class who were lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Then, as she viewed her past life, so full of wrongs and neglect, she gave up to unbelief and stolid gloom. Despair spread its dark wings over her. Her marriage with Bro. —— changed the order of things somewhat. At times since she has been very gloomy and desponding.
Sister —— has a good knowledge of the prophecies, and can trace them and speak upon them very readily. Some of the brethren and. sisters have been anxious to urge out Bro. and sister —— as active laborers. But there is danger of Bro. and sister —— working from a wrong standpoint. She has received the advantages of education superior to many by whom she is surrounded. As sister —— has labored publicly, she has depended upon her own strength more than upon the Spirit of God. She has had a spirit of lofty independence, and has thought she was qualified to teach rather than to be taught. Sister ——, with her lack of experience in spiritual things, is unprepared to labor among the churches. She has not the discernment and spiritual strength necessary to build them up. If they should engage in this work at all, they should commence in the church at Roosevelt, by exerting a good influence there. Their work should be where the work most needs to be done.
There is work to be done in new fields. Sinners need to be warned who never have heard the warning message. Here, Bro. and sister —— have ample room to work and prove their calling. No one should hinder them in their effort in new fields. There are sinners to save in every direction. But some ministers are inclined to go over and over the same ground among the churches, when their labors cannot help them, and their time is wasted.
We would wish all the Lord's servants were laborers. This work should not be confined alone to the ministers, but brethren who have the truth in their hearts, and have exerted a good influence at home, should feel that a responsibility rests upon them of devoting a part of their time to go out among their neighbors, and in adjoining towns, to be missionaries for God. They should carry the publications, and engage in conversation, and, in the spirit of Christ, pray with and for those whom they visit. This is the work that will arouse a spirit of reformation and investigation.
The Lord has been for years calling the attention of his people to health reform. This is one of the great branches of the work of preparation for the coming of the Son of Man. John the Baptist went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord, and turn the people to the wisdom of the just. He was a representative of those living in these last days to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people, to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ. John was a reformer. The angel Gabriel, direct from Heaven, gave a discourse upon health reform to the father and mother of John. He said he should not drink wine or strong drink, and should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth.
John separated himself from friends, and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel's hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests, and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite, and the gluttony that prevailed everywhere. The prophet Malachi declares, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of children to their fathers." Here the prophet describes the character of the work. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for his first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, their extravagance in dress and other things.
The self-denial, humility, and temperance, required of the righteous, whom God has especially led and blessed, is to be presented to them in contrast to the extravagant, health-destroying habits of the people who live in this degenerate age. God has shown that health reform is as closely connected with the third angel's message as the hand is united to the body. And there is nowhere to be found so great a cause of physical and moral degeneracy, as a neglect of this important subject. Those who are indulging their appetite and passions, and close their eyes to the light for fear they shall see sinful indulgences which they are unwilling to forsake, are guilty before God. Whoever turns from the light in one instance hardens his heart to disregard the light in other matters. Whoever violates moral obligations in the matter of eating and dressing, prepares the way to violate the claims of God in regard to eternal interests. Our bodies are not our own. God has claims upon us to take care of the habitation he has given us, that we may present our bodies to him a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. Our bodies belong to him who made them, and we are in duty bound to become intelligent in regard to the best means of preserving the habitation he has given us from decay. If we enfeeble the body by self-gratification, by indulging the appetite, and by dressing in accordance with health-destroying fashions, in order to be in harmony with the world, we become enemies of God.
Bro. and sister —— have not appreciated the light upon health reform. They have not seen a place for it in connection with the third message. Providence has been leading the people of God out from the extravagant habits of the world, away from the indulgence of appetite and passion, upon the platform of self-denial and temperance in all things. The people whom God is leading will be peculiar. They will not be like the world. If they will follow the leadings of God, they will accomplish his purposes, and will yield their will to the will of God. Christ will dwell in the heart. The temple of God will be holy. Your body, says the apostle, is the temple of the Holy Ghost. God does not require his children to deny themselves to the injury of the physical strength. He requires of them to obey natural law, to preserve physical health. Nature's path is the road he marks out, and it is broad enough for any Christian. God has, with a lavish hand, provided us with rich and varied bounties for our sustenance and enjoyment. In order for us to enjoy the natural appetite which will preserve health and prolong life, he restricts the appetite. He says, Beware, restrain, deny, unnatural appetite. If we create a perverted appetite, we violate the laws of our being, and take upon ourselves the responsibility of abusing our bodies, and of bringing disease upon ourselves.
The spirit and power of Elijah have been stirring hearts to reform, and directing them to the wisdom of the just. Bro. and sister —— have not been converted to the health reform, notwithstanding the amount of evidence God has given upon this subject. Self-denial is essential to genuine religion. Those who have not learned to deny themselves are destitute of vital, practical godliness. We cannot expect anything else but that the claims of religion will come in contact with the natural affections and worldly interest. There is work in the vineyard of the Lord for all and every one to do. None should be idle. Angels of God are all astir, ascending to Heaven, and descending to earth again with messages of mercy and warning. The heavenly messengers are moving upon minds and hearts. There are men and women whose hearts are susceptible of being inspired with the truth, everywhere. If men and women who have a knowledge of the truth would now work in unison with the Spirit of God, we should see a great work accomplished.
New fields are open for all to test their calling by experimental effort, and in bringing out souls from darkness and error, and establishing them upon the platform of eternal truth. If Bro. and sister —— feel that God has called them to engage in his work, they have enough to do to call sinners to repentance. In order to have God working in them, and. by them, they need a thorough conversion. The work of fitting a people in these last days for the coming of Christ, is a most sacred, solemn work, and calls for devoted, unselfish laborers. Those who have humility, faith, energy, perseverance, and decision, will find plenty to do in their Master's vineyard. There are responsible duties to be performed which require earnestness, and exertion of all their energies. It is the willing service God accepts. If the truth we profess is of such infinite importance as to decide the destiny of souls, how careful should we be in its presentation.
"The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Bro. and sister ——, if you had walked in the light as it has shone upon your pathway, had you been drawing nearer and closer to God, steadfastly believing the truth, and walking humbly before God in the light he has given, you would now have an experience that would be of inestimable value. Had you improved the talents lent you of God, you would have shone as lights in the world. But light becomes darkness to all those who will not walk in it. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as our fathers were, we must be faithful, as they were faithful. We must improve our light as the ancient faithful prophets improved theirs. God requires of us according to the grace he has bestowed upon us. He will not accept less than he claims. All his righteous demands must be fully met. In order for us to meet our responsibilities, we must stand on that elevated ground that the order and advancement of holy, sacred truth has prepared for us.
Bro. C. B. —— fails to realize the sanctifying influence of the truth of God upon the heart. He is not patient, humble, and forbearing, as he should be. He is easily stirred. Self arises, and he says and does many things without due reflection, and he does not exert a saving influence at all times. If Bro. —— was imbued with the Spirit of Christ, he could with one hand take hold of the Mighty One, while with the hand of faith and love he would reach the poor sinner. Bro. —— needs the powerful influence of divine love, for this will renew and refine the heart, sanctify the life, and elevate and ennoble the entire man. Then his words and works will savor of Heaven rather than of his own spirit.
If the words of eternal life are sown in the heart, fruit will be produced unto righteousness and peace. A spirit of self-sufficiency and self-importance must be overcome by you, my dear brother. You should cultivate a spirit willing to be instructed and counseled. Whatever others may say or do, you should say, What is that to me; Christ has bid me follow him. You should cultivate a spirit of meekness. You need an experience in genuine godliness, and unless you have this, you cannot engage in the work of God understandingly. Your spirit must soften, and be subdued by being brought into obedience to the will of Christ. You should at all times maintain the lowly dignity of a follower of Jesus. Our deportment, our words and actions, preach to others. We are living epistles, known and read of all men.
You should be careful not to preach the truth from contention or strife; for if you do, you will most assuredly turn the battle against yourself, and be found advancing the cause of the enemy, rather than the truth of God. Every contest wherein you engage should be from a sense of duty. If you make God your strength, and subdue yourself, and let the truth bear away the victory, the devices of Satan and his fiery darts will fall upon himself, and you be strengthened, and kept from error, and guarded from every false way. You need to cultivate caution, and not rush on in your own strength. The work is important and sacred, and you need great wisdom. You should counsel with your brethren who have had experience in the work. But, above everything else, you should obtain a thorough knowledge of your own weakness and your dangers, that you may not make shipwreck of faith. You should strengthen the weak points in your character.
We are living amid the perils of the last days, and if we have a spirit of self-sufficiency and independence, we shall be exposed to the wiles of Satan, and be overcome. Self-importance must be put away from you, and you be hid in God, depending alone upon him for strength. The churches do not need your labor. If you are consecrated to God, you can labor in new fields, and God will work with you. Purity of heart and life God will accept. Anything short of this, he will not regard. We must suffer with Christ if we would reign with him.
Bro. S —— could have accomplished good if he had, years ago, given all for Christ. He has not been sanctified through the truth. His heart has not been right with God. His talent he has hid in the earth. What will he say who has put his talents to a wrong use when the Master shall require him to give account of his stewardship. Bro. —— has not been an honor to the cause of God. It is dangerous to contend with the providence of God, and to be dissatisfied with almost everything, as though there had been a special arrangement of circumstances to tempt and destroy. The work of pruning and purifying, to fit us for Heaven, is a great work, and will cost us a great deal of suffering and trial, because our will is not subjected to the will of Christ. We must go through the furnace till the fires have consumed the dross, and we are purified, and reflect the divine image. Those who follow their inclinations and are governed by appearances, are not good judges of what God is doing. They are filled with discontent. They see failure where there is indeed triumph, a great loss where there is gain; and, like Jacob, they have been ready to exclaim, "All these things are against me," when the very things whereof they complained were all working together for their good.
No cross, no crown. How can one be strong in the Lord without trials. To have strength, we must have exercise. To have strong faith, we must be placed in circumstances where our faith will be called forth. The apostle Paul, just before his martyrdom, exhorted Timothy, "Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God." It is through much tribulation we enter the kingdom of God. Our Saviour was tried in every possible way, and yet he triumphed in God continually. It is our privilege to be strong in the strength of God under all circumstances, and to glory in the cross of Christ.