Foreword: this Foreword and Contents written October, 2001 (updated 2021) by Daniel Winters; firstname.lastname@example.org
This page has numbers 8, 9, and 10 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:
FAMILY RELIGION.Number Nine.
THE REBELLION.Number Ten.
DANGERS OF THE YOUNG.
I HAVE been shown the high and responsible position God's people should occupy. They are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and must walk even as Christ walked. They will come up through much tribulation. The present is a time of warfare and trial. Our Saviour says in Rev. iii, 21, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." The reward is not given to all who profess to be followers of Christ, but to those who overcome, even as he overcame. We must study the life of Christ, and learn what it is to confess him before the world. No one can confess Christ unless the mind and Spirit of Christ are in him. The fruits of the Spirit are manifested outwardly, and these are a confession of Christ.
In order to confess Christ, we must have Christ to confess. No one can truly confess Christ, unless the mind and Spirit of Christ live in him. If a form of godliness, or an acknowledgment of the truth, were always a confession of Christ, we might say, Broad is the way that leadeth unto life, and many there be that find it. We must understand what it is to confess Christ, and wherein we deny him. It is possible with our lips to confess Christ, yet in our works to deny him. If we have forsaken all for Christ, we shall manifest in our lives humility, our conversation will be heavenly, our conduct blameless. The powerful purifying influence of truth in the soul, and the character of Christ exemplified in the life, are a confession of Christ. If the words of eternal life are sown in our hearts, the fruit is righteousness and peace. We may deny Christ in our life, by the love of ease, love of self, jesting and joking, and by seeking the honor of the world. We may deny him in our outward appearance, by a proud look or costly apparel, or by conformity to the world. We shall not be able to exhibit in our character the life of Christ, or the sanctifying influence of the truth, only by constant watchfulness and persevering and almost unceasing prayer.
I was shown that many drive Christ from their families by an impatient, passionate spirit. Such have something to overcome in this respect. The human family was presented before me, enfeebled. Every generation has been growing weaker, and disease of every form visits the human race. Thousands of poor mortals are dragging out a miserable existence. Some with deformed, sickly bodies, shattered nerves, and gloomy minds. Satan's power upon the human famiily increases. If the Lord should not soon come and destroy his power, the earth would soon be depopulated.
I was shown that Satan's power is especially exercised upon the people of God. Many were presented before me in a doubting, despairing condition. The infirmities of the body affect the mind. A cunning and powerful enemy attends our steps, and employs his strength and skill in trying to turn us out of the right way. And it is too often the case that the people of God are not on their watch; therefore are ignorant of his devices. He works by means which will best conceal himself from view. And he often gains his object.
Brethren have engaged in patent rights, and other enterprises, and have induced others to interest themselves, who could not bear the perplexity and care of such business. Their anxiety and over-taxed minds seriously affect their already diseased bodies, and they then become desponding, which increases to despair. They lose all confidence in themselves, and think God has forsaken them, and they dare not believe that God will be merciful to them. These poor souls will not be left to the control of Satan; they will make their way through the gloom, and their trembling faith will again fasten upon the promises of God, and he will deliver them, and turn their sorrow and mourning into peace and gladness. But such, I was shown, must learn by the things they suffer, to let patent rights and these various enterprises alone. They should not suffer even their brethren to flatter them to entangle themselves with any such enterprise, for their anticipations will not be realized, and then they are thrown upon the enemy's battle-field unarmed for the conflict. Means, which it was shown me should be put into the treasury of God to advance his cause, is worse than lost by being invested in some of these modern improvements. Those who profess the truth, and feel at liberty to engage, and capable of engaging, in these patent rights and inventions, should not go among their brethren and make that their field of operation, but go among unbelievers. Let not your name and profession as an Adventist, decoy your brethren who wish to consecrate their means to God. But go out into the world, and let that class invest their means who care not for the advancement of the cause of God.
I was shown the necessity of opening the doors of our houses and hearts to the Lord. When we begin to work in earnest for ourselves, and for our families, then we shall have help from God. I was shown that merely observing the Sabbath and praying morning and evening are not positive evidences that we are Christians. These outward forms may all be strictly observed, and yet true godliness be lacking. Titus ii, 14: "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." All who profess to be Christ's followers should have command of their own spirit, and not speak fretfully or impatiently. The husband and father should check that impatient word he is about to utter. He should study the effect of his words, lest they leave sadness and a blight.
I was shown that infirmities and disease especially affect females. The happiness of the family depends much upon the wife and mother. If she is nervous and weak, and is suffered to be overtaxed with labor, the mind is depressed, for it sympathizes with the weariness of the body; and then she too often meets with cold reserve from the husband. If every thing does not move off just as pleasantly as he could wish, he blames the wife and mother. He does not always seem to know how to sympathize with her, and is almost wholly unacquainted with her cares and burdens. He realizes not that he is aiding the great enemy in his work of tearing down. He should by faith in God lift up a standard against Satan, but he seems blinded to his own interest and hers. He treats her with indifference. He knows not what he is doing. He is working directly against his own happiness, and is destroying the happiness of his family. The wife becomes desponding, discouraged; hope and cheerfulness are gone. She goes her daily rounds mechanically, because she sees her work must be done. Her lack of cheerfulness and courage is felt through the family circle. There are many miserable families like this all through the ranks of Sabbath-keepers. And angels bear the shameful tidings to Heaven, and the recording angel makes a record of it all. The husband should manifest great interest in his family. Especially should he be very tender of the feelings of a feeble wife. He can shut the door against much disease. Kind, cheerful, encouraging words, will prove more effective than the most healing medicines. This will bring courage to the heart of the desponding and discouraged, and the happiness and sunshine brought into your family by kind acts and encouraging words, will pay you ten-fold. The husband should remember that much of the burden of training his children rests upon the mother. She has much to do with moulding their minds. This should call into exercise the tenderest feelings of the father, and with care should he lighten the burdens of the wife. He should encourage her to lean upon his large affections, and direct her mind to Heaven, where there is strength and peace, and a final rest for the weary. He should not come to his home with a clouded brow, but should with his presence bring sunlight into the family, and should encourage his wife to look up and believe in God. Unitedly can they claim the promises of God, and bring his rich blessing into the family. Unkindness, complaining, and anger, shut Jesus from the dwelling. I saw that angels of God will flee from a house where there are unpleasant words, fretfulness, and strife.
I have also been shown that there is often a great failure upon the part of the wife. She does not make strong efforts to control her own spirit, and make home happy. There is often fretfulness, and unnecessary complaining on her part. The husband comes home from his labor weary and perplexed, and often meets a clouded brow, instead of cheerful, encouraging words. He is mortal, and his affections become weaned from his wife, he loses the love of his home, his pathway is darkened, and his courage gone. He yields his self-respect, and that dignity which God requires him to maintain. The husband is the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the church, and any course which the wife may pursue to lessen his influence and lead him to come down from the dignified, responsible position God would have him occupy, displeases God. It is the duty of the wife to yield her wishes and will to her husband. Both should be yielding, but preference is given in the word of God to the judgment of the husband. And it will not detract from the dignity of the wife to yield to him whom she has chosen to be her counselor, adviser, and protector. The husband should maintain his position in his family with all meekness, yet with decision. Some have asked the question, Must I be on my guard, and feel a restraint upon me continually? I have been shown that we have a great work before us to watch ourselves with jealous care, and search our own hearts, and know wherein we fail, and then guard ourselves upon that point. We must have perfect control of our own spirit. "He that offendeth not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."
The light that shines upon our path, the truth that commends itself to our consciences, will condemn and destroy, or sanctify and transform, the soul. We live too near the close of probation to be content with a superficial work. The same grace which we have hitherto considered sufficient will not sustain us now. Our faith must be increased, and we must be more like Christ in conduct and disposition in order to endure, and successfully resist, the temptations of Satan. The grace of God is sufficient for every follower of Christ.
Our efforts must be earnest and persevering to resist the attacks of Satan. He employs his strength and skill in trying to turn us out of the right way. He watches our going out and coming in, and intends to hurt or destroy us. He works most successfully in darkness, injuring those who are ignorant of his devices. He could not gain advantage if his method of attack was understood. The instruments he employs to effect its purposes, and transmit his fiery darts, are often the members of our own families.
Those we love may speak or act unguardedly, which may wound us deeply. It was not their intention to do this, but Satan magnifies their words and acts before the mind in a manner by which he hurls a dart from his quiver to pierce us. We brace ourselves to resist the one whom we think has injured us, and thus we encourage Satan's temptations. Instead of praying to God for strength to resist Satan, we suffer our happiness to be marred by trying to stand for what we term "our rights." In thus doing, we allow Satan a double advantage. We act out our aggrieved feelings, and by taking this course Satan uses us as his agents to wound and distress those who did not intend to injure us. The requirements of the husband may sometimes seem unreasonable to the wife, when if she should take the second view of the matter, in as favorable a light for him as possible, if she would calmly, candidly consider, she would see that to yield her own way, and submit to the judgment of her husband, even if it conflicted with her feelings, would save them both from unhappiness, and would give them great victory over the temptations of Satan.
I saw that the enemy would either contend for the usefulness or the life of the godly, and will try to mar their peace as long as they live in this world. But his power is limited. He may cause the furnace to be heated, but Jesus and angels will watch the trusting Christian, that nothing may be consumed but the dross. The fire kindled by Satan can have no power to destroy or hurt the true metal. It is important to close every door possible, against the entrance of Satan. It is the privilege of every family to so live that Satan cannot take advantage of anything they may say or do, to tear each other down. Every member of the family should bear in mind that all have just as much as they can do to resist our wily foe, and with earnest prayers and unyielding faith, they must rely upon the merits of the blood of Christ, and claim his saving strength. The powers of darkness gather about the soul and shut Jesus from our sight, and at times we can only wait in sorrow and amazement until the cloud passes over. These seasons are sometimes terrible. Hope seems to fail, and despair seizes upon us. In these dreadful hours we must learn to trust, to depend on the sole merits of the atonement, and in all our helpless unworthiness cast ourselves upon the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. We shall never perish while we do this-never! When light shines on our pathway, it is no great thing to be strong in the strength of grace. But to wait patiently in hope, when all is dark, when clouds envelope us, requires faith and submission which causes our will to be swallowed up in the will of God. We are too quickly discouraged, and earnestly cry for the trial to be removed from us; when we should plead for patience to endure, and grace to overcome.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. We can have the salvation of God in our families, but we must believe for it, live for it, and have a continual, abiding, faith and trust in God. We must subdue a hasty temper, and control our words; and in this we shall gain great victories. Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves to Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All this jangling, and unpleasant, impatient, fretful, words, are an offering presented to his Satanic majesty. And it is a costly offering, more costly than any offering we can make to God, for it destroys the peace and happiness of whole families, destroys health, and is eventually the cause of forfeiting an eternal life of happiness. The restraint God's word imposes upon us is for our own interest. It increases the happiness of our families, and all around us. It refines our taste, sanctifies our judgment, and brings peace of mind, and in the end, everlasting life. Under this holy restraint we shall increase in grace and humility, and it will become easy to speak right. The natural, passionate, temper, will be held in subjection. An indwelling Saviour will strengthen every hour. Ministering angels will linger in our dwellings, and with joy carry the tidings of our advance in the divine life heavenward, and the angel will make a cheerful, happy record.
Fallen man is Satan's lawful captive. The mission of Jesus Christ was to rescue him from his power. Man is naturally inclined to follow Satan's suggestions, and he cannot of himself successfully resist so terrible a foe, unless Christ, the mighty Conqueror, dwells in him, guiding his desires, and giving him strength. God alone can limit the power of Satan. He is going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it. He is not off his watch for a single moment, through fear of losing an opportunity to destroy souls. It is important that God's people understand this, that they may escape his snares. Satan is preparing his deceptions that in his last campaign against the people of God, they may not understand that it is he. 2 Cor. xi, 14. "And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." While some deceived souls are advocating that he does not exist, he is taking them captive, and is working through them to a great extent. Satan knows better than God's people the power that they can have over him, when their strength is in Christ. When they humbly entreat the mighty Conqueror for help, the weakest believer in the truth, relying firmly upon Christ, can successfully repulse Satan and all his host. He is too cunning to come openly, boldly, with his temptations, for then the drowsy energies of the Christian would arouse, and he would rely upon the strong and mighty Deliverer. But Satan comes in unperceived, and in disguise he works through the children of disobedience, who profess godliness. Satan will go to the extent of his power to harrass, tempt, and mislead, God's people.
He who dared to face, and tempt, and taunt, our Lord, and who had power to take him in his arms and carry him to a pinnacle of the temple, and up into an exceeding high mountain, will exercise his power to a wonderful degree upon the present generation, who are far inferior in wisdom to their Lord, and who are almost wholly ignorant of his subtlety and strength.
In a marvelous manner will he affect the bodies of those who are naturally inclined to do his bidding. Satan exults for his own sake that he is regarded as a fiction. When he is made light of, and is represented by some childish illustration, or as some animal, it suits him well. He is thought so inferior that minds are wholly unprepared for his wisely-laid plans, and he almost always succeeds well. If his power and subtlety were understood, minds would be prepared to successfully resist him.
All should understand that Satan was once an exalted angel. His rebellion shut him out of Heaven, but did not destroy his powers and make him a beast. Since his fall he has turned his mighty strength against the government of Heaven. He has been growing more artful, and has learned the most successful manner to come to the children of men with his temptations.
Satan has originated fables with which to deceive. He commenced in Heaven to war against the foundation of God's government, and since his fall has carried on his rebellion against the law of God, and has brought the mass of professed Christians to trample under their feet the fourth commandment, which brings to view the living God. He has torn down the original Sabbath of the decalogue, and instituted in its place one of the laboring days of the week.
The great original lie which he told to Eve in Eden, "Thou shalt not surely die," was the first sermon ever preached on the immortality of the soul. This sermon was crowned with success, and terrible results followed. He has brought minds to receive that sermon as truth, and ministers preach it, sing it, and pray it. No literal Devil, and probation after the coming of Christ, are fast becoming popular fables. The Scriptures plainly declare every person's destiny forever fixed at the coming of the Lord. Rev. xxii, 11, 12. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
Satan has taken advantage of these popular fables to hide himself. He comes to poor, deceived, mortals, through modern Spiritualism, which places no bounds to the carnally-minded, and if carried out, separates families, creates jealousy and hatred, and gives liberty to the most degrading propensities. People know but little, yet, of the corrupting influence of Spiritualism. The curtain was lifted, and much of its dreadful work was revealed to me. I was shown some who have had an experience in Spiritualism, and have since renounced it, who shudder as they reflect upon how near they came to utter ruin. They had lost control of themselves, and Satan made them do that which they detested. But even they have but a faint idea of Spiritualism as it is.
Ministers inspired of Satan can eloquently dress up this hideous monster, hide its deformity, and make it appear beautiful to many. But it comes so direct from his Satanic majesty, that all who have to do with it, he claims as his to control, for they have ventured upon forbidden ground, and have forfeited the protection of their Maker.
When poor souls have been fascinated with the eloquent words of the teachers of Spiritualism, and they have yielded to its influence, and afterward found out its deadly character, and would renounce and flee from it, some cannot. Satan holds them by his power, and he is not willing to let them go free. He knows that they are surely his while he has them under his special control. But if they once free themselves from his power, he can never bring them again to believe in Spiritualism, and so directly under his control. The only way for such poor souls to overcome Satan, is to discern between pure Bible truth and fables. As they acknowledge the claims of truth, they place themselves where they can be helped. They should entreat those who are experienced, and have faith, to plead with the mighty Deliverer in their behalf. It will be a close conflict. Satan will reinforce his evil angels who have controlled the individuals; but if the saints of God with deep humility fast and pray, their prayers will prevail. Jesus will commission holy angels to resist Satan, and he will be driven back, and his power broken from off the afflicted ones. Mark ix, 29. "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
The popular ministry cannot successfully resist Spiritualism. They have nothing to shield their flocks from its baleful influence. Much of the sad result of Spiritualism will rest upon ministers of this age; for they have trampled under their feet the truth, and in its stead have preferred fables.
The sermon Satan preached to Eve upon the immortality of the soul-"Thou shalt not surely die"-they have reiterated from the pulpit, and the people receive it as pure Bible truth. It is the foundation of Spiritualism. The word of God nowhere teaches the soul of man immortal. Immortality is an attribute of God alone. 1 Tim. vi, 16. "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."
God's word, rightly understood and applied, is a safeguard against Spiritualism. An eternally-burning hell preached from the pulpit, and kept before the people, does injustice to the benevolent character of God. It presents him as the veriest tyrant in the universe. This wide-spread dogma has turned thousands to Universalism, infidelity, and atheism.
The word of God is plain. It is a straight chain of truth. It will prove an anchor to those who are willing to receive it, even if they have to sacrifice their cherished fables. It will save them from the terrible delusions of these perilous times.
Satan has led the minds of the ministers of different churches to adhere as tenaciously to their popular errors, as he led the Jews in their blindness to cling to their sacrifices, and crucify Christ. The rejection of light and truth leaves men captives, and subjects of Satan's deception. The greater the light they reject, the greater will be the power of deception and darkness which will come upon them.
I was shown that God's true people are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. God requires of them continual advancement in the knowledge of the truth, and in the way of holiness. Then will they understand the coming in of Satan, and in the strength of Jesus will resist him. Satan will call to his aid legions of his angels to oppose the advance of even one soul, and if possible, wrest it from the hand of Christ.
I saw evil angels contending for souls, and angels of God resisting them. The conflict was severe. Evil angels were crowding about them, corrupting the atmosphere with their poisonous influence, and stupefying their sensibilities. Holy angels were anxiously watching these souls, and were waiting to drive back Satan's host. But it is not the work of good angels to control minds against the will of the individuals. If they yield to the enemy, and make no effort to resist him, then the angels of God can do but little more than hold in check the host of Satan, that they should not destroy, until further light is given to those in peril, to move them to arouse and look to Heaven for help. Jesus will not commission holy angels to extricate those who make no effort to help themselves.
If Satan sees he is in danger of losing one soul, he will exert himself to the utmost to keep that one. And when the individual is aroused to his danger, and with distress and fervor looks to Jesus for strength, Satan fears he shall lose a captive, and he calls a reinforcement of his angels to hedge in the poor soul, and form a wall of darkness around him, that Heaven's light may not reach him. But if the one in danger perseveres, and in helplessness and weakness casts himself upon the merits of the blood of Christ, Jesus listens to the earnest prayer of faith, and sends a reinforcement of those angels which excel in strength to deliver them. Satan cannot endure to have his powerful rival appealed to, for he fears and trembles before his strength and majesty. At the sound of fervent prayer Satan's whole host trembles. He continues to call legions of his evil angels to accomplish his object. And when angels, all-powerful, clothed with the armory of Heaven, come to the help of the fainting, pursued soul, Satan and his host fall back, well knowing that their battle is lost.
The willing subjects of Satan are faithful and active, united in one object. And although they will hate, and war with, each other, yet they will improve every opportunity to advance their common interest. But the great Commander in Heaven and earth has limited Satan's power.
My experience has been singular, and for years I have suffered peculiar trials of mind. The condition of God's people, and my connection with the work of God, has often brought upon me a weight of sadness and discouragement which cannot be expressed. For years I have looked to the grave as a sweet resting place.
In my last vision I inquired of my attending angel why I was left to suffer such perplexity of mind, and so often thrown upon the Devil's battle-ground. I entreated that if I must be so closely connected with the cause of truth, that I might be delivered from these severe trials. There was power and strength with the angels of God, and I plead that I might be shielded.
Then our past life was presented before me, and I was shown that Satan had sought in various ways to destroy our usefulness; that many times he has laid his plans to get us down from the work of God; he had come in different ways, and through different agencies, to accomplish his purposes; and through the ministration of holy angels he had been defeated. I saw that in our journeying from place to place, he had frequently placed his evil angels in our path to cause accident which would result in our losing our lives; but holy angels were sent upon the ground to deliver. Several accidents have placed my husband and myself in great peril, and our preservation has been wonderful. I saw that we had been the special objects of Satan's attacks, because of our interest in, and connection with, the work of God. As I saw the great care God has every moment for those who love and fear him, I was inspired with confidence and trust in God, and felt reproved for my lack of faith.
In the vision given me in Battle Creek, October 25, 1861, I was shown this earth, dark and gloomy. Said the angel, "Look carefully!" Then I was shown the people upon the earth: some were surrounded with angels of God, others were in total darkness, surrounded by evil angels. I saw an arm reached down from Heaven, holding a golden scepter. On the top of the scepter was a crown studded with diamonds. Every diamond emitted light, bright, clear, and beautiful. Inscribed upon the crown were these words, "All who win me are happy, and shall have everlasting life."
Below this crown was another scepter upon which was also placed a crown, in the center of which were jewels, gold and silver, which reflected some light. The inscription on this crown, was, "Earthly treasure-Riches is power. All who win me have honor and fame." I saw a vast multitude rushing forward to obtain this crown. They were clamorous. Some in their eagerness seemed bereft of their reason. They would thrust one another, crowding back those who were weaker than they, and trample upon those who in their haste fell. Many eagerly seized hold of the treasures within the crown, and held them fast. The heads of some were as white as silver, and their faces were furrowed with care and anxiety. Their own relatives, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, they regarded not; but, as appealing looks were turned to them, they held their treasures the firmer, as though fearful, in an unguarded moment, they should lose a little, or divide with them. Their eager eyes would often fasten upon the earthly crown, and count and recount its treasures. Images of want and wretchedness appeared in that multitude, and looked wishfully at the treasures there, and turned hopelessly away as the stronger overpowered and drove back the weaker. Yet they could not give it up thus; but with a multitude of deformed, sickly and aged, sought to press their way to the earthly crown. Some died in seeking to reach it. Others fell just in the act of taking hold of it. Many but just laid hold of it when they fell. Dead bodies strewed the ground, yet on rushed the multitude, trampling over the fallen and dead bodies of their companions. Every one who reached the crown possessed a share in it, and were loudly applauded by an interested company standing around it.
A large company of evil angels were very busy. Satan was in their midst, and all looked with the most exulting satisfaction upon the company struggling for the crown. Satan seemed to throw a peculiar charm upon those who eagerly sought it. Many who sought this earthly crown were professed Christians. Some of them seemed to have a little light. They would look wishfully upon the heavenly crown, and often seemed charmed with its beauty, yet could obtain no true sense of its value and glory. While one hand was reaching forth languidly for the heavenly the other was reached eagerly for the earthly, determined to possess that, and in their earnest pursuit for the earthly, they lost sight of the heavenly. They were left in darkness, yet they were anxiously groping about to secure the earthly crown. Some became disgusted with the company who sought it so eagerly, and they seemed to have a sense of their danger, and turned from it, and earnestly sought for the heavenly crown. The countenances of such soon changed from dark to light, from gloom to cheerfulness and holy joy.
A company I then saw pressing through the crowds of people with their eyes intently fixed upon the heavenly crown. As they earnestly urged their way through the disorderly crowd, angels attended them, and made room through the dense throng for them to advance. As they neared the heavenly crown, the light emanating from it shone upon them, and around them, dispelling their darkness, and growing clearer and brighter, until they seemed to be transformed, and resembled the angels. They cast not one lingering look upon the earthly crown. Those who were in pursuit of the earthly, mocked them, and threw black balls after them, which did them no injury while their eyes were fixed upon the heavenly crown. But those who turned their attention to the black balls were stained with them. The following scripture was presented before me:
Matt. vii, 19-24: "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, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
"The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters; for he will either hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Then that which I had seen was explained to me as follows: The multitude which were shown me, who were so eagerly striving for the earthly crown, were those who love this world's treasure, and are deceived and flattered with its short-lived attractions. Some, I saw, who professed to be the followers of Jesus, are so ambitious to obtain earthly treasures, that they lose their love for Heaven, act like the world, and are accounted of Heaven as of the world. They profess to be seeking an immortal crown, a treasure in the Heavens; but their interest and principal study is to acquire earthly treasures. Those who have their treasures in this world, and love their riches, cannot love Jesus. They may think that they are right, and although they cling to what they have with a miser's grasp, you cannot make them see it, or feel that they love money more than the cause of truth, or the heavenly treasure.
"If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." There was a point of time in the experience of such, when the light given them was not cherished, and it became darkness. Said the angel, "Ye cannot love and worship the treasures of earth, and have the true riches."
The young man came to Jesus and said unto him, Matt. xix, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus gave him his choice, to part with his possessions and have eternal life, or retain them, and lose it. His riches were of greater value to him than the heavenly treasure. The condition, that he must part with his treasures, and give to the poor, in order to be a follower of Christ, and have eternal life, chilled his desire, and he went away sorrowful.
Those who were shown me clamorous for the earthly crown, were those who will resort to any means to acquire property. They become insane upon that point. Their whole thoughts and energies are directed for earthly riches. They trample upon the rights of others, and oppress the poor and the hireling in his wages. If they can take advantage of those who are less shrewd, and poorer than they, and manage to increase their riches, they will not hesitate a moment to oppress them, and even see them brought to beggary.
The men whose heads were white with age, and their faces furrowed with care, who were eagerly grasping the treasures within the crown, were the aged who have but a few years before them. Yet they were eager to secure their earthly treasures. The nearer they came to the grave, the more anxious they were to cling to them. Their own relatives were not benefited. The members of their own families were permitted to labor beyond their strength to save a little money. They did not use it for other's good, or for their own. It was enough for them to know that they had it. When their duty to the poor, and the wants of God's cause are presented before them, they are sorrowful. They would gladly accept the gift of everlasting life, but are not willing that it should cost them any thing. The conditions are too hard. But Abraham would not withhold his only son. He could sacrifice this child of promise to obey God, more easily than many would sacrifice some of their earthly possessions.
It was painful to see those who should be ripening for glory, and daily fitting for immortality, exerting all their strength to keep their earthly treasures. Such, I saw, could not value the heavenly treasure. Their strong affections for the earthly, cause them to show by their works that they do not esteem the heavenly inheritance enough to make any sacrifice for it.
The "young man" manifested a willingness to keep the commandments, yet our Lord told him that he lacked one thing. He desired eternal life, but loved his possessions more. Many are self-deceived. They have not sought for truth as for hid treasures. Their energies and powers are not put to the best account. Their minds, which might be illuminated with Heaven's light, are perplexed and troubled. Mark iv, l9. "The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful." "Such," said the angel, "are without excuse." I saw the light waning away from them. They did not desire to understand the solemn, important truths for this time, and they thought they were well off without understanding them. Their light went out, and they were groping in darkness.
The multitude of deformed and sickly, pressing for the earthly crown, are those whose interests and treasures are in this world, and, although they are disappinted on every side, they will not place their affections on Heaven, and secure to themselves a treasure and home there. They fail of the earthly, yet while in pursuit of it, lose the heavenly. Nothwithstanding the disappointment, and unhappy life, and death, of those who were wholly bent upon obtaining earthly riches, others follow the same course in their pursuit for earthly treasures. They rush madly on, disregarding the miserable end of those whose example they are following.
All those who reached the crown, and possessed a share in it, and who were applauded, are those who obtained that which was the whole aim of their life,-riches. And they received that honor which the world bestows upon those who are rich. They have influence in the world. Satan and his evil angels are satisfied. They know that such are surely theirs, and while they are living in rebellion against God they are Satan's powerful agents.
Those who became disgusted with the company clamoring for the earthly crown, are those who have marked the life and end of those striving for earthly riches, and have seen they were never satisfied, that they were unhappy, and they became alarmed, and separated themselves from that unhappy class, and sought the true and durable riches.
Those who were urging their way through the crowd for the heavenly crown, attended by holy angels, were shown me to be God's faithful people. Angels lead them on, and they were inspired with zeal to press forward for the heavenly treasure.
The black balls which were shown me thrown after the saints, were the reproachful falsehoods put in circulation concerning God's people, by those who love and make a lie. The greatest care should be taken to live a blameless life, and abstain from all appearance of evil, and then move boldly forward, and pay no regard to the reproachful falsehoods of the wicked. While the eyes of the righteous are fixed upon the heavenly, priceless treasure, they will be more and more like Christ, and will be transformed, and fitted for translation.
At the transfiguration Jesus was glorified by his Father. We hear him say, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him." Thus before his betrayal and crucifixion he was strengthened for his last dreadful sufferings.
As the members of the body of Christ approach the period of their last conflict, "the time of Jacob's trouble," they will grow up into Christ, and will partake largely of his Spirit. As the third message swells to a loud cry, and as great power and glory attends the closing work, the faithful people of God will partake of that glory. It is the latter rain which revives and strengthens them to pass through the time of trouble. Their faces will shine with the glory of that light which attends the third angel.
I saw that God would in a wonderful manner preserve his people through the time of trouble. As Jesus poured out his soul in agony in the garden, they will earnestly cry and agonize with him day and night for deliverance. The decree will go forth that they must disregard the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and honor the first day, or lose their lives; but they will not yield, and trample under their feet the Sabbath of the Lord, and honor an institution of Papacy. Satan's host, and wicked men, will surround them, and exult over them, because there will seem to be no way of escape for them. But in the midst of their revelry and triumph, there is peal upon peal of the loudest thunder. The heavens have gathered blackness, and are only illuminated by the blazing light and terrible glory from Heaven, as God utters his voice from his holy habitation.
The foundations of the earth shake, buildings totter and fall with a terrible crash. The sea boils like a pot, and the whole earth is in terrible commotion. The captivity of the righteous is turned, and with sweet and solemn whisperings they say to each other, "We are delivered. It is the voice of God." With solemn awe they listen to the words of the voice. The wicked hear, but understand not the words of the voice of God. They fear and tremble, while the saints rejoice. Satan and his angels, and wicked men, who had been exulting that the people of God were in their power, that they might destroy them from off the earth, witness the glory conferred upon those who have honored the holy law of God. They behold the faces of the righteous lighted up, and reflecting the image of Jesus. Those who were so eager to destroy the saints, could not endure the glory resting upon the delivered ones, and they fell like dead men to the earth. Satan and evil angels fled from the presence of the saints glorified. Their power to annoy them was gone forever.
THE dreadful state of our nation calls for deep humility on the part of God's people. The one all-important inquiry which should now engross the mind of every one is, Am I prepared for the day of God? Can I stand the trying test before me?
I saw that God was purifying and proving his people. He will refine them as gold, until his image is reflected in them, and the dross consumed. There is not in all that spirit of self-denial, and willingness to suffer for the truth's sake, and to endure hardness, which God requires. Their wills are not subdued, and they consecrated wholly to God, seeking no greater pleasure than to do his will. Ministers and people lack spirituality and true godliness. Every thing is to be shaken that can be shaken. God's people will be brought into most trying positions, and all must be settled, rooted and grounded in the truth, or their steps will surely slide. If God comforts and nourishes the soul with his inspiring presence, they can endure, though the way may be dark and thorny. For the darkness will soon pass away, and the true light shine for ever. I was pointed to Isa. lviii, lix, 1-15; Jer. xiv, 10-12, as a description of the present state of our nation. The people of this nation have forsaken and forgotten God. They have chosen other gods, and followed their own corrupt ways, until God has turned from them. The inhabitants of the earth have trampled upon the law of God, and broken his everlasting covenant.
I was shown the excitement created among our people by the article in the Review headed, "The Nation." Some understood it one way, and some another. The plain statements were distorted, and made to mean what the writer did not intend. He gave the best light he then had. Something must be said. The attention of many was turned to Sabbath-keepers, because they manifested no greater interest in the war, and did not volunteer. They were looked upon in some places as sympathizing with the rebellion. The time had come for our true sentiments in relation to slavery and the rebellion to be made known. There was need of moving with wisdom to turn away the suspicions excited against Sabbath-keepers. We should act with great caution. "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." We can obey this, and not sacrifice one principle of our faith. Satan and his host are at war with commandment-keepers, and will work to bring them into trying positions. They should not, by lack of discretion, bring themselves there.
I was shown that some acted very indiscreetly in regard to the piece published. It did not accord with their views in all respects, and instead of calmly weighing the matter, and viewing it in all its bearings, they became agitated, excited, and some seized the pen and jumped hastily at conclusions which would not bear investigation. Some were inconsistent and unreasonable. They acted out that which Satan is ever hurrying them to do, namely, their rebellious feelings.
In Iowa they carried things to quite a length, and run into fanaticism. They mistook zeal and fanaticism for conscientiousness. Their feelings took the lead, instead of being guided by sound judgment and reason. They were ready to become martyrs for their faith. Did all this feeling lead them to God? to greater humility before him? to trust in his power to deliver them from the trying position into which they might be brought? O, no! Instead of making their petitions to, and relying solely upon, the power of the God of heaven, they petitioned to the legislature, and were refused. They showed their weakness, and exposed their lack of faith. All this only went to bring that peculiar class, Sabbath-keepers, to special notice, and expose them to be crowded into difficult places by those who have no sympathy for them.
There have been those who were holding themselves ready to find fault, and complain at any suggestion made. But few have had wisdom in this most trying time to think without prejudice, and candidly tell what shall be done.
I saw that those who have been forward to talk so decidedly in regard to refusing to obey a draft, do not understand what they are talking about. Should they really be drafted, and refuse to obey, and be threatened with imprisonment, torture, or death, they would shrink, and then find out that they had not prepared themselves for such an emergency. They would not endure the trying of their faith. What they thought was faith, was only fanatical presumption.
Those who would be the best prepared to even sacrifice life, if required, rather than to place themselves in a position where they could not obey God, would have the least to say. They would make no boast. They would feel deeply and meditate much, and their earnest prayers would go up to heaven for wisdom to act, and grace to endure. Those who feel that in the fear of God they cannot conscientiously engage in this war, will be very quiet, and when interrogated will simply state what they are obliged to say in order to answer the inquirer, and then let it be understood that they have no sympathy with the rebellion.
There are a few in the ranks of Sabbath-keepers who sympathize with the slaveholder. When they embraced the truth, they did not leave all the errors they should have left behind them. They need a more thorough draught from the cleansing fountain of truth. Some have brought along with them their old political prejudices, which are not in harmony with the principles of the truth. They maintain that the slave is the property of the master, and should not be taken from him. They rank these slaves as cattle, and say that it is wronging the owner just as much to deprive him of his slaves, as to take away his cattle. I was shown it mattered not how much the master had paid for human flesh and souls of men; God gives him no title to human souls, and he has no right to hold them as his property. Christ died for the whole human family, whether white or black. God has made man a free moral agent, whether white or black. The institution of slavery does this away, and man exercises the power over his fellow-man which God has never granted him, and which belongs alone to God. The slave-master has dared to assume the responsibility of God over his slave, and accordingly the sins, ignorance and vice of the slave he will be accountable for. He will be called to an account for the power he exercises over the slave. The colored race are God's property. Their Maker alone is their master, and those who have dared to chain down the body and the soul of the slave, and have kept him in degradation like the brute creation, will have their retribution. The wrath of God has slumbered, but will awake, and be poured out without mixture of mercy.
Some have been so indiscreet, they have talked out their pro-slavery principles, which principles are not heaven-born, but proceed from the dominion of Satan. These restless spirits must talk and act in a manner to bring a reproach upon the cause of God. I will here give a copy of a letter written to Bro. A. R., of Oswego co., N. Y.
"I was shown some things in regard to you. I saw that you was deceived in regard to yourself. You have given occasion for the enemies of our faith to blaspheme, and to reproach Sabbath-keepers. By your indiscreet course, you have closed the ears of some who would have listened to the truth. I saw that we should be as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. You have manifested neither the wisdom of the serpent, nor the harmlessness of the dove.
"Satan was the first great leader in rebellion. God is punishing the North, that they have so long suffered to exist the accursed sin of slavery; for in the sight of heaven it is a sin of the darkest dye. God is not with the South, and he will punish them dreadfully in the end. Satan is at the bottom of all rebellion. You, I saw, Bro. R., have permitted your political principles to destroy your judgment, and your love for the truth. They are eating out true godliness from your heart. You never have looked upon slavery in the right light, and your views of this matter have thrown you on the side of the rebellion, which Satan and his host have stirred up. Your views of slavery, and the sacred, important truths for this time, cannot harmonize. You must yield your views, or the truth. Both cannot be cherished in the same heart, for they are at war with each other.
"Satan has been stirring you up. He would not let you rest until you should express your sentiments upon the side of the powers of darkness,-strengthening the hands of the wicked whom God has cursed. You have cast your influence on the wrong side, with those whose course of life is to sow thorns, and plant misery for others. I saw you casting your influence with a degraded company,-a God-forsaken company, and angels of God fled from you in disgust. I saw you was utterly deceived. Had you followed the light God has given you; had you heeded the instructions of your brethren; had you listened to their advice, you would have saved yourself, saved the precious cause of truth, from reproach. But as you have given publicity to your sentiments, notwithstanding all the light given, it will be the duty of God's people, unless you undo what you have done, to publicly withdraw their sympathy and fellowship from you, in order to save the impression which must go out in regard to us as a people. We must let it be known that we have no such ones in our fellowship, and will not walk with them in church capacity.
"You have lost the sanctifying influence of the truth. You have lost your connection with the heavenly host. You have allied yourself with the first great rebel, and God's wrath is upon you; for his sacred cause is reproached, and the truth is made disgusting to unbelievers. You have grieved God's people, despised the counsel and advice of his ambassadors upon earth, who labor together with God, and are in Christ's stead beseeching souls to be reconciled to God.
"As a people, I was shown we cannot be too careful what influence we exert; and we should watch every word. When we by word or act place ourselves upon the enemy's battle-ground, we drive holy angels from us, and encourage and attract evil angels in crowds around us. This you have done, Bro. R., and by your unguarded, willful course have caused unbelievers to look upon Sabbath-keepers all around you with suspicion. These words were presented before me as referring to the servants of God: 'He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.'
" May God help you, my deceived brother, to see yourself as you are, and have your sympathies with the body."
Our kingdom is not of this world. We are waiting for our Lord from heaven to come to earth to put down all authority and power, and set up his everlasting kingdom. Earthly powers are shaken. We need not, and cannot, expect union among the nations of the earth. Our position in the image of Nebuchadnezzar is represented by the toes, in a divided state, and of a crumbling material, that will not hold together. Prophecy shows us that the great day of God is right upon us. It hasteth greatly.
I saw that it was our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with his own finger. "I will put my laws in their inward parts, and in their minds will I write them. I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." When his laws are written in the heart, that soul will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate from the least commandment. God's people, taught by the inspiration of truth, and led by a good conscience to live by every word of God, will take his law, written in their hearts, as the only authority they can acknowledge or consent to obey. The wisdom and authority of the divine law are supreme.
I was shown that God's people, who are his peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is against every principle of their faith. They cannot obey the truth if in the army, and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. It would be a continual violation of conscience.
Worldly men will be governed by worldly principles. They can appreciate no other. But God's people cannot be governed by the same motives that worldly men are. Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs men of worldly minds, and which leads them to practice the form of doing right. The words and commands of God, written in the soul, are spirit and life, and there is power in them to bring into subjection and enforce obedience.
The foundation of all righteous and good laws is the ten precepts of Jehovah. Those who love God's commandments will conform, and bow in obedience to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled, is, Shall we obey God, or man?
In consequence of long-continued and progressive rebellion against the higher constitution and laws, a gloomy pall of darkness and death is spread over the earth. The earth groans under the burden of accumulated guilt, and everywhere dying mortals are compelled to experience the wretchedness included in the wages of unrighteousness.
I was shown that men have carried out the purposes of Satan by craft and deceit, and a dreadful blow has recently been given. It can be truly said, "Justice has fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." In some of the free States there is a sinking lower and lower. Men with depraved appetites and corrupt lives have now an opportunity to triumph. They have chosen for their rulers those whose principles are debasing, who would not check evil, or repress the depraved appetites of men, but let them have full sway. If those who choose to become like the beasts, by drinking liquid poison, were the only sufferers; if they alone would reap the fruit of their own doings, then the evil would not be so great. But many, very many, must pass through incredible suffering on account of other's sins. Wives and children, although innocent, must drain the bitter cup to its dregs.
Men without the grace of God love to do evil. They walk in darkness, and do not possess the power of self-control. They give their passions and appetites loose rein, until all the finer feelings are lost, and only the animal passions are manifested. Such men need to feel a higher power, a controlling power, which will constrain them to obey. If their rulers do not exercise a power over the evil doer, to terrify him, he will sink to the level of the brute creation. The earth is growing more and more corrupt.
Many were blinded and grossly deceived in the last election, and their own influence was used to place in authority men who would wink at evil: men who would witness a flood of woe and misery unmoved; whose principles are corrupt, who are Southern sympathizers, and would preserve slavery as it is.
There are men in trust who are rebels at heart in the Northern army, who place no more value upon the life of a soldier than they would the life of a dog. They can see them torn, and mangled, and dying, by thousands, unmoved. The officers of the Southern army have information almost every time in regard to the plans of the Northern army. Correct information has been given to Northern officers in regard to the movements and approach of rebels, which has been disregarded and despised, because the informer was black. And by not preparing themselves for an attack, they have been surprised and nearly cut to pieces, or what is as bad, many of the poor soldiers have been taken prisoners, to suffer worse than death.
If there was union in the Northern army, this rebellion would soon cease. Rebels know they have their sympathizers all through the Northern army. The pages of history are growing darker and still darker. True loyal men, who have had no sympathy with the rebellion, or with slavery which has caused it, have been imposed upon. Their influence has helped place men in authority whose principles they were opposed to.
Everything is preparing for the great day of God. Time will last a little longer, until the inhabitants of the earth have filled the cup of their iniquity, and then the wrath of God, which has so long slumbered, will awake, and this land of light will drink the cup of God's unmingled wrath. The desolating power of God is upon the earth to rend and destroy. The inhabitants of the earth are appointed to the sword, famine, and pestilence.
Very many men in authority, generals and officers, act in conformity with instructions communicated by spirits. The spirits of devils, professing to be dead warriors, and skillful generals, communicate with men in authority, and many of their movements are controlled by these spirits. One general has special directions from these spirits to make special moves, and is flattered with the hopes of success. Another has directions to make moves which differ widely from the directions given to the other. Sometimes when they have followed the directions given they obtain a victory, but more frequently a defeat.
These spirits sometimes give them an account of things which will transpire in battles in which they are about to engage, and information is given of individuals who will fall in the battle. Sometimes it is found to be as these spirits informed them, which strengthens the faith of the believers in spiritual manifestations. And then again these leading men find that correct information has not been given them, but these deceiving spirits make some explanation to them which they receive. The deception upon minds is so great they fail to perceive the lying spirits which are leading them on to certain destruction.
The great leading rebel general, the Devil, is acquainted with the transactions of this war, and he directs his angels to assume the form of dead generals, to imitate their manners, and act their peculiar traits of character. And leaders in the army really believe the spirits of their friends, and dead warriors, the fathers of the Revolutionary war, are guiding them. Unless they were under the strongest fascinating deception, they would begin to think the warriors in heaven (?) did not manifest good and successful generalship, or had forgotten their famed earthly skill.
Instead of the leading men in this war trusting in the God of Israel, and directing their armies to trust in the only One who can deliver them from their enemies, the majority inquire of, and trust in, the prince of devils. Deut. xxxii, 16-22. Said the angel, " How can God prosper such a people? If they would look to, and trust in, him: if they would only come where he could help them, according to his own glory, he would readily do it."
I saw that God would not give the Northern army up wholly into the hands of a rebellious people to be utterly destroyed of their enemies. I was referred to Deut. xxxii, 26-30. "I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this. For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?"
There are generals in the army who are wholly devoted to do all that they can to stop this dreadful rebellion, and unnatural war. But most of the officers, and leading men, have a selfish purpose of their own to serve. Each is looking for gain from his own quarter, and many of the whole-hearted, true soldiers are faint-hearted and discouraged. They nobly perform their part when in an engagement with the enemy; but the treatment which they receive from their officers is brutal. There are men among the soldiers that have fine feelings, and independence of spirit. They have never been used to mingle with such a degraded class of men as war brings together, and be tyrannized over and abused, and treated as if brutes. It is very hard for them to endure all this. Many officers have brutal passions, and as they are placed in authority they have good opportunity to act out their brutal natures. They tyrannize over those under them as Southern masters tyrannize over their slaves. These things existing will make it difficult to procure men for the army.
When generals have been in most terrible conflict, and men have fallen like rain, a reinforcement at the right time would have given them a victory. But some generals care nothing how many lives are lost, and rather than come to the help of those in an engagement, as though their interest were one, they withhold the necessary aid, fearing their brother general would receive the honor of successfully repulsing the enemy. Through envy and jealousy they have even exulted to see the enemy gain the victory and repulse Union men.
Southern men possess a hellish spirit in this rebellion; but Northern men are not clear. Many of them possess a selfish jealousy, fearing others will obtain honors, and be exalted above themselves. Oh, how many thousands of lives have been sacrificed on this account.
Those of other nations who have conducted war have had but one interest. With a disinterested zeal they have moved on to conquer or die. Leading men in the Revolution acted unitedly, with zeal, and by that means they gained their independence. Now men act like demons, instead of human beings.
Satan has, through his angels, communicated to those who were cool, calculating men when left to themselves, and they have given up their judgment and have been led by these lying spirits into very difficult places, where they have met with dreadful slaughter, and have been repulsed. It suits his Satanic majesty well to see slaughter and carnage upon the earth. He loves to see the poor soldiers mowed down like grass. I saw that the rebels have been in positions often where they could have been subdued without much effort; but the communications from spirits have led the generals, and blinded their eyes, until the rebels were beyond their reach. And some generals had rather the rebels would escape, than to subdue them. They think more of the darling institution of slavery, than of the prosperity of the nation. These are among the reasons why the war is so protracted.
Information sent by our generals to Washington of the movement of our armies, might nearly as well be telegraphed directly to the rebel forces. There are rebel sympathizers right in the heart of the moving authorities. This war is unlike any other. The great lack of union of feeling and action, makes it look dark and discouraging. Many of the soldiers have thrown off restraint, and have sunken to an alarming state of degradation. How can God go forth with such a corrupt army? How can God, according to his honor, defeat their enemies, and lead them on to victory? There is discord, and strife for honor, while the poor soldiers are dying by thousands on the battle-field, or from their wounds and from exposure and hardships.
This war is the most singular war, and, at the same time, the most horrible and heart-sickening, of any previous war. Other nations are looking on with disgust at the transactions of the armies of both North and South. They see such a determined effort to protract the war at such an enormous sacrifice of life and money, and at the same time nothing really gained, it looks to them like a strife to see which can kill the most men. They are indignant.
I saw that the rebellion had been steadily increasing, and that it had never been more determined than at the present moment. Many professed Union men, holding important positions, are disloyal at heart. Their only object in taking up arms was to preserve the union as it was, and slavery with it. They would heartily chain down the slave to his life of galling bondage, had they the privilege. Such have a strong degree of sympathy with the South. Blood has been poured out like water, and for naught. In every town and village there is mourning. Wives are mourning for their husbands, and mothers are mourning the loss of their sons, and sisters their brothers. And notwithstanding all this suffering, they do not turn to God.
I saw that both the South and the North were being punished. In regard to the South, I was referred to Deut. xxxii, 35-37: "To me belongeth vengeance and recompense: their foot shall slide in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants; when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left, and he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted?"
I have been shown that some, especially in Iowa, make the visions a rule to measure all by, and have taken a course which my husband and myself have never pursued in our labors. Some are unacquainted with me and my labors, and they are very skeptical of anything bearing the name of visions. This is all natural, and can only be overcome by experience. If individuals are not settled, they should not be crowded off. The course to pursue with such may be found in Testimony No. 8, pp. 32, 33, which I hope will be read by all. There is a supply of No. 8 at the Office. Ministers should have compassion of some, making a difference. Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire. God's ministers should have wisdom to give to every one his portion of meat, and to make that difference with individuals which their case requires. The course pursued with some in Iowa who are unacquainted with me, has not been a careful and consistent one. Those who were comparatively strangers to the visions, have been dealt with in the same manner that they would deal with those who have had much light and experience in the visions. Some have been required to endorse the visions when they could not conscientiously do so, and in this way some honest souls have been driven to take positions against the visions, and against the body, which they never would have taken, had their case been managed with discretion and mercy.
There are those who have have had long experience, and have for years been acquainted with me, and with the influence of the visions. They have tested their truthfulness, and asserted their belief in them. They have felt the powerful influence of the Spirit of God resting upon them to witness to the truthfulness of the visions. If such, when reproved through vision, rise up against them, and oppose, and work secretly to injure our influence, they should be dealt faithfully with, for their influence is endangering those who lack experience.
Ministers of present truth, while they bear a pointed testimony, reproving individual wrongs, and seeking to tear away the idols from the camp of Israel, must manifest forbearance. They should preach the truth in its solemnity and importance. The truth received in the heart, will accomplish that for the receiver which nothing else can. If the minister presents the truth in the demonstration of the Spirit, and it does not cut away the idols, to denounce and bear down upon the individual, will not do it. It may appear that some are joined to their idols, yet I saw that they should be very reluctant to give up the poor deceived ones. They should ever bear in mind that we are all erring mortals, and that Christ exercises much pity for our weakness, and loves us although we err. If God should deal with us as we often deal with each other, we should be consumed. While ministers preach the plain, cutting truths, they must let the truth do the cutting and hewing, not do it themselves. They should lay the axe (the truths of God's word) at the root of the tree, and something will be accomplished. Pour out the testimony just as straight as it is found in the word of God, with a heart full of the warming, quickening influence of the Spirit of God, all in tenderness, yearning for souls, and the work among God's people will be effectual. Why there is so little of the Spirit of God manifested, is because ministers learn to do without it. They lack the grace of God; lack forbearance and patience; lack a spirit of consecration and sacrifice; and this is the only reason why some are doubting the evidences of God's word. The trouble is not at all in the word of God, but in themselves. They lack the grace of God; lack devotion, personal piety and holiness. This leads them to be unstable, and throws them often on the Devil's battle-field. I saw however pious men may have appeared to be; however strong they may have advocated the truth; when they begin to talk unbelief in regard to some scriptures which caused them to doubt the inspiration of the Bible, be afraid of them; for God is at a great distance from them.
I have been shown that while parents who have the fear of God before them restrain their children, they should study their dispositions and temperaments, and should seek to meet their wants. Some parents attend carefully to the temporal wants of their children: if sick, they kindly and faithfully nurse them, and then think their duty done. They mistake here. Their work has but just begun. The wants of the mind should be cared for. It requires skill to apply the proper remedies to cure a wounded mind. Children have trials just as hard to bear, just as grievous in character, as older people. Parents do not always feel alike. Their minds are often perplexed. They labor under mistaken views and feelings. Satan buffets them, and they yield to his temptations. They speak irritably, and in a manner to excite wrath in their children, and are sometimes exacting and fretful. The poor children partake of the same spirit, and the parents are not prepared to help them, for they were the cause of the trouble. Sometimes everything seems to go wrong. It is fretfulness all around, and all have a very miserable, unhappy time of it. The parents lay the wrong upon their poor children, and think them very disobedient and unruly, and the worst children in the world, when the cause of the disturbance is in themselves. In this manner some parents raise many a storm, by their lack of self-control. Instead of kindly asking the children to do this, or that, they are ordered in a scolding tone, and at the same time a censure or reproof is on their lips which the children have not merited. This course, pursued toward children, destroys their cheerfulness and ambition. They do your bidding, not from love, but because they dare not do otherwise. Their heart is not in the matter. It is a drudgery, instead of a pleasure, which often leads them to forget to follow out all your directions, which increases your irritation, and makes it still worse for the children. The fault-finding is repeated, their bad conduct arrayed before them in glowing colors, until a discouragement comes over the children, and they are not particular whether they please or not. A spirit of "I don't care" seizes them, and they seek that pleasure and enjoyment away from home, away from their parents, which they do not find at home. They mingle with street company, and are soon as corrupt as any of the worst.
Upon whom rests this great sin? If home had been made attractive, had the parents manifested love and affection for their children, and with kindness found employment for them, in love instructed them how to obey their wishes, they would have touched an answering cord in their hearts, and their willing feet, and hands, and hearts, would have all readily obeyed them. Parents, by controlling themselves, and speaking kindly, and praising their children when they try to do right, encourage their right efforts, make them very happy, and throw a charm into the family circle which will chase away every dark shadow, and bring cheerful sunlight in.
Parents sometimes excuse their own wrong course because they do not feel well. They are nervous, and cannot, they think, be patient and calm, and speak pleasantly. They deceive themselves in this thing, and please Satan. He exults that the grace of God is not allowed by them as sufficient to overcome natural infirmities. They can, and should, at all times, control themselves. God requires it of them. They should realize that when they give way to fretfulness and impatience they cause others to suffer. Those around them are affected by the spirit they manifest, and if they in their turn act out the same spirit, the evil is increased, and everything goes wrong.
Parents, when you feel fretful, you should not commit so great a sin as to poison the whole family with this dangerous irritability. At such times set a double watch over yourself, and resolve in your heart not to offend with your lips. Nothing but pleasant, cheerful words should escape from your lips. Say to yourself, "I will not mar the happiness of my children by a fretful word." By thus controling yourself, you will grow stronger. Your nervous system will not be so sensitive. You will be strengthened by the principles of right. The consciousness in your heart that you are faithfully discharging your duty, will strengthen you. Angels of God will smile upon your efforts, and help you. When you feel impatient, you too often think it is all in your children, and you blame them when they do not deserve it. At another time they might do the very same things, and all be acceptable and right. Children know, and mark, and feel these irregularities, and they are not always alike. Sometimes they are better prepared to meet changeable moods, and at other times they are nervous, and fretful, and cannot bear censure. Their spirit rises up in rebellion against it. Parents want all due allowance made for their state of mind, yet do not always see the necessity of making the same allowance for their poor children. They excuse in themselves that, which if they see in their children, who have not their years of experience and discipline, they would highly censure. Some parents are of a nervous temperament, and when fatigued with labor or oppressed with care, do not labor to preserve a calm state of mind, but manifest to those who should be dearest to them on earth, fretfulness and lack of forbearance, which displeases God, and brings a cloud over the family. Children, in their troubles, should often be soothed with tender sympathy. Mutual kindness and forbearance will make home a paradise, and attract holy angels into the family circle.
The mother can and should do much toward controling her nerves and mind when it is depressed; and even when she is sick, she can, if she only schools herself, be pleasant and cheerful, and can bear more of their noise than she would once have thought it possible. If infirmities, or depression of spirits affect the mother, she should not make the children feel her infirmities, and cloud their young, sensitive minds, and cause them to feel that the house is a tomb, and the mother's room the most dismal place in the world. The mind and nerves can gain tone, and strength, by exercising the will. The power of the will in many cases will prove a mighty soother of the nerves.
Do not let your children see you with a clouded brow. If they yield to temptation, and afterwards see and repent of their error, forgive them just as freely as you hope to be forgiven of your Father in heaven. Kindly instruct them, and bind them to your hearts. It is a critical time for children. Influences will be thrown around them to wean them from you, which you must counteract. Teach them to make you their confident. Let them whisper in your ear their trials and joys. By encouraging this, you will save them from many a snare that Satan has prepared for their inexperienced feet. But if you treat your children only with sternness, if you forget your own childhood, and forget that they are but children, and try to make them perfect, and make them men and women in their acts at once, you will close the door of access which you might otherwise have to your children, and you drive them to open a door for injurious influences, to affect their young minds, and before you awake to their danger, their minds have been poisoned by others.
Satan and his host are making most powerful efforts to sway the minds of the children, and they must be treated with candor, Christian tenderness and love. This will give you a strong influence over them, and they will feel that they can repose unlimited confidence in you. Throw around your children charms for home, and your society. If you do this, they will not desire so much the society of other young associates. Satan works through young associates to influence and corrupt the minds of each other. It is the most effectual way he can work. Young associates have a powerful influence over one another. Their conversation is not always choice and elevated. Evil communications will be breathed into the ear, which, if not decidedly resisted, find a lodgment in the heart, take root, and spring up to bear fruit, and corrupt their good manners. Because of the evils now in the world, and the restriction necessary to be placed upon the children, parents should have double care to bind them to their hearts, and let them see they wish to make them happy.
Parents should not forget their childhood years, how much they yearned for sympathy and love, and how unhappy they felt when censured and fretfully chided. They should be young again in their feelings. You should bring your mind down to understand the wants of your children. With firmness, all mixed with love, require your children to obey you. Your word should be implicitly obeyed.
Angels of God are watching the children with the deepest interest, to see what characters they develop. If Christ dealt with us as we often deal with each other and with our children, we should stumble and fall through utter discouragement. I saw that Jesus knows our infirmities, and himself hath felt their experience in all things but in sin, therefore he hath proportioned a way and a path to our strength and capacity, and like Jacob, hath marched softly and in evenness with the children as they were able to endure, that he might entertain us by the comfort of his company, and be to us a perpetual guide. He does not despise, neglect, or leave behind the children of the flock.
He has not bid us to move forward and leave them. He has not traveled so hastily as to leave us with our children behind. O no, but he has evened the path to life, even for children. And parents are required in his name to lead them along the narrow way. God has proportioned a way and a path according to the strength and capacity of children.
I have been shown that the time has come for more effective labor in the East. The necessity of organization and order is at last felt in the East. Ministers will not now be obliged to labor under such discouragements as before. The angel of mercy is hovering over the East. Said the angel, "Strengthen the things that remain. Proclaim the message to those who have not heard it."
There are those in the East who will be in danger of going to extremes when the Lord shall revive his work among them. They should remember that the Lord removed his work from them to the West, to humble them, and to subdue an independent, rebellious spirit in them, and lead them to better prize the efforts of his faithful servants.
I HAVE been shown that more can be accomplished now, by laboring in places where a few have been raised up, than in entirely new fields, unless the opening is very good. A few who really believe the truth, in different towns, will exert an influence, and excite inquiry in minds in regard to their faith; and if their lives are exemplary, their light will shine, and they will have a gathering influence. And yet I was shown places were the truth has not been proclaimed, which should be visited soon. But the great work now to be accomplished, is to bring up the people of God to engage in the work, and exert a holy influence. They should act the part of laborers, with wisdom and caution and love, labor for the salvation of neighbors and friends. There is too distant a feeling manifested. The cross is not laid right hold of, and borne as it should be. All should feel that they are their brother's keeper; that they are in a great degree responsible for souls around them.
The brethren err when they leave this work all to the ministers. The harvest is great, and the laborers are few. Those who are of good repute, whose lives are in accordance with their faith, can be workmen. They can converse, and urge the importance of the truth upon others around them. They must not wait for the ministers, and neglect a plain duty which God has left for them to perform.
Some of our ministers feel but little disposition to take the burden of the work of God upon them, and labor with that disinterested benevolence which characterized the mission and life of our divine Lord. The churches, as a general thing, are farther advanced than some of the ministers. They have had faith in, and have acted upon the testimonies God has been pleased to give, while some of the preachers are far behind. They profess to believe the testimony borne, and some of them make them an iron rule for those who have had no experience in reference to them, and thereby do hurt; but they fail to carry them out themselves. They have had repeated testimonies which they have utterly disregarded. The course of such is not consistent.
The people of God generally feel a united interest in the spread of the truth. They cheerfully contribute to give to those who labor in word and doctrine a liberal support. And I saw that it was the duty of those who have the responsibility of distributing means, to see that the liberalities of the church are not squandered. Some of these liberal brethren bave been laboring for years with shattered nerves and broken down constitutions, caused through excessive hard labor in the past to obtain possessions here, and now as they freely give a portion of their substance, which has cost them so much, it is the duty of those who labor in word and doctrine to manifest, at least, a corresponding zeal and self-sacrifice equal to that shown by these brethren.
God's servants must go out free. They must know their whereabouts. There is power in Christ and his salvation to make them free men, and unless they are free, they cannot build up his church and gather in souls. Will God send a man out to rescue souls from the snare of Satan, when his own feet are entangled in the net? God's servants must not be wavering. If their feet are sliding, how can they say to those of a fearful heart, Be strong? God would have his servants hold up the feeble hands, and strengthen the wavering. Those who are not prepared to do this, had better first labor for themselves, and pray until they be endued with power from on high.
God is displeased with the lack of self-denial in some of his servants. They have not the burden of the work upon them. A death-like stupor is upon them. Angels of God stand amazed, and ashamed of this lack of self-denial and perseverance.
While the Author of our salvation was laboring and suffering for us, he denied himself, and his whole life was one continued scene of toil and privation. He could have passed his days on earth in ease and plenty, and appropriated to himself the pleasures of this life; but he considered not his own convenience. He lived to do others good. He suffered to save others from suffering. He endured to the end. He finished the work which was given him to do. All this was to save us from ruin. And now, can it be that we, the unworthy objects of so great love, will seek a better position in this life, than was given to our Lord? Every moment of our lives we have been partakers of the blessings of his great love, and for this very reason we cannot fully realize the depths of ignorance and misery we have been saved from. Can we look upon him whom our sins have pierced, and not be willing to drink with him the bitter cup of humiliation and sorrow? Can we look upon Christ crucified, and wish to enter his kingdom in any other way than through much tribulation?
The preachers are not all given up to the work of God, as he requires them to be. Some have felt that the lot of a preacher was hard, because they had to be separated from their families. They forget that once it was harder laboring than it is now. Once there were but few friends of the cause. They forget those upon whom God laid the burden of the work in the past. There were but few, then, who received the truth as the result of much labor. God's chosen servants wept and prayed for the clear understanding of truth. They suffered privation and much self-denial, in order to spread the truth. Step by step they followed as God's opening providence led the way. They did not study their convenience, or shrink at hardships. God, through these men, prepared the way, and the truth has been made plain to the understanding of every honest mind. Every thing has been made ready to the hands of ministers who have since embraced the truth, and some of these have failed to take upon them the burden of the work. They seek for an easier lot, a less self-denying position. This earth is not the resting-place of Christians, much less for the chosen ministers of God. They forget that Christ left his riches and glory in Heaven, and came to die, and has commanded us to love one another even as he has loved us. They forget those who wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, and were afflicted and tormented, of whom the world was not worthy.
I was shown the Waldenses, and what they suffered for their religion. They conscientiously studied the word of God, and lived up to the light which shone upon them. They were persecuted and driven from their homes. Their possessions, obtained by hard labor, were taken from them, and their houses were burned. They fled to the mountains and suffered incredible hardships. They endured hunger, fatigue, cold, and nakedness. The only clothing many of them could obtain, was the skins of animals. And yet the scattered and homeless ones would get together to unite their voices in singing and praising God, that they were accounted worthy to suffer for Christ's name. They encouraged and cheered each other, and were grateful for even their miserable retreat. Many of their children sickened and died through exposure to cold, and the sufferings of hunger; yet the parents did not for a moment think of yielding their religion. They prized the love and favor of God far higher than earthly ease, or worldly riches. They received consolation from God, and with pleasing anticipations looked forward to the recompense of reward.
I was again shown Martin Luther. God raised him up to do a special work. How precious was the knowledge of truth revealed in the word of God to Luther. His mind was starving for something sure upon which to build his hope that God would be his Father, and Heaven his home. The new and precious light which dawned upon him from the word of God, was of priceless value. He thought if he went forth with it, he could convince the world. He stood up against the ire of a fallen church, and strengthened those who with him were feasting upon the rich truths contained in the word of God. Luther was God's chosen instrument to tear off the garb of hypocrisy from the papal church, and expose her corruption. He raised his voice zealously, and in the power of the Holy Spirit cried out against, and rebuked the existing sins of the leaders of the people. He counted not his life dear unto him. Proclamations went forth to kill Luther anywhere he might be found. He seemed left to the mercies of a superstitious people who were obedient to the head of the Romish church.
Luther knew that he was not safe anywhere, yet he trembled not. The light he saw and feasted upon, was life, life to him, and was of more value than all the treasures of earth. Earthly treasures he knew would fail, but the rich truths opened to his understanding, operating upon his heart, would live, and if obeyed, would lead him to immortality.
Here was one lone man who had stirred the rage of priests and people. He was summoned to Augsburg to answer for his faith. He obeyed the summons. Firm and undaunted he stood before those who had caused the world to tremble-a meek lamb surrounded by angry lions-yet for the truth's sake, and for Christ's sake, he stood up undaunted, and with holy eloquence, which the truth can alone inspire, he gave the reasons of his faith. They tried various means to silence the bold advocate for truth. They flattered and held out inducements; he should be exalted and honored; but life and honors were valueless to him, if purchased at the sacrifice of the truth. Brighter and clearer shone the word of God upon his understanding, giving him a more vivid sense of the errors, corruptions, and hypocrisy, of the papacy. His enmies sought to intimidate him, and cause him to renounce his faith, but he boldly stood in the defense of the truth. He was ready to die for his faith, if God required; but to yield it-never. God preserved his life. He bade angels attend him, and bring him through the stormy conflict, unharmed, and he baffled the rage and purposes of his enemies.
The calm, dignified power of Luther humbled his enemies, and dealt a most dreadful blow to the papacy. The great and proud men in power meant he should atone by his blood for the mischief he had done. Their plans were laid, but a mightier than they had charge of Luther. His work was not finished.
The friends of Luther hastened his departure from Augsburg. He leaves in the night, mounted upon a horse, without bridle, without boots or spurs, and unarmed. With great weariness he performs his journey, until he is among his friends.
Again the indignation of the papacy is aroused. They are determined to stop the mouth of that fearless advocate of truth. They summon him to Worms, fully determined to make him answer for his folly.
He was in feeble health, yet he did not excuse himself. He knew the dangers well that were before him. He knew that his powerful enemies would take any measure to silence him. They cried for his blood as eagerly as the Jews clamored for the blood of the Son of God. Yet he trusted in that God who preserved the three worthies in the burning fiery furnace. His anxiety and care were not for himself. He sought not his own ease, but his great anxiety was, that the truth, to him so precious, be not exposed to the insults of the ungodly. He was ready to die, rather than allow his enemies to triumph. As he entered Worms, thousands of persons pressed around and followed him. Emperors, and those in the highest authority, were attended with no greater company. The excitement was intense; and one in that throng, with a shrill and plaintive voice, chanted a funeral dirge, to instruct and warn Luther of what awaited him. Luther had counted the cost, and was ready to seal his testimony with his blood, if God so ordained.
He was about to appear to answer for his faith before a most imposing assembly. Luther looked to God in faith for strength. For a little time his courage and faith were tested. Perils in every form were presented before him. He became sad. Clouds gathered around him, and hid the face of God from him. He longed to go forth with a confident assurance that God was with him. He could not be satisfied unless he was shut in with God. With broken cries he sends up his agonizing prayer to God. His spirit at times seemed to faint, as his enemies, in his imagination, multiplied before him. He trembled at his danger. I saw that God in his wise providence prepared him in this way that he might not forget in whom to trust and that he should not rush on presumptuously into danger. As his own instrument God was fitting him for the great work before him.
Luther's prayer was heard. His courage and faith returned as he met his enemies. There he stood, meek as a lamb, surrounded by the great men of the earth. Like angry wolves they fastened their eyes upon him, hoping to awe him with their power and greatness. He had taken hold of the strength of God, and feared not. His words were spoken with such majesty and power his enemies could do nothing against him. God was speaking through Luther. And he had brought together emperors, and professed wise men, that he might publicly bring to naught their wisdom, and that they all might see the strength and firmness of feeble man who is leaning upon God, his eternal rock.
The calm bearing of Luther was a striking contrast to the passion and rage exhibited by those so-called great men. They could not frighten him into a recantation of the truth. In noble simplicity and calm firmness he stood like a rock. The opposition of his enemies, their rage and threats, would, like the mighty wave, surge against him, and break harmless at his feet. He remained unmoved. They were chagrined to have their power, which had caused kings and nobles to tremble, thus despised by a humble man. They longed to make him feel their power by torturing his life away. But no, a mightier power than potentates of earth had charge of this fearless witness. God had a work for him to do. He must suffer yet for the truth. He must see it wade through bloody persecutions. He must see it clothed in sackcloth, and covered with reproach by fanatics. He must live to justify it, and be its defender, when the mighty powers of earth should seek to tear it down. He must live to see it tear away the errors and superstitions of papacy, and triumph. Luther gained a victory at Worms which weakened the papacy, and the news of which spread to other kingdoms and nations. It was an effectual blow struck in favor of the Reformation.
Ministers who are preaching present truth were held up to me in contrast with the leading men of the Reformation, and especially was Luther's devoted, zealous life placed along side of the lives of some of our preachers. His undying love for the truth, his courage, his calm firmness, his self-denial, his trials and sacrifices, his suffering at times the deepest anguish of soul, while standing in defense of the truth. Yet he murmured not. His life was hunted like a wild beast of prey, yet he endured all cheerfully for Christ's sake.
The last merciful message is entrusted to God's humble, faithful servants of this time. God has led along those who would not shun responsibility, and has laid burdens upon them, and has through them laid out a plan for systematic benevolence to present to his people. In this all can engage, and work in harmony. This system has liberally sustained preachers and the cause. It has been carried out. It has worked like magic. The people have heartily responded to the call, and prized the system, as soon as the preachers ceased their opposition, and stood out of their way. Every thing is made convenient and easy for the preachers, that they may work, free from embarrassment. The people have taken hold with a will and an interest which is not to be found among any other class of people. And God is displeased with preachers who now complain, and fail to throw their whole energies into this all-important work. They are without excuse, yet some are deceived, and think that they are sacrificing much, and are having a hard time, when they do not know really anything about suffering, self-denial, or want. They may often be weary, so would they be if they were dependent on manual labor for a support.
Some have thought it would be easier laboring with their hands, and have often expressed their choice to do so. They do not know what they are talking about. They are deceiving themselves. Some have very expensive families that must be provided for, and they lack management. They do not realize that they are indebted to the cause of God for their homes and all that they have. They have not realized how much it costs to live. Should they engage in manual labor, they would not be free from anxiety and weariness. They could not, while laboring to support their own families, be sitting down at their own firesides.
It is only a few weary hours that a laboring man, with a family dependent upon him for support, can spend with his family at home. Some ministers do not love industrious labor. A dissatisfaction has been cherished, which is very unreasonable. God has marked every murmuring thought, and word, and feeling. Heaven feels insulted at such an exhibition of weakness, and lack of devotion to the cause of God. Some have given a willing ear to the tempter, talked out their unbelief, and have wounded the cause. Satan has claims upon them, for they have not recovered themselves from his snare. They have behaved themselves like children who were wholly unacquainted with the wiles of Satan. They have had sufficient experience, and should have understood his workings. He has suggested doubts to their minds, and instead of repelling them at once, they have reasoned and parleyed with the arch-deceiver, and listened to his reasonings as though charmed by the old serpent.
A few texts which were not perfectly explainable to the satisfaction of their own minds, have been sufficient to shake the whole structure of truth, and to obscure the plainest facts of the word of God. These men are erring mortals. They have not perfect wisdom and knowledge in all the Scriptures. Some passages are placed beyond the reach of human minds, until such a time as God chooses, in his own wisdom, to open them. Satan has been leading some on a trail which leads to certain infidelity. They have suffered their unbelief to becloud the harmonious, glorious chain of truth, and have acted as though it was their business to solve every difficult passage of Scripture, or our faith was faulty.
I saw that those who have an evil heart of unbelief, will doubt, and will think it noble and a virtue to doubt the word of God. Those who think it a virtue to quibble can have plenty of room to disbelieve the inspiration and truths of God's word. God does not compel any to believe. They can choose to rely upon the evidences he has been pleased to give, or doubt, and cavil, and perish.
I was shown that those who are troubled with infidelity and doubts should not go out to labor for others. That which is in the mind must flow out, and they realize not the effect of a hint, or the smallest doubt expressed. Satan makes it a barbed arrow. It acts like a slow poison, which, before the victim is made sensible of his danger, has affected the whole system, and undermined a good constitution, and finally ends in death. It is just so with the poison of unbelief, and doubts upon Scripture facts. One who has influence, hints, or throws a doubt into minds suggesting that which Satan has suggested to them, that one scripture contradicts another, and in a very wise manner, as though they had found out some wonderful mystery, which had been hid from believers and the holy in every age of the world, cast their midnight darkness into other minds. They lose the relish they have had for the truth, and come out infidels. All this is the work of a few words spoken, which had a hidden power, because they seemed involved in mystery.
This is the work of a cunning Devil. Those who are troubled with doubts, and have difficulties which they cannot solve, should not throw other weak minds into the same perplexity. Some have hinted, or have talked their unbelief, and have passed on little dreaming of the effect produced. The seeds of unbelief, in some instances, have taken immediate effect, and in some cases have lain buried quite a length of time, until the individuals take a wrong course, and give place to the enemy, and the light of God is withdrawn from them, and they fall under the powerful temptations of Satan. Then the seeds of infidelity spring up, which were sown so long ago. Satan nourishes them, and they bear fruit. Anything coming from ministers, who should stand in the light, has a powerful influence. And when they have not stood in the clear light of God, Satan has used them as agents, and has through them transmitted his fiery darts to minds not prepared to resist what has come from their ministers.
I saw that ministers, as well as people, have a warfare before them, to resist the Devil. It is a cruel position for ministering brethren to be in, serving the purposes of Satan, by listening to his whisperings, and letting him captivate their minds and guide their thoughts. And their most grievous sin in the sight of God is, their talking out their unbelief, and drawing other minds into the same dark channel, thus suffering Satan to carry out a two-fold purpose in tempting them. He unsettles the mind of one whose course has encouraged his temptations, and then leads that one to unsettle the minds of many.
I saw that it was time that the watchmen upon the walls of Zion understood the responsibility and sacredness of their mission. They should feel that a woe is upon them if they do not perform the work God has committed to them. If they become unfaithful, they are endangering the safety of the flock of God, endangering the cause of truth, and exposing it to the ridicule of our enemies. Oh, what a work is this! It will surely meet its reward. Some ministers, as well as people, need converting. They need to be torn to pieces and made over new. Their work among the churches is worse than lost, and it would be more pleasing to God, while in their weak, tottering condition, for them to cease their efforts to help others, and labor with their hands until they are converted. Then could they strengthen their brethren.
Ministers must arouse. They profess to be generals in the army of the great King, and at the same time are sympathizers with the great rebel leader and his host. Some have exposed the cause of God, and the sacred truths of his word, to the reproaches of the rebel host. They have removed a portion of their armor, and Satan has hurled in his poisoned arrows. They have strengthened the hands of the rebel leaders, and weakened themselves, and caused Satan and his hellish clan to rear their heads in triumph, and exult on account of the victory they have let him gain. Oh, what a lack of wisdom! What blindness! What foolish generalship, to open to their deadliest foes their weakest points! How unlike the course pursued by Luther. He was willing to sacrifice his life, but the truth, never. His words are, "Let us only take care that the gospel be not exposed to the insults of the ungodly, and let us shed our blood in its defense rather than allow them to triumph. Who will say whether my life or my death would contribute most to the salvation of my brethren?"
I was shown that God was not dependent upon any man for the advancement of his cause. He is raising up and qualifying men to bear the message to souls. He can make his strength perfect in the weakness of men. The power is of God. Ready speech, eloquence, and great talents, will not convert a single soul. The efforts in the pulpit may stir up minds, the plain arguments may be convincing, but God giveth the increase. The power is of God, and godly men, faithful, holy men, who carry out that which they preach in their every day life, will exert a saving influence. A powerful discourse may be delivered from the desk, which may affect minds; but a little imprudence upon the part of the minister out of the pulpit, a lack of gravity of speech, and true godliness, will counteract his influence every time, and do away the good impressions made by him, The converts will be his. In many instances they will seek to rise no higher than their preacher. There will be in them no thorough heart work. They are not converted to God. The work is superficial. And their influence will be an injury to those who are really seeking the Lord. The success of a minister depends very much upon his deportment out of the desk. When they cease preaching, and leave the desk, their work is not finished. It is only commenced. They must then carry out what they have preached. They should not move heedlessly, but set a watch over themselves, lest something that they may do and say may be taken advantage of by the enemy, and a reproach be brought upon the cause of Christ.
Ministers cannot be too guarded, especially before the young. They should use no lightness of speech, no jesting or joking, but should remember that they are in Christ's stead, and that they must illustrate by example the life of Christ. "For we are laborers together with God." "We then as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain."
I was shown that the usefulness of young ministers, married or unmarried, is often destroyed by attachment shown to them by young females. They do not realize that other eyes are upon them, and that the course pursued by them may have a tendency to very much injure the influence of the minister they give so much attention. If they would strictly regard the rules of propriety, it would be much better for them, and much better for their ministers. It places him in a disagreeable position, and causes others to look upon him in a wrong light. Yet I saw that the burden of the matter rests upon the ministers. They should show a distaste to these things, and if they take the course God would have them, they will not be troubled long. It is their duty to cut off every appearance of evil, and when young females are very sociable, it is their duty to let them know such things are not pleasing. They must repulse this forwardness, even if they are thought to be rude. Such things need a rebuke, in order to save the cause from being brought into disrepute. If young females are converted to the truth, and to God, they can bear this, and will be reformed.
Ministers should follow up their public labors by private efforts, laboring personally for souls, whenever an opportunity presents, conversing around the fireside, beseeching and entreating souls to seek for those things which make for their peace. Our work here is soon to close, and every man will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
I was shown the saints' reward, the immortal inheritance, and saw that those who had endured the most for the truth's sake will not think they have had a hard time, but will count Heaven cheap enough.
I have been shown that while parents who have the fear of God before them restrain their children, they should study their dispositions and temperaments, and should seek to meet their wants. Some parents attend carefully to the temporal wants of their children; if sick, they kindly and faithfully nurse them, and then think their duty done. They mistake here. Their work has but just begun. The wants of the mind should be cared for. It requires skill to apply the proper remedies to cure a wounded mind. Children have trials just as hard to bear, just as grievous in character, as older people. Parents do not always feel alike. Their minds are often perplexed. They labor under mistaken views and feelings. Satan buffets them, and they yield to his temptations. They speak irritably, and in a manner to excite wrath in their children, and are sometimes exacting and fretful. The poor children partake of the same spirit, and the parents are not prepared to help them, for they were the cause of the trouble. Sometimes everything seems to go wrong. It is fretfulness all around, and all have a very miserable, unhappy time of it. The parents lay the wrong upon their poor children, and think them very disobedient and unruly, and the worst children in the world, when the cause of the disturbance is in themselves. In this manner some parents raise many a storm, by their lack of self-control. Instead of kindly asking the children to do this, or that, they are ordered in a scolding tone, and at the same time a censure or reproof is on their lips which the children have not merited. This course, pursued toward children, destroys their cheerfulness and ambition, They do your bidding, not from love, but because they dare not do otherwise. Their heart is not in the matter. It is a drudgery, instead of a pleasure, which often leads them to forget to follow out all your directions, which increases your irritation, and makes it still worse for the children. The fault-finding is repeated, their bad conduct is arrayed before them in glowing colors, until a discouragement comes over the children, and they are not particular whether they please or not. A spirit of "I don't care" seizes them, and they seek that pleasure and enjoyment away from home, away from their parents, which they do not find at home. They mingle with street company, and are soon as corrupt as any of the worst.
Upon whom rests this great sin? If home had been made attractive, had the parents manifested love and affection for their children, and with kindness found employment for them, in love instructed them how to obey their wishes, they would have touched an answering chord in their hearts, and their willing feet, and hands, and hearts, would have all readily obeyed them. Parents, by controlling themselves, and speaking kindly, and praising their children when they try to do right, encourage their right efforts, make them very happy, and throw a charm into the family circle which will chase away every dark shadow, and bring cheerful sunlight in.
Parents sometimes excuse their own wrong course because they do not feel well. They are nervous, and cannot, they think, be patient and calm, and speak pleasantly. They deceive themselves in this thing, and please Satan. He exults that the grace of God is not allowed by them as sufficient to overcome natural infirmities. They can, and should, at all times, control themselves. God requires it of them. They should realize that when they give way to fretfulness and impatience, they cause others to suffer. Those around them are affected by the spirit they manifest, and if they in their turn act out the same spirit, the evil is increased, and everything goes wrong.
Parents, when you feel fretful, you should not commit so great a sin as to poison the whole family with this dangerous irritability. At such times set a double watch over yourself, and resolve in your heart not to offend with your lips. Nothing but pleasant, cheerful words should escape from your lips. Say to yourself, "I will not mar the happiness of my children by a fretful word." By thus controlling yourself, you will grow stronger. Your nervous system will not be so sensitive. You will be strengthened by the principles of right. The consciousness in your heart that you are faithfully discharging your duty, will strengthen you. Angels of God will smile upon your efforts, and help you. When you feel impatient, you too often think it is all in your children, and you blame them when they do not deserve it. At another time they might do the very same things, and all be acceptable and right. Children know, and mark and feel these irregularities, and they are not always alike. Sometimes they are better prepared to meet changeable moods, and at other times they are nervous, and fretful, and cannot bear censure. Their spirit rises up in rebellion against it. Parents want all due allowance made for their state of mind, yet do not always see the necessity of making the same allowance for their poor children. They excuse in themselves that, which if they see in their children, who have not their years of experience and discipline, they would highly censure. Some parents are of a nervous temperament, and when fatigued with labor, or oppressed with care, do not labor to preserve a calm state of mind, but manifest to those who should be dearest to them on earth, fretfulness and lack of forbearance, which displeases God, and brings a cloud over the family. Children, in their troubles, should often be soothed with tender sympathy. Mutual kindness and forbearance will make home a paradise, and attract holy angels into the family circle.
The mother can and should do much toward controlling her nerves and mind when it is depressed; and even when she is sick, she can, if she only schools herself, be pleasant and cheerful, and can bear more of their noise than she would once have thought it possible. If infirmities, or depression of spirits affect the mother, she should not make the children feel her infirmities, and cloud their young, sensitive minds, and cause them to feel that the house is a tomb, and the mother's room the most dismal place in the world. The mind and nerves can gain tone, and strength, by exercising the will. The power of the will in many cases will prove a mighty soother of the nerves.
Do not let your children see you with a clouded brow. If they yield to temptation, and afterward see and repent of their error, forgive them just as freely as you hope to be forgiven of your Father in Heaven. Kindly instruct them, and bind them to your hearts. It is a critical time for children. Influences will be thrown around them to wean them from you, which you must counteract. Teach them to make you their confident. Let them whisper in your ear their trials and joys. By encouraging this, you will save them from many a snare that Satan has prepared for their inexperienced feet. But if you treat your children only with sternness, if you forget your own childhood, and forget that they are but children, and try to make them perfect, and make them men and women in their acts at once, you will close the door of access which you might otherwise have to your children, and you drive them to open a door for injurious influences, to affect their young minds, and before you awake to their danger, their minds have been poisoned by others.
Satan and his host are making most powerful efforts to sway the minds of the children, and they must be treated with candor, Christian tenderness, and love. This will give you a strong influence over them, and they will feel that they can repose unlimited confidence in you. Throw around your children charms for home, and your society. If you do this, they will not desire so much the society of other young associates. Satan works through young associates to influence and corrupt the minds of each other. It is the most effectual way he can work. Young associates have a powerful influence over one another. Their conversation is not always choice and elevated. Evil communications will be breathed into the ear, which, if not decidedly resisted, find a lodgment in the heart, take root, and spring up to bear fruit, and corrupt their good manners. Because of the evils now in the world, and the restriction necessary to be placed upon the children, parents should have double care to bind them to their hearts, and let them see they wish to make them happy.
Parents should not forget their childhood years, how much they yearned for sympathy and love, and how unhappy they felt when censured and fretfully chided. They should be young again in their feelings. You should bring your mind down to understand the wants of your children. With firmness, all mixed with love, require your children to obey you. Your word should be implicitly obeyed.
Angels of God are watching the children with the deepest interest, to see what characters they develop. If Christ dealt with us as we often deal with each other, and with our children, we should stumble and fall through utter discouragement. I saw that Jesus knows our infirmities, and himself hath felt their experience in all things but in sin, therefore he hath proportioned a way and a path to our strength and capacity, and, like Jacob, hath marched softly and in evenness with the children as they were able to endure, that he might entertain us by the comfort of his company, and be to us a perpetual guide. He does not despise, neglect, or leave behind the children of the flock.
He has not bid us to move forward and leave them. He has not traveled so hastily as to leave us with our children behind. Oh, no, but he has evened the path to life, even for children. And parents are required in his name to lead them along the narrow way. God has proportioned a way and a path according to the strength and capacity of children.
June 6, 1863, I was shown some of the dangers of the young. Satan is controling the minds of youth, and leading their inexperienced feet astray. The youth are ignorant of his devices, and parents should be awake, and in these perilous times work with perseverance and industry, to shut out the first approach of the foe. They should instruct their children when they go out and when they come in, when they rise up, and when they sit down. It should be line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.
The mother's work commences with the infant. She should subdue the will and temper of the child, and bring its disposition into subjection. Learn it to obey. As the child grows older, relax not the hand. Every mother should take time to reason with the child, to correct its errors, and patiently teach it the right way. Christian parents should know that they are instructing and fitting their children to become children of God. The whole religious experience of the children is influenced by the instructions given, and character formed, in childhood. If the child's will is not subdued and made to yield in childhood to the will of the parents, then what a task! What a severe struggle! What a conflict, to yield that will which never was subdued, to the requirements of God! Parents who neglect this important work, commit a great error, and sin against their poor children, and against God. Children, while under strict discipline, will at times have dissatisfied feelings. They will feel impatient under restraint, and will wish to have their own will, and go and come as they please. And they will often feel, from the ages of ten to eighteen, that there would be no harm in going to picnics and other gatherings of young associates; yet their experienced parents can see danger. They are acquainted with the peculiar temperaments of their children, and know the influence of these things upon their minds, and in reference to their salvation, keep them back from these exciting amusements.
When these children decide to leave the pleasures of the world themselves, and choose to be Christ's disciples, what a burden is lifted from the hearts of careful, faithful parents. Yet even then the labor of the parents must not cease. The children then should not be left to take their own course, and always choose for themselves. They have then just commenced the warfare in earnest against sin, pride, passion, envy, jealousy, hatred, and all the evils of the natural heart. And parents need to watch and counsel their children, and decide for them, and show them that if they do not yield cheerful, willing obedience to their parents, they cannot yield willing obedience to God, and it is impossible for them to be Christians.
Parents should encourage their children to confide in them and unburden to them their heart griefs, their daily little annoyances and trials. If they do this, the parents can learn to sympathize with their children, and pray for them and with them, that God would shield and guide them. They should point them to their never-failing Friend and Counselor, who will be touched with the feelings of their infirmities. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.
Satan tempts children to be reserved to their parents, and choose their young and inexperienced companions as their confidents; such as cannot help them, but give them bad advice. Young girls and boys get together and chat, and laugh, and joke, and drive Christ out of their hearts, and angels from their presence, by their foolish nonsense. Unprofitable conversation upon the acts and doings of others, small talk about this young man, or that girl, withers noble, devotional thoughts or feelings, and drives good and holy desires from the heart, and leaves it cold and destitute of true love for God and his truth.
Children would be saved from many evils if they would be more familiar with their parents. Parents should encourage in their children a disposition to be open and frank with them, to come to them with their difficulties, and when they are perplexed as to what course is right to lay the matter just as they view it before their parents, and ask advice of them. Who are so well calculated to see and point out their dangers as godly parents? Who can understand the peculiar temperaments of their own children as well as they? The mother who has watched every turn of the mind from infancy, and is acquainted with the natural disposition, is best prepared to counsel her children. Who can tell as well what traits of character to check and restrain, as the mother, aided by the father?
Children who are Christians will prefer the love and approbation of their God-fearing parents above every earthly blessing. They will love and honor their parents. This should be one of the principal studies of their lives, How can I make my parents happy? Children who have not been disciplined and received right instruction, have in this rebellious age but little sense of their obligations to their parents. It is often the case the more their parents do for them the more ungrateful they are, and the less they respect them. Children that have been petted and waited upon, always expect it; and if their expectations are not met, they are disappointed and discouraged. This same disposition will be seen through their whole lives, and they will be helpless, leaning upon others for aid, expecting others to favor them, and yield to them. And if they are opposed, even after grown to manhood and womanhood, they think themselves abused; and thus they worry their way through the world, hardly able to bear their own weight, often murmuring and fretting because every thing does not suit them.
I saw that some people are learning their children lessons which will prove ruinous to them, and they are also planting thorns for their own feet. Mistaken parents have thought if they gratified the wishes of their children, and let them follow their own inclinations, they would gain their love. What a mistaken idea! what an error! Children thus disciplined, grow up unrestrained in their desires, unyielding in their dispositions, selfish, exacting, and overbearing, and are a curse to themselves and everybody around them. Parents, to a great extent, hold the future happiness of their children in their own hands. Upon them rests the important work of forming their children's character. The instructions they give them in childhood, will follow them all through their lives. Parents can sow the seed which will spring up and bear fruit either for good or evil. They can fit their sons and daughters for happiness or misery.
Children should be taught very young to be useful, to help themselves, and help others. Many daughters of this age can see their mothers toiling, cooking, washing, or ironing, while they sit without remorse of conscience in the parlor to read stories, knit edging, crotchet, or embroider. Their hearts are as unfeeling as a stone. But where does this wrong originate? Who are the ones usually to blame in this matter? The poor, deceived parents. They overlook the future good of their children, and in their mistaken fondness, let them sit in idleness, or do that which is of but little account, which requires no exercise of the mind or muscles, and excuse the indolent daughters because they are weakly. What has made them weakly? It has often been the wrong course of the parents. A proper amount of exercise about the house would improve both mind and body. But they are deprived of this through false ideas, until the children are averse to work. Work is disagreeable, and does not accord with their ideas of gentility. It is thought to be unlady-like and coarse to wash dishes, iron, or stand over the wash-tub. This is the fashionable instruction which is given children in this unfortunate age.
God's people should be governed by different principles than worldlings, who seek to gauge all their course of action according to fashion. In every instance should God-fearing parents train their children for a life of usefulness. They should not permit their principles of government to be tainted with the extravagant notions prevailing in this age, that they must conform to the fashions and be governed by the opinions of worldings. They should not permit their children to choose their own associates. Teach them that it is your duty to choose for them. Prepare them to bear burdens when young. If your children have been unaccustomed to labor, they will soon become weary. They will complain of side-ache, pain in the shoulders, and tired limbs, and parents will be in danger through sympathy, of doing their work themselves, rather than have their children suffer a little. Let the burden upon the children be very light at first, and then increase the labors a little more every day, until they can do a proper amount of labor without becoming so weary. Inactivity is the greatest cause of side-ache and shoulder-ache among children.
There is a class of young ladies in this age who are merely useless creatures, only good to breathe, eat, wear, chat, and talk nonsense, while in their fingers they hold a bit of embroidery or crotchet. But few of the youth show real sound judgment and good common sense. They lead a butterfly life, without any special object in view. When this class of worldly associates get together, about all you can hear is a few silly remarks to one another about dress, or some frivolous matter, and then they laugh at their own remarks which they consider very bright. This is frequently done before older people, who can but feel saddened at such lack of reverence for their years. Such seem to have lost all sense of modesty and good manners. Yet the way that they have been instructed leads them to think it the hight of gentility.
This spirit is like a contagious disease. God's people should choose the society for their children, and teach them to avoid the company of these vain worldlings. Mothers should take their daughters with them into the kitchen, and patiently educate them. The constitution will be better for such labor. The muscles will gain tone and strength, and their meditations will be more healthy and elevated at the close of the day. They may be weary, but how sweet is rest after a proper amount of labor. Sleep, nature's sweet restorer, invigorates the weary body, and prepares it for the next day's duties. Do not intimate to your children that it is no matter whether they labor or not. Teach them that their help is needed, that their time is of value, and that you depend on their labor.
I have been shown that much sin has resulted from idleness. Active hands and minds do not find time to heed every temptation the Enemy suggests; but idle hands and brains are all ready for Satan to control. The mind, when not properly occupied, dwells upon improper things. Parents should learn their children that idleness is sin. I was referred to Eze. xvi, 49. "Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness, was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hands of the poor and needy."
Children should feel that they are indebted to their parents, who have watched over them in their infancy, and nursed them in sickness. They should realize that their parents have suffered much anxiety on their account. Especially have conscientious, godly parents felt the deepest interest that their children should take a right course. As they have seen faults in their children, how heavy have been their hearts. If the children who caused those hearts to ache could see the effect of their course, they would certainly relent. If they could see their mother's tears, and hear her prayers to God in their behalf, if they could listen to her suppressed and broken sighs, their hearts would feel, and they would speedily confess their wrongs and ask to be forgiven. There is a work to be accomplished for old and young. Parents should better qualify themselves to more fully discharge their duty to their children. Some parents do not understand their children, and are not really acquainted with them. There is often a great distance between parents and children. If parents would enter more fully into the feelings of their children, and draw out what is in their hearts, it would have a beneficial influence upon them.
Parents should deal faithfully with the souls committed to their trust. They should not encourage in them pride, extravagance or love of show. They should not teach them, nor suffer them to learn, little pranks which appear cunning in small children, which they have to unlearn and correct them for, when they are older. Habits formed when very young, are not easily forgotten. Parents should commence to discipline the minds of their children while very young, to the end that they may be Christians. Let all your efforts be for their salvation. Act as though they were placed in your care to be fitted as precious jewels to shine in the kingdom of God. Beware how you lull your children to sleep over the pit of destruction, with the mistaken thought that they are not old enough to be accountable, and are not old enough to repent of their sins and profess Christ.
I was referred to the many precious promises on record for those who seek their Saviour early. Eccl. xii, 1. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." Prov. viii, 17. "I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me." The great Shepherd of Israel is still saying, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven." Teach your children that youth is the best time to seek the Lord. Their young minds are not harrassed with care, and the burdens of life are not heavy upon them, and while so free they should devote the best of their strength to God.
We are living in an unfortunate age for children. A heavy current is setting downward to perdition, and it needs more than childhood's experience and strength to press against this current, and not be borne down by it. Satan and his angels are leading the youth generally to certain destruction. They seem to be his captives. Satan and his angels are warring against the government of God, and all who have a desire to yield their hearts to him and obey his requirements, Satan will try to perplex, and overcome with his temptations, that they may become discouraged and give up the warfare.
Parents, help your children. Arouse from the lethargy which has been upon you. Watch continually to cut off the current, and roll back the weight of evil Satan is pressing in upon your children. The children cannot do this of themselves. Parents can do much. By earnest prayer and living faith, great victories will be gained. Some parents have not realized the responsibilities resting upon them, and have neglected the religious education of their children. In the morning the Christian's first thoughts should be upon God. Worldly labor and self-interest should be secondary. Before leaving the house for labor, all the family should be collected together, and taught that they must respect and reverence the hour of prayer. The father, or the mother in the father's absence, should with humility and a heart full of tenderness, with a sense of the temptations and dangers before themselves and their children, plead fervently before God that he would keep the children through the day. By faith bind your children upon the altar, entreating for them the care of the Lord. Ministering angels will guard children who are thus dedicated to God. It is the duty of Christian parents, morning and evening, by earnest prayer and persevering faith, to make a hedge about their children. They should patiently instruct them-kindly and untiringly teach them how to live in order to please God.
Impatience in the parent excites impatience in the children. Passion manifested by the parents, creates passion in the children, and stirs up the evils of their nature. Some parents correct their children severely with a spirit of impatience, and often in passion. Such corrections produce no good result. In seeking to correct one evil, they create two. Continual censuring and whipping hardens children, and weans them from their parents. Parents should first learn to control themselves; then they can more successfully control their children. Every time they lose self-control, and speak and act impatiently, they sin against God. They should first reason with their children, clearly point out their wrongs, show them their sin, and impress upon them that they have not only sinned against them, but against God. With your heart subdued and full of pity and sorrow for your erring children, pray with them, before correcting them. Then your correction will not cause your children to hate you. They will love you. They will see that you do not punish them because they have put you to inconvenience, or because you wish to vent your displeasure upon them; but from a sense of duty for their good, that they may not be left to grow up in sin and wickedness.
Some parents have failed to give their children a religious education, and have also neglected their school education. Neither should have been neglected. Children's minds will be active. If not engaged in physical labor, or occupied with study, they will be exposed to bad influences. It is sin for parents to suffer their children to grow up in ignorance. They should be supplied with useful and interesting books. They should be learned to work, and have hours for physical labor, and hours to devote to study and reading.
Parents should seek to elevate the minds of their children. They should cultivate their intellect, and strive to improve their mental faculties. The mind left to itself uncultivated will be generally low, sensual, and corrupt. Satan improves his opportunity, and educates idle minds.
Parents, the recording angel writes every impatient, fretful word you utter to your children. Every failure on your part to give your children proper instruction, and show them the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the final result of a sinful course, is marked against your name. Every unguarded word spoken before your children carelessly, or in jest, not chaste and elevated, the recording angel marks as a spot against your Christian character. All your acts are recorded, whether they are good or bad.
Parents cannot succeed well in the government of their children until they first have perfect government and control over themselves. They must first learn to subdue themselves, and control their words, and the very expression of the countenance. They should not suffer the tones of their voice to be disturbed or agitated with excitement and passion. Then they can have a decided influence over their children.
Children may wish to do right; they may purpose in their hearts to be obedient and kind to their parents or guardians; but they need help and encouragement from them. They may have good resolutions, but unless their principles are strengthened by religion, and their lives influenced by the renewing grace of God, they will fail to come up to the mark.
Parents should redouble their efforts for the salvation of their children. They should faithfully instruct them, and not leave them to gather up their education as best they can. They should not be left to learn good and bad indiscriminately, with the idea that at some future time the good will predominate, and the evil lose its influence. The evil will increase faster than the good. It is possible the evil they have learned might be eradicated after many years; but who will venture this? Time is short. It is easier and much safer to sow clean and good seed in the hearts of your children, than to pluck up the weeds afterward. It is the parents' duty to watch lest surrounding influence have an injurious effect upon their children. It is their duty to select the society for them, and not suffer them to choose for themselves. If parents do not do this work, who will? Can others have that interest for your children which you should have? Can they have that constant care and deep love that parents have?
Sabbath-keeping children may become impatient of restraint, and think their parents too strict; and hard feelings may even arise in their hearts, and discontented, unhappy thoughts may be cherished by them against those who are working for their present, their future and eternal good. But if life should be spared a few years, they will bless their parents for their strict care and faithful watchfulness over them in their years of inexperience. Parents should explain and simplify the plan of salvation to their children, that their young minds may comprehend it. Children of eight, ten, or twelve years of age, are old enough to be addressed on the subject of personal religion. Do not teach your children with reference to some future period, when they shall be old enough to repent and believe the truth. Very young children, if properly instructed, may have correct views of their state as sinners, and of the way of salvation through Christ. Ministers are generally too indifferent to the salvation of children, and are not personal as they should be. Golden opportunities to impress the minds of children frequently pass without being improved.
The bad influence around our children is almost overpowering; corrupting their minds and leading them down to perdition. The minds of youth are naturally given to folly, and at an early age, before their characters are formed, and their judgment matured, they frequently manifest preference for associates who will have an injurious influence over them. Some form attachments for the other sex, and disregard the wishes and entreaties of their parents, and break the fifth commandment, by thus dishonoring them. It is the duty of parents to watch the going out and coming in of their children. They should encourage them, and present inducements before them which will attract them at home, and lead them to see that their parents are interested for them. They should make home pleasant and cheerful. Speak kindly to your children. Fathers and mothers, remember how sensitive you are, how little you can bear to be blamed. Reflect, and know that your children are like you. That which you cannot bear, don't lay upon your children. If you cannot bear censure and blame, neither can your children who are weaker than you, and cannot endure as much. Let your pleasant, cheerful words ever be like sunbeams in your family. The fruits of self-control, thoughtfulness, and pains-taking on your part, will be an hundred-fold.
No father or mother has any right to sadden and bring a gloomy cloud over their children's happiness, by fault-finding, or severe censure for little mistakes and trifles. Actual wrong and sin should be made to appear just as sinful as it is, and a decided, firm course should be pursued to prevent the recurrence of similar sins and wrongs. Impress them with a sense of their wrongs. Don't leave them in a hopeless state of mind. Leave upon their minds a degree of courage that they can improve and gain your confidence and approval.
Some parents mistake in giving their children too much liberty. They sometimes have so much confidence in them that they do not see their faults. It is wrong to allow children, at some expense, to visit at a distance, unaccompanied by their parents or guardians. It has a wrong influence upon the children. They feel that they are of considerable consequence, and that certain privileges belong to them, and if not granted them, they think themselves abused. They refer to children who go and come, and have many privileges, while they have so few. And the mother fears that the children will think her unjust unless she gratifies their wishes, which in the end proves a great injury to the children. Impressions are often received by the young visitors, who have not a parent's watchful eye over them to see and correct their faults, which will take months to do away. I was referred to cases where parents have had good, obedient children, and have had the utmost confidence in certain families, and trusted their children to go from them at a distance to visit them, which has caused an entire change from that time in the deportment and character of their children. Formerly they were contented and happy at home, and had no great desire to be much in the company of other young people. When they return to their parents, restraint seems unjust, and home is like a prison to them. Such unwise movements of parents decide the character of their children.
Some children by thus visiting, form attachments which prove their ruin in the end. Parents should keep their children with them if they can, and should watch them with the deepest solicitude.
When you let your children visit away from you at a distance, they feel that they are old enough to take care of, and choose for themselves. When the young are thus left to themselves, their conversation is often upon things which will not refine or elevate them, nor increase their love for the things of religion. The more they are permitted to visit, the greater will be their desire to go, and the less attractive will home be to them.
Children, God has seen fit to entrust you to the care of your parents, for them to instruct, discipline, and act their part in forming your character for heaven. And yet it rests with you to say whether you will develop a good Christian character by making the best of the advantages you have had from godly, faithful, praying parents. Notwithstanding all the anxiety and faithfulness of parents in behalf of their children, they alone cannot save them. There is a work for the children to do. Every child will have an individual case of his or her own to attend to. Believing parents have a responsible work before them, to guide the footsteps of their children, even in their religious experience. When your children truly love God, they will bless and reverence their parents for the care which they have manifested for them, and their faithfulness in restraining their desires and subduing their wills.
The prevailing influence in the world is to suffer the youth to follow the natural turn of their minds. And if very wild in youth, parents say they will come right after a while, and when sixteen or eighteen years of age, reason for themselves, and leave off their wrong habits, and become at last useful men and women. What a mistake! They permit an enemy for years to sow the garden of the heart. Suffer wrong principles to grow in the heart, and with all the labor afterward bestowed on that soil, in many cases it will avail nothing. Satan is an artful, persevering workman. He is a deadly foe. He takes advantage of every incautious word spoken to the injury of youth, whether in flattery, or to cause them to look upon some sin with less abhorrence. Satan nourishes the bad seed, that it may take root and yield a bountiful harvest. Some parents have suffered their children to form characters, the marks of which may be seen all through life. Upon their parents lies this sin. They may profess to be Christians, yet without a special work of grace upon the heart, and a thorough reform in life, their past habits will be seen in all their experience, and they will exhibit just the character their parents allowed them to form.
On account of the standard of piety being so low among professed Christians generally, it is much more laborious and trying for those who wish to follow Christ in sincerity. The influence of worldly professors is injurious to the young. The mass of professed Christians have removed the line of distinction between Christians and the world. And while they profess to be living for Christ, they are living for the world. Their faith has but little restraining influence upon their pleasures. While they profess to be children of the light, they walk in darkness and are children of the night and of darkness. Those who walk in darkness cannot love God, and sincerely desire to glorify him. They are not enlightened to discern the excellence of heavenly things, and therefore cannot truly love them. They profess to be Christians because it is considered honorable, and there is no cross for them to bear. Their motives are often selfish. Some such professors can enter the ball-room, and unite with all the amusements which it affords. Others cannot go quite to such a length as this, yet they can attend parties of pleasure, picnics, donation-parties, and exhibitions. And the most discerning Christian would fail to detect in such professed Christians one mark of his or her Christianity. One would fail to see any difference in their appearance from the greatest unbeliever. The profligate, and open scoffer of religion, and the openly profane, all mingle together as one. And God regards them as one in spirit and practice.
A profession of Christianity without corresponding faith and works, will avail nothing. No man can serve two masters. The children of the wicked One are their own master's servants, and to whom they yield themselves servants to obey, his servants they are. Until they renounce the Devil and all his works, they cannot be the servants of God. It cannot be harmless for servants of the heavenly King to engage in the pleasures and amusements which Satan's servants engage in, even if they often repeat that such amusements are harmless. God has revealed sacred and holy truths, to separate his people from the ungodly, and purify them unto himself. Seventh-day Adventists should live out their faith. Those who obey the ten commandments, view the state of the world and religious things from altogether a different stand-point from professors who are lovers of pleasures, who shun the cross, and are living in violation of the fourth commandment. In the present state of things in society, the task is no easy one, for parents to restrain their children, and instruct them according to the Bible rule of right. Professors of religion have so departed from the word of God, that when his people return to his sacred word, and would train their children according to its precepts, and like Abraham of old command their households after them; the poor children with such an influence around them think their parents unnecessarily exacting and over-careful, in regard to their associates. They naturally desire to follow the example of worldly, pleasure-loving professors.
In these days, persecution and reproach for Christ's sake, are scarcely known. But very little self-denial and sacrifice is necessary in order to put on a form of godliness, and have the name upon a church book. But to live in such a manner that our ways will be pleasing to God, and our names registered in the book of life, will require watchfulness and prayer, self-denial and sacrifice on our part. Professed Christians should be no example for the youth, only as far as they follow Christ. Right actions are unmistakable fruits of true godliness. The Judge of all the earth will give every one according as his works shall be. Children who follow Christ, have a warfare before them. They have a daily cross to bear in coming out from the world and being separate, and imitating the life of Christ.
I was shown that God's people dwell too much under a cloud. It is not the will of God for his people to live in unbelief. Jesus is light, and in him is no darkness at all. His children are the children of light. They are renewed in his image, and called out of darkness into his marvelous light. He is the light of the world, and they that follow him are the light of the world. They shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The more closely the people of God strive to imitate Christ, the more perseveringly will they be pursued by the enemy. But their nearness to Christ strengthens them to resist the efforts of our wily foe to draw them from Christ.
I was shown that there was too much comparing ourselves among ourselves, taking fallible mortals for a pattern when we have a sure, unerring Pattern. The people of God should not measure themselves by the world, nor by the opinions of men, nor by what they once were before embracing the truth. But their faith and position in the world, as they now are, must be compared with what they would have been if their course had been continually onward and upward since they professed to be followers of Christ. This is the only safe comparison that can be made. In every other, there will be self-deception. If the moral character and spiritual state of God's people, do not correspond with the blessings, privileges, and light, which have been conferred upon them, they are weighed in the balance and found wanting. Angels make their report, WANTING.
With some, the knowledge of their true state seems to be hidden from them. They see the truth, but perceive not its importance, or its claims. They hear the truth, but do not fully understand it, because they do not conform their lives to it, and therefore are not sanctified through obeying it. And yet they rest as unconcerned, and well satisfied, as though the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, as tokens of God's favor, went before them. They profess to know God, but in works deny him. They reckon themselves as his chosen, peculiar people, yet his presence and power to save to the uttermost are seldom manifested among them. How great is the darkness of such! yet they know it not. The light shines, but they do not comprehend it. No stronger delusion can deceive the human mind, than that which makes them believe that they are right, and that God accepts their works, when they are sinning against him. They mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof. They suppose that they are rich, and have need of nothing, when they are poor, wretched, blind, and naked, and need all things.
There are some who profess to be Christ's followers, yet have no labor in spiritual things. In any worldly enterprise they put forth efforts, and manifest ambition to accomplish their object, and bring about their desired end; but in the enterprise of everlasting life, where all is at stake, and their eternal happiness depends upon their success, they act as indifferent as though they were not moral agents, and another was playing the game of life for them, and they had nothing to do but wait the result. Oh, what folly! what madness! If all will only manifest that degree of ambition, zeal, and earnestness, for everlasting life that they manifest in their worldly pursuits, they will be victorious overcomers. Every one, I saw, must obtain an experience for themselves, act well and faithfully their part in the game of life. While Satan is watching his opportunity when the Christian is unguarded, to seize the precious graces, the Christian will have a severe conflict with the powers of darkness to retain them; or if they have lost through lack of watchfulness a heavenly grace, to regain it.
But I was shown that it is the privilege of Christians to obtain strength from God to hold every precious grace. Fervent and effectual prayer will be regarded in Heaven. When the servants of Christ take the shield of faith for their defense, and the sword of the Spirit for war, there is danger in the Enemy's camp, and something must be done. Persecution and reproach only wait for those who are endued with power from on high to call them into action. When the truth in its simplicity and strength prevails among believers, and is brought to bear against the spirit of the world, it will be evident that between Christ and Belial there is no concord. The disciples of Christ must be living examples of the life and spirit of their Master.
Young and old have a conflict and warfare before them. They should not sleep for a moment. A wily foe is constantly on the alert to lead them astray and overcome them. Believers in present truth must be as watchful as their enemy, and manifest wisdom in resisting Satan. Will they do this? Will they persevere in this warfare? Will they be careful to depart from all iniquity? Christ is denied in many ways. We may deny him in our words, by speaking contrary to truth, or by speaking evil of others, or by foolish talking or jesting, or by words that are idle. In these things we manifest but little shrewdness or wisdom. We make ourselves weak, and our efforts are feeble to resist our great Enemy, and we are conquered. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and through lack of watchfulness we confess that Christ is not in us. Those who will hesitate to devote themselves unreservedly to God, make poor work of following Christ. They follow him at such a distance they do not really know half the time whether they are following his footprints, or the footsteps of their great Enemy. Why are we so slow to give up our interest in the things of this world, and take Christ for our only portion? Why should we wish to keep the friendship of our Lord's enemies, and follow their customs and be led by their opinions? There must be an entire, unreserved surrender to God, a forsaking and turning away from the love of the world and earthly things, or we cannot be his disciples.
The life and spirit of Christ is the only standard of excellence and perfection, and our only safe course is in following his example. In doing this he will guide us by his counsel, and afterward receive us to glory. We must strive diligently, and be willing to suffer much, in order to walk in the footsteps of our Redeemer. God is willing to work for us, to give us of his free Spirit, if we will strive for it, live for it, believe for it; and then we can walk in the light as he is in the light. We can feast upon his love, and drink in of his rich fullness.
The Lord has not tested his people upon any particular time since 1844. We have been, and still are, in the patient waiting time. The excitement created by the 1854 time was considerable, and many have settled it that that movement was in the order of God, because it was quite extensive, and some were apparently converted in that movement. But such conclusions are not necessary. There was much preached in connection with the time in 1854, that was reasonable and right. Some who were honest, took truth and error, all together, and sacrificed much of what they possessed to carry out that error, and after their disappointment they gave up both truth and error, and are now where it is very difficult for the truth to reach them.
Some have endured the disappointment, and have seen the evidences of present truth, and have embraced the third angel's message, and are striving to carry it out in their lives. But where there is one who has been benefited by believing the 1854 time, there are ten who have been injured by it, many of whom are placed where they will not be convinced of the truth, though it be presented before them ever so clearly.
A spirit attended the proclamation of the 1854 time which was not of God. It was a noisy, rough, careless, excitable spirit. Noise was considered by many the essential of true religion, and a spirit reigned, the tendency of which was to bring all down upon a low level. This was considered by many humility. But if their peculiar views were opposed, they would fly in a moment, and accuse those who did not agree with their ideas of things, of being proud, and of resisting the truth and the power of God. They would manifest an overbearing spirit.
Holy angels have been displeased and disgusted with the irreverent manner in which they have used the name of God, the great Jehovah. Angels mention that sacred name with the greatest awe, ever veiling their faces when they speak the name of God. The name of Christ is so sacred to them they speak it with the greatest reverence. But how opposite the spirit and influence attending the 1854 time movement. Some who are still under the same influence speak of God as they would of a horse, or of any common-place thing. In their prayers they use the words God Almighty very common and irreverently. Those who do this have no sense of the exalted character of God, of Christ, or of heavenly things.
I was shown that when God sent his angels anciently to minister or communicate to individuals, when they learned that it was an angel they had seen and talked with, they were struck with awe, and were afraid that they should die. They had such exalted views of the terrible majesty and power of God, they thought to be brought into such close connection with one direct from his holy presence, would destroy them. I was referred to Judg. vi, 22, 23; xiii, 21, 22; Josh. v, 13-15. If angels were thus feared and honored because they came from the presence of God, with how much greater reverence should God be regarded? Many of those who have been converted through the influence of the 1854 movement, need to be converted anew. This class must unlearn before they can learn aright, else the poisonous weeds of error will grow rank, and root out the precious seeds of truth.
The only remedy for the East is thorough discipline and organization. A spirit of fanaticism has ruled a certain class of Sabbath-keepers in the East. They have sipped but lightly at the fountain of truth, and are unacquainted with the spirit of the message of the third angel. Nothing can be done for this class until their fanatical views are corrected. Some who were in the 1854 movement have brought along with them erroneous views, such as the non-resurrection of the wicked, and the future age. They are seeking to unite their erroneous views and past experience with the message of the third angel. They cannot do this. There is no concord between Christ and Belial. The non-resurrection of the wicked, and their peculiar views of the age to come, are gross errors. Satan has worked them in among the last-day heresies to serve his own purpose to ruin souls. These errors can have no harmony with the message of heavenly origin. Some of them have exercises which they call gifts, and say that the Lord has placed them in the church. They have an unmeaning gibberish which they call the unknown tongue, which is unknown not only by man, but by the Lord and all Heaven. Such gifts are manufactured by men and women, aided by the great Deceiver. Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church. Some have been deceived here. The fruits of all this have not been good. By their fruits ye shall know them. Fanaticism and noise have been considered special evidences of faith. Some are not satisfied with a meeting unless they have a powerful and happy time. They work for this, and get up an excitement of feeling. The influence of such meetings is not beneficial. When the happy flight of feeling is gone, they sink lower than before the meeting, because their happiness did not come from the right source. The most profitable meetings for spiritual advancement, are those which are characterized with solemnity and deep searching of heart; each seeking to know himself, and earnestly, and in deep humility, seeking to learn of Christ.
There are many restless spirits who will not submit to discipline, system, and order. They think that their liberties would be abridged were they to lay aside their own judgment and submit to the judgment of those of experience. The work of God will not progress unless there is a disposition to submit to order, and expel the reckless, disorderly spirit of fanaticism from their meetings. Impressions and feelings are no sure evidence that a person is being led by the Lord. Satan will, if he is unsuspected, give feelings and impressions. These are not correct and safe guides. All should acquaint themselves thoroughly with the evidences of our faith, and the great study should be, How they can adorn their profession and bear fruit to the glory of God. None should take a course to make themselves disgusting to unbelievers. They should be chaste, modest, and elevated in their conversation. Their lives should be blameless. A reckless, trifling, joking spirit should be rebuked. It is no fruit of the grace of God upon the heart for a person to talk and pray with talent in meeting, and when out of meeting give up to a rough, careless manner of talking and acting. Such are a reproach to the cause of God, and are miserable representatives of our faith.
According to the light which God has given me, there will yet be a large company raised up in the East to consistently obey the truth. Those who follow in the distracted course they have chosen, will be left to embrace errors which will finally overthrow them. They will for a time be stumbling-blocks to those who would receive the truth. Ministers who labor in word and doctrine, should be thorough workmen, and should present the truth in its purity, yet with simplicity. They should feed the flock with clean provender, thoroughly winnowed. There are wandering stars professing to be ministers sent of God, who are preaching the Sabbath from place to place, and have truth mixed up with erroneous sentiments, and throw out a strange jumble of views to the people. Satan has pushed them in to disgust intelligent and sensible unbelievers. Some of these have much to say upon the gifts, and are often especially exercised. They give themselves up to wild, excitable feelings, and make unintelligible sounds which they call the gift of tongues. A certain class seem to receive it, and are charmed with the strange manifestations which they witness. A strange spirit rules with this class, which would bear down and run over any one who would reprove them. God's spirit is not in the work. His spirit does not attend such workmen. It is another spirit. Still such preachers will have success among a certain class. But this will increase the labor very much of God's servants whom he shall send, who are qualified to present the Sabbath and gifts before the people in their proper light, whose influence and example will be worthy of imitation. The truth should be presented in a manner which will make it attractive to the intelligent mind. We are not understood as a people. We are looked upon as degraded, and are accounted as poor, weak-minded, and low. Then how important for all those who teach, and all who believe the truth, to be so affected by its sanctifying influence as to show unbelievers by their consistent, elevated lives that they have been deceived in this people. How important that the cause of truth be stripped of everything like a false and fanatical excitement, that the truth may stand upon its own merits, revealing its native purity and exalted character.
I saw that it was highly important for those who preach the truth to be refined in their manners. They should shun oddities and eccentricities, and present the truth in its purity and clearness. I was referred to Titus, i, 9. "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine to exhort and convince the gainsayers." In verse 16 Paul speaks of a class who profess that they know God, but in works deny him, "and unto every good work are reprobate." He then exhorts Titus, "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men may be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works. In doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." This instruction is written for the benefit of all whom God has called to preach the word, and also for the benefit of his people who hear the word.
The truth of God will never degrade, but will elevate the receiver. It will refine his taste, sanctify his judgment, and perfect him for the company of the pure and holy angels in the kingdom of God. There are those whom the truth finds coarse, rough, odd, boastful, who take advantage of their neighbors if they can, in order to benefit themselves. They err in many ways, yet when the truth is believed by them from the heart, it will work an entire change in their life. They will immediately commence the work of reformation. The pure influence of truth will elevate the whole man. In his business deal with his fellow men he will have the fear of God before him, and will love his neighbor as himself, and will deal just as he would wish to be dealt by. His conversation will be truthful, chaste, and of such an elevating character that unbelievers cannot take advantage, or say evil of him justly, neither be disgusted with his uncourteous ways and unbecoming speech. He will carry the sanctifying influence of the truth into his family, and let his light so shine before them that they by seeing his good works may glorify God. He will in all the walks of life exemplify the life of Christ.
The law of God will be satisfied with nothing short of perfection, of perfect and entire obedience to all its claims. To come half way to its requirements, and not render perfect and thorough submission and obedience, will avail nothing. The worldling and the infidel admire consistency, and have ever been powerfully convicted that God was of a truth with his people, when their works correspond with their faith. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Every tree is known by his own fruits. Our words, our actions, are the fruit we bear. There are those who hear the sayings of Christ, but do them not. They profess, but their fruits are such as to disgust unbelievers. They are boastful, and pray and talk in a self-righteous manner, exalting themselves, and virtually thanking God, like the Pharisee, that they are not as other men. They recount their good deeds, yet these very ones are crafty, and overreach in business deal. Their fruits are not good. Their words and acts are wrong, and yet they seem to be blinded to their destitute, wretched condition.
I was shown that the following scripture was applicable to such, who go along under such a deception. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Here is the greatest deception that can affect the human mind, for persons to believe that they are right when they are wrong. They think that they are doing a great work in their religious life. Finally Jesus tears off their self-righteous covering, and vividly presents before them the true picture of themselves, in all their wrongs and deformity of religious character. They are found wanting when it is forever too late to have their wants supplied.
God has provided means to correct the erring, yet if those who err, choose to do as they think best, and follow their own judgment, and despise the means God has ordained to correct the erring and unite them upon the truth, they will be brought into the position described by the words of our Lord quoted above.
God is bringing out a people and preparing them to stand as one, united, to speak the same things, and carry out the prayer of Christ for his disciples. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
There are little companies continually arising who believe that God is only with the very few, the very scattered, and their influence is to tear down and scatter that which God's servants build up. There are restless minds who want to be seeing and believing something new continually, who arise, some in one place and some in another, all doing a special work for the enemy, yet claim to have the truth. They stand separate from the people whom God is leading out and prospering, and through whom he is to do his great work. They are continually expressing their fears that the body of Sabbath-keepers are becoming like the world; but there are scarcely two of these whose views are in harmony. They are scattered and confused, and yet deceive themselves so much as to think that God is especially with them. Some of these profess to have the gifts among them; but the influence and teachings of these gifts are to hold in doubt those upon whom God has laid the special burden of his work, and to lead off a class from the body. The people who are putting forth every effort in accordance with God's word to be one, who are established in the message of the third angel, they look upon with suspicion, for the reason that they are extending their labor, and are gathering souls into the truth. They look upon them as being worldly, because they have influence in the world, and their acts testify that they expect God to do a special and great work yet upon the earth, to bring out a people, and fit them for Christ's appearing. This class do not know what they really believe. They are ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
One man arises, claiming to be led of God, who advocates the heresy of the non-resurrection of the wicked, which is one of Satan's great master-pieces of error. Another cherishes erroneous views in regard to the future age. Another zealously urges the American costume. They all want full religious liberty, and each one goes independent of the others, and yet claims that God is especially at work among them. Some rejoice in the idea that they have the gifts which others have not, and they exult over the matter. May God deliver his people from such gifts. What do these gifts do for them? Are they brought through the exercise of these gifts into the unity of the faith? And do they convince the unbeliever that God is with them of a truth? These discordant ones, believing all these different views, getting together and having considerable excitement, and the unknown tongue, let their light so shine that unbelievers would say, These people are not sane; they are carried away with a false excitement, and we know that they do not have the truth. Such stand directly in the way of sinners, and their influence is effectual to keep men and women out of the Sabbath. Such will be rewarded according as their works shall be. Would to God they would be reformed or give up the Sabbath. They would not then stand in the way of unbelievers. God has led out men who have toiled for years, who have been willing to make any sacrifice, who have suffered privation, and endured trials in every shape to get out the truth before the world, and by their consistent course do away the reproach that fanatics have brought upon the cause of God. They have met opposition in every form. They have toiled night and day in searching the evidences of our faith, that they might bring out the truth in its clearness, in a connected form, that it might stand all opposition. Incessant labor and mental trials in connection with this great work have worn down more than one constitution, and prematurely sprinkled heads with gray hairs. They have not worn out in vain. God has marked their earnest, tearful, agonizing prayers to him for light and truth, and that the truth might shine in its clearness. He has marked their self-sacrificing efforts, and he will reward them as their works have been.
On the other hand, those who have not toiled to bring out these precious points of truth, but have come up and received some points of truth all prepared to their hand, take the Sabbath, and then all the gratitude they manifest for the truth brought to them, which cost them nothing, but others so much, is to rise up like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and reproach those upon whom God has laid the burden of his work.
God has blessed his people who have moved forward following his opening providence. He has brought out a people from every class upon the great platform of truth. Infidels have been convinced that God was with his people of a truth, and have humbled their hearts to obey it. The work of God progresses and moves steadily on. Notwithstanding all the evidences that God has been leading the body, yet there are, and will continue to be, those who profess the Sabbath, who will move independent of the body. They will believe and act as they choose. Their views are confused. Their scattered state is a standing testimony that God is not with them. By the world the Sabbath and their errors are placed upon a level and thrown away together. God is angry with those who pursue a course to make the world hate them. If a Christian is hated because of his good works, and for following Christ, he will have a reward. But if he is hated because he does not take a course to be loved, hated because of his uncultivated manners, and because he makes the truth a matter of quarrel with his neighbors, and because he has taken a course to make the Sabbath as annoying as possible to them, he is a stumbling-block to sinners, a reproach to the sacred truth, and unless he repents it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and he cast into the sea.