David, in his humility and zeal for God and his people, proposed to meet this boaster. Saul consented and had his own kingly armor placed upon David. But he would not consent to wear it. He laid off the king’s armor, for he had not proved it. He had proved God and, in trusting in Him, had gained special victories. To put on Saul’s armor would give the impression that he was a warrior, when he was only little David who tended the sheep. He did not mean that any credit be given to the armor of Saul, for his trust was in the Lord God of Israel. He selected a few pebbles from the brook, and with his sling and staff, his only weapons, he went forth in the name of the God of Israel to meet the armed warrior.
Goliath disdained David, for his appearance was that of a mere youth untaught in the tactics of warfare. Goliath railed upon David and cursed him by his gods. He felt that it was an insult upon his dignity to have a mere stripling, without so much as an armor, come to meet him. He made his boast of what he would do to him. David did not become irritated because he was looked upon as so inferior, neither did he tremble at his terrible threats, but replied: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” David tells Goliath that in the name of the Lord he will do to him the very things that Goliath had threatened to do to David. “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
Our ministers should not defy and provoke discussion. Let the defying be on the side of the opposers of God’s truth. I was shown that Brother K and other ministers have acted too much the part of Goliath. And then after they have dared and provoked discussion they have trusted in their prepared arguments, as Saul wanted David to trust in his armor. They have not, like humble David, trusted in the God of Israel, and made Him their strength. They have gone forth confident and
boastful, like Goliath, magnifying themselves and not hiding behind Jesus. They knew the truth was strong, and therefore have not humbled their hearts and in faith trusted in God to give the truth the victory. They have become elated and lost their balance, and frequently the discussions have not been successful, and the result has been an injury to their own souls and to the souls of others.
I was shown that some of our young ministers are getting a passion for debating, and that, unless they see their danger, this will prove a snare to them. I was shown that Brother L is in great danger. He is training his mind in the wrong direction. He is in danger of getting above the simplicity of the work. When he gets on Saul’s armor, if, like David, he has wisdom to lay it off because he has not proved it, he may recover himself before he goes too far. These young preachers should study the practical teachings of Christ as well as the theoretical, and learn of Jesus, that they may have His grace, His meekness, His humility and lowliness of mind. If they, like David, are brought into a position where God’s cause really calls for them to meet a defier of Israel, and if they go forth in the strength of God, relying wholly upon Him, He will carry them through and cause His truth to triumph gloriously. Christ has given us an example. “Yet Michael the Archangel, when contending with the devil He disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
As soon as a preacher comes down from the position a minister should ever occupy, and descends to the comical to create a laugh over his opponent, or when he is sarcastic and sharp, and rails upon him, he does that which the Saviour of the world did not dare to do; for he places himself upon the enemy’s ground. Ministers who contend with opposers of the truth of God do not have to meet men merely, but Satan and his host of evil angels. Satan watches for a chance to get the advantage of ministers who are advocating the truth, and when they cease to put their entire trust in God, and their
words are not in the spirit and love of Christ, the angels of God cannot strengthen and enlighten them. They leave them to their own strength, and evil angels press in their darkness; for this reason the opponents of the truth sometimes seem to have the advantage, and the discussion does more harm than real good.
God’s servants should come nearer to Him. Brethren K, L, M, and N should be seeking to cultivate personal piety, rather than to encourage a love of debate. They should be seeking to become shepherds to the flock, rather than to be fitting themselves to create an excitement by swaying the feelings of the people. These brethren are in danger of depending more upon their popularity and their success with the people as smart debaters than upon being humble, faithful laborers and meek, devoted followers of Christ, co-workers with Him.
Chap. 24 – Dangers and Duties of Youth
Addressed to Two Young Men
Last December I was shown the dangers and temptations of youth. The two younger sons of Father O need to be converted. They need to die daily to self. Paul, the faithful apostle, had a fresh experience daily. He says: “I die daily.” This is exactly the experience that these young men need. They are in danger of overlooking present duty and of neglecting the education that is essential for practical life. They regard education in books as the all-important matter to be attended to in order to make life a success.
These young men have duties at home which they overlook. They have not learned to take up the duties and bear the home responsibilities which it is their duty to bear. They have a faithful, practical mother, who has borne many burdens which her children should not have suffered her to bear. In this they have failed to honor their mother. They have not shared the burdens of their father as was their duty, and have neglected to
honor him as they should. They follow inclination rather than duty. They have pursued a selfish course in their lives, in shunning burdens and toil, and have failed to obtain a valuable experience which they cannot afford to be deprived of if they would make life a success. They have not felt the importance of being faithful in little things, nor have they felt under obligation to their parents to be true, thorough, and faithful in the humble, lowly duties of life which lie directly in their pathway. They look above the common branches of knowledge, so very necessary for practical life.
If these young men would be a blessing anywhere, it should be at home. If they yield to inclination, instead of being guided by the cautious decision of sober reason, sound judgment, and enlightened conscience, they cannot be a blessing to society or to their father’s family, and their prospects in this world and in the better world may be endangered. Many youth receive the impression that their early life is not designed for caretaking, but to be frittered away in idle sport, in jesting, in joking, and in foolish indulgences. While engaged in folly and indulgence of the senses, some think of nothing but the momentary gratification connected with it. Their desire for amusement, their love for society and for chatting and laughing, increases by indulgence, and they lose all relish for the sober realities of life, and home duties seem uninteresting. There is not enough change to meet their minds, and they become restless, peevish, and irritable. These young men should feel it a duty to make home happy and cheerful. They should bring sunshine into the dwelling, rather than a shadow by needless repining and unhappy discontent.
These young men should remember that they are responsible for all the privileges they have enjoyed, that they are accountable for the improvement of their time and must render an exact account for the improvement of their abilities. They may inquire: Shall we have no amusement or recreation? Shall we work, work, work, without variation? Any amusement in which they can engage asking the blessing of
God upon it in faith will not be dangerous. But any amusement which disqualifies them for secret prayer, for devotion at the altar of prayer, or for taking part in the prayer meeting is not safe, but dangerous. A change from physical labor that has taxed the strength severely may be very necessary for a time, that they may again engage in labor, putting forth exertion with greater success. But entire rest may not be necessary, or even be attended with the best results so far as their physical strength is concerned. They need not, even when weary with one kind of labor, trifle away their precious moments. They may then seek to do something not so exhausting, but which will be a blessing to their mother and sisters. In lightening their cares by taking upon themselves the roughest burdens they have to bear, they can find that amusement which springs from principle and which will yield them true happiness, and their time will not be spent in trifling or in selfish indulgence. Their time may be ever employed to advantage, and they be constantly refreshed with variation, and yet be redeeming the time, so that every moment will tell with good account to some one.
You have thought that it was of the highest importance to obtain an education in the sciences. There is no virtue in ignorance, and knowledge will not necessarily dwarf Christian growth; but if you seek for it from principle, having the right object before you and feeling your obligation to God to use your faculties to do good to others and promote His glory, knowledge will aid you to accomplish this end; it will help you to bring into exercise the powers which God has given you, and to employ them in His service.
But, young men, if you gain ever so much knowledge and yet fail to put that knowledge to a practical use you fail of your object. If, in obtaining an education, you become so absorbed in your studies that you neglect prayer and religious privileges, and become careless and indifferent to the welfare of your souls, if you cease to learn in the school of Christ, you are selling your birthright for a mess of pottage. The object for which
you are obtaining an education should not be lost sight of for a moment. It should be to so develop and direct your faculties that you may be more useful and bless others to the extent of your ability. If by obtaining knowledge you increase your love of yourselves, and your inclination to excuse yourselves from bearing responsibilities, you are better without an education. If you love and idolize books, and allow them to get between you and your duties, so that you feel a reluctance to leave your studies and your reading to do essential labor that someone must do, you should restrain your desire to study and cultivate a love for doing those things in which you now take no interest. He that is faithful in that which is least will also be faithful in greater things.
You need to cultivate love and affection for your parents and for your brothers and sisters. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Young men, you cannot afford to sacrifice your eternal interests for your school studies. Your teachers may stimulate you by applause, and you may be deceived by the sophistry of Satan. You may be led on step by step to seek to excel and to obtain the approbation of your teachers, but your knowledge in the divine life, in experimental religion, will grow less and less. Your names will stand registered before the holy, exalted angels and before the Creator of the universe and Christ, the Majesty of heaven, in a very poor light. Opposite them will be a record of sins, of mistakes, failures, neglects, and such ignorance in spiritual knowledge that the Father and His Son, Jesus our Advocate, and ministering angels will be ashamed to own you as children of God.
In attending school you are exposed to a variety of temptations to which you would not be exposed at home in your father’s house, under the watchcare of God-fearing parents. If while at home you prayed by yourselves twice or three times a
day for grace to escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust, you need to pray as much more earnestly and constantly when at school, exposed to temptations and the contaminating influences which prevail in schools in this degenerate age, as your surroundings are more unfavorable to the formation of Christian character.
These young men have not sufficient strength of Christian character; especially is this the case with A O. He is not settled, rooted, and grounded in the truth. His hold of God has been so slight that he has not been receiving strength and light from above, but has been gathering darkness to his own soul. He has heard unbelief talked so much and has taken so little practical interest in the truth that he is not prepared to give a reason of his hope. He is unstable like a reed trembling in the wind. He is kind at heart, yet loves fun, idleness, and the company of his young friends. He has indulged this inclination to the sacrifice of his soul’s interest. It is important, my brother, that you avoid mingling too much in the society of irreligious youth. The culture of your mind and heart, in connection with the practical duties of life, requires that a large share of your time be spent in the society of those whose conversation and faith will increase your faith and love for the truth.
You have tried to throw off the restraint that the belief of the truth imposes, but you have not dared to be very bold in your unbelief. Too often the levities of the world, and the society of those from whom self-communion and religion are excluded, have been your choice, and you have been, to all intents and purposes, reckoned with that class who bring the truth into contempt. You are not strong enough in faith or purpose to be in such society. In order to kill time you have indulged in a spirit of trifling which has done positive injury to you by blunting your conscience. You love approbation. If you gain this in an honorable way, it is not so sinful; but you are in danger of deceiving yourself and others; you need to be guarded on this point and see that you earn all the approval
you receive. If you are approved because of your sound principles and moral worth, this is your gain. But if you are petted and courted and flattered because you can make bright speeches and apt remarks, and because you are cheerful, lively, and witty, and not because of intellectual and moral worth, you will be looked upon by sensible, godly men and women as an object of pity rather than envy. You should be guarded against flattery. Whoever is foolish enough to flatter you cannot be your true friend. Your true friends will caution, entreat, and warn you, and reprove your faults.
You have opened your mind to dark unbelief. Close it in the fear of God. Seek for the evidences, the pillars, of our faith and lay hold upon them with firm grasp. You need this confidence in present truth, for it will prove an anchor to you. It will impart to your character an energy, efficiency, and noble dignity that will command respect. Encourage habits of industry. You are seriously lacking here. Both you and your brother have brilliant ideas of success, but remember that in God is your only hope. Your prospects may at times look flattering to you, but anticipations which exalt you above simple, humble home duties, and above religious duties, will prove a failure. You, my dear young friends, need to humble your hearts before God and be obtaining a rich and valuable experience in the Christian life by following on to know the Lord and blessing others by daily lives of spotless purity, of noble integrity, of thoroughness in the performance of Christian duty and the duties of practical life. You have duties to do at home; you have responsibilities to bear which you have not yet lifted.
That which ye sow ye shall also reap. These young men are now sowing the seed. Every act of their lives, every word spoken, is a seed for good or evil. As is the seed, so will be the crop. If they indulge hasty, lustful, perverted passions or give up to the gratification of appetite or the inclination of their unsanctified hearts; if they foster pride or wrong principles and cherish habits of unfaithfulness or dissipation, they
will reap a plentiful harvest of remorse, shame, and despair.
Angels of God are seeking to lead these young men to cry unto the Lord in sincerity: “Be Thou the guide of my youth.” Angels are inviting and seeking to draw them from the snares of Satan. Heaven may be theirs if they will seek to obtain it. A crown of immortal glory will be theirs if they will give all for heaven.
Chap. 25 – Self-Caring Ministers
Brother R, your influence has not been of that character which would do honor to the cause of present truth. Had you been sanctified by the truth you preach to others, you would have been of ten times more advantage to the cause of God than you have been. You have relied so much upon creating a sensation that without this you have but little courage. These great excitements and sensational interests are your strength and glory and success as a laborer, but these are not pleasing to God. Your labors in this direction are seldom what you flatter yourself that they are.
Close investigation reveals the fact that there are but very few sheaves to be gathered after these specially exciting meetings. Yet, from all the experience of the past, you have not learned to change your manner of labor. You have been slow to learn how to shape your future labors in such a manner as to shun the errors of the past. The reason of this has been, that, like the inebriate, you love the stimulus of these sensational meetings; you long for them as the drunkard longs for a glass of liquor to arouse his flagging energies. These debates, which create an excitement, are mistaken for zeal for God and love for the truth. You have been almost destitute of the Spirit of God to work with your efforts. If you had God with you in all your moves, and if you felt a burden for souls and had the wisdom to skillfully manage these exciting seasons to press souls into the kingdom of Christ, you could see fruits of your labors, and God would be glorified. Your soul should be all
aglow with the spirit of the truth you present to others. After you have labored to convict souls of the claims that the law of God has upon them, teaching them repentance toward God and faith in Christ, then your work is but just begun. You too frequently excuse yourself from completing the work and leave a heavy burden for others to take up in finishing the work that you ought to have done. You say that you are not qualified to finish up the work. Then the sooner you qualify yourself to bear the burdens of a shepherd, or pastor, of the flock, the better.
As a true shepherd you should discipline yourself to deal with minds and to give to each of the flock of God his portion of meat in due season. You should be careful and study to have a store of practical subjects that you have investigated and that you can enter into the spirit of and present in a plain, forcible manner to the people at the right time and place as they may need. You have not been thoroughly furnished from the word of Inspiration unto all good works. When the flock have needed spiritual food, you have frequently presented some argumentative subject that was no more appropriate for the occasion than an oration upon national affairs. If you would task yourself and educate your mind to a knowledge of the subjects with which the word of God has amply furnished you, you could build up the cause of God by feeding the flock with food which would be proper and which would give spiritual health and strength as their wants require.
You have yet to learn the work of a true shepherd. When you understand this, the cause and work of God will rest upon you with such weight that you will not be inclined to jest and joke, and engage in light and frivolous conversation. A minister of Christ who has a proper burden of the work and a high sense of the exalted character and sacredness of his mission will not be inclined to be light and trifling with the lambs of the flock.
A true shepherd will have an interest in all that relates to the welfare of the flock, feeding, guiding, and defending them.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 219-228