We have a right to refer to the past, as did the apostle Paul. “And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.” In referring to our past experience, we are carrying out the exhortation of the apostle to the Hebrews: “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”
Our lives are interwoven with the cause of God. We have no separate interest aside from this work. And when we see the advancement that the cause has made from a very small beginning, coming up slowly yet surely to strength and prosperity; as we see the success of the cause in which we have toiled, and suffered, and nearly sacrificed our lives, who shall prevent or forbid our boasting in God? Our experience in this cause is valuable to us. We have invested everything in it.
Moses was the meekest man that lived; yet, because of the murmurings of the children of Israel, he was repeatedly compelled to bring up their course of sin after leaving Egypt and to vindicate his course as their leader. Just before leaving Israel, when he was about to die, he rehearsed before them their course of rebellion and murmuring since they had left Egypt, and how his interest and love for them had led him to plead with God in their behalf. He related to them how he had earnestly entreated of the Lord to let him pass over Jordan into the Promised Land; “but the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me.” Moses presented before them their sins, and said to them: “Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.” He related to them how many times he had pleaded with God and humbled his soul in anguish because of their sins.
It was the design of God that Moses should frequently remind Israel of their transgressions and rebellion, that they might humble their hearts before God in view of their sins. The Lord would not have them forget the errors and sins which had provoked His anger against them. The rehearsal of their transgressions, and of the mercies and goodness of God to them, which they had not appreciated, was not agreeable to their feelings. Nevertheless, God directed that this should be done.
I have been shown that young men like you, who have had but a few years of imperfect experience in the cause of present truth, are not the ones whom God will trust to bear weighty responsibilities and to lead out in this work. Such should manifest a delicacy in taking positions which will conflict with the judgment and opinions of those of mature experience, whose lives have been interwoven with the cause of God nearly as many years as you have lived and who have had an active part in this work from its small beginning. God will not select men of but little experience and considerable self-confidence to lead out in this sacred, important work. There is much at stake here. Men who have had but little experience in the sufferings, trials, opposition, and privations that have been endured to bring the work up to its present condition of prosperity should be very jealous of themselves.
Young men who now engage in the work of preaching the truth should cultivate modesty and humility. They should be careful how they become exalted, lest they be overthrown. They will be accountable for the clear light of truth which now shines upon them. I saw that God is displeased with the disposition that some have to murmur against those who have fought the heaviest battles for them and who endured so much in the commencement of the message, when the work went hard.
The experienced laborers, those who toiled under the weight and the oppressive burdens when there were but few to help bear them, God regards; and He has a jealous care for
those who have proved faithful. He is displeased with those who are ready to find fault with and reproach those servants of God who have grown gray in building up the cause of present truth. Your reproaches and your murmurings, young men, will surely stand against you in the day of God. As long as God has not laid heavy responsibilities upon you, do not get out of your place and rely upon your own independent judgment and assume responsibilities for which you are not fitted.
Dear brother and sister, you need to cultivate watchfulness and humility, and to be diligent in prayer. The more closely you live to God, the more clearly will you discern your weaknesses and your dangers. A practical view of the law of God, a clear discernment of the atonement of Christ, will give you a knowledge of yourselves and will show you wherein you fail to perfect Christian character. In short, you both need a daily experience in God’s will concerning you. When you see your great spiritual lack you will realize the fact that human depravity, specified in the word of God, is true in your experience. You are both pharisaical, and are in danger of remaining voluntarily and fearfully in the dark in regard to your dangers and your true standing before God.
You both need to learn the duties which devolve upon you in the various circumstances and relations of life. You have neglected your duties to both God and man. Self-knowledge you need so much. The ignorance of your own hearts leads you to overlook the necessity of a daily, living experience in the divine life. In a degree you overlook the necessity of having a divine influence constantly with you. This is positively necessary in doing the work of God. If you neglect this, and pass on in self-confidence and self-sufficiency, you will be left to make very great blunders. You need constantly to cherish lowliness of mind and a spirit of dependence. He who feels his own weakness will look higher than himself and will feel the need of constant strength from above. The grace of God will lead him to exercise and cherish a spirit of constant gratitude. He who is best acquainted with his own weakness will
know that it is the matchless grace of God alone that will triumph over the rebellion of the heart.
You need to become acquainted with the weak as well as the strong points in your characters, that you may be constantly guarded lest you engage in enterprises, and assume responsibilities, for which God has never designed you. You should not compare your actions and measure your lives by any human standard, but with the rule of duty revealed in the Bible. You have a work to do for yourselves, Brother and Sister A, that you have not dreamed was necessary. For years you have been cherishing temptations and jealousies in regard to us and our work. This is not pleasing to God. You may think that you believe the testimonies that God has given, but unbelief in regard to their being of God is gaining ground with you.
Your labors, Brother A, would be more effectual in the conversion of souls to the truth if you dwelt upon the practical as well as the theoretical, having the living, practical elements in your own heart and carrying them out in your own life. You need to have a firmer hold from above. You are too dependent upon your surroundings. If you have a large congregation, you are elevated, and you desire to address them. But sometimes your congregations diminish, your spirits sink, and you have but little courage to labor. Surely something is wanting. Your hold is not firm enough upon God. Some of the most important truths in the teachings of Christ were preached by Him to one Samaritan woman who came to draw water as He, being weary, sat upon the well to rest. The fountain of living waters was within Him. The fountain of living waters must be in us, springing up to refresh those who are brought under our influence.
Christ sought for men wherever He could find them–in the public streets, in private houses, in the synagogues, by the seaside. He toiled all day, preaching to the multitude and healing the sick that were brought to Him; and frequently, after He had dismissed the people that they might return to their homes to rest and sleep, He spent the entire night in
prayer, to come forth and renew His labors in the morning. O brother and sister, you do not know anything in reality of self-denial and self-sacrifice for Christ and for the truth’s sake. You must depend more fully upon God and less upon your own abilities. You need to hide in God.
You are inclined, Brother A, to be severe in reproof and to form your own conclusions in regard to individuals, especially if their course has crossed your track; and, according to your views of the case, you sometimes deal with them in an unsparing manner. You have not been a tenderhearted, pitiful, courteous man, as was your Exemplar. You need to soften your spirit, to be more courteous and kind, and to have greater disinterested benevolence. You need to bring your soul into closer communion with God by earnest prayer mixed with living faith. Every prayer offered in faith lifts the suppliant above discouraging doubts and human passions. Prayer gives strength to renew the conflict with the powers of darkness, to bear trials patiently, and to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ.
While you take counsel with your doubts and fears, or try to solve everything that you cannot see clearly before you have faith, your perplexities will only increase and deepen. If you come to God, feeling helpless and dependent, as you really are, and in humble, trusting prayer make your wants known to Him whose knowledge is infinite, who sees everything in creation and who governs everything by His will and word, He can and will attend to your cry, and will let light shine into your heart and all around you; for through sincere prayer your soul is brought into connection with the mind of the Infinite. You may have no remarkable evidence at the time that the face of your Redeemer is bending over you in compassion and love, but this is even so. You may not feel His visible touch, but His hand is upon you in love and pitying tenderness.
God loves both of you and wants to save you with an abundant salvation. But it must not be in your way, but in God’s own appointed way. You must comply with the
conditions laid down in the Scriptures of truth, and God will as surely fulfill on His part as His throne is sure. Because the admonitions that God sends to His people are humiliating to human nature, you must not, my brother, rise up against these reproofs and warnings. You need to die daily, to experience a daily crucifixion to self.
According to the light that God has given me in vision, wickedness and deception are increasing among God’s people who profess to keep His commandments. Spiritual discernment to see sin as it exists, and then to put it out of the camp, is decreasing among God’s people; and spiritual blindness is fast coming upon them. The straight testimony must be revived, and it will separate those from Israel who have ever been at war with the means that God has ordained to keep corruptions out of the church. Wrongs must be called wrongs. Grievous sins must be called by their right name. All of God’s people should come nearer to Him and wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. Then will they see sin in the true light and will realize how offensive it is in the sight of God.
It seemed a small matter to our first parents, when tempted, to transgress the command of God in one small act and eat of a tree that was beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the taste. To the transgressors this was but a small act, but it destroyed their allegiance to God and opened a flood of woe and guilt which has deluged the world. Who can know, in the moment of temptation, the terrible consequences which will result from one wrong, hasty step! Our only safety is to be shielded by the grace of God every moment, and not put out our own spiritual eyesight so that we will call evil, good, and good, evil. Without hesitation or argument, we must close and guard the avenues of the soul against evil.
It will cost us an effort to secure eternal life. It is only by long and persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict that we shall be overcomers. But if we patiently and determinedly, in the name of the Conqueror who overcame in our
behalf in the wilderness of temptation, overcome as He overcame, we shall have the eternal reward. Our efforts, our self-denial, our perseverance, must be proportionate to the infinite value of the object of which we are in pursuit.
You must not allow your sympathies for yourselves to shield you and others in wrong because you see nothing in outward appearances to condemn. God sees; He can read the motives and purposes of the soul. I entreat you in the name of our Master, who has called us and appointed us our work, to keep your hands off and leave us to do the work that God has laid upon us. Keep your words of sympathy and pity for those who really deserve them, those who are pressed by the Spirit of God to show His people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins. Error and sin in these last days are embraced more readily than truth and righteousness. The soldiers of the cross of Christ are now required to gird on the Christian armor and to press back the moral darkness that is flooding the world.
God will give both of you precious victories if you surrender yourselves wholly to Him and let His grace subdue your proud hearts. Your self-righteousness will avail nothing with God. Nothing should be done by fits and starts or in a spirit of rashness. Wrongs cannot be righted, nor reformations in character made, by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. Sanctification is not a work of a day or a year, but of a lifetime. Without continual efforts and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown. We are doing up work for the judgment, and it is unsafe to work in our own wisdom and trust to our own judgment. With the spirit of self-confidence that you now possess, neither of you could be happy in heaven; for there all, even the exalted angels, are subordinate. You have yet to learn subordination and submission. Both of you must be transformed by the grace of God.
Sister A, I saw that you should be careful that you do not open a door of temptation to your husband that you cannot
close at will. It is easier to invite the enemy into your hearts than to dismiss him after he has the ground. Your pride is easily hurt, and you need to come closer to God, and seek with earnestness for grace, divine grace, to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. God will be your helper if you choose Him for your strength. Both of you should encourage greater devotion to God. The only way to watch humbly is to watch prayerfully. Do not for a moment think that you may sit down and enjoy yourselves, and study your own pleasure and convenience. The life of Christ is our example. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; He was wounded, He was bruised. You are too well satisfied with your position. You have need of constant watchfulness, lest Satan beguile you through his subtlety, corrupt your minds, and lead you into inconsistencies and gross darkness. Your watchfulness should be characterized by a spirit of humble dependence upon God. It should not be carried on with a proud, self-reliant spirit, but with a deep sense of your personal weakness and a childlike trust in the promises of God.
It is now an easy and pleasant task to preach the truth of the third angel’s message, in comparison with what it was when the message first started, when the numbers were few and we were looked upon as fanatics. Those who bore the responsibility of the work in the rise and early progress of the message knew what conflict, distress, and soul anguish were. Night and day the burden was heavy upon them. They thought not of rest or convenience even when they were pressed with suffering and disease. The shortness of time called for activity, and the laborers were few.
Frequently, when brought into strait places, the entire night has been spent in earnest, agonizing prayer with tears for help from God and for light to shine upon His word. When the light has come and the clouds have been driven back, what joy and grateful happiness have rested upon the anxious, earnest seekers! Our gratitude to God was as complete as had been our earnest, hungering cry for light. Some
nights we could not sleep because our hearts were overflowing with love and gratitude to God.
Men who now go forth to preach the truth have things made ready to their hand. They cannot now experience such privations as the laborers in present truth have endured before them. The truth has been brought out, link after link, till it forms a clear, connected chain. To bring the truth out in such clearness and harmony has required careful research. Opposition, the most bitter and determined, drove the servants of God to the Lord and to their Bibles. Precious indeed to them was the light which came from God.
I have been shown that the reason why some cannot discern the right is because they have so long cherished the enemy, who has worked side by side with them while they have not discerned his power. It sometimes seems hard to wait patiently till God’s time comes to vindicate the right. But I have been shown that if we become impatient we lose a rich reward. As faithful husbandmen in God’s great field, we must sow with tears and be patient and hopeful. We must meet troubles and sorrows. Temptations and wearisome toil will afflict the soul, but we must patiently wait in faith to reap with joy. In the final victory God will have no use for those persons who are nowhere to be found in time of peril and danger, when the strength, courage, and influence of all are required to make a charge upon the enemy. Those who stand like faithful soldiers to battle against wrong, and to vindicate the right, warring against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, will each receive the commendation from the Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Never was there greater need of faithful warnings and reproofs, and close, straight dealing, than at this very time. Satan has come down with great power, knowing that his time is short. He is flooding the world with pleasing fables, and the people of God love to have smooth things spoken to
them. Sin and iniquity are not abhorred. I was shown that God’s people must make more firm, determined efforts to press back the incoming darkness. The close work of the Spirit of God is needed now as never before. Stupidity must be shaken off. We must arouse from the lethargy that will prove our destruction unless we resist it. Satan has a powerful, controlling influence upon minds. Preachers and people are in danger of being found upon the side of the powers of darkness. There is no such thing now as a neutral position. We are all decidedly for the right or decidedly with the wrong. Said Christ: “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.”
There are ever to be found those who will sympathize with those who are wrong. Satan had sympathizers in heaven, and took large numbers of the angels with him. God and Christ and heavenly angels were on one side, and Satan on the other. Notwithstanding the infinite power and majesty of God and Christ, angels became disaffected. The insinuations of Satan took effect, and they really came to believe that the Father and the Son were their enemies and that Satan was their benefactor. Satan has the same power and the same control over minds now, only it has increased a hundredfold by exercise and experience. Men and women today are deceived, blinded by his insinuations and devices, and know it not. By giving place to doubts and unbelief in regard to the work of God, and by cherishing feelings of distrust and cruel jealousies, they are preparing themselves for complete deception. They rise up with bitter feelings against the ones who dare to speak of their errors and reprove their sins.
Those who have in the fear of God ventured out to faithfully meet error and sin, calling sin by its right name, have discharged a disagreeable duty with much suffering of feelings to themselves; but they get the sympathy of but few and suffer the neglect of many. The sympathizers are on the wrong side, and they carry out the purposes of Satan to defeat the design of God.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 319-328