The divine eyesalve will impart clearness to the understanding. Christ is the depositary of all graces. He says: “Buy of Me.”
Some may say it is exalting our own merits to expect favor from God through our good works. True, we cannot buy one victory with our good works; yet we cannot be victors without them. The purchase which Christ recommends to us is only complying with the conditions He has given us. True grace, which is of inestimable value, and which will endure the test of trial and adversity, is only obtained through faith and humble, prayerful obedience. Graces that endure the proofs of affliction and persecution, and evidence their soundness and sincerity, are the gold which is tried in the fire and found genuine. Christ offers to sell this precious treasure to man: “Buy of Me gold tried in the fire.” The dead, heartless performance of duty does not make us Christians. We must get out of a lukewarm condition and experience a true conversion, or we shall fail of heaven.
I was pointed to the providence of God among His people and was shown that every trial made by the refining, purifying process upon professed Christians proves some to be dross. The fine gold does not always appear. In every religious crisis some fall under temptation. The shaking of God blows away multitudes like dry leaves. Prosperity multiplies a mass of professors. Adversity purges them out of the church. As a class, their spirits are not steadfast with God. They go out from us because they are not of us; for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, many are offended.
Let these look back a few months to the time when they were sitting on the cases of others who were in a condition similar to that which they now occupy. Let them carefully call to mind the exercise of their minds in regard to those tempted ones. Had anyone told them then that notwithstanding their zeal and labor to set others right, they would at length be found in a similar position of darkness, they would have said, as did Hazael to the prophet: “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?”
Self-deception is upon them. During the calm, what firmness they manifest! what courageous sailors they make! But when the furious tempests of trial and temptation come, lo! their souls are shipwrecked. Men may have excellent gifts, good ability, splendid qualifications; but one defect, one secret sin indulged, will prove to the character what the worm-eaten plank does to the ship–utter disaster and ruin!
Dear brother, God in His providence brought you from your farm to —– to bear the tests and trials which you could not have where you were. He has given you some testimonies of reproof, which you professedly accepted; but your spirit was continually chafed under rebuke. You are like those who walked no more with Jesus after He brought close, practical truths to bear upon them. You have not taken hold in faith to correct the defects marked out in your character. You have not humbled your proud spirit before God. You have stood at warfare against the Spirit of God as revealed in reproof. Your carnal, unsubdued heart is not subject to control. You have not disciplined yourself. Time and again your uncontrolled temper, your spirit of insubordination, has gained complete mastery over you. How can such an impulsive, unsubdued soul live among the pure angels? It cannot be admitted into heaven, as you yourself know. If so, you cannot begin too soon to correct the evil in your nature. Be converted, and become as a little child.
Brother, you are proud-spirited, lofty in your thoughts and ideas of yourself. All this must be put away. Your relatives have learned to fear these outbreaks of temper. Your tender, God-fearing mother has done her best to soothe and indulge you, and has tried to remove every cause that would produce this self-rising, this uncontrollable disposition in her son. But coaxing, pleading, and seeking to pacify have led you to consider that this impulsive temper is incurable and that it is the duty of your friends to bear with it. All this petting and excusing has not remedied the evil, but rather given it license.
You have not fought with this wicked spirit and conquered it. When your way has been crossed you have felt the provocation sufficiently to forget your manhood and that you were created in the image of God and after His likeness. You have sadly defaced and marred that image. You have not had self-control nor power over your will. You have been headstrong, and have yielded to the power of Satan. Every time that you have given up to passion and self-rule, and let your feelings run away with your judgment, it has strengthened that set, uncontrolled will. The Lord saw that you did not know yourself, and that unless you saw yourself and the sinfulness of your course in the true light; unless you saw how aggravating in the sight of God were these outbreaks of temper which strengthened at every exhibition, you would surely fail of gaining a seat by the side of the suffering Man of Calvary.
God calls upon you, Brother G, to repent and be converted, and become as a little child. Unless the truth has a sanctifying influence upon your life to mold your character, you will fail of an inheritance in the kingdom of God. The Lord in His providence selected you to be more directly connected with His cause and work. He took you, like an undisciplined soldier, new to the army, and brought you under rules, regulations, and responsibilities, and through the drilling process. At first you did nobly and tried to be faithful at your post. You bore trial better than ever before in your life. But Satan came with his specious temptations, and you fell a prey to them. The Lord pitied you and laid His hand upon you to save you. He gave you a rich experience, which you have not profited by as you should have done. Like the children of Israel, you soon forgot the dealings of God and His great mercies. Brother G, you were raised up in answer to prayer, and God gave you a new lease of life; but you have let jealousy and envy into your soul, and have greatly displeased Him. He designed to bring you where you would develop character, where you would see and correct your defects.
There was a decided failure in your education and discipline during childhood and youth. You now have to learn the great lessons of self-control which ought to have been mastered in earlier days. God brought you where your surroundings would be changed and where you could be disciplined by His Holy Spirit, that you might acquire moral power and self-control to make you a conqueror. It will require the strongest effort, the most persevering and unfaltering determination, and the strongest energy to control self. Your spirit has long chafed under restraint, and your temper has raged like a caged lion when your will has been crossed. The education which your parents should have assisted you to obtain must now be gained wholly by yourself. When young and small the twig might have been easily bent; but now, after it has grown gnarled and crooked and strong, how difficult the task! Your parents permitted it to be thus deformed; and now only by the grace of God, united with your own persistent efforts, can you become conqueror over your will. Through the merits of Christ you may part with that which scars and deforms the soul, and which develops a misshapen character. You must put away the old man with his errors and take the new man, Christ Jesus. Adopt His life as your guide then your talents and intellect will be devoted to God’s service.
Oh, if mothers would only work with wisdom, with calmness and determination, to train and subdue the carnal tempers of their children, what an amount of sin would be nipped in the bud, and what a host of church trials would be saved! How many families that are now miserable would be happy! Many souls will be eternally lost because of the neglect of parents to properly discipline their children and to teach them submission to authority in their youth. Petting faults and soothing outbreaks is not laying the ax at the root of the evil, but proves the ruin of thousands of souls. Oh, how will parents answer to God for this fearful neglect of their duty!
Brother G, you are willing to stand at the head and dictate to others, but you will not be dictated to yourself. Your pride fires in a moment at the attempt. Self-love and a haughty spirit are unruly elements in your character, hindering spiritual advancement. Those who have this temperament must take hold of the work zealously and die to self, or they will lose heaven. God makes no compromise with this element, as do fond, mistaken parents.
In my last vision I was shown that if you refuse reproof and correction, choose your own way, and will not be disciplined, God has no further use for you in connection with His holy work. If you had commenced the work of setting your own soul right with the Lord you would have seen so great a work to be done for yourself that you would not have spent so much time over the supposed wrongs of Brother H, dwelling upon them behind his back. The work of the last thirty years should inspire confidence in the integrity of Brother H. “Honor to whom honor is due.”
Men in responsible positions should improve continually. They must not anchor upon an old experience and feel that it is not necessary to become scientific workers. Man, although the most helpless of God’s creatures when he comes into the world, and the most perverse in his nature, is nevertheless capable of constant advancement. He may be enlightened by science, ennobled by virtue, and may progress in mental and moral dignity, until he reaches a perfection of intelligence and a purity of character but little lower than the perfection and purity of angels. With the light of truth shining upon the minds of men, and the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, we cannot conceive what they may become nor what great work they may do.
I know that the human heart is blind to its own true condition, but I cannot leave you without making an effort to help you. We love you, and we want to see you pressing on to victory. Jesus loves you. He died for you, and He wants you to be saved. We have no disposition to hold you in —–; but we do want you to make thorough work with your own soul, to right every wrong there, and make every effort to master self, lest you miss heaven. This you cannot afford to do. For Christ’s sake, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Chap. 9 – Labor Conducive to Health
Dear Brother and Sister I: I have been shown that you have erred in the management of your children. You received ideas at —– from Dr. J, which you have spoken of before the patients and before your children. These ideas will not bear to be carried out. From Dr. J’s standpoint they may not appear so objectionable; but viewed from a Christian standpoint, they are positively dangerous. The instruction which Dr. J has given in regard to shunning physical labor have proved a great injury to many. The do-nothing system is a dangerous one. The necessity for amusements, as he teaches it and enjoins it upon his patients, is a fallacy. In order to occupy the time and engage the mind, they are made a substitute for useful, healthful exercise and physical labor. Amusements such as Dr. J recommends excite the brain more than useful employment.
Physical exercise and labor combined have a happy influence upon the mind, strengthen the muscles, improve the circulation, and give the invalid the satisfaction of knowing his own power of endurance; whereas, if he is restricted from healthful exercise and physical labor, his attention is turned to himself. He is in constant danger of thinking himself worse than he really is and of having established within him a diseased imagination which causes him to continually fear that he is overtaxing his powers of endurance. As a general thing, if he should engage in some well-directed labor, using his strength and not abusing it, he would find that physical exercise would prove a more powerful and effective agent in his recovery than even the water treatment he is receiving.
The inactivity of the mental and physical powers as far as useful labor is concerned is that which keeps many invalids in a condition of feebleness which they feel powerless to rise above. It also gives them a greater opportunity to indulge an impure imagination,–an indulgence which has brought many of them into their present condition of feebleness. They are told that they have expended too much vitality in hard labor, when, in nine cases out of ten, the labor they performed was the only redeeming thing in their lives and was the means of saving them from utter ruin. While their minds were thus engaged, they could not have as favorable an opportunity to debase their bodies and to complete the work of destroying themselves. To have all such persons cease to labor with brain and muscle is to give them ample opportunity to be taken captive by the temptations of Satan.
Dr. J has recommended that the sexes mingle together; he has taught that physical and mental health demands a closer association with one another. Such teaching has done and is doing great injury to inexperienced youth and children, and is a great satisfaction to men and women of questionable character, whose passions have never been controlled, and who for this reason are suffering from various debilitating disorders. These persons are instructed, from a health standpoint, to be much in the company of the opposite sex. Thus a door of temptation is opened before them, passion rouses like a lion within their hearts, every consideration is overborne, and everything elevated and noble is sacrificed to lust. This is an age when the world is teeming with corruption. Were the minds and bodies of men and women in a healthy condition, were the animal passions subject to the higher intellectual powers of the mind, it might be comparatively safe to teach that boys and girls, and the youth of still more mature age, would be benefited by mingling much in the society of one another.
If the minds of the youth of this age were pure and uncorrupted, the girls might have a softening influence upon the minds and manners of the boys, and the boys, with their stronger, firmer natures, might have a tendency to ennoble and strengthen the character of the girls. But it is a painful fact that there is not one girl in a hundred who is pure-minded, and there is not one boy in a hundred whose morals are untainted. Many who are older have gone to such lengths in dissipation that they are polluted, soul and body; and corruption has taken hold of a large class who pass among men and women as polite gentlemen and beautiful ladies. It is not the time to recommend as beneficial to health the mingling of the sexes, their being as much as possible in the society of one another. The curse of this corrupt age is the absence of true virtue and modesty.
Dr. I, you have advanced these ideas in the parlor. The young have heard you, and your remarks have had as great an influence upon your own children as upon others. It would have been better to have left those ideas at—–. Close application to severe labor is injurious to the growing frames of the young; but where hundreds have broken down their constitutions by overwork alone, inactivity, overeating, and delicate idleness have sown the seeds of disease in the system of thousands that are hurrying to swift and sure decay.
The reason the youth have so little strength of brain and muscle is because they do so little in the line of useful labor. “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 hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw good.”
There are but few of the youth of this degenerate age who can even endure the study necessary to obtain a common education. Why is this? Why do the children complain of dizziness, headache, bleeding at nose, palpitation, and a sense of lassitude and general weakness? Should this be attributed mainly to their close study? Fond and indulgent parents will sympathize with their children because they fancy their lessons are too great a task, and that their close application to study is ruining their health. True, it is not advisable to crowd the minds of the young with too many and too difficult studies. But, parents, have you looked no deeper into this matter than merely to adopt the idea suggested by your children? Have you not given too ready credence to the apparent reason for their indisposition? It becomes parents and guardians to look beneath the surface for the cause of this evil.
In ninety-nine cases out of one hundred the cause, searched out and revealed to you, would open your understanding to see that it was not the taxation of study alone that was doing the work of injury to your children, but that their own wrong habits were sapping the brain and the entire body of its vital energy. The nervous system has become shattered by being often excited, and thus has been laid the foundation for premature and certain decay. Solitary vice is killing thousands and tens of thousands.
Children should have occupation for their time. Proper mental labor and physical outdoor exercise will not break the constitutions of your boys. Useful labor and an acquaintance with the mysteries of housework will be beneficial to your girls, and some outdoor employment is positively necessary to their constitution and health. Children should be taught to labor. Industry is the greatest blessing that men, women, and children can have.
You have erred in the education of your children. You have been too indulgent. You have favored them and excused them from labor, until to some of them, it is positively distasteful. Inactivity, a lack of well-regulated employment, has injured them greatly. Temptations are on every side, ready to ruin the youth for this world and the next. The path of obedience is the only path of safety.
You have been blind to the power that the enemy had over your children. Household labor, even to weariness, would not have hurt them one-fiftieth part as much as indolent habits
have done. They would have escaped many dangers had they been instructed at an earlier period to occupy their time with useful labor. They would not have contracted such a restless disposition, such a desire for change and to go into society. They would have escaped many temptations to vanity and to engage in unprofitable amusements, light reading, idle talking, and nonsense. Their time would have passed more to their satisfaction and without so great temptation to seek the society of the opposite sex and to excuse themselves in an evil way. Vanity and affectation, uselessness and positive sin, have been the result of this indolence. The parents, and especially you, the father, have flattered and indulged them to their great injury.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 pp. 89-98