Whether you heed the voice of reproof and warning God has sent to you or not; whether you reform, or retain your defects of character, you will one day realize what you have lost by placing yourself in a defiant position, warring in spirit against the servants of God. Your bitterness of feeling toward Elder H is astonishing. He has endured and sacrificed and toiled on this coast to do the work of God. But in your blindness, while unconsecrated in heart and life, you have ventured, in connection with I and J, to handle the servant of God in a cruel manner. “Touch not Mine anointed,” saith God, “and do My prophets no harm.” It is not a small matter for you to array yourself, as you have done, against men whom God has sent with light and truth for the people. Beware how your influence turns souls from the truth which God has sent His servants to declare, for a heavy woe hangs over you.
Satan has been using you as his agent to insinuate doubts and to reiterate insinuations and misrepresentations which have originated in an unsanctified heart, which God would have cleansed from its pollution. But you refused to be instructed, refused correction, rejected reproof, and followed your own will and way. Souls are defiled by this root of bitterness and are, through these questioning, murmuring ones, placed where the testimony of reproof which God sends will not reach them. The blood of these souls will be chargeable to you and to the spirits with whom you are in harmony.
God has given us, as His servants, our work. He has given us a message to bear to His people. For thirty years we have been receiving the words of God and speaking them to His people. We have trembled at the responsibility, which we have accepted with much prayer and meditation. We have stood as God’s ambassadors, in Christ’s stead beseeching souls to be reconciled to God. We have warned of danger as God has presented before us the perils of His people. Our work has been given us of God. What, then, will be the condition of those who refuse to hear the words which God has sent them, because they cross their track or reprove their wrongs? If you are thoroughly convinced that God has not spoken by us, why not act in accordance with your faith and have no more to do with a people who are under so great a deception as this people are? If you have been moving according to the dictates of the Spirit of God you are right and we are wrong. God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work for the past thirty years bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil. In arraying yourself against the servants of God you are doing a work either for God or for the devil. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” What stamp does your work bear? It will pay to look critically at the result of your course.
It is not a new thing for a man to be deluded by the arch-deceiver and array himself against God. Consider your course critically before you venture to go any further in the path you are traveling. The Jews were self-deceived. They rejected the teachings of Christ because He exposed the secrets of their hearts and reproved their sins. They would not come to the light, fearing that their deeds would be reproved. They chose darkness rather than light. “This is the condemnation,” said Christ, “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” The Jews pursued their course of rejecting Christ until, in their self-deceived, deluded state, they thought that in crucifying Him they were doing God service. This was the result of their refusing light. You are in danger of similar deception. It will be profitable for your soul, Brother G, to consider where the path which you are now traveling will end. God can do without you, but you cannot afford to do without God. He does not compel any man to believe. He sets light before men, and Satan presents his darkness. While the deceiver is constantly crying, “Light is here; truth is here,” Jesus is saying: “I am the truth; I have the words of eternal life. If any man follow Me, he shall not walk in darkness.” God gives to us all evidence sufficient to balance our faith on the side of truth. If we surrender to God we shall choose the light and reject the darkness. If we desire to maintain the independence of the natural heart, and refuse the correction of God, we shall, as did the Jews, stubbornly carry out our purposes and our ideas in the face of the plainest evidence, and shall be in danger of as great deception as came upon them; and in our blind infatuation we may go to as great lengths as they did, and yet flatter ourselves that we are doing work for God.
Brother G, you will not long stand where you now are. The path you have started upon is diverging from the true path and separating you from the people whom God is testing in order to purify them for the final victory. You will either come into union with this body, and labor earnestly to answer the prayer of Christ, or you will become more and more unbelieving. You will question point after point of the established faith of the body, become more self-willed in your opinion, and grow darker and darker in regard to the work of God for this time, until you set light for darkness and darkness for light.
Satan has great power to entangle souls by confusing the minds of those who do not cherish the light and the privileges which Providence sends them. Minds which are submitted to Satan’s control are led continually from the light of truth into error and darkness. If you give Satan the least advantage, he will claim more and will watch the outposts to make the most of any circumstance to advantage his cause and ruin your soul.
Brother and Sister G, you are neither of you in a safe position. You despise reproof. Had smooth words been spoken to you rather than words of reproof, had you been praised and flattered, you would now occupy a very different position from what you do in regard to your belief in the Testimonies. There are some in these last days who will cry: “Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” But this is not my work. God has set me as a reprover of His people; and just so surely as He has laid upon me the heavy burden, He will make those to whom this message is given responsible for the manner in which they treat it. God will not be trifled with, and those who despise His work will receive according to their deeds. I have not chosen this unpleasant labor for myself. It is not a work which will bring to me the favor or praise of men. It is a work which but few will appreciate. But those who seek to make my labor doubly hard by their misrepresentations, jealous suspicions, and unbelief, thus creating prejudice in the minds of others against the Testimonies God has given me, and limiting my work, have the matter to settle with God, while I shall go forward as Providence and my brethren may open the way before me. In the name and strength of my Redeemer I shall do what I can. I shall warn and counsel and reprove and encourage as the Spirit of God dictates, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. My duty is not to please myself, but to do the will of my heavenly Father, who has given me my work.
Christ warned His disciples: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Here is a test, and, Brother G, you can apply it if you will. You need not go in uncertainty and doubt. Satan is at hand to suggest a variety of doubts, but if you will open your eyes in faith you will find sufficient evidence for belief. But God will never remove from any man all causes for doubts. Those who love to dwell in the atmosphere of doubt and questioning unbelief can have the unenviable privilege. God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith. You have seemed to consider it a virtue to be on the side of the doubting rather than on the side of the believing. Jesus never praised unbelief; He never commended doubts. He gave to His nation evidences of His Messiahship in the miracles He wrought, but there were some who considered it a virtue to doubt and who would reason these evidences away and find something in every good work to question and censure.
The centurion who desired Christ to come and heal his servant felt unworthy to have Jesus come under his roof; his faith was so strong in the power of Christ that he entreated Him just to say the word and the work would be done. “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.”
Here Jesus exalted faith in contrast with doubt. He showed that the children of Israel would stumble because of their unbelief, which would lead to the rejection of great light and would result in their condemnation and overthrow. Thomas declared that he would not believe unless he put his finger into the prints of the nails and thrust his hand into the side of his Lord. Christ gave him the evidence he desired and then reproved his unbelief: “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
In this age of darkness and error, men who profess to be followers of Christ seem to think that they are at liberty to receive or reject the servants of the Lord at pleasure and that they will not be called to an account for so doing. Unbelief and darkness lead them to this. Their sensibilities are blunted by their unbelief. They violate their consciences and become untrue to their own convictions and weaken themselves in moral power. They view others in the same light with themselves.
When Christ sent out the twelve, He commanded them: “And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” They were warned to beware of men, for they should be delivered up to the councils and scourged in the synagogues.
Men’s hearts are no softer today than when Christ was upon the earth. They will do all in their power to aid the great adversary in making it as hard as possible for the servants of Christ, just as the people did with Christ when He was upon the earth. They will scourge with the tongue of slander and falsehood. They will criticize, and turn against the servant of God the very efforts he is leading them to make. They will, with their evil surmisings, see fraud and dishonesty where all is right and where perfect integrity exists. They lay selfish motives to the charge of God’s servants, when He Himself is leading them, and when they would give even their lives if God required, if by so doing they could advance His cause. They who have done the least, and made the least investment in the cause of truth, are the most forward to express lack of faith in the integrity of the servants of God who are placed in a position to bear financial responsibilities in the great work. They who have confidence in the work of God are willing to venture something for its advancement, and their spiritual prosperity will be in proportion to their works of faith. God’s word is our standard, but how few follow it! Our religion will be of but little worth to our fellow men if it is only theoretical and not practical. The influence of the world and of selfishness is carried about by many who profess to be following the Bible. They are like a cloud, chilling the atmosphere in which others move.
Obstinacy Not Independence
Brother G, it will be uphill work for you to cultivate pure, unselfish love and disinterested benevolence. You have not much experience in yielding your opinions and ideas, and in sometimes giving up your own judgment and being guided by the counsel of others. Brother and Sister G, you both need to have less of self and more of the grace of God. You both need to acquire a habit of self-government, that your thoughts may be brought into subjection to the Spirit of Christ. It is the grace of God that you need in order that your thoughts may be disciplined to flow in the right channel, that the words you utter may be right words, and that your passions and appetites may be subject to the control of reason, and the tongue be bridled against levity and unhallowed censure and faultfinding. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The greatest triumph given us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled, or we can never overcome as Christ overcame.
There are some among the professed followers of Christ who are spiritual dyspeptics. They are self-made invalids, and their spiritual debility is the direct result of their own shortcomings. They do not obey the laws of God nor carry out the principles of His commandments. They are indolent in His cause and work, accomplishing nothing themselves; but when they think they see something with which they can find fault, then they are active and zealous. A Christian who does not work cannot be healthy. Spiritual disease is the result of neglected duty. In order for a man’s faith to be strong, he must be much with God in secret prayer. How can a man’s benevolence be a blessing to him if he never exercises it? How can we ask God to help in the conversion of souls unless we are doing all in our power to bring them to the knowledge of the truth? You have brought upon yourself a debility which has made you useless to yourself and to the church, and the remedy is repentance, confession, and reform. You need moral power and the real nourishment of the grace of God. Nothing will give bone and sinew to your piety like working to advance the cause you profess to love, instead of binding it. There is but one genuine cure for spiritual laziness, and that is work–working for souls who need your help. Instead of strengthening souls, you have been discouraging and weakening the hearts and hands of those who would see the cause of God advance.
God has given you abilities which you can use to good account, or abuse to your own injury and to the injury of others. You have not realized the claims that God has upon you. It should be ever borne in mind that we are living in this world to form characters for the next. And all our associations with our fellow mortals should be with reference to their eternal interest and to our own; but if our interviews with them are devoted only to pleasure and to our own selfish gratification, if we are light and trifling, if we indulge in wrong acts, we are not co-workers with God, but are decidedly working against Him. The precious lives God has given us are not to be molded by unbelieving relatives in a way to please the carnal mind, but to be spent in a manner which God can approve.
If Brother J enjoyed the love of God, he would be a channel of light. He has too little moral power, with strong tendencies to unbelief. He is pitied by the heavenly angels, for he is surrounded with darkness. His ears hear words of unbelief and darkness almost continually. He has doubts and questionings constantly thrown before him. The tongue is a world of iniquity. “The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” If Brother J would cling to God more firmly and feel that he should preserve his integrity before God even at the cost of his natural life, he would receive strength from above. If he allows his faith to be affected by the darkness and unbelief that surrounds him–the doubts and questioning and much talk–he will soon be all darkness and doubt and unbelief, and will have no light or strength in the truth.
He need not think that by seeking to compromise with his friends, who are embittered against our faith, he will make it easier for himself. If he stands with the single purpose to obey God at any cost he will have help and strength. God loves and pities Brother J. He knows every perplexity, every discouragement, every bitter speech. He is acquainted with it all. If he will lay aside his unbelief and stand in God unmoved, his faith will be strengthened by exercise. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
I saw Brethren J and G in special danger of losing eternal life. They did not see that they were standing directly in the way of the advancement of the work of God in _____. When the tent meeting was held there the first time we were upon this coast, hundreds were convicted of the truth; but God knew the material of which that church was composed. If souls came out into the truth, there were none to nourish and cherish them, and to lead them along to an elevated life. Brother I was of an envious, faultfinding, jealous spirit. Unless he could be first, he would not do anything. He esteemed himself far more highly than God esteemed him. A man of his temperament will not, long at a time, be in agreement with anyone; for it is his element to contend, and to array himself in opposition to anything that does not suit his ideas. The Lord left him to take his own course and to manifest what manner of spirit he was of. He brought into the church, and sought to carry out there, the very same spirit that he carried out in his family. His bitterness and his cruel speeches against the servants of God are written in the book. He will meet them again. He went out from us because he was not of us. And in no case should the church encourage him to unite with them again; for, with the spirit he now has, he would quarrel even with the angels of God. He would wish to rule and dictate the work of the angels. No such spirit can enter heaven. I and J, whom God frowns upon, have dared to withstand the servants of God, to malign them, and to impute to them evil motives. They have tried to destroy the confidence of the brethren in these workers as well as in the Testimonies. But if the work is of God, they cannot overthrow it. Their efforts will lie in vain. Brother G, you were in such darkness that you thought these men were right. You have repeated their words and talked of the one-man power.” Oh, how little you knew what you were talking about!
Some have been ready to say anything, to prefer any charge, against the servants of God, and to be jealous and faultfinding. And if they can find any instance where, in their zeal for the cause of God, they think ministers have spoken decidedly, and perhaps severely, they have been willing to make the most of their words, and have felt at liberty to cherish the most bitter, wicked spirit, and to charge the Lord’s servants with wrong motives. Let these faultfinders ask what they would have done under similar circumstances, bearing similar burdens. Let them look and search and condemn their own wrong, overbearing course and their own impatience and fretfulness; and when without sin themselves, let them cast the first stone of censure at the brethren who are trying to get them into working order. A holy God will not bring out souls to the truth to come under such an influence as has existed in the church. Our heavenly Father is too wise to bring souls into the truth to be molded by the influence of these men who are unconsecrated in heart and life. These men are not in harmony with the truth. They are not in union with the body, but are drawing off from the church. They are working at cross purposes with those whom God is using to bring souls into the truth.
Who would nourish those who should take their stand to obey all of God’s commandments?
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 pp. 229-238