Some will enter the place of worship with their hats on, in soiled, dirty clothes. Such do not realize that they are to meet with God and holy angels. There should be a radical change in this matter all through our churches. Ministers themselves need to elevate their ideas, to have finer susceptibilities in regard to it. It is a feature of the work that has been sadly neglected. Because of the irreverence in attitude, dress, and deportment, and lack of a worshipful frame of mind, God has often turned His face away from those assembled for His worship.
All should be taught to be neat, clean, and orderly in their dress, but not to indulge in that external adorning which is wholly inappropriate for the sanctuary. There should be no display of the apparel; for this encourages irreverence. The attention of the people is often called to this or that fine article of dress, and thus thoughts are intruded that should have no place in the hearts of the worshipers. God is to be the subject of thought, the object of worship; and anything that attracts the mind from the solemn, sacred service is an offense to Him. The parading of bows and ribbons, ruffles and feathers, and gold and silver ornaments is a species of idolatry and is wholly inappropriate for the sacred service of God, where the eye of every worshiper should be single to His glory. All matters of dress should be strictly guarded, following closely the Bible rule. Fashion has been the goddess who has ruled the outside world, and she often insinuates herself into the church. The church should make the word of God her standard, and parents should think intelligently upon this subject. When they see their children inclined to follow worldly fashions, they should, like Abraham, resolutely command their households after them. Instead of uniting them with the world, connect them with God. Let none dishonor God’s sanctuary by their showy apparel. God and angels are there. The Holy One of Israel has spoken through His apostle: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward
adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
When a church has been raised up and left uninstructed on these points, the minister has neglected his duty and will have to give an account to God for the impressions he allowed to prevail. Unless correct ideas of true worship and true reverence are impressed upon the people, there will be a growing tendency to place the sacred and eternal on a level with common things, and those professing the truth will be an offense to God and a disgrace to religion. They can never, with their uncultivated ideas, appreciate a pure and holy heaven, and be prepared to join with the worshipers in the heavenly courts above, where all is purity and perfection, where every being has perfect reverence for God and His holiness.
Paul describes the work of God’s ambassadors as that by which every man shall be presented perfect in Christ Jesus. Those who embrace the truth of heavenly origin should be refined, ennobled, sanctified through it. It will require much painstaking effort to reach God’s standard of true manhood. The irregular stones hewed from the quarry must be chiseled, their rough sides must be polished. This is an age famous for surface work, for easy methods, for boasted holiness aside from the standard of character that God has erected. All short routes, all cutoff tracks, all teaching which fails to exalt the law of God as the standard of religious character, is spurious. Perfection of character is a lifelong work, unattainable by those who are not willing to strive for it in God’s appointed way, by slow and toilsome steps. We cannot afford to make any mistake in this matter, but we want day by day to be growing up into Christ, our living Head.
Chap. 57 – Religion and Scientific Education
Dear Brother and Sister B: You have both been presented before me as in danger spiritually. You were leaving the right path and were placing your feet in a broader road. Sister B was saying many things, in jots and tittles, here a little and there a little, which were as seed sown, and the harvest will surely come. She was encouraging unbelief and telling her husband that the road they had been traveling was altogether too narrow and lowly. She thought that her husband’s qualifications were of a high order and should be exercised in a broader and more influential manner. Brother B was of the very same mind; in fact, he had led her into this train of thought. You both held the banner upon which was inscribed, “The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus;” but as you met in your way with people whom you thought were popular, down came the banner, and you put it behind your backs, saying: “If we let it be known that we are Seventh-day Adventists, then our influence will be at an end, and we shall lose many advantages.” I saw the banner of truth trailing behind you. Then the question arose: “Why carry it at all? We can believe that which we see to be truth, but we need not let the educators and students know that we bear this unpopular banner.” There were those in your company who were not pleased or satisfied with these suggestions, but they weakly followed your influence in place of letting their light shine by holding aloft their standard. They hid their banners and marched on, fearing to let the light which was given them of heaven shine before all.
I saw one approaching you with firm tread and grieved countenance. He said: “Let no man take your crown.” Have you forgotten the humiliation endured by the Son of God in coming to our world, how He suffered abuse, reproach, insult, hatred, mockery, and betrayal, how He endured the
shameful trial in the judgment hall after having suffered the superhuman assaults of Satan in the Garden of Gethsemane? Have you forgotten the wild cry from the mob, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” and how He died as a malefactor? Is the servant greater than his Lord? The followers of Jesus will not be popular, but will be like their Master, meek and lowly of heart. You are seeking to climb to the highest seat, but will find yourselves at last in the lowest. If you seek to deal justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with God, you will be partakers with Christ of His sufferings and sharers with Him of His glory in His kingdom. The Lord has blessed you, but how little have you appreciated His loving-kindness! How little praise He has received from your lips! You may do a good work for the Master, but not with your ideas as supreme. You must learn in the school of Christ, else you can never be qualified to enter the higher grade, receive the seal of the living God, enter in through the gates into the city of God, and be crowned with glory, honor, and immortality.
Satan works in many ways where he is not discerned, even through men and women who are in positions of trust. He will suggest to their minds plausible errors of thought and action and speech that will create doubt and work distrust where they think there is assurance of safety. He will work upon dissatisfied elements to put them in active operation. There will be a desire for greatness and honor. Envy will be excited in minds where it is not supposed to exist, and circumstances will not be wanting to call it into action. Doubts will be raised, and flattering promises of gain will be offered if the cross is not made so prominent. Satan will tempt some to think that our faith stands as a barrier to great advancement and bars the way to reaching a high worldly position and being called remarkable men and women.
In his first display of disaffection Satan was very cunning. All he claimed was that he wanted to bring in a better order
of things, to make great improvements. He led the holy pair away from God, away from their allegiance to His commandments, on the same point where thousands are tempted today and where thousands fall; that is, by their vain imaginings. True knowledge is divine. Satan insinuated into the minds of our first parents a desire for a speculative knowledge, whereby he declared they would greatly improve their condition; but in order to gain this, they must take a course contrary to God’s holy will; for God would not lead them to the greatest heights. It was not God’s purpose that they should obtain knowledge that had its foundation in disobedience. This was a broad field into which Satan was seeking to lead Adam and Eve, and it is the same field that he opens for the world today by his temptations.
You were presenting the idea that education must stand as an independent work. This mixing of religious matters and Bible doctrines with scientific education you considered as a drawback in our educational work and as a hindrance in the work of carrying the students to the higher degrees of scientific knowledge.
The great reason why so few of the world’s great men and those having a college education are led to obey the commandments of God is that they have separated education from religion, thinking that each should occupy a field by itself. God presented a field large enough to perfect the knowledge of all who should enter it. This knowledge was obtained under divine supervision; it was bound about with the immutable law of Jehovah, and the result would have been perfect blessedness.
God did not create evil, He only made the good, which was like Himself. But Satan would not be content to know the will of God and do it. His curiosity was on the stretch to know that which God had not designed he should know. Evil, sin, and death were not created by God; they are the result of disobedience, which originated in Satan. But the
knowledge of evil now in the world was brought in through the cunning of Satan. These are very hard and expensive lessons; but men will learn them, and many will never be convinced that it is bliss to be ignorant of a certain kind of knowledge, which arises from unsatisfied desires and unholy aims. The sons and daughters of Adam are fully as inquisitive and presumptuous as was Eve in seeking forbidden knowledge. They gain an experience, a knowledge, which God never designed they should have, and the result will be, as it was to our first parents, the loss of their Eden home. When will human beings learn that which is demonstrated so thoroughly before them?
The history of the past shows an active, working devil. He can no more be idle than harmless. Satan was found in only one tree to endanger the safety of Adam and Eve. He planned to attract the holy pair to that one tree, that they might do the very thing God had said they should not do–eat of the tree of knowledge. There was no danger to them in approaching any other tree. How plausible his speech! He laid hold of the very arguments which he uses today,–flattery, envy, distrust, questioning, and unbelief. If Satan was so cunning at first, what must he be now after gaining an experience of many thousands of years? Yet God and holy angels, and all those who abide in obedience to all the Lord’s expressed will, are wiser than he. The subtlety of Satan will not decrease, but the wisdom given to men through a living connection with the Source of all light and divine knowledge will be proportionate to his arts and wiles.
If men would stand the test which Adam failed to endure, and would, in the strength of Jesus, obey all the requirements of God, because they are righteousness, then they would never become acquainted with the objectionable knowledge. God never designed that men should have this knowledge which comes of disobedience, and which, carried into practice, ends in eternal death. When men almost invariably
choose the knowledge that Satan presents; when their taste is so perverted that it craves that knowledge as though it were a fountain of supreme wisdom, then they give evidence that they are separated from God and are in rebellion against Christ.
Chap. 58 – The Education of Our Children
Dear Sister C: If God in His providence has established a school among our own people in —–, and if in place of sending your daughter where she would be in the society and under the influence of those who love the truth, you place her in —– Seminary, where she will be associated with a worldly class who have no respect for God or His law, I ask you how you expect the Lord will work to counteract the evil influence that must surround her and which you have voluntarily chosen. Will He commission His angels to do the work which He has left for you to do? God does not work in that way; He expects us to follow the light He has given in His word.
When God was about to smite the first-born of Egypt, He commanded the Israelites to gather their children from among the Egyptians into their own dwellings and strike their door posts with blood, that the destroying angel might see it and pass over their homes. It was the work of parents to gather in their children. This is your work, this is my work, and the work of every mother who believes the truth. The angel is to place a mark upon the forehead of all who are separated from sin and sinners, and the destroying angel will follow, to slay utterly both old and young.
God is not pleased with our inattention and trifling with His blessings placed within our reach. Neither is He pleased to have us place our children in worldly society, because this
best suits their tastes and inclinations. If the souls of your children are saved, you must do your work with fidelity. God has not been wholly pleased with your course in regard to worldly associations, and now the peril is revealed. You have also encouraged the reading of storybooks; these, and papers with continued stories, lying upon your table, have educated the taste of your daughter until she is a mental inebriate and needs a stronger power, a firmer will than her own, to control her.
The enemy has had his way with your daughter until his toils have bound her about like bands of steel, and it will require a strong, persevering effort to save her soul. If you have success in this case, there must be no halfway work. The habits of years cannot easily be broken. She should be placed where a steady, firm, abiding influence is constantly exercised. I would advise you to put her in the college at —–; let her have the discipline of the boardinghouse. It is where she ought to have been years ago. The boardinghouse is conducted upon a plan that makes it a good home. This home may not suit the inclinations of some, but it is because they have been educated to false theories, to self-indulgence and self-gratification, and all their habits and customs have been in a wrong channel. But, my dear sister, we are nearing the end of time, and we want now, not to meet the world’s tastes and practices, but to meet the mind of God; to see what saith the Scriptures, and then to walk according to the light which God has given us. Our inclinations, our customs and practices, are not to have the preference. God’s word is our standard.
So far as your daughter’s health is concerned, right habits will secure to her health, while wrong habits will ruin her for this life and for the future, immortal life. There is a heaven to gain, a perdition to shun; and when you in the fear of God have done all that you can do on your part, then
you may expect that the Lord will do His part. Decisive action now may save a soul from death.
Your daughter needs a strong influence to counteract that of the society she loves. It will take just as decided efforts to cure her of this mental disorder as it does to cure the drunkard of his craving for liquor. You have a work to do which no other can do for you, and will you fail to do it? Will you in the name of the Lord deal with your child as with a soul in danger of eternal ruin? Were she a girl who loved God, one who could exercise self-control, her peril would not be so great. But she does not love to think of God, of her duty, or of heaven. She persists in having her own way. She does not daily seek strength from God, that she may resist temptation. Will you, then, place her in connection with influences calculated to lead her thoughts away from God, away from the truth, and from righteousness? If so, you place her on the enemy’s battleground, with no strength to resist his power or to over come his temptations.
If she were situated where there were heavenly and divine influences, her moral sensibilities, which are now paralyzed, might be aroused, and her thoughts and purposes, by the blessing of God, might be changed to flow in the heavenly channel, and she be restored. But she is now in danger through inward corruption and outward temptation. Satan is playing the game of life for her soul, and he has every advantage for winning the game.
In my dreams I have been talking to you as I have here written. My heart yearns over you with intensity. Trying as your case now is, do not despond. You need cheerfulness and decision. Seek for help from God. God is your friend. You are never alone. The Bible is your counselor. It is a light to them who are in darkness. Be steadfast in the hour of trial, for you will have new trials to meet. But cling to Jesus, and make Him your strength.
Chap. 59 – Dangers of the Young
Brother D: My prayers are ascending to God for you, and my love for your soul leads me to write to you again. I feel deeply grieved over your case, not that I look upon you as persecuted, but as a deceived, misguided man, who has not Christ’s likeness in his soul, and who is deceiving himself to his certain ruin.
If you had the cause of God at heart you would see that your brethren have done only their duty in their action toward you. You speak of going to —– and showing that you can be a man. All that is asked of you by those in responsible places at the office is that you show yourself a man just where you are; that you do not degrade yourself by associating with sinners; and that you do not unite with them in evil practices. Cease sympathizing with yourself, and remember the world’s Redeemer. Consider the infinite sacrifice He has made in behalf of man, and then think of His disappointment that, after He has made such a sacrifice in man’s behalf, man should choose to ally himself with those who hate Christ and righteousness, and should become one with them in the indulgence of perverted appetite, thus bringing eternal ruin to his soul.
But you have heard me say all these things; you have read them, as I have written to you, and yet they have not affected your heart and life. You have set your heart against good and opened it to evil. You have placed yourself in the enemy’s way and have had no hold upon God to enable you to resist his temptations. Suppose you do sever all connection with —– through a revengeful spirit, because your brethren have told you the truth; whom will it injure, you or them? You will grieve them by so doing, but the work will go on just the same. God is raising up workers on every hand; He is not dependent on you or any other man to do His work. If your heart is not pure, if your hands are not
clean in His sight, He cannot work with you. He wants you to have truth in your heart and life, interwoven with your character.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 pp. 499-508