When controversy or division comes in, all parties claim to be right and to have a conscience void of offense; and they will not be instructed by those who have long borne the burden of the work and who, they have reason to know, have been guided by the Lord. Light has been sent to dispel their darkness, but they are too proud of heart to accept it, and they choose the darkness. They despise the counsel of God because it does not coincide with their views and plans, and favor their wrong traits of character. The work of the Spirit of God, which would bring them into the right position if they would accept it, has not come in a way to please them, and to flatter their self-righteousness. The light which God has given is no light to them, and they wander in darkness. They claim that no more confidence is to be placed in the judgment of one who has had such a long experience, and whom the Lord has taught and used to do a special work, than in that of any other person. Is it God’s plan that they should do thus, or is it the special working of the enemy of all righteousness to hold souls in error, to bind them in strong delusions that cannot be broken, because they have placed themselves beyond the reach of means that God has ordained to deal with His church?
The reproofs, the cautions, the corrections of the Lord, have been given to His church in all ages of the world. These warnings were despised and rejected in Christ’s day by the self-righteous Pharisees, who claimed that they needed no such reproof and were unjustly dealt with. They would not receive the word of the Lord through His servants because it did not please their inclinations. Should the Lord give a vision right before this class of people in our day, pointing out their mistakes, rebuking their self-righteousness and condemning their sins, they would rise up in rebellion, like the inhabitants of Nazareth when Christ showed them their true condition.
If these persons do not humble their hearts before God, if they harbor the suggestions of Satan, doubt and infidelity will take possession of the soul, and they will see everything
in a false light. Let the seeds of doubt once be sown in their hearts and they will have an abundant harvest to reap. They will come to mistrust and disbelieve truths which are plain and full of beauty to others who have not educated themselves in unbelief. Those who train the mind to seize upon everything which they can use as a peg to hang a doubt upon, and suggest these thoughts to other minds, will always find occasion to doubt. They will question and criticize everything that arises in the unfolding of truth, criticize the work and position of others, criticize every branch of the work in which they have not themselves a part. They will feed upon the errors and mistakes and faults of others, “until,” said the angel, the Lord Jesus shall rise up from His mediatorial work in the heavenly sanctuary and shall clothe Himself with the garments of vengeance and surprise them at their unholy feast, and they will find themselves unprepared for the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Their taste has been so perverted that they would be inclined to criticize even the table of the Lord in His kingdom.
Has God ever revealed to these self-deceived ones that no reproofs or corrections from Him are to have any weight with them unless they come through direct vision? I dwell upon this point because the position that many are now taking upon it is a delusion of Satan to ruin souls. When he has ensnared and weakened them through his sophistry, so that when they are reproved they persist in making of none effect the workings of God’s Spirit, his triumph over them will be complete. Some who profess righteousness will, like Judas, betray their Lord into the hands of His bitterest enemies. These self-confident ones, determined to have their own way and to advocate their own ideas, will go on from bad to worse, until they will pursue any course rather than to give up their own will. They will go on blindly in the way of evil, but, like the deluded Pharisees, so self-deceived that they think they
are doing God’s service. Christ portrayed the course which a certain class will take when they have a chance to develop their true character: “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.”
God has given me a marked, solemn experience in connection with His work; and you may be assured that so long as my life is spared, I shall not cease to lift a warning voice as I am impressed by the Spirit of God, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. I have no special wisdom in myself; I am only an instrument in the Lord’s hands to do the work He has set for me to do. The instructions that I have given by pen or voice have been an expression of the light that God has given me. I have tried to place before you the principles that the Spirit of God has for years been impressing upon my mind and writing on my heart.
And now, brethren, I entreat you not to interpose between me and the people, and turn away the light which God would have come to them. Do not by your criticisms take out all the force, all the point and power, from the Testimonies. Do not feel that you can dissect them to suit your own ideas, claiming that God has given you ability to discern what is light from heaven and what is the expression of mere human wisdom. If the Testimonies speak not according to the word of God, reject them. Christ and Belial cannot be united. For Christ’s sake do not confuse the minds of the people with human sophistry and skepticism, and make of none effect the work that the Lord would do. Do not, by your lack of spiritual discernment, make of this agency of God a rock of offense whereby many shall be caused to stumble and fall, “and be snared, and be taken.”
Chap. 83 – Unfounded Reports
Several times during the past winter [1888-89.] I have met the report that, during the Conference at Minneapolis, “Sister White was shown that the judgment, which since 1844 had been passing upon the righteous dead, had now begun upon the living.” This report is not true. A similar rumor, which has been afloat for about two years, originated in this wise: In a letter written from Basel, Switzerland, to a minister in California I made a remark substantially as follows: “The judgment has been over forty years in progress on the cases of the dead, and we know not how soon it will pass to the cases of the living.” The letter was read to different persons, and careless hearers reported what they thought they heard. Thus the matter started. The report from Minneapolis arose from someone’s misunderstanding of a statement to the same effect as the one quoted from the letter. There is no other foundation for either report than this.
Secondly, report has it that a minister now living has been seen by me in vision as saved in the kingdom of God, thus representing that his final salvation is assured. There is no truth whatever in this statement. The word of God lays down the conditions of our salvation, and it rests wholly with ourselves whether or not we will comply with them.
Says the Revelator: “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.”
“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot,
and blameless.” “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.” “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
Here we have the Bible election plainly stated. Here are specified who shall be crowned in the city of God and who shall have no part with the just. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
The third report states that, in the Conference at Minneapolis, “Sister White confessed that in some of her remarks at that meeting she had been in error and had manifested a wrong spirit.” This report also is wholly without foundation. I could not forbear giving to the Conference the light that God had given me. This I presented both in messages of warning and reproof and in words of hope and faith. But nothing spoken by me at that meeting has been taken back or confessed to be wrong. I still view matters from the same standpoint, and am of the same mind, as when at Minneapolis. All the dangers which I then saw, and which brought such a burden upon me, have been more clearly developed since that meeting. As I become more fully acquainted with the condition of our churches I see that every warning given at Minneapolis was needed.
The influence of this report from Minneapolis, tended to destroy confidence in all reproofs and warnings given by me to the people. One example of this I will here relate.
A sister connected with one of our missions had been reproved for her wrong influence over the young people with whom she was associated. She had encouraged a spirit of lightness, trifling, and frivolity, which grieved away the Spirit of God and which was demoralizing to the workers. When the report came by letter from Minneapolis concerning Sister White’s wrong course which called for a confession there, the relatives of Sister T at once remarked: “Well, if Sister White was wrong in regard to matters in the Conference at Minneapolis, and had to confess this, she may have made a mistake as to the message she gave my sister and may have to confess that also.” And they justified the wrongdoer in her course. Since that time, however, Sister T has acknowledged the wrong for which she was reproved. Those who originated and spread the report have exerted an influence to embolden wrongdoers in rejecting reproof, and souls have thus been imperiled. Let all who have engaged in this work beware lest the blood of these souls be found upon them in the great day of final judgment.
The cases mentioned will serve to show how little reliance can be placed upon reports concerning what I have done or taught. During my labors in connection with the work of the Lord I have not made it a practice to vindicate my own cause or to contradict reports that have been put in circulation in regard to myself. To do this would occupy my time to the neglect of the work which God has appointed me. These matters I have left to Him who has a care for His servants and His cause.
But I would say to my brethren: Beware how you give credence to such reports. The Saviour bade His disciples: “Take heed therefore how ye hear.” And He speaks of a certain class that hear and will not understand lest they should be converted and be healed. Again He said: “Take heed what ye hear.” “He that is of God heareth God’s words.”
Those who listened to the words of Christ heard and
reported His teaching just according to the spirit that was in them. It is ever thus with those who hear God’s word. The manner in which they understand and receive it depends upon the spirit which dwells in their hearts.
There are many who put their own construction upon what they hear, making the thought appear altogether different from that which the speaker endeavored to express. Some, hearing through the medium of their own prejudices or pre-possessions, understand the matter as they desire it to be,–as will best suit their purpose,–and so report it. Following the promptings of an unsanctified heart, they construe into evil that which, rightly understood, might be a means of great good.
Again, an expression perfectly true and right in itself, may be wholly distorted by transmission through several curious, careless, or caviling minds. Well-meaning persons are often careless and make grievous mistakes, and it is not likely that others will report more correctly. One who has himself not fully understood a speaker’s meaning repeats a remark or assertion, giving to it his own coloring. It makes an impression on the hearer just according to his prejudices and imaginings. He reports it to a third, who in turn adds a little more and sends it forward; and before any of them are aware of what they are doing, they have accomplished the purpose of Satan in planting the seeds of doubt, jealousy, and suspicion in many minds.
If persons listen to God’s message of reproof, warning, or encouragement while their hearts are filled with prejudice, they will not understand the true import of that which was sent them to be a savor of life unto life. Satan stands by to present everything to their understanding in a false light. But the souls that are hungering and thirsting for divine knowledge will hear aright, and will obtain the precious blessings that God designs to convey to them. Their minds are under the influence of His Holy Spirit, and they hear aright.
When hearts are purified from selfishness and egotism, they are in harmony with the message God sends them. The perceptions are quickened, the sensibilities refined. Like appreciates like. “He that is of God heareth God’s words.”
And now to all who have a desire for truth I would say: Do not give credence to unauthenticated reports as to what Sister White has done or said or written. If you desire to know what the Lord has revealed through her, read her published works. Are there any points of interest concerning which she has not written, do not eagerly catch up and report rumors as to what she has said.
Chap. 84 – A Miracle Counterfeited
Some have found difficulty in reconciling a statement in Testimonies for the Church, volume I, page 292, with one in Great Controversy, volume I, page 184. [THE ACCOUNT PRESENTED IN THIS NOW-OUT-OF-PRINT VOLUME WAS REWRITTEN AND AMPLIFIED BY ELLEN G. WHITE AND PUBLISHED IN 1890 AS PATRIARCHS AND PROPHETS. SEE PAGE 264 OF THAT VOLUME FOR THE STATEMENT PARALLELING THE ONE REFERRED TO HERE. [WHITE TRUSTEES.]] These passages refer to the work of the sorcerers in counterfeiting the miracle performed by Aaron, of turning the rod to a serpent. The testimony says: “The magicians could not perform all those miracles which God wrought through Moses. Only a few of them could they do. The magicians’ rods did become serpents, but Aaron’s rod swallowed them up.” This last sentence, which is the one in question, is substantially the same as the Bible statement: “They cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” The statement in volume I, of the Controversy, is: “The magicians seemed to perform several things with their enchantments similar to those things which God wrought by the hand of Moses and Aaron. They did not really cause their rods to become serpents, but by magic, aided by the great deceiver, made them appear like serpents,
to counterfeit the work of God.” This statement, instead of contradicting the former, is simply explanatory of it.
There is not, in the Testimony, a full expression of the thought which I wished to convey. On page 293 is a sentence which makes the meaning clearer: “The magicians wrought not by their own science alone, but by the power of their god, the devil, who ingeniously carried out his deceptive work of counterfeiting the work of God.” Moses, by the power of God, had changed the rod to a living serpent. Satan, through the magicians, counterfeited this miracle. He could not produce living serpents, for he has not power to create or to give life. This power belongs to God alone. But all that Satan could do he did–he produced a counterfeit. By his power, working through the magicians, he caused the rods to assume the appearance of serpents.
The statement that they did become serpents, simply means that they were such in appearance; such they were believed to be by Pharaoh and his court. There was nothing in their appearance to distinguish them from the serpent produced by Moses and Aaron; but while one was real, the others were spurious. And the Lord caused the living serpent to swallow up the pretended ones.
Pharaoh desired to justify his stubbornness in resisting the divine command; he was seeking some excuse to disregard the miracle which God had wrought through Moses. Satan gave him just what he wanted. By the work which he wrought through the magicians he made it appear to the Egyptians that Moses and Aaron were only magicians and sorcerers, and hence that the message which they brought would not claim respect as coming from a superior being.
Even the swallowing up of the counterfeit serpents was not regarded by Pharaoh as the special work of God’s power, but as accomplished by a kind of magic superior to that of his servants. Thus this counterfeit work emboldened him in his rebellion, causing him to fortify himself against conviction.
It was by the display of supernatural power, in making the serpent his medium, that Satan caused the fall of Adam and Eve in Eden. Before the close of time he will work still greater wonders. So far as his power extends, he will perform actual miracles. Says the Scripture: “He … deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do,” not merely those which he pretends to do. Something more than mere impostures is brought to view in this scripture. But there is a limit beyond which Satan cannot go, and here he calls deception to his aid and counterfeits the work which he has not power actually to perform. In the last days he will appear in such a manner as to make men believe him to be Christ come the second time into the world. He will indeed transform himself into an angel of light. But while he will bear the appearance of Christ in every particular, so far as mere appearance goes, it will deceive none but those who, like Pharaoh, are seeking to resist the truth.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 pp. 689-698