Chapter 18—Parental Responsibility
I saw that great responsibility rests upon parents. They must not be led by their children, but must lead them. I was referred to Abraham. He was faithful in his house. He commanded his household after him, and it was remembered of God.
I was then referred to the case of Eli. He restrained not his children, and they became wicked and vile, and by their wickedness led Israel astray. When God had made known to Samuel their sins, and the heavy curse that was to follow because Eli restrained them not, He said that their sins should not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever. When told by Samuel what the Lord had shown him, Eli submitted, saying: “It is the Lord: let Him do what seemeth Him good.” The curse of God soon followed. Those wicked priests were slain, and thirty thousand of Israel were also slain, and the ark of God was taken by their enemies. And when Eli heard that the ark of God was taken, he fell backward and died. All this evil resulted from Eli’s neglect to restrain his sons. I saw that if God was so particular as to notice such things anciently, He will be no less particular in these last days.
Parents must govern their children, correct their passions, and subdue them, or God will surely destroy the children in the day of His fierce anger, and the parents who have not controlled their children will not be blameless. Especially should the servants of God govern their own families and have them in good subjection. I saw that they are not prepared to judge or decide in matters of the church, unless they can rule well their own house. They must first have order at home, and then their judgment and influence will tell in the church.
I saw that the reason why visions have not been more frequent of late, is, they have not been appreciated by the church. The church have nearly lost their spirituality and faith, and the reproofs and warnings have had but little effect upon them. Many of those who have professed faith in them have not heeded them.
Some have taken an injudicious course; when they have talked their faith to unbelievers, and the proof has been asked for, they have read a vision, instead of going to the Bible for proof. I saw that this course was inconsistent, and prejudiced unbelievers against the truth. The visions can have no weight with those who have never seen them and know nothing of their spirit. They should not be referred to in such cases.
Chapter 19—Faith in God
When at Battle Creek, Michigan, May 5, 1855, I saw that there was a great lack of faith with the servants of God, as well as with the church. They were too easily discouraged, too ready to doubt God, too willing to believe that they had a hard lot and that God had forsaken them. I saw that this was cruel. God so loved them as to give His dearly beloved Son to die for them, and all heaven was interested in their salvation; yet after all that had been done for them, it was hard to believe and trust so kind and good a Father. He has said that He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children. I saw that the servants of God and the church were too easily discouraged. When they asked their Father in heaven for things which they thought they needed, and these did not immediately come, their faith wavered, their courage fled, and a murmuring feeling took possession of them. This, I saw, displeased God.
Every saint who comes to God with a true heart, and sends his honest petitions to Him in faith, will have his prayers answered. Your faith must not let go of the promises of God, if you do not see or feel the immediate answer to your prayers. Be not afraid to trust God. Rely upon His sure promise: “Ask, and ye shall receive.” God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from His saints that walk uprightly. Man is erring, and although his petitions are sent up from an honest heart, he does not always ask for the things that are good for himself, or that will glorify God. When this is so, our wise and good Father hears our prayers, and will answer, sometimes immediately; but He gives us the things that are for our best good and His own glory. God gives us blessings; if we could look into His plan, we would clearly see that He knows what is best for us and that our prayers are answered. Nothing hurtful is given, but the blessing we need, in the place of something we asked for that would not be good for us, but to our hurt.
I saw that if we do not feel immediate answers to our prayers, we should hold fast our faith, not allowing distrust to come in, for that will separate us from God. If our faith wavers, we shall receive nothing from Him. Our confidence in God should be strong; and when we need it most, the blessing will fall upon us like a shower of rain.
When the servants of God pray for His Spirit and blessing, it sometimes comes immediately; but it is not always then bestowed. At such times, faint not. Let your faith hold fast the promise that it will come. Let your trust be fully in God, and often that blessing will come when you need it most, and you will unexpectedly receive help from God when you are presenting the truth to unbelievers, and will be enabled to speak the word with clearness and power.
It was represented to me like children asking a blessing of their earthly parents who love them. They ask something that the parent knows will hurt them; the parent gives them the things that will be good and healthful for them, in the place of that which they desired. I saw that every prayer which is sent up in faith from an honest heart will be heard of God and answered, and the one that sent up the petition will have the blessing when he needs it most, and it will often exceed his expectations. Not a prayer of a true saint is lost if sent up in faith from an honest heart.
Chapter 20—The “Messenger” Party
When at Oswego, New York, June, 1855, I was shown that God’s people have been weighed down with clogs; that there have been Achans in the camp. The work of God has progressed but little, and many of His servants have been discouraged because the truth has taken no more effect in New York, and there have been no more added to the church. The Messenger party has arisen, and we shall suffer some from their lying tongues and misrepresentations, yet we should bear it all patiently; for they will not injure the cause of God, now they have left us, as much as they would have injured it by their influence had they remained with us.
God’s frown has been brought upon the church on account of individuals with corrupt hearts being in it. They have wanted to be foremost, when neither God nor their brethren placed them there. Selfishness and exaltation have marked their course. A place is now open for all such where they can go and find pasture with those of their kind. And we should praise God that in mercy He has rid the church of them. God has given many of these persons up to their own ways to be filled with their own doings. An excitement and sympathy now leads them, which will deceive some; but every honest one will be enlightened as to the true state of this company, and will remain with God’s peculiar people, hold fast the truth, and follow in the humble path, unaffected by the influence of those who have been given up of God to their own ways, to be filled with their own doings. I saw that God had given these persons opportunity to reform, He had enlightened them as to their love for self and their other sins; but they would not heed it. They would not be reformed, and He mercifully relieved the church of them. The truth will take effect if the servants of God and the church will devote themselves to Him and His cause.
I saw that the people of God must arouse and put on the armor. Christ is coming, and the great work of the last message of mercy is of too much importance for us to leave it and come down to answer such falsehoods, misrepresentations, and slanders as the Messenger party have fed upon and have scattered abroad. Truth, present truth, we must dwell upon it. We are doing a great work, and cannot come down. Satan is in all this, to divert our minds from the present truth and the coming of Christ. Said the angel: “Jesus knows it all.” In a little from this their day is coming. All will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. The lying tongue will be stopped. The sinners in Zion will be afraid, and fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites.
Chapter 21—Prepare to Meet the Lord
I saw that we should not put off the coming of the Lord. Said the angel: “Prepare, prepare, for what is coming upon the earth. Let your works correspond with your faith.” I saw that the mind must be stayed upon God, and that our influence should tell for God and His truth. We cannot honor the Lord when we are careless and indifferent. We cannot glorify Him when we are desponding. We must be in earnest to secure our own soul’s salvation, and to save others. All importance should be attached to this, and everything besides should come in secondary.
I saw the beauty of heaven. I heard the angels sing their rapturous songs, ascribing praise, honor, and glory to Jesus. I could then realize something of the wondrous love of the Son of God. He left all the glory, all the honor which He had in heaven, and was so interested for our salvation that He patiently and meekly bore every indignity and slight which man could heap upon Him. He was wounded, smitten, and bruised; He was stretched on Calvary’s cross and suffered the most agonizing death to save us from death, that we might be washed in His blood and be raised up to live with Him in the mansions He is preparing for us, to enjoy the light and glory of heaven, to hear the angels sing, and to sing with them.
I saw that all heaven is interested in our salvation; and shall we be indifferent? Shall we be careless, as though it were a small matter whether we are saved or lost? Shall we slight the sacrifice that has been made for us? Some have done this. They have trifled with offered mercy, and the frown of God is upon them. God’s Spirit will not always be grieved. It will depart if grieved a little longer. After all has been done that God could do to save men, if they show by their lives that they slight Jesus’ offered mercy, death will be their portion, and it will be dearly purchased. It will be a dreadful death; for they will have to feel the agony that Christ felt upon the cross to purchase for them the redemption which they have refused. And they will then realize what they have lost—eternal life and the immortal inheritance. The great sacrifice that has been made to save souls shows us their worth. When the precious soul is once lost, it is lost forever.
I have seen an angel standing with scales in his hands weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God, especially the young. In one scale were the thoughts and interest tending heavenward; in the other were the thoughts and interest tending to earth. And in this scale were thrown all the reading of storybooks, thoughts of dress and show, vanity, pride, etc. Oh, what a solemn moment! the angels of God standing with scales, weighing the thoughts of His professed children—those who claim to be dead to the world and alive to God. The scale filled with thoughts of earth, vanity, and pride quickly went down, notwithstanding weight after weight rolled from the scale. The one with the thoughts and interest tending to heaven went quickly up as the other went down, and oh, how light it was! I can relate this as I saw it; but never can I give the solemn and vivid impression stamped upon my mind, as I saw the angel with the scales weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God. Said the angel: “Can such enter heaven? No, no, never. Tell them the hope they now possess is vain, and unless they speedily repent, and obtain salvation, they must perish.”
A form of godliness will not save any. All must have a deep and living experience. This alone will save them in the time of trouble. Then their work will be tried of what sort it is; and if it is gold, silver, and precious stones, they will be hid as in the secret of the Lord’s pavilion. But if their work is wood, hay, and stubble, nothing can shield them from the fierceness of Jehovah’s wrath.
The young, as well as those who are older, will be required to give a reason for their hope. But the mind, designed by God for better things, formed to serve Him perfectly, has dwelt upon foolish things, instead of eternal interests. That mind which is left to wander here and there is just as well able to understand the truth, the evidence from the word of God for keeping the Sabbath, and the true foundation of the Christian’s hope, as to study the appearance, the manners, the dress, etc. And those who give up the mind to be diverted with foolish stories and idle tales, have the imagination fed, but the brilliancy of God’s word is eclipsed to them. The mind is led directly from God. The interest in His precious word is destroyed.
A book has been given us to guide our feet through the perils of this dark world to heaven. It tells us how we can escape the wrath of God, and also tells of the sufferings of Christ for us, the great sacrifice that has been made that we might be saved and enjoy the presence of God forever. And if any come short at last, having heard the truth as they have in this land of light, it will be their own fault; they will be without excuse. The word of God tells us how we may become perfect Christians and escape the seven last plagues. But they took no interest to find this out. Other things diverted the mind, idols were cherished by them, and God’s Holy Word was neglected and slighted. God has been trifled with by professed Christians, and when His Holy Word shall judge them in the last day, they will be found wanting. That word which they have neglected for foolish storybooks, tries their lives. That is the standard; their motives, words, works, and the manner in which they use their time are all compared with the written word of God; and if they come short then, their cases are decided forever.
I saw that many measure themselves among themselves, and compare their lives with the lives of others. This should not be. No one but Christ is given us as an example. He is our true Pattern, and each should strive to excel in imitating Him. We are co-workers with Christ, or co-workers with the enemy. We either gather with Christ or scatter abroad. We are decided, wholehearted Christians, or none at all. Says Christ: “I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.”
I saw that some hardly know as yet what self-denial or sacrifice is, or what it is to suffer for the truth’s sake. But none will enter heaven without making a sacrifice. A spirit of self-denial and sacrifice should be cherished. Some have not sacrificed themselves, their own bodies, on the altar of God. They indulge in hasty, fitful temper, gratify their appetites, and attend to their own self-interest, regardless of the cause of God. Those who are willing to make any sacrifice for eternal life, will have it; and it will be worth suffering for, worth crucifying self for, and sacrificing every idol for. The far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory swallows up everything and eclipses every earthly pleasure.
Number Two—Testimony for the Church
Chapter 22—The Two Ways
At the Conference at Battle Creek, May 27, 1856, I was shown in vision some things that concern the church generally. The glory and majesty of God were made to pass before me. Said the angel: “He is terrible in His majesty, yet ye realize it not; terrible in His anger, yet ye offend Him daily. ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate;’ ‘for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’” These roads are distinct, separate, in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death. I saw the distinction between these roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling them. The roads are opposite; one is broad and smooth, the other narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel them are opposite in character, in life, in dress, and in conversation.
Those who travel in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness they will have at the end of the journey. Their countenances are often sad, yet often beam with holy, sacred joy. They do not dress like the company in the broad road, nor talk like them, nor act like them. A pattern has been given them. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and traveled it Himself. His followers see His footsteps, and are comforted and cheered. He went through safely; so can they, if they follow in His footsteps.
In the broad road all are occupied with their persons, their dress, and the pleasures in the way. They indulge freely in hilarity and glee, and think not of their journey’s end, of the certain destruction at the end of the path. Every day they approach nearer their destruction; yet they madly rush on faster and faster. Oh, how dreadful this looked to me!
I saw many traveling in this broad road who had the words written upon them: “Dead to the world. The end of all things is at hand. Be ye also ready.” They looked just like all the vain ones around them, except a shade of sadness which I noticed upon their countenances. Their conversation was just like that of the gay, thoughtless ones around them; but they would occasionally point with great satisfaction to the letters on their garments, calling for the others to have the same upon theirs. They were in the broad way, yet they professed to be of the number who were traveling the narrow way. Those around them would say: “There is no distinction between us. We are alike; we dress, and talk, and act alike.”
Then I was pointed back to the years 1843 and 1844. There was a spirit of consecration then that there is not now. What has come over the professed peculiar people of God? I saw the conformity to the world, the unwillingness to suffer for the truth’s sake. I saw a great lack of submission to the will of God. I was pointed back to the children of Israel after they left Egypt. God in mercy called them out from the Egyptians, that they might worship Him without hindrance or restraint. He wrought for them in the way by miracles, He proved and tried them by bringing them into strait places. After the wonderful dealings of God with them, and their deliverance so many times, they murmured when tried or proved by Him. Their language was: “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt.” They lusted for the leeks and onions there.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 119-128
Discussion Questions – Day 12:
- Discuss the meaning of Eli’s story for our day.
- Discuss the special obligations of church leaders with regard to order at home.
- What are we not to use as proof of faith to unbelievers?
- Discuss ways our faith may be tested, and how we may overcome?
- How should elements like the Messenger party be treated?
- Discuss preparation needful to meet the Lord.
- Contrast the two ways and the spirit of consecration manifest in 1843 and 1844 to our condition now.