I saw that many who profess to believe the truth for these last days think it strange that the children of Israel murmured as they journeyed; that after the wonderful dealings of God with them, they should be so ungrateful as to forget what He had done for them. Said the angel: “Ye have done worse than they.” I saw that God has given His servants the truth so clear, so plain, that it cannot be resisted. Wherever they go, they have certain victory. Their enemies cannot get round the convincing truth. Light has been shed so clear that the servants of God can stand up anywhere and let truth, clear and connected, bear away the victory. This great blessing has not been prized, or even realized. If any trial arises, some begin to look back and think they have a hard time. Some of the professed servants of God do not know what purifying trials are. They sometimes make trials for themselves, imagine trials, and are so easily discouraged, so easily hurt, self-dignity is so quick to feel, that they injure themselves, injure others, and injure the cause. Satan magnifies their trials and puts thoughts into their minds that if given way to, will destroy their influence and usefulness.
Some have felt tempted to take themselves from the work, to labor with their hands. I saw that if the hand of God should be taken from them, and they be left subject to disease and death, then they would know what trouble is. It is a fearful thing to murmur against God. They do not bear in mind that the way which they are traveling is a rugged, self-denying, self-crucifying way, and they must not expect everything to move on as smoothly as though they were traveling in the broad road.
I saw that some of the servants of God, even ministers, are so easily discouraged, self is so quickly hurt, that they imagine themselves slighted and injured when it is not so. They think their lot hard. Such realize not how they would feel should the sustaining hand of God be withdrawn, and they pass through anguish of soul. They would then find their lot tenfold harder than it was before, while they were employed in the work of God, suffering trials and privations, yet withal having the Lord’s approbation. Some that are laboring in the cause of God know not when they do have an easy time. They have had so few privations and know so little of want or wearing labor or burden of soul that when they have an easy time, when they are favored of God and almost entirely free from anguish of spirit, they know it not and think their trials great. I saw that unless such have a spirit of self-sacrifice, and are ready to labor cheerfully, not sparing themselves, God will release them. He will not acknowledge them as His self-sacrificing servants, but will raise up those who will labor, not slothfully, but in earnest, and will know when they have an easy time. God’s servants must feel the burden of souls and weep between the porch and the altar, crying: “Spare Thy people, O Lord.”
Some of the servants of God have given up their lives to spend and be spent for the cause of God, until their constitutions are broken down, and they are almost worn out with mental labor, incessant care, toil, and privations. Others have not had and would not take the burden upon them. Yet just such ones think they have a hard time, because they have never experienced hardships. They never have been baptized into the suffering part, and never will be as long as they manifest so much weakness and so little fortitude, and love their ease so well. From what God has shown me, there needs to be a scourging among the ministers, that the slothful, dilatory, and self-caring ones may be scourged out, and there remain a pure, faithful, and self-sacrificing company who will not study their ease, but will minister faithfully in word and doctrine, willing to suffer and endure all things for Christ’s sake, and to save those for whom He died. Let these servants feel the woe upon them if they preach not the gospel, and it will be enough; but all do not feel this.
Chapter 23—Conformity to the World
I was shown the conformity of some professed Sabbathkeepers to the world. Oh, I saw that it is a disgrace to their profession, a disgrace to the cause of God. They give the lie to their profession. They think they are not like the world, but they are so near like them in dress, in conversation, and actions, that there is no distinction. I saw them decorating their poor, mortal bodies, which are liable at any moment to be touched by the finger of God and laid upon a bed of anguish. Oh, then, as they approach their last change, mortal anguish racks their frames, and the great inquiry is: “Am I prepared to die? prepared to appear before God in judgment, and pass the grand review?” Ask them then how they feel about decorating their bodies, and if they have any sense of what it is to be prepared to appear before God, they will tell you that if they could take back and live over the past, they would correct their lives, shun the follies of the world, its vanity and pride, and would adorn the body with modest apparel, and set an example to all around them. They would live to the glory of God.
Why is it so hard to lead a self-denying, humble life? Because professed Christians are not dead to the world. It is easy living after we are dead. But many are longing for the leeks and onions of Egypt. They have a disposition to dress and act as much like the world as possible and yet go to heaven. Such climb up some other way. They do not enter through the strait gate and narrow way.
I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: “Some food for worms, [Sister Clarissa M. Bonfoey, who fell asleep in Jesus only three days after this vision was given, was present in usual health, and was deeply impressed that she was one who would go into the grave, and stated her convictions to others. ] some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.”
Solemn words were these, spoken by the angel. I asked the angel why so few were interested in their eternal welfare, so few preparing for their last change. Said he: “Earth attracts them, its treasures seem of worth to them.” They find enough to engross the mind, and have no time to prepare for heaven. Satan is ever ready to plunge them deeper and deeper into difficulty; as soon as one perplexity and trouble is off the mind, he begets within them an unholy desire for more of the things of earth; and thus their time passes, and, when it is too late, they see that they have gained nothing substantial. They have grasped at shadows and lost eternal life. Such will have no excuse.
Many dress like the world, to have an influence. But here they make a sad and fatal mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction great between the Christian and the world. I saw that the words, the dress, and actions should tell for God. Then a holy influence will be shed upon all, and all will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. Unbelievers will see that the truth we profess has a holy influence and that faith in Christ’s coming affects the character of the man or woman. If any wish to have their influence tell in favor of the truth, let them live it out and thus imitate the humble Pattern.
I saw that God hates pride, and that all the proud and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up. I saw that the third angel’s message must yet work like leaven upon many hearts that profess to believe it, and purge away their pride, selfishness, covetousness, and love of the world.
Jesus is coming; and will He find a people conformed to the world? and will He acknowledge these as His people that He has purified unto Himself? Oh, no. None but the pure and holy will He acknowledge as His. Those who have been purified and made white through suffering, and have kept themselves separate, unspotted from the world, He will own as His.
As I saw the dreadful fact that God’s people were conformed to the world, with no distinction, except in name, between many of the professed disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus and unbelievers, my soul felt deep anguish. I saw that Jesus was wounded and put to an open shame. Said the angel, as with sorrow he saw the professed people of God loving the world, partaking of its spirit, and following its fashions: “Cut loose! Cut loose! lest He appoint you your portion with hypocrites and unbelievers outside the city. Your profession will only cause you greater anguish, and your punishment will be greater because ye knew His will, but did it not.”
Those who profess to believe the third angel’s message often wound the cause of God by lightness, joking, and trifling. I was shown that this evil was all through our ranks. There should be a humbling before the Lord; the Israel of God should rend the heart, and not the garment. Childlike simplicity is rarely seen; the approbation of man is more thought of than the displeasure of God. Said the angel: “Set your heart in order, lest He visit you in judgment, and the brittle thread of life be cut, and ye lie down in the grave unsheltered, unprepared for the judgment. Or if ye do not make your bed in the grave, unless ye soon make your peace with God, and tear yourselves from the world, your hearts will grow harder, and ye will lean upon a false prop, a supposed preparation, and find out your mistake too late to secure a well-grounded hope.”
I saw that some professed Sabbathkeepers spend hours that are worse than thrown away, in studying this or that fashion to decorate the poor, mortal body. While you make yourselves appear like the world, and as beautiful as you can, remember that the same body may in a few days be food for worms. And while you adorn it to your taste, to please the eye, you are dying spiritually. God hates your vain, wicked pride, and He looks upon you as a whited sepulcher, full of corruption and uncleanness within.
Mothers set the example of pride for their children, and, by so doing, sow seed that will spring up and bear fruit. The harvest will be plenteous and sure. That which they sow, they shall reap. There will be no failure in the crop. I saw, parents, that it is easier for you to teach your children a lesson of pride, than a lesson of humility. Satan and his angels stand right by your side to make the act of yours, or the word that you speak to them, effectual to encourage them to dress, and in their pride to mingle with society that is not holy. O parents, you plant in your own bosoms a thorn that you will often feel in anguish. When you would counteract the sad lesson you have taught your children, you will find it a hard thing. It is impossible for you to do this. You may deny them things that would gratify their pride, yet it still lives in the heart, longing to be satisfied; and nothing can kill this pride but the quick and powerful Spirit of God. When this finds its way to the heart, it will work like leaven there and root it out.
I saw that young and old neglect the Bible. They do not make that book their study and their rule of life as they should. Especially are the young guilty of this neglect. Most of them are ready, and find plenty of time, to read almost any other book. But the word that points to life, eternal life, is not perused and daily studied. That precious, important book that is to judge them in the last day is scarcely studied at all. Idle stories have been attentively read, while the Bible has been passed by neglected. A day is coming, a day of clouds and thick darkness, when all will wish to be thoroughly furnished by the plain, simple truths of the word of God, that they may meekly, yet decidedly, give a reason of their hope. This reason of their hope, I saw, they must have to strengthen their own souls for the fierce conflict. Without this they are wanting, and cannot have firmness and decision.
Parents would better burn the idle tales of the day and the novels as they come into their houses. It would be a mercy to the children. Encourage the reading of these storybooks, and it is like enchantment. It bewilders and poisons the mind. Parents, I saw that unless you awake to the eternal interest of your children, they will surely be lost through your neglect. And the possibility that unfaithful parents will be saved themselves is very small. Parents should be exemplary. They should exert a holy influence in their families. They should let their dress be modest, different from the world around them. As they value the eternal interest of their children, they should rebuke pride in them, faithfully rebuke it, and encourage it not in word or deed. Oh, the pride that was shown me of God’s professed people! It has increased every year, until it is now impossible to designate professed advent Sabbathkeepers from all the world around them. I saw that this pride must be torn out of our families.
Much has been expended for ribbons and laces for the bonnets, for collars [The question has often been asked me if I believed it wrong to wear plain linen collars. My answer has always been No. Some have taken the extreme meaning of what I have written about collars, and have maintained that it is wrong to wear one of any description. I was shown expensively wrought collars, and expensive and unnecessary ribbons and laces, which some Sabbathkeepers have worn, and still wear for the sake of show and fashion. In mentioning collars, I did not design to be understood that nothing like a collar should be worn, or, in mentioning ribbons, that no ribbons at all should be worn. E. G. W., note to second edition. ] and other needless articles to decorate the body, while Jesus the King of glory, who gave His life to redeem us, wore a crown of thorns. This was the way our Master’s sacred head was decorated. He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Yet the very ones that profess to be washed by the blood of Jesus, spilled for them, can dress up and decorate their poor, mortal bodies, and dare profess to be followers of the holy, self-denying, humble Pattern. Oh, that all could see this as God sees it and showed it to me! It seemed too much for me to bear, to feel the anguish of soul that I felt as I beheld it. Said the angel: “God’s people are peculiar; such He is purifying unto Himself.” I saw that the outside appearance is an index to the heart. When the exterior is hung with ribbons, collars, and needless things, it plainly shows that the love for all this is in the heart; unless such persons are cleansed from their corruption, they can never see God, for only the pure in heart will see Him.
I saw that the ax must be laid at the root of the tree. Such pride should not be suffered in the church. It is these things that separate God from His people, that shut the ark away from them. Israel have been asleep to the pride, and fashion, and conformity to the world, in the very midst of them. They advance every month in pride, covetousness, selfishness, and love of the world. When their hearts are affected by the truth, it will cause a death to the world, and they will lay aside the ribbons, laces, and collars; and, if they are dead, the laugh, the jeer, and scorn of unbelievers will not move them. They will feel an anxious desire to be separate from the world, like their Master. They will not imitate its pride, fashions, or customs. The noble object will be ever before them, to glorify God and gain the immortal inheritance. This prospect will swallow up all beside of an earthly nature. God will have a people separate and distinct from the world. And as soon as any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as His children. They are the children of the world and of darkness. They lust for the leeks and onions of Egypt, that is, desire to be as much like the world as possible; by so doing, those that profess to have put on Christ virtually put Him off, and show that they are strangers to grace and strangers to the meek and lowly Jesus. If they had acquainted themselves with Him, they would walk worthy of Him.
Chapter 24—Wives of Ministers
I saw the wives of the ministers. Some of them are no help to their husbands, yet they profess the third angel’s message. They think more of studying their own wishes and pleasure than the will of God, or how they can hold up the hands of their husbands by their faithful prayers and careful walk. I saw that some of them take so willful and selfish a course that Satan makes them his instruments and works through them to destroy the influence and usefulness of their husbands. They feel at liberty to complain and murmur if they are brought through any strait places. They forget the sufferings of the ancient Christians for the truth’s sake and think that they must have their wishes and way, and follow their own will. They forget the suffering of Jesus, their Master. They forget the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief—He who had not where to lay His head. They do not care to remember that holy brow, pierced with a crown of thorns. They forget Him, who, bearing His own cross to Calvary, fainted beneath its burden. Not merely the burden of the wooden cross, but the heavy burden of the sins of the world, was upon Him. They forget the cruel nails driven through His tender hands and feet, and His expiring, agonizing cries: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” After all this suffering endured for them, they feel a strong unwillingness to suffer for Christ’s sake.
These persons, I saw, are deceiving themselves. They have no part nor lot in the matter. They have hold of the truth; but the truth has not hold of them. When the truth, the solemn, important truth, gets hold of them, self will die; then the language will not be, “I will go there, I will not stay here;” but the earnest inquiry will be, “Where does God want me to be? Where can I best glorify Him, and where can our united labors do the most good?” Their will should be swallowed up in the will of God. The willfulness and lack of consecration that some of the ministers’ wives manifest will stand in the way of sinners; the blood of souls will be upon their garments. Some of the ministers have borne a strong testimony in regard to the duty and the wrongs of the church; but it has not had its designed effect, for their own companions needed all the straight testimony that had been borne, and the reproof came back upon themselves with great weight. They let their companions affect them and drag them down, prejudicing their minds, and their usefulness and influence are lost; they feel desponding and disheartened, and realize not the true source of the injury. It is close at home.
These sisters are closely connected with the work of God if He has called their husbands to preach the present truth. These servants, if truly called of God, will feel the importance of the truth. They are standing between the living and the dead, and must watch for souls as they that must give an account. Solemn is their calling, and their companions can be a great blessing or a great curse to them. They can cheer them when desponding, comfort them when cast down, and encourage them to look up and trust fully in God when their faith fails. Or they can take an opposite course, look upon the dark side, think they have a hard time, exercise no faith in God, talk their trials and unbelief to their companions, indulge a complaining, murmuring spirit, and be a dead weight and even a curse to them.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 129-138
Discussion Questions – Day 13
- What impressed you, or blessed you within today’s reading?
- Are there any changes that you see yourself able to practically implement in the counsel given here?
- What are God’s servants to remember when they encounter what they feel are great trials?
- What can we learn from Jeremiah 18:7-10 concerning the prediction that some in 1856 would live through the seven last plagues?
- Discuss the ways in which we, God’s people, are tempted with worldliness.