I saw that when the message shall increase greatly in power, then the providence of God will open and prepare the way in the East for much more to be accomplished than can be at the present time. God will then send some of His servants in power to visit places where little or nothing can now be done, and some who are now indifferent will be aroused and will take hold of the truth. [The remainder of this article is from a vision given at Round Grove, Illinois, December 9, 1856.]
I saw that God has warned those who have moved from the East to the West. He has shown them their duty, that it must not be their object to get rich, but to do good to souls, to live out their faith, and tell those around them that this world is not their home.
The warning was sufficient, if it had been heeded; but many failed to consider what God had shown. They rushed on and on, and became drunk with the spirit of the world. “Look back,” said the angel, “and weigh all that God has shown in regard to those moving from the East to the West.” Have you obeyed it? I saw that you had gone entirely contrary to God’s teachings, purchased largely, and instead of your works saying to those around you that you are seeking a better country, they have plainly declared that your home and treasure were here. Your works have denied your faith.
Nor is this all. The love that should exist between brethren has been lacking. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” has been manifest; a selfish, covetous spirit has been in the hearts of the brethren. Instead of looking out for the interests of the brethren and caring for them, there has been manifested in deal a close, selfish spirit that God despises. Those who make so high a profession, and who number themselves among the peculiar people of God, saying by their profession that they are zealous of good works, should be noble and generous, and should ever manifest a disposition to favor their brethren instead of themselves, and should give their brethren the best chance. Generosity begets generosity. Selfishness begets selfishness.
I saw that through the past summer the prevailing spirit has been to grasp as much of this world as possible. The commandments of God have not been kept. With the mind we serve the law of God; but the minds of many have been serving the world. And while their minds were all occupied with things of earth and serving themselves, they could not serve the law of God. The Sabbath has not been kept. By some the work of six days has been carried into the seventh. One hour, and even more, has often been taken from the commencement and close of the Sabbath.
Some of the Sabbathkeepers who say to the world that they are looking for Jesus’ coming, and that they believe we are having the last message of mercy, give way to their natural feelings, and barter, and trade, and are a proverb among unbelievers for their keenness in trade, for being sharp, and always getting the best end of a bargain. Such would better lose a little and exert a better influence in the world, and a happier influence among brethren, and show that this world is not their god.
I saw that brethren should feel interested for one another. Especially should those who are blessed with health have a kind regard and care for those who have not good health. They should favor them. They should remember the lesson taught by Jesus of the good Samaritan.
Said Jesus: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” How much? His love cannot be told. He left the glory that He had with the Father before the world was. “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.” He patiently bore every indignity and scorn. Behold His agony in the garden, when He prayed that the cup might pass from Him! Behold His sufferings on Calvary! All this for guilty, lost man. And Jesus says: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” How much? Well enough to give your life for a brother. But has it come to this, that self must be gratified, and the word of God neglected? The world is their god. They serve it, they love it, and the love of God has departed. If ye love the world, the love of the Father is not in you.
The word of God has been neglected. In that are the warnings to God’s people which point out their dangers. But they have had so many cares and perplexities that they hardly allow themselves time to pray. There has been a mere empty form without the power. Jesus prayed, and, oh, how earnest were His prayers! And yet He was the beloved Son of God!
If Jesus manifested so much earnestness, so much energy and agony, how much more need for those whom He has called to be heirs of salvation, dependent upon God for all their strength, to have their whole souls stirred to wrestle with God and say: “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.” But I saw that hearts have been overcharged with the cares of this life, and that God and His word have been neglected.
I saw that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
I saw that when the truth is presented, it should be in the power and Spirit. Bring the people to the point to decide. Show them the importance of the truth—it is life or death. With becoming zeal, pull souls out of the fire. But, oh, the blighting influence that has been cast by men professing to be waiting for their Lord, and yet possessing large and attractive lands! The farms have preached louder, yes, much louder, than words can, that this world is their home. The evil day is put off. Peace and safety reign. Oh, the withering, blighting influence! God hates such worldly-mindedness. “Cut loose, cut loose,” were the words of the angel.
I was shown that all should have an eye single to the glory of God. Those who have possessions have been too willing to excuse themselves on account of wife and children. But I saw that God would not be trifled with. When He speaks, He must be obeyed. If wife or children stand in the way and hold back, they should say as Jesus said to Peter: “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” Why tempt ye me to withhold from God what justly belongs to Him, and ruin my own soul? Have an eye single to the glory of God.
I saw that many would have to learn what it is to be a Christian—that it is not in name; but it is having the mind of Christ, submitting to the will of God in all things. Especially will the young who have never known what privations or hardships are, who have a set will, and do not bend that will to the glory of God, have a great work to do. They go along very smoothly until their will is crossed, and then they have no control over themselves. They have not the will of God before them. They do not study how they can best glorify God, or advance His cause, or do good to others. But it is self, self, how can it be gratified? Such religion is not worth a straw. Those who possess it will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.
The true Christian will love to wait and watch for the teachings of God and the leadings of His Spirit. But with many, religion is merely a form. Vital godliness is lacking. Many dare to say, I will do this, or that, or I will not do this; and the fear of offending God is scarcely thought of. Those thus described, I saw, could not enter heaven as they are. They may flatter themselves that they will be saved, but God has no pleasure in them. Their lives do not please Him. Their prayers are an offense to Him.
Christ now calls them: “Be zealous and repent.” He kindly and faithfully admonishes them to buy gold, white raiment, and eyesalve. They can choose either to be zealous, and partake largely of salvation, or be spewed out of the mouth of the Lord as disgusting, and be thrust from Him. God will not bear always. He is of tender pity, yet His Spirit will be grieved away for the last time. Mercy’s sweet voice will be no more heard. Its last precious notes will have died away, and those described will be left to their own ways, to be filled with their own doings.
I saw that those who profess to be looking for the coming of the Lord should not have a close, penurious spirit. Some of those who have been called to talk the truth, and to watch for souls as they that must give an account, have wasted much precious time for the sake of saving a little, when their time was worth a great deal more than that which they gained. This displeases God. It is right that economy should be used, but it has by some been stretched into meanness with no other object than to add to their treasures, which will shortly eat their flesh like fire, unless they as faithful stewards make a right disposal of their Lord’s goods.
Number Four—Testimony for the Church
Chapter 27—Young Sabbathkeepers
August 22, 1857, at the house of prayer in Monterey, Michigan, I was shown that many have not yet heard the voice of Jesus, and the saving message has not taken hold of the soul and worked a reformation in the life. Many of the young have not the spirit of Jesus. The love of God is not in their hearts, therefore all the natural besetments hold the victory instead of the Spirit of God and salvation.
Those who really possess the religion of Jesus will not be ashamed nor afraid to bear the cross before those who have more experience than they. They will, if they earnestly long to be right, desire all the help they can get from older Christians. Gladly will they be helped by them; hearts that are warmed by love to God will not be hindered by trifles in the Christian course. They will talk out what the Spirit of God works in. They will sing it out, pray it out. It is the lack of religion, lack of holy living, that makes the young backward. Their life condemns them. They know they do not live as Christians should, therefore they have not confidence toward God, or before the church.
Why the young feel more liberty when the older ones are absent is: They are with those of their kind. Each thinks he is as good as the other. All fail of the mark, but measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, and neglect the only perfect and true standard. Jesus is the true Pattern. His self-sacrificing life is our example.
I saw how little the Pattern was studied, how little exalted before them. How little do the young suffer, or deny self, for their religion! To sacrifice is scarcely thought of among them. They entirely fail of imitating the Pattern in this respect. I saw that the language of their lives is: Self must be gratified, pride must be indulged. They forget the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief. The sufferings of Jesus in Gethsemane, His sweating as it were great drops of blood in the garden, the platted crown of thorns that pierced His holy brow, do not move them. They have become benumbed. Their sensibilities are blunted, and they have lost all sense of the great sacrifice made for them. They can sit and listen to the story of the cross, hear how the cruel nails were driven through the hands and feet of the Son of God, and it does not stir the depths of the soul.
Said the angel: “If such should be ushered into the city of God, and told that all its rich beauty and glory was theirs to enjoy eternally, they would have no sense of how dearly that inheritance was purchased for them. They would never realize the matchless depths of a Saviour’s love. They have not drunk of the cup, nor been baptized with the baptism. Heaven would be marred if such should dwell there. Those only who have partaken of the sufferings of the Son of God, and have come up through great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, can enjoy the indescribable glory and unsurpassed beauty of heaven.”
The want of this necessary preparation will shut out the greater portion of young professors, for they will not labor earnestly and zealously enough to obtain that rest that remains for the people of God. They will not honestly confess their sins, that they may be pardoned and blotted out. These sins in a short time will be revealed in just their enormity. God’s eye does not slumber. He knows every sin that is hidden from mortal eye. The guilty know just what sins to confess that their souls may be clean before God. Jesus is now giving them opportunity to confess, to repent in deep humility, and purify their lives by obeying and living out the truth. Now is the time for wrongs to be righted and sins to be confessed, or they will appear before the sinner in the day of God’s wrath.
Parents generally put too much confidence in their children; for often when the parents are confiding in them, they are in concealed iniquity. Parents, watch your children with a jealous care. Exhort, reprove, counsel them when you rise up and when you sit down, when you go out and when you come in, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Subdue your children when they are young. With many parents this is sadly neglected. They do not take as firm and decided a stand as they should in regard to their children. They suffer them to be like the world, to love dress, and associate with those who hate the truth and whose influence is poisonous. By so doing they encourage in their children a worldly disposition.
I saw that there should always be a fixed principle with Christian parents to be united in the government of their children. There is a fault in this respect with some parents—a lack of union. The fault is sometimes with the father, but oftener with the mother. The fond mother pets and indulges her children. The father’s labor calls him from home often, and from the society of his children. The mother’s influence tells. Her example does much toward forming the character of the children.
Some fond mothers suffer wrongs in their children which should not be allowed in them for a moment. The wrongs of the children are sometimes concealed from the father. Articles of dress or some other indulgence is granted by the mother with the understanding that the father is to know nothing about it, for he would reprove for these things.
Here a lesson of deception is effectually taught the children. Then if the father discovers these wrongs, excuses are made and but half the truth told. The mother is not openhearted. She does not consider as she should that the father has the same interest in the children as herself, and that he should not be kept ignorant of the wrongs or besetments that ought to be corrected in them while young. Things have been covered. The children know the lack of union in their parents, and it has its effect. The children begin young to deceive, cover up, tell things in a different light from what they are to their mother, as well as their father. Exaggeration becomes habit, and blunt falsehoods come to be told with but little conviction or reproof of conscience.
These wrongs commenced by the mother’s concealing things from the father, who has an equal interest with her in the character their children are forming. The father should have been consulted freely. All should have been laid open to him. But the opposite course, taken to conceal the wrongs of the children, encourages in them a disposition to deceive, a lack of truthfulness and honesty.
The only hope of these children, whether they profess religion or not, is to be thoroughly converted. Their whole character must be changed. Thoughtless mother, do you know, as you teach your children, that their whole religious experience is affected by their teaching when young? Subdue them young; teach them to submit to you, and the more readily will they learn to yield obedience to the requirements of God. Encourage in them a truthful, honest disposition. Let them never have occasion to doubt your sincerity and exact truthfulness.
I saw that the young profess, but do not enjoy, the saving power of God. They lack religion, lack salvation. And, oh, the idle, unprofitable words they speak! There is a faithful, fearful record kept of them, and mortals will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. Young friends, your deeds and your idle words are written in the book. Your conversation has not been on eternal things, but upon this, that, and the other—common, worldly conversation that Christians should not engage in. It is all written in the book.
I saw that unless there is an entire change in the young, a thorough conversion, they may despair of heaven. From what has been shown me, there are not more than half of the young who profess religion and the truth who have been truly converted. If they had been converted they would bear fruit to the glory of God. Many are leaning upon a supposed hope without a true foundation. The fountain is not cleansed, therefore the streams proceeding from that fountain are not pure. Cleanse the fountain, and the streams will be pure. If the heart is right, your words, your dress, your acts, will all be right. True godliness is lacking. I would not dishonor my Master so much as to admit that a careless, trifling, prayerless person is a Christian. No; a Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions. There is a remedy for the sin-sick soul. That remedy is in Jesus. Precious Saviour! His grace is sufficient for the weakest; and the strongest must also have His grace or perish.
I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacoblike, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus, in the garden, sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can and will appear in you.
God forbid that I should cease to warn you. Young friends, seek the Lord with all your heart. Come with zeal, and when you sincerely feel that without the help of God you perish, when you pant after Him as the hart panteth after the water brooks, then will the Lord strengthen you speedily. Then will your peace pass all understanding. If you expect salvation, you must pray. Take time. Be not hurried and careless in your prayers. Beg of God to work in you a thorough reformation, that the fruits of His Spirit may dwell in you, and you shine as lights in the world. Be not a hindrance or curse to the cause of God; you can be a help, a blessing. Does Satan tell you that you cannot enjoy salvation, full and free? Believe him not.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 149-158
Discussion Questions – Day 15
- What are some practical lessons you learned from today’s reading?
- What did you learn that you had never known before?
- Was anything reinforced which you already knew to be true?
- How were you blessed? What will you apply to your life?