God has repeatedly shown that persons should not be encouraged into the field without unmistakable evidence that He has called them. The Lord will not entrust the burden for his flock to unqualified individuals. Those whom God calls must be men of deep experience, tried and proved, men of sound judgment, men who will dare to reprove sin in the spirit of meekness, men who understand how to feed the flock. God knows the heart, and He knows whom to select. Brother and Sister A may decide in this matter, and be all wrong. Your judgment is imperfect, and can be no evidence in this matter. I saw that you were drawing off from the church, and if you continue to do so, you will have enough of it; for God will let you go, to suffer by following your own way.
Now God invites you to get right, to try your motives, and to press into harmony with His people.
Mannsville, New York,
October 21, 1858.
Number Six—Testimony for the Church
Chapter 39—Slackness Reproved
Dear Brethren and Sisters,
The Lord has again visited me in mercy, in a time of bereavement and great affliction. December 23, 1860, I was taken off in vision, and was shown the wrongs of individuals which have affected the cause. I dare not withhold the testimony from the church to spare the feelings of individuals.
I was shown the low state of God’s people; that God had not departed from them, but that they had departed from Him, and had become lukewarm. They possess the theory of the truth, but lack its saving power. As we near the close of time, Satan comes down with great power, knowing that his time is short. Especially will his power be exercised upon the remnant. He will war against them, and seek to divide and scatter them, that they may grow weak and be overthrown. The people of God should move understandingly, and should be united in their efforts. They should be of the same mind, of the same judgment; then their efforts will not be scattered, but will tell forcibly in the upbuilding of the cause of present truth. Order must be observed, and there must be union in maintaining order, or Satan will take the advantage.
I saw that the enemy would come in every way possible to dishearten the people of God and perplex and trouble them, and that they should move understandingly, and prepare themselves for the attacks of Satan. Matters pertaining to the church should not be left in an unsettled condition. Steps should be taken to secure church property for the cause of God, that the work may not be retarded in its progress, and that the means which persons wish to dedicate to God’s cause may not slip into the enemy’s ranks. I saw that God’s people should act wisely, and leave nothing undone on their part to place the business of the church in a secure state. Then after all is done that they can do, they should trust the Lord to overrule these things for them, that Satan take no advantage of God’s remnant people. It is Satan’s time to work. A stormy future is before us; and the church should be awake to make an advance move that they may stand securely against his plans. It is time that something was done. God is not pleased to have His people leave the matters of the church at loose ends, and suffer the enemy to have the whole advantage and control affairs as best pleases him.
I was shown the wrong stand taken by Brother B in the Review in regard to organization, and the distracting influence he exerted. He did not sufficiently weigh the matter. His articles were perfectly calculated to have a scattering influence, to lead minds to wrong conclusions, and to encourage many in their slack ideas of managing matters relating to the cause of God. Those who do not feel the weight of this cause upon them do not feel the necessity of anything being done to establish church order. Those who have long borne the burden look to the future and weigh matters. They are convinced that steps must be taken to place the matters of the church in a more secure position, where Satan cannot come in and take advantage. Brother B’s articles caused those who fear order to look with suspicion upon the suggestions of those who by the special providence of God move out in the important matters of the church. And when he saw that his position would not bear, he failed to frankly acknowledge his error, and labor to efface the wrong impression he had made.
I saw that in temporal matters Brother B was too easy and negligent. He has lacked energy, considering it a virtue to leave to the Lord that which the Lord has left to him. It is only in cases of great emergency that the Lord interposes for us. We have a work to do, burdens and responsibilities to bear, and in thus doing we obtain an experience. Brother B manifests the same character in spiritual matters as in his temporal affairs. There is a lack of zeal and earnestness to make thorough work. All should act with more discretion and wisdom in regard to the things of God than they manifest in temporal things to secure an earthly possession.
But while God’s people are justified in securing church property in a lawful manner, they should be careful to maintain their peculiar and holy character. I saw that unconsecrated persons would take advantage of the position which the church has recently taken, and would overstep the bounds, carry matters to extremes, and wound the cause of God. Some will move without wisdom or judgment, engage in lawsuits that might be avoided, mingle with the world, partake of its spirit, and influence others to follow their example. One professed Christian who moves unadvisedly does much harm to the cause of present truth. Evil takes root much more readily than good, and flourishes when good and right languish unless carefully nourished.
I was pointed back, and saw that in every important move, every decision made or point gained by God’s people, some have arisen to carry matters to extremes, and to move in an extravagant manner, which has disgusted unbelievers, distressed God’s people, and brought the cause of God into disrepute. The people whom God is leading out in these last days, will be troubled with just such things. But much evil will be avoided if the ministers of Christ will be of one mind, united in their plans of action, and united in effort. If they will stand together, sustain one another, and faithfully reprove and rebuke wrong, they will soon cause it to wither. But Satan has controlled these matters very much. Private members and even preachers have sympathized with disaffected ones who have been reproved for their wrongs, and division of feeling has been the result. The one who has ventured out and discharged his disagreeable duty by faithfully meeting error and wrong, is grieved and wounded that he receives not the fullest sympathy of his preaching brethren. He becomes discouraged in discharging these painful duties, lays down the cross, and withholds the pointed testimony. His soul is shut up in darkness, and the church suffer for the lack of the very testimony which God designed should live among His people. Satan’s object is gained when the faithful testimony is suppressed. Those who so readily sympathize with the wrong consider it a virtue; but they realize not that they are exerting a scattering influence, and that they themselves help to carry out Satan’s plans.
I saw that many souls have been destroyed by their brethren unwisely sympathizing with them, when their only hope was to be left to see and realize the full extent of their wrongs. But as they eagerly accept the sympathy of unwise brethren, they receive the idea that they are abused; and if they attempt to retrace their steps, they make halfhearted work. They divide the matter to suit their natural feelings, lay blame upon the reprover, and so patch up the matter. It is not probed to the bottom, and is not healed, and they again fall into the same wrong, because they were not left to feel the extent of their wrong, and humble themselves before God, and let Him build them up. False sympathizers have worked in direct opposition to the mind of Christ and ministering angels.
Ministers of Christ should arise and engage in the work of God with all their energies. God’s servants are not excused if they shun pointed testimony. They should reprove and rebuke wrong, and not suffer sin upon a brother. I must here introduce a portion of a letter addressed to Brother C:
“I was shown some things in regard to you. I saw that the living, pointed testimony had been crushed in the church. You have not been in harmony with the straight testimony. You have shunned to lay your hand decidedly upon wrong, and you have been tried with those who felt compelled to do so. Disaffected ones have had your sympathy. This has had a tendency to make you a weak man. You have not been in union with pointed, cutting testimony which has been sent home to the individual.
“God’s servants are not excused if they shun pointed testimony. They must reprove and rebuke wrong, and not suffer sin upon a brother. You have often stretched out your hands to shield persons from the censure which they deserved, and the correction which the Lord designed they should have. If these persons fail to reform, their lack is set to your account. Instead of watching for their danger, and warning them of it, you have cast your influence against those who have followed the convictions of duty, and reproved and warned the erring.
“These are perilous times for the church of God, and the greatest danger now is that of self-deception. Individuals professing to believe the truth are blind to their own danger and wrongs. They reach the standard of piety which has been set up by their friends and themselves, they are fellowshiped by their brethren, and are satisfied, while they entirely fail to reach the gospel standard set up by our divine Lord. If they regard iniquity in their hearts, the Lord will not hear them. But with many it is not only regarded in the heart, but openly carried out in the life; yet in many cases the wrongdoers receive no rebuke.
“I was pointed back to ——. Your feelings were wrong there. You should have stood side by side with Elder D and made straight work, taken hold of and reproved individual wrongs. The burden you cast upon Elder D you deserved yourself, for your lack of moral courage to lay your hand upon wrong. You influenced others. The good work which God designed should be accomplished for certain ones was not accomplished, and they have been puffed up by Satan. If you had stood in the counsel of God at that time, an influence would have been cast which would have told upon the cause of God. The Spirit of the Lord was grieved. And this lack of union discourages those upon whom God lays the burden of reproof.
“I was shown that you had been wrong in sympathizing with E. The course you have taken in regard to him has injured your influence, and has greatly injured the cause of God. It is impossible for E to be fellowshiped by the church of God. He has placed himself where he cannot be helped by the church, where he can have no communion with nor voice in the church. He has placed himself there in the face of light and truth. He has stubbornly chosen his own course, and refused to listen to reproof. He has followed the inclinations of his corrupt heart, has violated the holy law of God, and has disgraced the cause of present truth. If he repents ever so heartily, the church must let his case alone. If he goes to heaven, it must be alone, without the fellowship of the church. A standing rebuke from God and the church must ever rest upon him, that the standard of morality be not lowered to the very dust. The Lord is displeased with your course in these things.
“You have injured the cause of God; your willful course has wounded the hearts of God’s people. Your influence encourages a slack state of things in the church. You should bear a living, pointed testimony. Stand out of the way of the work of God, step not in between God and His people. You have too long wrapped up the sharp testimony, and stood opposed to the severe censure which God lays upon individual wrongs. God is correcting, and proving, and purifying His people. Stand out of the way that His work be not hindered. He will not accept a smooth testimony. Ministers must cry aloud, and spare not. The Lord has given you a powerful testimony, calculated to strengthen the church and arouse unbelievers. But these things wherein you lack must be corrected, or your testimony will become powerless, and your influence injure the cause of God. The people look to you for an example. Do not mislead them. Let your influence be to correct wrongs in your family and in the church.”
I have been shown that the Lord is reviving the living, pointed testimony, which will develop character and purify the church. But while we are commanded to separate from the world, it is not necessary that we become coarse and rough, and descend to common expressions, and make our remarks as rude as possible. The truth is designed to elevate the receiver, to refine his taste and sanctify his judgment. There should be a continual effort to imitate the society we expect soon to join; namely, angels of God who have never fallen by sin. The character should be holy, the manners comely, the words without guile, and thus should we follow on step by step until we are fitted for translation.
Chapter 40—Duty to Children
I have been shown that parents generally have not taken a proper course with their children. They have not restrained them as they should, but have left them to indulge in pride, and follow their own inclinations. Anciently, parental authority was regarded; children were then in subjection to their parents, and feared and reverenced them; but in these last days the order is reversed. Some parents are in subjection to their children. They fear to cross the will of their children, and therefore yield to them. But just as long as children are under the roof of the parents, dependent upon them, they should be subject to their control. Parents should move with decision, requiring that their views of right be followed out.
Eli might have restrained his wicked sons, but he feared their displeasure. He suffered them to go on in their rebellion, until they became a curse to Israel. Parents are required to restrain their children. The salvation of children depends very much upon the course pursued by the parents. In their mistaken love and fondness for their children, many parents indulge them to their hurt, nourish their pride, and put upon them trimmings and ornaments which make them vain, and lead them to think that dress makes the lady or gentleman. But a short acquaintance convinces those with whom they associate that an outside appearance is not sufficient to hide the deformity of a heart void of the Christian graces, but filled with self-love, haughtiness, and uncontrolled passions. Those who love meekness, humility, and virtue, should shun such society, even if it be Sabbathkeepers’ children. Their company is poisonous; their influence leads to death. Parents realize not the destructive influence of the seed which they are sowing. It will spring up and bear fruit which will make their children despise parental authority.
Even after they are of age, children are required to respect their parents, and to look after their comfort. They should listen to the counsel of godly parents, and not feel that because a few more years are added to their life, they have grown out of their duty to them. There is a commandment with promise to those who honor their father and their mother. In these last days children are so noted for their disobedience and disrespect that God has especially noticed it, and it constitutes a sign that the end is near. It shows that Satan has almost complete control of the minds of the young. By many, age is no more respected. It is considered too old-fashioned to respect the aged; it dates back as far as the days of Abraham. Says God: “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him.”
Anciently, children were not permitted to marry without the consent of their parents. Parents chose for their children. It was considered a crime for children to contract marriage upon their own responsibility. The matter was first laid before the parents, and they were to consider whether the person to be brought into a close relation to them was worthy, and whether the parties could provide for a family. It was considered by them of the greatest importance that they, the worshipers of the true God, should not intermarry with an idolatrous people, lest their families be led away from God. Even after children were married, they were under the most solemn obligation to their parents. Their judgment was not then considered sufficient without the counsel of the parents, and they were required to respect and obey their wishes unless these should conflict with the requirements of God.
Again I was directed to the condition of the young in these last days. Children are not controlled. Parents, you should commence your first lesson of discipline when your children are babes in your arms. Teach them to yield their will to yours. This can be done by bearing an even hand, and manifesting firmness. Parents should have perfect control over their own spirits, and with mildness and yet firmness bend the will of the child until it shall expect nothing else but to yield to their wishes.
Parents do not commence in season. The first manifestation of temper is not subdued, and the children grow stubborn, which increases with their growth and strengthens with their strength. Some children, as they grow older, think it a matter of course that they must have their own way, and that their parents must submit to their wishes. They expect their parents to wait upon them. They are impatient of restraint, and when old enough to be a help to their parents, they do not bear the burdens they should. They have been released from responsibilities, and grow up worthless at home and worthless abroad. They have no power of endurance. The parents have borne the burden, and have suffered them to grow up in idleness, without habits of order, industry, or economy. They have not been taught habits of self-denial, but have been petted and indulged, their appetites gratified, and they come up with enfeebled health. Their manners and deportment are not agreeable. They are unhappy themselves, and make those around them unhappy. And while the children are but children still, while they need to be disciplined, they are allowed to go out in company and mingle with the society of the young, and one has a corrupting influence over another.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 209-218
Discussion Questions – Day 21
- What surprised you in this reading?
- What blessed you in this reading?
- What caused you to think deeply in this reading?
- What warned you in this reading?
- God may select, “men of deep experience, tried and proved, men of sound judgment, men who will dare to reprove sin in the spirit of meekness, men who understand how to feed the flock” (1T 209).
- God’s people to return to Him and cease being lukewarm.
- People of God to “move understandingly, and . . . be united in their efforts . . . be of the same mind, of the same judgments . . . order to be observed . . . union in maintaining order.”
- Business of the church to be in a secure state.
- That we be energetic in temporal matters, not leave to the Lord what the Lord has left to us.
- Ministers of Christ to be of one mind, united in their plans of action and united effort, stand together, sustain one another, and faithfully reprove and rebuke wrong.
- That we would not be false sympathizers with those who are wrong.
- That the pointed testimony would be delivered by God’s servants so that God’s people are not self-deceived.
- That God’s workers not be course, rough, and rude.
- That God’s workers would be holy, with good manners, and have words without guile.
- Parents to properly restrain children.
- Children to respect parents.
- Marriages of our children to be with believers.