The curse of God will surely rest upon unfaithful parents. Not only are they planting thorns which will wound them here, but they must meet their own unfaithfulness when the judgment shall sit. Many children will rise up in judgment and condemn their parents for not restraining them, and charge upon them their destruction. The false sympathy and blind love of parents causes them to excuse the faults of their children and pass them by without correction, and their children are lost in consequence, and the blood of their souls will rest upon the unfaithful parents.
Children who are thus brought up undisciplined, have everything to learn when they profess to be Christ’s followers. Their whole religious experience is affected by their bringing up in childhood. The same self-will often appears; there is the same lack of self-denial, the same impatience under reproof, the same love of self and unwillingness to seek counsel of others, or to be influenced by others’ judgment, the same indolence, shunning of burdens, lack of bearing responsibilities. All this is seen in their relation to the church. It is possible for such to overcome; but how hard the battle! how severe the conflict! How hard to pass through the course of thorough discipline which is necessary for them to reach the elevation of Christian character! Yet if they overcome at last, they will be permitted to see, before they are translated, how near the precipice of eternal destruction they came, because of the lack of right training in youth, the failure to learn submission in childhood.
Chapter 41—Systematic Benevolence
I was pointed back to the children of Israel anciently. God required of them all, both poor and rich, a sacrifice according as He had prospered them. The poor were not excused because they had not the wealth of their rich brethren. They were required to exercise economy and self-denial. And if any were so poor that it was utterly impossible for them to bring an offering to the Lord, if sickness or misfortune had deprived them of the ability to bestow, those who were wealthy were required to help them to a humble mite, that they come not before the Lord empty-handed. This arrangement preserved a mutual interest.
Some have not come up and united in the plan of systematic benevolence, excusing themselves because they were not free from debt. They plead that they must first “owe no man anything.” But the fact that they are in debt does not excuse them. I saw that they should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Some feel conscientious to “owe no man anything,” and think that God can require nothing of them until their debts are all paid. Here they deceive themselves. They fail to render to God the things that are His. Everyone must bring to the Lord a suitable offering. Those who are in debt should take the amount of their debts from what they possess, and give a proportion of the remainder.
Some have felt under sacred obligations to their children. They must give each a portion, but feel themselves unable to raise means to aid the cause of God. They make the excuse that they have a duty to their children. This may be right, but their first duty is to God. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Rob not God by withholding from Him your tithes and offerings. It is the first sacred duty to render to God a suitable proportion. Let no one throw in his claims and lead you to rob God. Let not your children steal your offering from God’s altar for their own benefit.
I saw that anciently the covetousness of some led them to withhold a suitable proportion; they made their offering stinted. This was recorded in heaven, and they were cursed in their harvest and their flocks just as they withheld. Some were visited with affliction in their families. God would not accept a lame offering. It must be without blemish, the best of their flocks, and the best fruits of their fields. And it must be a freewill offering, if they would have the blessing of the Lord rest upon their families and their possessions.
The case of Ananias and Sapphira was presented before me to illustrate the course of those who put down their property below its value. They pretended to make a freewill offering of their possessions to the Lord. Said Peter: “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?” The answer was: “Yea, for so much.” Some in this evil age would not consider that a lie. But the Lord regarded it thus. They had sold it for so much, and much more. They had professed to consecrate all to God. To Him they had dissembled, and their retribution lingered not.
I saw that in the arrangement of systematic benevolence, hearts will be tested and proved. It is a constant, living test. It brings one to understand his own heart, to see whether the truth or the love of the world predominates. Here is a test for the naturally selfish and covetous. They will put down their possessions at very low figures. Here they dissemble. Said the angel: “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully.” Angels are watching the development of character, and the acts of such are carried to heaven by the heavenly messengers. Some will be visited of God for these things, and their increase will be brought down to their figures. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:24, 25.
All are required to have an interest in this work. Those who use tobacco, tea, and coffee should lay aside those idols, and put their cost into the treasury of the Lord. Some have never made a sacrifice for the cause of God, and are asleep as to what God requires of them. Some of the very poorest will have the greatest struggle to deny themselves of these stimulants. This individual sacrifice is not required because the cause of God is suffering for means. But every heart will be tested, every character developed. It is principle that God’s people must act upon. The living principle must be carried out in the life.
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.” I saw that this scripture has been misapplied to speaking and praying in meeting. The prophecy has a special application to the last days, and teaches God’s people their duty to bring a proportion of their substance as a freewill offering to the Lord.
Chapter 42—Our Denominational Name
I was shown in regard to the remnant people of God taking a name. Two classes were presented before me. One class embraced the great bodies of professed Christians. They were trampling upon God’s law and bowing to a papal institution. They were keeping the first day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord. The other class, who were but few in number, were bowing to the great Lawgiver. They were keeping the fourth commandment. The peculiar and prominent features of their faith were the observance of the seventh day, and waiting for the appearing of our Lord from heaven.
The conflict is between the requirements of God and the requirements of the beast. The first day, a papal institution which directly contradicts the fourth commandment, is yet to be made a test by the two-horned beast. And then the fearful warning from God declares the penalty of bowing to the beast and his image. They shall drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation.
No name which we can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession and expresses our faith and marks us a peculiar people. The name Seventh-day Adventist is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world. Here is the line of distinction between the worshipers of God and those who worship the beast and receive his mark. The great conflict is between the commandments of God and the requirements of the beast. It is because the saints are keeping all ten of the commandments that the dragon makes war upon them. If they will lower the standard and yield the peculiarities of their faith, the dragon will be at peace; but they excite his ire because they have dared to raise the standard and unfurl their banner in opposition to the Protestant world, who are worshiping the institution of papacy.
The name Seventh-day Adventist carries the true features of our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the Lord’s quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God’s law, and will lead to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I was shown that almost every fanatic who has arisen, who wishes to hide his sentiments that he may lead away others, claims to belong to the church of God. Such a name would at once excite suspicion; for it is employed to conceal the most absurd errors. This name is too indefinite for the remnant people of God. It would lead to the supposition that we had a faith which we wished to cover up.
Chapter 43—The Poor
Some who are poor in this world’s goods are apt to place all the straight testimony upon the shoulders of the men of property. But they do not realize that they also have a work to do. God requires them to make a sacrifice. He calls upon them to sacrifice their idols. They should lay aside such hurtful stimulants as tobacco, tea, and coffee. If they are brought into straitened circumstances while exerting themselves to do the best they can, it will be a pleasure for their wealthy brethren to help them out of trouble.
Many lack wise management and economy. They do not weigh matters well, and move cautiously. Such should not trust to their own poor judgment, but should counsel with their brethren who have experience. But those who lack economy and good judgment are often unwilling to seek counsel. They generally think that they understand how to conduct their temporal business, and are unwilling to follow advice. They make bad moves, and suffer in consequence. Their brethren are grieved to see them suffer, and they help them out of difficulty. Their unwise management affects the church. It takes means from the treasury of God which should have been used to advance the cause of present truth. If these poor brethren take a humble course and are willing to be advised and counseled by their brethren, and are then brought into straitened places, the brethren should feel it a duty to cheerfully help them out of difficulty. But if they choose their own course, and rely upon their own judgment, they should be left to feel the full consequences of their unwise course, and learn by dear experience that “in multitude of counselors there is safety.” God’s people should be subject one to another. They should counsel with one another, that the lack of one may be supplied by the sufficiency of another. I saw that the stewards of the Lord have no duty to help those persons who persist in using tobacco, tea, and coffee.
I saw that some have excused themselves from aiding the cause of God because they were in debt. Had they closely examined their own hearts, they would have discovered that selfishness was the true reason why they brought no freewill offering to God. Some will always remain in debt. Because of their covetousness, the prospering hand of God will not be with them to bless their undertakings. They love this world better than they love the truth. They are not being fitted up and made ready for the kingdom of God.
If a new patent passes through the country, men who profess to believe the truth find a way to raise means to invest in the enterprise. God is acquainted with every heart. Every selfish motive is known to Him, and He suffers circumstances to arise to try the hearts of His professed people, to prove them and develop character. In some instances the Lord will suffer men to go on, and meet with an entire failure. His hand is against them to disappoint their hopes and scatter what they possess. Those who really feel an interest in the cause of God, and are willing to venture something for its advancement, will find it a sure and safe investment. Some will have a hundredfold in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting. But all will not receive their hundredfold in this life, because they cannot bear it. If entrusted with much, they would become unwise stewards. The Lord withholds it for their good; but their treasure in heaven will be secure. How much better is such an investment as this!
The desire that some of our brethren possess to earn means fast, leads them to engage in a new enterprise and invest means, but often their expectations of making money are not realized. They sink that which they could have spent in God’s cause. There is an infatuation in these new enterprises. And notwithstanding these things have been acted over so many times, and they have before them the example of others who have made investments and have met with an utter failure, yet many are slow to learn. Satan allures them on, and makes them drunk with anticipated gains. When their hopes are blasted, they suffer many discouragements in consequence of their unwise adventures. If means is lost, the person looks upon it as a misfortune to himself—as his loss. But he must remember that it is the means of another which he is handling, that he is only a steward, and God is displeased with the unwise management of that means which could have been used to advance the cause of present truth. At the reckoning day the unfaithful steward must give an account of his stewardship.
Chapter 45—A Dishonest Steward
I was shown that the Spirit of God has had less and less influence upon F, until he has no strength from God to overcome. Self and self-interest have been prominent with him for some length of time. Pride of heart, a set, unsubdued will, and an unwillingness to confess and yield his wrongs, have brought him to the dreadful position he is in. Long has the cause been injured by his injudicious course.
He has been exacting, which has encouraged a spirit of faultfinding in the church. He has been severe where it was uncalled for, and has lorded it over those upon whom he dared to exercise authority. His prayers and exhortations have led the brethren to think that he was a devoted Christian, which has prepared them to be affected by his wrong course. He has been notional, and his oddities have had a bad influence upon the minds of many. Some have been so weak as to imitate his example. I saw that he had done far greater injury than good to the cause.
Had he received the instruction given of God, and been corrected, he would have obtained the victory over these strong habits and besetments. But I saw that he had so long let these habits control him that the strong foe has bound him. His deal has not been correct. Dishonesty has been gaining upon him, and he has taken from the treasury means that he had no right to, and has used it to his own advantage. He has considered that he had better judgment in disposing of means than his brethren. When means was placed in his hands to be applied, and the giver named the individuals who were to receive it, he has acted from impulse, taken the liberty to apply it to suit himself, instead of carrying out the wishes of the giver, and has used what portion of it he saw fit for his own benefit. God has frowned upon these things. A dishonest course has been gaining upon him. He has considered that he was the Lord’s steward, and could apply the means, even of another, as he saw fit. Every man is to be his own steward.
He has rejected the counsel and advice of his brethren, gone on in his own strength, followed his own will, and has rejected every means whereby he could be corrected. When he has been reproved, the manner or the person has not suited him, and the way for reform has been closed up. The Lord has not accepted his labors for some length of time. He has labored much more for his own interest than for the interest of the cause.
When he first goes to a place, his prayers and exhortations have effect, and brethren receive the idea that he is a perfect Christian. He is favored because he is considered a minister. But as they become acquainted, how they are disappointed to witness his selfishness, fretfulness, harshness, and oddities. Almost every day some peculiar notion is seen. His mind is almost constantly occupied in fixing up something for his own advantage. Then he will dispose of it to someone to good advantage to himself, and fix again. His fixing and planning have had a withering, blighting influence upon the cause of God. His course is calculated to tear to pieces, and it has wounded almost everywhere. What an example to the flock! He has been very selfish in his deal, and has taken advantage of those with whom he has dealt. God’s frown is upon him. A good tree is known by its fruits.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 219-228
Discussion Questions – Day 22
- What are both rich and poor to exercise?
- What are some of the advantages of our denominational name?
- What is the surest and safest investment?
- What in today’s reading was especially meaningful to you?