The people are asleep in their sins and need to be alarmed before they can shake off this lethargy. Their ministers have preached smooth things; but God’s servants, who bear sacred, vital truths, should cry aloud and spare not, that the truth may tear off the garment of security and find its way to the heart. The straight testimony that should have been given to the people in —— was shunned by the ministers; the seed of truth was sown among thorns and has been choked by them. With some, evil besetments have flourished, and the heavenly graces have died out.
God’s servants must bear a pointed testimony, which will cut the natural heart and develop character. Brethren N and O moved with a perfect restraint upon them while in ——. Such preaching as was given there will never do the work that God designs should be accomplished. Ministers of the nominal churches do enough cringing, and wrapping up of the pointed truths which rebuke sin.
Unless persons embrace the message aright, and their hearts are prepared to receive it, they would better let it entirely alone. I was shown that the church in —— have an experience to obtain; but it will be much harder for them to obtain it now than if the pointed testimony had been given them at the very commencement, when they first discovered that they were in error. Then the thorns could have been more easily rooted out. Yet I saw that there were men of moral worth in ——, some who will yet be tested upon present truth. If the church will arise and be converted, the Lord will return unto them and give them His Spirit. Then their influence will tell for the truth.
Chapter 51—The Cause in the West
I have seen that men of worth have embraced the truth West who will yet be pillars to the cause. When they can place their temporal affairs in a condition where they can use a portion of their means, they will do their part toward sustaining the cause. I also saw that some were willing to receive the truth, brought to them by the liberalities of their Eastern brethren, without its costing them anything. The brethren West should arouse and meet the expenses of their own states. God requires this at their hands, and they should feel it a privilege to do so. The Lord will prove them, He will try them to see if they will withdraw their affections from the world and make their faith perfect by works.
I saw that God’s hand was stretched out to gather in souls in the West. He has been bringing out men who can teach the truth to others, whose duty it will be to bear the message into new fields. I saw that if the men who have moved from the East to the West and have endured the hardships of settling in a new country, receive present truth understandingly, they will manifest a perseverance and decision of character in regard to the truth, similar to that manifested in securing to themselves temporal possessions, and will engage as heartily in the work of advancing the truth. If this corresponding zeal is lacking, the truth has not yet had its saving, sanctifying influence upon them.
I was pointed back to a meeting in ——. Brother P felt the burden of the cause, but R had a spirit of opposition. His testimony was not in union with the work of God, and he brought grief and burden upon those who were laboring for its advancement. But it would have been better for the cause had he been suffered a time longer, and the brethren borne the confusion he caused. I saw that Brother P moved unwisely in his case. It gave R and the enemies of our faith the advantage. Brother P should have waited until R’s religious character was more fully developed. He would soon either have united with the remnant people of God or been left one side. But R obtained sympathy on account of his age. He had partaken of the spirit of the Messenger party, and his whole course was darkened by it. His wife has an excitable, bitter spirit, and has been zealous to spread false reports. She acts the part to her husband that Jezebel did to Ahab, and stirs him up to fight against the servants of God, who bear a pointed testimony.
Their influence East has been decidedly against the spirit of the truth and those who have devoted their lives to labor for its advancement. There is a class East who profess to believe the truth, but who cherish secret feelings of dissatisfaction against those who bear the burden in this work. The true sentiments of such do not appear until some influence opposed to the work of God arises, and then they manifest their true character. Such readily receive, cherish, and circulate reports which have no foundation in truth, to destroy the influence of those who are engaged in this work. All who wish to draw off from the body will have opportunity. Something will arise to test everyone. The great sifting time is just before us. The jealous and the faultfinding, who are watching for evil, will be shaken out. They hate reproof and despise correction. Those who love the spirit of the third angel’s message can have no union with the spirit of R and his wife.
Chapter 52—A Question Answered
The question is often asked by those who fall under the influence of my enemies: “Is Sister White getting proud? I have heard that she wore a bonnet filled with bows and ribbons.”
I hope I am not getting proud. My manner of dress is the same as it has been for several years. I am opposed to hoops and to wearing unnecessary bows and ribbons. I have worn one velvet bonnet two years without change of strings except to cleanse them with soap and water. I put the same velvet upon a new frame and am wearing it again this winter. I believe Sabbathkeepers should dress plainly and study economy in dress. Those who wish to talk will talk though we give them no occasion. I do not expect to suit every taste in regard to dress, but I believe it to be my duty to wear durable clothing, to dress neatly and orderly, and suit my own taste if it does not disagree with the word of God.
Number Seven—Testimony for the Church
Chapter 53—The North and the South
January 4, 1862, I was shown some things in regard to our nation. My attention was called to the Southern rebellion. The South had prepared themselves for a fierce conflict, while the North were asleep as to their true feelings. Before President Lincoln’s administration commenced, great advantage was taken by the South. The former administration planned and managed for the South to rob the North of their implements of war. They had two objects for so doing: 1. They were contemplating a determined rebellion, and must prepare for it; 2. When they should rebel, the North would be wholly unprepared. They would thus gain time, and by their violent threats and ruthless course they thought they could so intimidate the North that they would be obliged to yield to them and let them have everything their own way.
The North did not understand the bitter, dreadful hatred of the South toward them, and were unprepared for their deep-laid plots. The North had boasted of their strength and ridiculed the idea of the South leaving the Union. They considered it like the threats of a willful, stubborn child, and thought that the South would soon come to their senses, and, becoming sick of leaving the Union, would with humble apologies return to their allegiance. The North have had no just idea of the strength of the accursed system of slavery. It is this, and this alone, which lies at the foundation of the war. The South have been more and more exacting. They consider it perfectly right to engage in human traffic, to deal in slaves and the souls of men. They are annoyed and become perfectly exasperated if they cannot claim all the territory they desire. They would tear down the boundaries and bring their slaves to any spot they please, and curse the soil with slave labor. The language of the South has been imperious, and the North have not taken suitable measures to silence it.
The rebellion was handled so carefully, so slowly, that many who at first started with horror at the thought of rebellion were influenced by rebels to look upon it as right and just, and thousands joined the Southern Confederacy who would not had prompt and thorough measures been carried out by our Government at an early period of the rebellion, even as ill-prepared as it then was for war. The North have been preparing for war ever since, but the rebellion has been steadily increasing, and there is now no better prospect of its being subdued than there was months ago. Thousands have lost their lives, and many have returned to their homes, maimed and crippled for life, their health gone, their earthly prospects forever blighted; and yet how little has been gained! Thousands have been induced to enlist with the understanding that this war was to exterminate slavery; but now that they are fixed, they find that they have been deceived, that the object of this war is not to abolish slavery, but to preserve it as it is.
Those who have ventured to leave their homes and sacrifice their lives to exterminate slavery are dissatisfied. They see no good results from the war, only the preservation of the Union, and for this thousands of lives must be sacrificed and homes made desolate. Great numbers have wasted away and expired in hospitals; others have been taken prisoners by the rebels, a fate more to be dreaded than death. In view of all this, they inquire: If we succeed in quelling this rebellion, what has been gained? They can only answer discouragingly: Nothing. That which caused the rebellion is not removed. The system of slavery, which has ruined our nation, is left to live and stir up another rebellion. The feelings of thousands of our soldiers are bitter. They suffer the greatest privations; these they would willingly endure, but they find they have been deceived, and they are dispirited. Our leading men are perplexed, their hearts are failing them for fear. They fear to proclaim freedom to the slaves of the rebels, for by so doing they will exasperate that portion of the South who have not joined the rebellion but are strong slavery men. And again they have feared the influence of those strong antislavery men who were in command, holding responsible stations. They have feared the effects of a bold, decided tone, for it fanned to a flame the strong desire of thousands to wipe out the cause of this terrible rebellion, by letting the oppressed go free and breaking every yoke.
Many of those who are placed high in command to fill responsible stations have but little conscience or nobility of soul; they can exercise their power, even to the destruction of those under them, and it is winked at. These commanders could abuse the power given them and cause those subject to them to occupy dangerous positions where they would be exposed to terrible encounters with the rebels without the least hope of conquering them. In this way they could dispose of daring, thoroughgoing men, as David disposed of Uriah. 2 Samuel 11:14, 15.
Valuable men have thus been sacrificed to get rid of their strong antislavery influence. Some of the very men whom the North most need in this critical time, whose services would be of the highest value, are not. They have been wantonly sacrificed. The prospects before our nation are discouraging, for there are those filling responsible stations who are rebels at heart. There are commanding officers who are in sympathy with the rebels. While they are desirous of having the Union preserved, they despise those who are antislavery. Some of the armies also are composed largely of such material; they are so opposed to one another that no real union exists among many regiments.
As this war was shown to me, it looked like the most singular and uncertain that has ever occurred. A great share of the volunteers enlisted fully believing that the result of the war would be to abolish slavery. Others enlisted intending to be very careful to keep slavery just as it is, but to put down the rebellion and preserve the Union. And then to make the matter still more perplexing and uncertain, some of the officers in command are strong proslavery men whose sympathies are all with the South, yet who are opposed to a separate government. It seems impossible to have the war conducted successfully, for many in our own ranks are continually working to favor the South, and our armies have been repulsed and unmercifully slaughtered on account of the management of these proslavery men. Some of our leading men in Congress also are constantly working to favor the South. In this state of things, proclamations are issued for national fasts, for prayer that God will bring this war to a speedy and favorable termination. I was then directed to Isaiah 58:5-7: “Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”
I saw that these national fasts were an insult to Jehovah. He accepts of no such fasts. The recording angel writes in regard to them: “Ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness.” I was shown how our leading men have treated the poor slaves who have come to them for protection. Angels have recorded it. Instead of breaking their yoke and letting the oppressed go free, these men have made the yoke more galling for them than when in the service of their tyrannical masters. Love of liberty leads the poor slaves to leave their masters and risk their lives to obtain liberty. They would never venture to leave their masters and expose themselves to the difficulties and horrors attending their recapture if they had not as strong a love for liberty as any of us. The escaped slaves have endured untold hardships and dangers to obtain their freedom, and as their last hope, with the love of liberty burning in their breasts, they apply to our Government for protection; but their confidence has been treated with the utmost contempt. Many of them have been cruelly treated because they committed so great a crime as to dare to make an effort to obtain their freedom. Great men, professing to have human hearts, have seen the slaves almost naked and starving, and have abused them, and sent them back to their cruel masters and hopeless bondage, to suffer inhuman cruelty for daring to seek their liberty. Some of this wretched class they thrust into unwholesome dungeons, to live or die, they cared not which. They have deprived them of the liberty and free air which heaven has never denied them, and then left them to suffer for food and clothing. In view of all this, a national fast is proclaimed! Oh, what an insult to Jehovah! The Lord saith by the mouth of Isaiah: “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God.”
The escaped slaves have been told by their masters that the Northern men wanted to get possession of them that they might cruelly misuse them; that the abolitionists would treat them worse than they had been treated while in slavery. All manner of horrible stories have been repeated in their ears to make them detest the North, and yet they have had a confused idea that some hearts in the North felt for their grievances and would yet make an effort to help them. This has been the only star which has shed its glimmering light upon their distressed and gloomy bondage. The manner in which the poor slaves have been treated has led them to believe that their masters have told them the truth in these things. And yet a national fast is proclaimed! Saith the Lord: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” When our nation observes the fast which God has chosen, then will He accept their prayers as far as the war is concerned; but now they enter not into His ear. He turns from them, they are disgusting to Him. It is so managed that those who would undo the heavy burdens and break every yoke are placed under censure, or removed from responsible stations, or their lives are planned away by those who “fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness.”
I was shown that if the object of this war had been to exterminate slavery, then, if desired, England would have helped the North. But England fully understands the existing feelings in the Government, and that the war is not to do away slavery, but merely to preserve the Union; and it is not for her interest to have it preserved. Our Government has been very proud and independent. The people of this nation have exalted themselves to heaven, and have looked down upon monarchical governments, and triumphed in their boasted liberty, while the institution of slavery, that was a thousand times worse than the tyranny exercised by monarchial governments, was suffered to exist and was cherished. In this land of light a system is cherished which allows one portion of the human family to enslave another portion, degrading millions of human beings to the level of the brute creation. The equal of this sin is not to be found in heathen lands.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 249-258
Discussion Questions – Day 25
- What problems could be avoided by taking heed to the counsel here?
- What blessings can be realized if we take heed to the counsel here?
- What was inspiring or enlightening to you out of this section?