I saw that the enemy will contend either for the usefulness or the life of the godly, and will try to mar their peace as long as they live in this world. But his power is limited. He may cause the furnace to be heated, but Jesus and angels will watch the trusting Christian, that nothing may be consumed but the dross. The fire kindled by Satan can have no power to destroy or hurt the true metal. It is important to close every door possible, against the entrance of Satan. It is the privilege of every family so to live that Satan can take no advantage of anything they may say or do, to tear one another down. Every member of the family should bear in mind that all have just as much as they can do to resist our wily foe, and with earnest prayers and unyielding faith each must rely upon the merits of the blood of Christ and claim His saving strength.
The powers of darkness gather about the soul and shut Jesus from our sight, and at times we can only wait in sorrow and amazement until the cloud passes over. These seasons are sometimes terrible. Hope seems to fail, and despair seizes upon us. In these dreadful hours we must learn to trust, to depend solely upon the merits of the atonement, and in all our helpless unworthiness cast ourselves upon the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. We shall never perish while we do this—never! When light shines on our pathway, it is no great thing to be strong in the strength of grace. But to wait patiently in hope when clouds envelop us and all is dark, requires faith and submission which causes our will to be swallowed up in the will of God. We are too quickly discouraged, and earnestly cry for the trial to be removed from us, when we should plead for patience to endure and grace to overcome.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. We can have the salvation of God in our families, but we must believe for it, live for it, and have a continual, abiding faith and trust in God. We must subdue a hasty temper and control our words, and in this we shall gain great victories. Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves to Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All jangling and unpleasant, impatient, fretful words are an offering presented to his Satanic majesty. And it is a costly offering, more costly than any sacrifice we can make for God, for it destroys the peace and happiness of whole families, destroys health, and is eventually the cause of forfeiting an eternal life of happiness. The restraint which God’s word imposes upon us is for our own interest. It increases the happiness of our families and of all around us. It refines our taste, sanctifies our judgment, and brings peace of mind, and, in the end, everlasting life. Under this holy restraint we shall increase in grace and humility, and it will become easy to speak right. The natural, passionate temper will be held in subjection. An indwelling Saviour will strengthen us every hour. Ministering angels will linger in our dwellings and with joy carry heavenward the tidings of our advance in the divine life, and the recording angel will make a cheerful, happy record.
Chapter 63—Jealousy and Faultfinding
At —— you asked me some questions of which I have been thinking much. From my conversation with you, I am convinced that you do not realize the part you have acted and the wound you have brought upon the cause of God. That which had been shown me in regard to you, came vividly before me, and I have compared that which has been recently shown me with the testimony published in regard to you in Testimony No. 6, and I cannot see the least apology for your course. Before you were a partaker in, and lent your influence to, the late fanaticism in Wisconsin, you were not right in the sight of God.
Brother G, if you had honestly followed the light, you would never have pursued the course you have taken. You have willfully, stubbornly followed your own course, and relied on your own judgment, refusing to be led. The Lord sent you help, but you refused to accept it. What more could heaven have done for you than has been done? When you have thought that others were more highly esteemed than yourself, you have felt dissatisfied and irritated, and have been pettish and distant like a spoiled child. You have wished to be highly esteemed, but have taken a course to greatly lower yourself in the estimation of those whose approbation you desire.
Before your fanatical course you were jealous of those at Battle Creek, and have thrown out hints which would excite suspicion. You have been jealous of my husband and myself, and have surmised evil. Envy and suspicion have been united. Under an appearance of conscientiousness you have suggested doubts in regard to the movements of those who are bearing the burden of the work at Battle Creek, and have thrown out hints in regard to matters of which you were wholly ignorant, and utterly incapable of judging rightly. The burden of matters there was not laid upon you. I was shown that God would not select a person with a mind constituted like yours, and lay heavy burdens upon him, and call him to fill the most responsible positions; for self-esteem would be so prominent that it would be ruinous to himself and to God’s people. Had you esteemed yourself less, you would have had less jealousy and suspicion.
Brother G, had you fully united with the body, and stood in union and sympathy with those whom God has seen fit to place at the head of the work; had you accepted the gifts which God has placed in the church, and committed yourself fully in regard to them; had you established yourself decidedly upon all points of present truth, and drawn in even cords with those of experience in the cause, you and yours would have been perfectly free and safe from this delusion. You would have had an anchor which would have held you. But you have taken an indefinite position, fearing that you would gratify those whose whole soul was in the work and cause of God. God requires you to stand firmly, decidedly, upon the platform with your brethren. God and holy angels were displeased with your course, and would bear with your folly no longer. You were left to follow your own judgment which you had so highly esteemed, until you should wish to be taught, and without jealous, stubborn feelings, without complaining or censuring others, learn of those who have felt the burden and weight of the cause of God. You have been reaching out for an original position of your own, seeking to lead out independent of the body, where you would be approved and exalted, until I saw that God had given you up to manage and manifest that wisdom you thought superior to others, and you were left to your blind judgment to figure in the most unreasonable, foolish, wild fanaticism that ever cursed Wisconsin.
And yet I was shown that you did not realize the influence of your past course upon the cause, and your present position and duty in regard to that fanaticism. Instead of working with all your energy to free yourself and counteract the influence you exerted, you came up out of all this excusing yourself and censuring those whom God sent to you, and ready to dictate, and even to suggest a plan whereby the Lord might have arrested you by His servants pursuing some different course from that which they did pursue. Your judgment was perverted by Satan’s power, and while enshrouded in darkness you were an incompetent judge of the best course to be pursued toward you. If you knew just what course the servants of God ought to pursue in order to help you, you knew enough to come out yourself. God gave you your choice, to be taught, to be instructed through His servants in His own appointed way, or to go on, maintain your willful course, and fall into bewildering fanaticism.
You chose to have your way. And now you have only yourself to blame. You profess to be a watchman on the walls of Zion, a shepherd to the flock, yet you saw the poor sheep torn and scattered and gave no warning. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” “Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.” Ezekiel 3:17-19, 21.
The sin of those in Wisconsin who went into fanaticism rests more heavily upon you, Brother G, than upon any other one. You were an unfaithful watchman. You discerned not the evil, because you were unfaithful. God sent His faithful watchmen who stood in the light and could discern the evil to warn you and the erring flock. Had you then listened to the warning, a great amount of evil would have been saved. Your influence would have been preserved. You would have stood out of the way, that the testimony of the servants of God might reach the distracted flock. The erring would not hear the voice of God through His chosen servants. They made their spirit strong against the warning of the watchmen sent to them, and strengthened themselves in their unreasonable, self-deceived course. The shepherd would not hear. He was offended because this fanaticism was handled so decidedly. He perceived not the danger. He saw no haste in the matter. He had sufficient light to decide, but was too willful and too suspicious of God’s servants to yield to their testimony.
Brother G wished to wait until the fanaticism should develop, and it went on just as Satan would have it, until it did develop with terrible results. There were not reasonable, sensible manifestations to characterize that work as being of God. The Lord’s servants executed their mission, freed their garments from the blood of souls, and kept themselves clear of the cursed influence, while you bear the fearful weight of the sin of this woeful fanaticism. You have deeply regretted it, yet do not see your own wrongs in relation to it. You censure and blame the weak, erring sheep for leading you out of the way. What is a watchman for, unless it be to watch for evil and give the warning? What is a shepherd for, unless it be to watch for every danger lest the sheep be harmed and destroyed by wolves? What excuse could a shepherd plead for suffering the flock to stray from the true pasture, and be torn and scattered and devoured by wolves? How would an excuse stand made by the shepherd that the sheep led him astray? They left the true pasture, and led him out of the way? Such a plea would tell with force against that shepherd’s ability to watch over the sheep. No more confidence could be placed in him as a faithful shepherd to care for the sheep, and bring them back as they might stray from the right path.
The reproach resting upon the cause in regard to Sister A rests heavily upon you. You made much of her exercises and experience. She was weak, yet could in a measure fill her place in her family and keep her children together; but she had been from her home but a short time before her reason was dethroned. The backslidden state of the professed Sabbathkeepers in —— led you to influence Sister A to leave her family who needed her care, and come to —— that her influence might help the Sabbathkeepers there. An unhealthy excitement marked her course. Some of the inexperienced were deluded. The weak mind of Sister A was overtaxed, and disease fastened upon the brain. And the cause of God is deeply wounded and reproached on account of this. Brother A has been wronged; he must now suffer under a living trouble, and his children must be scattered. Those whose influence led to these sad consequences, have a work to do to relieve the mind of Brother A, and by a faithful and full acknowledgment to him of the sin of the course pursued, and the wrong done him, counteract the evil as far as possible.
Had you been standing in the counsel of God, acknowledging the gifts of His Spirit as occupying their proper place in the church; had you been in heart and principle with the Review, established upon the strong truths applicable for this time; had you been giving meat in due season to the people of God, your influence in —— and vicinity would have been very different. You would have had a pointed testimony to bear in harmony with those who are leading out in this great work. Individual wrongs would have been reproved. Faithful labor would have brought up the Sabbathkeepers there, so that they would not have been behind other churches. But they have almost everything to learn. You should have borne a pointed testimony, impressing upon them the necessity of sacrificing, and all doing a part to bear the burden of the cause. You should have brought them up upon systematic benevolence, leading all to act a part and exert themselves to do something to advance the cause of truth. Your indefinite position, and leaving matters so loose and slack in —— has had a bad influence upon the cause there. The opposition you felt and talked out in regard to organization and the advance of God’s people, has borne fruit which can be seen in many places in northern Wisconsin.
If you had been a prompt, thorough laborer, keeping pace with God’s opening providence, the fruit now manifested would be of an altogether different character. Souls would be decided somewhere, either wholly for or against the commandments of God and other truths connected with the third angel’s message. They would not be hanging on the skirts of Zion to weigh down those who would be right. But there has not been faithfulness manifested by you. Straight and thorough work has not been made. You have not encouraged in the church, by a pointed application of truth, the necessity of everyone practically, harmoniously carrying out his profession; and many are not as willing to exert themselves to do something to advance the truth, as they are to be gratified with listening to the truth. They love the cause in word and profession, but not in deed and in truth.
Your position has led many in and about —— to think less highly of the Review than they otherwise would have done, and they have held very lightly the truths found in it. Thus the Review failed to have the influence upon them that God designed it should have. And everyone has followed his own course, and done that which seemed right in his own eyes; hence all are far upon the background, and unless there is a thorough work accomplished for them, they will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.
I was shown that you seek to throw the result of your wrongs upon others, but as a watchman God holds you responsible. You have most humble confessions to make in ——, ——, ——, and other places where your influence has been exerted in opposition to God’s servants. Brother and Sister B have been greatly injured by this fanaticism. They have been embarrassed temporally as well as spiritually, and nearly ruined by this deception of Satan. Brother G, you have run to great lengths in this sad fanaticism; your body has been affected as well as your mind, and you now seek to charge it all upon others. You have not a true sense of your position and course in the past. You are free to confess that which others have done, and that which you did not do; but you have failed to confess that which you did do.
Your influence in —— has been injurious. You were opposed to organization, and preached against it in an indefinite manner, not so boldly as some might have done, but you went just as far as you dared to go. In this way you have many times gratified your envious feelings, and created distrust and uncertainty in the minds of many, when if you had come out openly, you would have been plainly understood and could have done but little mischief. When charged with advocating sentiments contrary to the faith of the body, you would not acknowledge it, but mystified your position, and made it appear that the brethren misunderstood you, when you know that the charge was correct. As you now are, the church cannot depend on you. When you manifest the fruits of an entire reform, and give evidence that you are converted, and have overcome your jealousy, then God will again trust His flock to your care. But until you make thorough restitution, you will exert the best influence by staying at home, and being “not slothful in business.”
By your noncommittal position, and by your course in this fanaticism you have done more injury to the cause of God in Wisconsin than you have done good in all your life. Our faith has been made disgusting to unbelievers; a wound, an incurable wound, has been given to the cause of God, and yet many, with yourself, seem astonished that so much is said and made of this fanaticism. One evil seed sown takes root, grows rank, and bears fruit, and there is an abundant harvest. Evil flourishes and needs no culture while the good seed sown needs to be watered, carefully tended, and continually nourished, or the precious plants will die. Satan, evil angels, and wicked men are trying to root up and destroy the good, and it requires the greatest vigilance, and the most constant care, to have it live and flourish. An evil seed sown cannot be easily rooted out. It spreads, and springs up in every direction, to crush out the precious seed; and if left alone it will grow strong, and shut out the rays of the sun from the precious plants, until they grow sickly and die.
We met your influence at ——. The division existing there would not have been had you taken a right position, and received the word of the Lord through His servants. But this you would not do. God’s servants had to deal plainly with your wrong course. Had they taken stronger ground, and been much more severe with the course you had pursued, God would have approved them. It would have been better had you remained entirely away from ——, for every time God’s servants exposed that fanaticism, the reproof hit Brother G, and you shrank, felt abused, neglected, etc. You pursued your blind course among different families in ——; you labored for sympathy, and created opposition of feeling against Brethren C, D, and E. You felt wrong, felt slighted; you talked and acted out your feelings, and thus created jealousy and distrust in many minds in regard to God’s servants whom He had especially sent to you. Your course destroyed the force of their testimony on some minds; but some felt thankful that light had come, and that Satan’s snare was broken, and they had escaped. Others felt hard, and decided against the testimony borne, and there was a division in the body. You can take the responsibility of this. We have had to labor for the church in —— with distress of spirit to do away the wrong influence and impressions you had created. You have a work to do there.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 309-318
Discussion Questions – Day 31
- What must we do when the powers of darkness gather about the soul and shut Jesus from our sight?
- Discuss the importance of controlling our words and tempers in our families.
- In what way(s) do you want to not be like Brother G?
- What prayers did this reading inspire you to pray?