Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 379-388 Day 038

It is time that the watchmen upon the walls of Zion understood the responsibility and sacredness of their mission. They should feel that a woe is upon them if they do not perform the work which God has committed to them. If they become unfaithful, they are endangering the safety of the flock of God, endangering the cause of truth, and exposing it to the ridicule of our enemies. Oh, what a work is this! It will surely meet its reward. Some ministers, as well as people, need converting. They need to be torn to pieces and made over new. Their work among the churches is worse than lost, and in their present weak, tottering condition, it would be more pleasing to God for them to cease their efforts to help others, and labor with their hands until they are converted. Then they could strengthen their brethren.

Ministers must arouse. They profess to be generals in the army of the great King, and at the same time are sympathizers with the great rebel leader and his host. Some have exposed the cause of God, and the sacred truths of His word, to the reproaches of the rebel host. They have removed a portion of their armor, and Satan has hurled in his poisoned arrows. They have strengthened the hands of the rebel leaders, and weakened themselves, and caused Satan and his hellish clan to rear their heads in triumph, and exult on account of the victory they have let him gain. Oh, what a lack of wisdom! What blindness! What foolish generalship, to open their weakest points to their deadliest foes! How unlike the course pursued by Luther! He was willing to sacrifice his life, if need be, but the truth, never. His words are: “Let us only take care that the gospel be not exposed to the insults of the ungodly, and let us shed our blood in its defense, rather than allow them to triumph. Who will say whether my life or my death would contribute most to the salvation of my brethren?”

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God is not dependent upon any man for the advancement of His cause. He is raising up and qualifying men to bear the message to the world. He can make His strength perfect in the weakness of men. The power is of God. Ready speech, eloquence, great talents, will not convert a single soul. The efforts in the pulpit may stir up minds, the plain arguments may be convincing, but God giveth the increase. Godly men, faithful, holy men, who carry out in their everyday life that which they preach, will exert a saving influence. A powerful discourse delivered from the desk may affect minds; but a little imprudence upon the part of the minister out of the pulpit, a lack of gravity of speech and true godliness, will counteract his influence, and do away the good impressions made by him. The converts will be his; in many instances they will seek to rise no higher than their preacher. There will be in them no thorough heart work. They are not converted to God. The work is superficial, and their influence will be an injury to those who are really seeking the Lord.

The success of a minister depends much upon his deportment out of the desk. When he ceases preaching and leaves the desk, his work is not finished; it is only commenced. He must then carry out what he has preached. He should not move heedlessly, but set a watch over himself, lest something that he may do and say be taken advantage of by the enemy, and a reproach be brought upon the cause of Christ. Ministers cannot be too guarded, especially before the young. They should use no lightness of speech, jesting or joking, but should remember that they are in Christ’s stead, that they must illustrate by example the life of Christ. “For we are laborers together with God.” “We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”

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I was shown that the usefulness of young ministers, married or unmarried, is often destroyed by the attachment shown to them by young women. Such do not realize that other eyes are upon them, and that the course pursued by them may have a tendency to very much injure the influence of the minister to whom they give so much attention. If they would strictly regard the rules of propriety, it would be much better for them and much better for their minister. It places him in a disagreeable position and causes others to look upon him in a wrong light. Yet I saw that the burden of the matter rests upon the ministers themselves. They should show a distaste for these things, and if they take the course which God would have them, they will not be troubled long. They should shun every appearance of evil, and when young women are very sociable, it is their duty to let them know that it is not pleasing. They must repulse this forwardness even if they are thought to be rude. Such things should be rebuked in order to save the cause from reproach. Young women who have been converted to the truth and to God will listen to reproof and will be reformed.

Ministers should follow up their public labors by private efforts, laboring personally for souls whenever there is an opportunity, conversing around the fireside, and entreating souls to seek for those things which make for their peace. Our work here is soon to close, and every man will receive his reward according to his own labor. I was shown the saints’ reward, the immortal inheritance, and saw that those who had endured the most for the truth’s sake will not think they have had a hard time, but will count heaven cheap enough.

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Chapter 71—Wrong Use of the Visions

I have been shown that some, especially in Iowa, make the visions a rule by which to measure all, and have taken a course which my husband and myself have never pursued. Some are unacquainted with me and my labors, and they are very skeptical of anything bearing the name of visions. This is all natural, and can be overcome only by experience. If persons are not settled in regard to the visions, they should not be crowded off. The course to pursue with such may be found in Testimony No. 8, pp. 328, 329, which I hope will be read by all. Ministers should have compassion of some, making a difference; others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire. God’s ministers should have wisdom to give to everyone his portion of meat and to make that difference with different persons which their cases require. The course pursued with some in Iowa who are unacquainted with me has not been careful and consistent. Those who were, comparatively, strangers to the visions have been dealt with in the same manner as those who have had much light and experience in the visions. Some have been required to endorse the visions when they could not conscientiously do so, and in this way some honest souls have been driven to take positions against the visions and against the body which they never would have taken had their cases been managed with discretion and mercy.

Some of our brethren have had long experience in the truth and have for years been acquainted with me and with the influence of the visions. They have tested the truthfulness of these testimonies and asserted their belief in them. They have felt the powerful influence of the Spirit of God resting upon them to witness to the truthfulness of the visions. If such, when reproved through vision, rise up against them, and work secretly to injure our influence, they should be faithfully dealt with, for their influence is endangering those who lack experience.

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Ministers of present truth, while they bear a pointed testimony, reproving individual wrongs and seeking to tear away the idols from the camp of Israel, should manifest forbearance. They should preach the truth in its solemnity and importance, and if this finds its way to the heart it will accomplish that for the receiver which nothing else can. But if the truth spoken in the demonstration of the Spirit does not cut away the idols, it will be of no avail to denounce and bear down upon the individual. It may appear that some are joined to their idols, yet I saw that we should be very reluctant to give up the poor, deceived ones. We should ever bear in mind that we are all erring mortals, and that Christ exercises much pity for our weakness, and loves us although we err. If God should deal with us as we often deal with one another, we should be consumed. While ministers preach the plain, cutting truth, they must let the truth do the cutting and hewing, not do it themselves. They should lay the ax, the truths of God’s word, at the root of the tree, and something will be accomplished. Pour out the testimony just as straight as it is found in the word of God, with a heart full of the warming, quickening influence of His Spirit, all in tenderness, yearning for souls, and the work among God’s people will be effectual. The reason why there is so little of the Spirit of God manifested is that ministers learn to do without it. They lack the grace of God, lack forbearance and patience, lack a spirit of consecration and sacrifice; and this is the only reason why some are doubting the evidences of God’s word. The trouble is not at all in the word of God, but in themselves. They lack the grace of God, lack devotion, personal piety, and holiness. This leads them to be unstable, and throws them often on Satan’s battlefield. I saw that however strongly men may have advocated the truth, however pious they may appear to be, when they begin to talk unbelief in regard to some scriptures, claiming that they cause them to doubt the inspiration of the Bible, we should be afraid of them, for God is at a great distance from them.

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Chapter 72—Parents and Children

I have been shown that while parents who have the fear of God before them restrain their children, they should study their dispositions and temperaments, and seek to meet their wants. Some parents attend carefully to the temporal wants of their children; they kindly and faithfully nurse them in sickness, and then think their duty done. Here they mistake. Their work has but just begun. The wants of the mind should be cared for. It requires skill to apply the proper remedies to cure a wounded mind. Children have trials just as hard to bear, just as grievous in character, as those of older persons. Parents themselves do not feel the same at all times. Their minds are often perplexed. They labor under mistaken views and feelings. Satan buffets them, and they yield to his temptations. They speak irritably, and in a manner to excite wrath in their children, and are sometimes exacting and fretful. The poor children partake of the same spirit, and the parents are not prepared to help them, for they were the cause of the trouble. Sometimes everything seems to go wrong. There is fretfulness all around, and all have a very miserable, unhappy time. The parents lay the blame upon their poor children and think them very disobedient and unruly, the worst children in the world, when the cause of the disturbance is in themselves.

Some parents raise many a storm by their lack of self-control. Instead of kindly asking the children to do this or that, they order them in a scolding tone, and at the same time a censure or reproof is on their lips which the children have not merited. Parents, this course pursued toward your children destroys their cheerfulness and ambition. They do your bidding, not from love, but because they dare not do otherwise. Their heart is not in the matter. It is a drudgery, instead of a pleasure, and this often leads them to forget to follow out all your directions, which increases your irritation, and makes it still worse for the children. The faultfinding is repeated, their bad conduct arrayed before them in glowing colors, until discouragement comes over them, and they are not particular whether they please or not. A spirit of “I don’t care” seizes them, and they seek that pleasure and enjoyment away from home, away from their parents, which they do not find at home. They mingle with street company and are soon as corrupt as the worst.

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Upon whom rests this great sin? If home had been made attractive, if the parents had manifested affection for their children, and with kindness found employment for them, and in love instructed them how to obey their wishes, they would have touched an answering chord in their hearts, and willing feet and hands and hearts would all have readily obeyed them. By controlling themselves, and speaking kindly, and praising the children when they try to do right, parents may encourage their efforts, make them very happy, and throw over the family circle a charm which will chase away every dark shadow and bring cheerful sunlight in.

Parents sometimes excuse their own wrong course because they do not feel well. They are nervous, and think they cannot be patient and calm, and speak pleasantly. In this they deceive themselves and please Satan, who exults that the grace of God is not regarded by them as sufficient to overcome natural infirmities. They can and should at all times control themselves. God requires it of them. They should realize that when they yield to impatience and fretfulness they cause others to suffer. Those around them are affected by the spirit they manifest, and if they in their turn act out the same spirit, the evil is increased and everything goes wrong.

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Parents, when you feel fretful, you should not commit so great a sin as to poison the whole family with this dangerous irritability. At such times set a double watch over yourselves, and resolve in your heart not to offend with your lips, that you will utter only pleasant, cheerful words. Say to yourselves: “I will not mar the happiness of my children by a fretful word.” By thus controlling yourselves, you will grow stronger. Your nervous system will not be so sensitive. You will be strengthened by the principles of right. The consciousness that you are faithfully discharging your duty will strengthen you. Angels of God will smile upon your efforts and help you. When you feel impatient, you too often think the cause is in your children, and you blame them when they do not deserve it. At another time they might do the very same things and all would be acceptable and right. Children know, and mark, and feel these irregularities, and they are not always the same. At times they are somewhat prepared to meet changeable moods, and at other times they are nervous and fretful, and cannot bear censure. Their spirit rises up in rebellion against it. Parents want all due allowance made for their state of mind, yet do not always see the necessity of making the same allowance for their poor children. They excuse in themselves that which, if seen in their children who have not their years of experience and discipline, they would highly censure. Some parents are of a nervous temperament, and when fatigued with labor or oppressed with care, they do not preserve a calm state of mind, but manifest to those who should be dearest to them on earth, a fretfulness and lack of forbearance which displeases God and brings a cloud over the family. Children, in their troubles, should often be soothed with tender sympathy. Mutual kindness and forbearance will make home a paradise and attract holy angels into the family circle.

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The mother can and should do much toward controlling her nerves and mind when depressed; even when she is sick, she can, if she only schools herself, be pleasant and cheerful, and can bear more noise than she would once have thought possible. She should not make the children feel her infirmities and cloud their young, sensitive minds by her depression of spirits, causing them to feel that the house is a tomb and the mother’s room the most dismal place in the world. The mind and nerves gain tone and strength by the exercise of the will. The power of the will in many cases will prove a potent soother of the nerves.

Do not let your children see you with a clouded brow. If they yield to temptation, and afterward see and repent of their error, forgive them just as freely as you hope to be forgiven by your Father in heaven. Kindly instruct them, and bind them to your hearts. It is a critical time for children. Influences will be thrown around them to wean them from you, which you must counteract. Teach them to make you their confidant. Let them whisper in your ear their trials and joys. By encouraging this, you will save them from many a snare that Satan has prepared for their inexperienced feet. Do not treat your children only with sternness, forgetting your own childhood, and forgetting that they are but children. Do not expect them to be perfect or try to make them men and women in their acts at once. By so doing, you will close the door of access which you might otherwise have to them, and will drive them to open a door for injurious influences, for others to poison their young minds before you awake to their danger.

Satan and his host are making most powerful efforts to sway the minds of the children, and they must be treated with candor, Christian tenderness, and love. This will give you a strong influence over them, and they will feel that they can repose unlimited confidence in you. Throw around your children the charms of home and of your society. If you do this, they will not have so much desire for the society of young associates. Satan works through these, leading them to influence and corrupt the minds of one another. It is the most effectual way in which he can work. The young have a powerful influence over one another. Their conversation is not always choice and elevated. Evil communications are breathed into the ear, which, if not decidedly resisted, find a lodgment in the heart, take root, and spring up to bear fruit and corrupt good manners. Because of the evils now in the world, and the restriction necessary to be placed upon the children, parents should have double care to bind them to their hearts and let them see that they wish to make them happy.

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Parents should not forget their childhood years, how much they yearned for sympathy and love, and how unhappy they felt when censured and fretfully chided. They should be young again in their feelings and bring their minds down to understand the wants of their children. Yet with firmness, mixed with love, they should require obedience from their children. The parents’ word should be implicitly obeyed.

Angels of God are watching the children with the deepest interest to see what characters they develop. If Christ dealt with us as we often deal with one another and with our children, we would stumble and fall through utter discouragement. I saw that Jesus knows our infirmities, and has Himself shared our experience in all things but in sin; therefore He has prepared for us a path suited to our strength and capacity, and, like Jacob, has marched softly and in evenness with the children as they were able to endure, that He might entertain us by the comfort of His company, and be to us a perpetual guide. He does not despise, neglect, or leave behind the children of the flock. He has not bidden us move forward and leave them. He has not traveled so hastily as to leave us with our children behind. Oh, no; but He has evened the path to life, even for children. And parents are required in His name to lead them along the narrow way. God has appointed us a path suited to the strength and capacity of children.

 

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 379-388

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