Some flatter themselves that they are liberal because they at times donate freely to ministers and for the advancement of the truth. Yet these so-called liberal men are close in their deal and ready to overreach. They have abundance of this world, and this binds upon them great responsibilities as God’s stewards. Yet, when dealing with a poor, hard-laboring brother, they are exacting to the last farthing. The poor side to a bargain is the poor man’s legacy. Instead of favoring his poor brother, the sharp, exacting rich man takes all the advantage and adds to his already accumulated wealth by the misfortune of the other. He prides himself because of his shrewdness, but with his wealth he is heaping up to himself a heavy curse and laying a stumbling block in the way of his brother. By his meanness and close calculation he is cutting off his ability to benefit him with his religious influence. All this lives in the memory of that poor brother, and the most earnest prayers and apparently zealous testimonies from his rich brother’s lips will only have an influence to grieve and disgust. He looks upon him as a hypocrite; a root of bitterness springs up whereby many are defiled. The poor man cannot forget the advantages taken of him; neither can he forget how he has been crowded into difficult places because he was willing to bear burdens, while the wealthy brother ever had some excuse ready for not putting his shoulder under the load. Yet the poor man may be so imbued with the spirit of Christ as to forgive the abuses of his rich brother.
True, noble, disinterested benevolence is too rarely found among the wealthy. In their ambition for wealth they overlook the claims of humanity. They cannot see and feel the cramped, disagreeable position of their brethren in poverty, who perhaps have labored as hard as themselves. Like Cain they say: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “I have worked hard for what I have; I must hold on to it.” Instead of praying, “Help me to feel my brother’s woe,” their constant study is to forget that he has any woes, any claims upon their sympathy or liberalities.
Many Sabbathkeepers who are wealthy are guilty of grinding the face of the poor. Do such think that God takes no notice of their little acts of meanness? If their eyes could be opened they would see an angel following them wherever they go, making a faithful record of all their acts in their families and at their places of business. The True Witness is on their track, declaring: “I know thy works.” As I saw this spirit of defrauding, of overreaching, of meanness, even among some professed Sabbathkeepers, I cried out in anguish of spirit. This great evil, this terrible curse, is folding around some of the Israel of God in these last days, making them a detestation to even noble-spirited unbelievers. This is the people professedly waiting for the coming of the Lord.
There is a class of poor brethren who are not free from temptation. They are poor managers, they have not wise judgment, they wish to obtain means without waiting the slow process of persevering toil. Some are in such haste to better their condition that they engage in various enterprises without consulting men of good judgment and experience. Their expectations are seldom realized; instead of gaining, they lose, and then come temptation and a disposition to envy the rich. They really want to be benefited by the wealth of their brethren, and feel tried because they are not. But they are not worthy of receiving special help. They have evidence that their efforts have been scattered. They have been changeable in business, and full of anxiety and cares which bring but small returns. Such persons should listen to the counsel of those of experience. But frequently they are the last ones to seek advice. They think they have superior judgment and will not be taught.
These are often the very ones who are deceived by those sharp, shrewd peddlers of patent rights whose success depends upon the art of deception. These should learn that no confidence whatever can be put in such peddlers. But the brethren are credulous in regard to the very things they should suspect and shun. They do not take home the instruction of Paul to Timothy: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Let not the poor think that the rich are the only covetous ones. While the rich hold what they have with a covetous grasp, and seek to obtain still more, the poor are in great danger of coveting the rich man’s wealth. There are very few in our land of plenty who are really so poor as to need help. If they would pursue a right course, they could in almost every case be above want. My appeal to the rich is, Deal liberally with your poor brethren, and use your means to advance the cause of God. The worthy poor, those who are made poor by misfortune and sickness, deserve your special care and help. “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”
Men and women professing godliness and expecting translation to heaven without seeing death, I warn you to be less greedy of gain, less self-caring. Redeem your godlike manhood, your noble womanhood, by noble acts of disinterested benevolence. Heartily despise your former avaricious spirit and regain true nobility of soul. From what God has shown me, unless you zealously repent, Christ will spew you out of His mouth. Sabbathkeeping Adventists profess to be followers of Christ, but the works of many of them belie their profession. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.”
I appeal to all who profess to believe the truth, to consider the character and life of the Son of God. He is our example. His life was marked with disinterested benevolence. He was ever touched with human woe. He went about doing good. There was not one selfish act in all His life. His love for the fallen race, His desire to save them, was so great that He took upon Himself the wrath of His Father, and consented to suffer the penalty of that transgression which plunged guilty man in degradation. He bore the sins of man in His own body. “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
True generosity is too frequently destroyed by prosperity and riches. Men and women in adversity or in humble poverty will sometimes express very great love for the truth and special interest for the prosperity of the cause of God and for the salvation of their fellow men, and will tell what they would do if they only had the means. God frequently proves these; He prospers them, blesses them in basket and in store, far beyond their expectations. But their hearts are deceitful. Their good intentions and promises are like the rolling sand. The more they have the more they desire. The more they are prospered the more eager are they for gain. Some of these, who in their poverty were once even benevolent, become penurious and exacting. Money becomes their god. They delight in the power which money gives them, in the honor they receive because of it. Said the angel: “Mark ye how they stand the test. Watch the development of character under the influence of riches.” Some were oppressing the needy poor and would obtain their services for the lowest figure. They were overbearing; money was power to them. God’s eye, I saw, was upon them. They were deceived. “And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
Some who are wealthy do not withhold from ministers. They keep up their systematic benevolence exactly and pride themselves upon their punctuality and generosity, and think their duty ends here. This is well as far as it goes, but their duty does not cease here. God has claims upon them that they do not realize. Society has claims upon them; their fellow men have claims upon them. Every member of their family has claims upon them. All these claims should be regarded; not one should be overlooked or neglected. Some men give to ministers and put into the treasury with as much satisfaction as though it would entitle them to heaven. Some think that they can do nothing to aid the cause of God unless they constantly have a large increase. They feel that they can in nowise touch the principal. Should our Saviour speak the same words to them that He did to the certain ruler, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me,” they would go away sorrowful, choosing like him to run the risk of retaining their idols, riches, rather than to part with them to secure treasure in heaven. This ruler claimed that he had kept all the commandments of God from his youth up, and confident in his fidelity and righteousness, and thinking that he was perfect, he asks: “What lack I yet?” Jesus immediately tears off his sense of security by referring to his idols, his possessions. He had other gods before the Lord, which were of greater value to him than eternal life. Supreme love to God was lacking. Thus it is with some who profess to believe the truth. They think they are perfect, think that there is no lack, when they are far from perfection and are cherishing idols which will shut them out of heaven.
Many pity the Southern slaves because they are bound down to labor, while slavery exists in their own families. Mothers and children are allowed to toil from morning till night; they have no recreation. A ceaseless round of labor is before them and crowded upon them. They profess to be Christ’s followers; but where is the time for them to meditate and pray, and obtain food for the intellect, that the mind, with which we serve God, may not be dwarfed in its growth? God calls upon every individual to use the talents He has committed to them to His glory, and by thus improving them to gain others also. God has laid obligations upon us to benefit others. Our work in this world for the good of others is not done until Christ shall say in heaven: “It is done.” “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
Many seem to have no true sense of their responsibility before God. They are required to strive to enter in at the strait gate, because many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able. Heaven requires them to try to induce others also to strive to enter in at the strait gate. A work is before young and old to labor earnestly to save not only their own souls, but the souls of others. There are none who have reasoning faculties who have not some influence. By their indifference they use that influence to hinder souls from striving to enter in at the strait gate, or by their earnest, persevering, untiring efforts they urge upon them the necessity of striving diligently to enter there. No one occupies a neutral position, doing nothing to encourage others and doing nothing to hinder them. Says Christ: They that gather not with Me scatter abroad. Take heed, old and young; you are either doing the work of Christ, to save souls, or the work of Satan, to lead them to perdition. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The young can exert a powerful influence if they will give up their pride and selfishness, and devote themselves to God; but as a general thing they will not bear burdens for others. They have to be carried themselves. The time has come when God requires a change in this respect. He calls upon young and old to be zealous and repent. If they continue in their state of lukewarmness, He will spew them out of His mouth. Says the True Witness: “I know thy works.” Young man, young woman, your works are known, whether they be good or whether they be evil. Are you rich in good works? Jesus comes to you as a counselor: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
Chapter 85—The Health Reform
In the vision given me in Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865, I was shown that our Sabbathkeeping people have been negligent in acting upon the light which God has given in regard to the health reform, that there is yet a great work before us, and that as a people we have been too backward to follow in God’s opening providence as He has chosen to lead us.
I was shown that the work of health reform has scarcely been entered upon yet. While some feel deeply and act out their faith in the work, others remain indifferent and have scarcely taken the first step in reform. There seems to be in them a heart of unbelief, and, as this reform restricts the lustful appetite, many shrink back. They have other gods before the Lord. Their taste, their appetite, is their god; and when the ax is laid at the root of the tree and those who have indulged their depraved appetites at the expense of health are touched, their sin pointed out, their idols shown them, they do not wish to be convinced; and although God’s voice should speak directly to them to put away those health-destroying indulgences, some would still cling to the hurtful things which they love. They seem joined to their idols, and God will soon say to His angels: Let them alone.
The health reform, I was shown, is a part of the third angel’s message and is just as closely connected with it as are the arm and hand with the human body. I saw that we as a people must make an advance move in this great work. Ministers and people must act in concert. God’s people are not prepared for the loud cry of the third angel. They have a work to do for themselves which they should not leave for God to do for them. He has left this work for them to do. It is an individual work; one cannot do it for another. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Gluttony is the prevailing sin of this age. Lustful appetite makes slaves of men and women, and beclouds their intellects and stupefies their moral sensibilities to such a degree that the sacred, elevated truths of God’s word are not appreciated. The lower propensities have ruled men and women.
In order to be fitted for translation, the people of God must know themselves. They must understand in regard to their own physical frames that they may be able with the psalmist to exclaim: “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” They should ever have the appetite in subjection to the moral and intellectual organs. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body.
I was shown that there is a much greater work before us than we as yet have any idea of, if we would ensure health by placing ourselves in the right relation to life. Dr. A has been doing a great and good work in the treatment of disease and in enlightening those who have all their lives been in ignorance in regard to the relation that eating, drinking, and working sustain to health. God in His mercy has given His people light through His humble instrument that in order to overcome disease they must deny a depraved appetite and practice temperance in all things. He has caused great light to shine upon their pathway. Shall those who are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” be behind the religionists of the day who have no faith in the soon appearing of our Saviour? The peculiar people whom He is purifying unto Himself to be translated to heaven without seeing death, should not be behind others in good works. In their efforts to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, they should be as far ahead of any other class of people on the earth as their profession is more exalted than that of others.
Some have sneered at this work of reform and have said it was all unnecessary, that it was an excitement to divert minds from present truth. They have said that matters were being carried to extremes. Such do not know what they are talking about. While men and women professing godliness are diseased from the crown of their head to the soles of their feet, while their physical, mental, and moral energies are enfeebled through gratification of depraved appetite and excessive labor, how can they weigh the evidences of truth and comprehend the requirements of God? If their moral and intellectual faculties are beclouded, they cannot appreciate the value of the atonement or the exalted character of the work of God, nor delight in the study of His word. How can a nervous dyspeptic be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him, with meekness and fear? How soon would such a one become confused and agitated, and by his diseased imagination be led to view matters in altogether a wrong light, and by a lack of that meekness and calmness which characterized the life of Christ be caused to dishonor his profession while contending with unreasonable men? Viewing matters from a high religious standpoint, we must be thorough reformers in order to be Christlike.
I saw that our heavenly Father has bestowed upon us the great blessing of light upon the health reform that we may obey the claims which He has upon us and glorify Him in our bodies and spirits which are His and finally stand without fault before the throne of God. Our faith requires us to elevate the standard and take advance steps. While many question the course pursued by other health reformers, they as reasonable men should do something themselves. Our race is in a deplorable condition, suffering from disease of every description. Many have inherited disease and are great sufferers because of the wrong habits of their parents, and yet they pursue the same wrong course in regard to themselves and their children which was pursued toward them. They are ignorant in regard to themselves. They are sick and do not know that their own wrong habits are causing them immense suffering.
There are but few as yet who are aroused sufficiently to understand how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their characters, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny. I saw that it is the duty of those who have received the light from heaven and have realized the benefit of walking in it, to manifest a greater interest for those who are still suffering for want of knowledge. Sabbathkeepers who are looking for the soon appearing of their Saviour should be the last to manifest a lack of interest in this great work of reform. Men and women must be instructed, and ministers and people should feel that the burden of the work rests upon them to agitate the subject and urge it home upon others.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 479-488