Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 509-518 Day 051

To the Ephesians he writes: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God is glorified by songs of praise from a pure heart filled with love and devotion to Him. When consecrated believers assemble, their conversation will not be upon the imperfections of others or savor of murmuring or complaint; charity, or love, the bond of perfectness, will encircle them. Love to God and their fellow men flows out naturally in words of affection, sympathy, and esteem for their brethren. The peace of God rules in their hearts; their words are not vain, empty, and frivolous, but to the comfort and edification of one another. If Christians will obey the instructions given to them by Christ and His inspired apostles, they will adorn the religion of the Bible and save themselves severe trials and much perplexity which they attribute to their afflictions in consequence of believing unpopular truth. This is a sad mistake. Very many of their trials are of their own creating because they depart from the word of God. They yield to the world, place themselves upon the enemy’s battlefield, and tempt the devil to tempt them. Those who adhere strictly to the admonitions and instructions of God’s word, prayerfully seeking to know and do His righteous will, feel not the petty grievances daily occurring. The gratitude which they feel, and the peace of God ruling within, cause them to make melody in their hearts unto the Lord and by words to make mention of the debt of love and thankfulness due the dear Saviour, who so loved them as to die that they might have life. No one who has an indwelling Saviour will dishonor Him before others by producing strains from a musical instrument which call the mind from God and heaven to light and trifling things.

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The young are required in whatsoever they do, in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. I saw that but few of the youth understand what it is to be Christians, to be Christlike. They will have to learn the truths of God’s word before they can conform their lives to the pattern. There is not one young person in twenty who has experienced in his life that separation from the world which the Lord requires of all who would become members of His family, children of the heavenly King. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

What a promise is here made upon condition of obedience! Do you have to cut loose from friends and relatives in deciding to obey the elevated truths of God’s word? Take courage, God has made provision for you, His arms are open to receive you. Come out from among them and be separate, and touch not the unclean, and He will receive you. He promises to be a Father unto you. Oh, what a relationship is this! higher and holier than any earthly tie. If you make the sacrifice, if you have to forsake father, mother, sisters, brothers, wife, and children for Christ’s sake, you will not be friendless. God adopts you into His family; you become members of the royal household, sons and daughters of the King who rules in the heaven of heavens. Can you desire a more exalted position than is here promised? Is not this enough? Said the angel: “What could God do for the children of men more than He has already done? If such love, such exalted promises are not appreciated, could He devise anything higher, anything richer and more lofty? All that God could do has been done for the salvation of man, and yet the hearts of the children of men have become hardened. Because of the multiplicity of the blessings with which God has surrounded them, they receive them as common things and forget their gracious Benefactor.”

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I saw that Satan is a vigilant foe intent upon his purpose of leading the youth to a course of action entirely contrary to that which God would approve. He well knows that there is no other class that can do as much good as young men and young women who are consecrated to God. The youth, if right, could sway a mighty influence. Preachers, or laymen advanced in years, cannot have one half the influence upon the young that the youth, devoted to God, can have upon their associates. They ought to feel that a responsibility rests upon them to do all they can to save their fellow mortals, even at a sacrifice of their pleasure and natural desires. Time, and even means, if required, should be consecrated to God. All who profess godliness should feel the danger of those who are out of Christ. Soon their probation will close. Those who might have exerted an influence to save souls had they stood in the counsel of God, yet failed to do their duty through selfishness, indolence, or because they were ashamed of the cross of Christ, will not only lose their own souls, but will have the blood of poor sinners upon their garments. Such will be required to render an account for the good that they could have done had they been consecrated to God, but did not do because of their unfaithfulness. Those who have really tasted the sweets of redeeming love will not, cannot, rest until all with whom they associate are made acquainted with the plan of salvation. The young should inquire: “‘Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?’ How can I honor and glorify Thy name upon the earth?” Souls are perishing all around us, and yet what burden do the youth bear to win souls to Christ? Those who attend school could have an influence for the Saviour; but who name the name of Christ? and who are seen pleading with tender earnestness with their companions to forsake the ways of sin and choose the path of holiness?

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I was shown that this is the course which the believing young should take, but they do not; it is more congenial to their feelings to unite with the sinner in sport and pleasure. The young have a wide sphere of usefulness, but they see it not. Oh, that they would now exert their powers of mind in seeking ways to approach perishing sinners, that they might make known to them the path of holiness, and by prayer and entreaty win even one soul to Christ! What a noble enterprise! One soul to praise God through eternity! One soul to enjoy happiness and everlasting life! One gem in their crown to shine as a star for ever and ever! But even more than one can be brought to turn from error to truth, from sin to holiness. Says the Lord by the prophet: “And they that turn many to righteousness [shall shine] as the stars for ever and ever.” Then those who engage with Christ and angels in the work of saving perishing souls are richly rewarded in the kingdom of heaven.

I saw that many souls might be saved if the young were where they ought to be, devoted to God and to the truth; but they generally occupy a position where constant labor must be bestowed upon them, or they will become of the world themselves. They are a source of constant anxiety and heartache. Tears flow on their account, and agonizing prayers are wrung from the hearts of parents in their behalf. Yet they move on, reckless of the pain which their course of action causes. They plant thorns in the breasts of those who would die to save them and have them become what God designed they should through the merits of the blood of Christ.

The youth exercise their ability to execute this or that nice piece of art, but do not feel that God requires them to turn their talents to a better account, that of adorning their profession and seeking to save souls for whom Christ died. One such soul saved is of more value than worlds. Gold and earthly treasure can bear no comparison to the salvation of even one poor soul.

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Young men and young women, I saw that God has a work for you to do; take up your cross and follow Christ, or you are unworthy of Him. While you remain in listless indifference, how can you tell what is the will of God concerning you? and how do you expect to be saved, unless as faithful servants you do your Lord’s will? Those who possess eternal life will all have done well. The King of glory will exalt them to His right hand while He says to them: “Well done, good and faithful servants.” How can you tell how many souls you might save from ruin if, instead of studying your own pleasure, you were seeking what work you could do in the vineyard of your Master? How many souls have these gatherings for conversation and the practice of music been the means of saving? If you cannot point to one soul thus saved, turn, oh, turn to a new course of action. Begin to pray for souls; come near to Christ, close to His bleeding side. Let a meek and quiet spirit adorn your lives, and let your earnest, broken, humble petitions ascend to Him for wisdom that you may have success in saving not only your own soul, but the souls of others. Pray more than you sing. Do you not stand in greater need of prayer than of singing? Young men and women, God calls upon you to work, work for Him. Make an entire change in your course of action. You can do work that those who minister in word and doctrine cannot do. You can reach a class whom the minister cannot affect.

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Chapter 87—Recreation for Christians

I was shown that Sabbathkeepers as a people labor too hard without allowing themselves change or periods of rest. Recreation is needful to those who are engaged in physical labor and is still more essential for those whose labor is principally mental. It is not essential to our salvation, nor for the glory of God, to keep the mind laboring constantly and excessively, even upon religious themes. There are amusements, such as dancing, card playing, chess, checkers, etc., which we cannot approve, because Heaven condemns them. These amusements open the door for great evil. They are not beneficial in their tendency, but have an exciting influence, producing in some minds a passion for those plays which lead to gambling and dissipation. All such plays should be condemned by Christians, and something perfectly harmless should be substituted in their place.

I saw that our holidays should not be spent in patterning after the world, yet they should not be passed by unnoticed, for this will bring dissatisfaction to our children. On these days when there is danger that our children will be exposed to evil influences, and become corrupted by the pleasures and excitement of the world, let the parents study to get up something to take the place of more dangerous amusements. Give your children to understand that you have their good and happiness in view.

Let several families living in a city or village unite and leave the occupations which have taxed them physically and mentally, and make an excursion into the country to the side of a fine lake or to a nice grove where the scenery of nature is beautiful. They should provide themselves with plain, hygienic food, the very best fruits and grains, and spread their table under the shade of some tree or under the canopy of heaven. The ride, the exercise, and the scenery will quicken the appetite, and they can enjoy a repast which kings might envy.

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On such occasions parents and children should feel free from care, labor, and perplexity. Parents should become children with their children, making everything as pleasant for them as possible. Let the whole day be given to recreation. Exercise in the open air for those whose employment has been withindoors and sedentary will be beneficial to health. All who can, should feel it a duty to pursue this course. Nothing will be lost, but much gained. They can return to their occupations with new life and new courage to engage in their labor with zeal, and they are better prepared to resist disease.

I saw that but few realize the constant, wearing labor of those who are bearing the responsibilities of the work in the office. They are confined withindoors day after day and week after week, while a constant strain upon the mental powers is surely undermining their constitutions and lessening their hold on life. These brethren are in danger of breaking suddenly. They are not immortal, and without a change they must wear out and be lost to the work.

We have precious gifts in Brethren A, B, and C. We cannot afford to have them ruin their health through close confinement and incessant toil. Where can we find men with their experience to supply their places? Two of these brethren have been fourteen years connected with the work in the office, laboring earnestly, conscientiously, and unselfishly for the advancement of the cause of God. They have had scarcely any variation except what fevers and other sickness have given them. They should have a change frequently, should often devote a day wholly to recreation with their families, who are almost entirely deprived of their society. All may not be able to leave the work at the same time; but they should so arrange their work that one or two may go, leaving others to supply their places, and then let these in their turn have the same opportunity.

I saw that these brethren, A, B, and C, should as a religious duty take care of the health and strength which God has given them. The Lord does not require them just now to become martyrs to His cause. They will obtain no reward for making this sacrifice, for God wants them to live. They can serve the cause of present truth far better by their lives than by their death. If any one of these brethren should be suddenly prostrated by disease, no one should regard it as a direct judgment from the Lord. It will be only the sure result of the violation of nature’s laws. They should take heed to the warning given, lest they transgress and have to suffer the heavy penalty.

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I saw that these brethren could benefit the cause of God by attending, as often as practicable, convocation meetings at a distance from their place of labor. The work committed to them is important, and they need healthy nerves and brains; but it is impossible for their minds to be enlivened and invigorated as God would have them, while they are incessantly confined at the office. I was shown that it would be a benefit to the cause at large for these men, standing at the head of the work at Battle Creek, to become acquainted with their brethren abroad by associating with them in meeting. It will give the brethren abroad confidence in those who are bearing the responsibilities of the work, and will relieve these brethren of the taxation upon the brain, and will make them better acquainted with the progress of the work and the wants of the cause. It will enliven their hope, renew their faith, and increase their courage. Time thus taken will not be lost, but will be spent to the very best advantage. These brethren have qualities which render them in the highest degree capable of enjoying social life. They would enjoy their stay at the homes of brethren abroad, and would benefit and be benefited by interchange of thought and views.

Especially do I appeal to Brother C to change his course of life. He cannot exercise as others in the office can. Indoor, sedentary employment is preparing him for a sudden breakdown. He cannot always do as he has done. He must spend more time in the open air, having periods of light labor of some special nature, or exercise of a pleasant, recreative character. Such confinement as he has imposed upon himself would break down the constitution of the strongest animal. It is cruel, it is wicked, a sin against himself, against which I raise my voice in warning. Brother C, more of your time must be spent in the open air, in riding or in pleasant exercise, or you must die, your wife become a widow, and your children, who love you so much, become orphans. Brother C is qualified to edify others in the exposition of the word. He can serve the cause of God and benefit himself by going out to the large gatherings of Sabbathkeepers and bearing his testimony for the edification of those who are privileged to hear him. This change would bring him more out of doors, into the open air. His blood flows sluggishly through his veins for want of the vivifying air of heaven. He has done well his part in the work at the office, but still he has needed the electrifying influence of pure air and sunlight out of doors to make his work still more spiritual and enlivening.

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June 5, 1863, I was shown that my husband should preserve his strength and health, for God had yet a great work for us to do. In His providence we had obtained an experience in this work from its very commencement, and thus our labors would be of greater account to His cause. I saw that my husband’s constant and excessive labor was exhausting his fund of strength, which God would have him preserve; that if he continued to overtask his physical and mental energies as he had been doing, he would be using up his future resources of strength and exhausting the capital, and would break down prematurely, and the cause of God would be deprived of his labor. Much of the time he was performing labor connected with the office which others might do, or was engaged in business transactions which he should avoid. God would have us both reserve our strength to be used when specially required to do that work which others could not do, and for which He has raised us up, preserved our lives, and given us a valuable experience; in this way we could be a benefit to His people.

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I did not make this public, because it was given specially to us. If this caution had been fully heeded, the affliction under which my husband has been so great a sufferer would have been saved. The work of God was urgent and seemed to allow of no relaxation or separation from it. My husband seemed compelled to constant, wearing labor. Anxiety for his brethren liable to the draft, and also concerning the rebellion in Iowa, kept his mind continually strained, and the physical energies were utterly exhausted. Instead of his having relief, burdens never pressed heavier; and care, instead of lessening, was trebled. But there certainly was a way of escape, or God would not have given the caution He did and would not have permitted him to break down under the taxation. I saw that had he not been specially sustained by God he would have realized the prostration of his physical and mental powers much sooner than he did.

When God speaks, He means what He says. When He cautions, it becomes those noticed to take heed. The reason why I now speak publicly is that the same caution which was given to my husband has been given to others connected with the office. I saw that unless they change their course of action, they are just as liable to be stricken down as was my husband. I am not willing that others should suffer as he has done. But that which is most to be dreaded is, they would be lost for a time to the cause and work of God, when the help and influence of all are so much needed.

Those connected with the office cannot endure the amount of care and labor that my husband has borne for years. They have not the constitution, the capital to draw upon, which my husband had. They can never endure the perplexities and the constant, wearing labor which have come upon him and which he has borne for twenty years. I cannot endure the thought that any in the office should sacrifice strength and health through excessive labor, so that their usefulness should prematurely end and they be unable to work in the vineyard of the Lord. It is not merely the gatherers of the fruit that are the essential laborers; all who assist in digging about the plants, watering, pruning, and lifting up the drooping, trailing vines, and leading their tendrils to entwine about the true trellis, the sure support, are workmen who cannot be spared.

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 509-518

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