Ministers should love order and should discipline themselves, and then they can successfully discipline the church of God and teach them to work harmoniously like a well-drilled company of soldiers. If discipline and order are necessary for successful action on the battlefield, the same are as much more needful in the warfare in which we are engaged as the object to be gained is of greater value and more elevated in character than those for which opposing forces contend upon the field of battle. In the conflict in which we are engaged, eternal interests are at stake.
Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterizes all their movements. The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. If we see no necessity for harmonious action, and are disorderly, undisciplined, and disorganized in our course of action, angels, who are thoroughly organized and move in perfect order, cannot work for us successfully. They turn away in grief, for they are not authorized to bless confusion, distraction, and disorganization. All who desire the co-operation of the heavenly messengers must work in unison with them. Those who have the unction from on high will in all their efforts encourage order, discipline, and union of action, and then the angels of God can co-operate with them. But never, never will these heavenly messengers place their endorsement upon irregularity, disorganization, and disorder. All these evils are the result of Satan’s efforts to weaken our forces, to destroy courage, and prevent successful action.
Satan well knows that success can only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. It is his studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from heaven’s arrangement as he can; therefore he deceives even the professed people of God and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality, that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course, and to remain especially distinct from bodies of Christians who are united and are laboring to establish discipline and harmony of action. All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery. These deceived souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They will not take any man’s say-so. They are amenable to no man. I was shown that it is Satan’s special work to lead men to feel that it is in God’s order for them to strike out for themselves and choose their own course, independent of their brethren.
I was pointed back to the children of Israel. Very soon after leaving Egypt they were organized and most thoroughly disciplined. God had in His special providence qualified Moses to stand at the head of the armies of Israel. He had been a mighty warrior to lead the armies of the Egyptians, and in generalship he could not be surpassed by any man. The Lord did not leave His holy tabernacle to be borne indiscriminately by any tribe that might choose. He was so particular as to specify the order He would have observed in bearing the sacred ark and to designate a special family of the tribe of the Levites to bear it. When it was for the good of the people and for the glory of God that they should pitch their tents in a certain place, God signified His will to them by causing the pillar of cloud to rest directly over the tabernacle, where it remained until He would have them journey again. In all their journeyings they were required to observe perfect order. Every tribe bore a standard with the sign of their father’s house upon it, and each tribe was required to pitch under its own standard. When the ark moved, the armies journeyed, the different tribes marching in order, under their own standards. The Levites were designated by the Lord as the tribe in the midst of whom the sacred ark was to be borne, Moses and Aaron marching just in front of the ark, and the sons of Aaron following near them, each bearing trumpets. They were to receive directions from Moses, which they were to signify to the people by speaking through the trumpets. These trumpets gave special sounds which the people understood, and directed their movements accordingly.
A special signal was first given by the trumpeters to call the attention of the people; then all were to be attentive and obey the certain sound of the trumpets. There was no confusion of sound in the voices of the trumpets, therefore there was no excuse for confusion in movements. The head officer of each company gave definite directions in regard to the movements they were required to make, and none who gave attention were left in ignorance of what they were to do. If any failed to comply with the requirements given by the Lord to Moses, and by Moses to the people, they were punished with death. It would be no excuse to plead that they knew not the nature of these requirements, for they would only prove themselves willingly ignorant, and would receive the just punishment for their transgression. If they did not know the will of God concerning them, it was their own fault. They had the same opportunities to obtain the knowledge imparted as others of the people had, therefore their sin of not knowing, not understanding, was as great in the sight of God as if they had heard and then transgressed.
The Lord designated a special family of the tribe of Levi to bear the ark; and others of the Levites were specially appointed of God to bear the tabernacle and all its furniture, and to perform the work of setting up and taking down the tabernacle. And if any man from curiosity or from lack of order got out of his place and touched any part of the sanctuary or furniture, or even came near any of the workmen, he was to be put to death. God did not leave His holy tabernacle to be borne, erected, and taken down, indiscriminately, by any tribe who might choose the office; but persons were chosen who could appreciate the sacredness of the work in which they were engaged. These men appointed of God were directed to impress upon the people the special sacredness of the ark and all that appertained thereunto, lest they should look upon these things without realizing their holiness and should be cut off from Israel. All things pertaining to the most holy place were to be looked upon with reverence.
The travels of the children of Israel are faithfully described; the deliverance which the Lord wrought for them, their perfect organization and special order, their sin in murmuring against Moses and thus against God, their transgressions, their rebellions, their punishments, their carcasses strewn in the wilderness because of their unwillingness to submit to God’s wise arrangements—this faithful picture is hung up before us as a warning lest we follow their example of disobedience and fall like them.
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Has God changed from a God of order? No; He is the same in the present dispensation as in the former. Paul says: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” He is as particular now as then. And He designs that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses for the benefit of the children of Israel.
Chapter 113—Further Labors
Experiences from December 23, 1867 to February 1, 1868
I will now resume the sketch of incidents, and perhaps I cannot better give an idea of our labors up to the time of the Vermont meeting than by copying a letter which I wrote to our son at Battle Creek, December 27, 1867:
“My dear son Edson,
“I am now seated at the desk of Brother D. T. Bourdeau, at West Enosburgh, Vermont. After our meeting closed at Topsham, Maine, I was exceedingly weary. While packing my trunk, I nearly fainted from weariness. The last work I did there was to call Brother A’s family together and have a special interview with them. I spoke to this dear family, giving words of exhortation and comfort, also of correction and counsel to one connected with them. All I said was fully received and was followed by confession, weeping, and great relief to Brother and Sister A. This is crossing work for me and wears me much.
“After we were seated in the cars, I lay down and rested about one hour. We had an appointment that evening at West-brook, Maine, to meet the brethren from Portland and vicinity. We made our home with the kind family of Brother Martin. I was not able to sit up during the afternoon; but, being urged to attend the meeting in the evening, I went to the schoolhouse, feeling that I had not strength to stand and address the people. The house was filled with deeply interested listeners. Brother Andrews opened the meeting, and spoke a short time; your father followed with remarks. I then arose, and had spoken but a few words, when I felt my strength renewed; all my feebleness seemed to leave me, and I spoke about one hour with perfect freedom. I felt inexpressible gratitude for this help from God at the very time when I so much needed it. On Wednesday evening I spoke with freedom nearly two hours upon the health and dress reforms. To have my strength so unexpectedly renewed, when I had felt completely exhausted before these two meetings, has been a source of great encouragement to me.
“We enjoyed our visit with the family of Brother Martin, and hope to see their dear children give their hearts to Christ, and with their parents war the Christian warfare, and wear the crown of immortality when the victory shall be gained.
“Thursday we went into Portland again and took dinner with the family of Brother Gowell. We had a special interview with them, which we hope will result in their good. We feel a deep interest for the wife of Brother Gowell. This mother’s heart has been torn by seeing her children in affliction and in death, and laid in the silent grave. It is well with the sleepers. May the mother yet seek all the truth, and lay up a treasure in heaven, that when the Life-giver shall come to bring the captives from the great prison house of death, father, mother, and children may meet, and the broken links of the family chain be reunited, no more to be severed.
“Brother Gowell took us to the cars in his carriage. We had just time to get on the train before it started. We rode five hours, and found Brother A. W. Smith at the Manchester depot, waiting to take us to his home in that city. Here we expected to find rest one night; but, lo quite a number were waiting to receive us. They had come nine miles from Amherst to spend the evening with us. We had a very pleasant interview, profitable, we hope, to all. Retired about ten. Early next morning we left the comfortable, hospitable home of Brother Smith, to pursue our journey to Washington. It was a slow, tedious route. We left the cars at Hillsborough, and found a team waiting to take us twelve miles to Washington. Brother Colby had a sleigh and blankets, and we rode quite comfortably until we were within a few miles of our destination. There was not snow enough to make good sleighing; the wind arose, and during the last two miles blew the falling sleet into our faces and eyes, producing pain and chilling us almost to freezing. We found shelter at last at the good home of Brother C. K. Farnsworth. They did all they could for our comfort, and everything was arranged so that we could rest as much as possible. That was but little, I can assure you.
“Sabbath your father spoke in the forenoon, and after an intermission of about twenty minutes I spoke, bearing a testimony of reproof for several who were using tobacco, also for Brother Ball, who had been strengthening the hands of our enemies by holding the visions up to ridicule, and publishing bitter things against us in the Crisis, of Boston, and in the Hope of Israel, a paper issued in Iowa. The meeting for the evening was appointed at Brother Farnsworth’s. The church was present, and your father there requested Brother Ball to state his objections to the visions and give an opportunity to answer them. Thus the evening was spent. Brother Ball manifested much stiffness and opposition; he admitted himself satisfied upon some points, but held his position quite firmly. Brother Andrews and your father talked plainly, explaining matters which he had misunderstood, and condemning his unrighteous course toward the Sabbathkeeping Adventists. We all felt that we had done the best we could that day to weaken the forces of the enemy. Our meeting held until past ten.
“The next morning we attended meetings again in the meetinghouse. Your father spoke in the morning. But just before he spoke, the enemy made a poor, weak brother feel that he had a most astonishing burden for the church. He walked the slip, talked, and groaned, and cried, and had a terrible something upon him, which nobody seemed to understand. We were trying to bring those who professed the truth to see their state of dreadful darkness and backsliding before God, and to make humble confessions of the same, thus returning unto the Lord with sincere repentance, that He might return unto them, and heal their backslidings. Satan sought to hinder the work by pushing in this poor, distracted soul to disgust those who wished to move understandingly. I arose and bore a plain testimony to this man. He had taken no food for two days, and Satan had deceived him, and pushed him over the mark.
“Then your father preached. We had a few moments’ intermission, and then I tried to speak upon the health and dress reforms, and bore a plain testimony to those who had been standing in the way of the young and of unbelievers. God helped me to say plain things to Brother Ball, and to tell him in the name of the Lord what he had been doing. He was considerably affected.
“Again we held an evening meeting at Brother Farnsworth’s. The weather was stormy during the meetings, yet Brother Ball did not remain away from one of them. The same subject was resumed, the investigation of the course he had pursued. If ever the Lord helped a man talk, He helped Brother Andrews that night, as he dwelt upon the subject of suffering for Christ’s sake. The case of Moses was mentioned, who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward. He showed that this is one of many instances where the reproach of Christ was esteemed above worldly riches and honor, high-sounding titles, a prospective crown, and the glory of a kingdom. The eye of faith was fixed upon the glorious future, and the recompense of the reward was regarded of such value as to cause the richest things which earth can offer to appear valueless. The children of God endured mockings, scourgings, bonds, and imprisonments; they were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, tormented, and, sustained by hope and faith, they could call these light afflictions; the future, the eternal life, appeared of so great value that they accounted their sufferings small in comparison with the recompense of the reward.
“Brother Andrews related an instance of a faithful Christian about to suffer martyrdom for his faith. A brother Christian had been conversing with him in regard to the power of the Christian hope—if it would be strong enough to sustain him while his flesh should be consuming with fire. He asked this Christian, about to suffer, to give him a signal if the Christian faith and hope were stronger than the raging, consuming fire. He expected his turn to come next, and this would fortify him for the fire. The former promised that the signal should be given. He was brought to the stake amid the taunts and jeers of the idle and curious crowd assembled to witness the burning of this Christian. The fagots were brought and the fire kindled, and the brother Christian fixed his eyes upon the suffering, dying martyr, feeling that much depended upon the signal. The fire burned, and burned. The flesh was blackened; but the signal came not. His eye was not taken for a moment from the painful sight. The arms were already crisped. There was no appearance of life. All thought that the fire had done its work, and that no life remained; when, lo! amid the flames, up went both arms toward heaven. The brother Christian, whose heart was becoming faint, caught sight of the joyful signal; it sent a thrill through his whole being, and renewed his faith, his hope, his courage. He wept tears of joy.
“As Brother Andrews spoke of the blackened, burned arms raised aloft amid the flames, he, too, wept like a child. Nearly the whole congregation were affected to tears. This meeting closed about ten. There had been quite a breaking away of the clouds of darkness. Brother Hemingway arose and said he had been completely backslidden, using tobacco, opposing the visions, and persecuting his wife for believing them, but said he would do so no more. He asked her forgiveness, and the forgiveness of us all. His wife spoke with feeling. His daughter and several others rose for prayers. He stated that the testimony which Sister White had borne seemed to come direct from the throne, and he would never dare to oppose it again.
“Brother Ball then said that if matters were as we viewed them, his case was very bad. He said he knew he had been backslidden for years and had stood in the way of the young. We thanked God for that admission. We designed to leave early Monday morning, and had an appointment at Braintree, Vermont, to meet about thirty Sabbathkeepers. But it was very cold, rough, blustering weather to ride twenty-five miles after such constant labor, and we finally decided to hold on, and continue the work in Washington until Brother Ball decided either for or against the truth, that the church might be relieved in his case.
“Meeting commenced Monday at 10 a.m. Brethren Rodman and Howard were present. Brother Newell Mead, who was very feeble and nervous, almost exactly like your father in his past sickness, was sent for to attend the meeting. Again the condition of the church was dwelt upon, and the severest censure was passed upon those who had stood in the way of its prosperity. With the most earnest entreaties we pleaded with them to be converted to God and face rightabout. The Lord aided us in the work; Brother Ball felt, but moved slowly. His wife felt deeply for him. Our morning meeting closed at three or four in the afternoon. All these hours we had been engaged, first one of us, then another, earnestly laboring for the unconverted youth. We appointed another meeting for the evening, to commence at six.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 649-658