Why do not our brethren send in their pledges on the book and tract fund more liberally? And why do not our ministers take hold of this work in earnest? Our people should see that these works are just what is needed to help those who need help. Here is a chance to invest means according to the blessed plan of liberality. We can sometimes read men nearly as plainly as we read books. There are those among us who put from one hundred to one thousand dollars or more into the Health Institute, who have pledged only from five to twenty-five dollars in the great enterprise of publishing books, pamphlets, and tracts, setting forth truths which have to do with eternal life. One was supposed to be a paying investment. The other, as we might judge from the littleness of the pledges, is supposed to be a dead loss.
We shall not hold our peace upon this subject. Our people will come up to the work. The means will come. And we would say to those who are poor and want books: Send in your orders, with a statement of your condition as to this world’s goods. We will send you a package of books containing four volumes of Spiritual Gifts, How to Live, Appeal to Youth, Appeal to Mothers, Sabbath Readings, and the two large charts, with Key of Explanation. If you have a part of these, state what you have, and we will send other books in their places, or send only such of these as you have not. Send fifty cents to pay the postage, and we will send you the five-dollar package and charge the fund four dollars. [See Appendix. ]
In this charitable book matter, all must act upon the great plan of liberality, such as is carried out in the publication and sale of the American Bibles and tracts. In many respects the course of these mammoth societies is worthy of imitation. Liberality is seen in wills and donations, and it is carried out in sales and donations of Bibles and tracts. Seventh-day Adventists should be as far ahead of these in the book matter as in other things. May God help us. Our tracts should be offered by the hundred at what they cost, leaving a little margin to pay for packing, or wrapping for the mail, and directing. And ministers and people should engage in the circulation of books, pamphlets, and tracts, as never before. Sell where people are able and willing to purchase, and where they are not, give them the books.
Chapter 117—The Christian’s Watchword
Dear Brother B,
I was shown that you move much from feeling instead of from firm principle. You lack a deep and thorough experience in the things of God. You need to be wholly converted to the truth. When a man’s heart is fully converted, all that he possesses is consecrated to the Lord. This consecration you have not yet experienced. You love the truth in word, but do not manifest that love in your deeds and by your fruits. Your acts, your deeds, are evidences of the sincerity of your love, or of your indifference to God, His cause, and your fellow men.
How did Christ manifest His love for poor mortals? By the sacrifice of His own glory, His own riches, and even His most precious life. Christ consented to a life of humiliation and great suffering. He submitted to the cruel mockings of an infuriated, murderous multitude, and to the most agonizing death upon the cross. Said Christ: “This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” We give evidence of being the friends of Christ when we manifest implicit obedience to His will. It is no evidence to say, and do not; but in doing, in obeying, is the evidence. Who are obeying the commandment to love one another as Christ has loved them? Brother B, you must have a firmer, deeper, and more unselfish love than you have ever yet possessed, if you obey the commandment of Christ.
You lack benevolence. You labor to save yourself from care, trouble, or expense for the cause of God. You have invested but little in the cause. The enterprise which man values the most will be seen by his investments. If he places a higher estimate upon eternal things than upon temporal things, he will show this by his works; he will invest the most, and venture the most, in that which he values the highest and which in the end brings him the greatest profit.
Men who profess the truth will engage in worldly enterprises, and invest much, and run great risks. If they lose nearly all they possess, they are deeply aggrieved, because they feel the inconvenience of the losses they have sustained; yet they do not feel that their unwise course has deprived the cause of God of means, and that as His stewards they must render an account for this squandering of the Lord’s money. Should they be required to venture something for the cause of God, to invest a quarter even of that which they have lost by their investment in earthly things, they would feel that heaven costs too much.
Eternal things are not appreciated. You are not a rich man, yet your heart may be just as much placed upon the little you have, and you may cling to it just as closely as the millionaire to his treasures. Small, very small, will be the profits realized by you in your investments in worldly enterprises; while, on the other hand, if you invest in the cause of God, make that cause a part of you, and love it as you love yourself, and are willing to sacrifice for its advancement, showing your confidence and faith in its ultimate triumph, you will reap a precious harvest, if not in this life, in the better life than this. You will reap an eternal reward which is of as much higher value than any common, earthly gains as the immortal is higher than the perishable.
Brother B, you seemed anxious to find out what had been said in regard to your position in the church and what was our mind in regard to it. It was just this that I have written. I feared for you because of what I have been shown of your peculiarities. You moved by impulse. You would pray if you felt like it, and speak if you felt like it. You would go to meeting if so disposed, or stay at home if not. You greatly lacked the spirit of self-sacrifice. You have consulted your own wishes and ease, and pleased yourself, instead of feeling that you should please God. Duty, duty! at your post every time. Have you enlisted as a soldier of the cross of Christ? If so, your feelings do not excuse you from duty. You must be willing to endure hardness as a good soldier. Go without the camp, bearing the reproach; for thus did the Captain of your salvation. The qualifications of a bishop, or of an elder or deacon, are, to be “blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
Paul enumerates the precious gifts to be desired, and exhorts the brethren: “He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Here is a wise and perfectly safe investment; good works are here specified and recommended for our practice, for your practice. Here are profits that are valuable. There will be no danger of a failure here. A treasure may be secured in heaven, a constant accumulation which will give to the investor a title to eternal life. And when his life here shall close, and probation end, he may lay hold on eternal life.
Brother B, you are not a lover of hospitality, you shun burdens. You feel that it is a task to feed the saints and look after their wants, and that all you do in this direction is lost. Please read the above scriptures, and may God give you understanding and discernment, is my earnest prayer. As a family you need to cultivate liberality and to be less self-caring. Love to invite God’s people to your house, and, as occasion may require, share with them cheerfully, gladly, that of which the Lord has made you stewards. Do not give grudgingly these little favors. As you do these things to Christ’s disciples, you do it unto Him; just so, as you grudge the saints of God your hospitality, you grudge Jesus the same.
The health reform is essential for you both. Sister B has been backward in this good work and has suffered opposition to arise when she knew not what she was opposing. She has resisted the counsel of God against her own soul. Intemperate appetite has brought debility and disease, weakening the moral powers, and unfitting her to appreciate the sacred truth, the value of the atonement, which is essential to salvation. Sister B loves this world. She has not separated, in her affections, from the world, and given herself unreservedly to God, as He requires. He will not accept half a sacrifice. All, all, all, is God’s, and we are required to render perfect service. Says Paul: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living [not dying] sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” What a privilege is thus allowed us, to prove for ourselves, experimentally, the mind of the Lord and His will toward us. Praise His dear name for this precious gift! I have been shown that Sister B’s grasp must be broken from this world before she can have a true, safe hold of the better world.
Brother B, you should move carefully and keep self under; be patient, meek, and lowly. A meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price. You should cherish that which God esteems of worth. A work must be accomplished for you both before you can meet the measurement of God. Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work. Stand in the clear light yourselves, then can you let your light so shine that others by seeing your good works will be led to glorify your heavenly Father.
January 23, 1868.
Chapter 118—Sympathy at Home
Dear Brother and Sister C,
Your cases have been brought before me in vision. As I viewed your lives, they appeared to be a terrible mistake. Brother C, you have not a happy temperament. And not being happy yourself, you fail to make others happy. You have not cultivated affection, tenderness, and love. Your wife has suffered all through her married life for sympathy. Your married life has been very much like a desert—but very few green spots to look back upon with grateful remembrance. It need not have been thus.
Love can no more exist without revealing itself in outward acts than fire can be kept alive without fuel. You, Brother C, have felt that it was beneath your dignity to manifest tenderness by kindly acts, and to watch for an opportunity to evince affection for your wife by words of tenderness and kind regard. You are changeable in your feelings, and are very much affected by surrounding circumstances. You have not felt that it was wrong, displeasing to God, to allow your mind to be fully engrossed with the world, and then bring your worldly perplexities into your family, thus letting the adversary into your home. It is very easy for you thus to open the door, but you will find it not so easy to close; it will be very difficult to turn out the enemy when once you have brought him in. Leave your business cares and perplexities and annoyances when you leave your business. Come to your family with a cheerful countenance, with sympathy, tenderness, and love. This will be better than expending money for medicines or physicians for your wife. It will be health to the body and strength to the soul. Your lives have been very wretched. You have both acted a part in making them so. God is not pleased with your misery; you have brought it upon yourselves by want of self-control.
You let feelings bear sway. You think it beneath your dignity, Brother C, to manifest love, to speak kindly and affectionately. All these tender words, you think, savor of softness and weakness, and are unnecessary. But in their place come fretful words, words of discord, strife, and censure. Do you account these as manly and noble? as an exhibition of the sterner virtues of your sex? However you may consider them, God looks upon them with displeasure and marks them in His book. Angels flee from the dwelling where words of discord are exchanged, where gratitude is almost a stranger to the heart, and censure leaps like black balls to the lips, spotting the garments, defiling the Christian character.
When you married your wife, she loved you. She was extremely sensitive, yet with painstaking on your part, and fortitude on hers, her health need not have been what it is. But your stern coldness made you like an iceberg, freezing up the channel of love and affection. Your censure and faultfinding has been like desolating hail to a sensitive plant. It has chilled and nearly destroyed the life of the plant. Your love of the world is eating out the good traits of your character. Your wife is of a different turn and more generous. But when she has, even in small matters, exercised her generous instincts, you have felt a drawback in your feelings and have censured her. You indulge a close and grudging spirit. You make your wife feel that she is a tax, a burden, and that she has no right to exercise her generosity at your expense. All these things are of such a discouraging nature that she feels hopeless and helpless, and has not stamina to bear up against it, but bends to the force of the blast. Her disease is pain of the nerves. Were her married life agreeable, she would possess a good degree of health. But all through your married life the demon has been a guest in your family to exult over your misery.
Disappointed hopes have made you both completely wretched. You will have no reward for your suffering, for you have caused it yourselves. Your own words have been like deadly poison upon nerve and brain, upon bone and muscle. You reap that which you sow. You do not appreciate the feelings and sufferings of each other. God is displeased with the hard, unfeeling, world-loving spirit you possess. Brother C, the love of money is the root of all evil. You have loved money, loved the world; you have looked at the illness of your wife as a severe, a terrible, tax, not realizing that it is your fault in a great measure that she is sick. You have not the elements of a contented spirit. You dwell upon your troubles; imaginary want and poverty far ahead stare you in the face; you feel afflicted, distressed, agonized; your brain seems on fire, your spirits depressed. You do not cherish love to God and gratitude of heart for all the blessings which your kind heavenly Father has bestowed upon you. You see only the discomforts of life. A worldly insanity shuts you in like heavy clouds of thick darkness. Satan exults over you because you will have misery when peace and happiness are at your command.
You listen to a discourse; the truth affects you, and the nobler powers of your mind arouse to control your actions. You see how little you have sacrificed for God, how closely self has been cherished, and you are swayed to the right by the influence of the truth; but when you pass from under this sacred, sanctifying, soothing influence, you do not possess it in your own heart, and you soon fall into the same barren, ungenial state of feeling. Work, work, you must work; brain, bone, and muscle are taxed to the utmost to get means which your imagination tells you must be obtained, or want and starvation will be your lot. This is a delusion of Satan, one of his wily snares to lead you to perdition. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” But you make for yourself a time of trouble beforehand.
You have not faith and love and confidence in God. If you had, you would trust in Him. You worry yourself out of the arms of Christ, fearing that He will not care for you. Health is sacrificed. God is not glorified in your body and spirit, which are His. There is not a sweet, cheering home influence to soothe and counteract the evil which is predominant in your nature. The high, noble powers of your mind are overpowered by the lower organs; the evil traits of your character are developed.
You are selfish, exacting, and overbearing. This ought not to be. Your salvation depends on your acting from principle—serving God from principle, not from feeling, not from impulse. God will help you when you feel your need of help and set about the work with resolution, trusting in Him with all your heart. You are often discouraged without sufficient reason. You indulge feelings akin to hatred. Your likes and dislikes are strong. These you must restrain. Control the tongue. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” Help has been laid upon One that is mighty. He will be your strength and support, your front guard and rearward.
What preparation are you making for the better life? It is Satan who makes you think that all your powers must be exercised to get along in this world. You are fearing and trembling for the future of this life, while you are neglecting the future, eternal life. Where is the anxiety, the earnestness, the zeal, lest you make a failure there and sustain an immense loss? To lose a little of this world seems to you a terrible calamity which would cost your life. But the thought of losing heaven does not cause half the fears to be manifested. Through your careful efforts to save this life, you are in danger of losing eternal life. You cannot afford to lose heaven, lose eternal life, lose the eternal weight of glory. You cannot afford to lose all these riches, this exceedingly precious, immeasurable happiness. Why do you not act like a sane man, and be as earnest, as zealous, and as persevering in your efforts for the better life, the immortal crown, the eternal, imperishable treasure, as you are for this poor, miserable life and these poor perishable, earthly treasures?
Your heart is on your earthly treasures, therefore you have no heart for the heavenly. These poor things which are seen—the earthly—eclipse the glory of the heavenly. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Your words will declare, your acts will show, where your treasure is. If it is in this world, the little gain of earth, your anxieties will be manifested in that direction. If you are striving for the immortal inheritance with an earnestness, energy, and zeal proportionate to its value, then can you be a fair candidate for everlasting life, and heir of glory. You need a fresh conversion every day. Die daily to self, keep your tongue as with a bridle, control your words, cease your murmurings and complaints, let not one word of censure escape your lips. If this requires a great effort, make it; you will be repaid in so doing.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 689-698