I was shown that those who are trying to obey God and purify their souls through obedience to the truth are God’s chosen people, His modern Israel. God says of them, through Peter: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” As it was a crime for Amalek to take advantage of the children of Israel in their weakness and weariness, to annoy, perplex, and discourage them, so it was no small sin for you to be closely watching to discover the weakness, the haltings, the errors and sins of God’s afflicted people, and expose the same to their enemies. You were doing Satan’s work, not the work of God. Many of the Sabbathkeeping Adventists in —– have been very weak. They have been miserable representatives of the truth. They have not been an honor to the cause of present truth, and the cause would have been better off without them. You have taken the unconsecrated lives of Sabbathkeepers as an excuse for your occupying a position of doubt and unbelief. It has also strengthened your unbelief to see that some of these unconsecrated ones were professing strong faith in the visions, vindicating them when opposed, and defending them with warmth, while, at the same time that they professed so much zeal, they were disregarding the teachings given through vision and were going directly contrary to them. In this respect they were stumbling blocks to Brother U, and were bringing the visions into disrepute by their course of action.
Brother V, I was shown that you had a proud heart, and when you thought your writings were slighted at the Review office, your pride was touched, and you commenced a warfare which has been like Saul’s kicking against the pricks. You have joined hands with those who turn the truth of God into a lie. You have strengthened the hands of sinners and opposed the counsel of God against your own soul. You have been warring against that of which you had no knowledge. You have not known what work you were doing. I saw your wife wrestling with God in prayer, her faith firmly grasping you and at the same time fixed upon the throne, pleading the never-failing promises of God. Her heart has ached as she has seen you persisting in your warfare against the truth. I was shown that you were doing this ignorantly, blinded by Satan. While engaged in this warfare you were not increasing in spirituality and devotion to God. You had not the witness that your ways pleased God. You had a zeal, but not according to knowledge. You had no experience in my calling, had scarcely seen me, and had no knowledge of my work.
Brother V, you possess qualifications which would make you of special service in the church at —–, or in any other church, were your talents devoted to the upbuilding of the cause of God. I saw that your children were now in a state to be impressed with the truth, and Jesus was pleading for you, Brother V: “Spare him a little longer.” I was shown that if you were converted to the truth, you would make a pillar in the church, and could honor God by your influence, sanctified through the truth.
I saw angels of mercy hovering about Brother V. I was shown that he was greatly deceived in the moral worth and standing before God of that class who have withdrawn from the body. A few honest ones are among them; these will be rescued; but the most of them have long been unconsecrated in heart, and the close testimonies have been in their way, a yoke of bondage to them. They have thrown off the yoke and retained their corrupt ways. God calls upon you to separate from them. Cut loose from these whose delight it is to war against the truth of God. A little from this, true character will be developed. They are of that class who love and make a lie.
If your whole interest is in the truth and the preparatory work for this time you will be sanctified through the truth and receive a fitness for immortality. You are in danger of being too exacting with your children and not as patient as is necessary. The thorough work of preparation must go on with all who profess the truth, until we stand before the throne of God without fault, without a spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. God will cleanse you if you will submit to the purifying process.
Number Sixteen—Testimony for the Church
Chapter 13—Object of Personal Testimonies
Dear Brethren and Sisters,
The Lord has again manifested Himself to me. June 12, 1868, while speaking to the brethren in the house of worship at Battle Creek, Michigan, the Spirit of God came upon me, and in an instant I was in vision. The view was extensive. I had commenced to write the fifth volume of Spiritual Gifts; but as I had testimonies of a practical nature which you should have immediately, I left that work to prepare this little pamphlet.
In this last vision I was shown that which fully justifies my course in publishing personal testimonies. When the Lord singles out individual cases and specifies their wrongs, others, who have not been shown in vision, frequently take it for granted that they are right, or nearly so. If one is reproved for a special wrong, brethren and sisters should carefully examine themselves to see wherein they have failed and wherein they have been guilty of the same sin. They should possess the spirit of humble confession. If others think them right, it does not make them so. God looks at the heart. He is proving and testing souls in this manner. In rebuking the wrongs of one, He designs to correct many. But if they fail to take the reproof to themselves, and flatter themselves that God passes over their errors because He does not especially single them out, they deceive their own souls and will be shut up in darkness and be left to their own ways to follow the imagination of their own hearts.
Many are dealing falsely with their own souls and are in a great deception in regard to their true condition before God. He employs ways and means to best serve His purpose and to prove what is in the hearts of His professed followers. He makes plain the wrongs of some that others may thus be warned, and fear, and shun those errors. By self-examination they may find that they are doing the same things which God condemns in others. If they really desire to serve God, and fear to offend Him, they will not wait for their sins to be specified before they make confession and with humble repentance return unto the Lord. They will forsake the things which have displeased God, according to the light given to others. If, on the contrary, those who are not right see that they are guilty of the very sins that have been reproved in others, yet continue in the same unconsecrated course because they have not been specially named, they endanger their own souls, and will be led captive by Satan at his will.
Chapter 14—Moving to Battle Creek
In the vision given me June 12, 1868, I was shown that a great work might be accomplished in bringing souls to the knowledge of the truth, were proper exertions made. In every town, city, and village there are persons who would embrace the truth if it were brought before them in a judicious manner. Missionaries are needed among us, self-sacrificing missionaries, who, like our great Exemplar, would not please themselves, but live to do others good.
I was shown that as a people we are deficient. Our works are not in accordance with our faith. Our faith testifies that we are living under the proclamation of the most solemn and important message that was ever given to mortals. Yet in full view of this fact, our efforts, our zeal, our spirit of self-sacrifice, do not compare with the character of the work. We should awake from the dead, and Christ will give us life.
With many of our brethren and sisters there is a strong inclination to live in Battle Creek. Families have been coming from all directions to reside there, and many more have their faces set that way. Some who have come to Battle Creek held offices in the little churches from which they moved, and their help and strength were needed there. When such arrive at Battle Creek, and meet with the numerous Sabbathkeepers there, they frequently feel that their testimonies are not needed, and their talent is therefore buried.
Some choose Battle Creek because of the religious privileges it affords, yet wonder that their spirituality decreases after their sojourn there a few months. Is there not a cause? The object of many has been to advantage themselves pecuniarily—to engage in business which will yield them greater profits. Their expectations in this particular may be realized, while they have dearth of soul and become dwarfed in spiritual things. They take no special burden upon themselves because they think they would be out of place. They do not know where to take hold to labor in so large a church, and therefore become idlers in their Master’s vineyard. All who pursue this course only increase the labor of those who have the burden of the work in the church. They are as so many dead weights. There are many in Battle Creek who are fast becoming withered branches.
Some who have been workers, and who have an experience in the cause of present truth, move to Battle Creek and lay off their burden. Instead of feeling the necessity of double energy, watchfulness, prayer, and diligent performance of duty, they do scarcely anything at all. Those who have burdens to bear in the office, and have not time for duties aside from their work, are obliged to fill responsible positions in the church and to perform important, taxing labor which if they do not do will remain undone because these others will not take the burden.
Brethren who wish to change their location, who have the glory of God in view, and feel that individual responsibility rests upon them to do others good, to benefit and save souls for whom Christ withheld not His precious life, should move into towns and villages where there is but little or no light and where they can be of real service and bless others with their labor and experience. Missionaries are wanted to go into towns and villages and raise the standard of truth, that God may have His witnesses scattered all over the land, that the light of truth may penetrate where it has not yet reached, and the standard of truth be raised where it is not yet known. The brethren should not flock together because it is more agreeable to them, but should seek to fulfill their high calling to do others good, to be instrumental in the salvation of at least one soul. But more may be saved than one.
The sole object of this work should not be merely to increase our reward in heaven. Some are selfish in this respect. In view of what Christ has done for us, and what He has suffered for sinners, we should, out of pure, disinterested love for souls, imitate His example by sacrificing our own pleasure and convenience for their good. The joy set before Christ, which sustained Him in all His sufferings, was the salvation of poor sinners. This should be our joy and the spur of our ambition in the cause of our Master. In so doing we please God and manifest our love and devotion to Him as His servants. He first loved us, and withheld not from us His beloved Son, but gave Him from His bosom to die that we might have life. Love, true love for our fellow men, evinces love to God. We may make a high profession, yet without this love it is nothing. Our faith may lead us to even give our bodies to be burned, yet without self-sacrificing love, such as lived in the bosom of Jesus and was exemplified in His life, we are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
There are families that receive spiritual strength by moving to Battle Creek. It is just the place to help some, while it is the wrong place for others. Brother and Sister A are a sample of the class who may be benefited in moving to this place. The Lord directed them to take this course. Battle Creek was just the place to benefit them, and has proved a blessing to the entire family. They have, in coming here, gained strength to plant their feet firmly upon the platform of truth, and if they continue in the path of humble obedience they may rejoice for the help they have received in Battle Creek.
Chapter 15—Caution to Ministers
In the vision given me June 12, 1868, I was deeply impressed with the great work to be accomplished to prepare a people for the coming of the Son of man. I saw that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Many who are at the present time in the field, laboring to save souls, are feeble. They have borne heavy burdens, which have tried and worn them. Yet, I was shown that with some of our ministers there has been too great an expenditure of strength which was not actually required. Some pray too long and too loud, which greatly exhausts their feeble strength and needlessly expends their vitality; others frequently make their discourses one third or one half longer than they should. In so doing they become excessively weary, the interest of the people decreases before the discourse closes, and much is lost to them, for they cannot retain it. One half that was said would have been better than more. Although all the matter may be important, the success would be much greater were the praying and talking less lengthy. The result would be reached without so great weariness. They are needlessly using up their strength and vitality, which, for the good of the cause, it is so necessary to retain. It is the long-protracted effort, after laboring to the point of weariness, which wears and breaks.
I saw that it was this extra labor, when the system was exhausted, that consumed the life of dear Brother Sperry and brought him prematurely to the grave. Had he worked with reference to health he might have lived to labor until the present time. It was, also, this extra labor that exhausted the life force of our dear Brother Cranson and caused his life of usefulness to be extinguished.
Much singing, as well as protracted praying and talking, is extremely wearing. In most cases our ministers should not continue their efforts longer than one hour. They should leave preliminaries and come to the subject at once, and should study to close the discourse while the interest is the greatest. They should not continue the effort until their hearers desire them to cease speaking. Much of this extra labor is lost upon the people, who are often too weary to be benefited by what they may hear; and who can tell how great is the loss sustained by the ministers who thus labor? In the end nothing is gained by this draft upon the vitality.
Frequently the strength is exhausted at the commencement of a protracted effort. And at the very time when there is much to be gained or lost, the devoted minister of Christ, who has an interest, a will to labor, cannot command the strength. He has used it up in singing, in lengthy prayers and protracted preaching, and the victory is lost for want of earnest, well-directed labor at the right time. The golden moment is lost. The impressions made were not followed up. It would have been better had no interest been awakened; for when convictions have been once resisted and overcome, it is very difficult to impress the mind again with the truth.
I was shown that if our ministers would exercise care to preserve their strength, instead of needlessly expending it, their judicious, well-directed labor would accomplish more in a year than could be accomplished by long talking, praying, and singing, which are so wearisome and exhausting. In the latter case, the people are frequently deprived of labor which they much need at the right time, for the laborer is in need of rest and will endanger his health and life if he continues his effort.
Our dear Brethren Matteson and D. T. Bourdeau have made a mistake here, and should reform in their manner of labor. They should speak short and pray short. They should come to the point at once and stop short of exhaustion in their labors. They can both accomplish more good by doing this, and at the same time preserve strength to continue the labors which they love, without breaking down entirely.
Chapter 16—Look to Jesus
In the vision given me June 12, 1868, I was shown the danger of the people of God in looking to Brother and Sister White and thinking that they must come to them with their burdens and seek counsel of them. This ought not so to be. They are invited by their compassionate, loving Saviour to come unto Him, when weary and heavy-laden, and He will relieve them. In Him they will find rest. In taking their perplexities and trials to Jesus, they will find the promise in regard to them fulfilled. When in their distress they feel the relief which is found alone in Jesus they obtain an experience which is of the highest value to them. Brother and Sister White are striving for purity of life, striving to bring forth fruit unto holiness; yet they are only erring mortals. Many come to us with the inquiry: Shall I do this? Shall I engage in that enterprise? Or, in regard to dress, Shall I wear this or that article? I answer them: You profess to be disciples of Christ. Study your Bibles. Read carefully and prayerfully the life of our dear Saviour when He dwelt among men upon the earth. Imitate His life, and you will not be found straying from the narrow path. We utterly refuse to be conscience for you. If we tell you just what to do, you will look to us to guide you, instead of going directly to Jesus for yourselves. Your experience will be founded in us. You must have an experience for yourselves, which shall be founded in God. Then can you stand amid the perils of the last days and be purified and not consumed by the fire of affliction through which all the saints must pass in order to have the impurities removed from their character preparatory to receiving the finishing touch of immortality.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 109-118