You can now face rightabout, heed the call of mercy, and live. Rejoice that your probation has not ended, that you may now, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life. Rejoice that she who has been your faithful companion for years shall rise again, that mortality will be swallowed up of life. Look forward to the morning of the resurrection, when she who shared your joys and sorrows for more than a score of years will come forth from her prison house. Will you have her look for you, her companion, in vain? Will you be missing then, as her voice is raised in triumph and victory: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Oh, that day will bring honor to the saints! No shame, no reproach, no suffering then; but peace, joy, and immortal praise upon every redeemed tongue! Oh, that God would speak to your heart and impress you with the value of eternal life. And may you be led, my brother, to ever possess a spirit of noble generosity, that you may discharge the duties of your stewardship with faithfulness, having an eye single to the glory of God, that the Master may say to you: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: … enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Chapter 32—Danger of Riches
I was shown that some are deceived in regard to themselves. They look to those who have much property, and feel that these are the only ones who have a love of the world, and who are in any special danger of covetousness. But this is not the case. Those who have means are constantly in danger, and are accountable for all the talents of means which the Master has entrusted to their care. But those who have little of this world are frequently self-caring, and do not do that which is in their power to do, and which God requires them to do. They frequently have opportunities to do good, but they have so long cared for self, and studied self-interest, that they think there is no other way for them to do.
I was shown that Brother and Sister E are in danger of having their thoughts centered too much upon themselves; especially is Sister E at fault here. She has almost supreme love for herself. You, my sister, are poorly prepared to stand amid the perils of the day of God. You do not imitate the true Pattern, Jesus. There was not one selfish act in His whole life. You have a work to do for yourself which no one can do for you. Divest yourself of selfishness, and learn the mind and will of God. Study to show yourself approved unto God. You are impulsive, and are naturally irritable and peevish. You work far beyond your strength. There is no virtue in this, for God does not require it. A selfish disposition is at the bottom of this. Your motives are not praiseworthy. You shun responsibility and caretaking, and have felt that you should be favored. It is to be regretted that from your childhood you have been petted and favored, and your will left unsubdued. Now, at a more advanced age, you have the work to do which should have been done in your childhood. Your husband has yielded to your wishes and indulged your whims, to your injury.
Selfishness, which manifests itself in a variety of ways according to circumstances and the peculiar organization of individuals, must die. If you had children, and your mind were compelled to be called away from yourself to care for them, to instruct them, and be an example to them, it would be an advantage to you. You have called forth in your home the attention and forbearance which are required to be exercised toward children. This attention you require and will have. But you have not thought it any part of your duty to care for, or seek to advantage, others. You are willful and very set to carry out your own plans. When everything is smooth in your pathway, you manifest the fruits we expect to see borne by a Christian; but when your path is crossed, the result is the opposite. Like a spoiled child which deserves chastisement, you have a spell of perverse willfulness. When two compose a family, as in your case, and there are no children to call into exercise patience, forbearance, and true love, there is need of constant watchfulness lest selfishness obtain the supremacy, lest you yourselves become the center, and you require attention, care, and interest, which you feel under no obligation to bestow upon others. The care of children in a family makes it necessary that a large portion of the time be spent at home, giving opportunity for the culture of mind and heart in connection with the ordinary cares of domestic life.
You neglect to keep your heart, and neglect to do good with the means which God has given you. Your influence could benefit did you feel that anything was required of you toward those who need help, who need encouraging and strengthening. But you have so long studied your pleasure that you are disqualified to benefit those around you. You need to discipline yourself in order that your affections and thoughts may be brought into subjection. Take time for self-examination, that you may bring all your powers in subjection to the mind and will of God. You are shut up to self. It is the privilege of every true Christian to exert an influence for good over everyone with whom he associates.
You, my sister, will be rewarded according as your works have been. Closely investigate your motives, and candidly decide whether you are rich in good works. I was pointed back to last spring, when the Lord was doing a good work in —– and vicinity. Angels of mercy were hovering over His people, and hearts which knew not God and the truth were deeply stirred. The Lord would have carried forward the work He so graciously commenced, had the brethren been in working order. You had so long consulted your own wishes, and caused everything to bend to your convenience, that the possibility that you might be inconvenienced led you to close the door which you might have opened to advance the cause.
You acted your part, and some others felt to draw back, fearing the expense and calculating that they would lose time in attending meetings if the effort should be made. Christian zeal was lacking. A world was before us lying in wickedness, exposed to the wrath of God, and poor souls were held by the prince of darkness; and yet those who ought to be awake and engaged in the noblest of all enterprises, the salvation of perishing souls, had not interest enough to call into action every means they could employ to hedge up the path to destruction and to turn the footsteps of the faltering ones into the path of life. Eternal life should engage the deepest interest of every Christian. To be a co-worker with Christ and the heavenly angels in the great plan of salvation! What work can bear any comparison with this! From every soul saved there comes to God a revenue of glory to be reflected upon the one saved and also upon the one instrumental in his salvation.
Chapter 33—Christian Zeal
There is a noisy zeal, without aim or purpose, which is not according to knowledge, which is blind in its operations and destructive in its results. This is not Christian zeal. Christian zeal is controlled by principle and is not spasmodic. It is earnest, deep, and strong, engaging the whole soul and arousing to exercise the moral sensibilities. The salvation of souls and the interests of the kingdom of God are matters of the highest importance. What object is there that calls for greater earnestness than the salvation of souls and the glory of God? There are considerations here which cannot be lightly regarded. They are as weighty as eternity. Eternal destinies are at stake. Men and women are deciding for weal or woe. Christian zeal will not exhaust itself in talk, but will feel and act with vigor and efficiency. Yet Christian zeal will not act for the sake of being seen. Humility will characterize every effort and be seen in every work. Christian zeal will lead to earnest prayer and humiliation, and to faithfulness in home duties. In the family circle will be seen the gentleness and love, benevolence and compassion, which are ever the fruits of Christian zeal.
I was shown that you must make an advance move. Your treasure in heaven, Sister E, is not large. You are not rich toward God. May the Lord open your eyes to see and your heart to feel, and cause you to manifest Christian zeal. Oh, how few feel the worth of souls! How few are willing to sacrifice to bring souls to the knowledge of Christ! There is much talking, much professed love for perishing souls; but talk is cheap stuff. It is earnest Christian zeal that is wanted—a zeal that will be manifested by doing something. All must now work for themselves, and when they have Jesus in their hearts they will confess Him to others. No more could a soul who possesses Christ be hindered from confessing Him than could the waters of Niagara be stopped from flowing over the falls.
I was shown that Brother F is buried in the rubbish of the world. He cannot afford time to serve God, not even to earnestly study and pray to know what the Lord would have him do. His talent is buried in the earth. The cares of this life have swallowed up his interest in eternal things. The kingdom of God and the righteousness of Christ are secondary. He loves business; but I saw that unless he changes his course, the hand of God will be against him. He may gather, but God will scatter. He could do good. But many have the idea that if their life is a working, business life, they can do nothing for the salvation of souls, nothing to advance the cause of their Redeemer. They say they cannot do things by the halves, and therefore turn from religious duties and religious exercises, and bury themselves up in the world. They make their business primary, and forget God, and He is displeased with them. If any are engaged in business where they cannot advance in the divine life and perfect holiness in the fear of God, they should change to a business in which they can have Jesus with them every hour.
Brother F, you do not honor your profession. Your zeal is a worldly zeal, your interest a worldly interest. You are dying spiritually. You understand not your perilous condition. The love of the world is swallowing up your religion. You must awake; you must seek God and repent of your backslidings. In contrition take words and return to the Lord. Your religious duties have become merely a form. You do not enjoy religion; for this enjoyment is dependent upon willing obedience. The willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land. You do not possess a bright evidence that you will dwell with God in His kingdom. You occasionally engage in the outward performance of religious duties, but your heart is not in the exercise. You occasionally drop a word of warning to sinners, or a word in favor of the truth; but it is a reluctant service, as though rendered to a taskmaster, instead of the cheerful service of filial affection. If your heart is aglow with Christian zeal, the most arduous duties will be pleasant and easy.
Why the Christian life is so difficult to many is that they have a divided heart. They are double-minded, which makes them unstable in all their ways. Were they richly imbued with Christian zeal, which is ever the result of consecration to God, instead of the mournful cry, “My leanness, my leanness,” the language of the soul would be: “Hear what the Lord has done for me.” Even if you are saved, which is very doubtful, in the course you are pursuing, how limited will be the good you have accomplished. Not a soul will be saved by your instrumentality. Will the Master say to you: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”? What have you been doing faithfully? Hard work in the business and cares of this life. Will this bring from the lips of Christ the gracious words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”?
My brother, Jesus loves you, and He invites you to face rightabout, and take your eyes from the earth, and fix them upon the mark for the prize of your high calling, which is in Christ Jesus. Cease lightness and trifling. Let a solemn weight of the time in which we live be borne by you till the war is over. Go to work; if consecrated to God, your influence will tell.
Most of the family of Brother G are in the downward road. H lives an aimless life. She is full of folly, vanity, and pride. Her influence does not tend to ennoble, does not lead to goodness and holiness. She does not like the restraint which religion imposes; therefore she will not yield her heart to its sacred sway. She loves self, loves pleasure, and is seeking for her own enjoyment. Sad, sad indeed will be the result, unless she now turns square about and seeks for genuine godliness. She might exert a softening, ennobling, and elevating influence over her brothers. God loves these children, but they are not Christians. If they would try to live humble Christian lives, they could become children of the light and workers for God; they could be missionaries in their own family and among their associates.
Chapter 34—Responsibilities of the Young
If the youth could only see how much good it is in their power to accomplish, if they would make God their strength and wisdom, they would no longer pursue a course of careless indifference toward Him; they would no longer be swayed by the influence of those who are unconsecrated. Instead of feeling that an individual responsibility rests upon them to put forth efforts to do others good, and lead others to righteousness, they give themselves up to seek their own amusement. They are useless members of society, and live as aimless lives as do the butterflies. The young may have a knowledge of the truth, and believe it, but not live it. Such possess a dead faith. Their hearts are not reached so as to affect their conduct and character in the sight of God, and they are no nearer doing His will than are unbelievers. Their hearts do not conform to the will of God; they are at enmity with Him. Those who are devoted to amusements, and who love the society of pleasure seekers, have an aversion to religious exercises. Will the Master say to these youth who profess His name, Well done, good and faithful servants, unless they are good and faithful?
The young are in great danger. Great evil results from their light reading. Much time is lost which should be spent in useful employment. Some would even deprive themselves of sleep to finish some ridiculous love story. The world is flooded with novels of every description. Some are not of as dangerous a character as others. Some are immoral, low, and vulgar; others are clothed with more refinement; but all are pernicious in their influence. Oh, that the young would reflect upon the influence which exciting stories have upon the mind! Can you, after such reading, open the word of God and read the words of life with interest? Do you not find the book of God uninteresting? The charm of that love story is upon the mind, destroying its healthy tone, and making it impossible for you to fix your mind upon the important, solemn truths which concern your eternal interest. You sin against your parents in devoting to such a poor purpose the time which belongs to them, and you sin against God in thus using the time which should be spent in devotion to Him.
It is the duty of the youth to encourage sobriety. Lightness, jesting, and joking will result in barrenness of soul and the loss of the favor of God. Many of you think you do not exert a bad influence upon others, and thus feel in a measure satisfied; but do you exert an influence for good? Do you seek in your conversation and acts to lead others to the Saviour, or, if they profess Christ, to lead them to a closer walk with Him?
The young should cultivate a spirit of devotion and piety. They cannot glorify God unless they constantly aim to attain unto the fullness of the stature of Christ—perfection in Christ Jesus. Let the Christian graces be and abound in you. Give to your Saviour your best and holiest affections. Render entire obedience to His will. He will accept nothing short of this. Be not moved from your steadfastness by the jeers and scoffs of those whose minds are given to vanity. Follow your Saviour through evil as well as good report; count it all joy, and a sacred honor, to bear the cross of Christ. Jesus loves you. He died for you. Unless you seek to serve Him with your undivided affections, you will fail to perfect holiness in His fear, and you will be compelled to hear at last the fearful word, Depart.
Chapter 35—Servants of Mammon
The case of Brother I is fearful. This world is his god; he worships money. He has not heeded the warning given him years ago and overcome his love of the world while in the exercise of all his faculties. The dollars which he has since accumulated have been like so many cords to entangle his soul and bind him to the world. As he has gained in property he has become more greedy for gain. All the powers of his being are devoted to the one object, securing money. This has been the burden of his thoughts, the anxiety of his life. He has turned all the powers of his being in this one direction until, to all intents and purposes, he is a worshiper of mammon. Upon this subject he is insane. His example before his family is leading them to think that property is to be valued before heaven and immortality. He has for years been educating his mind to acquire property. He is sacrificing his eternal interest for treasures upon the earth. He believes the truth, he loves the principles of truth, and loves to see others prospering in the truth; but he has made himself so thoroughly a slave to mammon that he feels bound to serve this master as long as he shall live. But the longer he lives the more devoted will he become to his love of gain, unless he tears away from this terrible god, money. It will be like tearing out his vitals, but it must be done if he values heaven.
He needs the censure of none, but the pity of all. His life has been a terrible mistake. He has suffered imaginary pecuniary want, while surrounded with plenty. Satan has taken possession of his mind and, exciting his organ of acquisitiveness, has made him insane upon this subject. The higher, nobler powers of his being have been brought very much into subjection to this close, selfish propensity. His only hope is in breaking the bands of Satan and overcoming this evil in his character. He has tried to do this by doing something after his conscience has been wrought upon, but this is not sufficient. This merely making a mighty effort and parting with a little of his mammon, and feeling all the time that he is parting with his soul, is not the fruit of true religion. He must train his mind to good works. He must brace against his propensity to acquire. He must weave good works into all his life. He must cultivate a love for doing good, and get above the little, penurious spirit which he has fostered.
In trading with the merchants at —–, Brother and Sister I do not take a course which is pleasing to God. They will dicker to get things as cheap as they possibly can, and linger over a difference of a few pennies, and talk in regard to it as though money was their all—their god. If they could only be brought back, unobserved, to hear the remarks that are made after they leave, they would get a clearer idea of the influence of penuriousness. Our faith is brought into disrepute, and God is blasphemed by some on account of this close, penny dealing. Angels turn away in disgust. Everything in heaven is noble and elevated. All seek the interest and happiness of others. No one devotes himself to looking out and caring for self. It is the chief joy of all holy beings to witness the joy and happiness of those around them.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 229-238