When these angels come to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, and witness the exhibition of selfishness, of covetousness, of overreaching, and benefiting self at others’ disadvantage, they turn away in grief. When they see those who claim to be heirs to an immortal inheritance so penurious in dealing with those who do not profess any higher ambition than to be laying up treasures on earth, they turn away in shame; for holy truth is reproached.
In no way could the Lord be better glorified and the truth more highly honored than for unbelievers to see that the truth has wrought a great and good work upon the lives of naturally covetous and penurious men. If it could be seen that the faith of such had an influence to mold their characters, to change them from close, selfish, overreaching, money-loving men to men who love to do good, who seek opportunities to use their means to bless those who need to be blessed, who visit the widow and fatherless in their affliction, and who keep themselves unspotted from the world, it would be an evidence that their religion was genuine. Such would let their light so shine that others seeing their good works would be led to glorify their Father which is in heaven. This fruit would be unto holiness, and they would be living representatives of Christ upon the earth. Sinners would be convicted that there is in the truth a power to which they are strangers. Those who profess to be waiting and watching for the appearing of their Lord should not disgrace their profession by bantering in deal and standing for the last penny. Such fruit does not grow upon the Christian tree.
Brother I, the Lord is not willing that you should perish, but would rather that you should take hold of His strength and make peace with Him by a conformity of your will to His divine will. If a faithful picture of your course in money getting could be presented before you, you would be terrified. You would be disgusted with your closeness, your penuriousness, your love of money. You would make it the effort of your life to obtain the transforming grace of God, which would make you a new man. The means which came to you from relatives was a curse to you. It only increased your money-loving propensity, and was an additional weight to sink you to perdition.
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” When men employ their powers of mind and body in obtaining riches, and are content with the pleasure of laying up wealth which they can never use, and which will prove an injury to their children, they abuse the powers which God has given them. They show that their characters have been made sordid by the absorbing pursuit of gain. Instead of realizing happiness, they are miserable. They have shut up their souls to the wants of the needy, and have given evidence that they had no compassion for the suffering.
My brother, your heart is not callous to the wants and necessities of others. You have generous impulses, and you love to accommodate. Frequently you will readily do a kind act for a brother or a neighbor; but you make money your god, and are in danger of valuing heaven less than you value your money. In money getting there is always danger unless the grace of God is the ruling principle of the soul. When Christians are controlled by the principles of heaven, they will dispense with one hand, while the other gains. This is the only rational and healthy position a Christian can occupy while having and still making money. We would ask Brother I: What are you going to do with your money? You are God’s steward. You possess talents of means and can do much good with them. You can deposit in the bank of heaven by being rich in good works. Bless others with your life. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Remember that the treasures laid up in heaven are not lost. They are secured to yourselves by a judicious use of the means of which Heaven has made you stewards. “Charge them that are rich in this world,” says the apostle, “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.”
There is danger, Brother I, of your life’s being lost, and the gifts which God has bestowed upon you being surrendered to the devil, and you led captive by him at his will. Can you bear the thought? Can you for this short life choose to serve self, and love your money, and then part with it all, and have no title to heaven, no right to the life which is eternal? You have a mighty struggle before you to separate your affections from this earth’s treasure. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Watch, pray, work, are the Christian’s watchwords. Arouse yourself, I implore you. Seek for those things which are enduring. The things of this earth must soon pass away. Are you ready to exchange worlds? Are you forming a character for everlasting life? If lost at last, you will know what proved your ruin—the love of money. You will cry in bitter anguish: “Oh, the deceitfulness of riches! I have lost my soul. I sold it for money. My soul and body I bartered for gain. I sacrificed heaven, fearing that I should have to sacrifice my money to obtain it.” From the Master will be heard: Take ye the unprofitable servant, bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness. We hope this will not be your fate. We hope you will remove your treasure to heaven, and transfer your affections, and fasten them upon God and the immortal treasure.
I have seen that the entire family were in danger of partaking, in a degree, of the father’s spirit. Sister I, you have already partaken of this spirit. God help you to see it and make an entire change. Cultivate a love for doing good; seek to be rich in good works. In many things you can do more than you do. You have an individual responsibility before God. You have a duty to do, from which you cannot be excused. Maintain a close walk with God; pray without ceasing. You will have close work if you save your soul. Seek to have a counteracting influence in your family. Take your stand nobly for God. Your organization is unlike your husband’s, and you will be condemned of God unless you act for yourself. Make diligent work in saving your own soul, and in exerting an influence to save your family. Let your example show that your treasure is in heaven, that you have invested all in a better home and a better life, which are eternal. Train your mind to value heavenly things, to be elevated, to love God, and to manifest a willing obedience to His will.
You may be tested; you may be proved to see how strong your affection is for the things of this world. You may be made to understand a page of your heart with which you are now unacquainted. God knows your trials as you view the state of your husband and children, who so greatly lack saving faith. Much more depends upon you than you realize. You should put the armor on. Spend not your precious strength in exhaustive labor which another can do. Encourage your daughter to engage in useful employment and to aid you in bearing the burdens of life. She needs discipline. Her mind is vain. She needs to render all to God; then she can be useful and please her Redeemer.
My sister, work less, and pray and meditate more. Eternal interests should be primary with you. God forbid that your children should be molded into money lovers. True refinement and gentleness of manners can never be found in a home where selfishness reigns. The truly refined always have brains and hearts, always have consideration for others. True refinement does not find satisfaction in the adornment and display of the body. True refinement and nobility of soul will be seen in efforts to bless and elevate others. The weight of eternal things rests very lightly upon your children. May God arouse them before it shall be too late, and they exclaim in anguish: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
Brother J, your case was presented before me. You occupy a responsible position. You are entrusted with talents of money and of influence. To every man is given a work—something to do, not merely to engage his brain, bone, and muscle in common labor; it means more than this. You are acquainted with this work from a worldly point of view, and have some experience in it in a religious capacity. But for a few years past you have been losing time, and now you will have to work fast to redeem the past. To possess talents is not enough; you must so use them as to advantage not merely yourself but Him who bestowed them. All that you have is a loan from your Lord. He will require it again at your hand with interest.
Christ has a right to your services. You have become His servant by grace. You are not to serve your own interest, but the interest of Him who has employed you. As a professed Christian you are under obligations to God. It is not your own property that is entrusted to you for investment. Had it been so, you might have consulted your own pleasure in regard to its use. The capital is the Lord’s, and you are responsible for its use or abuse. There are ways in which this capital can be so invested—put out to the exchangers—that it shall be earning the Lord something. If it is allowed to be buried in the earth, neither the Lord nor you will be benefited, and you will lose all that was entrusted to you. May God help you, my brother, to realize your true position as God’s hired servant. By His own suffering and death He has paid the wages to secure your willing service and ready obedience.
During the trials of the past few years, you have suffered in mind, and have felt it a relief to turn your attention more fully to the things of the world, to the work of acquiring property. God, in His great love and mercy to you, has again gathered you into His fold. New duties and responsibilities are now laid upon you. You have a strong love for this world. You have been laying up treasures upon the earth. Jesus now invites you to transfer your treasure to heaven; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. In all your deal with your brethren and with unbelievers, guard yourself. Be true to your profession, and maintain true nobleness of soul, which shall be a credit to the truth which you profess.
You occupy a position where others are looking to you. You possess more than ordinary intellect. You are a man of quick perceptions, and you feel deeply. Some of your brethren have not moved in wisdom. They have watched you, and have felt over your case, and have wished to see you more liberal with your means. They have made themselves unhappy over your case. All this is needless in them. These very ones lack in many things, and if they are faithful in the humble service the Master requires of them they will have all that they can do. They cannot afford to waste their time in anxiously fearing lest their neighbor, who has a larger work entrusted to him, shall fail to do his work well. While they are so interested in the case of another, their own work is neglected, and they are really slothful servants. They were anxious to do their neighbor’s work instead of that committed to themselves to do.
They think that if they only had the five talents to handle, they could do much better than the one to whom these talents were entrusted. But the Master knew better than they. None need mourn that they cannot glorify God by talents He never gave them and for which they are not responsible. They need not say: “If I were in another’s position in life I would do a great amount of good with my capital.” God requires no more of them than to improve upon what they have, as stewards of His grace.
The one talent, the humblest service, if wholly consecrated, and exercised to promote the glory of God, will be as acceptable as the improvement of the weightiest talent. The varied trusts are proportioned to our varied capabilities. To every man is given according to his ability. None should slight his work, considering it so small that he need not be particular to do it well. If he does this he trifles with his moral responsibilities and despises the day of small things. Heaven apportions to all their work, and it should be their ambition to do this work well, according to their capabilities. God requires that all, the weakest as well as the strongest, fulfill their appointed work. The interest expected will be in proportion to the amount entrusted.
Each should diligently and interestedly attend to his own work, leaving others to their own Master, to stand or fall. There are too many busybodies in —–, too many who are interested in watching their brethren, and for this reason are constantly weak. They will bear testimony in meeting, and because they have not Jesus in their hearts to confess, they will try to impress upon their brethren their duty. These poor souls do not know their own duty, and yet they take the responsibility of enlightening others in regard to their duty. If such would attend to their own work, and obtain the grace of God in their hearts, there would be a power in the church which is now lacking.
Brother J, you can do good. You possess good judgment, and God is leading you out of darkness into the light. Use your talents to the glory of God. Put them out to the exchangers, that when the Master comes He may receive His own with usury. Break your tendrils from the valueless things of earth, and elevate them to entwine about God. The salvation of souls is of greater consequence than the whole world. One soul saved, to live throughout the ages of eternity, to praise God and the Lamb, is of more value than millions in money. Wealth sinks into insignificance when compared with the worth of souls for whom Christ died. You are a cautious man and will not move rashly. Sacrifice for the truth, and become rich toward God. May the Lord help you to move as fast as you should and place the right estimate upon eternal things.
Your children need a deeper work of grace in their hearts. They need to encourage sobriety and solidity of character. If consecrated to God, they can do good and exert an influence which will be saving upon their companions.
Let not the poor feel that there is nothing that they can do, because they have not the wealth of their brethren. They can sacrifice in many ways. They can deny self. They can live devoted lives, and in their words and acts they can honor their Redeemer. The sisters especially can exert a strong influence if they will cease their gossiping and devote their time to watchfulness and prayer. They can honor God. They can let their light so shine that others, by seeing their good works, will be led to glorify our Father which is in heaven.
As an illustration of the failure on your part to come up to the work of God, as was your privilege, I was referred to these words: “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” Judges 5:23. What had Meroz done? Nothing. And this was their sin. They came not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
Chapter 36—Sentimentalism and Matchmaking
Dear Sister K,
In the vision given me last June I was shown that you possess a firmness of character, a determination of purpose, savoring somewhat of stubbornness. You are unwilling to be led, yet you feel anxious to know and do the will of God. You have been deceived in yourself; you have not understood your own heart. You have thought that your will was in subjection to the will of God, but in this you have not judged aright. You have met with trials and have permitted your mind to dwell upon disappointed hopes. For some years back your life has taken a peculiar turn. There has seemed to be a spirit of unrest with you. You have not been happy, although there has been nothing in your surroundings which need to have cast so dark a shadow. You have not disciplined your mind to dwell upon cheerful subjects. You are capable of exerting a strong influence in favor of truth if you will only train your mind to run in the right channel. All your words and acts should be such as to honor your Redeemer, exalt His love, and magnify His charms.
You have fallen into the sad error which is so prevalent in this degenerate age, especially with women. You are too fond of the other sex. You love their society; your attention to them is flattering, and you encourage, or permit, a familiarity which does not always accord with the exhortation of the apostle, to “abstain from all appearance of evil.”
You do not really understand yourself. You are walking in darkness. You have had something to do with matchmaking. This is most uncertain business; for you do not know the heart and may make very bad work, thereby aiding the great rebel in his work of matchmaking. He is busily engaged in influencing those who are wholly unsuited to each other to unite their interests. He exults in this work, for by it he can produce more misery and hopeless woe to the human family than by exercising his skill in any other direction.
You have written many letters, which has greatly taxed you. These letters have dwelt somewhat upon the subjects of our faith and hope; but mixed with this have been close inquiries and guesses in regard to whether this one or that one was about to marry, and suggestions relative to marriage. You seem to know considerable about anticipated marriages, and write and talk upon these things. This only causes dearth to your soul. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” You have done great injustice to yourself in permitting your mind and conversation to dwell upon love and marriage. You have not been happy, because you have been seeking after happiness. This is not profitable business. When you seek earnestly to do your duty, and arouse yourself to minister unto others, then you will find rest of spirit. Your mind dwells upon yourself. It needs to be drawn away from yourself by seeking to lighten the cares of others; and in making them happy, you will find happiness and cheerfulness of spirit.
You have a diseased imagination. You have thought yourself diseased, but this has been more imaginary than real. You have been untrue to yourself. You have conversed with young men, and permitted a freedom in your presence which should only be permitted in a brother. I was shown that your influence at —– was not what it might have been. You permitted your mind to take a low level. You could chat, and laugh, and talk cheap talk unworthy of a Christian. Your deportment was not as it should have been. You appeared like a person without a backbone. You were half reclining upon others, which is a wrong position for a lady to occupy in the presence of others. If you had only thought so, you could have walked as well, and sat as erect, as many others. The condition of your mind leads to indolence and to a dread of exercise, when this exercise would prove one of the greatest means of your recovery. You will never recover unless you lay aside this listless, dreamy condition of mind and arouse yourself to do, to work while the day lasts. Do, as well as imagine and plan. Turn your mind away from romantic projects. You mingle with your religion a romantic, lovesick sentimentalism, which does not elevate, but only lowers. It is not yourself alone who is affected; others are injured by your example and influence.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 239-248