Your only safety was in implicit trust in Christ, your Saviour. There was no safety for you away from the cross. How weak human strength seemed in this instance! Oh, how evident that there is no real strength but that which God imparts to those who trust in Him! One petition offered up to God in faith has more power than a wealth of human intellect.
In your prosperity you did not carry out the resolves you had made in adversity. The deceitfulness of riches turned you from your purposes. Cares increased upon you. Your influence became extended. As the afflicted realized relief from suffering, they glorified you, and you learned to love praise from the lips of poor mortals. You were in a popular city, and thought it necessary for the success of your business, as well as to retain your influence, for your surroundings to be somewhat in accordance with your business. But you carried things too far. You were swayed too much by the opinions and judgment of others. You expended means needlessly, only to gratify the lust of the eye and the pride of life. You forgot that you were handling your Lord’s money. When means were expended by you which would only encourage vanity, you did not consider that the recording angel was making a record which you would blush to meet again. Said the angel, pointing to you: “You glorified yourself, but did not magnify God.” You even gloried in the fact that it was in your power to purchase these things.
A large sum has been expended in needless things which could only answer for show and encourage vanity and pride that will cause you remorse and shame. If you had borne in mind the claims Heaven has upon you and had made a right disposition of the means entrusted to your care, by helping the needy and advancing the cause of present truth, you would have been laying up treasure in heaven and would have been rich toward God. Consider how much means you have invested where no one has been really benefited, no one fed or clothed, and no one helped to see the error of his ways that he might turn to Christ and live.
You have made large investments in uncertain enterprises. Satan blinded your eyes so that you could not see that these enterprises would yield you no returns. The enterprise of securing eternal life did not awaken your interest. Here you could have expended means, and run no risks, met no disappointments, and in the end would have received immense profits. Here you could have invested in the never-failing bank of heaven. Here you could have bestowed your treasures where no thief approacheth nor rust corrupteth. This enterprise is eternal and is as much nobler than any earthly enterprise as the heavens are higher than the earth.
Your children were not disciples of Christ. They were in friendship with the world, and their natural hearts desired to be like worldlings. The lust of the eye and the pride of life controlled them and have influenced you to a certain extent. You have sought more earnestly to please and gratify your children than to please and glorify God. You have forgotten the claims of God upon you, and the wants of His cause. Selfishness has led you to expend money in ornaments for the gratification of yourself and your children. You did not think that this money was not yours; that it was only lent you to test and prove you, to see if you would shun the evils you had marked in others. God made you His steward, and when He cometh and reckoneth with His servants, what account can you give of your stewardship?
Your faith and simple trust in God began to wane as soon as means flowed in upon you. You did not depart from God all at once. Your backsliding was gradual. You ceased the morning and evening devotions because it was not always convenient. Your son’s wife caused you trials of a peculiar, aggravating character, which had considerable to do in discouraging you from continuing family devotions. Your house became a prayerless house. Your business was made primary, and the Lord and His truth were made secondary. Look back to the days of your earlier experience; would these trials then have driven you from family prayer?
Here, in the neglect of vocal prayer, you lost an influence in your house which you could have retained. It was your duty to acknowledge God in your family, irrespective of consequences. Your petitions should have been offered to God morning and evening. You should have been as priest of the household, confessing your sins and the sins of your children. Had you been faithful, God, who had been your guide, would not have left you to your own wisdom.
Means were expended needlessly for show. Over this sin in others you had felt deeply grieved. And while thus using means, you were robbing God. Then the Lord said: “I will scatter. I will permit her for a time to walk in the way of her own choosing. I will blind judgment, and remove wisdom. I will show her that her strength is weakness, and her wisdom foolishness. I will humble her, and open her eyes to see how far she has departed from Me. If she will not then turn unto Me with her whole heart, and in all her ways acknowledge Me, My hand shall scatter, and the pride of the mother and of the children shall be brought down, and poverty shall again be their lot. My name shall be exalted. The loftiness of man shall be brought down, and the pride of man shall be laid low.”
The above view was given December 25, 1865, in the city of Rochester, New York. Last June I was shown that the Lord was dealing with you in love, that He now invited you to turn to Him that you might live. I was shown that for years you have felt that you were in a backslidden state. If you had been consecrated to God you might have done a good and great work in letting your light shine to others. To everyone there is given a work to do for the Master. To each of His servants are committed special gifts, or talents. “Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability.” Every servant has some trust for which he is responsible; and the varied trusts are proportioned to our varied capabilities. In dispensing His gifts, God has not dealt with partiality. He has distributed the talents according to the known powers of His servants, and He expects corresponding returns.
In your earlier experience the Lord imparted to you talents of influence, but did not give you talents of means, and therefore did not expect you in your poverty to bestow that which you had not to give. Like the widow, you did give what you could, although, had you considered your own circumstances, you would have felt excused from doing even as much as you did. In your sickness, God did not require from you that active energy of which disease had deprived you. Though you were restricted in your influence and in your means, yet God accepted your efforts to do good and to advance His cause according to what you had, not according to what you had not. The Lord does not despise the humblest offering bestowed with readiness and sincerity.
You possess an ardent temperament. Earnestness in a good cause is praiseworthy. In your former trials and perplexity, you were obtaining an experience which was to be of advantage to others. You were zealous in the service of God. You loved to present the evidences of our position to those who did not believe present truth. You could speak with assurance, for these things were a reality to you. The truth was a part of your being; and those who listened to your earnest appeals had not a doubt of your honesty, but were convinced that these things were so.
In the providence of God your influence has been extended; in addition to this, God has seen fit to prove you by giving you talents of means. You are thereby laid under double responsibility. When your condition in life began to improve, you said: “As soon as I can get me a home, I will then donate to the cause of God.” But when you had a home you saw so many improvements to make to have everything about you convenient and pleasant that you forgot the Lord and His claims upon you, and were less inclined to help the cause of God than in the days of your poverty and affliction.
You were seeking friendship with the world, and separating further and further from God. You forgot the exhortation of Christ: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
There are three watchwords in the Christian life, which must be heeded if we would not have Satan steal a march upon us; namely, Watch, pray, work. Prayer and watching thereunto are necessary for advancement in the divine life. Never was there a time in your history more important than the present. Your only safety is to live like a watchman. Watch and pray always. Oh, what a preventive against yielding to temptation and falling into the snares of the world! How earnestly should you have been at work the past few years, when your influence was extensive.
Dear sister, the praise of men and the flattery current in the world have had greater influence upon you than you have been aware of. You have not been improving your talents—putting them out to the exchangers. You are naturally affectionate and generous. These traits of character have been exercised to a degree, but not as much as God requires. Merely possessing these excellent gifts is not enough; God requires them to be kept in constant exercise; for through them He blesses those who need to be helped, and carries forward His work for the salvation of man.
The Lord will not depend upon niggardly souls to take care of the worthy poor nor to sustain His cause. Such are too narrow-minded; they would grudge the smallest pittance to the needy in their distress. They would also want the cause narrowed down to meet their limited ideas. To save means would be the prominent idea with them. Their money would be more valuable to them than precious souls for whom Christ died. The lives of such, so far as God and heaven are concerned, are worse than a blank. God will not trust His important work with them.
“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.” What had Meroz done? Nothing. This was their sin. The curse of God came upon them for what they had not done. The man with a selfish, narrow mind is responsible for his niggardliness, but those who have kindly affections, generous impulses, and a love for souls are laid under weighty responsibilities; for if they allow these talents to remain unemployed and to waste they are classed with unfaithful servants. The mere possession of these gifts is not enough. Those who have them should realize that their obligations and responsibilities are increased.
The Master will require each of His stewards to give an account of his stewardship, to show what he has gained with the talents entrusted to him. Those to whom rewards are given will impute no merit to themselves for their diligent trading; they will give all the glory to God. They speak of that which was delivered to them, as “Thy pound,” not their own. When they speak of their gain, they are careful to state whence it came. The capital was advanced by the Master. They have traded upon it successfully, and return the principal and interest to the Giver. He rewards their efforts as if the merit belonged to them, when they owe all to the grace and mercy of the bountiful Giver. His words of unqualified approval fall upon their ears: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
To you, my sister, are committed talents of influence and talents of money; and your responsibility is great. You should move cautiously and in the fear of God. Your wisdom is weakness, but the wisdom from above is strong. The Lord designs to enlighten your darkness and again give you a glimpse of the heavenly treasure, that you may have some sense of the comparative value of both worlds, and then leave you to choose between this world and the eternal inheritance. I saw that there was yet opportunity to return to the fold. Jesus has redeemed you by His own blood, and He requires you to employ your talents in His service. You have not become hardened to the influence of the Holy Spirit. When the truth of God is presented, it meets a response in your heart.
I saw that you should study every move. You should do nothing rashly. Let God be your counselor. He loves your children, and it is right that you should love them; but it is not right to give them the place in your affections that the Lord claims. They have kind impulses and generous purposes. They possess noble traits of character. If they would only see their need of a Saviour, and bow at the foot of the cross, they might exert an influence for good. They are now lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. They now stand in the enemy’s ranks, under the black banner of Satan. Jesus invites them to come to Him, to leave the ranks of the enemy, and to stand under the bloodstained banner of the cross of Christ.
This will look to them like a work they cannot perform, for it will require too much self-denial. They have no experimental knowledge of the way. Those who have engaged in their country’s warfare, and been subjected to the hardships, toils, and perils of a soldier’s life, should be the last to hesitate and manifest cowardice in this great warfare for everlasting life. In this case they will be fighting for a crown of life and an immortal inheritance. Their wages will be sure, and when the war is over their gain will be everlasting life, happiness unalloyed, and an eternal weight of glory.
Satan will oppose every effort they may make. He will present the world before them in its most attractive light, as he did to the Saviour of the world when he tempted Him forty days in the wilderness. Christ overcame all the temptations of Satan, and so may your children. They are serving a hard master. The wages of sin is death. They cannot afford to sin. They will find it expensive business. They will meet with eternal loss in the end. They will lose the mansions Jesus has gone to prepare for those who love Him, and will lose that life which measures with the life of God. And this is not all. They must suffer the wrath of an offended God for having withheld from Him their service and given all their efforts to His worst enemy. Your children have not yet had the clear light, and condemnation only follows the rejection of light.
If professed Christians were all sincere and earnest in their efforts to promote the glory of God, what a stir would be made in the enemy’s ranks. Satan is earnest and sincere in his work. He does not want souls saved. He does not want his power upon them broken. Satan does not merely pretend. He is in earnest. He beholds Christ inviting souls to come to Him that they may have life, and he is earnest and zealous in his efforts to prevent them from accepting the invitation. He will leave no means untried to prevent them from leaving his ranks and standing in the ranks of Christ. Why cannot the professed followers of Jesus do as much for Him as His enemies do against Him? Why not do all they can? Satan does all he can to keep souls from Christ. He was once an honored angel in heaven, and although he has lost his holiness, he has not lost his power. He exerts his power with terrible effect. He does not wait for his prey to come to him. He hunts for it. He goes to and fro in the earth like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He does not always wear the ferocious look of the lion, but when he can work to better effect he transforms himself into an angel of light. He can readily exchange the roar of the lion for the most persuasive arguments or for the softest whisper. He has legions of angels to aid him in his work. He often conceals his snares, and allures by pleasing deception. He charms and deludes many by flattering their vanity. Through his agents he presents the pleasures of the world in an attractive light, and strews the path to hell with tempting flowers, and thus souls are charmed and ruined. After every advance step in the downward road, Satan has some special temptation to lead them still further on the wrong track.
If your children were controlled by religious principles, they would be fortified against the vice and corruption surrounding them in this degenerate age. God will be to them a tower of strength, if they will put their trust in Him. “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” The Lord will be the guide of their youth if they will believe and trust in Him.
My dear sister, the Lord has been very merciful to you and your family. You are laid under obligation to your heavenly Father to praise and glorify His holy name upon the earth. In order to continue in His love, you should labor constantly for humbleness of mind and that meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price. Your strength in God will increase while you consecrate all to Him; so that you can say with confidence: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 279-288