Chapter 40—Self-Deceived Youth
I have been shown in vision the dangers of youth. Your case was presented before me. I saw that you had not adorned your profession. You might have done good, and your example might have been a blessing to the youth with whom you have associated; but, alas! your inmost soul has not been converted to God. If you had taken the course a consistent Christian should, your relatives and friends would have been influenced by your godly course to follow in your footsteps. My brother, your heart is not right with God; your thoughts are not elevated; you permit your mind to run in a wrong channel. Your morals have not taken a pure, elevated tone. Your habits have been such as to injure your physical health and have been death to spirituality. You cannot prosper in religious things until you are converted.
When you realize the transforming influence of the power of God upon your heart, it will be seen in your life. You have lacked a religious experience, but it is not too late for you now to seek God with earnest, heartfelt cries: “What shall I do to be saved?” You can never be a true Christian until you are thoroughly converted. You have been a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God. You have been seeking after pleasure, but have you found real enjoyment in this course? You have sought to make yourself agreeable to young, inexperienced girls. You have had your mind so much upon them that you could not direct it upward to God and heaven. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” This exhortation is applicable to you. You need to learn the ways, the will and works of God. You need pure and undefiled religion; you need to cultivate devotional feelings. Cease to do evil, and learn to do well. The blessing of God cannot rest upon you until you become more like Christ.
I am pained as I see the lack of godliness with the young. Satan takes the mind and turns it in a channel which is corrupt. A self-deception is upon many of the young. They think they are Christians, but they have never been converted. Until this work shall be wrought in them, they will not understand the mystery of godliness. There is no peace to the wicked. God requires truth and sincerity of heart. He sees and pities you, and all the youth who are eagerly following childish toys and wasting short, precious time for things of no value. Christ has bought you at a dear price, and offers you grace and glory if you will receive it; but you turn from the precious promise of the gift of everlasting life, to the meager and unsatisfactory pleasures of earth.
Your labor in this direction will bring no profit, but great loss. The wages of sin is death. Life and heaven are before you, but you seem not to know their value. You have not meditated upon the precious things of heaven. If the inestimable love of Christ be turned from, if heaven and glory and everlasting life be considered of little value, what motive can we present to move? what inducement to charm? Will foolish sports and a round of exciting pleasures attract the mind, and separate from God, and deaden the heart to His fear?
Oh, I beg of you who have so little interest in holy things, to closely investigate your own heart. What plea will you make before God for your worldly, unconsecrated life? In that dread day you will have no plea to make. You will be speechless. Think, oh, think, in your pleasure-seeking hours, that all these things have an end. Did you have correct views of life, endless life with God, how quickly would you turn from a life of pleasure and sin. How quickly would you change your mind, your course, and your company, and turn the strength of your affection to God and heavenly things. How resolutely would you scorn to yield to temptations which have deceived and captivated you. How zealous would be your efforts for the blessed life; how earnest and persevering your prayers to God for His grace to abide upon you, for His power to sustain you and help you resist the devil. How diligent would you be to improve every religious privilege to learn the ways and will of God. How careful would you be in meditating upon the law of God, and in comparing your life with its claims. How fearful would you be lest you sin in word or deed, and how earnest to grow in grace and true holiness. Your conversation would not be on trifling things, but in heaven. Then glorious and eternal things would open before you, and you would not rest until you should increase more and more in spirituality. But earthly things claim your attention, and God is forgotten. I implore you to face rightabout, and to seek the Lord, that He may be found of you; call upon Him while He is near.
Chapter 41—True Conversion
Dear Brother P,
While at —– one year ago, we labored for your interest. I had been shown your dangers, and we were desirous of saving you; but we see you have not had strength to carry out the resolutions there made. I am troubled over the matter, and fear that I was not as faithful as I should have been in bringing before you all I knew of your case. Some things I withheld from you. While in Battle Creek in June, I was again shown that you were not making any advance, and that the reason you were not is that you have not made a clean track behind you. You do not enjoy religion. You have departed from God and righteousness. You have been seeking happiness in the wrong way, in forbidden pleasures; and you have not moral courage to confess and forsake your sins that you may find mercy.
You did not view sin as heinous in the sight of God, and put it away; you failed to make thorough work; and when the enemy came in with his temptations, you did not resist him. Had you seen how offensive sin was in the sight of God, you would not have so readily yielded to temptation. You were not so thoroughly converted as to abhor your life of sin and folly. Sin yet seemed pleasant to you, and you were loath to yield up its delusive pleasures. Your inmost soul was not converted, and you soon lost that which you had gained.
Personal vanity in your case, as well as in that of many others, has been a special hindrance to you. You have ever had a love of praise. This has been a snare to you. Your professed friends have shown a special pleasure in your society, and this has gratified you. Weak-minded, sympathetic women have praised you and appeared charmed with your society; and you have felt a fascinating power upon you in their company. You did not realize, while spending in pleasure seeking those hours which belonged to your family, that Satan was weaving his net about your feet.
Satan has temptations laid for every step of your life. You have not been as economical of means as you should have been. You hate stinginess. This is all right; but you go to the opposite extreme, and your course has been marked with prodigality. Christ taught His disciples a lesson in feeding the five thousand. He wrought a great miracle and fed that vast multitude with five loaves and two small fishes. After all had been satisfied, He did not then regard the fragments indifferently, as if it were beneath His dignity to notice them. He who had power to work so notable a miracle, and to give food to so large a company, said to His disciples: “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” This is a lesson to us all, and one which we should not disregard.
You have a great work before you, and you cannot afford to waste another moment without taking hold of it. Brother P, I am alarmed for you; but I know that God loves you still, although your course has been wayward. If He did not have a special love for you He would not present your dangers before me as He has. You have engaged in jesting and sporting with men and women who have not the fear of God before them. Weak-headed and unprincipled women have retained you in their presence, and you were like a charmed bird. You seemed fascinated by these superficial persons. Angels of God were upon your track and have faithfully recorded every wrong act, every instance of departure from virtue’s path.
Yes, every act, however secret you may have thought you were in its committal, has been open to God, to Christ, and to the holy angels. A book is written of all the doings of the children of men. Not an item of this record can be concealed. There is only one provision made for the transgressor. Faithful repentance and confession of sin, and faith in the cleansing blood of Christ, will bring forgiveness, and pardon will be written against his name.
O my brother, had you made thorough work one year ago, the past precious year need not have been to you worse than a blank. You knew your Master’s will, but did it not. You are in a perilous condition. Your sensibilities have been blunted to spiritual things; you have a violated conscience. Your influence is not to gather, but to scatter. You have no special interest in religious exercises. You are not a happy man. Your wife would unite her interest with the people of God if you would get out of her way. She needs your help. Will you take hold of this work together?
Last June I saw that your only hope of breaking the chain of your bondage was a removal from your associates. You had yielded to Satan’s temptations until you were a weak man. You were a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God, and were fast traveling the downward path. I have been disappointed that you have continued in the same indifferent state in which you have been for years. You have known and experienced the love of God; and it has been your delight to do His will. You have delighted in the study of the word of God. You have been punctual at the prayer meetings. Your testimony has been from a heart which felt the quickening influences of the love of Christ. But you have lost your first love.
God now calls upon you to repent, to be zealous in the work. Your eternal happiness will be determined by the course you now pursue. Can you reject the invitations of mercy now offered? Can you choose your own way? Will you cherish pride and vanity, and lose your soul at last? The word of God plainly tells us that few will be saved, and that the greater number of those, even, who are called will prove themselves unworthy of everlasting life. They will have no part in heaven, but will have their portion with Satan, and experience the second death.
Men and women may escape this doom if they will. It is true that Satan is the great originator of sin; yet this does not excuse any man for sinning; for he cannot force men to do evil. He tempts them to it, and makes sin look enticing and pleasant; but he has to leave it to their own wills whether they will do it or not. He does not force men to become intoxicated, neither does he force them to remain away from religious meetings; but he presents temptations in a manner to allure to evil, and man is a free moral agent to accept or refuse.
Conversion is a work that most do not appreciate. It is not a small matter to transform an earthly, sin-loving mind and bring it to understand the unspeakable love of Christ, the charms of His grace, and the excellency of God, so that the soul shall be imbued with divine love and captivated with the heavenly mysteries. When he understands these things, his former life appears disgusting and hateful. He hates sin, and, breaking his heart before God, he embraces Christ as the life and joy of the soul. He renounces his former pleasures. He has a new mind, new affections, new interest, new will; his sorrows, and desires, and love are all new. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, which have heretofore been preferred before Christ, are now turned from, and Christ is the charm of his life, the crown of his rejoicing. Heaven, which once possessed no charms, is now viewed in its riches and glory; and he contemplates it as his future home, where he shall see, love, and praise the One who hath redeemed him by His precious blood.
The works of holiness, which appeared wearisome, are now his delight. The word of God, which was dull and uninteresting, is now chosen as his study, the man of his counsel. It is as a letter written to him from God, bearing the inscription of the Eternal. His thoughts, his words, and his deeds are brought to this rule and tested. He trembles at the commands and threatenings which it contains, while he firmly grasps its promises and strengthens his soul by appropriating them to himself. The society of the most godly is now chosen by him, and the wicked, whose company he once loved, he no longer delights in. He weeps over those sins in them at which he once laughed. Self-love and vanity are renounced, and he lives unto God, and is rich in good works. This is the sanctification which God requires. Nothing short of this will He accept.
I beg of you, my brother, to search your heart diligently and inquire: “What road am I traveling, and where will it end?” You have reason to rejoice that your life has not been cut off while you have no certain hope of eternal life. God forbid that you should longer neglect this work, and so perish in your sins. Do not flatter your soul with false hopes. You see no way to get hold again but one so humble that you cannot consent to accept it. Christ presents to you, even to you, my erring brother, a message of mercy: “Come; for all things are now ready.” God is ready to accept you and to pardon all your transgressions, if you will but come. Though you have been a prodigal, and have separated from God and stayed away from Him so long, He will meet you even now. Yes; the Majesty of heaven invites you to come to Him, that you may have life. Christ is ready to cleanse you from sin when you lay hold upon Him. What profit have you found in serving sin? what profit in serving the flesh and the devil? Is it not poor wages you receive? Oh! turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die?
You have had many convictions, many pangs of conscience. You have had so many purposes and made so many promises, and yet you linger and will not come to Christ that you may have life. Oh, that your heart may be impressed with a sense of this time, that you may now turn and live! Cannot you hear the voice of the True Shepherd in this message? How can you disobey? Trifle not with God, lest He leave you to your own crooked ways. It is life or death with you. Which will you choose? It is a fearful thing to contend with God and resist His pleadings. You may have the love of God burning upon the altar of your heart as you once felt it. You may commune with God as you have done in times past. If you will make a clean track behind you you may again experience the riches of His grace, and your countenance again express His love.
It is not required of you to confess to those who know not your sin and errors. It is not your duty to publish a confession which will lead unbelievers to triumph; but to those to whom it is proper, who will take no advantage of your wrong, confess according to the word of God, and let them pray for you, and God will accept your work, and will heal you. For your soul’s sake, be entreated to make thorough work for eternity. Lay aside your pride, your vanity, and make straight work. Come back again to the fold. The Shepherd is waiting to receive you. Repent, and do your first works, and again come into favor with God.
Chapter 42—Duties of the Husband and the Wife
Last June your case was presented before me in vision. But I have been so constantly pressed with labor that I could not possibly write out the things shown me in regard to individual cases. I wish to write what I have to write, before I hear any account of matters in regard to your case; for Satan might suggest doubts to your mind. This is his work.
I was pointed back to your past life and was shown that God had been very merciful to you in enlightening your eyes to see His truth, in rescuing you from your perilous condition of doubt and uncertainty, and in establishing your faith and settling your mind upon the eternal truths of His word. He established your feet upon the Rock. For a season you felt grateful and humble, but for some time you have been separating yourself from God. When you were little in your own eyes, then you were beloved of God.
Music has been a snare to you. You are troubled with self-esteem; it is natural for you to have exalted ideas of your own ability. Teaching music has been an injury to you. Many women have confided their family difficulties to you. This has also been an injury to you. It has exalted you and led you to still greater self-esteem.
In your own family you have occupied a dignified and rather haughty position. There are defects in your wife, of which you are aware. They have led to bad results. She is not naturally a housekeeper. Her education in this direction must be acquired. She has improved some, and should apply herself earnestly to make greater improvement. She lacks order, taste, and neatness in housekeeping and also in dress. It would be pleasing to God if she should train her mind upon these things wherein she lacks. She does not have good government in her family. She is too yielding, and fails to maintain her decisions. She is swayed by the desires and claims of her children, and yields her judgment to theirs. Instead of trying to improve in these respects, as it is her duty to do, she is glad of an opportunity or an excuse to release herself from home cares and responsibilities, and permits others to perform the duties in her family that she should educate herself to love to do. She cannot perform her part as a wife and mother until she shall educate herself in this direction. She lacks confidence in herself. She is timid and retiring, and distrustful of herself. She has a very poor opinion of what she does, and this discourages her from doing more. She needs encouragement; she needs words of tenderness and affection. She has a good spirit. She is meek and quiet, and the Lord loves her; yet she should make thorough efforts to correct these evils which tend to make her family unhappy. Practice in these things will give her confidence in her own ability to perform her duties aright.
You and your wife are opposite in your organizations. You love order and neatness, and have a nice taste, and quite good government. As a husband, you are rather stiff and stern. You fail to take a course to encourage confidence and familiarity in your wife. Her deficiencies have led you to regard her as inferior to yourself, and have also caused her to feel that you thus regard her. God esteems her more highly than yourself; for your ways are crooked before Him. For the sake of her husband and children, and for other reasons, she should seek to correct her deficiencies and to improve in those things wherein she now fails. She can do it if she will try hard enough.
God is displeased with disorder, slackness, and a lack of thoroughness, in anyone. These deficiencies are serious evils and tend to wean the affections of the husband from the wife when the husband loves order, well-disciplined children, and a well-regulated house. A wife and mother cannot make home agreeable and happy unless she possesses a love for order, preserves her dignity, and has good government; therefore all who fail on these points should begin at once to educate themselves in this direction and cultivate the very things wherein is their greatest lack. Discipline will do much for those who are lacking in these essential qualifications. Sister R gives up to these failings, and thinks that she cannot do otherwise than she does. After she has made a trial, and fails to see decided improvement in herself, she is discouraged. This must not be. The happiness of herself and her family depend upon her arousing herself, and working with earnestness and zeal to make a decided reformation in these things. She must put on confidence and decision; put on the woman. Her nature is to shrink from anything untried. No one can be more ready and willing than she to do, where she thinks she can succeed. If she fails in her new effort, she must try, try again. She can earn the respect of her husband and children.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 289-298