The body is not kept under by many professed Sabbathkeepers. Some have embraced the Sabbath whose minds have ever been depraved. And when they embraced the truth they did not feel the necessity of turning square about and changing their whole course of action. They have been for years following the inclinations of an unregenerate heart, and have been swayed by the corrupt passions of their carnal natures, which had defaced the image of God in them and defiled everything they touched; therefore their entire future life would be all too short, at the longest, to climb Peter’s ladder of Christian perfection, preparatory to their entering into the kingdom of God. But there are not many who feel that they cannot be saved by a profession of the truth, unless they become sanctified through the truth in answer to the prayer of our divine Lord to His Father: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.”
Men and women who profess to be disciples of Christ and to keep all the commandments of God will have to feel in their daily lives the true spirit of agonizing to enter in at the strait gate. The agonizing ones are the only ones who will urge their passage through the strait gate and narrow way that lead to life eternal, to fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. Those who merely seek to enter in will never be able. The entire Christian life of many will be spent in no greater effort than that of seeking, and their only reward will be to find it an utter impossibility for them to enter in at that strait gate.
I have been surprised to see how many families are blinded by Satan so that they have no sense of his workings, his wiles and deceptions, practiced in their very midst. Parents seem to be stupefied by the paralyzing influence of the evil one, and yet think they are all right. I have been shown that Satan seeks to debase the minds of those who unite in marriage, that he may stamp his own hateful image upon their children. Because they have entered into the marriage relation, many think that they may permit themselves to be controlled by animal passions. They are led on by Satan, who deceives them and leads them to pervert this sacred institution. He is well pleased with the low level which their minds take; for he has much to gain in this direction. He knows that if he can excite the baser passions, and keep them in the ascendancy, he has nothing to be troubled about in their Christian experience; for the moral and intellectual faculties will be subordinate, while the animal propensities will predominate and keep in the ascendancy; and these baser passions will be strengthened by exercise, while the nobler qualities will become weaker and weaker.
He can mold their posterity much more readily than he could the parents, for he can so control the minds of the parents that through them he may give his own stamp of character to their children. Thus many children are born with the animal passions largely in the ascendancy, while the moral faculties are but feebly developed. These children need the most careful culture to bring out, strengthen, and develop the moral and intellectual powers, that these may take the lead. But the workings of Satan are not perceived; his wiles are not understood. Children are not trained for God. Their moral and religious education is neglected. The animal passions are constantly strengthened, while the moral faculties become enfeebled.
Some children begin to practice self-pollution in their infancy; and as they increase in years, the lustful passions grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength. Their minds are not at rest. Girls desire the society of boys, and boys that of the girls. Their deportment is not reserved and modest. They are bold and forward, and take indecent liberties. The habit of self-abuse has debased their minds and tainted their souls. Vile thoughts, and the reading of novels, love stories, and vile books excite their imagination, and just such suit their depraved minds. They do not love work, and when engaged in labor they complain of fatigue; their backs ache; their heads ache. Is there not sufficient cause? Are they fatigued because of their labor? No, no! Yet the parents indulge these children in their complaints, and release them from labor and responsibility. This is the very worst thing that they can do for them. They are thus removing almost the only barrier that prevents Satan from having free access to their weakened minds. Useful labor would in some measure be a safeguard from his decided control of them.
We have some knowledge of Satan’s manner of working and how well he succeeds in it. From what has been shown me, he has paralyzed the minds of parents. They are slow to suspect that their own children can be wrong and sinful. Some of these children profess to be Christians, and parents sleep on, fearing no danger, while the minds and bodies of their children are becoming wrecked. Some parents do not even take care to keep their children with them when in the house of God. Young girls attend meetings and take their seats, it may be, with their parents, but more frequently back in the congregation. They are in the habit of making an excuse to leave the house. Boys understand this, and go out before or after the exit of the girls, and then, as the meeting closes, they accompany them home. Parents are none the wiser for this. Again, excuses are made to walk, and boys and girls assemble in the fair grounds, or some other secluded place, and there play and have a regular high time, with no experienced eye upon them to caution them. They imitate men and women of advanced age.
This is a fast age. Little boys and girls commence paying attentions to one another when they should both be in the nursery, taking lessons in modesty of deportment. What is the effect of this common mixing up? Does it increase chastity in the youth who thus gather together? No, indeed! it increases the first lustful passions; after such meetings the youth are crazed by the devil and give themselves up to their vile practices.
Parents are asleep and know not that Satan has planted his hellish banner right in their households. What, I was led to inquire, will become of the youth in this corrupt age? I repeat, Parents are asleep. The children are infatuated with a lovesick sentimentalism, and the truth has no power to correct the wrong. What can be done to stay the tide of evil? Parents can do much if they will. If a young girl just entering her teens is accosted with familiarity by a boy of her own age, or older, she should be taught to so resent this that no such advances will ever be repeated. When a girl’s company is frequently sought by boys or young men, something is wrong. That young girl needs a mother to show her her place, to restrain her, and teach her what belongs to a girl of her age.
The corrupting doctrine which has prevailed, that, as viewed from a health standpoint, the sexes must mingle together, has done its mischievous work. When parents and guardians manifest one tithe of the shrewdness which Satan possesses, then can this association of sexes be nearer harmless. As it is, Satan is most successful in his effort to bewitch the minds of the youth; and the mingling of boys and girls only increases the evil twentyfold. Let boys and girls be kept employed in useful labor. If they are tired, they will have less inclination to corrupt their own bodies. There is nothing to be hoped for in the case of the young, unless there is an entire change in the minds of those who are older. Vice is stamped upon the features of boys and girls, and yet what is done to stay the progress of this evil? Boys and young men are allowed and encouraged to take liberties by immodest advances of girls and young women. May God arouse fathers and mothers to work earnestly to change this terrible state of things, is my prayer.
I have been looking over the Testimonies given for Sabbathkeepers and I am astonished at the mercy of God and His care for His people in giving them so many warnings, pointing out their dangers, and presenting before them the exalted position which He would have them occupy. If they would keep themselves in His love and separate from the world, He would cause His special blessings to rest upon them and His light to shine round about them. Their influence for good might be felt in every branch of the work and in every part of the gospel field. But if they fail to meet the mind of God, if they continue to have so little sense of the exalted character of the work as they have had in the past, their influence and example will prove a terrible curse. They will do harm and only harm. The blood of precious souls will be found upon their garments.
Testimonies of warning have been repeated. I inquire: Who have heeded them? Who have been zealous in repenting of their sins and idolatry, and have been earnestly pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? Who have shown the inward work of God, leading to self-denial and humble self-sacrifice? Who that have been warned have so separated themselves from the world, from its affections and lusts, that they have shown a daily growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Whom do we find among the active ones, that feel the burden for the church? Whom do we see that God is especially using, working by and through them to elevate the standard, and to bring the church up to it, that they may prove the Lord and see if He will not pour them out a blessing?
I have waited anxiously, hoping that God would put His Spirit upon some and use them as instruments of righteousness to awaken and set in order His church. I have almost despaired as I have seen, year after year, a greater departure from that simplicity which God has shown me should characterize the life of His followers. There has been less and less interest in, and devotion to, the cause of God. I ask: Wherein have those who profess confidence in the Testimonies sought to live according to the light given in them? Wherein have they regarded the warnings given? Wherein have they heeded the instructions they have received?
I saw that great changes must be wrought in the hearts and lives of very many before God can work in them by His power for the salvation of others. They must be renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness. Then the love of the world, the love of self, and every ambition of life calculated to exalt self will be changed by the grace of God and employed in the special work of saving souls for whom Christ died. Humility will take the place of pride, and haughty self-esteem will be exchanged for meekness. Every power of the heart will be controlled by disinterested love for all mankind. Satan, I saw, will arouse when they in earnest commence the work of reformation in themselves. He knows that these persons, if consecrated to God, could prove the strength of His promises and realize a power working with them that the adversary would not be able to gainsay or resist. They would realize the life of God in the soul.
One family in particular have needed all the benefits they could receive from the reform in diet, yet these very ones have been completely backslidden. Meat and butter have been used by them quite freely, and spices have not been entirely discarded. This family could have received great benefit from a nourishing, well-regulated diet. The head of the family needed plain, nutritious food. His habits were sedentary, and his blood moved sluggishly through the system. He could not, like others, have the benefit of healthful exercise; therefore his food should have been of the right quality and quantity. There has not been in this family the right management in regard to diet; there has been irregularity. There should have been a specified time for each meal, and the food should have been prepared in a simple form and free from grease; but pains should have been taken to have it nutritious, healthful, and inviting. In this family, as also in many others, a special parade has been made for visitors, many dishes prepared and frequently made too rich, so that those seated at the table would be tempted to eat to excess. Then in the absence of company there was a great reaction, a falling off in the preparations brought on the table. The diet was spare and lacked nourishment. It was considered not so much matter “just for ourselves.” The meals were frequently picked up, and the regular time for eating not regarded. Every member of the family was injured by such management. It is a sin for any of our sisters to make such great preparations for visitors, and wrong their own families by a spare diet which will fail to nourish the system.
The brother referred to felt a lack in his system; he was not nourished, and he thought that meat would give him the needed strength. Had he been suitably cared for, his table spread at the right time with food of a nourishing quality, all the demands of nature would have been abundantly supplied. The butter and meat stimulate. These have injured the stomach and perverted the taste. The sensitive nerves of the brain have been benumbed, and the animal appetite strengthened at the expense of the moral and intellectual faculties. These higher powers, which should control, have been growing weaker, so that eternal things have not been discerned. Paralysis has benumbed the spiritual and devotional. Satan has triumphed to see how easily he can come in through the appetite and control men and women of intelligence, calculated by the Creator to do a good and great work.
The case above referred to is not an isolated one; if it were, I would not introduce it here. When Satan takes possession of the mind, how soon the light and instruction that the Lord has graciously given, fade away and have no force! How many frame excuses and make necessities which have no existence, to bear them up in their course of wrong in setting aside the light and trampling it underfoot! I speak with assurance. The greatest objection to health reform is that this people do not live it out; and yet they will gravely say they cannot live the health reform and preserve their strength.
We find in every such instance a good reason why they cannot live out the health reform. They do not live it out, and have never followed it strictly, therefore they cannot be benefited by it. Some fall into the error that because they discard meat they have no need to supply its place with the best fruits and vegetables, prepared in their most natural state, free from grease and spices. If they would only skillfully arrange the bounties with which the Creator has surrounded them, parents and children with a clear conscience unitedly engaging in the work, they would enjoy simple food, and would then be able to speak understandingly of health reform. Those who have not been converted to health reform, and have never fully adopted it, are not judges of its benefits. Those who digress occasionally to gratify the taste in eating a fattened turkey or other flesh meats, pervert their appetites, and are not the ones to judge of the benefits of the system of health reform. They are controlled by taste, not by principle.
I have a well-set table on all occasions. I make no change for visitors, whether believers or unbelievers. I intend never to be surprised by an unreadiness to entertain at my table from one to half a dozen extra who may chance to come in. I have enough simple, healthful food ready to satisfy hunger and nourish the system. If any want more than this, they are at liberty to find it elsewhere. No butter or flesh meats of any kind come on my table. Cake is seldom found there. I generally have an ample supply of fruits, good bread, and vegetables. Our table is always well patronized, and all who partake of the food do well, and improve upon it. All sit down with no epicurean appetite, and eat with a relish the bounties supplied by our Creator.
A wonderful indifference has been manifested upon this important subject by those right at the heart of the work. The lack of stability in regard to the principles of health reform is a true index of their character and their spiritual strength. They are deficient in thoroughness in their Christian experience. Conscience is not regarded. The basis or cause of every right action existing and operating in the renewed heart secures obedience without external or selfish motives. The spirit of truth and a good conscience are sufficient to inspire and regulate the motives and conduct of those who learn of Christ and are like Him. Those who have no strength of religious principle in themselves are easily swayed, by the example of others, in a wrong direction. Those who have never learned their duty from God, and acquainted themselves with His purposes concerning them, are not reliable in times of severe conflict with the powers of darkness. They are swayed by external and present appearances. Worldly men are governed by worldly principles; they can appreciate no other. But Christians should not be governed by these principles. They should not seek to strengthen themselves in the performance of duty by any other consideration than a love to obey every requirement of God as found in His word and dictated by an enlightened conscience.
In the renewed heart there will be a fixed principle to obey the will of God, because there is a love for what is just, and good, and holy. There will be no hesitating, conferring with the taste, or studying of convenience, or moving in a certain course because others do so. Everyone should live for himself. The minds of all who are renewed by grace will be an open medium, continually receiving light, grace, and truth from above, and transmitting the same to others. Their works are fruitful. Their fruit is unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
But very few have an experimental knowledge of the sanctifying influence of the truths which they profess. Their obedience and devotion have not been in accordance with their light and privileges. They have no real sense of the obligation resting upon them to walk as children of the light, and not as children of darkness. If the light that has been given to these had been given Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes, and would have escaped the signal wrath of God. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for those who have been privileged with the clear light, and have had a vast amount of labor, but have not profited by it. They have neglected the great salvation which God in mercy was willing to bestow. They were so blinded by the devil that they verily thought themselves rich and in the favor of God, when the True Witness declares them to be wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 479-488
- Sanctify us by thy Truth, in answer to the prayer of our Lord.
- Let us feel in our daily lives the true spirit of agonizing to enter in at the strait gate.
- Help us not be blinded by Satan so that we have no sense of his workings, his wiles and deceptions.
- May we train our children for Your service.
- Thank You for Your mercy and care in giving us Testimonies with so many warnings, pointing out our dangers, and presenting an exalted position which you would have us occupy.
- May we keep ourselves in Your love and separate from the world.
- Cause Your special blessings to rest upon us and Your light to shine round about us.
- Help us heed Your Testimonies, be zealous in repenting of our sins and idolatry, and earnestly press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
- Bless our church leaders at every level.
- Bless preparations for Annual Council in October, 2021.
- Bless preparations for General Conference Session in 2022.