Chapter 60—A Cross in Accepting the Truth
Dear Sister U,
I am somewhat acquainted with your peculiar temperament, your caution, your fears, your lack of hope and confidence. I sympathize with you in your sufferings of mind, as you cannot see everything in regard to our position and faith as clearly as you could wish. We know you to be strictly conscientious, and have not a doubt that, could you have the privilege of hearing on all points of present truth, and of weighing the evidences for yourself, you would be established, strengthened, settled, so that opposition or reproach would not move you from the sure foundation. As you have not had the privilege, as many others have, of attending meetings and experiencing for yourself the evidences attending the presentation of the truth we hold sacred, we feel the more solicitous for you. Our hearts are drawn out after you, and our love toward you is sincere and fervent. We fear that amid the perils of these last days you may make shipwreck. Be not grieved with me for thus writing. You cannot have a full sense, as I have, of the wiles and sophistry of Satan. His deceptions are many; his snares are carefully and cunningly prepared to entangle the unwary and unsuspecting. We want you to escape his wiles; we want you to be fully on the Lord’s side, loving, and waiting and earnestly longing for, the appearing of our Saviour in the clouds of heaven.
Since your first efforts to keep the Sabbath, many things have arisen to discourage you; yet we hope that these things will not divert your mind from the important truths for these last days. Although the advocates of the truth do not all do as they should, because they are unsanctified by the truths they profess, the truth is the same; its luster is undimmed. Although these may stand between the truth and those who have not fully taken hold upon it, and their dark shadow may appear for a time to cloud its bright luster, yet it does not in reality; the truth of heavenly origin is undimmed. Its purity and exalted character are changeless. It lives; for it is immortal.
My beloved sister, cling to the truth. Obtain an experience for yourself. You have an individuality. You are accountable only for the manner in which you, independent of all others, use the light that shines upon your pathway. The lack of consecration in others will be no excuse for you. The fact that they pervert the truth by their wrong course of action, because they are unsanctified by it, will not render you less responsible. A solemn obligation rests upon you to exalt the standard of truth, to bear it aloft. Even if the standard-bearer faints and falls, do not leave the precious standard to trail in the dust. Seize it, and bear it aloft, even at the peril of your good name, your worldly honor, and your life, if required. My much-respected sister, I entreat you to look up. Cling fast to your heavenly Father’s hand. Jesus, our Advocate, lives to make intercession for us. Whoever may deny the faith by their unholy lives, it does not change the truth into a lie. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His.” “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” At times I fear that your feet will slide, that you will refuse to walk in the humble, straight, and narrow way which leads to eternal life in the kingdom of glory.
I present before you the life of self-denial, humility, and sacrifice of our divine Lord. The Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, left His riches, His splendor, His honor and glory, and, in order to save sinful man, condescended to a life of humility, poverty, and shame; “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Oh, why are we so sensitive to trial and reproach, to shame and suffering, when our Lord has given us such an example? Who would wish to enter into the joy of their Lord while they were unwilling to partake of His sufferings? What! the servant unwilling to bear the humility and shame and reproach which the Master bore unselfishly for him! the servant shrinking from a life of humility and sacrifice which is for his own eternal happiness, by which he may finally obtain an exceedingly great, an eternal reward! The language of my heart is: Let me be a partaker with Christ of His sufferings, that I may finally share with Him the glory.
The truth of God has never been popular with the world. The natural heart is ever averse to the truth. I thank God that we must renounce the love of the world, and pride of heart, and everything which tends to idolatry, in order to be followers of the Man of Calvary. Those who obey the truth will never be loved and honored by the world. From the lips of the divine Teacher, as He walked in humility among the children of men, were heard the words: Whosoever will be My disciple, let him take up his cross, and follow Me. Yes, follow our Exemplar. Was He seeking for praise and honor of men? Oh, no! Shall we then seek for honor or praise from worldlings?
Those who have no love for God will not love the children of God. Listen to the words of heavenly instruction: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you.” “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.” “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.” In the Gospel of John we again find the words of Christ: “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
In First John we read: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” In Paul’s Epistle to the Romans he beseeches them, by the mercies of God, that they present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” And James declares: “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
I entreat you to carefully consider the instructions in Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians: “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” I fear that you are in great danger of making shipwreck of faith. You consider that you have sacrifices to make to obey the truth. We believe that you have made some sacrifices, but had you been more thorough in this work, your feet would not now be stumbling, your faith wavering. I do not refer now to sacrifice of means, but to what comes closer than this, to that which would cause you a more painful conflict than to give your means, to that which touches self especially. You have not yielded your pride, your love of the approbation of an unbelieving world. You love to have men speak well of you.
You have not received and practiced the truth in its simplicity. You have, I fear, felt somewhat as though you were condescending to receive the unpopular truth as advocated by Sabbathkeeping Adventists. You have sought, to quite a degree, to retain the spirit of the world and yet adopt the truth. This cannot be. Christ will accept of nothing but the whole heart, the entire affections. The friendship of the world is enmity with God. When you desire to so live as to shun reproach, you are seeking a position above your suffering Lord; and while engaged in this, you are separating from your Father in heaven, exchanging His love for that which is not worth obtaining.
I have felt pressed in spirit in regard to you, my sister, and also your husband. As I have taken my pen to write, your cases have been clearly brought before me. I am fully aware of your dangers, of your state of perplexity and doubt. Everything has been unfavorable for you, Sister U, since you have sought to obey the law of God. But nothing has been as great a hindrance to you both as your pride. You are both fond of display; this has no part in good, humble religion. I saw that you both had a fiery ordeal to pass, that you would be tested and proved. In this conflict, Satan would strive hard to blind your eyes to your eternal interest, and would present the advantages of the present time, this little, short life which is so uncertain. You would see charms in this life, and unless you parted with your love of show and the favor of the world you could not retain the love of God. Jesus was presented to me, pointing to the charms of heaven, seeking to attract your eyes from the world, and saying: “Which will ye choose, Me, or the world? You cannot have Me and the love of the world, too. Will you sacrifice Him who died for you for the pride of life, for the treasures of the world? Choose between Me and the world; the world has no part in Me.”
I saw your feet faltering, your faith wavering. Doubt and unbelief were enclosing you about, and the light of Jesus was departing. Vanity is one of the strongest principles of our depraved natures, and Satan will constantly appeal to it with success. Persons have not been wanting who were ready to aid Satan in his work—to flatter you, to present your ability and the influence you could have in society, to urge that it would be a great pity for you to unite your interests with a people of humble faith and mingle in a class of society, as they regard it, beneath you. It has seemed to you that you were making a great sacrifice for the truth. It is true that the masses who possess influence do not choose to sacrifice their worldly ambition, to separate their affections from the world, and turn their footsteps into the narrow, humble path traveled by the suffering Man of Calvary. They consider their talents and influence too precious to be devoted to the cause of God, too precious to be given back to glorify the Giver who lent them these talents to be improved upon and returned to Him, both principal and interest. For the temporal advantages they hope to gain they will sacrifice the eternal. For the flattery of men they will turn from the approval of the Lord, the Maker of the heavens and the earth, and will forfeit all right to the honor which cometh from above. How few know what is for their best interest! You do not appreciate this. Jesus, through a life of unexampled suffering and an ignominious death, has opened a way whereby man may follow in His footsteps, and finally be exalted to His throne, and receive the reward of immortality and eternal life. For a life of obedience he will receive an immortal inheritance, a treasure undefiled that fadeth not away.
In the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians we read: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” You have the example of Christ, His unpretending life without display or grandeur. Is the servant above his Lord?
Dear sister, you have a good mind and can do good. You can be as an anchor to your husband and a strength to many others. But if you stand halting between two opinions, unreconciled to the humble work of God, your influence in connection with your husband’s will be exerted in a wrong direction. How reads the word of God? Turn from the opinions of men to the law and to the testimony. Shut out every worldly consideration. Make your decision for eternity. Weigh evidence in this important time. We surely need not expect to escape trial and persecution in following our Saviour; for this is the salary of those who follow Him. He plainly declares that we shall suffer persecution. Our earthly interests must be subservient to the eternal. Listen to the words of Christ: “Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Eternal interests are here involved.
Do not flatter yourselves that if you should yield the truth all obstacles to your acquiring property would be removed. Satan tells you this; it is his sophistry. If God’s blessing rests upon you because you surrender all to Him, you will prosper. If you turn from God, He will turn from you. His hand can scatter faster than you can gather. “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
You, my dear sister, need a thorough conversion to the truth, which shall slay self. Cannot you trust in God? Please read Matthew 10:25-40. Please read also, with a prayerful heart, Matthew 6:24-34. Let these words impress your heart: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” The better life is here referred to. By the body is meant the inward adorning, which makes sinful mortals, possessing the meekness and righteousness of Christ, valuable in His sight, as was Enoch, and entitles them to receive the finishing touch of immortality. Our Saviour refers us to the fowls of the air, which sow not, neither reap, nor gather into barns, yet their heavenly Father feedeth them. Then He says: “Are ye not much better than they? … And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” These lilies, in their simplicity and innocence, meet the mind of God better than Solomon in his costly decorations yet destitute of the heavenly adorning. “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Can you not trust in your heavenly Father? Can you not rest upon His gracious promise? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Precious promise! Can we not rely upon it? Can we not have implicit trust, knowing that He is faithful who hath promised? I entreat you to let your trembling faith again grasp the promises of God. Bear your whole weight upon them with unwavering faith; for they will not, they cannot, fail.
Number Nineteen—Testimony for the Church
Chapter 61—Address to Ministers
October 25, 1868, I was shown that not all who profess to be called to teach the truth are qualified for this sacred work. Some are far from meeting the mind and will of God. Some indulge in slothfulness in temporal things, and their religious life is marked with spiritual sloth. Where there is a lack of persevering energy and close application in temporal matters and business transactions, the same deficiency will be apparent in spiritual things.
Some of you are heads of families, and your example and influence are molding the characters of your children. Your example will be followed by them in a greater or less degree, and your lack of thoroughness is setting a bad example for others. But your deficiencies are more sensibly felt, with more weighty results, in the cause and work of God. Your families have felt this deficiency and suffered on account of it; they have lacked many things which diligent industry and perseverance might have supplied. But this deficiency has been seen and felt in the cause and work of God in as much greater degree as His cause and work is of higher importance than the things pertaining to this life.
The influence of some ministers is not good. They have not carefully guarded their moments, thus giving the people an example of industry. They spend in indolence moments and hours which, once passed into eternity with their record of results, can never be recalled. Some are naturally indolent, which makes it difficult for them to make a success of any enterprise they undertake. This deficiency has been seen and felt all through their religious experience. Those at fault are not alone the losers; others are made to suffer by their deficiencies. At this late period, many have lessons to learn which should have been learned at a much earlier date.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 489-498
- Protect us from shipwreck of faith amid the perils of the last days.
- May we be fully on Your side, loving, and waiting and earnestly longing for, Your appearing in the clouds of heaven.
- May discouragements that arise not divert our minds from the important truths for these last days.
- Let me be a partaker with Christ of His sufferings, that I may finally share with Him the glory.
- Thank You that we do not need to seek for honor or praise from the world.
- May we not love to have men speak well of us.
- May we follow our Lord Jesus’ example in His unpretending life without display or grandeur.
- Turn us from the opinions of men to the law and to the testimony.
- Guide the minds of church leaders preparing for Annual Council.
- Bless the minds of delegates in advance of the next General Conference Session.