The same spirit which you manifest has been reflected upon you again. Your children have seen so little affection, tenderness, and gentleness that they have had nothing to win them to the truth or inspire them with respect for your authority. They have so long partaken of the evil fruits borne by you that their disposition is bitterness. They are not altogether corrupt; there are left beneath the uncultivated exterior, good impulses, which might be reached and brought to the surface. If your religious life had been more even, exemplifying the life of Christ, things would be different in your family. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Just such as the seed you sow will be the harvest which you will gather. If gentle words were the order of the day in your dwelling, such fruit would you receive.
A heavy responsibility rests upon you. In view of this, how careful should you be in all your words and acts. What kind of seed are you sowing in the hearts of your children? The reaping time—oh! remember, the reaping time is not far distant. Sow no foul seed. Satan is ready to do that work. Sow only clean, pure seed.
You, my dear sister, have been jealous, envious, and fault-finding. You have thought you were neglected and despised. You have been too much neglected, but you have a work to do for yourself which no one can do for you. It will require effort, perseverance, and earnestness to obtain the victory over long-established habits which have become as second nature. We have the tenderest feelings for you, with all your errors and faults; and while we shall take the liberty to tell you your faults, we pledge ourselves to help you in every way we can.
I was shown that you do not possess that filial love which you should. The evil in your nature is exercised in a most unnatural way. You are not tender and respectful to your parents. Whatever may be their faults, you have no excuse for the course you have pursued toward them. It has been most unfeeling and disrespectful. Angels turned from you in sadness, repeating these words: “That which ye sow ye shall also reap.” Should time continue, you would receive from your children the same treatment which your parents have received from you. You have not studied how you could best make your parents happy, and then sacrificed your wishes and your pleasure to this end. Their days upon earth are few at most, and will be full of care and trouble even if you do all you can to smooth their passage to the grave. “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” This is the first commandment with promise. It is binding upon childhood and youth, upon the middle-aged and the aged. There is no period in life when children are excused from honoring their parents. This solemn obligation is binding upon every son and daughter, and is one of the conditions to their prolonging their lives upon the land which the Lord will give the faithful. This is not a subject unworthy of notice, but a matter of vital importance. The promise is upon condition of obedience. If you obey you shall live long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. If you disobey you shall not prolong your life in that land.
Here, my sister, is a subject for your prayerful consideration and earnest meditation. Closely examine your own heart as in the light of eternity. Hide nothing from your examination. Search, oh! search, as for your life, and condemn yourself, pass judgment upon yourself, and then by faith claim the cleansing blood of Christ to remove the stains from your Christian character. Do not flatter or excuse yourself. Deal truly with your own soul. And then as you view yourself a sinner, fall, all broken, at the foot of the cross. Jesus will receive you, all polluted as you are, and will wash you in His blood, and cleanse you from all pollution, and make you fit for the society of heavenly angels, in a pure, harmonious heaven. There is no jar, no discord, there. All is health, happiness, and joy.
Sister L, you have not been indifferent to your salvation. You have, at times, made earnest efforts, and have humbled yourself before the church and before God; but you have not received that encouragement which you needed, and which Jesus would have freely given you had He been upon earth. Love is wanting in the church. Love for the erring is covered up with selfishness. There is a great lack of this precious grace among God’s people. You have thought that the people of God were indifferent to you, and your soul has rebelled against it. They have not felt right nor talked right. They have not pursued a right course. They are not justified in this. Heaven frowns upon it. Jesus pities you, and He invites you, weary, and heavy-laden, to come to Him and learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your soul. The yoke of Christ is easy, and His burden is light. When perplexed, worried, and annoyed, flee to the Burden Bearer; tell it all to Jesus. Your brethren and sisters may not appreciate your efforts, and may never know how hard you do try to obtain the victory; yet this should not discourage you. If Jesus knows, if He is acquainted with your sincere efforts, be satisfied.
There must be a thorough reformation in your life, a transformation by the renewing of your mind. God requires His people to help you because you need help, and you should be humble enough to be helped by them. When tempted to give loose rein to the unruly member, oh! bear in mind that the recording angel is noting every word. All are written in the book, and, unless washed away by the blood of Christ, you must meet them again. You now have a spotted record in heaven. Sincere repentance before God will be accepted. When about to speak passionately, close your mouth. Don’t utter a word. Pray before you speak, and heavenly angels will come to your assistance and drive back the evil angels, who would lead you to dishonor God, reproach His cause, and weaken your own soul.
Especially have you a work to do to confess with humiliation your disrespectful course toward your parents. There is no reason for this unnatural manifestation toward them. It is purely a satanic spirit, and you have indulged in it because your mother has not sanctioned your course. Your feelings amount not only to positive dislike, decided disrespect, but to hatred, malice, envy, jealousy, which are manifested in your actions, causing them suffering and privation. You do not feel like making them happy, or even comfortable. Your feelings are changeable. Sometimes your heart softens, then it closes firmly as you see some fault in them, and the angels cannot impress it with one emotion of love. An evil demon controls you, and you are hateful and hating. God has marked your disrespectful words, your unkind acts to your parents, whom He has commanded you to honor, and if you fail to see this great sin, and repent of it, you will grow darker until you will be left to your evil ways.
The Lord is ready to help all who need help and feel that need. If you see your poverty and wretchedness before God, and earnestly take hold of His strength, He will help, and bless, and impart to you strength, that by your good works you may lead others to glorify our Father who is in heaven. Will you see yourself? Will you submit your will and ways to God? Will you seek for pure and undefiled religion before God? Oh, what will it avail you to pass along in this wretched condition! You have no happiness yourself in this way of living, and those around you have no happiness in your society. Surely you make for yourself a great amount of misery; and such a life as you have led is not worth much. Why not, then, be reconciled to God? Die to self and be converted, that Jesus may heal you. He wants to save you, if you will consent to be saved in His appointed way. May the Lord help you to see and correct every error is my prayer.
Brother L, you should be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. Be careful of your words. Let not Satan make you a stumbling block to others. There is a failure in your business transactions. You slight your work. You get through with it as soon as you can, thinking that it will do, when it is not well done. You lack thoroughness. You should cultivate taste and order in all you do. That which is worth doing at all is worth doing well. If you lack faithfulness in your business life you will lack in your religious life, and in the day of God the balances of the sanctuary will reveal the fact that you are wanting. This lack is a reproach to your faith. Unbelievers charge it to dishonesty, and say: “If it is such men that keep the Sabbath, I don’t choose to be of that sort.”
As men prove your work and find it deficient in durability, nicety, and order, they say you are a cheat, and many hard speeches have been made over it. Many oaths have been uttered over your work, and God has been blasphemed. You do not mean to be dishonest, but there is a slackness in your jobs. You think your employers are too particular, that you know what will answer as well as they; and hence this slack, loose, unfinished style attends your labor to a great extent. You should improve in this matter. You should be honorable in all your labor, and close up your work in a manner that will bear the inspection of God. Scorn to slight any job. Be faithful in that which is least.
Try to help your wife in the conflict before her. Be careful of your words, cultivate refinement of manners, courtesy, gentleness, and you will be rewarded for so doing.
Chapter 10—Reform at Home
From what was shown me, there is a great work to be accomplished for you before you can be accepted in the sight of God. Self is too prominent. You possess a hasty, passionate temper, and are arbitrary and overbearing in your family. Sister M is slack and untidy in her house. She has not the elements of order and neatness in her organization. Yet she can improve in these things. Brother M, you censure your wife, you are dictatorial, and do not have that love which you should have. She dreads your oppressive spirit, but does not do what she might to correct her wrong habits, which make home distasteful and disagreeable.
Brother M, you have not taken a judicious course with your family. Your children do not love you. They have more hatred than love. Your wife does not love you. You do not take a course to be loved. You are an extremist. You are severe, exacting, arbitrary, to your children. You talk the truth to them, but do not carry its principles into your everyday life. You are not patient, forbearing, and forgiving. You have so long indulged your own spirit, you are so ready to fly into a passion if provoked, that it looks exceedingly doubtful whether you will make efforts sufficient to meet the mind of Christ. You do not possess the power of endurance, forbearance, gentleness, and love. These Christian graces must be possessed by you before you can be truly a Christian. You reserve your encouraging words, your kindly acts, for those who are not entitled to them as much as your own wife and children. Cultivate kind words, pleasant looks, praise, and approbation for your own family, for this will materially affect your happiness. Never let censure or fretful words escape your lips. Subdue this desire to rule and to place your iron heel wherever you can. You possess a most disagreeable spirit, a close spirit. With some you are selfish and stingy; for others whom you wish to think highly of you, you would sacrifice anything, even the very things your own family need. You are liberal in these cases that you may have the praise and esteem of men. If you could purchase heaven by a great sacrifice for those to whom you choose to be liberal, you would certainly obtain it. You do not object to being put to the greatest inconvenience to advantage others, if in so doing you can exalt yourself. In these things you tithe mint and rue, while you neglect the weightier matters, justice and the love of God.
You are not just in your family. You have a work to do there. Make your wife comfortable and happy first; then consider the condition of your children. Provide them with comfortable food and clothing. Then if you can, without limiting your wife and children, help those who most need help, and bestow your favors where they will be appreciated; it will be praiseworthy for you to be liberal. But your first and most sacred duty is to your family. They should not be robbed for others to be favored. Let your benevolence, your liberality, be seen in your own family. Give them tangible proofs of your affection, interest, care, and love. This has much to do with your happiness. Cease finding fault and scolding your wife, for this only makes it much harder for you and makes a hell for her.
Angels of God will not abide in your family until there is a different order of things. It is not your means that is wanted. Yet when reproved you have thought it was your means that the church wanted. You are deceived here. You have been too liberal with your means, for the very reason that you have thought this was to obtain salvation for you and buy you a position in the church. No, indeed! it is you that is wanted, not the little means you possess. If you would be transformed by the renewing of your mind and be converted, deal truly with your own soul. It is all that the church require. You have deceived yourself. If any man seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that man’s religion is vain. Treat your family in a manner that Heaven can approve, and so that peace may be in your dwelling. There needs to be everything done for your family. Your children have had your bad example before them; you have blamed, and censured, and manifested a passionate spirit at home, while you would, at the same time, address the throne of grace, attend meeting, and bear testimony in favor of the truth. These exhibitions have led your children to despise you and the truth you profess. They have no confidence in your Christianity. They believe you to be a hypocrite, and it is true that you are a sadly deceived man. You can no more enter heaven without a thorough change than could Simon Magus, who thought that the Holy Ghost could be bought with money. Your family have seen your overreaching spirit, your readiness to take advantage of others, your penurious spirit toward those with whom you sometimes deal, and they despise you for it; yet they will too surely follow in your footsteps of wrongdoing.
Your deal is not what it should be. It is difficult for you to deal justly and to love mercy. You have dishonored the cause of God by your life. You have contended for the truth, but not in a right spirit. You have hindered souls from embracing the truth who otherwise would have done so. They have excused themselves by pointing to the errors and wrongs of professed Sabbathkeepers, saying: “They are no better than I; they will lie, cheat, exaggerate, get angry, and boastingly talk of their own praise; such a religion as this I do not want.” Thus the unconsecrated lives of these shortcoming Sabbathkeepers make them stumbling blocks to sinners.
The work now before you must commence in your family. You have tried hard to improve outwardly; but the work has been too much on the surface, an outside work and not a work of the heart. Set your heart in order, humble yourself before God, and implore His grace to help you. Do not, like the hypocritical Pharisees, do things to make you appear devotional and righteous in the eyes of others. Break your heart before God, and know that it is impossible for you to deceive the holy angels. Your words and acts are all open to their inspection. Your motives and the intents and purposes of your heart stand revealed to their gaze. The most secret things are not hid from them. Oh, then, rend your heart, and be not overanxious to make your brethren think you are right when you are not! Be circumspect in your family. You are watching to see others’ wrongs, but do this no more. The work you have now to do is to overcome your own wrongs, to battle with your strong internal foes. Deal justly with the widow and the fatherless. Do not throw over your acts the flimsy covering of deception, to influence those whom you greatly wish would think you right, while your motives and acts will not bear the construction you would have put upon them.
Cease all contention, and try to be a peacemaker. Love not in word, but in deed and in truth. Your works are to bear the inspection of the judgment. Will you deal truly with your own soul? Do not deceive yourself. Oh, remember that God is not mocked! Those who possess everlasting life will have all they can do to set their houses in order. They must commence at their own hearts and follow up the work until victories, earnest victories, are gained. Self must die, and Christ must live in you and be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life. You now have precious hours of probation granted you to form a right character even at your advanced age. You now have a period allotted you in which to redeem the time. You cannot in your own strength put away your errors and wrongs; they have been increasing upon you for years, because you have not seen them in their hideousness and in the strength of God resolutely put them away. By living faith you must lay hold on an arm that is mighty to save. Humble your poor, proud, self-righteous heart before God; get low, very low, all broken in your sinfulness at His feet. Devote yourself to the work of preparation. Rest not until you can truly say: My Redeemer liveth, and, because He lives, I shall live also.
If you lose heaven, you lose everything; if you gain heaven, you gain everything. Do not make a mistake in this matter, I implore you. Eternal interests are here involved. Be thorough. May the God of all grace so enlighten your understanding that you may discern eternal things, that by the light of truth your own errors, which are many, may be discovered to you just as they are, that you may make the necessary effort to put them away, and in the place of this evil, bitter fruit may bring forth fruit which is precious unto eternal life. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Every tree is known by its fruit. What kind of fruit shall henceforth be found upon this tree? The fruit you bear will determine whether you are a good tree, or one of which Christ shall say to his angel: “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?”
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 79-88