Chapter 11—A Violated Conscience
Dear Brother N,
I feel compelled by a sense of duty to address you a few lines. I have been shown some things in regard to your case which I dare not withhold. I was shown that Satan took advantage of you because your wife did not embrace the truth. You were thrown into the society of a corrupt woman, one whose steps take hold on hell. She professed great sympathy for you because of the opposition you received from your wife. Like the serpent in Eden, she made her manners fascinating. She cast the impression on your mind that you were an abused man; that your wife did not appreciate your feelings and reciprocate your affections; that a mistake had been made in your marriage relation; until you imagined the marriage vows of lifelong constancy to her whom you had taken as your wife, to be as galling chains. You went for sympathy to this apparent angel in speech. You poured into her ears that which should have been entrusted alone to your wife whom you had vowed to love, honor, and cherish as long as you both should live. You forgot to watch and pray always lest you should enter into temptation. Your soul was marred by a crime. You stamped your life record in heaven with a fearful blot. Yet deep humiliation and repentance before God will be acceptable to Him. The blood of Christ can avail to wash these sins away.
You have fallen, terribly fallen. Satan lured you on into his net, and then left you to disentangle yourself as best you could. You have been harassed and perplexed, and fearfully tempted. A guilty conscience troubles you. You distrust yourself and imagine that everyone else distrusts you. You are jealous of yourself and imagine that jealousy exists in other hearts toward you. You have not confidence in yourself and imagine that your brethren have not confidence in you. Satan often presents the past before you and tells you that it is of no use for you to try to live out the truth, the way is too strait for you. You have been overcome; now Satan takes advantage of your sinful course to make you believe that you are past redemption. You are on Satan’s battlefield engaged in a severe conflict. The barrier which is thrown around every family circle, and which makes it sacred, you have broken down. And now Satan harasses you almost constantly. You are not at rest. You are not at peace, and you seek to make your brethren responsible for your conflicting feelings and doubts and jealousies; you feel that they are at fault, that they do not give you attention. The trouble is with yourself. You want your own way, and do not rend your heart before God, and with brokenness and contrition cast yourself all broken, sinful, and polluted, upon His mercy. Your efforts to save yourself, if persisted in, will result in your certain ruin.
Cease your jealousies and your faultfinding. Turn your attention to your own case and by humble repentance, relying alone upon the blood of Christ, save your own soul. Make thorough work for eternity. If you turn from the truth you are a ruined man, your family is ruined. After the fortifications preserving sacred the privacy and privileges of the family relation have been once broken down, it is difficult to build them up; but in the strength of God, and in His strength alone, you can do this. Truth, sacred truth, is your anchor, which will save you from drifting in the downward current to crime and destruction.
A conscience once violated is greatly weakened. It needs the strength of constant watchfulness and unceasing prayer. You are standing in a slippery place. You need all the strength that the truth can give to fortify you and save you from making entire shipwreck. Life and death are before you; which will you choose? Had you seen the necessity of being firmly settled upon principle, not moving from impulse, and not being easily discouraged, but prepared to endure hardness, you would not have been overcome as you have been. You have moved from impulse. You have not, like our faultless Pattern, been willing to endure the contradiction of sinners against yourself. We are exhorted to remember Him who endured this, lest we become weary and faint in our minds. You have been weak as a child, having no power of endurance. You have not felt the necessity of being established, strengthened, settled, grounded, and built up in the faith.
You have felt that it might be your duty to teach the truth to others instead of being taught yourself. But you must be willing to be a learner, to receive the truth from others, and must cease your faultfinding, your jealousies, your complaining, and in meekness receive the engrafted word which is able to save your soul. It rests with you whether you will have happiness or misery. You have once yielded to temptation and cannot now trust your own strength. Satan has great power over your mind, and you will have nothing to hold you when you break from the restraining influence of the truth. This has been as a safeguard to you to restrain you from crime and iniquity. Your only hope is to seek for thorough conversion and redeem the past by your well-ordered life and godly conversation.
You have moved from impulse. Excitement has been agreeable to your organization. Your only hope now is to sincerely repent of your past transgressions of God’s law and purify your soul by obeying the truth. Cultivate purity of thought and purity of life. The grace of God will be your strength to restrain your passions and curb your appetites. Earnest prayer and watching thereunto will bring the Holy Spirit to your aid to perfect the work and make you like your unerring Pattern.
If you choose to throw off the sacred, restraining influence of the truth, Satan will lead you captive at his will. You will be in danger of giving scope to your appetites and passions, giving loose rein to lusts, to evil and abominable desires. Instead of bearing in your countenance a calm serenity under trial and affliction, like faithful Enoch, having your face radiant with hope and that peace which passeth understanding, you will stamp your countenance with carnal thoughts, with lustful desires. You will bear the impress of the satanic instead of the divine.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” It is now your privilege, by humble confession and sincere repentance, to take words and return unto the Lord. The precious blood of Christ can cleanse you from all impurity, remove all your defilement, and make you perfect in Him. The mercies of Christ are still within your reach if you will accept them. For the sake of your wronged wife, and your children, the fruit of your own body, cease to do evil, and learn to do well. That which you sow, you shall also reap. If you sow to the flesh you shall of the flesh reap corruption. If you sow to the Spirit you shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
You must overcome your sensitiveness and faultfinding. You are jealous that others do not give you all the attention you think you should have. The experience founded in feeling, and savoring of fanaticism, you must not adhere to. It is unsafe. Move from principle, from thorough understanding. Search the Scriptures, and be able to give to every man that asketh you the reasons of the hope which is in you, with meekness and fear. Let self-exaltation die. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” When harassed with temptations and evil thoughts, there is but One to whom you can flee for relief and succor. Flee to Him in your weakness. When near Him, Satan’s arrows are broken and cannot harm you. Your trials and temptations borne in God will purify and humble, but will not destroy or endanger you.
Chapter 12—Warnings and Reproofs
Dear Brother O,
I was shown that you were enshrouded in darkness, which was not relieved by rays of light from Jesus. You did not seem sensible of your danger, but were in a state of listless indifference, unfeeling and unconcerned. I inquired the cause of this much-to-be-dreaded condition, and was pointed back for years, and shown that you had not, since you embraced the truth, been sanctified through it. You have gratified your appetite and your lustful passions to the destruction of your own spirituality. I was shown that God had given light through the gifts placed in the church, which would instruct, counsel, guide, reprove, and warn. These testimonies which you have professed to believe were from God, you have not regarded to live them out. To disregard light is to reject it. The rejection of light leaves men captives bound about by chains of darkness and unbelief.
I was shown that you have increased your family without realizing the responsibility you were bringing upon yourself. It has been impossible for you to do justice to your companion or to your children. Your first wife ought not to have died, but you brought upon her cares and burdens which ended in the sacrifice of her life. Your present wife has a hard lot; her vitality is nearly exhausted. By increasing your family so rapidly, you have been kept in a state of poverty, and the mother, engaged in rearing the young members of the family, has not had a fair chance for her life. She has nursed her children under the most unfavorable circumstances, when heated over the cookstove. She could not instruct them as she should, nor regulate their habits of eating and working. The result of eating food not the most healthful, and otherwise violating the laws which God has established in our being, has brought disease and premature death upon your elder children. Disease has been transmitted to your offspring, and the free use of flesh meats has increased the difficulty. The eating of pork has aroused and strengthened a most deadly humor which was in the system. Your offspring are robbed of vitality before they are born. You have not added to virtue knowledge, and your children have not been taught how to preserve themselves in the best condition of health. Never should one morsel of swine’s flesh be placed upon your table.
Your children have come up, instead of being brought up and educated to the end that they might become Christians. In many respects your cattle have received better treatment than your children. You have not done your duty to your children, but have left them to grow up in ignorance. You have not realized the responsibility you took upon yourself in bringing into the world so numerous a flock, that you were in a great measure accountable for their salvation. You cannot throw off this responsibility. You have robbed your children of their rights by not interesting yourself in their education and instructing them patiently and faithfully in regard to forming characters for heaven. Your course has done much to destroy their confidence in you. You are exacting, overbearing, tyrannical; you fret, and scold, and censure, and by so doing wean their affections from you. You treat them as though they had no just rights, as though they were machines to turn in your hands according to your pleasure. You provoke them to wrath, and often discourage them. You do not give them love and affection. Love begets love, affection begets affection. The spirit which you manifest toward your children will be reflected upon you.
You are in a critical condition, and have no true sense of it. It is impossible for an intemperate man to be a patient man. First temperance, then patience. You have so long lived for self, and followed the imagination of your own heart, that you cannot discern sacred things. Your lustful appetite and passions have controlled you. The higher order of mental organs has been weakened and controlled by the lower, baser organs. The animal propensities have been gaining strength. When reason is left to be controlled by appetite, the high sense of sacred things is impaired. The mind is debased, the affections are unsanctified, and the words and acts testify what is in the heart. God has been displeased and dishonored by your conversation and your deportment. Your words have not been select and well chosen; low, vulgar conversation comes naturally to your lips, even in the presence of children and youth. Your influence in this respect has been bad.
Your example has not been right, and you have stood directly in the way of your own children, and the children of Sabbathkeepers, seeking the Lord. Your course, in this respect, cannot be too severely censured. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Your heart needs to be purified, cleansed, sanctified, through obedience to the truth. Nothing can save you but a thorough conversion—a true sense of your sinful ways and a thorough transformation by the renewing of your mind.
You have been very zealous to plead the necessity of not denying our faith by our works, and have made your faith an excuse for not granting your children an opportunity to obtain an education in even the common branches. Knowledge in regard to yourself is what you need, and you will yet have to see the necessity of obtaining it. Knowledge is what your children need but do not have the privilege of obtaining. With this great lack they cannot become useful members of society, and they will be deficient in their religious education. A weighty responsibility rests at your door. You are shortening the life of your wife. How can she glorify God in her body and spirit, which are His?
God has given you light and knowledge, which you have professed to believe came direct from Him, instructing you to deny appetite. You know that the use of swine’s flesh is contrary to His express command, given not because He wished to especially show His authority, but because it would be injurious to those who should eat it. Its use would cause the blood to become impure, so that scrofula and other humors would corrupt the system, and the whole organism would suffer. Especially would the fine, sensitive nerves of the brain become enfeebled and so beclouded that sacred things would not be discerned, but be placed upon the low level with common things. Light showing that disease is caused by using this gross article of food has come just as soon as God’s people could bear it. Have you heeded the light?
You have gone directly contrary to the light which God has been pleased to give in regard to the use of tobacco. The gratification of appetite has eclipsed the light given of Heaven, and you have made a God of this hurtful indulgence. It is your idol. You have bowed to this instead of God, at the same time professing great faith in the visions, but acting entirely contrary to them. For years you have not advanced one step in the divine life, but have been growing weaker and weaker, darker and darker. You have felt sadly afflicted over the course of Brother P in opposing the truth as he has done. You have ascribed the weak, discouraged state of the church to his opposition. It is true that he has been a great hindrance to the advancement of the cause of God in —–. But the course you have pursued, while professing to know the truth and to have an experience in the cause of God, has been a greater hindrance than his course. If you had stood in the counsel of God and been sanctified through the truth which you professed to believe, Brother P would not have had all the doubts he has had. Your position as a defender of the visions has been a stumbling block to those who were unbelieving. I was shown that your brother tried to stand up under the heavy burdens which the sad condition of the church brought upon him until he nearly fell under the weight he was bearing, and left for his life. I saw that God’s care was over Brother and Sister R, and if their faith remained unwavering they would yet see the salvation of God in their own house and in the church.
I was shown the case of dear Brother and Sister S. They had been passing through the dark waters, and the billows had nearly gone over their heads; yet God loved them, and if they would only trust their ways to Him He would bring them forth from the furnace of affliction purified. Brother S has looked upon the dark side, and doubted whether he was a child of God—doubted his salvation. I saw that he should not labor too hard to believe, but should trust in God as a child would confide in its parents. He worries too much—he worries himself out of the arms of Jesus, and gives the enemy a chance to tempt and annoy him. God knows the feebleness of the body and of the mind, and will require no more of him than He will give him strength to perform. He has tried to be faithful and true to his profession. He has failed in his life in a number of things, all ignorantly. In regard to the discipline of his children, he has considered it his duty to be strict, and has carried this discipline too far. He has treated small offenses with too great severity. This has had an influence to wean, in a degree, the affection of the son from the father. During his sickness Brother S has had a diseased imagination. His nervous system has been all deranged, and he has thought that his children did not feel for him and love him as they should; but this was the result of disease. Satan wished to destroy him and dishearten and discourage his poor children. But God has not laid this to his charge. His children have greater burdens to bear than many that are older than they, and they deserve careful discipline, judicious training, mingled with sympathy, love, and great tenderness.
The mother has had especial strength and wisdom from God to encourage and help her husband, and to do much in binding her children to her heart and strengthening their affection for their parents and for one another. I saw that angels of mercy were hovering over this family, although prospects looked so dark and foreboding. Those who have had bowels of compassion for Brother S will never have cause to regret it, for he is a child of God, beloved of Him. The depressed state of the church has been very detrimental to his health. I saw him looking on the dark side, distrustful of himself, and looking down into the grave. He must not dwell on these things, but look to Jesus, a pattern that is unerring. He must encourage cheerfulness and courage in the Lord—talk faith, talk hope; rest in God, and not feel that a severe, taxing effort is required on his part. All that God requires is simple trust—to drop into His arms with all his weakness, and brokenness, and imperfection, and Jesus will help the helpless, and strengthen and build up those who feel that they are very weakness itself. God will be glorified in his affliction, through the patience, faith, and submission exemplified by him. Oh! this will prove the power of the truth we profess; it is consolation when we need it; it is support when every prop of an earthly nature, which has been a measurable support, is removed.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 89-98