There should be discipline and order in our Sabbath schools. Children who attend these schools should prize the privileges they enjoy and should be required to observe the regulations of the school. And even greater care should be taken by the parents to see that their children have their Scripture lessons than is taken to see that their day school lessons are prepared. Their Scripture lessons should be learned more perfectly than their lessons in the common schools. If parents and children see no necessity for this interest, then the children might better remain at home; for the Sabbath school will fail to prove a blessing to them. Parents and children should work in harmony with superintendent and teachers, thus giving evidence that they appreciate the labor put forth for them. Parents should take special interest in the religious education of their children, that they may have a more thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
There are many children who plead a lack of time as a reason why their Sabbath school lessons are not learned, but there are few who could not find time to learn their lessons if they had an interest in them. Some devote time to amusement and sight-seeing; others to the needless trimming of their dresses for display, thus cultivating pride and vanity. The precious hours thus prodigally spent are God’s time, for which they must render an account to Him. The hours spent in needless ornamentation or in amusements and idle conversation will, with every work, be brought into judgment.
Chapter 19—Laborers in the Office
Those in the office who profess to believe the truth should show the power of the truth in their lives and prove that they are working onward and upward from the basis of principle. They should be molding their lives and characters after the perfect Model. If all could look with a discerning eye into the tremendous realities of eternity, what a horror of condemnation would seize some in the office who now pass on with seeming indifference, although separated from eternal scenes by a very small space. Many warnings have been given, and urged home with intense feeling and earnest prayers, every one of which is faithfully registered in heaven, to balance the account of each in the day of final investigation. The unwearying love of Christ has followed those engaged in His work in the office. God has followed them with blessings and entreaties, yet hating the sins and unfaithfulness that cling to them as the leprosy. The deep and solemn truths to which those in the office have had the privilege of listening should take hold upon their sympathies and lead them to a high appreciation of the light that God has given them. If they will walk in the light, it will beautify and ennoble their lives with heaven’s own adornment, purity and true goodness.
A way is opened before everyone in the office to engage from the heart directly in the work of Christ and the salvation of souls. Christ left heaven and the bosom of His Father to come to a friendless, lost world to save those who would be saved. He exiled Himself from His Father and exchanged the pure companionship of angels for that of fallen humanity, all polluted with sin. With grief and amazement, Christ witnesses the coldness, the indifference and neglect, with which His professed followers in the office treat the light and the messages of warning and of love He has given them. Christ has provided the bread and water of life for all who hunger and thirst.
The Lord requires all in the office to labor from high motives. In His own life, Christ has given them an example. All should labor with interest, devotion, and faith for the salvation of souls. If all in the office will labor with unselfish purposes, discerning the sacredness of the work, the blessing of God will rest upon them. If all had cheerfully and gladly taken up their several burdens, the wear and perplexity would not have come so heavily upon my husband.
How few earnest prayers have been sent up to God in faith for those who worked in the office who were not fully in the truth! Who has felt the worth of the soul for whom Christ died? Who have been laborers in the vineyard of the Lord? I saw that angels were grieved with the trifling frivolities of the professed followers of Christ who were handling sacred things in the office. Some have no more sense of the sacredness of the work than if they were engaged in common labor. God now calls for the fruitless cumberers of the ground to consecrate themselves to Him and center their affections and hopes in Him.
The Lord would have all connected with the office become caretakers and burden bearers. If they are pleasure seekers, if they do not practice self-denial, they are not fit for a place in the office. The workers at the office should feel when they enter it that it is a sacred place, a place where the work of God is being done in the publication of a truth which will decide the destiny of souls. This is not felt or realized as it should be. There is conversation in the typesetting department which diverts the mind from the work. The office is no place for visiting, for a courting spirit, or for amusement or selfishness. All should feel that they are doing work for God. He who sifts all motives and reads all hearts is proving, and trying, and sifting His people, especially those who have light and knowledge, and who are engaged in His sacred work. God is a searcher of hearts and a trier of the reins, and will accept nothing less than entire devotion to the work and consecration to Himself. All in the office should take up their daily duties as if in the presence of God. They should not be satisfied with doing just enough to pass along, and receive their wages; but all should work in any place where they can help the most. In Brother White’s absence there are some faithful ones; there are others who are eyeservants. If all in the office who profess to be followers of Christ had been faithful in the performance of duty in the office, there would have been a great change for the better. Young men and young women have been too much engrossed in each other’s society, talking, jesting, and joking, and angels of God have been driven from the office.
Marcus Lichtenstein was a God-fearing youth; but he saw so little true religious principle in those in the church and those working in the office that he was perplexed, distressed, disgusted. He stumbled over the lack of conscientiousness in keeping the Sabbath manifested by some who yet professed to be commandment keepers. Marcus had an exalted regard for the work in the office; but the vanity, the trifling, and the lack of principle stumbled him. God had raised him up and in His providence connected him with His work in the office. But there is so little known of the mind and will of God by some who work in the office that they looked upon this great work of the conversion of Marcus from Judaism as of no great importance. His worth was not appreciated. He was frequently pained with the deportment of F and of others in the office; and when he attempted to reprove them, his words were received with contempt that he should venture to instruct them. His defective language was an occasion of jest and amusement with some.
Marcus felt deeply over the case of F, but he could not see how he could help him. Marcus never would have left the office if the young men had been true to their profession. If he makes shipwreck of faith, his blood will surely be found on the skirts of the young who profess Christ, but who, by their works, their words, and their deportment, state plainly that they are not of Christ, but of the world. This deplorable state of neglect, of indifference and unfaithfulness, must cease; a thorough and permanent change must take place in the office, or those who have had so much light and so great privileges should be dismissed and others take their places, even if they be unbelievers. It is a fearful thing to be self-deceived. Said the angel, pointing to those in the office: “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” A profession is not enough. There must be a work inwrought in the soul and carried out in the life.
The love of Christ reaches to the very depths of earthly misery and woe, or it would not meet the case of the veriest sinner. It also reaches to the throne of the Eternal, or man could not be lifted from his degraded condition, and our necessities would not be met, our desires would not be satisfied. Christ has led the way from earth to heaven. He forms the connecting link between the two worlds. He brings the love and condescension of God to man, and brings man up through His merits to meet the reconciliation of God. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. It is hard work to follow on, step by step, painfully and slowly, onward and upward, in the path of purity and holiness. But Christ has made ample provision to impart new vigor and divine strength at every advance step in the divine life. This is the knowledge and experience that the hands in the office all want, and must have, or they daily bring reproach upon the cause of Christ.
Brother G is making a mistake in his life. He puts too high an estimate upon himself. He has not commenced to build in a right way to make a success of life. He is building at the top, but the foundation is not laid right. The foundation must be laid underground, and then the building can go up. He needs a discipline and experience in the everyday duties of life which the sciences will not give; all his education will not give him physical exercise to become inured to the hardships of life.
From what has been shown me, there should be a careful selection of help in the office. The young and untried and unconsecrated should not be placed there, for they are exposed to temptations and have not fixed characters. Those who have formed their characters, who have fixed principles, and who have the truth of God in the heart will not be a constant source of care and anxiety, but rather helps and blessings. The office of publication is amply able to make arrangements to secure good helpers, those who have ability and principle. And the church, in their turn, should not seek to advantage themselves one penny from those who come to the office to labor and learn their trade. There are positions where some can earn better wages than at the office, but they can never find a position more important, more honorable, or more exalted than the work of God in the office. Those who labor faithfully and unselfishly will be rewarded. For them there is a crown of glory prepared, compared with which all earthly honors and pleasures are as the small dust of the balance. Especially will those be blessed who have been faithful to God in watching over the spiritual welfare of others in the office. Pecuniary and temporal interests, in comparison with this, sink into insignificance. In one scale is gold dust; in the other, a human soul of such value that honor, riches, and glory have been sacrificed by the Son of God to ransom it from the bondage of sin and hopeless despair. The soul is of infinite value and demands the utmost attention. Every man who fears God in that office should put away childish and vain things, and, with true moral courage, stand erect in the dignity of his manhood, shunning low familiarity, yet binding heart to heart in the bond of Christian interest and love. Hearts yearn for sympathy and love, and are as much refreshed and strengthened by them as flowers are by showers and sunshine.
The Bible should be read every day. A life of religion, of devotion to God, is the best shield for the young who are exposed to temptation in their associations while acquiring an education. The word of God will give the correct standard of right and wrong, and of moral principle. A fixed principle of truth is the only safeguard for youth. Strong purposes and a resolute will close many an open door to temptation and to influences that are unfavorable to the maintenance of Christian character. A weak, irresolute spirit indulged in boyhood and youth will make a life of constant toil and struggle because decision and firm principle are wanting. Such will ever be trammeled in making a success of this life, and they will be in danger of losing the better life. It will be safe to be earnest for the right. The first consideration should be to honor God, and the second, to be faithful to humanity, performing the duties which each day brings, meeting its trials and bearing its burdens with firmness and a resolute heart. Earnest and untiring effort, united with strong purpose and entire trust in God, will help in every emergency, will qualify for a useful life in this world, and give a fitness for the immortal life.
Chapter 20—Love and Duty
Love has a twin sister, which is duty. Love and duty stand side by side. Love exercised while duty is neglected will make children headstrong, willful, perverse, selfish, and disobedient. If stern duty is left to stand alone without love to soften and win, it will have a similar result. Duty and love must be blended in order that children may be properly disciplined.
Anciently, directions were given to the priests:” And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to My judgments.” When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”
Here the duty of God’s servants is made plain. They cannot be excused from the faithful discharge of their duty to reprove sins and wrongs in the people of God, although it may be a disagreeable task and may not be received by the one who is at fault. But in most cases the one reproved would accept the warning and heed reproof were it not that others stand in the way. They come in as sympathizers and pity the one reproved and feel that they must stand in his defense. They do not see that the Lord is displeased with the wrongdoer, because the cause of God has been wounded and His name reproached. Souls have been turned aside from the truth and have made shipwreck of faith as the result of the wrong course pursued by the one in fault; but the servant of God whose discernment is clouded and whose judgment is swayed by wrong influences would as soon take his position with the offender whose influence has done much harm, as with the reprover of wrong and of sin, and in so doing he virtually says to the sinner: “Do not be troubled, do not be cast down; you are about right after all.” These say to the sinner:” It shall be well with thee.”
God requires His servants to walk in the light and not cover their eyes that they may not discern the working of Satan. They should be prepared to warn and reprove those who are in danger through his subtlety. Satan is working on the right hand and on the left to obtain vantage ground. He rests not. He is persevering. He is vigilant and crafty to take advantage of every circumstance and turn it to his account in his warfare against the truth and the interests of the kingdom of God. It is a lamentable fact that God’s servants are not half as much awake to the wiles of Satan as they should be. And instead of resisting the devil that he may flee from them, many are inclined to make a compromise with the powers of darkness.
Chapter 21—The Battle Creek Church
There are serious objections to having the school located at Battle Creek. The church is large, and there are quite a number of youth connected with it. If the influence which one member has over another in so large a church were of an elevating character, leading to purity and consecration to God, then the youth coming to Battle Creek would have greater advantages than if the school were located elsewhere. But if the influences at Battle Creek shall be in the future what they have been for several years past, I would warn parents to keep their children from Battle Creek. There are but few in that large church who have an influence that will steadily draw souls to Christ; while there are many who will, by their example, lead the youth away from God to the love of the world.
With many of the church at Battle Creek there is a great lack of feeling their responsibility. Those who have practical religion will retain their identity of character under any circumstances. They will not be like the reed trembling in the wind. Those situated at a distance feel that they would be highly favored could they have the privilege of living in Battle Creek, among a strong church, where their children could be benefited by the Sabbath school and meetings. Some of our brethren and sisters in times past have made sacrifices to have their children live there. But they have been disappointed in almost every case. There were but few in the church to manifest an unselfish interest for these youth. The church generally stood as pharisaical strangers, aloof from those who needed their help the most. Some of the youth connected with the church, who were professedly serving God, but loving pleasure and the world more, were ready to make the acquaintance of youthful strangers who came among them, and to exert a strong influence over them to lead them to the world instead of nearer to God. When these return home, they are further from the truth than when they came to Battle Creek.
Men and women are wanted at the heart of the work who will be nursing fathers and mothers in Israel, who will have hearts that can take in more than merely me and mine. They should have hearts that will glow with love for the dear youth, whether they are members of their own families or children of their neighbors. They are members of God’s great family, for whom Christ had so great an interest that He made every sacrifice that it was possible for Him to make to save them. He left His glory, His majesty, His kingly throne and robes of royalty, and became poor, that through His poverty the children of men might be made rich. He finally poured out His soul unto death that He might save the race from hopeless misery. This is the example of disinterested benevolence that Christ has given us to pattern after.
In the special providence of God many youth and also those of mature age have been thrown into the arms of the Battle Creek church for them to bless with the great light God has given them, and that, through their disinterested efforts, they might have the precious privilege of bringing them to Christ and to the truth. Christ commissions His angels to minister unto those who are brought under the influence of the truth, to soften their hearts and make them susceptible of the influences of His truth. While God and His angels are doing their work, those who profess to be followers of Christ seem to be coolly indifferent. They do not work in unison with Christ and holy angels. Although they profess to be servants of God they are serving their own interest and loving their own pleasure, and souls are perishing around them. These souls can truly say: “No man careth for my soul.” The church have neglected to improve the privileges and blessings within their reach, and through their neglect of duty have lost golden opportunities of winning souls to Christ.
Unbelievers have lived among them for months, and they have made no special efforts to save them. How can the Master regard such servants? The unbelieving would have responded to efforts made in their behalf if the brethren and sisters had lived up to their exalted profession. If they had been seeking an opportunity to work for the interest of their Master, to advance His cause, they would have manifested kindness and love for them, they would have sought opportunities to pray with and for them, and would have felt a solemn responsibility resting upon them to show their faith by their works, by precept and example. Through their instrumentality these souls might have been saved to be as stars in the crown of their rejoicing. But, in many cases, the golden opportunity has passed never to return. The souls that were in the valley of decision have taken their position in the ranks of the enemy and become enemies of God and the truth. And the record of the unfaithfulness of the professed followers of Jesus has gone up to heaven.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp 189-198