Christ will not undertake to teach the self-righteous, self-conceited, and self-willed. If such come to Him with the inquiry, What is truth? He gives them no answer. It is only the meek that He will guide in judgment; the meek will He teach His way. Solomon was naturally endowed with good judgment and large reasoning powers, but he acknowledged himself before God as a little child. He sought for wisdom from God with humility, and he sought not in vain. If you really search for the truth with the right motive you will come with the body, for they have the truth. If you are searching the Scriptures and different authors that you may find doctrines which will coincide with your own preconceived opinions, and if you have already settled your faith, then you will be boastful, self-confident, and unyielding.
Self-Confidence a Snare
Brother B, with your present self-willed, stubborn spirit, you will go further and further from the truth; and unless you are converted you will prove to be a great hindrance to the cause of God in any place where you have any influence. You are persistent to carry your points. Your self-sufficient spirit must be yielded before you can see anything clearly. You have led your wife to think that you knew the truth better than any of our ministers; you have taken the key of knowledge into your own hands, so far as she is concerned, and have kept her in darkness. God has given His church men of judgment, experience, and faith. They know the way of truth and salvation, for they have searched for it in agony of spirit because of the opposition they had to meet from men who turned the truth of God into a lie; and the benefit of the labor of these faithful servants of God is given to the world.
There are very few who realize the exalted nature of the work of God in comparison with the temporal business cares of life. Jesus, the heavenly Teacher, has given us lessons of instruction through His disciples. When He sent out the twelve, He instructed them that into whatever city or town they should enter they must inquire who in it was worthy of their attention and visits; and if a suitable place was found where the people would esteem the blessing sent them,–the privilege of entertaining the messengers of Christ,–there they were to abide and there let their peace rest until they left that city. They were not instructed to visit any and every house indiscriminately, urging their presence upon the people whether they were welcome or not; but if they were not welcomed, if their peace could not rest in the house, they were to leave it and seek a house where the members were worthy and where their spirit could rest.
When the messengers of Christ who go forth to teach the truth to others are rejected and their words find no place in the heart, Christ is rejected and His word despised in the messengers of truth whom He has chosen and sent. This has just as full an application in this age of the world as it had when Christ gave the instruction to His chosen messengers.
When Christ was upon the earth, there were men who had no respect or reverence for God’s messengers and no more regard for their warning than for their own judgment; also in this age of the world there are those who do not respect the testimony of God’s chosen servants so highly as their own opinions. Such cannot be benefited by the labors of God’s servants, and time should not be lost in degrading the work of God to meet such minds. Christ said to the servants whom He sent forth: “He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me.”
Christ gives power to the voice of the church. “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” No such thing is countenanced as one man’s starting out upon his own individual responsibility and advocating what views he chooses, irrespective of the judgment of the church. God has bestowed the highest power under heaven upon His church. It is the voice of God in His united people in church capacity which is to be respected.
God has given to His church men who have an experience, those who have fasted and wept and prayed, even through the entire night, for the Lord to open the Scriptures to their minds. In humility these men have given the world the benefit of their mature experience. Is this light of heaven, or of men? Is it of any value, or is it worthless? Brother B is doing a work in disseminating erroneous views of Bible truth that he will one day wish to undo; but it will be in vain. He may repent, he may yet be saved as by fire; but, oh, how much precious time will have been lost that never can be redeemed! How much seed has he sown that has borne only briers and thorns! How many souls have been lost that might have been saved had he tried as earnestly to let the true light shine as he has to scatter his darkness! What might he not have done had he been consecrated, sanctified through the truth! Brother B feels too self-sufficient, too rich and increased with goods, to see his need of anything. The True Witness pointed to him and said: “Unless ye become converted as a little child, ye cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” The light of truth so carefully brought out in books and papers he does not respect; but he exalts his own judgment above the most precious light, and this light will rise up in the judgment to condemn him.
I saw that he would question the men upon whom God has seen fit to lay the responsibility of His work. He would exalt his own opinions and views above the light which God had given through them, and would boast of his knowledge; and he would be an accuser of his brethren, not excepting the ambassadors of Christ. All this overbearing influence to belittle the judgment of the servants of God and to accuse them of weaknesses and errors, exalting his own opinions above theirs, if not repented of, will be found written against him in the books, which he will see with shame in the day of God.
God will hold up His servants, will preserve His favored ones; but woe unto him who would make of none effect the words of Christ’s ambassadors, who receive the word from the mouth of God to speak to the people and who would tell the people that the sword is coming and warn them to prepare for the great day of God. Brother B will find that it is no light or trivial work in which he has been engaged; it is a work which will roll back upon his soul with crushing weight. He has brought his spirit in opposition to God. He has a hard work before him. Said Christ: “It must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.”
Brother B, the course that you have been pursuing was shown me three years ago. I saw that you were wrong in almost every action, and yet you tried to gauge the truth to your actions instead of gauging them to the truth. You were not a light to the people of God, but a terrible burden. You will not lift when there is lifting to be done, and you discourage others from union of action. You are ever finding fault and talking of your brethren, and while you have been questioning the course of others, a rank growth of poisonous weeds has flourished and taken deep root in your own heart. These roots of bitterness springing up have defiled many and will defile many more unless you see them and root them out.
I was shown that a harsh, pharisaical spirit would grow upon Brother B and control him unless he sees the terrible defects in his character and obtains grace from God to correct the evil. Before he embraced the truth, his hand seemed to be against everyone; his combative spirit would strengthen at any provocation, and his self-esteem would be injured; he was a hard man, getting into and making trouble. The truth of God wrought a reformation in him. God accepted him, and His hand held him up. But since Brother B has lost the spirit of consecration, his old, turbulent spirit, at variance with others, has been strengthening and seeking to gain the mastery. When he dies to self and humbles his proud heart before God he will find how weak is his strength; he will feel the need of heavenly succor and will cry: “Unclean, unclean, before Thee, O God.” All his proud boasting in self will have an end.
Life in this stormy world, where moral darkness triumphs over truth and virtue, will be to the Christian a continual conflict. He will find that he must keep the armor on, for he will have to fight against forces that never tire and foes that never sleep. We shall find ourselves beset with countless temptations, and we must find strength in Christ to overcome them or be overcome by them and lose our souls. We have a great and solemn work to do, and how terrible will be our loss if we fail. If the work which our Master has left us be found undone, we cannot have a second probation granted us. It must remain undone forever.
I was shown the life of Brother B in his family. Angels wept as they viewed his course at home, as they viewed the unloved wife, who receives no respect from him whose duty it is to love and cherish her as his own body, even as Christ has loved and cherished the church. He takes pains to make her defects apparent and to exalt his own wisdom and judgment and to make her feel her inferiority in company and alone. Notwithstanding she is illiterate, her spirit is far more acceptable to God than the spirit of her husband. God looks upon Sister B with feelings of the deepest pity. She lives out the principles of truth, as far as she has light, much better than her husband. She will not be answerable for the light and knowledge that her husband has had but which she has not had. He could be a light and comfort and blessing to her, but his influence is used in a wrong way. He reads to her what he pleases, that which will give strength to his views and his ideas, while he keeps back essential light which he does not want her to hear.
He does not respect his wife, and he allows his children to show her disrespect. Like Eli’s sons, these children are left to come up. They are not restrained, and all this neglect will by and by rebound upon himself. That which Brother B is now sowing he will most assuredly reap. Sister B, in many respects, is nearer the kingdom of heaven than her husband. These unruly, disobedient children, that are not educated to self-control, will plant thorns in the hearts of their parents that they cannot prevent; and then in the judgment God will call the parents to account for bringing children into the world and letting them come up untrained, unloving, and unloved. These children cannot be saved in the kingdom of heaven without a great change in their characters.
Brother B seeks to have his wife believe as he believes, and he would have her think that all he does is right and that he knows more than any of the ministers and is wise above all men. I was shown that in his boasted wisdom he is dealing with the bodies of his children as he is with the soul of his wife. He has been following a course according to his own wisdom, which is ruining the health of his child. He flatters himself that the poison which he has introduced into her system keeps her alive. What a mistake! He should reason how much better she might have been had he let her alone and not abused nature. This child can never have a sound constitution, for her bones and the current of blood in her veins have been poisoned. The shattered constitutions of his children and their aches and distressing pains will cry out against his boasted wisdom, which is folly.
But what is more deplorable than all the rest is that he has, as it were, left the door to perdition wide open for his children to enter and be lost. The natures of his children will have to be changed, their characters transformed and made over new, or there can be no hope for them. Can angels look lovingly upon your family, Brother B? Can they delight to dwell in your house? The building is good, but the house does not make the happiness within. Those who live within the walls make it a heaven or a hell. You do not respect the mother of your children. You permit in them disobedience and disrespect.
You may say: “Why does Sister White come to me with this? I have no faith in the visions.” I knew this before I attempted to write, but I feel that the time has come for me to set these things before you. I must tell you the truth, for I expect to meet in the judgment what I have here imperfectly written. I have waited, hoping that I might say something that would reach your heart and soften it for the very words I have here written. But I have lost all hope in that direction, for you are fortified with an armor as impenetrable as steel. You will not accept of anything that does not meet your mind. I was shown that it would have been better for the cause of present truth if you had never embraced the Sabbath. Your conscience is not a very sensitive one; you are blinded by the enemy.
I have given up all hope of doing anything for the church in —– while you are a stumbling block to them. You once loved the truth, and had you followed on in the pathway of truth and holiness you would now have been an ambassador for Christ. You will have a fearful account to give in the great day of God for your talents which have been unimproved. You had good abilities. God lent these talents to you for you to put to good account, but you have abused these gifts. Had you used the ability that God had given you, on the right side, you would have done much in winning souls to Christ, and you would see in the kingdom of heaven souls saved through your instrumentality. But you have scattered abroad instead of gathering with Christ. Your brethren have been discouraged from trying to rise and advance, because you, like an opposing body, counteract the good they would do.
The heart of God never yearned toward His earthly children with deeper love and more compassionate tenderness than now. There never was a time when God was ready and waiting to do more for His people than now. And He will instruct and save all who choose to be saved in His appointed way. Those who are spiritual can discern spiritual things and see tokens of the presence and work of God everywhere. Satan, by his skillful and wicked strategy, led our first parents from the Garden of Eden–from their innocence and purity into sin and unspeakable wretchedness. He has not ceased to destroy; all the forces which he can command are
diligently employed by him in these last days to compass the ruin of souls. He seizes every artifice that he can use to deceive, perplex, and confuse the people of God.
He has used you as his agent to scatter darkness and confusion, and he finds that you work admirably in his hands. You are the very instrument that he can handle with good effect to hurt, discourage, and tear down. You are not zealous to put your shoulder under the load with the people of God; but when they would move, you throw yourself as an additional load to prevent them from doing what they might do in advancing in the right direction. Satan is at work with those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. The most bitter hatred exists within him against all who are loyal to God and who obey His commandments. He sleeps not; he does not abate his vigilance for one moment. Would that God’s professed followers were half as wise, diligent, and persevering in the work of God as Satan is in his work.
Had you, Brother B, followed on when you first set your hand to the plow, and not looked back, you would now have been a messenger of light to bear the truth to those in darkness. But God could not use you to His glory until you should learn to counsel with your brethren and not to think you knew all that was worth knowing. Satan has succeeded in keeping you from doing good. You did run well for a season, but Satan’s temptations overcame you. You loved to be first and to be flattered. You loved the power which money gives. Satan understands the weakness of men. He has the knowledge which he has accumulated for ages and is an experienced hand at his work. His cunning and devices are well matured, and are too often successful because God’s people are not as wise as serpents.
Satan frequently appears as an angel of light, arrayed in the livery of heaven; he assumes friendly airs, manifesting great sanctity of character and high regard for his victims, the souls whom he means to deceive and destroy. Perils lie in the path which he invites souls to travel, but he succeeds in concealing these and presents the attractions only. The great Captain of our salvation has conquered in our behalf, that through Him we might conquer, if we would, in our own behalf. But Christ saves none against their choice; He compels none to obedience. He made the infinite sacrifice that they might overcome in His name and His righteousness be imputed unto them.
But in order to be saved you must accept the yoke of Christ and lay off the yoke which you have fashioned for your neck. The victory that Jesus gained in the wilderness is a pledge to you of the victory that you may gain through His name. Your only hope and salvation is in overcoming as Christ overcame. The wrath of God now hangs over you. You love the attractions of the world above the heavenly treasure. The lust of the eye and the pride of life have separated you from God. Your confidence in your own poor, weak, faulty self must be broken. You must feel your weakness before you will drop, with your burden, into the hands of God. The soul that trusts fully and entirely in God will never be confounded.
God would not have us consult our own convenience in obeying Him. Christ pleased not Himself when He was a man among men. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The Majesty of heaven had not where to lay His head, no place that He could claim as His own. He became poor for our sakes, that through Him we might be rich indeed. Let us not talk of sacrifice, for we know not what it is to sacrifice for the truth. As yet we have scarcely lifted the cross for Christ’s dear sake. Let us not seek for a way which is easier than the path our Redeemer has traveled before us. How incompetent are you, with all your boasted wisdom, to guide yourself! How liable are you to follow the dictates of a deceived conscience, to run in the way of error, and drag others with you!
Your natural temperament is such that submission and obedience to God’s requirements are very hard. Your unbounded self-confidence, your prejudices, and your feelings easily lead you to choose a wrong path. Christ will be to you an infallible guide if you will choose Him before your own blind judgment. In your business you have not had an eye single to the glory of God. You have had many perplexities and many difficulties to encounter, and if you had trusted to the True Counselor instead of to your own judgment, you would ever have been guided out of your perplexities in your business transactions.
You have an important work before you which you can never do without the special help of God. You are capable of securing the companionship of angels and of being an heir of God, a joint heir with Jesus Christ; and for you to labor to confine the range of hope and desire within the narrow compass of your own convenience would be a lifelong mistake. It is a terrible mistake to live only for this world. You look back and feel the condemnation of your own wrong course, and seek to justify yourself by finding fault with others. Whatever course others may pursue, or however wrong they may be, their errors will never cover one of your mistakes; and in the day of final reckoning you will not dare to plead this before God as a palliation for your neglect of duty.
God proposes to accept you as His child and make you a member of the royal family, a child of the heavenly King, upon conditions that you come out from the world and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. The Monarch of heaven would have you possess and enjoy all that can ennoble, expand, and exalt your being and fit you to dwell with Him forever, your existence measuring with the life of God. What a prospect is the life which is to come! What charms it possesses! How broad and deep and measureless is the love of God manifested to man! No words can describe this love; it surpasses all thought and imagination, but it is a reality that you may learn by experience; you may rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
With such a prospect before you, how can you narrow your mind to the compass of worldly thoughts and to the range of worldly occupations, seeking gain and yielding one point after another of present truth.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 449-458