Chapter 7—Faithfulness in Home Duties
Dear Sister O,
I think you are not happy. In seeking for some great work to do, you overlook present duties lying directly in your path. You are not happy, because you are looking above the little everyday duties of life for some higher and greater work to do. You are restless, uneasy, and dissatisfied. You love to dictate better than you love to perform. You love better to tell others what to do than with ready cheerfulness to take hold and do yourself.
You could have made your father’s home more happy had you studied your inclination less and the happiness of others more. When engaged in the common, ordinary duties of life you fail to put your heart into your labor. Your mind is reaching forward and beyond to a work more agreeable, higher, or more honorable. Somebody must do these very things that you take no pleasure in and even dislike. These plain, simple duties, if done with willingness and faithfulness, will give you an education which it is necessary for you to obtain in order to have a love for household duties. Here is an experience that is highly essential for you to gain, but you do not love it. You murmur at your lot, thus making those around you unhappy and meeting with a great loss yourself. You may never be called to do a work which will bring you before the public. But all the work we do that is necessary to be done, be it washing dishes, setting tables, waiting upon the sick, cooking, or washing, is of moral importance; and until you can cheerfully and happily take up these duties you are not fitted for greater and higher duties. The humble tasks before us are to be taken up by someone; and those who do them should feel that they are doing a necessary and honorable work, and that in their mission, humble though it may be, they are doing the work of God just as surely as was Gabriel when sent to the prophets. All are working in their order in their respective spheres. Woman in her home, doing the simple duties of life that must be done, can and should exhibit faithfulness, obedience, and love as sincere as angels in their sphere. Conformity to the will of God makes any work honorable that must be done.
What you need is love and affection. Your character needs to be molded. Your worrying must be laid aside, and in place of this you must cherish gentleness and love. Deny self. We were not created angels, but lower than the angels; yet our work is important. We are not in heaven, but upon the earth. When we are in heaven, then we shall be qualified to do the lofty and elevating work of heaven. It is here in this world that we must be tested and proved. We should be armed for conflict and for duty.
The highest duty that devolves upon youth is in their own homes, blessing father and mother, brothers and sisters, by affection and true interest. Here they can show self-denial and self-forgetfulness in caring and doing for others. Never will woman be degraded by this work. It is the most sacred, elevated office that she can fill. What an influence a sister may have over brothers! If she is right she may determine the character of her brothers. Her prayers, her gentleness, and her affection may do much in a household. My sister, these noble qualities can never be communicated to other minds unless they first exist in your own. That contentment of mind, that affection, gentleness, and sunniness of temper which will reach every heart, will reflect upon you what your heart gives forth to others. If Christ does not reign in the heart, there will be discontent and moral deformity. Selfishness will require of others that which we are unwilling to give them. If Christ is not in the heart, the character will be unlovely.
It is not a great work and great battles alone which try the soul and demand courage. Everyday life brings its perplexities, trials, and discouragements. It is the humble work which frequently draws upon the patience and the fortitude. Self-reliance and resolution will be necessary to meet and conquer all difficulties. Secure the Lord to stand with you, in every place to be your consolation and comfort. A meek and quiet spirit you much need, and without it you cannot have happiness. May God help you, my sister, to seek meekness and righteousness. It is the Spirit of God that you need. If you are willing to be anything or nothing, God will help and strengthen and bless you. But if you neglect the little duties you will never be entrusted with greater.
Chapter 8—Pride and Vain Thoughts
Dear Children P and Q,
You are deceived in regard to yourselves. You are not Christians. To be true Christians is to be Christlike. You are far from the mark in this respect; but I hope that you will not be deceived until it is too late for you to form characters for heaven.
Your example has not been good. You have not come to the point to obey the words of Christ: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Here are lessons that you have not learned. The denial of self has not been a part of your education. You have neglected to study the words of life. “Search the Scriptures,” said the heavenly Teacher. He knew that this was necessary for all in order for them to become Christ’s true followers. You love to read storybooks, but do not find the word of God interesting. You should restrict your reading to the word of God and to books that are of a spiritual and useful character. In so doing you will close a door against temptation, and you will be blessed.
Had you improved the light that has been given in Battle Creek, you would now be far in advance of what you are in the divine life. Both of you are vain and proud. You have not felt that you must give an account of your stewardship. You are accountable to God for all your privileges and for all the means which pass through your hands. You have sought your own pleasure and selfish gratification at the expense of conscience and the approval of God. You do not act like servants of Christ, who are responsible to the Saviour who has bought you with His own precious blood. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
You are professedly the servants of Christ. Do you then yield to Him ready and willing obedience? Do you earnestly inquire how you shall best please Him who has called you to be soldiers of the cross of Christ? Do you both lift the cross and glory in it? Answer these questions to God. All your acts, however secret you may think they have been, are open to your heavenly Father. Nothing is hidden, nothing covered. All your acts and the motives which prompt them are open to His sight. He has full knowledge of all your words and thoughts. It is your duty to control your thoughts. You will have to war against a vain imagination. You may think that there can be no sin in permitting your thoughts to run as they naturally would without restraint. But this is not so. You are responsible to God for the indulgence of vain thoughts; for from vain imaginations arises the committal of sins, the actual doing of those things upon which the mind has dwelt. Govern your thoughts, and it will then be much easier to govern your actions. Your thoughts need to be sanctified. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” When you come into this position, the work of consecration will be better understood by you both. Your thoughts will be pure, chaste, and elevated; your actions pure and sinless. Your bodies will be preserved in sanctification and honor, that you may present them “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” You are required to deny self in little as well as in greater things. You should make an entire surrender to God; you are not approved of Him in your present state.
You have had an unsanctified influence over the youth in —–. Your love of show leads to an expenditure of means which is wrong. You do not realize the claims that the Lord has upon you. You have not become acquainted with the sweet results of self-denial. Its fruits are sacred. To serve yourselves and to please yourselves has been the order of your lives. To spend your means to gratify pride has been your practice. Oh, how much better it would have been for you to have restrained your desires and made some sacrifice for the truth of God, and by thus denying the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life have had something to put into the treasury of God! Instead of purchasing frivolous things, put your little into the bank of heaven, that when the Master comes you may receive both principal and interest.
Have you both studied how much you could do to honor your Redeemer upon the earth? Oh, no! You have been pleased to honor yourselves and to receive honor of others, but to study to show yourselves approved of God has not been the burden of your lives. Religion, pure and undefiled, with its strong principles, would prove to you an anchor. In order to answer life’s great ends you must avoid the example of those who are seeking for their own pleasure and enjoyment, and who have not the fear of God before them. God has made provisions for you that are ample. He has provided that if you comply with the conditions laid down in His word, and separate from the world, you may receive strength from Him to repress every debasing influence and to develop that which is noble, good, and elevating. Christ will be in you “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The will, the intellect, and every emotion, when controlled by religion, have a transforming power.
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Here is a principle which lies at the foundation of every act, thought, and motive; the consecration of the entire being, both physical and mental, to the control of the Spirit of God. The unsanctified will and passions must be crucified. This may be regarded as a close and severe work. Yet it must be done, or you will hear the terrible sentence from the mouth of Jesus: “Depart.” You can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth you. You are of that age when the will, the appetite, and the passions clamor for indulgence. God has implanted these in your nature for high and holy purposes. It is not necessary that they should become a curse to you by being debased. They will become this only when you refuse to submit to the control of reason and conscience. Restrain, deny, are words and works with which you are not familiar by experience. Temptations have swayed you. Unsanctified minds fail to receive that strength and comfort that God has provided for them. They are restless and possess a strong desire for something new, something to gratify, to please and excite the mind; and this is called pleasure. Satan has alluring charms to engage the interest and excite the imagination of the youth in particular, that he may fasten them in his snare. You are building upon the sand. You need to cry earnestly: “O Lord, my inmost soul convert.” You can have an influence for good over other young people, or you can have an influence for evil.
May the God of peace sanctify you wholly, soul, body and spirit.
Chapter 9—The Work at Battle Creek
In a vision given me at Bordoville, Vermont, December 10, 1871, I was shown that the position of my husband has been a very difficult one. A pressure of care and labor has been upon him. His brethren in the ministry have not had these burdens to bear, and they have not appreciated his labors. The constant pressure upon him has taxed him mentally and physically. I was shown that his relation to the people of God was similar, in some respects, to that of Moses to Israel. There were murmurers against Moses, when in adverse circumstances, and there have been murmurers against him.
There has been no one in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers who would do as my husband has done. He has devoted his interest almost entirely to the building up of the cause of God, regardless of his own personal interests and at the sacrifice of social enjoyment with his family. In his devotion to the cause he has frequently endangered his health and life. He has been so much pressed with the burden of this work that he has not had suitable time for study, meditation, and prayer. God has not required him to be in this position, even for the interest and progress of the publishing work at Battle Creek. There are other branches of the work, other interests of the cause, that have been neglected through his devotion to this one. God has given us both a testimony which will reach hearts. He has opened before me many channels of light, not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of His people at large. He has also given my husband great light upon Bible subjects, not for himself alone, but for others. I saw that these things should be written and talked out, and that new light would continue to shine upon the word.
I saw that we could accomplish tenfold more to build up the cause by laboring among the people of God, bearing a varied testimony to meet the wants of the cause in different places and under different circumstances, than we could to remain at Battle Creek. Our gifts are needed in the same field in writing and in speaking. While my husband is overburdened, as he has been, with an accumulation of cares and financial matters, his mind cannot be as fruitful in the word as it otherwise would be. And he is liable to be assailed by the enemy; for he is in a position where there is a constant pressure, and men and women will be tempted, as were the Israelites, to complain and murmur against him who stands in the most responsible position in the cause and work of God.
While standing under these burdens that no one else would venture to take, my husband has sometimes, under the pressure of care, spoken without due consideration and with apparent severity. He has sometimes censured those in the office because they did not take care. And when needless mistakes have occurred, he has felt that indignation for the cause of God was justifiable in him. This course has not always been attended with the best results. It has sometimes resulted in a neglect on the part of those reproved to do the very things they should have done; for they feared they would not do them right; and would then be blamed for it. Just as far as this has been the case, the burden has fallen heavier upon my husband.
The better way would have been for him to be away from the office more than he has been, and leave the work with others to do. And if, after patient and fair trial, they proved themselves unfaithful, or not capacitated for the work, they should have been discharged, and left to engage in business where their blunders and mistakes would affect their own personal interests and not the cause of God.
There were those who stood at the head of the business of the Publishing Association who were, to say the very least, unfaithful. And had those in particular who were associated with them as trustees been aware and their eyes not blinded and their sensibilities not paralyzed, these men would have been separated from the work long before they were.
When my husband recovered from his long and severe sickness, he took hold of the work confused and embarrassed as it was left by unfaithful men. He labored with all the resolution and strength of mind and body that he possessed to bring the work up and to redeem it from the disgraceful perplexity into which it had been brought by those who had their own interests prominent and who did not feel that it was a sacred work in which they were engaged. God’s hand has been reached out in judgment over these unfaithful ones. Their course and the result should prove a warning to others not to do as they have done.
The experience of my husband during the period of his sickness was unfortunate for him. He had worked in this cause with interest and devotion as no other man had done. He had ventured and taken advance positions as Providence had led, regardless of censure or praise. He had stood alone and battled through physical and mental sufferings, not regarding his own interests, while those whom God designed should stand by his side left him when he most needed their help. He had not only been left to battle and struggle without their help and sympathy, but frequently he had to meet their opposition and murmurings—murmurings against one who was doing tenfold more than any of them to build up the cause of God. All these things have had their influence; they have molded the mind that was once free from suspicion, trustful, and confiding, and caused him to lose confidence in his brethren. Those who have acted a part in bringing about this work will, in a great degree, be responsible for the result. God would have led them if they had earnestly and devotedly served Him.
I was shown that my husband had given his brethren unmistakable evidences of his interest in, and devotion to, the work of God. After he had spent years of his life in privation and unceasing toil to establish the publishing interests upon a sure basis he gave away to the people of God that which was his own and which he could just as well have kept and received the profits from had he chosen so to do. By this act he showed the people that he was not seeking to advantage himself, but to promote the cause of God.
When sickness came upon my husband, many acted in the same unfeeling manner toward him that the Pharisees did toward the unfortunate and oppressed. The Pharisees would tell the suffering ones that their afflictions were on account of their sins, and that the judgments of God had come upon them. By so doing they would increase their weight of suffering. When my husband fell under his weight of care, there were those who were merciless.
When he began to recover, so that in his feebleness and poverty he commenced to labor some, he asked those who then stood at the head of matters at the office for 40 per cent discount on a one-hundred dollar order for books. He was willing to pay sixty dollars for the books which he knew cost the Association only fifty dollars. He asked this special discount in view of his past labors and sacrifices in favor of the publishing department, but was denied this small favor. He was coolly told that they could give him but 25 per cent discount. My husband thought this very hard, yet he tried to bear it in a Christian manner. God in heaven marked the unjust decision, and from that time took the case in His own hands, and has returned the blessings removed, as He did to faithful Job. From the time of that heartless decision, He has been working for His servant, and has raised him above his former health of body, clearness and strength of mind, and freedom of spirit. And since that time my husband has had the pleasure of passing out with his own hands thousands of dollars’ worth of our publications without price. God will not utterly forget nor forever forsake those who have been faithful, even if they sometimes commit errors.
My husband has had a zeal for God and for the truth, and at times this zeal has led him to overlabor to the injury of physical and mental strength. But the Lord has not regarded this as so great a sin as the neglect and unfaithfulness of His servants in reproving wrongs. Those who praised the unfaithful and flattered the unconsecrated were sharers in their sin of neglect and unfaithfulness.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 79-88