We are commanded, whether we eat, or drink, or whatsoever we do, to do all to the glory of God. How many have conscientiously moved from principle rather than from impulse, and obeyed this command to the letter? How many of the youthful disciples in —– have made God their trust and portion, and have earnestly sought to know and do His will? There are many who are servants of Christ in name, but who are not so in deed. Where religious principle governs, the danger of committing great errors is small; for selfishness, which always blinds and deceives, is subordinate. The sincere desire to do others good so predominates that self is forgotten. To have firm religious principles is an inestimable treasure. It is the purest, highest, and most elevated influence mortals can possess. Such have an anchor. Every act is well considered, lest its effect be injurious to another and lead away from Christ. The constant inquiry of the mind is: Lord, how shall I best serve Thee, and glorify Thy name in the earth? How shall I conduct my life to make Thy name a praise in the earth, and lead others to love, serve, and honor Thee? Let me only desire and choose Thy will. Let the words and example of my Redeemer be the light and strength of my heart. While I follow and trust in Him, He will not leave me to perish. He will be my crown of rejoicing.
If we mistake the wisdom of man for the wisdom of God we are led astray by the foolishness of man’s wisdom. Here is the great danger of many in —–. They have not an experience for themselves. They have not been in the habit of prayerfully considering for themselves, with unprejudiced, unbiased judgment, questions and subjects that are new and that are ever liable to arise. They wait to see what others will think. If these dissent, that is all that is needed to convince them that the subject under consideration is of no account whatever. Although this class is large, it does not change the fact that they are inexperienced and weak-minded through long yielding to the enemy, and will always be as sickly as babes, walking by others’ light, living on others’ experience, feeling as others feel, and acting as others act. They act as though they had not an individuality. Their identity is submerged in others; they are merely shadows of those whom they think about right. Unless these become sensible of their wavering character and correct it, they will all fail of everlasting life; they will be unable to cope with the perils of the last days. They will possess no stamina to resist the devil, for they do not know that it is he. Someone must be at their side to inform them whether a foe or a friend is approaching. They are not spiritual, therefore spiritual things are not discerned. They are not wise in those things which relate to the kingdom of God. Neither young nor old are excusable in trusting to another to have an experience for them. Said the angel: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” A noble self-reliance is needed in the Christian experience and warfare.
Men, women, and youth, God requires you to possess moral courage, steadiness of purpose, fortitude and perseverance, minds that cannot take the assertions of another, but which will investigate for themselves before receiving or rejecting, that will study and weigh evidence, and take it to the Lord in prayer. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Now the condition: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” This petition for wisdom is not to be a meaningless prayer, out of mind as soon as finished. It is a prayer that expresses the strong, earnest desire of the heart, arising from a conscious lack of wisdom to determine the will of God.
After the prayer is made, if the answer is not realized immediately, do not weary of waiting and become unstable. Waver not. Cling to the promise, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” Like the importunate widow, urge your case, being firm in your purpose. Is the object important and of great consequence to you? It certainly is. Then waver not, for your faith may be tried. If the thing you desire is valuable, it is worthy of a strong, earnest effort. You have the promise; watch and pray. Be steadfast and the prayer will be answered; for is it not God who has promised? If it costs you something to obtain it you will prize it the more when obtained. You are plainly told that if you waver you need not think that you shall receive anything of the Lord. A caution is here given not to become weary, but to rest firmly upon the promise. If you ask, He will give you liberally and upbraid not.
Here is where many make a mistake. They waver from their purpose, and their faith fails. This is the reason they receive nothing of the Lord, who is our Source of strength. None need go in darkness, stumbling along like a blind man; for the Lord has provided light if they will accept it in His appointed way, and not choose their own way. He requires of all a diligent performance of everyday duties. Especially is this required of all who are engaged in the solemn, important work in the office of publication, both of those upon whom rest the more weighty responsibilities of the work, and of those who bear the least responsibilities. This can be done only by looking to God for ability to enable them faithfully to perform what is right in the sight of Heaven, doing all things as though governed by unselfish motives, as if the eye of God were visible to all, looking upon all, and investigating the acts of all.
The sin which is indulged to the greatest extent, and which separates us from God and produces so many contagious spiritual disorders, is selfishness. There can be no returning to the Lord except by self-denial. Of ourselves we can do nothing; but, through God strengthening us, we can live to do good to others, and in this way shun the evil of selfishness. We need not go to heathen lands to manifest our desire to devote all to God in a useful, unselfish life. We should do this in the home circle, in the church, among those with whom we associate and with whom we do business. Right in the common walks of life is where self is to be denied and kept in subordination. Paul could say: “I die daily.” It is the daily dying to self in the little transactions of life that makes us overcomers. We should forget self in the desire to do good to others. With many there is a decided lack of love for others. Instead of faithfully performing their duty, they seek rather their own pleasure.
God positively enjoins upon all His followers a duty to bless others with their influence and means, and to seek that wisdom of Him which will enable them to do all in their power to elevate the thoughts and affections of those who come within their influence. In doing for others, a sweet satisfaction will be experienced, an inward peace which will be a sufficient reward. When actuated by a high and noble desire to do others good, they will find true happiness in a faithful discharge of life’s manifold duties. This will bring more than an earthly reward; for every faithful, unselfish performance of duty is noticed by the angels and shines in the life record. In heaven none will think of self, nor seek their own pleasure; but all, from pure, genuine love, will seek the happiness of the heavenly beings around them. If we wish to enjoy heavenly society in the earth made new, we must be governed by heavenly principles here.
Every act of our lives affects others for good or evil. Our influence is tending upward or downward; it is felt, acted upon, and to a greater or less degree reproduced by others. If by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence upon others, and thus hundreds and thousands are affected by our unconscious influence. If we by acts strengthen or force into activity the evil powers possessed by those around us, we share their sin, and will have to render an account for the good we might have done them and did not do, because we made not God our strength, our guide, our counselor.
Chapter 18—True Love
True love is not a strong, fiery, impetuous passion. On the contrary, it is calm and deep in its nature. It looks beyond mere externals and is attracted by qualities alone. It is wise and discriminating, and its devotion is real and abiding. God tests and proves us by the common occurrences of life. It is the little things which reveal the chapters of the heart. It is the little attentions, the numerous small incidents and simple courtesies of life, that make up the sum of life’s happiness; and it is the neglect of kindly, encouraging, affectionate words, and the little courtesies of life, which helps compose the sum of life’s wretchedness. It will be found at last that the denial of self for the good and happiness of those around us constitutes a large share of the life record in heaven. And the fact will also be revealed that the care of self, irrespective of the good and happiness of others, is not beneath the notice of our heavenly Father.
Brother B, the Lord is working for you, and will bless and strengthen you in the course of right. You understand the theory of truth, and should be obtaining all the knowledge you can of God’s will and work, that you may be prepared to fill a more responsible position if He, seeing you can glorify His name best in so doing, should require it of you. But you have yet an experience to gain. You are too impulsive, too easily affected by circumstances. God is willing to strengthen, stablish, settle you, if you will earnestly and humbly seek wisdom of Him who is unerring, and who has promised that you shall not seek in vain.
In teaching the truth to others, you are in danger of talking too strong, in a manner not in keeping with your short experience. You take in things at a glance, and can see the bearing of subjects readily. All are not organized as you are, and cannot do this. You will not be prepared to patiently, calmly wait for those to weigh evidence who cannot see as readily as you do. You will be in danger of urging others too much to see at once as you see and feel all that zeal and necessity of action that you feel. If your expectations are not realized, you will be in danger of becoming discouraged and restless, and wishing a change. You must shun a disposition to censure, to bear down. Keep clear of everything that savors of a denunciatory spirit. It is not pleasing to God for this spirit to be found in any of His servants of long experience. It is proper for a youth, if graced with humility and the inward adorning, to manifest ardor and zeal; but when a rash zeal and a denunciatory spirit are manifested by a youth who has but a few years of experience, it is most unbecoming and positively disgusting. Nothing can destroy his influence as soon as this. Mildness, gentleness, forbearance, long-suffering, being not easily provoked, bearing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things—these are the fruit growing upon the precious tree of love, which is of heavenly growth. This tree, if nourished, will prove to be an evergreen. Its branches will not decay, its leaves will not wither. It is immortal, eternal, watered continually by the dews of heaven.
Love is power. Intellectual and moral strength are involved in this principle, and cannot be separated from it. The power of wealth has a tendency to corrupt and destroy; the power of force is strong to do hurt; but the excellence and value of pure love consist in its efficiency to do good, and to do nothing else than good. Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God regards more with how much love one worketh than the amount he doeth. Love is of God. The unconverted heart cannot originate nor produce this plant of heavenly growth, which lives and flourishes only where Christ reigns.
Love cannot live without action, and every act increases, strengthens, and extends it. Love will gain the victory when argument and authority are powerless. Love works not for profit nor reward; yet God has ordained that great gain shall be the certain result of every labor of love. It is diffusive in its nature and quiet in its operation, yet strong and mighty in its purpose to overcome great evils. It is melting and transforming in its influence, and will take hold of the lives of the sinful and affect their hearts when every other means has proved unsuccessful. Wherever the power of intellect, of authority, or of force is employed, and love is not manifestly present, the affections and will of those whom we seek to reach assume a defensive, repelling position, and their strength of resistance is increased. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. He came into the world to bring resistance and authority into subjection to Himself. Wisdom and strength He could command, but the means He employed with which to overcome evil were the wisdom and strength of love. Suffer nothing to divide your interest from your present work until God shall see fit to give you another piece of work in the same field. Seek not for happiness, for it is never to be found by seeking for it. Go about your duty. Let faithfulness mark all your doings, and be clothed with humility.
“Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Blessed results would appear as the fruit of such a course. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Here are strong motives which should constrain us to love one another with a pure heart, fervently. Christ is our example. He went about doing good. He lived to bless others. Love beautified and ennobled all His actions. We are not commanded to do to ourselves what we wish others to do unto us; we are to do unto others what we wish them to do to us under like circumstances. The measure we mete is always measured to us again. Pure love is simple in its operations, and is distinct from any other principle of action. The love of influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life and frequently a blameless conversation. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions, acknowledge the present truth, and express humility and affection in an outward manner, yet the motives may be deceptive and impure; the actions that flow from such a heart may be destitute of the savor of life and the fruits of true holiness, being destitute of the principles of pure love. Love should be cherished and cultivated, for its influence is divine.
Chapter 19—Amusements at the Institute
When the amusements were introduced into the Institute, some in —– manifested their superficial character. They were well pleased and gratified; their frivolous turn of mind was just suited. The things recommended for invalids they thought good for themselves; and Dr. C is not accountable for all the results accruing from the counsel given to his patients. Those in different churches abroad, who were unconsecrated, seized upon the first semblance of an excuse to engage in pleasure, hilarity, and folly. As soon as it was known that the physicians at the Institute had recommended plays and amusements in order to divert the minds of the patients from themselves into a more cheerful train of thought, it went like fire in the stubble; the young in —– and other churches thought that they had need of just such things, and the armor of righteousness was laid off by many. As they were no longer held in by bit and bridle, they engaged in these things with as much earnestness and perseverance as though everlasting life depended upon their zeal in this direction. Here was an opportunity to discern between the conscientious followers of Christ and those who were self-deceived. Some had not the cause of God at heart. They had not the work of true holiness wrought in the soul. They had failed to make God their trust, and were unstable, and only needed a wave to raise them from their feet and toss them to and fro. Such showed that they possessed but little stability and moral independence. They had not an experience for themselves, and therefore walked in the sparks of others’ kindling. They had not Christ in their hearts to confess to the world. They professed to be His followers, but earthly and temporal things held their frivolous, selfish hearts in subjection.
There were others who did not seem to possess anxiety in regard to the amusement question. They felt such confidence that God would make all right that their peace of mind was not disturbed. They decided that a prescription for invalids was not for them, therefore they would not be troubled. Whatever others in the church or in the world might do was nothing to them; for, said they, whom have we to follow but Christ? He has left us a command to walk even as He walked. We must live as seeing Him who is invisible, and do what we do heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men.
When such things arise, character is developed. Moral worth can then be truly estimated. It is not difficult to ascertain where those are to be found who profess godliness, yet have their pleasure and happiness in this world. Their affections are not upon things above, but upon things on the earth, where Satan reigns. They walk in darkness, and cannot love and enjoy heavenly things because they cannot discern them. They are alienated from the life of Christ, having their understanding darkened. The things of the Spirit are foolishness unto them. Their pursuits are according to the course of this world, and their interests and prospects are joined with the world and with earthly things. If such can pass along bearing the name of Christians, yet serving both God and mammon, they are satisfied. But things will occur to reveal the hearts of these, who are only a burden and a curse to the church.
The spirit existing in the church is such as to lead away from God and the path of holiness. Many of the church have ascribed their state of spiritual blindness to the influence growing out of the principles taught at the Institute. This is not entirely correct. Had the church stood in the counsel of God, the Institute would have been controlled. The light of the church would have been diffused to that branch of the work, and the errors would not have existed there that did. It was the moral darkness of the church that had the greatest influence to create the moral darkness and spiritual death in the Institute. Had the church been in a healthy condition, she could have sent a vitalizing, healthful current to this arm of the body. But the church was sickly and did not enjoy the favor of God nor the light of His countenance. A sickly, deathly influence was circulated all through the living body until the disease was apparent everywhere.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 129-138