I was shown that you have oppressed hirelings in their wages. You have taken advantage of circumstances and secured your help at the lowest figure. This has not been pleasing to God. You should have paid your help liberally, all that they earned. God sees and knows. The Searcher of hearts is acquainted with the thoughts, the intents and purposes of the heart. Every dollar that has been gained by you in this way, if retained, will be scattered through adversity and affliction. The world, the world, the world, has been the order of the day with you. The salvation of the soul has become secondary. Oh, that you could see, in the light of eternity, just how God views these things. You would be alarmed and would not rest until you had made restitution.
You had light upon health reform, but you did not receive and live up to it. You gratified the appetite and taught your boy a sad lesson by indulging him in eating when and what he chose. In your love for the world you continued to work upon the high-pressure plan. The hand of God was removed, and you were left to your own weakness. Then you both tottered over the brink of the grave, yet you failed to learn the lesson in many things which God would have you learn. You retained your love for the world. Your selfish love for gain, your small, close dealing, was not put away. You did not appreciate the sympathy, kind care, and watchful tenderness of the one who had the care of you in your sickness. If you had, it would have led you to manifest a spirit of noble benevolence above any cheap dealing with her who had been true to you. You have ground the face of the poor; you have dealt unjustly. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.”
It seemed to me, as these things were presented before me, that Satan had possessed such power to blind minds through a love of the world, that even professed Christians forgot, or lost all sense of the fact that God lives and that His angels are making a record of all the doings of the children of men; that every mean act, every small deal, is placed upon the life record. Every day bears its burden of record of unfulfilled duties, of neglect, of selfishness, of deception, of fraud, of overreaching. What an amount of evil works is accumulating for the final judgment! When Christ shall come, “His reward is with Him, and His work before Him,” to render to every man according as his works have been. What a revelation will then be made! What confusion of face to some as the acts of their lives are revealed upon the pages of history!
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him? But ye have despised the poor.” “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” You may believe all the truth; yet if its principles are not carried out in your lives, your profession will not save you. Satan believes and trembles. He works. He knows his time is short, and he has come down in great power to do his evil works according to his faith. But God’s professed people do not support their faith by their works. They believe in the shortness of time, yet grasp just as eagerly after this world’s goods as though the world were to stand a thousand years as it now is.
Selfishness marks the course of many. “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
Divest yourselves of selfishness and make thorough work for eternity. Redeem the past and do not represent the holy truth you profess where you now live as you have where you have lived hitherto. Let your light so shine that others by seeing your good works may be led to glorify our Father in heaven. Stand upon the elevated platform of eternal truth. Regulate all your business transactions in this life in strict accordance with the word of God.
Chapter 25—Combativeness Reproved
Dear Brother M,
When we met you at —–, we were anxious to help you, and we feared you would not receive the help there which you needed. I proposed your coming to our place and associating with us, and others of God’s dear children, that you might be learning the lessons so important for you to learn before you could be strong to endure the temptations and perils of these last days. I recollected your countenance as that of one whom the Lord had shown me had been struggling for the mastery over powerful evil habits, which were leading not only to the destruction of your body but to your eternal destruction hereafter. You have gained victories, but you have still great victories to gain; you have battles to fight with internal foes which, unless overcome, will greatly mar your own happiness and that of all who associate with you.
The evil traits in your character must be overcome. You must take hold of the work with earnest, humble prayer to God, feeling your helplessness without His special grace. The belief of the truth has already wrought a reformation in your life, yet this reform is not as thorough as it must be in order for you to meet the measurement of God. You love the truth, but it must take a deeper hold of your life and influence your words and all your deportment. You have a great lesson to learn, and should lose no time in learning it. You have not educated yourself to self-control. Here is a special victory for you to gain. In your organization are more of the elements of war than of peace. You need to cultivate courtesy and true Christian politeness. “In honor preferring one another.” “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
Your combativeness is large, and you stand braced, prepared to rebut everything where you have a chance. You do not labor to see how near you can make your ideas and views harmonize with those of others, but you stand all ready to differ if there is a possible chance for you to do so. This injures your own soul, retards your spiritual advancement, and not only grieves and wounds those who would be your sincere friends, but sometimes disgusts them, so that your society is not agreeable and pleasant, but annoying. It is as natural as your breath for you to consider the views and opinions of others inferior to yours. You often greatly err here, for you have not all that wisdom and knowledge for which you give yourself credit. You often set your opinions up above men and women who have had many more years of experience than yourself, and who are far better qualified to direct and give words of wise judgment than yourself. But you have not seen these disagreeable besetments, and therefore have not realized the ill and bitter fruit they have produced. You have long indulged a spirit of contention, of war. Your peculiar turn of mind leads you to exult in opposites.
Your education has been deplorable; it has not been favorable to your now having a correct religious experience. You have had almost everything to unlearn and learn anew. You possess a hasty temper, which grieves your friends and the holy angels, and wounds your own soul. This is all contrary to the spirit of truth and true holiness. You must learn to cultivate modesty in speaking. Self must be subdued and kept in subjection. A Christian will not pursue a course of bickering and contention with even the most wicked and unbelieving. How wrong to indulge this spirit with those who believe the truth and who are seeking for peace, love, and harmony! Says Paul: “Be at peace among yourselves.” This spirit of contention is opposed to all the principles of heaven. In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount He says: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” You will have trouble wherever you go, unless you learn the lesson God designs you to learn. You should be less confident and forward in your own opinion, and possess a teachable spirit, that of a learner. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” Says James: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
A spirit of self-confidence is in keeping with your experience. Had you a more thorough experience in the things of God you would realize that the fruits you bear are bad. They contain no nourishment, but fill all who partake of them with bitterness. You must overcome your overbearing, dictatorial spirit. I have strong hope, my dear brother, that you, who have shown that you have moral courage to face an enemy in yourself, and fortitude to battle with the foe of appetite and strong evil habits which girded you about as with iron bands, will go to work right here and gain the victory. You have possessed a reckless spirit, have felt that no one cared specially for you, that almost everybody was your enemy, and that it was of no consequence what became of you.
The truth found you miserable. You saw in it a power that would exalt you and impart to you the force and strength that you had not. You grasped the rays of light that shone upon you; and if you will now yield yourself fully to the influence of the truth, it will thoroughly convert and sanctify you, and prepare you for the finishing touch of immortality. You possess many good traits of character; you have a liberal heart. God wants you to be right, just right. You are unwilling to be dictated to or directed. You want to do all the dictating yourself. But you must possess a humble, teachable spirit, and be affable, patient, long-suffering, full of gentleness and mercy.
We have an interest for you, and want to help you. I pray you to receive these lines with a right spirit, and let them suitably affect your heart and life.
The testimony I received yesterday I look upon as a well-merited rebuke for which I feel truly thankful to you. I earnestly hope to be an overcomer. I am fully sensible of the magnitude of the work I have to do, yet I trust that by God’s assisting grace I shall be able to conquer.
Chapter 26—Burden Bearers in the Church
Dear Brother and Sister N,
June 12, 1868, I was shown some things in reference to you. You have a work to do but see it not; you have not been burden bearers. You should feel greater interest in the work and cause of God than you do. You are so blinded by the love of the world that you do not see how great an influence the world has over you. You do not feel that a special weight of responsibility rests upon you, nor do you realize the importance of the time and the work to be accomplished. You are like persons asleep. Unity is strength. There is great feebleness in the church because there are in it so many backward ones who take no burdens. You are not workers with Christ. The spirit of the world is shutting from your hearts impressions which the truth should make.
It is important that all now come up to the work and act as though they were living men, laboring for the salvation of souls who are perishing. If all in the church would come up to the help of the Lord, we would see such a revival of His work as we have not hitherto witnessed. God requires this of you and of each member of the church. It is not left with you to decide whether it is best for you to obey the call of God. Obedience is required; and unless you obey you will stand on worse than neutral ground. Unless you are favored with the blessing of God you have His curse. He requires you to be willing and obedient, and says that you shall eat the good of the land. A bitter curse is pronounced on those who come not to the help of the Lord. “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” Satan and his angels are in the field to oppose every advance step that God’s people take, therefore the help of everyone is required.
Brother and Sister N, the influence of unbelieving friends affects you more than you are aware of. They bring you no strength, but darkness and unbelief. You have an individual work in the vineyard of the Lord. You have thought and cared too much for yourselves. Set your hearts in order, and then be in earnest. Inquire: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” God requires of you an earnest reaching out after Him. He bids you search your own hearts diligently to discover all there that prevents your bringing forth much fruit, and that which will remain. The reason you possess no more of the Spirit of God is that you do not cheerfully bear the cross of Christ. In the last vision I saw that you were deceived in regard to the strength of your love for this world. The cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and you become unfruitful. God requires us to bear much fruit. He will not give commands without giving with them power for their performance. He will not do our part of the work, neither does He require that we do His. It is God that worketh in us, but we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Faith must be sustained by works; the doers of the work are justified before God. You displease God in talking of your poverty, while you have abundance. All that you possess belongs to Him, yet He has seen fit to make you a steward of it for a short time, He is testing and proving you. How will you bear the test? He will require His own with usury.
You have fixed your eyes upon what you have given to different enterprises, and it looks large to you. But had you done very much more, had your hearts expanded, and your hands dispensed to the cause of God and to the needy, you would have done no more than your duty, and you would have been far happier. The Lord calls upon you to bring your offering to the altar, and not hold it within reach merely, but lay it on the altar. The altar sanctifies the gift when it is placed upon it, and not before.
You are not as separate from the world as God requires you to be, but you do not see and understand your danger. You are led astray by your love of the world. You both need to take a deeper draught at the Fountain of truth. Unless you do come into a different condition where you can honor God with your influence and your substance, His curse will come upon you. You may gather, but He will scatter. Instead of your health springing forth speedily, you will become like a withered branch. The Lord calls for workers—men who can and will feel for the salvation of souls, and who will sacrifice anything that they may be saved. No one else can do this work for you; the offerings of others, if ever so liberal, cannot take the place of yours. It is a surrender to God which you have to make, which no other one can make for you. It is only the Spirit’s power, working through mighty faith, that can make you able to successfully resist the many snares Satan has laid for your feet. The words and example of your Redeemer will be the light and strength of your heart. If you follow and trust in Him, He will not leave you to perish. You fear too much the displeasure of those who do not love and serve God. Why should you wish to keep the friendship of your Lord’s enemies or be influenced by their opinions? “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” If the heart were right, there would be a more decided separation from the world.
The Lord would have done a great and good work in this vicinity last spring had all felt the need of this work and come up to the help of the Lord. There was not unity of action. All did not feel the necessity of the work and engage in it heartily. There was not a surrendering of all to God. You were shown me as being troubled and perplexed, a mist of darkness gathering over you. You were questioning and were not in a position to receive strength yourselves nor to impart it to others. It is a solemn, fearful time. There is no time now for cherishing idols, no place for concord with Belial or for friendship with the world. Those whom God accepts and sanctifies to Himself are called to be diligent and faithful in His service, being set apart and devoted to Him. It is not a form of godliness, nor a name upon the church records, that constitutes “a living stone” in the spiritual building. It is being renewed in knowledge and true holiness, being crucified to the world and made alive in Christ, that unites the soul to God. The followers of Christ have one leading object in view, one great work: the salvation of their fellow men. Every other interest should be inferior to this; it should engage the most earnest effort and the deepest interest.
God first requires the heart, the affections. He requires His followers to love and serve Him with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 159-168