You have an account to render for the good you might have done during your life, had you been in the position in which God required you to be, and which He has made ample provision that you might occupy. But you have failed to glorify God upon the earth, and to save souls around you, because you did not avail yourselves of that grace and strength, wisdom and knowledge, which Christ has provided for you. You knew His will, but did it not. There will have to be a most manifest reformation in you both, or you will never hear from Jesus: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
In the evening of June 12, after reading the foregoing to the church, I was shown that while you are careless, proud, selfish, and indifferent to the salvation of souls, death is doing its work. One after another is leaving you, and passing to the grave. What has been your influence over those who assembled in your social gatherings? What has been said or done to lead souls to Christ? Have you been instant in season, out of season, to do your whole duty? Are you ready to meet at the bar of God those with whom you have mingled in your social gatherings, especially that class who have been thrown under your influence and who have died out of Christ? Are you prepared to say that your skirts are clear of their blood? I will mention one case, that of Q. Will no reproach fall upon you from her, upon you who were surrounded with good home influences, you who had every favorable opportunity to develop good Christian characters, but who have felt no burden for souls? Pride, vanity, and love of pleasure were fostered by you, and you acted your part in disgracing your profession and leading this poor soul, who had been tossed about and buffeted by Satan, to doubt the reality of the truth and the genuineness of the Christian religion.
Your frivolous conversation, in common with that of other of the young people, was disgusting. There was nothing noble and elevated in the turn your minds took. It was common chitchat and gossip, the silly, vain laugh, the jesting, and the joking. Angels have written the scenes you have acted over and over again. Notwithstanding the most solemn appeals have been made to you, and you have been reproved, rebuked, and warned, you are more censurable than other youth. You have had longer experience and greater knowledge of the truth. You have lived the longest at —–. You were among the first to profess to believe the truth and to be Christ’s followers, and your course of vanity and pride has done more toward shaping the experience of the youth in that place than has that of any of the others. Those who have been converted to the truth you have taken by the hand, as it were, and united to the world.
Great guilt rests upon you and also upon your parents, who have flattered your pride and folly. They have sympathized with you when reproved, and have given you to understand that they thought it uncalled for. You, Sister O, have thought yourself handsome. Your parents have flattered you. You have sought acquaintance with unbelievers. Aside from your profession, your actions have been unbecoming a prudent, modest girl. But when it is taken into the account that you profess to be a follower of the meek and lowly Jesus, you have disgraced your profession. O my sister, did you think those clerks could not see through the gloss you threw about you? Did you think they were so captivated with your pretty face that they could not see beneath the surface and read your true, superficial character? When you placed upon your head the adorning borrowed from Sister R’s store, and then displayed yourself as if on exhibition before those clerks, did you think this was not discerned? Did you forget that angels of God were in attendance, and that their pure eyes were reading your thoughts, the intents and purposes of the heart, and taking cognizance of every act, and delineating your true, frivolous character? While you were engrossed with your small talk to the clerk with whom you were fascinated, because he flattered your vanity, could you have stood before the looking glass you would have seen the gestures, the whisperings, among those who were observing you, and laughing because you were making such a foolish show. You were bringing a stain upon the cause of truth. Could you have entered that store unobserved a short time after you stepped out, and have heard the conversation after you had lingered as long as decency would permit, you would have learned some things you never thought of before. You would have been wounded and humbled to learn how you were viewed by even frivolous clerks. The very one who flattered you to your face joined in the laugh and sport of his companions upon your vain course.
You might have an influence for good in —– and honor your Redeemer. But instead of this you have made yourself the speech of flattering clerks and beardless youth. This unbecoming course has been remarked by very many, and those who have noticed these inconsistencies, even though they may be unbelievers and profess respect for you, despise you in their hearts. You are following in the footsteps of S, and unless your parents awake and open their eyes to your folly, they will share in your guilt. Sin is upon them and upon your sisters for the course they have taken in fostering your pride and flattering your vanity. If you and your sisters were in a saved state, you would all feel the perilous condition of the unsaved. The day will come, unless a great change is wrought in you, when you will hear from many lips. “I associated with these Christians, yet they never told me of my danger. They never warned me. I thought that if I was in danger of being lost, they would not rest day or night without arousing me to see my lost condition. Now I am lost. If I had been in their place and had seen one in a similar condition, I would not have rested until I had made them sensible of their state and pointed them to the only One who can save them.” You have been good and pleasing servants of Satan while you have professed to be servants of Christ.
Sister O, you have been so exalted by the esteem you have had of yourself that you have had no just sense of the estimate observers have placed upon your shallowness of character. They count you a coquette, and you have justly earned this reputation. It would have been much more profitable for you to have heeded the exhortation of the apostle: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning; … but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
Your parents have greatly failed in the education of their children. They have suffered them to be released from burdens which it was highly important for them to bear. Because they chose to please themselves, they were permitted to remain in bed, dozing away the sweetest and loveliest hours of the morning, while their indulgent parents were up, toiling with life’s burdens. These children have not learned to resist their inclinations, to wrestle against their own desires; they have not learned to endure hardness. They have been excused in a great measure from home burdens, and this has been an injury to them. They have never learned the act of self-denial or self-sacrifice. They would not submit to apply themselves to a task which did not meet their taste. Their education is greatly deficient. Yet pride—vain, vaunting pride—fills their hearts. Sister O has thought herself superior to her associates, that they were not worthy of much attention and courtesy from her. With this she has a stubborn will to do about as she pleases regardless of the wishes, conveniences, and necessities of others. Her disposition is an unhappy one, which, unless entirely overcome, will cause many a shadow to darken her pathway and embitter the lives of her best friends.
Chapter 28—Worldliness in the Church
Dear Brethren and Sisters in —–,
June 12, 1868, I was shown that the love of the world was to a great extent taking the place of love to God. You are situated in a pleasant country, one that is favorable to worldly prosperity. This places you where you are in constant danger of having your interest swallowed up in the world, in laying up treasure upon the earth. Your hearts will be where your treasure is. You are situated where there are temptations to be plunging deeper and deeper into the world, to be continually accumulating; and while you are thus engaged, the mind becomes engrossed with the cares of this life to such an extent as to shut out true godliness. But few realize the deceitfulness of riches. Those who are anxious to acquire means are so bent upon this one object as to make the religion of Christ a secondary matter. Spiritual things are not valued and are not sought after, for the love of gain has eclipsed the heavenly treasure. If the prize of eternal life were to be valued by the zeal, perseverance, and earnestness exhibited by those who profess to be Christians, it would not be half as valuable as earthly possessions. Compare the earnest effort made to obtain the things of this earth with the languid, weak, inefficient effort to gain spirituality and a heavenly treasure. No wonder that we experience so little of the illuminating influence from the heavenly sanctuary. Our desires are not in that direction; they are mostly confined to earthly pursuits, seeking for worldly things, and neglecting the eternal. Prosperity is blinding the eyes and deceiving the soul. God may speak, but the rubbish of earth prevents His voice from being heard.
Our aged father T has his affections upon the things of this earth when they should be removed and he be ripening up for heaven. The life that he now lives he should live by faith in the Son of God; his affections should be on the better land. He should have less and less interest in the perishable treasures of earth, while eternal things, which are of the greatest consequence, should engage his whole interest. The days of his probation are nearly ended. Oh, how little time remains to devote to God! His energies are worn, his mind broken, and at best his services must be weak; yet if given heartily and fully, they are wholly acceptable. With your age, Brother T, has come an increase of selfishness and a more firm, earnest love for the treasures of this poor world.
Sister T loves this world. She is naturally selfish. She has suffered much with bodily infirmities. God permitted this affliction to come upon her, and yet would not permit Satan to take her life. God designed through the furnace of affliction to loosen her grasp upon earthly treasures. Through suffering alone could this be done. She is one of those whose systems have been poisoned by drugs. By taking these she has ignorantly made herself what she is; yet God did not suffer her life to be taken, but lengthened her years of probation and suffering that she might become sanctified through the truth, be purified, made white and tried, and, through the furnace of affliction, lose her dross, and become more precious than fine gold, even than the golden wedge of Ophir. Love of the world has become so deeply rooted in the hearts of this brother and sister that it will require a severe trial to remove it. Dear brother and sister, you lack devotion to God. You are insane in regard to worldly things. The world has power to conform your mind to it, while the spiritual and heavenly do not bear with sufficient weight to transform the mind.
Men and women in —– who profess to be Christ’s followers, why do you not follow Him? Why do you exhibit such insanity to acquire an earthly treasure, which misfortune can so easily remove, and neglect the riches of heaven, the immortal, imperishable treasure?
I was shown the case of Brother U’s wife. She has a desire to do right, but has failings which cause herself and her friends much trouble. She talks too much. She lacks experience in the things of God, and unless she is converted and transformed by the renewing of the mind, she will be unable to stand amid the perils of the last days. Heart work is needed. Then the tongue will be sanctified. There is much talking which is sinful and should be avoided. She should set a strict watch before the door of her lips and keep her tongue as with a bridle, that her words may not work wickedness. She should cease talking of others’ faults, dwelling upon others’ peculiarities, and discovering others’ infirmities. Such conversation is censurable in any person. It is unprofitable and positively sinful. It tends only to evil. The enemy knows that if this course is pursued by Christ’s professed followers, it is opening a door for him to work.
I saw that when sisters who are given to talk get together, Satan is generally present, for he finds employment. He stands by to excite the mind and make the most of the advantage he has gained. He knows that all this gossip, and tale-bearing, and revealing of secrets, and dissecting of character, separate the soul from God. It is death to spirituality and a calm religious influence. Sister U sins greatly with her tongue. She ought by her words to have an influence for good, but she frequently talks at random. Sometimes her words put a different construction upon things than they will bear. Sometimes there is exaggeration. Then there is misstatement. There is no intention to misstate, but the habit of much talking and talking upon things that are unprofitable has been so long cherished that she has become careless and reckless in her words, and frequently does not know what she is stating herself. This destroys any influence for good she might have. It is time there was an entire reform in this respect. Her society has not been prized as it would have been had she not indulged in this sinful talking.
Christians should be careful in regard to their words. They should never carry unfavorable reports from one of their friends to another, especially if they are aware that there is a lack of union between them. It is cruel to hint and insinuate, as though you knew a great deal in regard to this friend or that acquaintance of which others are ignorant. Such hints go further, and create more unfavorable impressions, than to frankly relate the facts in an unexaggerated manner. What harm has not the church of Christ suffered from these things! The inconsistent, unguarded course of her members has made her weak as water. Confidence has been betrayed by members of the same church, and yet the guilty did not design to do mischief. Lack of wisdom in the selection of subjects of conversation has done much harm. The conversation should be upon spiritual and divine things; but it has been otherwise. If the association with Christian friends is chiefly devoted to the improvement of the mind and heart, there will be no after regrets, and they can look back on the interview with a pleasant satisfaction. But if the hours are spent in levity and vain talking, and the precious time is employed in dissecting the lives and character of others, the friendly intercourse will prove a source of evil, and your influence will be a savor of death unto death.
I cannot distinctly call to mind all the persons in your church who were shown me; but I saw that many had a great work to perform. There is too much talking by nearly all, and too little meditation and prayer. With many there is too much selfishness. The mind is devoted to self and not to the good of others. Satan’s power is upon you in a great degree. Yet there are precious lights among you, and those who are seeking to walk according to the will of God. Pride and the love of the world are the snares which are so great a hindrance to spirituality and a growth in grace.
This world is not the Christian’s heaven, but merely the workshop of God, where we are to be fitted up to unite with sinless angels in a holy heaven. We should be constantly training the mind to noble, unselfish thoughts. This education is necessary to so bring into exercise the powers which God has given us that His name shall best be glorified upon the earth. We are accountable for all the noble qualities which God has given us, and to put these faculties to a use He never designed we should is showing base ingratitude to Him. The service of God demands all the powers of our being, and we fail of meeting the design of God unless we bring these powers to a high state of cultivation, and educate the mind to love to contemplate heavenly things, and strengthen and ennoble the energies of the soul by right actions, operating to the glory of God.
Women professing godliness generally fail to train the mind. They leave it uncontrolled, to go where it will. This is a great mistake. Many seem to have no mental power. They have not educated the mind to think; and because they have not done this, they suppose they cannot. Meditation and prayer are necessary to a growth in grace. Why there is no more stability among women is because of so little mental culture, so little reflection. Leaving the mind in a state of inaction, they lean upon others to do the brainwork, to plan, and think, and remember for them, and thus grow more and more inefficient. Some need to discipline the mind by exercise. They should force it to think. While they depend upon someone to think for them, to solve their difficulties, and they refuse to tax the mind with thought, the inability to remember, to look ahead and discriminate, will continue. Efforts must be made by every individual to educate the mind.
I was shown that Brother V should seek for more spirituality. You do not possess that calm trust in God which He requires you to have. You do not train the mind to run in the channel of spirituality. You indulge in too much vain, unnecessary talk, which injures your own soul and injures your influence. You must encourage calmness and fortitude of mind. You are easily excited; you have strong feelings, and express in strong terms your likes and dislikes. You need more good religion to have a soothing influence upon you. You have been invited to learn of Christ, who is meek and lowly of heart. Precious lesson! If well learned, it will transform the whole life. Lightness and cheap talk are injurious to your spiritual advancement. You should seek after perfection of character and let your influence tell for God in your words and acts. You need to earnestly seek the Lord and to take a deeper draught at the fountain of truth, that its influence may sanctify your life. Your mind is too much on the world. You should have your interest in the better life than this. You have no time to lose; make haste and improve the few hours of probation.
Your wife has had too much pride and selfishness. God has been bringing her through the furnace of affliction to remove these spots from her character. She must be very careful that the fire of affliction does not kindle upon her in vain. It should remove the dross and bring her nearer to God, making her more spiritual. Her love of the world must die. Love of self must be overcome and her will swallowed up in the will of God.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 179-188