Under the parable of a great supper, our Saviour shows that many will choose the world above Himself, and will, as the result, lose heaven. The gracious invitation of our Saviour was slighted. He had been to the trouble and expense to make great preparation at an immense sacrifice. Then he sent his invitation; but “they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” The Lord then turns from the wealthy and world-loving, whose lands and oxen and wives were of so great value in their estimation as to outweigh the advantages they would gain by accepting the gracious invitation he had given them to eat of his supper. The master of the house is angry, and turns from those who have thus insulted his bounty offered them, and he invites a class who are not full, who are not in possession of lands and houses, but who are poor and hungry, who are maimed and halt and blind, and who will appreciate the bounties provided, and in return will render the master sincere gratitude, unfeigned love and devotion.
Still there is room. The command is then given: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” Here is a class rejected of God because they despised the invitation of the Master. The Lord declared to Eli: “Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” Says Christ: “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.” God will not be trifled with. If those who have the light reject it, or neglect to follow it out, it will become darkness to them.
An immense sacrifice was made on the part of God’s dear Son, that He might have power to rescue fallen man and exalt him to His own right hand, make him an heir of the world and a possessor of the eternal weight of glory. Language fails to express the value of the immortal inheritance. The glory, riches, and honor offered by the Son of God are of such infinite value that it is beyond the power of men or even angels to give any just idea of their worth, their excellence, their magnificence. If men, plunged in sin and degradation, refuse these heavenly benefits, refuse a life of obedience, trample upon the gracious invitations of mercy, and choose the paltry things of earth because they are seen, and it is convenient for their present enjoyment to pursue a course of sin, Jesus will carry out the figure in the parable; such shall not taste of His glory, but the invitation will be extended to another class.
Those who choose to make excuses and continue in sin and conformity to the world will be left to their idols. There will be a day when they will not beg to be excused, when not one will wish to be excused. When Christ shall come in His glory and the glory of His Father, with all the heavenly angels surrounding Him, escorting Him on His way with voices of triumph, while strains of the most enchanting music fall upon the ear, all will then be interested; there will not be one indifferent spectator. Speculations will not then engross the soul. The miser’s piles of gold, which have feasted his eyes, are no more attractive. The palaces which the proud men of earth have erected, and which have been their idols, are turned from with loathing and disgust. No one pleads his lands, his oxen, his wife that he has just married, as a reason why he should be excused from sharing the glory that bursts upon his astonished vision. All want a share, but know that it is not for them.
In earnest, agonizing prayer they call for God to pass them not by. The kings, the mighty men, the lofty, the proud, the mean man, alike bow together under a pressure of woe, desolation, misery inexpressible; heart-anguished prayers are wrung from their lips. Mercy! mercy! Save us from the wrath of an offended God! A voice answers them with terrible distinctness, sternness, and majesty: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.”
Then kings and nobles, the mighty man, and the poor man, and the mean man, alike, cry there most bitterly. They who in the days of their prosperity despised Christ and the humble ones who followed in His footsteps, men who would not humble their dignity to bow to Christ, who hated His despised cross, are now prostrate in the mire of the earth. Their greatness has all at once left them, and they do not hesitate to bow to the earth at the feet of the saints. They then realize with terrible bitterness that they are eating the fruit of their own way, and are filled with their own devices. In their supposed wisdom they turned away from the high, eternal reward, rejected the heavenly inducement, for earthly gain. The glitter and tinsel of earth fascinated them, and in their supposed wisdom they became fools. They exulted in their worldly prosperity as though their worldly advantages were so great that they could through them be recommended to God, and thus secure heaven.
Money was power among the foolish of earth, and money was their god; but their very prosperity has destroyed them. They became fools in the eyes of God and His heavenly angels, while men of worldly ambition thought them wise. Now their supposed wisdom is all foolishness, and their prosperity their destruction. Again ring forth shrieks of fearful, heart-rending anguish: “Rocks and mountains, fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” To the caves of the earth they flee as a covert, but these fail to be such then.
Dear brother, life or death is before you. Do you know why your steps have faltered? why you did not persevere with courage and firmness? You have a violated conscience. Your business career has not been straightforward. You have something to do here. Your father did not look upon business principles in the correct light. You regard them as do worldlings in general, but not as God regards them. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Have you done this? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” If this commandment is obeyed, it prepares the heart to obey the second, which is like unto it: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” All the Ten Commandments are embodied in the two specified. The first includes the first four commandments, which show the duty of man to his Creator. The second embraces the last six, which show the duty of man to his fellow man. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. They are two great arms sustaining all ten of the commandments, the first four and the last six. These must be strictly obeyed.
“If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Very many who profess to be Christ’s disciples will apparently pass along smoothly in this world, and will be regarded as upright, godly men, when they have a plague spot at the core, which taints their whole character and corrupts their religious experience. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This forbids us to take advantage of our fellow men in order to advantage ourselves. We are forbidden to wrong our neighbor in anything. We should not view the matter from the worldling’s standpoint. To deal with our fellow men in every instance just as we should wish them to deal with us is a rule which we should apply to ourselves practically. God’s laws are to be obeyed to the letter. In all our intercourse and deal with our fellow men, whether believers or unbelievers, this rule is to be applied: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Here many who profess to be Christians will not bear the measurement of God; when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, they will be found wanting. Dear brother, “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” What a promise is this! But we are not to lose sight of the fact that it is based upon obedience to the command. God calls you to separate from the world. You are not to follow their practices, nor conform to them in your course of action in any respect. “But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
God calls for separation from the world. Will you obey? Will you come out from among them, and remain separate and distinct from them? “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” You cannot mingle with worldlings, and partake of their spirit, and follow their example, and be at the same time a child of God. The Creator of the universe addresses you as an affectionate Father. If you separate from the world in your affections, and remain free from its contamination, escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust, God will be your Father, He will adopt you into His family, and you will be His heir. In place of the world, He will give you, for a life of obedience, the kingdom under the whole heavens. He will give you an eternal weight of glory and a life that is as enduring as eternity.
Your heavenly Father proposes to make you a member of the royal family, that through His exceeding great and precious promises you may be a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. The more you partake of the character of the pure, sinless angels, and of Christ your Redeemer, the more vividly will you bear the impress of the divine, and the more faint will be the resemblance to the world. The world and Christ are at variance, because the world will not be in union with Christ. The world will also be at variance with Christ’s followers. In the prayer of our Saviour to His Father, He says: “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Your calling is a high, an elevated one, to glorify God in your body and spirit, which are His. You are not to measure yourself by others. The word of God has presented you an unerring pattern, a faultless example. You have dreaded the cross. It is an inconvenient instrument to lift, and because it is covered with reproach and shame, you have shunned it. You need to carry out the health reform in your life; to deny yourself, and eat and drink to the glory of God. Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. You need to practice temperance in all things. Here is a cross which you have shunned. To confine yourself to a simple diet, which will preserve you in the best condition of health, is a task to you. Had you lived up to the light which Heaven has permitted to shine upon your pathway, much suffering might have been saved your family. Your own course of action has brought the sure result. While you continue in this course, God will not come into your family and especially bless you and work a miracle to save your family from suffering. A plain diet, free from spices and flesh meats and grease of all kinds, would prove a blessing to you and would save your wife a great amount of suffering, grief, and despondency.
You have not pursued a course which would assure to you the blessing of God. If you would have His blessing attend you, and His presence abide in your family, you must obey Him, doing His will irrespective of losses or gains or your own pleasure. You are not to consult your desires, nor the approbation of worldlings who know not God and seek not to glorify Him. If you walk contrary unto God, He will walk contrary unto you. If you have other gods before the Lord, your heart will be turned away from serving the only true and living God, who requires the whole heart, the undivided affections. All the heart, all the soul, all the mind, and all the strength, does God require. He will accept of nothing short of this. No separation is allowed here; no half-hearted work will be accepted.
In order to render to God perfect service, you must have clear conceptions of His requirements. You should use the most simple food, prepared in the most simple manner, that the fine nerves of the brain be not weakened, benumbed, or paralyzed, making it impossible for you to discern sacred things, and to value the atonement, the cleansing blood of Christ, as of priceless worth. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
If men, for no higher object than a wreath or perishable crown as a reward of their ambition, subjected themselves to temperance in all things, how much more should those be willing to practice self-denial who profess to be seeking, not only a crown of immortal glory, but a life which is to endure as long as the throne of Jehovah, and riches that are eternal, honors which are imperishable, an eternal weight of glory. Will not the inducements presented before those who are running in the Christian race lead them to practice self-denial and temperance in all things, that they may keep their animal propensities in subjection, keep under the body, and control the appetite and lustful passions? Then can they be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
If the exceeding precious and glorious reward promised will not lead us to welcome greater privations and endure greater self-denial than are cheerfully borne by worldly men who are seeking merely a bauble of earth, a perishable laurel which brings honors from a few of the worldly, and hate from more, we are unworthy of everlasting life. In the earnestness and intensity of our zeal, perseverance, courage, energy, self-denial, and sacrifice we should as much excel those who are engaged in any other enterprise as the object we are seeking to attain is of higher value than theirs. The treasure we are seeking is imperishable, eternal, immortal, all overglorious; while that of which the worldling is in pursuit, endures but a day; it is fading, perishable, fleeting as the morning cloud.
The cross, the cross; lift it, Brother D, and in the act of raising it you will be astonished to find that it raises you, it supports you. In adversity, privation, and sorrow it will be a strength and a staff to you. You will find it all hung with mercy, compassion, sympathy, and inexpressible love. It will prove to you a pledge of immortality. May you be able to say with Paul: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
The Spirit of the Lord has been striving with your wife for some time. If you would yield all to God, she would have strength to take her position to seek to live out the truth. If you choose to turn from the truth, you will not go down alone; you will not only lose your own soul, but will be the means of turning others out of the way, and the blood of souls will be on your garments. Had you maintained your integrity, your mother, your brother E, and one who now hovers over the brink of the grave, might now be enjoying the consolation of the Spirit of God and have a good experience in the truth. Ever bear in mind that we are accountable for the influence we exert. Our influence gathers with Christ or scatters abroad. We are either helping souls in the narrow path of holiness or we are a hindrance, a stumbling block to them, turning them out of the way. You, my much-esteemed brother, have no time to lose. Be in earnest to redeem the time, because the days are evil. Your associates, those whose company you have chosen, have been a hindrance to you. Come out from among them, and be separate. Draw near to God, and come into closer union with His people. Let your interest and your affections center in Christ and His followers. Love those best who love Christ most. Sever the links which have bound you to those who love not God and the truth. What communion hath light with darkness? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
You are in imminent danger of making shipwreck of faith. You need all the strength which you can obtain from the people of God, those who possess hope, courage, and faith. But do not neglect prayer, secret prayer. Be instant in prayer; encourage a spirit of true devotion. In your business career you have a work to do. Just what, I am unable to tell you; but something is wrong. Search carefully. We are doing up work for eternity. All our acts, all our words, are to be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. A just and impartial God is to determine all our cases, every event of our life history. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
Let nothing obstruct your progress in the way to everlasting life. Your eternal interest is at stake. There must be a thorough work wrought in you. You must be fully converted, or you will fail of heaven. But Jesus invites you to make Him your strength, your support. He will be to you a present help in every time of need. He will be to you as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Let it not be your great anxiety to succeed in this world, but let the burden of your soul be: How shall I secure the better world? what have I to do to be saved? In saving your own soul, you save others. In lifting yourself, you lift others. In fastening your grasp upon the truth and upon the throne of God, you aid others to fix their trembling faith upon His promises and His eternal throne. The position you must come into is to value salvation dearer than earthly gain, to count everything but loss that you may win Christ. The consecration on your part must be entire. God will admit of no reserve, of no divided sacrifice; you can cherish no idol. You must die to self and to the world. Renew your consecration to God daily. Everlasting life is worth a lifelong, persevering, untiring effort.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 39-48