I was shown that your brother had been convinced of the truth for some time, but influences had held him back. His wife had hindered him from obeying his convictions. But in her affliction she sought the Lord, and He was found of her. Then she felt an anxiety that her husband should embrace the truth; she repented that she had opposed him, that her pride and love of the world had so long kept him from receiving the truth. Like a weary child in search of rest but unable to obtain it, she at length complied with the gracious invitation: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Her weary, burdened soul sought her Lord, and with repentance, humiliation, and earnest prayer she cast her burden upon the great Burden Bearer, and in Him found rest; she received the evidence that her humiliation and earnest repentance were accepted of God, and that for Christ’s sake He had forgiven her sins.
I was shown, Brother D, that you have but a short time to work. Do up your work thoroughly, redeem the time. In your business transactions let not a blot tarnish your Christian character. Keep your garments unspotted from the world. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. Temptations may be all around you, but you are not compelled to enter into them. You may obtain strength from Christ to stand unsullied amid the pollutions of this corrupt age. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Keep the eye steadily fixed upon Christ, upon the divine image. Imitate His spotless life, and you will be a partaker of His glory, and with Him inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Brother F has had the cause of God at heart, but he has felt too deeply, and has taken on many burdens which he should not have borne. He has suffered in health in this way. He has sometimes viewed matters in a strong light, and has been too earnest and anxious to have all see them just as he did; and because they were backward in doing so, he has felt nearly crushed. He feels to the depths, and is in danger of urging his views of things too strongly.
Sister F wants to be a Christian, but she has not cultivated discretion and true courtesy. She is of a very sanguine turn of mind, ardent and self-confident. She shows the rough part of her character, and has not appeared to advantage. She has moved from impulse, acting just as she felt, and sometimes her feelings have been much excited and strong. She has strong likes and dislikes, and has permitted this unfortunate trait in her character to develop itself, greatly to the detriment of her own spiritual advancement and to the injury of the church. She has talked too much and unwisely, just as she felt. This has had a strong influence upon her husband, and has at times led him to move from excitement of feeling, when if he had waited and looked at matters calmly and weighed them properly, it would have been better for himself and for the church. Nothing is gained by moving hurriedly, moving from impulse, or from strong feeling.
Sister F moves from impulse, and finds fault, and has had too much to say against her brethren and sisters. This will cause confusion in any church. If she could control her own spirit, a great victory would be gained. If she would seek the heavenly adorning, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, calls of great price, she would then be a real help to the church. If she would cherish the spirit of Christ, and become a peacemaker, her own soul would flourish, and she would be a blessing to the church wherever she might be located. Unless she is converted and an entire change is wrought in her, unless she educates herself to be slow to speak and slow to wrath, and cultivates true Christian courtesy, her influence will prove injurious, and the happiness of others connected with her will suffer. She manifests an independence which is a damage to her and alienates her friends. This independence has caused her much trouble and has wounded her best friends.
If those who had means were close in their deal with her husband, and did not favor him more than worldlings in business transactions, she has felt and talked, and aroused feelings of dissatisfaction where none previously existed. This is a selfish world at best. Many of those who profess the truth are not sanctified by it, and may not have a heart to make even a trifling variation in the prices of produce when dealing with a poor brother, sooner than they would with an able worldling. They do not love their neighbors as themselves. It would be more pleasing to God were there less selfishness and more disinterested benevolence.
As Sister F has seen a selfish spirit manifest in deal, she has committed a greater sin by feeling and talking in regard to the matter as she has. She has erred in expecting too much. The tongue has been truly an unruly member, a world of iniquity, set on fire of hell, untamed and untamable. Sister F has had a spirit of retaliation, manifesting by her deportment that she was offended. This was all wrong. She has cherished bitter feelings, which are foreign to the spirit of Christ. Anger, resentment, and all kinds of unkind tempers are indulged by speaking against those with whom we are displeased, and by reciting the errors and failings and sins of neighbors. The lustful desires are gratified.
Sister F, if you are grieved because your neighbors or friends are doing wrong to their own hurt, if they are overtaken in fault, follow the Bible rule. “Tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” As you go to the one you suppose to be in error, see that you speak in a meek and lowly spirit; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. The erring can be restored in no other way than in the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and tender love. Be careful in your manner. Avoid anything in look or gesture, word or tone, that savors of pride or self-sufficiency. Guard yourself against a word or look that would exalt yourself, or place your goodness and righteousness in contrast with their failings. Beware of the most distant approach to disdain, overbearing, or contempt. With care avoid every appearance of anger; and though you use plainness of speech, let there be no reproach, no railing accusation, no token of warmth but that of earnest love. Above all, let there be no shadow of hate or ill will, no bitterness or sourness of expression. Nothing but kindness and gentleness can flow from a heart of love. Yet all these precious fruits need not hinder you from speaking in the most serious, solemn manner, as though angels were directing their eyes upon you, and you were acting in reference to the coming judgment. Bear in mind that the success of reproof depends greatly upon the spirit in which it is given. Do not neglect earnest prayer that you may possess a lowly mind, and that angels of God may go before you to work upon the hearts you are trying to reach, and so soften them by heavenly impressions that your efforts may avail. If any good is accomplished, take no credit to yourself. God alone should be exalted. God alone has done it all.
You have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to him and taking the steps which God has absolutely commanded. You say: “Why, I did not speak to anyone until I was so burdened that I could not refrain.” What burdened you? Was it not a plain neglect of your own duty, of a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go and tell the offender his fault between you and him alone. If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how could you be otherwise than burdened unless your heart was hardened while you were trampling the command of God underfoot, and in your heart hating your brother or neighbor? And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission in not telling your brother his fault, and you excuse and comfort yourself by a sin of commission by telling your brother’s faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease—by committing sin?
All your efforts to save the erring may be unavailing. They may repay you evil for good. They may be enraged rather than convinced. What if they hear to no good purpose, and pursue the evil course they have begun? This will frequently occur. Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom. If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly, and leave them with your heavenly Father. You have delivered your soul; their sin no longer rests upon you; you are not now partaker of their sin. But if they perish, their blood is upon their own head.
Dear friend, an entire transformation must take place in you, or you will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. The church at —–, especially talking women, have a lesson to learn. “If any man [or woman] among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” Many will be weighed in the balance and found wanting in this matter of so great importance. Where are the Christians who walk by this rule? who will take God’s part against the evilspeaker? who will please God, and set a watch, a continual watch, before the mouth, and keep the door of the lips? Speak evil of no man. Hear evil of no man. If there be no hearers, there will be no speakers of evil. If anyone speaks evil in your presence, check him. Refuse to hear him, though his manner be ever so soft and his accents mild. He may profess attachment, and yet throw out covert hints and stab the character in the dark.
Resolutely refuse to hear, though the whisperer complains of being burdened till he speak. Burdened indeed! with a cursed secret which separateth very friends. Go, burdened ones, and free yourselves from your burden in God’s appointed way. First go tell your brother his fault between you and him alone. If this fail, next take with you one or two friends, and tell him in their presence. If these steps fail, then tell it to the church. Not an unbeliever is to be made acquainted with the slightest particular of the matter. Telling it to the church is the last step to be taken. Publish it not to the enemies of our faith. They have no right to the knowledge of church matters, lest the weakness and errors of Christ’s followers be exposed.
Those who are preparing for the coming of Christ should be sober and watch unto prayer, for our adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; whom we are to resist steadfast in the faith. “He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.”
Chapter 5—Selfishness and World Loving
Dear Brother and Sister G,
I have for some time designed to write to you. As the light which the Lord has given me came distinctly before me, some things pressed themselves forcibly upon my mind while standing before the people at —–. I had hoped that you would stay to another meeting, and that the labor there commenced could have been continued. But I am sorry to see that when our brethren attend a Conference, they do not generally feel the importance of first preparing for the meeting. Instead of consecrating themselves to God before they come, they wait till they get to the meeting to have the work done for them there. They bring home along with them, and the things that they have left behind are considered of more value and importance than a preparation of heart for His coming. Therefore nearly all leave no better than when they came. Such meetings are attended with great expense, and if those who come are not profited, there is a loss to them, and they make the labor exceedingly hard for those who feel the burden of the work upon them. Our people left that Conference too soon. We might have seen a more special work from God had all remained and engaged in the work.
Sister G, I have a message to you. You are far from the kingdom. You love this world, and this love has made you cold, selfish, exacting, and penurious. The great object of interest with you is the powerful, mighty dollar. How little you know how God looks upon one in your condition. You are in a terrible deception. You are conformed to the world instead of being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Selfishness and self-love are exemplified in your life to a great degree. You have not overcome this unhappy defect in your character. If this is not remedied, you will lose heaven, and your happiness here will be greatly marred. This has been the case already. The dark cloud which has followed you, overshadowing your life, will grow larger and blacker until your whole sky is clouded. You may turn to the right, and there will be no light, and to the left, and you cannot discover a ray.
You make trouble for yourself where there is no trouble, because you are not right. You are unconsecrated. Your complaining, penurious spirit makes you unhappy and displeases God. During your life you have been looking out for yourself, seeking to make yourself happy. It is poor work, unprofitable business. The more you invest here the heavier will be the loss. The less stock you take in this business of serving yourself the greater will be the saving on your part. You are a stranger to disinterested, unselfish love, and while you see no special sin in the absence of this precious trait you will not be diligent to cultivate it.
You loved your husband and married him. You knew that when you married him you covenanted to become a mother to his children. But I saw a lack in you in this matter. You are sadly deficient. You do not love the children of your husband, and unless there is an entire change, a thorough reformation in you, and in your manner of government, these precious jewels are ruined. Love, manifestation of affection, is not a part of your discipline. Shall I tell you the truth and become your enemy by so doing? You are too thoroughly selfish to love the children of another. I was shown that the fruit of your union would not be prospered and blessed with strength, life, and health, and God’s spirit would leave you to yourself, unless you are thoroughly proved and tested, and right up those things in which you are so deficient. As your selfishness withers and blights the young hearts around you, so will the curse of God wither and blight the pledges of your selfish love and union. And if you continue your selfish course, God will come still closer to you and remove your idols one after another from before your face until you shall humble your proud, selfish, unsubdued heart before Him.
I saw that you would have a fearful account to render in the day of God because of your unfulfilled trust. You are making the lives of those dear children very bitter, especially the daughter’s. Where is the affection, the loving caress, the patient forbearance? Hatred lives in your unsanctified heart more than love. Censure leaps from your lips more than praise and encouragement. Your manners, your harsh ways, your unsympathizing nature, are to that sensitive daughter like desolating hail upon a tender plant; it bends to every blast until its life is crushed out, and it lies bruised and broken.
Your administration is drying up the channel of love, hopefulness, and joy in your children. A settled sadness is expressed in the countenance of the girl, but, instead of awakening sympathy and tenderness in you, this arouses impatience and positive dislike. You can change this expression to animation and cheerfulness if you choose. “Does not God see? Does He take no knowledge?” were the words of the angel. He will visit for these things. You voluntarily took upon you this responsibility, but Satan has taken advantage of your unhappy, unlovable, and unloving disposition, your self-love, your closeness, your selfishness, and it now appears in all its deformity, uncorrected, unsubdued, girding you about as with iron bands. Children read the countenance of the mother; they understand whether love or dislike is there expressed. You know not the work you are doing. Does not the little sad face, the heaving sigh welling up from a pressed heart in its yearning call for love, awaken pity? No, not in you. It places the child at a still greater distance from you and increases your dislike.
I saw that the father had not taken the course that a father should. God is not pleased with his position. Another has stolen the father’s heart from the blood of his blood and bone of his bone. Brother G, you have been very deficient in discernment. As the head of the house, you should have taken your position and not permitted things to go as they have gone. You have seen that things were not right and have sometimes felt anxious, but fear of displeasing your present wife and making unhappy discord in your family has led you to remain silent when you should have spoken. You are not clear in the matter. Your children have no mother to plead for them, to shelter them from censure by her judicious words.
Your children, and all other children who have lost the one in whose breasts maternal love has flowed, have met with a loss that can never be supplied. But when one ventures to stand in the place of mother to the little stricken flock, a double care and burden rests upon her, to be even more loving if possible, more forbearing of censure and threatening than their own mother could have been, and in this way supply the loss which the little flock have sustained. You, Brother G, have been like a man asleep. Take your children to your heart, encircle them with your sheltering arms, love them tenderly. If you fail to do this, “Found wanting” will be written against you.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 49-58