Of all the families I am acquainted with, none need the benefit of the health reform more than yours. You groan under pains and prostrations which you cannot account for, and you try to submit with as good a grace as you can, thinking affliction is your lot and Providence has thus ordained it. If you could have your eyes opened and could see the steps taken in your lifetime to walk right into your present condition of poor health you would be astonished at your blindness in not seeing the real state of the case before. You have created unnatural appetites, and do not derive half that enjoyment from your food which you would if you had not used your appetites wrongfully. You have perverted nature, and have been suffering the consequences, and painful has it been.
Nature bears abuse as long as she can without resisting, then she arouses and makes a mighty effort to rid herself of the encumbrances and evil treatment she has suffered. Then come headache, chills, fevers, nervousness, paralysis, and other evils too numerous to mention. A wrong course of eating or drinking destroys health, and with it the sweetness of life. Oh, how many times have you purchased what you called a good meal at the expense of a fevered system, loss of appetite, and loss of sleep! Inability to enjoy food, a sleepless night, hours of suffering—all for a meal in which taste was gratified! Thousands have indulged their perverted appetites, have eaten a good meal, as they called it, and as the result, have brought on a fever, or some other acute disease, and certain death. That was enjoyment purchased at immense cost. Yet many have done this, and these self-murderers have been eulogized by their friends and the minister, and carried directly to heaven at their death. What a thought! Gluttons in heaven! No, no; such will never enter the pearly gates of the golden city of God. Such will never be exalted to the right hand of Jesus the precious Saviour, the suffering Man of Calvary, whose life was one of constant self-denial and sacrifice. There is a place appointed for all such among the unworthy, who can have no part in the better life, the immortal inheritance.
God requires all men to render their bodies to Him a living sacrifice, not a dead or a dying sacrifice, a sacrifice which their own course of action is debilitating, filling with impurities and disease. God calls for a living sacrifice. The body, He tells us, is the temple of the Holy Ghost, the habitation of His Spirit, and He requires all who bear His image to take care of their bodies for the purpose of His service and His glory. “Ye are not your own,” says the inspired apostle, “ye are bought with a price;” wherefore “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” In order to do this, add to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience. It is a duty to know how to preserve the body in the very best condition of health, and it is a sacred duty to live up to the light which God has graciously given. If we close our eyes to the light for fear we shall see our wrongs, which we are unwilling to forsake, our sins are not lessened but increased. If light is turned from in one case, it will be disregarded in another. It is just as much sin to violate the laws of our being as to break one of the Ten Commandments, for we cannot do either without breaking God’s law. We cannot love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength while we are loving our appetites, our tastes, a great deal better than we love the Lord. We are daily lessening our strength to glorify God, when He requires all our strength, all our mind. By our wrong habits we are lessening our hold on life, and yet professing to be Christ’s followers, preparing for the finishing touch of immortality.
My brother and sister, you have a work to do which no one can do for you. Awake from your lethargy, and Christ shall give you life. Change your course of living, your eating, your drinking, and your working. While you pursue the course you have been following for years, you cannot clearly discern sacred and eternal things. Your sensibilities are blunted and your intellect beclouded. You have not been growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth as was your privilege. You have not been increasing in spirituality, but growing more and more darkened. You have made too much haste to acquire property, and have been in danger of overreaching, looking out for your own interest and not regarding the interest of others as you would like to have them regard yours. You have encouraged selfishness in yourselves, which must be overcome. Closely examine your own hearts, and in your lives imitate the unerring Pattern, and all will be well with you. Preserve a clear conscience before God. In all you do glorify His name. Divest yourselves of selfishness and selfish love.
“Be not conformed to this world: 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.” The customs and practices of men are not to be your criterion. However trying may be your circumstances, never allow yourselves to overreach. Satan is at hand to tempt you to do this, and he will not let you rest in this matter. It is possible for a merchant to be a Christian and preserve his integrity before God. But in order to do this, constant watchfulness is necessary and earnest supplication before God to be kept from the evil tendency of this degenerate age to advantage self at others’ disadvantage. You are in a hard place to advance in the divine life. You have a principle, but you do not hang all your weight upon God. You trust too much in your own feeble strength. You have great need of divine aid, of a power not to be found in yourself. There is One to whom you can go for counsel, whose wisdom is infinite. He has invited you to come to Him, for He will supply your need. If by faith you cast all your care upon Him who marks the falling of a sparrow, you will not trust in vain. If you will rest upon His sure promises, and maintain your integrity, angels of God will be round about you. Maintain good works in faith before God; then will your steps be ordered by the Lord, and His prospering hand will not be removed from you.
If you should be left to mark out your own course, you would make poor work of the matter, and would speedily make shipwreck of faith. Take all your cares and burdens to the Burden Bearer. But suffer not a blot to tarnish your Christian character. Never, never for the sake of gain stamp your life record in heaven, which is viewed by all the angelic host, and by your self-denying Redeemer, with avarice, penuriousness, selfishness, or false dealing. Such a course might bring you profit so far as this world views the matter; but, viewed in the light of heaven, it would prove an immense, an irreparable loss. “The Lord seeth not as man seeth.” In trusting in God continually there is safety, there will not be a constant fear of future evil. This borrowed care and anxiety will cease. We have a heavenly Father who careth for His children, and will and does make His grace sufficient in every time of need. When we take into our own hands the management of things that concern us, and depend upon our own wisdom for success, we may well have anxiety and anticipate danger and loss, for it will most certainly come upon us.
Full and entire consecration to God is required of us. While the Redeemer of sinful mortals was laboring and suffering for us, He denied Himself, and His whole life was one continued scene of toil and privation. Had He chosen to do so, He could have passed His days on earth in ease and plenty, and appropriated to Himself all the pleasures and enjoyments of this life. But He did not; He considered not His own convenience. He lived not to gratify Himself, but to do good and to save others from suffering, to help those who most needed help. He endured to the end. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and He hath borne the iniquity of us all. The bitter cup was apportioned to us to drink. Our sins mingled it. But our dear Saviour took the cup from our lips and drank it Himself, and in its stead He presents to us a cup of mercy, blessing, and salvation. Oh, what an immense sacrifice was this for the fallen race! What love, what wondrous and matchless love! After all this manifestation of suffering to show His love, shall we shrink from the small trials we have to bear? Can we love Christ, and refuse to lift the cross? Can we love to be with Him in glory, and not follow Him even from the judgment hall to Calvary? If Christ be in us the hope of glory, we shall walk even as He walked; we shall imitate His life of sacrifice to bless others; we shall drink of the cup, and be baptized with the baptism; we shall welcome a life of devotion, trial, and self-denial, for Christ’s sake. Heaven will be cheap enough whatever sacrifice we may make to obtain it.
Chapter 8—Love for the Erring
I was shown that while Sister J and Brother and Sister K have seen wrongs in others, they have not made efforts to correct those wrongs and help those whom they ought to have helped. They have left them too much alone, and held them off at arms’ length, and felt that it was of no use to try to do anything for them. This is wrong. They commit an error in so doing. Christ said: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The Lord would have us help those who most need help. While you have seen the errors and wrongs in others, you have shut yourselves too much to yourselves, and have been too selfish in your enjoyment of the truth. God does not approve this being satisfied with the truth and making no sacrifice to aid and strengthen those who need strength. We are not all organized alike, and many have not been educated aright. Their education has been deficient. Some have had a quick temper transmitted to them, and their education in childhood has not taught them self-control. With this fiery temper, envy and jealousy are frequently united. Others are faulty in other respects. Some are dishonest in deal, overreaching in trade. Others are arbitrary in their families, loving to rule. Their lives are far from being correct. Their education was all wrong. They were not told the sin of yielding to the control of these evil traits; therefore sin does not appear to them so exceedingly sinful. Others, whose education has not been so faulty, who have had better training, have developed a much less objectionable character. The Christian life of all is very much affected for good or for evil by their previous education.
Jesus, our Advocate, is acquainted with all the circumstances with which we are surrounded and deals with us according to the light we have had and the circumstances in which we are placed. Some have a much better organization than others. While some are continually harassed, afflicted, and in trouble because of their unhappy traits of character, having to war with internal foes and the corruption of their nature, others have not half so much to battle against. They pass along almost free from the difficulties which their brethren and sisters who are not so favorably organized are laboring under. In very many cases they do not labor half so hard to overcome and live the life of a Christian as do some of those unfortunate ones I have mentioned. The latter appear to disadvantage almost every time, while the former appear much better because it is natural for them so to do. They may not labor half as hard to watch and keep the body under, yet at the same time they compare their lives with the lives of others who are unfortunately organized and badly educated, and flatter themselves with the contrast. They talk of the failings, errors, and wrongs of the unfortunate, but do not feel that they have any burden in the matter, farther than to dwell upon those wrongs and shun those who are guilty of them.
The prominent position which you as a family occupy in the church makes it highly necessary for you to be burden bearers. Not that you are to take burdens for those who are able to bear their own and also to aid others; but you should help those who stand most in need of help, those who are less favorably situated, who are erring and faulty, and who may have injured you and tried your patience to the utmost. It is just such ones that Jesus pities, because Satan has more power over them and is constantly taking advantage of their weak points and driving his arrows to wound them where they are least protected. Jesus exercises His power and mercy for just such pitiable cases. When He asked who loved most, Simon answered: “He to whom he forgave most.” Thus it will be. Jesus did not shun the weak, unfortunate, and helpless, but He helped such as needed help. He did not confine His visits and labors to a class more intelligent and less faulty, to the neglect of the unfortunate. He did not inquire whether it was agreeable for Him to be a companion of the poorest, the most needy. These are the ones whose company He sought, the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
This is the work you have neglected. You have shunned disagreeable responsibilities and have not gone to the erring and visited them, and manifested an interest and love for them, and made yourselves familiar with them. You have not had a spirit of Christlike forgiveness. You have marked out just such a course that all must come up to before you could throw over them your mantle of charity. You are not required to cloak sin, but to exercise that pitying love for the erring which Christ has exercised toward you.
You are placed under the most favorable circumstances for the development of good Christian characters. You are not where you feel pinching want, or where your souls are galled and distressed with the conduct of disobedient, rebellious children. In your family there is no dissenting voice. You have all that heart can wish. Yet, notwithstanding your favorable surroundings, you have faults and errors, and much to overcome in order to be free from spiritual pride, selfishness, a hasty spirit, jealousy, and evil surmisings.
Brother K has not the sin of evilspeaking to repent of, as very many have, but he lacks a willingness to help those who most need help. He is selfish. He loves his home, loves quiet, rest, freedom from care, perplexities, and trials; therefore he pleases himself too much. He does not bear the burdens which Heaven has assigned him. He shuns disagreeable responsibilities, and shuts himself up too much to his love of quietness. He has been quite liberal with means, but when it is necessary to deny self to do some needed good, when real sacrifice on his part is called for, he has but little experience, and must gain it.
He fears that he will be blamed if he ventures to help the erring. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.” All who are partakers of this great salvation have something to do to help those who are hanging on the skirts of Zion. They should not cut off their hold and thrust them away without making an effort to help them to overcome and prepare for the judgment. No, indeed! While these are bleating around the fold, they should be encouraged and strengthened by all the aid which it is in our power to bestow. You as a family have too rigid rules and set ideas which cannot be made to fit every case. You lack love, gentleness, tenderness, and pity for those who do not move as fast as they should. This spirit has prevailed to such an extent that you are withering spiritually instead of flourishing in the Lord. Your interest, and efforts, and anxieties are for your family and your relatives. But you have not entertained the idea of reaching out for others around you, overcoming your reluctance to exert an influence outside of a special circle. You idolize yours, and shut yourselves within yourselves. That the Lord may save me and mine is the great burden. This spirit will have to die before you can flourish in the Lord and make spiritual advancement, before the church can grow and souls be added unto them of such as shall be saved.
You are all narrowed up as to labor for others, and must change your base of operations. Your relatives are no dearer in the sight of God than any other poor souls who need salvation. We must put self and selfishness under our feet, and exemplify in our lives the spirit of self-sacrifice and disinterested benevolence manifested by Jesus when He was upon earth. All should have an interest for their relatives, but should not allow themselves to be shut up to them as though they were the only ones whom Jesus came to save.
Chapter 9—Everyday Religion
Brother and Sister L,
I was shown that you have a work to do to set your house in order. Brother L, you have not properly represented the truth; you have loved the truth, but it has not had that sanctifying influence upon your life which it must have if you would be fitted for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory. You are a rough stick and need much hewing and need to remain in the workshop of God until the rough edges are removed, the uneven surface made smooth, and you are pronounced fit for the building.
You should be careful not to introduce the subjects of present truth everywhere. You can do more in living the truth than in talking it to others. You can do very much by example. You need to be very circumspect in your business transactions, to carry out in them the principles of your faith. Be faithful in deal, thorough in labor, ever bearing in mind that it is not your employer’s eye alone that is to inspect your work, but that the eye of God is upon all the transactions of your life. Angels of God are viewing your work, and it should be a part of your religion to have every piece of work marked with truth and faithfulness. “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.” God wants to make you right, holy, and true.
You do not speak wisely and judiciously to your wife and children. You should cultivate kindness and gentleness. Your children have not had the best influence and example before them. They should not control you, but you them, not harshly, not overbearingly, but with firmness and steadiness of purpose.
Sister L, you have a great battle before you in order to overcome. You have let self keep the victory. Your stubborn will is the greatest enemy you have. You have an unsubdued temper, and do not control your tongue. The lack of self-control has been a great injury to yourself and to your family. Happiness, quietude, and peace have abode in your dwelling but a short period at a time. If your will is crossed you are easily irritated, and then you speak and act as though a demon had possession of you. Angels turn from the scene of discord where angry words are exchanged. Many times have you driven the precious, heavenly angels from your family by the indulgence of passion.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 69-78