There was no period of rest for us, however much we needed it. The Review, the Reformer, and the Instructor must be edited. Many letters had been laid aside until we should return to examine them. Things were in a sad state at the office. Everything needed to be set in order. My husband commenced his labor, and I helped him what I could; but that was but little. He labored unceasingly to straighten out perplexing business matters and to improve the condition of our periodicals. He could not depend upon help from any of his ministering brethren. His head, heart, and hands were full. He was not encouraged by Brethren A and C, when they knew he was standing alone under the burdens at Battle Creek. They did not stay up his hands. They wrote in a most discouraging manner of their poor health, and that they were in such an exhausted condition that they could not be depended on to accomplish any labor. My husband saw that nothing could be hoped for in that direction. Notwithstanding his double labor through the summer, he could not rest. And, irrespective of his weakness, he reined himself up to do the work which others had neglected.
The Reformer was about dead. Brother B had urged the extreme positions of Dr. Trall. This had influenced the doctor to come out in the Reformer stronger than he otherwise would have done, in discarding milk, sugar, and salt. The position to entirely discontinue the use of these things may be right in its order; but the time had not come to take a general stand upon these points. And those who do take their position, and advocate the entire disuse of milk, butter, and sugar, should have their own tables free from these things. Brother B, even while taking his stand in the Reformer with Dr. Trall in regard to the injurious effects of salt, milk, and sugar, did not practice the things he taught. Upon his own table these things were used daily.
Many of our people had lost their interest in the Reformer, and letters were daily received with this discouraging request: “Please discontinue my Reformer.” Letters were received from the West, where the country is new and fruit scarce, inquiring: “How do the friends of health reform live at Battle Creek? Do they dispense with salt entirely? If so, we cannot at present adopt the health reform. We can get but little fruit, and we have left off the use of meat, tea, coffee, and tobacco; but we must have something to sustain life.”
We had spent some time in the West, and knew the scarcity of fruit, and we sympathized with our brethren who were conscientiously seeking to be in harmony with the body of Sabbathkeeping Adventists. They were becoming discouraged, and some were backsliding upon the health reform, fearing that at Battle Creek they were radical and fanatical. We could not raise an interest anywhere in the West to obtain subscribers for the Health Reformer. We saw that the writers in the Reformer were going away from the people and leaving them behind. If we take positions that conscientious Christians, who are indeed reformers, cannot adopt, how can we expect to benefit that class whom we can reach only from a health standpoint?
We must go no faster than we can take those with us whose consciences and intellects are convinced of the truths we advocate. We must meet the people where they are. Some of us have been many years in arriving at our present position in health reform. It is slow work to obtain a reform in diet. We have powerful appetites to meet; for the world is given to gluttony. If we should allow the people as much time as we have required to come up to the present advanced state in reform, we would be very patient with them, and allow them to advance step by step, as we have done, until their feet are firmly established upon the health reform platform. But we should be very cautious not to advance too fast, lest we be obliged to retrace our steps. In reforms we would better come one step short of the mark than to go one step beyond it. And if there is error at all, let it be on the side next to the people.
Above all things, we should not with our pens advocate positions that we do not put to a practical test in our own families, upon our own tables. This is dissimulation, a species of hypocrisy. In Michigan we can get along better without salt, sugar, and milk than can many who are situated in the Far West or in the far East, where there is a scarcity of fruit. But there are very few families in Battle Creek who do not use these articles upon their tables. We know that a free use of these things is positively injurious to health, and, in many cases, we think that if they were not used at all, a much better state of health would be enjoyed. But at present our burden is not upon these things. The people are so far behind that we see it is all they can bear to have us draw the line upon their injurious indulgences and stimulating narcotics. We bear positive testimony against tobacco, spirituous liquors, snuff, tea, coffee, flesh meats, butter, spices, rich cakes, mince pies, a large amount of salt, and all exciting substances used as articles of food.
If we come to persons who have not been enlightened in regard to health reform, and present our strongest positions at first, there is danger of their becoming discouraged as they see how much they have to give up, so that they will make no effort to reform. We must lead the people along patiently and gradually, remembering the hole of the pit whence we were digged.
Chapter 2—Unsanctified Ability
I have been shown that Brother B has serious defects in his character, which disqualify him for being closely connected with the work of God where important responsibilities are to be borne. He has sufficient mental ability, but the heart, the affections, have not been sanctified to God; therefore he cannot be relied upon as qualified for so important a work as the publication of the truth in the office at Battle Creek. A mistake or a neglect of duty in this work affects the cause of God at large. Brother B has not seen his failings, therefore he does not reform.
It is by small things that our characters are formed to habits of integrity. You, my brother, have been disposed to undervalue the importance of the little incidents of everyday life. This is a great mistake. Nothing with which we have to do is really small. Every action is of some account, either on the side of right or on the side of wrong. It is only by exercising principle in small transactions of ordinary life that we are tested and our characters formed. In the varied circumstances of life we are tested and proved, and thereby we acquire a power to stand the greater and more important tests that we are called to endure, and are qualified to fill still more important positions. The mind must be trained through daily tests to habits of fidelity, to a sense of the claims of right and duty above inclination and pleasure. Minds thus trained do not waver between right and wrong, as the reed trembles in the wind; but as soon as matters come before them, they discern at once that principle is involved, and they instinctively choose the right without long debating the matter. They are loyal because they have trained themselves in habits of faithfulness and truth. By being faithful in that which is least, they acquire strength, and it becomes easy for them to be faithful in greater matters.
Brother B’s education has not been such as to strengthen those high moral qualities that would enable him to stand alone in the strength of God in defense of truth, amid the severest opposition, firm as a rock to principle, true to moral character, unmoved by human praise or censure or rewards, preferring death rather than a violated conscience. Such integrity is needed in the office of publication, where solemn, sacred truths are going forth, upon which the world is to be tested.
The work of God calls for men of high moral powers to engage in its promulgation. Men are wanted whose hearts are nerved with holy fervor, men of strong purpose who are not easily moved, who can lay down every selfish interest and give all for the cross and the crown. The cause of present truth is suffering for men who are loyal to a sense of right and duty, whose moral integrity is firm, and whose energy is equal to the opening providence of God. Such qualifications as these are of more value than untold wealth invested in the work and cause of God. Energy, moral integrity, and strong purpose for the right are qualities that cannot be supplied with any amount of gold. Men possessing these qualifications will have influence everywhere. Their lives will be more powerful than lofty eloquence. God calls for men of heart, men of mind, men of moral integrity, whom He can make the depositaries of His truth, and who will correctly represent its sacred principles in their daily life.
In some respects Brother B has ability that but few have. If his heart were sanctified to the work he could fill an important position in the office with acceptance to God. He needs to be converted and to humble himself as a little child, and seek pure, heart religion, in order for his influence in the office, or in the cause of God anywhere, to be what it ought to be. As his influence has been, it has injured all connected with the office, but more especially the young. His position as foreman gave him influence. He did not conduct himself conscientiously in the fear of God. He favored particular ones more than others. He neglected those who, for their faithfulness and ability, deserved special encouragement, and he brought distress and perplexity upon those in whom he should have had a special interest. Those who link their affections and interest to one or two, and favor them to the disadvantage of others, should not retain their position in the office for a day. This unsanctified partiality for special ones who may please the fancy, to the neglect of others who are conscientious and God-fearing, and in His sight of more value, is offensive to God. That which God values we should value. The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit He regards of higher value than external beauty, outward adornment, riches, or worldly honor.
The true followers of Christ will not choose intimate friendship with those whose characters have serious defects, and whose example as a whole it would not be safe to follow, while it is their privilege to associate with persons who observe a conscientious regard for duty in business, and in religion. Those who lack principle and devotion generally exert a more positive influence to mold the minds of their intimate friends than is exerted by those who seem well balanced and able to control and influence the defective in character, those lacking spirituality and devotion.
Brother B’s influence, if unsanctified, endangers the souls of those who follow his example. His ready tact and ingenuity are admired, and lead those connected with him to give him credit for qualifications that he does not possess. At the office he was reckless of his time. If this had affected himself only, it would have been a small matter; but his position as foreman gave him influence. His example before those in the office, especially the apprentices, was not circumspect and conscientious. If, with his ingenious talent, Brother B possessed a high sense of moral obligation, his services would be invaluable to the office. If his principles had been such that nothing could have moved him from the straight line of duty, that no inducement which could have been presented would have purchased his consent to a wrong action, his influence would have molded others; but his desires for pleasure allured him from his post of duty. If he had stood in the strength of God, unmoved by censure or flattery, steady to principle, faithful to his convictions of truth and justice, he would have been a superior man and would have won a commanding influence everywhere. Brother B lacks frugality and economy. He lacks the tact which would enable him to adapt himself to the opening providence of God and make him a minuteman. He loves human praise. He is swayed by circumstances, and is subject to temptation, and his integrity cannot be relied upon.
Brother B’s religious experience was not sound. He moved from impulse, not from principle. His heart was not right with God, and he did not have the fear of God and His glory before him. He acted very much like a man engaged in common business; he had but very little sense of the sacredness of the work in which he was engaged. He had not practiced self-denial and economy, therefore he had no experience in this. At times he labored earnestly and manifested a good interest in the work. Then again he would be careless of his time and spend precious moments in unimportant conversation, hindering others from doing their duty and setting them an example of recklessness and unfaithfulness. The work of God is sacred and calls for men of lofty integrity. Men are wanted whose sense of justice, even in the smallest matters, will not allow them to make an entry of their time that is not minute and correct—men who will realize that they are handling means that belongs to God, and who would not unjustly appropriate one cent to their own use; men who will be just as faithful and exact, careful and diligent, in their labor, in the absence of their employer as in his presence, proving by their faithfulness that they are not merely men pleasers, eye-servants, but are conscientious, faithful, true workmen, doing right, not for human praise, but because they love and choose the right from a high sense of their obligation to God.
Parents are not thorough in the education of their children. They do not see the necessity of molding their minds by discipline. They give them a superficial education, manifesting greater care for the ornamental than for that solid education which would so develop and direct the faculties as to bring out the energies of the soul, and cause the powers of mind to expand and strengthen by exercise. The faculties of the mind need cultivation, that they may be exercised to the glory of God. Careful attention should be given to the culture of the intellect, that the various organs of the mind may have equal strength by being brought into exercise, each in its distinctive office. If parents allow their children to follow the bent of their own minds, their own inclination and pleasure, to the neglect of duty, their characters will be formed after this pattern, and they will not be competent for any responsible position in life. The desires and inclinations of the young should be restrained, their weak points of character strengthened, and their overstrong tendencies repressed.
If one faculty is suffered to remain dormant, or is turned out of its proper course, the purpose of God is not carried out. All the faculties should be well developed. Care should be given to each, for each has a bearing upon the others, and all must be exercised in order that the mind be properly balanced. If one or two organs are cultivated and kept in continual use because it is the choice of your children to put the strength of the mind in one direction to the neglect of other mental powers, they will come to maturity with unbalanced minds and inharmonious characters. They will be apt and strong in one direction, but greatly deficient in other directions just as important. They will not be competent men and women. Their deficiencies will be marked, and will mar the entire character.
Brother B has cultivated an almost ungovernable propensity for sight-seeing and trips of pleasure. Time and means are wasted to gratify his desire for pleasure excursions. His selfish love of pleasure leads to the neglect of sacred duties. Brother B loves to preach, but he has never taken up this work feeling the woe upon him if he preach not the gospel. He has frequently left work in the office which demanded his care, to comply with calls from some of his brethren in other churches. If he had felt the solemnity of the work of God for this time, and gone forth making God his trust, practicing self-denial, and lifting the cross of Christ, he would have accomplished good. But he frequently had so little realization of the holiness of the work, that he would improve the opportunity of visiting other churches in making the occasion a scene of self-gratification, in short, a pleasure trip. What a contrast between his course and that pursued by the apostles, who went forth burdened with the word of life, and in the demonstration of the Spirit preached Christ crucified! They pointed out the living way through self-denial and the cross. They had fellowship with their Saviour in His sufferings, and their greatest desire was to know Christ Jesus, and Him crucified. They considered not their own convenience, nor counted their lives dear unto themselves. They lived not to enjoy, but to do good, and to save souls for whom Christ died.
Brother B can present arguments upon doctrinal points, but the practical lessons of sanctification, self-denial, and the cross, he has not experienced in himself. He can speak to the ear, but not having felt the sanctifying influence of these truths upon his heart, nor practiced them in his life, he fails to urge the truth home upon the conscience with a deep sense of its importance and solemnity in view of the judgment, when every case must be decided. Brother B has not trained his mind, and his deportment out of meeting has not been exemplary. The burden of the work has not seemed to rest upon him, but he has been trifling and boyish, and by his example has lowered the standard of religion. Sacred and common things have been placed on a level.
Brother B has not been willing to endure the cross; he has not been willing to follow Christ from the manger to the judgment hall and Calvary. He has brought upon himself sore affliction by seeking his own pleasure. He has yet to learn that his own strength is weakness and his wisdom is folly. If he had felt that he was engaged in the work of God, and that he was indebted to One who had given him time and talents, and who required that they be improved to His glory,—had he stood faithfully at his post,—he would not have suffered that long, tedious sickness. His exposure upon that pleasure trip caused him months of suffering and would have caused his death had it not been for the earnest, effectual prayer of faith put up in his behalf by those who felt that he was not prepared to die. Had he died at that time his case would have been far worse than that of the unenlightened sinner. But God mercifully heard the prayers of His people and gave him a new lease of life, that he might have opportunity to repent of his unfaithfulness and to redeem the time. His example had influenced many in Battle Creek in the wrong direction.
Brother B came up from his sickness, but how little did he or his family feel humbled under the hand of God. The work of the Spirit of God, and wisdom from Him, are not manifested that we may be happy and satisfied with ourselves, but that our souls may be renewed in knowledge and true holiness. How much better would it have been for this brother if his affliction had prompted to faithful searching of heart, to discover the imperfections in his character, that he might put them away, and with humble spirit come forth from the furnace as gold purified, reflecting the image of Christ.
The sickness that he had brought upon himself, the church helped him bear. His watchers were provided, and his expenses were in a great measure borne by the church; yet neither he nor his family appreciated this generosity and tenderness on the part of the church. They felt that they deserved all that was done for them. As Brother B came up from his sickness, he felt wrong toward my husband because he disapproved his course, which was so censurable. He united with others to injure my husband’s influence, and since he has left the office he has not felt right. He would poorly stand the test of being proved by God.
Brother B has not yet learned the lesson that he will have to learn if he is saved at last—to deny self, and resist his desire for pleasure. He will have to be brought over the ground again and tried still more closely, because he failed to endure the trials of the past. He has displeased God in justifying self. He has but little experience in the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. He loves display and does not economize his means. The Lord knows. He weighs the inward feelings and intentions of the heart. He understands man. He tests our fidelity. He requires that we should love and serve Him with the whole mind, and heart, and strength. The lovers of pleasure may put on a form of godliness that involves some self-denial even, and they may sacrifice time and money, and yet self not be subdued, and the will not be brought into subjection to the will of God.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 19-28