The influence of the D girls was very bad in Battle Creek. They had not been trained. Their mother had neglected her sacred duty and had not restrained her children. She had not brought them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. They had been indulged and shielded from bearing responsibilities until they had no relish for the plain, homely duties of life. The mother had educated the daughters to think much of dress, but the inward adorning was not exalted before them. These young girls were vain and proud. Their minds were impure; their conversation was corrupting; and yet there was a class in Battle Creek who would associate with this stamp of minds, and they could not associate with them without coming down to their level. These girls were not dealt as severely with as the case demanded. They love the society of young men, and the young men are the theme of their meditation and of their conversation. They have corrupted manners, and are headstrong and self-confident.
The entire family love display. The mother is not a prudent, dignified woman. She is not qualified to bring up children. To dress her children to make a show is of greater consequence to her than the inward adorning. She has not disciplined herself. Her will has not been brought into conformity to the will of God. Her heart is not right with God. She is a stranger to the operation of His Spirit upon the heart, bringing the desires and affections into conformity to the obedience of Christ. She does not possess ennobling qualities of mind and does not discern sacred things. She has let her children do as they pleased. The fearful experience that she has had with two of her elder children has not made the deep impression on her mind that the circumstances demanded. She has educated her children to love dress, vanity, and folly. She has not disciplined her two younger girls. A D, under a proper influence, would be a worthy young man; but he has much to learn. He follows inclination rather than duty. He loves to follow his own will and pleasure, and has not a correct knowledge of the duties devolving upon a Christian. Self-gratification, and his own inclination, he would gladly interpret to be duty. Self-gratification he has not overcome. He has a work to do to clear his spiritual vision, that he may understand what it is to be sanctified to God, and learn the high claims of God upon him. The serious defects in his education have affected his life.
If, with his good qualifications, Brother B were well balanced and a faithful foreman of the office, his labor would be of great value to the office, and he could earn double wages. But for the past years, considering his deficiency, with his unconsecrated influence, the office could better afford to do without him, even if his services could be had for nothing. Brother and Sister B have not learned the lesson of economy. The gratification of the taste, and the desire for pleasure and display, have had an overpowering influence upon them. Small wages would be of more advantage to them than large, for they would use all as they pass along, were it ever so much. They would enjoy as they go, and then when affliction draws upon them, would be wholly unprepared. Twenty dollars a week would be laid out about the same as twelve. Had Brother and Sister B been economical managers, denying themselves, they could ere this have had a home of their own, and besides this have had means to draw upon in case of adversity. But they will not economize as others have done, upon whom they have sometimes been dependent. If they neglect to learn these lessons, their characters will not be found perfect in the day of God.
Brother B has been the object of the great love and condescension of Christ, and yet he has never felt that he could imitate the great Exemplar. He claims, and all his life has sought after, a better portion in this life than was given our Lord. He has never felt the depths of ignorance and sin from which Christ has proposed to lift him and to link him to His divine nature.
It is a fearful thing to minister in sacred things when the heart and hands are not holy. To be a co-worker with Christ involves fearful responsibilities; to stand as His representative is no small matter. The fearful realities of the judgment will test every man’s work. The apostle said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;” “for God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The sufficiency of the apostle was not in himself, but in the gracious influence of the Spirit of Christ, which filled his soul and brought every thought into subjection to the obedience of Christ. The power of truth attending the word preached will be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Ministers are required to be living examples of the mind and spirit of Christ, living epistles, known and read of all men. I tremble when I consider that there are some ministers, even among Seventh-day Adventists, who are not sanctified by the truths which they preach. Nothing less than the quick and powerful Spirit of God working in the hearts of His messengers to give the knowledge of the glory of God, can gain for them the victory.
Brother B’s preaching has not been marked by the sanction of God’s Spirit. He can talk fluently and make a point plain, but his preaching has lacked spirituality. His appeals have not touched the heart with a new tenderness. There has been an array of words, but the hearts of his hearers have not been quickened and melted with a sense of a Saviour’s love. Sinners have not been convicted and drawn to Christ by a sense that “Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.” Sinners should have a clear impression given them of the nearness and willingness of Christ to give them present salvation. A Saviour should be presented before the people, while the heart of the speaker should be subdued and imbued with His Spirit. The very tones of the voice, the look, the words, should possess an irresistible power to move hearts and control minds. Jesus should be found in the heart of the minister. If Jesus is in the words and in the tones of the voice, if they are mellow with His tender love, it will prove a blessing of more value than all the riches, pleasures, and glories of the earth; for such blessings will not come and go without accomplishing a work. Convictions will be deepened, impressions will be made, and the question will be raised: “What shall I do to be saved?”
Chapter 3—Unbalanced Minds
God has committed to each of us sacred trusts, for which He holds us accountable. It is His purpose that we so educate the mind as to be able to exercise the talents He has given us in such a manner as to accomplish the greatest good and reflect the glory to the Giver. We are indebted to God for all the qualities of the mind. These powers can be cultivated, and so discreetly directed and controlled as to accomplish the purpose for which they were given. It is duty to so educate the mind as to bring out the energies of the soul and develop every faculty. When all the faculties are in exercise, the intellect will be strengthened, and the purpose for which they were given will be accomplished.
Many are not doing the greatest amount of good because they exercise the intellect in one direction and neglect to give careful attention to those things for which they think they are not adapted. Some faculties that are weak are thus allowed to lie dormant because the work that should call them into exercise, and consequently give them strength, is not pleasant. All the powers of the mind should be exercised, all the faculties cultivated. Perception, judgment, memory, and all the reasoning powers should have equal strength in order that minds may be well balanced.
If certain faculties are used to the neglect of others, the design of God is not fully carried out in us; for all the faculties have a bearing and are dependent, in a great measure, upon one another. One cannot be effectually used without the operation of all, that the balance may be carefully preserved. If all the attention and strength are given to one, while others lie dormant, the development is strong in that one and will lead to extremes, because all the powers have not been cultivated. Some minds are dwarfed and not properly balanced. All minds are not naturally constituted alike. We have varied minds; some are strong upon certain points and very weak upon others. These deficiencies, so apparent, need not and should not exist. If those who possess them would strengthen the weak points in their character by cultivation and exercise they would become strong.
It is agreeable, but not most profitable, to exercise those faculties which are naturally the strongest, while we neglect those that are weak, but which need to be strengthened. The feeblest faculties should have careful attention, that all the powers of the intellect may be nicely balanced and all do their part like well-regulated machinery. We are dependent upon God for the preservation of all our faculties. Christians are under obligation to Him to so train the mind that all the faculties may be strengthened and more fully developed. If we neglect to do this, they will never accomplish the purpose for which they were designed. We have no right to neglect any one of the powers that God has given us. We see monomaniacs all over the country. They are frequently sane upon every subject but one. The reason of this is that one organ of the mind was specially exercised while the others were permitted to lie dormant. The one that was in constant use became worn and diseased, and the man became a wreck. God was not glorified by his pursuing this course. Had he exercised all the organs equally, all would have had a healthy development; all the labor would not have been thrown upon one, therefore no one would have broken down.
Ministers should be guarded, lest they thwart the purposes of God by plans of their own. They are in danger of narrowing down the work of God, and confining their labor to certain localities, and not cultivating a special interest for the work of God in all its various departments. There are some who concentrate their minds upon one subject to the exclusion of others which may be of equal importance. They are one-idea men. All the strength of their being is concentrated on the subject upon which the mind is exercised for the time. Every other consideration is lost sight of. This one favorite theme is the burden of their thoughts and the theme of their conversation. All the evidence which has a bearing upon that subject is eagerly seized and appropriated, and dwelt upon at so great length that minds are wearied in following them.
Time is frequently lost in explaining points which are really unimportant, and which would be taken for granted without producing proof; for they are self-evident. But the real, vital points should be made as plain and forcible as language and proof can make them. The power to concentrate the mind upon one subject to the exclusion of all others is well in a degree; but the constant exercise of this faculty wears upon those organs that are called into use to do this work; it throws too great a tax upon them, and the result is a failure to accomplish the greatest amount of good. The principal wear comes upon one set of organs, while the others lie dormant. The mind cannot thus be healthfully exercised, and, in consequence, life is shortened.
All the faculties should bear a part of the labor, working harmoniously, balancing one another. Those who put the whole strength of their mind into one subject are greatly deficient on other points, for the reason that the faculties are not equally cultivated. The subject before them enchains their attention, and they are led on and on, and go deeper and deeper into the matter. They see knowledge and light as they become interested and absorbed. But there are very few minds that can follow them unless they have given the subject the same depth of thought. There is danger of such men plowing, and planting the seed of truth so deep that the tender, precious blade will never find the surface.
Much hard labor is often expended that is not called for and that will never be appreciated. If those who have large concentrativeness cultivate this faculty to the neglect of others, they cannot have well-proportioned minds. They are like machinery in which only one set of wheels works at a time. While some wheels are rusting from inaction, others are wearing from constant use. Men who cultivate one or two faculties, and do not exercise all equally, cannot accomplish one half the good in the world that God designed they should. They are one-sided men; only half of the power that God has given them is put to use, while the other half is rusting with inaction.
If this class of minds have a special work, requiring thought, they should not exercise all their powers upon that one thing, to the exclusion of every other interest. While they make the subject before them their principal business, other branches of the work should have a portion of their time. This would be much better for themselves and for the cause generally. One branch of the work should not have exclusive attention to the neglect of all others. In their writings some need to be constantly guarded, that they do not make points blind that are plain, by covering them up with many arguments which will not be of lively interest to the reader. If they linger tediously upon points, giving every particular which suggests itself to the mind, their labor is nearly lost. The interest of the reader will not be deep enough to pursue the subject to its close. The most essential points of truth may be made indistinct by giving attention to every minute point. Much ground is covered; but the work upon which so much labor is expended is not calculated to do the greatest amount of good, by awakening a general interest.
In this age, when pleasing fables are drifting upon the surface and attracting the mind, truth presented in an easy style, backed up with a few strong proofs, is better than to search and bring forth an overwhelming array of evidence; for the point then does not stand so distinct in many minds as before the objections and evidences were brought before them. With many, assertions will go further than long arguments. They take many things for granted. Proof does not help the case in the minds of such.
Our most bitter opponents are found among the first-day Adventists. They do not engage in the warfare honorably. They will pursue any course, however unreasonable and inconsistent, to cover up the truth and try to make it appear that the law of God is of no force. They flatter themselves that the end will justify the means. Men of their own number, in whom they had not confidence, will commence a tirade against the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and they will give publicity to their statements, however untrue, unjust, and even ridiculous, if they can make them bear against the truth which they hate.
We should not be moved or disconcerted by this unjust warfare from unreasonable men. Those who receive, and are pleased with, what these men speak and write against the truth are not the ones who would be convinced of the truth or who would honor the cause of God if they should accept it. Time and strength can be better employed than to dwell at length upon the quibbles of our opponents who deal in slander and misrepresentations. While precious time is employed in following the crooks and turns of dishonest opponents, the people who are open to conviction are dying for want of knowledge. A train of senseless quibbles of Satan’s own invention is brought before minds, while the people are crying for food, for meat in due season.
It takes those who have trained their minds to war against the truth to manufacture quibbles. And we are not wise to take them from their hands, and pass them out to thousands who would never have thought of them had we not published them to the world. This is what our opponents want to have done; they want to be brought to notice and to have us publish for them. This is especially true of some. This is their main object in writing out their falsehoods and in misrepresenting the truth and the characters of those who love and advocate the truth. They will die out more speedily to be left unnoticed, to have their errors and falsehoods treated with silent contempt. They do not want to be let alone. Opposition is the element that they love. If it were not for this, they would have but little influence.
The first-day Adventists as a class are the most difficult to reach. They generally reject the truth, as did the Jews. We should, as far as possible, go forward as though there were not such a people in existence. They are the elements of confusion, and immoralities exist among them to a fearful extent. It would be the greatest calamity to have many of their number embrace the truth. They would have to unlearn everything and learn anew, or they would cause us great trouble. There are occasions where their glaring misrepresentations will have to be met. When this is the case, it should be done promptly and briefly, and we should then pass on to our work. The plan of Christ’s teaching should be ours. He was plain and simple, striking directly at the root of the matter, and the minds of all were met.
It is not the best policy to be so very explicit and say all upon a point that can be said, when a few arguments will cover the ground and be sufficient for all practical purposes to convince or silence opponents. You may remove every prop today and close the mouths of objectors so that they can say nothing, and tomorrow they will go over the same ground again. Thus it will be, over and over, because they do not love the light and will not come to the light, lest their darkness and error should be removed from them. It is a better plan to keep a reserve of arguments than to pour out a depth of knowledge upon a subject which would be taken for granted without labored argument. Christ’s ministry lasted only three years, and a great work was done in that short period. In these last days there is a great work to be done in a short time. While many are getting ready to do something, souls will perish for the light and knowledge.
If men who are engaged in presenting and defending the truth of the Bible undertake to investigate and show the fallacy and inconsistency of men who dishonestly turn the truth of God into a lie, Satan will stir up opponents enough to keep their pens constantly employed, while other branches of the work will be left to suffer.
We must have more of the spirit of those men who were engaged in building the walls of Jerusalem. We are doing a great work, and we cannot come down. If Satan sees that he can keep men answering the objections of opponents, and thus keep their voices silent, and hinder them from doing the most important work for the present time, his object is accomplished.
The Sabbath History has been kept from the people too long. They need this precious work, even if they do not have it in all its perfection. It never can be prepared in a manner to fully silence unreasonable opponents, who are unstable, and who wrest the Scriptures unto their own destruction. This is a busy world. Men and women who engage in the business of life have not time to meditate, or even to read the word of God enough to understand all its important truths. Long, labored arguments will interest but a few; for the people have to read as they run. You can no more remove the objections to the Sabbath commandment from the minds of first-day Adventists than could the Saviour of the world, by His great power and miracles, convince the Jews that He was the Messiah, after they had once set themselves to reject Him. Like the obstinate, unbelieving Jews, they have chosen darkness rather than light, and should an angel direct from the courts of heaven speak to them, they would say it was Satan.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 29-38
Revival Memory Text – Day 144:
2 Corinthians 4:5, 6 “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5, 6