Original Testimonies 1-10
1 Lack of consecration
2 The two ways
3 Be zealous & repent
4 Young Sabbath-keepers.
5 Answer to prayer
6 Slackness reproved
7 Great distress coming
8 Family religion
9 Danger and duty
10 Dangers of the young
TO THE CHURCH,
Testimonies Nos. 1-10
BY ELLEN G. WHITE.
"For the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy."- REV. 19:10.
OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION,
BATTLE CREEK, MICH.
During the period of sixteen years Mrs. W. has published her Testimonies to the Church in a series of pamphlets, which, at this date, number twenty. But as the editions of the first numbers were small, and have long since been exhausted, we are not able to furnish the series complete to the numerous friends who subsequently embrace the views of Seventh-day Adventists. The call for these Testimonies being large, we re-publish, and offer them in this form.
And we are happy to do this, inasmuch as the testimonies, given under the trying, and ever-changing circumstances of the past sixteen years, ever breathing the same high-toned spirit of scriptural piety, contain in themselves the best evidences of their being what they profess to be.
There are in them matters of a local and personal character, which do not have a direct bearing upon our time. But as many have desired it, we give them complete.
TESTIMONY FOR THE CHURCH.
LACK OF CONSECRATION.
NOVEMBER 20, 1855, while in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly and powerfully came upon me, and I was taken off in vision. I saw that the Spirit of the Lord has been dying away from the church. The servants of the Lord have trusted too much to the strength of argument, and have not had that firm reliance upon God that they should have. I saw that the mere argument of the truth will not move souls to take a stand with the remnant, for the truth is unpopular. The servants of God must have the truth in the soul. Said the angel "They must get it warm from glory, carry it in their bosoms, and pour it out in the warmth and earnestness of the soul to those that hear." A few that are conscientious are ready to decide from the weight of evidence, but it is impossible to move many with a mere theory. There must be a power to attend the truth; a living testimony to move them.
I saw that the enemy was busy to destroy souls. Exaltation has come into the ranks, and there must be more humility. There is too much of an independence of spirit indulged in among the messengers. It must be laid aside, and there must be a drawing together of the servants of God. There has been too much a spirit like this, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Said the angel, "Yea, thou art thy brother's keeper. Ye must have a watchful care for thy brother; be interested for his welfare, and cherish a kind, loving spirit toward him. Press together; press together." God designed man should be open-hearted, and honest, without affectation, humble, meek, with simplicity. This is the principle of Heaven. God ordered it so. But poor, frail man has sought out something different - to follow his own way, and carefully attend to his own self-interest.
I asked the angel why simplicity had been shut out from the church, and pride and exaltation come in. I saw that this is the reason why we have almost been delivered into the hand of the enemy. Said the angel, "Look ye, and ye shall see that this feeling prevails, Am I my brother's keeper?" Again said the angel, "Thou art thy brother's keeper." Thy profession, thy faith, requires thee to deny thyself and sacrifice to God, or thou wilt be unworthy of eternal life, for it was purchased for thee dearly, even by the agony, the sufferings, and blood of the beloved Son of God."
I saw that many in different places, East and West, were adding farm to farm, and land to land, and house to house, and they make the cause of God their excuse, saying they do this that they may help the cause. They shackle themselves so that they can be of but little benefit to the cause; some buy a piece of land and labor with all their might to pay for it. Their time is so occupied that they can spend but little time to pray, and serve God, and gain strength from him to overcome their besetments. They are in debt, and when the cause needs their help they cannot assist, for they must get free from debt first. And as soon as they are free from debt they are farther from helping the cause than before, for they involve themselves again in adding to their property, and flatter themselves that this course is right, that they will use the avails in the cause, when they are actually laying up treasure here. They love the truth in word, but not in work. They love the cause just as much as their works show. They love the world more, and the cause of God less; and their attraction to earth grows stronger, and the attraction to Heaven weaker. Their heart is with their treasure. They set the example to those around them that they are intending to stay here, that this world is their home. Said the angel, "Thou art thy brother's keeper."
I saw that many have indulged in needless expense merely to gratify the feelings, the taste, and the eye, when the cause has needed the very means, and when some of the servants of God were poorly clothed, and crippled in their labor for lack of means. Said the angel, "Their time to do will soon be past. Their works show that self is their idol, and to it they sacrifice. Self must first be gratified; their feeling is, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Warning after warning many have received, but heeded not. Self is the main object, and to it every thing must bow.
I saw that the spirit of sacrifice was almost gone from the church. Self-denial has almost failed; self and self-interest come first, and then if they can as well as not they will do what they think they can for the cause. Such a sacrifice I saw was lame and not accepted of God. All should be interested to do their utmost to advance the cause. I saw that those who have no possessions here, but have strength of body, were accountable to God for their strength. They should be diligent in business and fervent in spirit; they should not leave those that have possessions to do all the sacrificing. I saw that they could sacrifice, and that it was their duty to do so as well as those that have property. But often those individuals that have no possessions do not realize that they can deny themselves in many ways; can lay out less upon their bodies and to gratify their appetite, and find much to spare the cause and lay up in Heaven a treasure.
I saw it was even so, "From even unto even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath." Said the angel, "Take the word of God, read it, understand, and ye cannot err. Read carefully, and ye shall there find what even is, and when it is." God had been upon his people for commencing the Sabbath as they have. I was directed back to the first rise of the Sabbath. I followed the people of God up to this time, and did not see that God was displeased, or frowned upon them. I inquired why it had been thus, that at this late day we must change the time of commencing the Sabbath. Said the angel, "Ye shall understand, but not yet, not yet." Said the angel, "If light comes, and that light is set aside, or rejected, then comes condemnation and the frown of God; but before the light comes there is no sin, for there is no light for them to reject." I saw that it was in the minds of some that the Lord had shown that the Sabbath commenced at six o'clock, when I had only seen that it commenced at "even," and it was inferred that even was at six. I saw the servants of God must draw together, press together.
I was then shown the case of Stephenson and Hall of Wisconsin; that they were convicted while we were at Wisconsin in June, 1854, that the visions were of God; but they examined them and compared them with the Age to Come, and because the visions did not agree with their views of the Age to Come, they sacrificed the visions for the Age to Come. And while on their journey East, last spring, they were both wrong and designing. They have stumbled over the Age to Come, and they are ready to take any course to injure the Review, and its friends must be awake and do what they can to save the children of God from deception. They are uniting with a lying and corrupt people. They have had evidence of this; and while they were professing sympathy and union with my husband, they (especially Stephenson) were biting like an adder behind his back. And while their words were smooth with him, they were inflaming Wisconsin against the Review and its conductors; especially was Stephenson active in this matter; and their object has been to have the Review publish the Age to Come, or destroy its influence. And while my husband was open-hearted and unsuspecting, seeking ways to remove their jealousy, and frankly opening to them the affairs of the Office, and trying to help and assist them, they were watching for evil, and observing every thing with a jealous eye. Said the angel as I beheld them, "Think ye, feeble man, that ye can stay the work of God? Feeble man, one touch of his finger can lay thee prostrate. He will suffer thee but a little while."
I was pointed back to the rise of the Advent doctrine, and even before that time, and saw that there had not been a parallel to the deception, misrepresentation and falsehood that has been practised by the Messenger party, or such an association of corrupt hearts under a cloak of religion. Some honest hearts have been influenced by them, concluding that they had at least some cause for their statements, - thinking them incapable of uttering such glaring falsehoods. I saw that such will have evidence of the truth of these matters. The church of God should move straight along, as though there was not such a people in the world.
I saw that decided efforts should be made to show those who are unchristian in their lives, their wrongs, and if they do not correct their lives, they should be separated from the precious and holy, that God may have a clean and pure people that he can delight in. Dishonor him not by linking the clean with the unclean.
I was shown some coming from the East to the West. I saw that it should not be the object of those who leave the East for the West, to get rich, but to win souls to the truth. Said the angel, "Let thy works show it is not for honor, or to lay up a treasure on earth, that ye have moved West, but to hold up and exalt the standard of truth." I saw that those who move West should be like men waiting for their Lord. "Be a living example," said the angel, "to those in the West." Let your works show that you are God's peculiar people, and that you have a peculiar work, the last message of mercy to the world. Let your works show to those around you that this world is not your home." I saw that those who have entangled themselves should go free, and break the snare of the enemy. Lay not up treasure upon earth, but show by your lives that you are laying up treasure in heaven. If God has called thee West, he has a work for thee to do, an exalted work. Let your faith and experience help those who have not a living experience. Let not the attraction be to this poor, dark speck of a world, but let it be upward to God, glory, and Heaven. Let not the care and perplexity of farms here engross thy mind, but ye can safely be wrapt up in contemplating Abraham's farm. We are heirs to that immortal inheritance. Wean thy affections from earth, and dwell upon heavenly things.
I saw that great responsibility rests upon parents. They must not be led by their children, but must lead them. I was referred to Abraham. He commanded his household after him, and it was remembered of God. He was faithful in his house. I was then referred to the case of Eli. He restrained not his children, and they were wicked and vile in Israel. They led Israel astray by their wickedness. And when God made known their sins to Samuel, and the heavy curse that was to follow, because Eli restrained them not, God said their sins should not be purged with sacrifice nor offerings forever. When Samuel told Eli what the Lord had shown him, Eli submitted to it and said, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." The curse of God soon followed. Those wicked priests were slain, and thirty thousand of Israel were also slain, and the ark of God was taken by their enemies. And when Eli heard that the ark of God was taken, he fell backward and died. All this evil resulted from Eli's not restraining his sons. I saw if God was so particular as to notice such things anciently, he is no less particular in these last days.
Parents must govern their children, correct their passions, and subdue them, or God will surely destroy the children in the day of his fierce anger, and the parents who have not governed their children will not be blameless. Especially should the servants of God govern their own families, and have them in good subjection. I saw they were not prepared to judge or decide in matters of the church, unless they could rule well their own house. They must have order at home first, and then their judgment and influence will tell in the church.
I saw that the reason why visions have not been more frequent of late, is, they have not been appreciated by the church. The church have nearly lost their spirituality and faith, and the reproofs and warnings have had but little effect upon them. Many of those who have professed faith in them, have not heeded them.
Some have taken an injudicious course; they have talked their faith to unbelievers, and when the proof was asked, they have read a vision instead of going to the Bible for proof. I saw this course was inconsistent, and it prejudiced the unbelievers against the truth, for the visions could have no weight with them. They had never seen them, and knew nothing of the spirit of them, and they should not be referred to, in their case.
PRAYER AND FAITH.
When at Battle Creek, Mich., May 5, 1855, I saw that there was a great lack of faith in the servants of God, as well as the church. They were too easily discouraged; were too ready to doubt God; too willing to believe they had a hard lot, and that God had forsaken them. I saw that this was cruel. God had so loved them as to give his dearly beloved Son to die for them, and all Heaven was interested in their salvation; yet it was hard, after all that has been done for them, to believe and trust so kind and good a Father. He has said he was more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children. I saw that the servants of God and the church were too easily discouraged. When they asked their Father in Heaven for things they thought they needed, and because it did not immediately come, their faith wavered, their courage fled, and a murmuring feeling took possession of them. This I saw displeased God.
Every saint that comes to God with a true heart, in faith, and sends their honest petitions to him, will have their prayers answered. Their faith must not let go of the promises of God if they do not see or feel the immediate answer of their prayers. Be not afraid to trust God. Rely upon his sure promise, "Ask and ye shall receive." God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from his saints that walk uprightly. Man is erring, and although his petitions are sent up from an honest heart, he does not always ask for the things that are good for himself, or that will glorify God. When this is so, our wise and good Father hears our prayers, and will answer; sometimes immediately, but gives us the things that are for our best good and his own glory.
If the children of God could see his plan, they would know that he gives them that which is for their best good. Although they may not receive just the things they expected, or asked for, yet their prayers were answered. Nothing hurtful was given, but the blessing they most needed, in the place of something they had asked for, that would not have been good for them, but to their hurt.
I saw if we did not feel immediate answers to our prayers, we should hold fast our faith, let no distrust come in; for that will separate us from God. If our faith wavers, we shall receive nothing from him. Our confidence in God should be strong, and when we need it the most, the blessing will drop upon us like a shower of rain.
When the servants of God have prayed for his Spirit and blessing, it sometimes comes immediately, but it is not always then bestowed. At such times faint not. Let thy faith hold fast the promise, that it will come. Let thy trust be fully in God, and often that blessing will come when you need it the most, and unexpectedly you will receive help from God, when you are speaking the truth to unbelievers, and with clearness you can speak the word, and with power.
It was represented to me like children asking a blessing of their earthly parents that love them. They ask something that the parent knows will hurt them; the parent gives them the things that will be good and healthy for them, in the place of that which the child desired. I saw that every prayer that was sent up in faith from an honest heart will be heard of God and answered, and the one that sent up the petition will have the blessing when he needs it the most, and it will often exceed his expectations. Not a prayer of the true saint is lost if sent up from an honest heart in faith.
When at Oswego, N. Y., June, 1855, I was shown that God's people have been weighed down with clogs, that there had been Achans in the camp. The work of God has progressed but little, and many of God's servants have been discouraged because the truth in N. Y. has taken no more effect, and that there have been no more added to the church. The Messenger party has arisen, and we shall suffer some from their lying tongues, and misrepresentations, yet we should bear it all patiently; for they will not injure God's cause now they have left us, as much as they would have injured it by their influence had they remained with us. God's frown has been brought upon the church on account of individuals with corrupt hearts being in it.
They have wanted to be foremost when God, or their brethren, did not place them there. Selfishness and exaltation has marked their course. A place has opened for all such now, where they can go and find pasture with those of their kind. And we should praise God that in mercy he has rid the church of them. God has given many of them up to their own ways, to be filled with their own doings. An excitement and sympathy now leads them, which will deceive some; but every honest one will be enlightened as to the true state of this company, and they will remain with God's peculiar people, and not be affected by the influence of those who have been given up by God to their own ways, to be filled with their own doings. I saw that God had given these people opportunity to reform, had enlightened them as to their love of self and other sins; but they would not heed it. They would not be reformed, and he mercifully relieved the church of them.
I saw that the people of God must put on the armor and arouse. Christ is coming, and the great work of the last message of mercy is of too much importance for us to leave it, and come down to answer such falsehoods, and misrepresentations, and slander, as the Messenger party has fed upon, and has scattered abroad. Truth, present truth, we must dwell upon it. We are doing a great work, and cannot come down. Satan is in all this, to divert our minds from the present truth, and the coming of Christ. Said the angel, "Jesus knows it all. In a little from this their day is coming. All will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. The lying tongue will be stopped. The sinners in Zion will be afraid, and fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites."
I saw that we should not put off the coming of the Lord. Said the angel, "Prepare, prepare, for what is coming upon the earth. Let your works correspond with your faith." I saw that the mind must be staid upon God, and our influence should tell for God and his truth. We cannot honor God when we are careless and indifferent. We cannot glorify him when we are desponding. We must be in earnest and secure our soul's salvation, and try to save others. All importance should be attached to this, and everything besides should come in secondarily.
I saw the beauty of Heaven. I heard the angels sing their rapturous songs; I heard them sing praise, honor, and glory, to Jesus. I could then realise something of the wondrous love of the Son of God. He left all the glory, all the honor he had in Heaven, and was so interested for our salvation that he patiently and meekly bore every indignity and slight that man could heap upon him. He was wounded, smitten, and bruised; he was stretched on Calvary's cross and suffered the most agonizing death to save us from death, that his blood might wash us and we be raised up to live with him in the mansions he is preparing for us, enjoy the light and glory of Heaven, and hear the angels sing, and sing with them.
I saw that all Heaven is interested in our salvation, and shall we be indifferent? Shall we be careless, as though it was a small matter whether we are saved or lost? Shall we slight the sacrifice that has been made for us? Some have done this. They have trifled with offered mercy, and the frown of God is upon them. God's Spirit will not always be grieved. It will depart, if grieved a little longer. After all that has been done to save them that a God could do, if they show by their lives that they slight Jesus' offered mercy, death will be their portion, and it will be dearly purchased. It will be a dreadful death; for they will have to feel the agony that Christ felt upon the cross to purchase for them redemption, which they have refused. And they will then realize what they have lost, eternal life and the immortal inheritance.
I have seen an angel standing with scales in his hands, weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God, especially the young. In one scale were the thoughts and interest tending Heaven-ward; in the other scale were the thoughts and interest tending to earth. And in this scale were thrown all the reading of story books, thoughts of dress and show, vanity, pride, &c. Oh, what a solemn moment! The angels of God standing with scales, weighing the thoughts of the professed children of God -- those who profess to be dead to the world and alive to God. The scale filled with thoughts of earth, vanity, and pride, quickly went down, notwithstanding weight after weight rolled from the scale. The scale with the thoughts and attractions to Heaven went quickly up as the other went down, and oh! how light was the scale. I can relate this as I saw it, but never can I give the solemnity and vivid impression stamped upon my mind, as I saw the angel with the scales weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God. Said the angel, "Can such enter Heaven? No, no, never. Tell them the hope they now possess is vain, and unless they speedily repent, and get salvation, they must perish."
A form of godliness will not save them. They must have a deep and living experience; this alone will save them in the time of trouble. Then their work will be tried of what sort it is, and if it is gold, silver, and precious stones, they will be hid as in the secret of the Lord's pavilion. But if their work is hay, wood, and stubble, nothing can shield them from the fierceness of Jehovah's wrath.
The young, as well as the older, will have to give a reason of their hope. But the mind designed by God for better things, formed to serve him perfectly, has dwelt upon foolish things instead of eternal interests. And that mind that is left to wander here and there, is just as capable of understauding the truth, the evidence of keeping the Sabbath from the word of God, and the true foundation of the Christian's hope, as it is to study the appearance, the manners, dress, &c. Those who suffer their minds to be diverted with foolish stories and idle tales, feed their imagination, but to such the brilliancy of God's word is eclipsed. The mind is led directly from God; the interest in his precious word is gone. Here is a book given us to guide our feet through the perils of this dark world to Heaven. It tells us how we can escape the wrath of God, and also tells of the sufferings of Christ for us, the great sacrifice that has been made for us that we might be saved and enjoy the presence of God for ever. And if any come short at last that have heard the truth, as they have in this land of light, it will be their own fault. They will be without excuse. The word of God tells us how we may be perfect Christians, and escape the seven last plagues; but they took no interest to find this out. Other things diverted the mind, idols were cherished by them, and God's holy word has been neglected and slighted. God has been trifled with by professed Christians, and when that holy word shall judge them in the last day, they will be found wanting. That word that they have neglected for foolish story books, tries their lives. It is the standard, and their motives, words, works, and the manner they use their time, are all compared with the written word of God, and if they come short, then their cases are decided for ever.
I saw that there was a measuring yourselves among yourselves, and comparing your lives with the lives of others. This I saw should not be. No one is given us as an example but Christ; he is our true pattern, and each should strive to excel in imitating him. We are co-workers with Christ, or co-workers with the enemy. We either gather with Christ, or scatter abroad. We are decided, whole-hearted Christians, or none at all. Says Christ, "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
I saw that some hardly know yet what self-denial or sacrifice is, and what it is to suffer for the truth's sake. But I saw that none will enter Heaven without making a sacrifice. They should cherish a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. Some have not sacrificed themselves, their own bodies, on the altar of God. They indulge in hasty, fitful temper, and gratify their appetites, and attend to their own self-interest, regardless of the cause of God. Those who are willing to make any sacrifice for eternal life, will have it. And it will be worth suffering for, worth crucifying self for, and sacrificing every idol for.
THE TWO WAYS.
At the Conference at Battle Creek, May 27, 1856, I was shown in vision some things that concern the church generally. The glory and majesty of God were made to pass before me. Said the angel, "He is terrible in his majesty, yet ye realize it not; terrible in his anger, yet ye offend him daily. Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." These roads I saw were distinct, separate, in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life; the other to death, eternal death. I saw the distinction in these roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling these roads. The roads are opposite; one is broad and smooth, the other is narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel these roads are opposite in character, in life, in dress, and conversation.
Those traveling in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness they will have at the end of the journey. Their countenances are often sad, yet often beam with holy, sacred joy. They do not dress like the company in the broad road, nor talk like them, nor act like them. A Pattern has been given them. A Man of sorrow and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and traveled that road himself. His followers see his footsteps, and are comforted and cheered. He went through safely, so can they if they follow his footsteps. In the broad road all are occupied with their persons, their dress, and the pleasures in the way. Hilarity and glee they freely indulge in, and think not of their journey's end, of the certain destruction at the end of the path. Every day they approach nearer their destruction, yet they madly rush on faster and faster. Oh, how dreadfully this looked to me!
I saw many traveling in this broad road who had written upon them, "Dead to the world, The end of all things is at hand, Be ye also ready." They looked just like all the vain ones around them, except a shade of sadness which I noticed upon their countenances. Their conversation was just like the gay, thoughtless ones around them; but they would occasionally point to the letters on their garments with great satisfaction calling for the others to have the same upon theirs. They were in the broad way, yet they professed to be of that number who were traveling the narrow way. Those around them would say, "There is no distinction between us, We are all alike, We dress, and talk, and act alike."
Then I was pointed back to the years 1843 and 1844. There was a spirit of consecration then, that there is not now. What has come over the professed, peculiar people of God? I saw the conformity to the world, the unwillingness to suffer for the truth's sake. I saw a great lack of submission to the will of God. I was pointed back to the children of Israel after they left Egypt. God in mercy called them out from the Egyptians, that they might worship him without hindrance or restraint. He wrought for them in the way by miracles, he proved them, he tried them by bringing them into straight places. After the wonderful dealings of God, and their deliverance so many times, when tried or proved by God, they murmured. Their language was, "Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt."
I saw that many who profess to believe the truth for these last days, think it strange that the children of Israel murmured as they journeyed, and after the wonderful dealings of God to them, should be so ungrateful, and forget what God had done for them. Said the angel, "Ye have done worse than they." I saw that God had given his servants the truth so clear, so plain, that it cannot be resisted. Every where they go they have certain victory. The enemies cannot get round the convincing truth. Light has been shed so clear, that the servants of God can stand up any where and let truth, clear and connected, bear away the victory. This great blessing has not been realized and prized. If any trial arises, some begin to look back, and think they have a hard time. Some of the professed servants of God do not know what purifying trials are. They make trials sometimes for themselves, imagine trials, and are so easily discouraged, so easily hurt, self dignity is so quick to feel, that they injure themselves, injure others, and the cause. Satan magnifies and puts things into the mind that, if given way to, will destroy the usefulness and influence of such.
I saw that some had felt tempted to take themselves from the work, to labor with their hands. I saw that if the hand of God should be taken from them, and they left subject to disease and death, then such would know what trouble is. It is a fearful thing to murmur against God. They do not bear in mind that the way they are traveling is a rugged, self-denying, self-crucifying way, and they must not expect every thing to move on as smoothly as though they were traveling in the broad road.
I saw that some of the messengers are so easily discouraged, self is so quickly hurt, they imagine themselves slighted and injured when it is not so. They think their lot hard. Such realize not how they would feel should the sustaining hand of God be withdrawn, and they pass through anguish of soul. Their lot, they then would see, would be ten-fold harder than it was before, while they were employed in the labor of God, suffering trials and privations, yet withal having the approbation of God. Some that are laboring in the cause of God know not when they do have an easy time. They have had so few privations, have hardly known any thing of want or wearing labor, or burden of soul, that when they have an easy time, their lives almost entirely free from anguish of spirit, are favored of God, they know it not, and think their trials great. I saw that unless such have a spirit of self-sacrifice, and are ready to labor cheerfully, not sparing themselves, God will release them. He will not acknowledge them as his self-sacrificing servants; but will raise up those who will labor, not slothfully but in earnest, and will know when they have an easy time. God's servants must feel the burden of souls, and weep between the porch and the altar, and cry, "Spare thy people, Lord."
Some of the servants of God have given up their lives, to spend and be spent, for the cause of God, while their constitutions are gone, and they are almost worn out with mental labor, incessant care, toil, and privations, while others have not had, and would not take, the burden upon them. Yet just such ones think they have a hard time, because they never have experienced hardships. They never have been baptized into the suffering part, and never will be as long as they manifest so much weakness, and so little fortitude, and love their ease so well. Let these servants feel the woe upon them if they preach not the gospel, and it will be enough; but all do not feel this.
I was shown the conformity of some professed Sabbath-keepers to the world. Oh, I saw it was a disgrace to their profession, a disgrace to the cause of God! They give the lie to their profession. They think they are not like the world, but they are so near like them in dress, in conversation, and actions, that there is no distinction. I saw them decorating their poor mortal bodies, which are liable any moment to be touched by the finger of God, and laid upon a bed of anguish. Oh, then, as they approach their last change, mortal anguish racks their frames, and the great inquiry then is, "Am I prepared to die; prepared to appear before God in judgment and stand the grand review?" Ask them then how they feel about decorating their bodies, and if they have any sense of what it is to be prepared to appear before God, they will tell you that if they could take back and live over the past, they would correct their lives, shun the follies of the world, its vanity, its pride, and would adorn the body with modest apparel, and set an example to others around them. They would live to the glory of God. Why is it so hard to lead a self-denying, humble life? Because professed Christians are not dead to the world. It is easy living after we are dead; but they have a disposition to dress and act as much like the world as possible, and yet go to Heaven. Such seek to climb up some other way. They do not enter through the narrow way and straight gate.
I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel, "Some food for worms,*¹ some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth, to be translated at the coming of Jesus."
Solemn words were these, spoken by the angel. I asked why so few were interested in their eternal interest, so few preparing for their last change. Said the angel, "Earth attracts them, its treasures seem of worth to them." They find enough to engross the mind, and have no time to prepare for Heaven. Satan is ever ready to plunge them deeper and deeper into difficulty, and as one perplexity and trouble is off the mind he begets within them an unholy desire for more of the things of earth, and thus their time is gone, and when it is too late they see they have nothing substantial. They have grasped at shadows and lost eternal life.
Such will have no excuse. Many, I saw, dressed like the world to have influence; but here they make a sad mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction great between the Christian and the world. I saw that the words, the dress, and actions, should tell for God. Then a holy influence will be shed upon all, and all will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus; and unbelievers will see that the truth we profess has a holy influence, and that faith in Christ's coming affects the character of the man or woman. If any wish to have their influence tell in favor of truth, let them live it out, and imitate the humble Pattern.
I saw that God hates pride, and that all the proud, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up. I saw that the third angel's message must yet work like leaven upon many hearts that profess to believe it, and purge away their pride, selfishness, covetousness, and love of the world.
Jesus is coming, and will he find a people conformed to the world? And will he acknowledge them as his people? Oh, no. None but the pure and holy will he acknowledge as his. Those that have been purified and made bright through suffering, and have kept themselves separate, unspotted from the world, he will own as his.
As I saw the dreadful fact that God's people were conformed to the world, with no distinction, only in name, between many of the professed disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus, and unbelievers, my soul felt deep anguish. I saw that Jesus was wounded and put to an open shame. Said the angel, as with sorrow he saw the professed people of God loving the world, partaking of the spirit of the world, and following its fashions, "Cut loose! cut loose! lest he appoint thee thy portion with hypocrites and unbelievers outside of the City. Thy profession will only cause thee greater anguish, and thy punishment will be greater, because ye knew his will, but did it not." I saw that those who profess to believe the third angel's message often wound the cause of God by lightness, joking, and trifling. This evil I was shown was all through our ranks. I saw that there should be an humbling before God, and that the Israel of God should rend the heart and not the garments. Childlike simplicity is rarely seen; the approbation of man is more thought of than to fear to displease God. Said the angel, "Set thine heart in order, lest he visit thee in judgment, and the brittle thread of life be cut, and ye lie down in the grave unsheltered, unprepared for the judgment. Or if ye do not make your bed in the grave, unless ye soon make your peace with God, tear yourselves from the world, your hearts will grow harder, and ye will lean upon a false prop, a supposed preparation, and find out your mistake too late to secure a well-grounded hope."
I saw that some professed Sabbath-keepers spent hours that were worse than thrown away studying this or that fashion to decorate the poor, mortal body. While you make yourselves appear like the world, and as beautiful as you can, remember that the same body may in a few days be food for worms. And while you fix it up to your taste to please the eye, you are dying spiritually. God hates your vain, wicked pride, and he looks upon you as a whited sepulcher; but within full of corruption and uncleanness.
Mothers set the example of pride to their children, and while so doing, sow seed that will spring up and bear fruit. The harvest will be plenteous and sure. That which they sow they shall reap. There will be no failure in the crop. I saw, parents, that it is easier for you to learn your children a lesson of pride, than a lesson of humility. And that Satan and his angels stand right by your side to make the act of yours, or the word that you may speak to them, effectual, to encourage them to dress, and in their pride to mingle with society that is not holy. O, parents, you plant a thorn in your own bosoms that you will often feel in anguish. And when you would counteract the sad lesson you have learned your children, you will find it a hard thing. It is impossible for you to do it. You may deny them things that will gratify their pride, yet that pride lives in the heart, longing to be satisfied, and nothing can kill this pride but to have the quick and powerful Spirit of God find the way to the heart, and work like leaven there, and remove it.
I saw that young and old neglect their Bibles. They do not make that book their study and the rule of life, as they should, especially the young. Most of them are ready, and find plenty of time, to read almost any other book. But the Word that points to life, eternal life, is not perused and daily studied. That precious, important book that is to judge them in the last day, is scarcely studied at all. Idle stories have been attentively read, while the Bible has been passed by, neglected. A day is coming, of clouds and thick darkness, when all will wish to be thoroughly furnished by the plain, simple truths of the word of God, that they may meekly, yet decidedly, give a reason of their hope. This reason of their hope, I saw, they must have to strengthen their own souls for the fierce conflict. Without this they are wanting, and cannot have firmness and decision.
Parents had much better burn the idle tales of the day, and the novels, as they come into their houses. It would be a mercy to their children. Encourage the reading of these story-books, and it is like enchantment. It bewilders and poisons the mind. I saw that unless parents awake to the eternal interest of their children, they will surely be lost through their neglect. And the possibility of these unfaithful parents' being saved themselves is very small. Parents, I saw, should be exemplary. They should exert a holy influence in their families. They should let their dress be modest, different from the world around them. You should rebuke pride in your children, if you value their eternal interest. Faithfully rebuke this pride, and encourage it not in deed or word. I saw that this pride must be torn out of our families. Oh, the pride that was shown me of God's professed people. It has increased every year, until it is now impossible to designate professed Advent Sabbath-keepers from all the world around them. Much, I saw, was expended for ribbons and laces for the bonnets, collars,*² and other needless articles to decorate the body, while Jesus, the King of glory, who gave his life to redeem them, wore a crown of thorns. This was the way their Master's sacred head was decorated. He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." And the very ones that profess to be washed by the blood of Jesus, can dress up, and decorate their poor, mortal bodies, yet dare to profess to be the followers of the holy, self-denying, humble Pattern. Oh, I wish that all could see this in the light that God sees it, and showed it to me. It seemed too much for me to bear, to feel the anguish of soul that I felt as I beheld it. "God's people," said the angel, "are peculiar; such he is purifying unto himself." I saw that the outside appearance was an index to the heart. When hung with ribbons, collars, and needless things, it plainly shows that all this is in the heart, and unless that such persons are cleansed from their sins, they can never see God, for the pure in heart alone will see him.
I saw that the axe must be laid at the root of the tree. Such pride should not be suffered in the church. It is these things that separate God from his people, that shuts the ark away from them. Israel has been asleep to the pride, and fashions, and conformity to the world, in their very midst. They advance every month in pride, covetousness, selfishness, and love of the world. When the truth affects the heart, it will cause a death to the world, and the ribbons, laces, and collars will be laid aside, and if dead, the laugh, the jeer, and scorn of unbelievers, will not move them. They will feel an anxious desire to be separate from the world, like their Master. They will not imitate its pride, fashions, or customs. The noble object will be ever before them, to glorify God, and gain the immortal inheritance. This prospect will swallow up all besides of an earthly nature. God will have a separate and distinct people from the world. And if any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as his children. They are the children of the world, and darkness. They want to be as much like the world as possible, and those that profess to have put on Christ, by thus doing put him off, and show that they are strangers to grace, strangers to the meek and lowly Jesus. If they had acquainted themselves with him, they would walk worthy of him.
I saw the companions of the messengers. Some of them are no help to their husbands, yet they profess the third angel's message. They think more of studying their own wishes and pleasure than the will of God, or how they can hold up the hands of their husbands by their faithful prayers and careful walk. I saw that some of them take such a willful, selfish course, that Satan makes them his instruments, and works through them to destroy the usefulness and influence of their husbands. They feel at liberty to complain and murmur if they are brought through any straight places. They forget the sufferings of the ancient Christians for the truth's sake, and think they must have their wishes and their way, and follow their own will. They forget the sufferings of Jesus their Master. They forget the man of sorrows, that was acquainted with grief, he who had not where to lay his head. They do not care to remember that holy brow, pierced with a crown of thorns. They forget him who, bearing his own cross to Calvary, fainted beneath its burden, not merely the burden of the wooden cross, but the heavy burden of the sins of the world were upon him. They forget the cruel nails driven through his tender hands and feet, and his expiring, agonizing cries, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And after all this suffering endured for them, they feel a strong unwillingness to suffer for Christ's sake.
These individuals, I saw, were deceiving themselves. They have no part nor lot in the matter. They have got hold of the truth, but the truth has not got hold of them. When the truth, the solemn, important truth, gets hold of them, self will die, and the language will not be, "I shall go here, and shall not stay there;" but the earnest inquiry will be, "Where does God want me to be? Where can I best glorify him, and where can our united labors do the most good?" Their will should be swallowed up in the will of God. The lack of consecration, and the willfulness that some of the messengers' companions possess, will stand in the way of sinners; and the blood of souls will be upon their garments. Some of the messengers have borne a strong testimony in regard to the duty, and the wrongs of the church. It has not had its designed effect; for their own companions needed all the straight testimony that had been borne. And the reproof came back upon themselves with great weight. They let their companions affect them, and drag them down, and prejudice their minds, and their usefulness and influence is lost, and they feel desponding and disheartened, and realize not the true source of the injury. It is close at home.
I saw that these sisters are closely connected with the work of God if he has called their husbands to preach the present truth. These servants, if truly called of God, will feel the importance of the truth. They are standing between the living and the dead, and must watch for souls as they that must give account. Solemn is their calling. And their companions can be a great blessing to them, or a great curse. They can cheer them when desponding, comfort them when cast down, and encourage them to look up and trust fully in God when their faith fails. And they can take an opposite course, look upon the dark side, and think they have a hard time, have no faith in God, and talk their trials and unbelief to their companions, have a complaining, murmuring spirit, and be a dead weight, and even a curse, to them.
I saw that the companions of the messengers should help their husbands in their labors, and be exact and careful what influence they exert; for they are watched, and more is expected of them than others. Their dress should be an example. Their lives and conversation should be an example, and savor of life, rather than death. I saw that they should take an humble, meek, yet exalted, stand, and not have their talk upon things that do not tend to direct their minds heavenward. The great inquiry should be, "How can I save my own soul, and be the means of saving others?" I saw that there was no half-hearted work in this matter, accepted of God. He wants the whole heart and interest, or he will have none. Their influence tells, decidedly, unmistakably, in favor of the truth, or against it. They gather with Jesus, or scatter abroad. An unsanctified companion is the greatest curse a messenger can have. Those servants of God that have been, and are still so unhappily situated as to have this withering influence at home, should double their prayers, their watchfulness, and take a decided, firm stand, and let not this darkness press them down. They should cleave closer to God, be firm and decided, rule well their own house, and live so that they can have the approbation of God, and the watch-care of the angels. But if they yield to the wishes of their unconsecrated companions, the frown of God is brought upon the dwelling. The ark of God cannot abide in the house, because they countenance and uphold them in their wrongs. Our God is a jealous God. It is fearful to trifle with him. Anciently, Achan coveted a golden wedge, and a Babylonish garment, and secreted them, and all Israel suffered. They were driven before their enemies. And when Joshua inquired the cause, the Lord said, "Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against the morrow; for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you." Achan had sinned, and God destroyed him, and all his household, with all they possessed, and wiped the curse from Israel.
I saw that the Israel of God must arise, renew their strength in God by renewing and keeping their covenant with him. Covetousness, selfishness, love of money, and love of the world, are all through the ranks of Sabbath-keepers. These evils are drying up the sacrifice of God's people. Those that have this covetousness in their hearts are not aware of it. It has gained upon them imperceptibly. And unless it is rooted out, their destruction will be as sure as Achan's was. Many have taken the sacrifice from God's altar, and they love the world, love its gain and increase, and unless there is an entire change they will perish with the world. God has lent them means. It is not their own; but God has made them his stewards. And because of this, they call it their own, and hoard it up. But oh, how quick, when the prospering hand of God is removed from them, is it all snatched away in a moment. There must be a sacrificing for God, a denying self for the truth's sake. Oh, how weak and frail is man. How puny his arm. I saw that soon the loftiness of man is to be brought down, and the pride of man humbled. Kings and nobles, rich and poor, alike shall bow, and the withering plagues from God shall fall upon them.
*¹ Sister Clarissa M. Bonfoey, who fell asleep in Jesus only three days after this vision was given, was present, in usual health, and was deeply impressed that she was one that would go into the grave, and stated her convictions to others.
*² The question has often been asked me if I believed it wrong to wear plain linen collars. My answer has always been, No. Some have taken the extreme meaning of what I have written about collars, and have maintained that it was wrong to wear one of any description. I was shown expensively wrought collars, and expensive and unnecessary ribbons and laces, which some Sabbath-keepers have worn, and still wear, for the sake of show and fashion. I did not design to be understood, by naming collars, that nothing like a collar should be worn, or by naming ribbons, that no ribbons at all should be worn.
BE ZEALOUS AND REPENT.
DEAR brethren and sisters, the Lord has shown me in vision some things concerning the church in its present lukewarm state, which I will relate to you. The church was presented before me in vision. Said the angel to the church, "Jesus speaks to thee, 'Be zealous and repent.'" This work I saw should be taken hold of in earnest. There is something to repent of. Worldly-mindedness, selfishness and covetousness, have been eating out the spirituality and life of God's people.
The danger of God's people for a few years past, has been the love of this world. Out of this have sprung the sins of selfishness and covetousness. The more they get of this world the more they set their affections on it, and still they reach out for more. Said the angel, "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Yet many who profess to believe that we are having the last note of warning to the world, are striving with all their energies to place themselves in a position where it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for them to enter the kingdom.
These earthly treasures are blessings when a right use is made of them. Those who have them, should realize that they are lent them of God, and should cheerfully spend their means to advance his cause. They will not lose their reward here. The angels of God will kindly regard them, and they will also lay up a treasure in Heaven.
I saw that Satan watches the peculiar, selfish, covetous temperaments of some that profess the truth, and will tempt them by throwing prosperity in their path, offering them the riches of earth. He knows if they do not overcome their natural temperaments here, they will stumble and fall by loving mammon, and worshiping their idol. Satan's object is too often accomplished; the strong love of the world overcomes, or swallows up the love of the truth. The kingdoms of the world are offered them, and they eagerly grasp their treasure, and think they are wonderfully prospered. Satan triumphs because his plan has succeeded. They have given up the love of God for the love of the world.
I saw that those who are thus prospered can thwart the design of Satan, by overcoming their selfish covetousness, by laying upon the altar of God all their possessions. And when they see an opportunity where their means is needed to advance the cause of truth, and to help the widow, the fatherless and afflicted, cheerfully let them go, and lay up treasure in Heaven.
Heed the counsel of the true Witness. Buy gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich, white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and eye-salve that thou mayest see. Make some effort. These precious treasures will not drop upon us without some exertions on our part. We must buy; "be zealous and repent" of our lukewarm state. We must be awake to see our wrongs, and to search up our sins, and to zealously repent of them.
I saw that the brethren who have possessions have a work to do, to tear away from their wealth and love of the world. Many of them love this world, but are not willing to see it. They must be zealous and repent of their selfish covetousness, that the love of the truth may swallow up everything else. I saw that many of those that have riches will fail to buy the gold, white raiment, and eye-salve. Their zeal does not possess intensity and earnestness proportionate to the value of the object they are in pursuit of.
Then I saw these men while striving for the possessions of earth. What zeal they manifested! What earnestness! What energy to obtain an earthly treasure that must soon pass away! What cool calculations they make. They will plan and toil early and late, and sacrifice their ease and comfort for an earthly treasure. A corresponding zeal on their part for the gold, white raiment, and eye-salve, will bring them in possession of these desirable treasures, and life, everlasting life, in the kingdom of God. I saw that if any need eye-salve, it is those who have these earthly possessions. Many of them are blind to their own state. Blind to the firm grasp they have of this world. Oh, that they may see.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
I saw that many had so much rubbish piled up at the door of their heart that they could not get the door open. Some have difficulties between themselves and their brethren to remove. Others have evil tempers, selfish covetousness, to remove, before they can open the door. Others have rolled the world before the door of their heart, which bars the door. All this rubbish must be taken away from the door, and then can they open the door, and welcome the Saviour in.
Oh, how precious was this promise, as it was shown to me in vision. "I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." Oh, the love, the wondrous love of God. After all our lukewarmness and sins, he says, "Return unto me, and I will return unto thee, and will heal all thy backslidings." This was repeated by the angel a number of times. "Return unto me, and I will return unto thee, and heal all thy backslidings."
Some, I saw, would gladly return. Others will not let this message to the Laodicean church have its weight upon them. They will glide along, much after the same manner they have, and will be spued out of the mouth of the Lord. Those only who zealously repent will have favor with God.
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." We can overcome. Yes, fully, entirely. Jesus died to make a way of escape for us, that we may overcome every evil temper, every sin, every temptation, and sit down at last with him.
I saw that it was our privilege to have faith, and salvation. The power of God has not decreased. His power, I saw, would be just as freely bestowed now as formerly. It is the church of God that have lost their faith to claim, their energy to wrestle, as did Jacob, and cry, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." Enduring faith has been dying away. It must be revived in the hearts of God's people. There must be a claiming of the blessing of God. Faith, living faith, always bears upward to God and glory. Unbelief, downward to darkness and death.
I saw that there have been some peculiar temperaments, who have had their notions by which to measure their brethren. And if they did not exactly agree with them, there was trouble in the camp at once. Some have strained at a gnat, and swallowed a camel.
These set notions have been humored and indulged altogether too long. There has been a picking at straws. And when there were no real difficulties in the church, trials have been manufactured. The minds of the church, and servants of God, are called from God, truth, and Heaven, to dwell upon darkness. Satan delights to have such things go on. It feasts him. But these are none of the trials which are to purify the church, and that will increase in the end the strength of God's people.
I saw that some are withering spiritually. They have lived some time watching to keep their brethren straight; watching for every fault, to make trouble with them. And while doing this, their minds are not on God, nor on Heaven, nor on the truth; but just where Satan wants them-on some one else. Their souls are neglected, they seldom see or feel their own faults, for they have had enough to do to watch the faults of others, without so much as looking to their own souls, to search their own hearts. A person's dress, a bonnet, an apron, takes their attention. They must talk to this one, or that one, and it is sufficient to dwell upon for weeks. I saw that all the religion a few poor souls have, is to watch the garments and acts of others, and find fault with them. Unless they reform, there will be no place in Heaven for them, for they would find fault with the Lord himself.
Said the angel, "It is an individual work to be right with God." The work is between God and our own souls. But when some have so much care of others' faults, they take no care of themselves. Most of these notional, fault-finding ones, would cure themselves of these habits, if they would go directly to the individual they think is wrong. It would be so crossing, that they would give up their notions rather than go. But it is easy to let the tongue run freely about this one, or that one, when the accused is not present.
Some think it wrong to try to observe order in the worship of God. I have seen that confusion is displeasing to God, and that there should be order in singing, and order in praying. We should not come to the house of God to make that a place to pray for our families, unless deep feelings shall lead us, while the Spirit of God is convicting them. Generally, the proper place for us to pray for our families is at the family altar. When the subjects of our prayers are at a distance, the closet is the proper place to plead with God for them. When in the house of God, our prayers should be for a present blessing. And we should expect God to hear and answer our prayers. Such meetings will be lively and interesting.
I saw that in singing, all should sing with the Spirit, and understanding also. God is not pleased with jargon and discord. Right is always more pleasing to God than wrong. And the nearer the people of God can get to correct, harmonious singing, the more he is glorified, and the church benefited, and unbelievers favorably affected.
I was shown the order, the perfect order, of Heaven. I have been enraptured, as I have listened to the perfect music there. And after I have come out of vision, the singing here has sounded very harsh and discordant.
I have seen companies of angels, who stood in a hollow square, every one having a harp of gold. At the end of the harp was an instrument to turn, to set the harp, or change the tunes. Their fingers did not sweep over the strings carelessly, but the fingers must touch different strings to produce different sounds. There is one angel who always leads, first touches the harp, strikes the note, then all join in the rich, perfect music of heaven. It cannot be described. It was melody, heavenly, divine, while from every countenance beamed the image of Jesus, which shone with glory unspeakable.
AUGUST 22, 1857, at the house of prayer in Monterey, I was shown that many have not yet heard the voice of Jesus, and the saving message has not taken hold of the soul, and worked a reformation in the life.
Many of the young, I saw, have not the Spirit of Jesus. The love of God is not in their hearts, therefore all the natural besetments hold the victory instead of the Spirit of God and salvation.
Those who really possess the religion of Jesus, will not be ashamed nor afraid to bear the cross before those who have more experience than they have. They will, if they earnestly long to be right, desire all the help from older Christians they can get. Gladly will they be helped by them; and a heart that is warmed by love to God will not be hindered by trifles in the Christian course. They will talk out what the Spirit of God works in. They will sing it out, pray it out. It is the lack of religion, lack of holy living, that makes the young backward. Their life condemns them. They know they do not live as Christians should, therefore they have not confidence toward God, or before the church.
Why the young feel more liberty when the older ones are absent, is, they are with those of their kind. Each think they are as good as the other. All fail of the mark, but measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, and have neglected the only perfect and true standard. Jesus is the true pattern. His self-sacrificing life is our example.
I saw how little the Pattern was studied, how little exalted before them. How little do the young suffer, or deny self, for their religion! To sacrifice is scarcely thought of among them. They entirely fail of imitating the Pattern in this respect. I saw that this was the language of their lives, Self must be gratified, pride must be indulged. They forget the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief. The sufferings of Jesus in Gethsemane, his sweating as it were great drops of blood in the garden, the platted crown of thorns that pierced his holy brow, do not move them. They have become benumbed. Their sensibilities are blunted, and they have lost all sense of the great sacrifice made for them. They can sit and listen to the story of the cross, the cruel nails that were driven through the hands and feet of the Son of God. It does not stir the depths of the soul.
Said the angel, "If such should be ushered into the city of God, and told that all its rich beauty and glory was theirs to enjoy eternally, they would have no sense of how dearly that inheritance was purchased for them. They would never realize the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. They have not drank of the cup, nor been baptized with the baptism. Heaven would be marred if such should dwell there. Those only who have partaken of the sufferings of the Son of God, and have come up through great tribulation, have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, can enjoy the indescribable glory and unsurpassed beauty of Heaven.
The want of this necessary preparation will shut out the greatest portion of the young professors, for they will not labor earnestly and zealously enough to obtain that rest that remains for the people of God. They will not honestly confess their sins, that they may be pardoned and blotted out. These sins in a short time will be revealed in just their enormity. God's eye does not slumber. He knows every sin that is hidden from mortal eye. The guilty know just what sins to confess, that their souls may be clean before God.
I saw that Jesus was now giving them opportunity to confess, to repent in deep humility, and purify their lives by obeying and living out the truth. I saw that now was the time for wrongs to be righted, sins to be confessed, or appear before the sinner in the day of God's wrath.
I saw that parents generally put too much confidence in their children, and often when their parents are confiding in them, they are in concealed iniquity. Parents, watch your children with a jealous care. Exhort, reprove, counsel them when you rise up, and when you sit down; when you go out, and when you come in; "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little." Subdue your children when they are young. With many parents this has been sadly neglected.
I saw that many parents do not take as firm and decided a stand as they should in regard to their children. They suffer them, and (by so doing) encourage in their children a disposition to be like the world, to love dress, and associate with those that hate the truth, whose influence is poisonous.
I saw that in Christian parents there should always be a fixed principle with them to be united in the government of their children. I saw there was a fault in this respect with some parents-a lack of union. The fault is sometimes with the father, but oftener with the mother. The fond mother pets and indulges her children. The father's labor calls him from home often, and from the society of his children. The mother's influence tells. Her example does much toward forming the character of the children.
Some fond mothers suffer wrongs in their children, which should not be suffered in them for a moment. The wrongs of the children are sometimes concealed from the father. Articles of dress or some indulgence is granted by the mother, with the understanding that the father is to know nothing about it; for he would reprove for these things.
Here is a lesson of deception effectually taught the children. Then if the father discovers these wrongs, vain excuses are made, and but half the truth told. The mother is not open-hearted. She does not consider as she should that the father has the same interest in the children as herself, and that he should not be kept ignorant of their wrongs or besetments that ought to be corrected while young. Things have been covered. The children know the lack of union in their parents. It has its effect. The children begin young to deceive, cover up, tell things in a different light from what they are, to their mother, as well as their father. Exaggeration becomes habit. Blunt falsehoods are told with but little conviction or reproof of conscience.
These wrongs commenced by the mother's concealing things from the father, who has a mutual interest in the character his children are forming. The father should have been consulted freely. All should have been laid open to him. But the opposite course taken to conceal and hide the wrongs of the children, encourages in them a disposition to deceive, a lack of truthfulness and honesty.
The only hope of these children, whether they profess religion or not, is to be thoroughly converted. Their whole character must be changed. Thoughtless mother, do you know, as you teach your children, that their whole religious experience is affected by their teaching when young? Subdue them young; teach them to submit to you, and the more readily will they learn to yield obedience to the requirements of God. Encourage in your children a truthful, honest disposition. Let them never have occasion to doubt your sincerity and exact truthfulness.
I saw that the young profess, but do not enjoy, the saving power of God. They lack religion, lack salvation. And oh! the idle, unprofitable words they speak. There is a faithful, fearful record kept of them, and mortals will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. Young friends, your deeds and your idle words are written in the book. Your conversation has not been on eternal things, but upon this, that, and the other-common, worldly conversation that Christians should not engage in. It is all written in the book.
I saw that unless there is an entire change in the young, a thorough conversion, they may despair of Heaven. From what has been shown me there is not more than half of the young who profess religion and the truth, who have been truly converted. If they had been converted, they would bear fruit to the glory of God. Many are leaning upon a supposed hope without a true foundation.
The fountain is not cleansed, therefore the streams proceeding from that fountain are not pure. Cleanse the fountain, and the streams will be pure. If the heart is right, your words, your dress, your acts, all will be right. True godliness is lacking. I would not dishonor my Master so much as to admit that a careless, trifling, prayerless person is a Christian. No; a Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions. There is a remedy for the sin-sick soul. That remedy is in Jesus. Precious Saviour! his grace is sufficient for the weakest; and the strongest must also have his grace, or perish.
I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacob like, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus in the garden sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray, you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can, and will, appear in you.
God forbid that I should cease to warn you. Young friends, seek the Lord with all your heart. Come with zeal, and when you sincerely feel that without the help of God, you perish; when you pant after him as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, then will the Lord strengthen you speedily. Then will your peace pass all understanding. If you expect salvation, you must pray. Take time. Be not hurried and careless in your prayers. Beg of God to work in you a thorough reformation, that the fruits of his Spirit may dwell in you, and you shine as lights in the world. Be not a hinderance or curse to the cause of God; you can be a help, a blessing. Does Satan tell you that you cannot enjoy salvation, full and free? Believe him not.
I saw it was the privilege of every Christain to enjoy the deep movings of the Spirit of God. A sweet, heavenly peace will pervade the mind, and you will love to meditate upon God and Heaven. You will feast upon the glorious promises of his word.
But know first that you have begun the Christian course. Know that the first steps are taken in the road to everlasting life. Be not deceived. I fear, yea, I know, that many of you know not what religion is. You have felt some excitement, some emotions; but you have never seen sin in its enormity. You have never felt your undone condition, and turned from your evil ways with bitter sorrow. You never have died to the world. You still love its pleasures; you love to engage in conversation on worldly matters. But when the truth of God is introduced, you have nothing to say. Why so silent? Why so talkative upon worldly things, and so silent upon the subject that should most concern you? a subject that should engage your whole soul? The truth of God does not dwell in you.
I saw that many are fair in their profession, but within is corruption. Deceive not yourselves, false-hearted professors. God looks at the heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The world, I saw, is in the heart of such; but the religion of Jesus is not there. If the professed Christian loves Jesus better than the world, he will love to speak of him, his best friend, in whom his highest affections are centered.
He came to their aid when they felt their lost and perishing condition. When weary and heavy laden with sin, they turned unto him. He removed their burden of guilt and sin, took away their sorrow and mourning, and turned the whole current of their affections. The things they once loved, they now hate; and the things they hated, they now love.
Has this great change taken place in you? Be not deceived. I would never name the name of Christ, or I would give him my whole heart, my undivided affections. I saw that we should feel the deepest gratitude that Jesus will accept this offering. Jesus demands all. When we are brought to yield to his claims, and give up all, then, and not till then, will he throw around us his arms of mercy. But what do we give, when we give all? A sin-polluted soul to Jesus, to purify, to cleanse by his mercy, and save from death by his matchless love. And yet I saw that some thought it hard to give up all. I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.
Do we talk about self-denial? What did Christ give for us? When you think it hard that Christ requires all, go up to mount Calvary and weep there over such a thought. Behold the hands and feet of your Deliverer torn by the cruel nails, that you may be washed from sin by his own blood.
Those who feel the constraining love of God ask not how little may be given, in order to obtain the heavenly reward; they ask not for the lowest standard, but aim at perfect conformity to the will of their Redeemer. With ardent desire they will yield all, and manifest zeal proportionate to the value of the object they are in pursuit of. What is the object? Immortality, eternal life.
Young friends, many of you are sadly deceived. You have been satisfied with something short of pure and undefiled religion. I want to arouse you. The angels of God are trying to arouse you. Oh! that the important truths in the word of God may arouse you to a sense of your danger, and lead you to a thorough examination of yourself. Your heart is yet carnal. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. This carnal heart must be changed, and you see such beauty in holiness, that you will pant after it as the hart panteth after the water-brooks. Then you will love God, and love his law. Then the yoke of Christ will be easy, and his burden light. Although you will have trials, yet these trials, well borne, only make the way more precious. The immortal inheritance is for the self-denied Christian.
I saw that the Christian should not set too high a value, or depend too much upon a happy flight of feeling. These feelings are not always true. I saw that it should be the study of every Christian to serve God from principle, and not be ruled by feeling. By so doing, faith will be brought into exercise, and will increase. I was shown that if the Christian lives a humble, self-sacrificing life to God, peace and joy in the Lord will be the result. But the greatest happiness experienced, will be in doing others good, in making others happy. Such happiness will be lasting.
I have been shown that many of the young have not a fixed principle to serve God. They do not exercise faith. They sink under every cloud. They have no power of endurance. They do not grow in grace. They appear to keep the commandments of God. They pray now and then a formal prayer, and are called Christians. Their parents are so anxious for them, that they accept anything that appears favorable, and do not labor with them, and teach them that the carnal mind must die. They encourage the young to come along and act a part, but they fail to lead them to search their own hearts diligently, to examine themselves, and to count the cost of what it is to be a Christian. The young come along without sufficiently trying their motives, and profess to be Christians.
Says the True Witness, "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Satan is willing you should be a Christian in name, for you can suit his purposes better. You can have a form and not true godliness, and Satan can use you to decoy others in the same self-deceived way. Some poor souls look to you, instead of looking to the Bible standard. They come up no higher than you; they are as good as you, and are satisfied.
The young are often urged to do duty, to speak or pray in meeting; urged to die to pride. Every step they are urged. Such religion is worth nothing. Let the carnal heart be changed, and it will not be such drudgery, ye cold-hearted professors, to serve God; and all that love of dress and pride of appearance will be gone. The time that you spend standing before the glass, to prepare the hair, to please the eye, should be devoted to prayer and searching of heart. There will be no place for outward adorning in the sanctified heart; but there will be an earnest, anxious seeking for the inward adorning, the Christian graces, the fruits of the Spirit of God.
Says the apostle: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
Subdue the carnal mind, reform the life, and the poor, mortal frame will not be so idolized. If the heart is reformed, it will be seen in the outward appearance. If Christ be in us the hope of glory, we shall discover such matchless charms in him that the soul will be enamored. It will cleave to him, choose to love him, and in his admiration self will be forgotten. Jesus will be magnified, adored, and self abased and humbled.
But a profession, without this deep love, is mere talk, dry formality, and heavy drudgery. Many of you may retain a notion of religion in the head, an outside religion, when the heart is not cleansed. God looks at the heart; "all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Will he be satisfied with anything but truth in the inward parts? Every truly converted soul will carry the unmistakable marks that the carnal mind is subdued.
I speak plainly; I do not think this will discourage a true Christian; and I do not want any of you to come up to the time of trouble without a well-grounded hope in your Redeemer. Determine to know the worst of your case. Ascertain if you have an inheritance on high. Deal truly with your own soul. Remember that a church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, will Jesus present to his Father.
How are you to know that you are accepted of God? Study his word prayerfully. Lay it not aside for any other book. This book convinces of sin. It reveals plainly the way of salvation. It brings to view a bright and glorious reward. It reveals to you a complete Saviour, and teaches you that through his boundless mercy alone can you expect salvation.
Do not neglect secret prayer, for it is the soul of religion. With earnest, fervent prayer plead for purity of soul. Plead as earnestly, as eagerly, as you would for your mortal life, were it at stake. Remain before God until unutterable longings are begotten within you for salvation, and the sweet evidence is obtained of pardoned sin.
The hope of eternal life is not to be taken up upon slight grounds. It is a subject to be settled between God and your own soul; settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin. Since you are to stand or fall by the word of God, it is to that word you must look for testimony in your case. There you can see what is required of you to become a Christian. Do not lay off your armor, or leave the battlefield until you have obtained the victory, and triumph in your Redeemer.
Love One Another.
The following view was given me at Ulysses, Penn., July 6, 1857. It relates to things as they have existed in Roosevelt, N. Y., and Oswego Co. in particular, also to other places in that State.
I have seen that there have been so many church trials among the brethren in the State of New York, that God has not had the least to do with, that the church have lost their strength, and they know not how to regain it. The love for one another has gone, and a fault-finding, accusing spirit has prevailed. It has been considered a virtue to hunt up everything about one another that looked wrong, and make it appear full as bad as it really was. The bowels of compassion that yearn in love and pity toward brethren, have not existed. The religion of some has consisted in fault-finding, picking at everything bearing the appearance of wrong, until the noble feelings of the soul are withered. The mind should be elevated to dwell upon eternal scenes, Heaven, its treasures, its glories, and should take sweet and holy satisfaction in the truths of the Bible. They should love to feed upon the precious promises that God's word affords, draw comfort from it, and the mind should be lifted above trifles to weighty, eternal things.
But, oh, how differently has the mind been employed! Picking at straws! Church meetings as they have been held, have been a living curse to many in New York. These manufactured trials have given full liberty to evil surmising. Jealousy has been fed. Hatred has existed, but they knew it not. A wrong idea has been in the minds of some, to reprove without love, hold others to their idea of what is right, and spare not, but bear down with crushing weight.
I saw that many in New York have had so much care for their brethren, to keep them straight, that they have neglected their own hearts. They are so fearful that their brethren will not be zealous, and repent, that they forget that they have wrongs which must be righted. With their own hearts unsanctified, they try to right their brethren. Now the only way the brethren and sisters in New York can rise, is to attend to their own individual cases, and each set his own heart in order. And if sin is plain upon a brother, breathe it not to another, but with love for the brother's soul, with a heart full of compassion, with bowels of mercies, tell him the wrong, then leave it upon the brother and the Lord. You have discharged your duty. You are not to pass sentence.
You have made it too light an affair to rein up a brother, condemn, and hold under condemnation. There has been a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. If all set their own hearts in order, when they meet together their testimony would be ready, and come from a full soul; and the people around that believe not the truth would be moved. The manifestation of the Spirit of God would tell to their hearts that you are the children of God. Our love for each other should be visible to all. It will tell. It will have influence.
I saw that the church in New York might rise. Individually take hold of the work in earnest, be zealous, and repent; and after all wrongs are righted that you have knowledge of, then believe that God accepts you. Go not mourning, but take God at his word. Seek him diligently, and believe that he receives you. A part of the work is to believe. He is faithful who has promised. Climb up by faith.
I saw in New York the brethren can arise as well as in other places; they can drink in the salvation of God. They can move understandingly, and all have an experience for themselves in this message of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. The church feel that they are down, but know not how to rise. The intentions of some may be very good; they may confess; yet, I saw that they were watched with suspicion, they were made an offender for a word, until they have no liberty, no salvation. They dare not act out the simple feelings of the heart, because they are watched. It is God's pleasure that his people should fear him, and have confidence before each other.
I saw that many have taken advantage of what God has shown in regard to the sins and wrongs of others. They have taken the extreme meaning of what has been shown in vision; and then have pressed it, until it has had a tendency to weaken the faith of many in what God has shown, and also to discourage and dishearten the church.
I was shown that with tender compassion should brother deal with brother. Delicately should he deal with feelings. And I saw that it is the most important work that ever yet was done, and the nicest point to touch the wrongs of another. With the deepest humility should a brother do this, considering his own weakness, lest he also be tempted.
I have seen the great sacrifice Jesus made to redeem man. He did not consider his own life too dear to sacrifice. Said Jesus, "Love one another as I have loved you." Do you feel when a brother errs that you could give your life to save him? If you feel thus, you can approach him and affect his heart. You are just the one to visit that brother; but it is a lamentable fact that many who profess to be brethren are not willing to sacrifice any of their opinions or their judgment to save a brother. There is but little love for one another. A selfish spirit has been manifested.
Discouragement has come upon the church. They have been loving the world, loving their farms, their cattle, &c. Now Jesus calls them to cut loose, to lay up treasure in Heaven, to buy gold, white raiment, and eye-salve. Precious treasures are these. They will obtain for the possessor an entrance into the kingdom of God.
The people of God must move understandingly. They should not be satisfied until every known sin is confessed; then it is their privilege and duty to believe that Jesus accepts them. They must not wait for others to press through the darkness and obtain the victory for them to enjoy. Such enjoyment will last only till the meeting closes. But there must be a serving of God from principle, instead of feeling. Morning and night obtain the victory for yourselves in your own family. Let not your daily labor keep you from this. Take time to pray, and believe as you pray that God hears you. Have faith mixed with your prayers. You may not feel the immediate answer at all times; then it is that faith is tried. You are proved to see whether you will trust in God, whether you have living, abiding faith. "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." Walk the narrow plank of faith. Trust all on the promises of God. Trust God in darkness. That is the time to have faith. But you often let feeling govern you. You look for worthiness in yourselves, when you do not feel comforted by the Spirit of God, and despair because you cannot find it. You do not trust enough in Jesus, precious Jesus. You do not make his worthiness to be all, all. The very best you can do will not merit the favor of God. It is Jesus' worthiness that will save you; his blood will cleanse you. But you have efforts to make. You must do what you can on your part. Be zealous, and repent; then believe.
Confound not faith and feeling together. They are distinct. Faith is ours to exercise. Believe, believe. Let your faith take hold of the blessing, and it is yours by faith. Your feelings have nothing to do with this faith. When faith brings the blessing to your heart, then you rejoice in the blessing. It is no more faith, but feeling.
The people of God in New York must steadily arise, and come out from the darkness, and let their light shine. They are standing right in the way of the work of God. They must let the message of the third angel do its work upon their hearts. God is dishonored by your long, faithless prayers. Look away from the unworthiness of self, and exalt Jesus. Talk of faith, of light, and Heaven, and you will have light, faith and love, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The following was addressed to two brethren, but being applicable to many, it is here given for the benefit of the church.
Dear brethren, in the vision given me at your place, I was shown something concerning you both. The angel pointed to you, and repeated these words: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares."
I saw that you both have a great conflict before you; you will have a constant warfare to keep this world out of your hearts. You love this world; now the great study must be with you, how to love Jesus and his service better than the world. If you love the world the most, your works will testify to the fact. If you love Jesus and his service most, your works will testify to that fact also. I saw that the gaze of many of this world is upon you. Many would exult in your downfall, others rejoice in your advancement. Satan and evil angels will present to you the glory of the kingdoms of this world. If you will worship him, or worship a worldly treasure, he will hold it up in every light to attract and lead you to love and worship.
Jesus and your guardian angels are pointing you above your farms, your cattle, and your earthly treasure, to the kingdom of Heaven, to an immortal inheritance, an eternal substance in the kingdom of glory.
Said the angel, "You must die to this world." "Love not the world, neither the THINGS that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
I saw that if in the providence of God, wealth has been acquired, there was no sin in possessing it; and if no opportunities presented themselves to use this means to advance the cause of God, there is no sin in still possessing it. But if opportunities are presented to use property to the glory of God and the advancement of his cause, and they withhold it, it will be a cause of their stumbling. In the day of trouble, that which was their hoarded treasure will be an offense unto them. Then all opportunities will be passed for using their substance to the glory of God, and they will cast it from them in anguish of spirit to the moles and to the bats. Their gold and silver cannot save them in that day. It falls upon them with crushing weight, that an account must be given of their stewardship, and what use they have made of their Lord's money. Self-love made them believe it was all their own, and that they might want it all; but they feel, bitterly feel then, and understand that their means was only lent them of God, to be freely handed to him again, in being used to advance his cause. Their riches deceived them. They felt poor, and lived for themselves, and at last find that the portion they might have used for God's cause is a terrible burden.
Said the angel of God, "Lay all upon the altar, a living, consuming sacrifice. Bind it with cords, if you cannot keep it there. Give yourselves to prayer. Live at the altar. Strengthen your purposes by the promises of God."
"Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the Heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth."
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven."
I saw that if God had given you wealth above the plainest and poorest, it should humble you, for it lays you under the greatest obligations. Where much is given, even of a worldly substance, much will be required. Upon this principle you are bound to possess noble, generous dispositions. Seek for opportunities to do good with what you have. "Lay up treasures in heaven."
I saw that the least that has been required of every Christian in past days, is to possess a spirit of liberality, and consecrate to the Lord a portion of all his increase. Every Christian has considered this a privilege. Some who have borne the name only, have considered it a task; but the grace and love of God had never wrought in them the good work, or they would gladly advance the cause of their Redeemer. But Christians in the last days, who are waiting for your Lord, God requires even more of you than this. He requires you to sacrifice.
Said the angel, "Jesus left a bright track for you to follow. Tread closely in his footsteps. Share his life of self-denial, his self-sacrificing life, and inherit with him the crown of glory."
"He Went away Sorrowful, for He Had Great Possessions."
At Monterey, Oct. 8, 1857, I was shown in vision that the condition of many Sabbath-keepers was like the young man who came to Jesus to know what he should do to inherit eternal life.
"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
"And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
"He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
"The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?
"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come and follow me.
"But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
"When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Matt. 19:16-26.
Jesus quoted five of the last six commandments to the young man, also the second great commandment on which the last six commandments hang. These mentioned, he thought he had kept. Jesus did not mention the first four commandments, containing our duty to God. In answer to the inquiry of the young man, "What lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven."
Here was his lack. He failed of keeping the first four commandments, also the last six. He failed of loving his neighbor as himself. Said Jesus, "Give to the poor." Jesus touches his possessions. "Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." In this direct reference he pointed out his idol. His love of riches was supreme, therefore it was impossible for him to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind. And this supreme love for riches shut his eyes to the wants of his fellow-men. He did not love his neighbor as himself, therefore he failed to keep the last six commandments. His heart was on his treasure. It was swallowed up with his earthly possessions. He loved his possessions better than God, better than the heavenly treasure. He heard the conditions from the mouth of Jesus. If he would sell and give to the poor, he should have treasure in Heaven. Here was a test of how much higher he prized eternal life than his riches. Did he eagerly lay hold of the prospect of eternal life? Did he earnestly strive to remove the obstacle that was in his way of having a treasure in Heaven? Oh, no! "he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."
I was pointed to these words, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Said Jesus, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Said the angel, "Will God permit the rich men to keep their riches, and yet they enter into the kingdom of God?" Said another angel, "No, never!"
I saw that it was God's plan that these riches should be used properly, and distributed to bless the needy and to advance the work of God. I saw that if men love their riches better than their fellow-men, better than God or the truth of his word, and their hearts are on their riches, they cannot have eternal life. They would rather yield the truth than sell and give to the poor. Here they are proved to see how much God is loved, how much the truth is loved, and like the young man in the Bible, many go away sorrowful, because they cannot have their riches and a treasure in Heaven too. They cannot have both. They venture to risk their chance of eternal life for a worldly possession.
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Then I saw that with God all things are possible. Truth set home to the heart by the Spirit of God, will crowd out the love of riches. The love of Jesus and riches cannot dwell in the same heart. The love of God so far surpasses the love of riches that the possessor breaks away from his riches and transfers his affections to God. And then he is led through his love to God to administer to the wants of God's cause. It is his highest pleasure to make a right disposition of his Lord's goods. Love to God and his fellow-men predominates, and he holds all that he has as not his own, and faithfully discharges his duty as God's steward. Then can he keep the first four commandments, and the last six. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." In this way it is possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
Here is the reward for those who sacrifice for God. They receive an hundred-fold in this life. But many, I saw, that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first. I was shown those who receive the truth, but do not live it. They cling to their possessions, and are not willing to distribute of their substance to advance the cause of God. They have no faith to venture and trust God. Their love of this world swallows up their faith. God has called for a portion of their substance, but they heed it not. They reason thus, that they have labored hard to obtain what they have, and they cannot lend it to the Lord, for they may come to want. "O ye of little faith!" That God who cared for Elijah in the time of famine, will not pass by one of his self-sacrificing children. He that has numbered the hairs of their heads, will care for them, and in days of famine they will be satisfied. While the wicked are perishing all around them for want of bread, their bread and water will be sure. Those who will still cling to their earthly treasure, and will not make a right disposition of that which is lent them of God, will lose their treasure in Heaven, lose everlasting life.
I saw that God in his providence has moved upon the hearts of some of those who have riches, and has converted them to the truth, that they with their substance may assist to keep his work moving. And if those who are wealthy will not do this, if they do not fulfill the purpose of God, he will pass them by, and raise up others to fill their place who will fulfill his purpose, and with their possessions gladly distribute to meet the necessities of the cause of God. In this they will be first. God will have those in his cause who will do this.
I saw that God could send means from Heaven to carry on his work; but this is out of his order. He has ordained that men should be his instruments, that as a great sacrifice was made to redeem them, they should act a part in this work of salvation, by making a sacrifice for each other, and by thus doing show how highly they prize the sacrifice that has been made for them.
I was directed to James 5: "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days."
I saw that these fearful words apply particularly to the wealthy who profess to believe the present truth. The Lord calls them to use their means to advance his cause. Opportunities are presented to them, but they shut their eyes to the wants of the cause, and cling fast to their earthly treasure. Their love of the world is greater than their love of the truth, the love of their fellow-men, or their love of God. He has called for their substance, but they selfishly, covetously, retain what they have. They give a little now and then to ease their consciences, but have not overcome their love for this world. They do not sacrifice for God. The Lord has raised up others that prize eternal life, that can feel and realize something of the value of the soul, and their means they have freely bestowed to advance the cause of God. The work is closing; the rich men have kept their riches, their large farms, their cattle, &c. Their means are not wanted then, and I saw the Lord turn to them in anger, in wrath, and repeat these words: "Go to now, ye rich men." He has called, but ye would not hear. Love of this world has drowned his voice. Now he has no use for you, and lets you go, bidding you, "Go to now, ye rich men."
Oh! I saw it was an awful thing to be let go by the Lord. A fearful thing to hold on to a perishable substance here, when he has told you, if you will sell and give alms, you can lay up treasure in Heaven.
I was shown that as the work was closing up, and the truth going forth in mighty power, these rich men will bring their means and lay them at the feet of the servants of God, begging them to accept them. The answer from the servants of God is, "Go to now, ye rich men. Your means are not needed. Ye withheld it when ye could do good with it in advancing the cause of God. The needy have suffered, they have not been blessed by your means. God will not accept your riches now. Go to now, ye rich men."
Then I was directed to these words: "Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth."
I saw that God was not in ALL the riches that have been obtained. Satan has much more to do with it than God. It has, much of it, been obtained by oppressing the hireling in his wages. The naturally covetous, rich man has obtained these riches by grinding down the hireling, and taking advantage of individuals where he could, and adding to his treasure here, that will eat his flesh as it were fire. A strictly honest, honorable course has not been taken by some. Such must work fast, and take a very different course to redeem the time.
I saw that many Sabbath-keepers are at fault here. Advantage is taken even of their poor brethren, and those who have of their abundance exact more than the real worth of things, more than they would pay for the same thing, while these same brethren are embarrassed and distressed for want of means. God knows all these things. Every selfish act, every covetous extortion, will bring its reward.
I saw it was cruel and unjust to have no consideration of a brother's situation. If he is distressed, or poor, yet doing the best he can, allowance should be made for him, and even the full value of the things he may purchase of the wealthy should not be exacted; but they should have bowels of compassion for him. God will approve of such kindly acts, and the doer will not lose his reward. But I saw a fearful account will stand against many Sabbath-keepers for close, covetous acts.
I was pointed back, and saw when there was but few that listened to, and embraced, the truth, they had not much of this world's goods. The wants of the cause were divided among a very few. Then there was a necessity for houses and lands to be sold and obtain cheaper to serve them as a shelter or home, while their means were freely and generously lent to the Lord, to publish the truth, and to otherwise aid in advancing the cause of God. As I beheld these self-sacrificing ones, I saw they had endured privation for the benefit of the cause. I saw an angel standing by them pointing them upward, and saying these words, "Ye have bags in heaven! Ye have bags in Heaven, that wax not old! Endure unto the end, and great will be your reward."
I saw that God had been moving on hearts. The truth that a few sacrificed so much for, in order to get it before others, has triumphed, and multitudes have laid hold of it. God has in his providence moved upon those that have means and has brought them into the truth, that as the work of God increases, the wants of the cause may be met. Much means are brought into the ranks of Sabbath-keepers.
I saw that at present God did not call for the houses his people have to live in, unless expensive houses are exchanged for cheaper ones. But if those who have of their abundance do not hear his voice, and cut loose from the world, and dispose of a portion of their property and lands, and sacrifice for God, he will pass them by, and call for those who are willing to do anything for Jesus, even to sell their homes to meet the wants of the cause. God will have a free-will offering. Those who give must esteem it a privilege to do so.
I have seen that some give of their abundance, but yet they feel no lack. They do not particularly deny themselves of anything for the cause of Christ. They still have all that heart can wish. They give liberally and heartily. God regards it, and the action and motive is known, and strictly marked by him. They will not lose their reward. You that cannot bestow so liberally, must not excuse yourselves, because you cannot do as much as some others. Do what you can. Deny yourselves of some article that you can do without, and sacrifice for the cause of God. Like the widow, cast in your two mites. You will actually give more than all those who have given of their abundance. And you will know how sweet it is to give to the needy, to deny self, and sacrifice for the truth, and lay up treasure in heaven.
I was shown that the young, especially young men, who profess the truth, have yet a lesson of self-denial to learn. I saw that if they made more sacrifice for the truth, they would esteem the truth more highly. It would affect their hearts, purify their lives, and they would hold it more dear and sacred.
I saw that the young do not take the burden, or feel the responsibility of the cause of God. Is it because God has excused them? Oh, no! I saw that they excuse themselves. They are eased, and others are burdened. They do not realize that they are not their own. Their strength, their time, are not their own. They are bought with a price. A dear Sacrifice was made for them, and unless they possess the spirit of self-denial, and sacrifice, they can never possess the immortal inheritance.
The following relates to the Battle Creek church, but describes the condition and privileges of brethren and sisters scattered abroad.
I saw that a thick cloud enveloped them, and that a few rays of light from Jesus pierced this cloud. I looked to see those who received this light, and saw individuals earnestly praying for victory. It was their study to serve God. Their persevering faith brought them returns. The light of Heaven was shed upon them; but the cloud of darkness over the church generally was thick. They were stupid and sluggish. My agony of soul was great. I asked the angel if that darkness was necessary. Said he, "Look ye!" I then saw the church begin to rise, and earnestly plead with God, and rays of light began to penetate this darkness, and the cloud was removed. The pure light of Heaven shone upon them, and with holy confidence their attention was attracted upward. Said the angel, "This is their privilege and duty."
Satan has come down in great power, knowing his time is short. His angels are busy, and a great share of the people of God suffer themselves to be lulled to sleep by him. The cloud again passed over and settled upon the church.
I saw that extra effort must be made, that the spell may be broken. It must be by earnest efforts and persevering prayer.
I saw that the alarming truths of the word of God had stirred the people of God a little. Now and then there would be feeble efforts made; but they soon tired, and sunk back into the same lukewarm state. I saw they did not have perseverance and fixed determination. Let the seeker possess the same energy and earnestness for the salvation of God that he would have for a worldly treasure, and the object would be gained. I saw that the church may drink of a full cup just as well as to hold an empty one in the hand or to the mouth.
I saw that it was not the plan of God to have some eased and others burdened. Some feel the weight and responsibility of the cause, and the necessity of their acting, that they may gather with Christ, and not scatter abroad. Others go on free from any responsibility. They act as though they had no influence. Such scatter abroad. God is not partial. All who are made partakers of his salvation here, and hope to share the glories of the kingdom hereafter, must feel the responsibility of their own cases, and for the influence they exert over others, and gather with Christ. If they maintain their Christian walk, Jesus will be in them the hope of glory, and they will love to speak forth his praise that they may be refreshed. The cause of their Master will be near and dear to them. It will be their study to advance his cause, and to honor it by holy living. Said the angel, "Every talent God will require with usury." Every Christian must go on from strength to strength, and employ all his powers in the cause of God.
Vision of the Future.
Nov. 20, I was shown the people of God, and saw them mightily shaken. I saw some with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale, and marked with deep anxiety which expressed their internal struggle. There were firmness and great earnestness expressed in their countenances, while large drops of perspiration rose upon their foreheads, and fell. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God's approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look settled upon them.*¹
Evil angels crowded around them, pressing their darkness upon them, to shut out Jesus from their view, that their eyes might be drawn to the darkness that surrounded them, and they distrust God, and next murmur against him. Their only safety was in keeping their eyes directed upward. Angels were having the charge over the people of God, and as the poisonous atmosphere from these evil angels was pressed around these anxious ones, the angels which had charge over them, were continually wafting their wings over them, to scatter the thick darkness that surrounded them.
Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left them, and went to the aid of those earnest, praying ones. I saw the angels of God hasten to the assistance of all who were struggling with all their energies to resist those evil angels, and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance. But the angels left those who made no effort to help themselves, and I lost sight of them.
As these praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, and encouraged their hearts and lighted up their countenances.
I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen. I was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. It will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver of the testimony, and it will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. This straight testimony some will not bear. They will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God's people.
I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs, has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance, and all that truly receive it, will obey it, and be purified.
Said the angel, "List ye!" Soon I heard a voice that sounded like many musical instruments, all sounding in perfect strains, sweet and harmonious. It surpassed any music I had ever heard. It seemed to be so full of mercy, compassion, and elevating, holy joy. It thrilled through my whole being. Said the angel, "Look ye!" My attention was then turned to the company I had seen before, who were mightily shaken. I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping and praying with agony of spirit. I saw that the company of guardian angels around them had doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, firm like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, shone now with the glory and light of Heaven. They had obtained the victory, and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude, and holy, sacred joy.
The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out and left by the way.*² The careless and indifferent who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to agonize, persevere, and plead, for it, did not obtain it; and they were left behind in darkness, and their numbers were immediately made up by others' taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks. Still the evil angels pressed about them, but they could have no power over them.*³
I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth in great power. It had effect. I saw those who had been bound; some wives had been bound by their husbands, and some children had been bound by their parents. The honest who had been held or prevented from hearing the truth, now eagerly laid hold of the truth spoken. All fear of their relatives was gone. The truth alone was exalted to them. It was dearer and more precious than life. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, "It is the latter rain; the refreshing from the presence of the Lord; the loud cry of the third angel."
Great power was with these chosen ones. Said the angel, "Look ye!" My attention was turned to the wicked, or unbelievers. They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side. I saw measures taken against this company, who were having the power and light of God. Darkness thickened around them; yet there they stood, approved of God, and trusting in him. I saw them perplexed. Next I heard them crying unto God earnestly. Through the day and night their cry ceased not.*4 I heard these words, "Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify thy name, make a way of escape for thy people! Deliver us from the heathen round about us! They have appointed us unto death; but thine arm can bring salvation." These are all the words I can bring to mind. They seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness, and manifested entire submission to the will of God. Yet every one, without an exception, was earnestly pleading and wrestling like Jacob for deliverance.
Soon after they had commenced their earnest cry, the angels, in sympathy, would have gone to their deliverance. But a tall, commanding angel suffered them not. Said he, "The will of God is not yet fulfilled. They must drink of the cup. They must be baptized with the baptism."
Soon I heard the voice of God, which shook the heavens and the earth.*5 There was a mighty earthquake. Buildings were shaken down, and fell on every side. I then heard a triumphant shout of victory, loud, musical, and clear. I looked upon this company who, a short time before, were in such distress and bondage. Their captivity was turned. A glorious light shone upon them. How beautiful they then looked! All weariness and marks of care were gone. Health and beauty were seen in every countenance. Their enemies, the heathen round them, fell like dead men. They could not endure the light that shone upon the delivered, holy ones. This light and glory remained upon them, until Jesus was seen in the clouds of heaven, and the faithful, tried company were changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, from glory to glory. And the graves were opened, and the saints came forth, clothed with immortality, crying victory over death and the grave, and together with the living saints, were caught up to meet their Lord in the air; while the rich, musical shouts of glory and victory were upon every immortal tongue, and proceeding from every sanctified, holy lip.
*¹ "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders. . . . Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them; wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?" Joel 2:15-17.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." James 4:7-10.
"Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Zeph. 2:1-3.
*² "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth: because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Rev. 3:15-17.
*³ "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. [Or, wicked spirits in heavenly places, as it reads in the margin.]
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Eph. 6:12-18.
*4"And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:7, 8; see also Rev. 14:14, 15.
*5"The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." Joel 3:16; see also Heb. 12:26; Rev. 16:17.
ANSWER TO PRAYER.
THE Lord has visited me again in great mercy. I have been greatly afflicted for a few months past. Disease has pressed me heavily. For years I have been afflicted with dropsy and disease of the heart. It has had a tendency to depress my spirits, and destroy my faith and courage. The message to the Laodiceans has not accomplished that zealous repentance with God's people I expected to see, and my perplexity of mind has been great. Disease seemed to make continual progress upon me, and I thought I must lie down in the grave. I had no desire to live, therefore could not take hold of faith and pray for my recovery. Often when I retired to rest at night, I realized that I was in danger of losing my breath before morning. In this state I fainted at midnight. Brn. Andrews and Loughborough were sent for, and earnest petitions were offered to God in my behalf. The depression and heavy weight were lifted from my aching heart, and I was taken off in vision, and saw these things which I present before you.
I saw that Satan had been trying to drive me to discouragement and despair, to make me desire death rather than life. I was shown that it was not God's will that I should now cease from the work, and lie down in the grave; for then the enemies of our faith would triumph, and the hearts of God's children would be made sad. I saw that I should often suffer anguish of spirit; that I should suffer much; yet I had the promise that those around me would encourage and help me, that my courage and strength might not fail while so fiercely buffeted by the Devil.
I saw that the testimony to the Laodiceans applied to God's people at the present time, and the reason it has not accomplished a greater work is because of the hardness of their hearts. But God has given the message time to do its work. The heart must be purified from sins which have so long shut Jesus out. This fearful message will do its work. When it was first presented it led to close examination of heart. Sins were confessed, and the people of God were stirred everywhere. Nearly all believed that this message would end in the loud cry of the third angel. But as they failed to see the powerful work accomplished in a short time, many lost the effect of the message. I saw that this message would not accomplish its work in a few short months. It was designed to arouse the people of God, to discover to them their backslidings, and to lead to zealous repentance, that they might be favored with the presence of Jesus, and be fitted for the loud cry of the third angel. As this message affected the heart, it led to deep humility before God. Angels were sent in every direction to prepare unbelieving hearts for the truth. The cause of God began to rise, and his people were acquainted with their position. If the counsel of the true Witness had been fully heeded, God would have wrought for his people in greater power.
The efforts made since the message has been given, have been blessed of God, and many souls have been brought from error and darkness to rejoice in the truth. I saw that God would prove his people. Patiently Jesus bears with them, and does not spue them out of his mouth in a moment. Said the angel, "God is weighing his people." If the message had been of as short duration as many of us supposed, there would have been no time for God's people to develop character. Many moved from feeling, not from principle and faith, and this solemn, fearful message stirred them. It wrought upon their feelings, excited their fears, but did not accomplish the work God designed that it should. God reads the heart. Lest his people should be deceived in regard to themselves, he gives them time for the excitement to wear off, and he proves them to see if they will obey the counsel of the true Witness.
GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE.
God leads his people on step by step. He brings them up to different points which are calculated to manifest what is in the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advanced point the heart is tested, and tried a little closer. If the professed people of God find their hearts opposed to the straight work of God, it should convince them that they have a work to do to overcome, or be spued out of the mouth of the Lord. Said the angel, "God will bring his work closer and closer to test them, and prove every one of his people." Some are willing to receive one point, but when God brings them to another testing point, they shrink from it and stand back, because they find it strikes directly at some cherished idol. Here they have opportunity to see what is in their hearts that shuts out Jesus. They prize something higher than the truth, and their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved a length of time to see if they will sacrifice their idols, and heed the counsel of the true Witness. If they will not be purified through obeying the truth, and overcome their selfishness, their pride, and evil passions, the angels of God have their charge,-"They are joined to their idols, let them alone,"-and they pass on to their work, leaving them with their evil traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the true Witness, and they will be fitted for translation by the latter rain.
God proves his people in this world. This is the fitting up place to appear in his presence. Here in this world, in these last days, individuals will show what power affects their hearts, and controls their actions. If it is the power of divine truth, it will lead to good works. It will elevate the receiver, and make him noble-hearted and generous, like his divine Lord. But if the evil angels control the heart, it will be seen in various ways. The fruit will be selfishness, covetousness, pride, and evil passions. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Professors of religion are not willing to closely examine their own selves to see whether they are in the faith, and it is a fearful fact that many are leaning on a false hope. Some lean upon an old experience; but when brought down to this heart-searching time, when all should have a daily experience, they have nothing to relate. They seem to think a profession of the truth will save them. When those sins which God hates are subdued, Jesus will come in and sup with you, and you with him. You will then draw divine strength from Jesus, and you will grow up in him, and be able with holy triumph to say, Blessed be God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. It would be more pleasing to the Lord if lukewarm professors of religion had never named his name. They are a continual weight to those who would be faithful followers of Jesus. They are a stumbling-block to unbelievers, and evil angels exult over them, and taunt the angels of God with their crooked course. Such are a curse to the cause at home or abroad. They draw nigh to God with their lips, while their heart is far from him.
I was shown that the people of God should not imitate the fashions of the world. Some have done this, and are fast losing their peculiar, holy character, which should distinguish them as God's people. I was pointed back to God's ancient people, and then was led to compare their dress and apparel with the mode of dress in these last days. What a difference! What a change! Then the women were not so bold as now. When they went in public they covered their face with a vail. In these last days fashions are shameful and immodest. They are noticed in prophecy. They were first brought in by a class over whom Satan has entire control, who, "being past feeling (without any conviction of the Spirit of God), have given themselves over unto laciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." If God's professed people had not departed greatly from him, there would now be a marked difference between their dress and that of the world. The small bonnets, exposing the face and head, show a lack of modesty. The hoops are a shame. The inhabitants of earth are growing more and more corrupt, and the line of distinction must be more plain between them and the Israel of God, or the curse which falls upon worldlings will fall on God's professed people.
I was directed to the following scriptures. Said the angel, "They are to instruct God's people." 1 Tim. ii, 9, 10. "In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." 1 Peter iii, 3-5. "Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time, the holy women also who trusted in God, adorned themselves."
Young and old, God is now testing you. You are deciding your own eternal destiny. Your pride, your love to follow the fashions of the world, your vain and empty conversation, your selfishness, are all put in the scale, and the weight of evil is fearfully against you. You are poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. While evil is increasing and taking deep root, it is choking the good seed which has been sown in the heart, and soon the word will be spoken to the angels of God concerning you, as was given concerning Eli's house, that your sins shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever. Many, I saw, were flattering themselves that they were good Christians, who have not a single ray of light from Jesus. They know not what it is to be renewed by the grace of God. They have no living experience for themselves in the things of God. And I saw that the Lord was whetting his sword in heaven to cut them down. Oh! that every lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that God is about to make among his professed people. Dear friends, do not deceive yourselves concerning your condition. You cannot deceive God. Says the true Witness, "I know thy works." The third angel is leading up a people, step by step, higher and higher. At every step they will be tested.
HOUSES OF WORSHIP.
I saw that many feel at liberty to use the means freely that is lent them of God, for their own convenience in fitting up pleasant homes here; but when they build a house in which to worship the great God, who inhabiteth eternity, they cannot afford to let the Lord have the use of the means he has lent them. Each is not striving to excel the other in showing his gratitude to God for the truth, by doing all he can to prepare a suitable place of worship; but some are trying to do just as little as possible; and they feel that their means is as good as lost which they spend in preparing a place for the Most High to visit them. Such an offering is lame, and not acceptable to God. I saw that it would be much more pleasing to God if his people would show as much wisdom in preparing a house for him, as they do in their own dwellings.
The sacrifices and offerings of the children of Israel were commanded to be without blemish or spot, the best of the flock, and every one of the children of Israel shared in that work. The work before us will be extensive. If you build a house for God, do not offend and limit him in casting in your lame offerings. Put the very best offering into a house built for God. Let it be the very best you have, and show an interest to have it convenient and comfortable. Some think time is so short it is no matter. Then carry out the same in your dwellings, and in all your worldly arrangements.
I saw that God could carry on his work without any of man's help; but this is not his plan. The present world is designed as a scene of probation for man. He is here to form a character which will pass with him into the eternal world. Good and evil are placed before him, and his future state depends upon the choice he makes. Christ came to change the current of his thoughts and affections. His heart must be cut off from his earthly treasure, and placed upon the heavenly. By his self-denial, God can be glorified. The great sacrifice has been made for man, and now man will be tested and proved to see if he will follow the example of Jesus, and make a sacrifice for his fellowman. Satan and his angels are combined against the people of God; but Jesus is seeking to purify them unto himself. He requires them to advance his work. God has deposited enough in this world among his people to carry forward his work, without embarrassment, and it is his plan that the means which he has entrusted to his people be used judiciously. Sell that ye have and give alms, is a part of God's sacred word. The servants of God must arise, cry aloud, and spare not, "Show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." The work of God is to be more extensive, and if his people follow his counsel, there will not be much means in their possession to be consumed in the final conflagration. All will have laid up their treasure where moth and rust cannot corrupt, and the heart will not have a cord to bind it to earth.
I was then shown that the parable of the talents has not been fully understood. This lesson of importance was given to the disciples for the benefit of Christians living in the last days. And these talents do not represent merely the ability to preach and instruct from the word of God. The parable applies to the temporal means which God has entrusted to his people. Those to whom the five and two talents were given, traded and doubled that which was committed to their trust. God requires of those who have their possessions here to put their money out to usury for him, to put it into the cause to spread the truth. And if the truth lives in the heart of the receiver, he also will aid with his substance in sending the truth to others, and through his efforts, his influence, and his means, other souls embrace the truth, and begin also to work for God. I saw that some of God's professed people are like the man who hid his talent in the earth. They keep their possessions and means from doing good to God's cause. They claim that it is their own, and that they have a right to do what they please with their own; and souls are not saved by any judicious effort they make with their Lord's money. As judgment passes upon the house of God, the angels keep a faithful record of every man's work, their sentence is recorded by their name, and the angel is commissioned to spare them not, but to cut them down at the time of slaughter. And that which was committed to their trust is taken from them. Their earthly treasure is then swept away, and they have lost all. And the crowns they might have worn, had they been faithful, are put upon the heads of those saved by the faithful servants whose means were constantly in use for God. And every one they have been the means of saving, adds stars to their crowns in glory, and increases their eternal reward.
I was also shown that the parable of the unjust steward was to teach us a lesson. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations." If we use our means to God's glory here, we lay up in Heaven a treasure, and when earthly possessions are all gone here, the faithful steward has Jesus and angels for his friends, to receive him home to everlasting habitations.
"He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much." He that is faithful in his earthly possessions, which is least, to make a judicious use of what God has lent him here, will be true to his profession. "He that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much." He that will withhold from God that which he has lent him, will be unfaithful in the things of God in every respect. "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" If we prove unfaithful in the management of what God lends us here, he will never give us the immortal inheritance. "And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" Jesus has purchased for us redemption. It is ours; but we are placed here on probation to see if we will prove worthy of eternal life. God proves us by entrusting us with earthly possessions. If we are faithful to freely impart of what he has lent us, to advance his cause, God can entrust to us the immortal inheritance. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." "If ye love the world, the love of the Father is not in you."
I saw that God was displeased with the slack, loose manner in which many of his professed people conduct their worldly business. They seem to lose all sense of the fact that the property they are using belongs to God, and they must render to him an account of their stewardship. Some leave their worldly business in perfect confusion. Satan has his eye on it all, and he strikes at a favorable opportunity, and by his management takes much means out of the ranks of Sabbath-keepers. And this means goes into his ranks. Some who are aged are unwilling to make any settlement of their worldly business, and in an unexpected moment they sicken and die. Their children who have no interest in the truth, take the property. Satan has managed it as it has suited him. "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" I saw the awful fact that Satan and his evil angels have had more to do with the management of the property of God's professed people, than the Lord has. Stewards of the last days are unwise. They suffer Satan to control their business matters, and get into his ranks what belongs to, and should be in, the cause of God. God takes notice of you, unfaithful stewards; he will call you to account. I saw that the stewards of God can by faithful, judicious management, keep their business in this world square, exact, and straight. And if they should be suddenly taken away, it is their privilege and duty, especially for the aged, feeble, and those who have no children, to have their means where it can be used in the cause of God. But I saw that Satan and his angels exult over their success in this matter. And those who should be wise heirs of salvation almost willingly let their Lord's money slip out of their hands into the enemy's ranks. In this way they strengthen Satan's kingdom, and seem to feel very easy about it!
SURETY, OATH-TAKING, etc.
I saw that God was displeased with his people for being surety for unbelievers. I was directed to these texts. Prov. xxii, 26. "Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are surety for debts." Prov. xi, 15. "He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it; and he that hateth suretyship is sure." Unfaithful stewards! They pledge that which belongs to another-their heavenly Father-and Satan stands ready to aid his children to wrench it out of their hands.
I saw that Sabbath-keepers should not be in partnership with unbelievers. God's people trust too much to the words of strangers, ask their advice and counsel, when they should not. The enemy makes them his agents, and works through them to perplex and take from God's people.
I was shown that some have no tact at wise management of worldly matters. They lack the qualifications, and Satan takes advantage of them. When this is the case, such should not remain in ignorance of their lack. They should be humble enough to counsel with their brethren, whose judgment they can have confidence in, before they carry out plans. I was directed to this text, "Bear ye one another's burdens." Some are not humble enough to let those who have judgment, calculate for them, until they have followed their own plans, and have involved themselves in difficulties. Then they see the necessity of having the counsel and judgment of their brethren; but how much heavier the burden then, than at the first. Brethren should not go to law, if it can be possibly avoided; for they give the enemy great advantage to entangle and perplex them. It would be better to make a settlement at some loss.
I saw that some of God's children have made a mistake in regard to oath-taking, and Satan has taken advantage of this to oppress them, and take from them their Lord's money. I saw that the words of our Lord, "Swear not at all," do not touch the judicial oath. "Let your communication be yea, yea; and nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil." This refers to common conversation. Some exaggerate in their language. Some swear by their own life. Others swear by their head. As sure as they live-as sure as they have a head-some take Heaven and earth to witness that such things are so. Some hope that God will strike them out of existence if what they are saying is not true. It is this kind of common swearing that Jesus warns his disciples against.
I was shown that we have men placed over us for rulers, and laws to govern the people. Were it not for these laws, the world would be in a worse condition than it is now. Some of these laws are good, and some bad. The bad have been increasing, and we are yet to be brought into straight places. But God will sustain his people in being firm, and living up to the principles of his word. Where the laws of men conflict with God's word and law, we are to obey the word and law of God, whatever the consequences may be. The laws of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey, and we must abide the consequences of the violation of this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful Master, and man has no right to take God's workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own.
I saw that the Lord yet has something to do with the laws of the land. While Jesus is in the sanctuary, God's restraining Spirit is felt by rulers and people. But Satan controls to a great extent the great mass in the world, and were it not for the laws of the land, we should experience great suffering. It was shown me that it was no violation of God's word, when it is actually necessary, for his children, when called upon to testify in a lawful manner, to solemnly take God to witness that what they say is the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Man is so corrupt that laws are made to throw the responsibility upon his own head. Some men do not fear to lie to their fellow-man; but they have been taught, and the restraining Spirit of God has impressed them, that it is a fearful thing to lie to God. The case of Ananias and Sapphira his wife, is given for an example. The matter is carried from man to God, so that if he bears false witness, it is not to man, but to the great God. He reads the heart and knows the exact truth in every case. Our laws make it a high crime to take a false oath. God has often visited the one who has taken the false oath, and even while the oath was on his lips, the destroying angel has cut him down. This was to prove a terror to evil-doers.
And I saw if there was any one on earth who could consistently testify under oath, it is the Christian. He lives in the light of God's countenance. He grows strong in his strength. And when matters of importance must be decided by law, there is no one who can so well appeal to God as the Christian. I was bid by the angel to notice that God sware by himself. Gen. xxii, 16; Heb. vi, 13, 17. He sware to Abraham, Gen. xxvi, 3, to Isaac, Ps. cv, 9; Jer. xi, 5, and to David, Ps. cxxxii, 11; Acts ii, 30. God required of the children of Israel an oath between man and man. Ex. xxii, 10, 11. Jesus submitted to the oath in the hour of his trial. The high priest said unto him, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said." If Jesus meant the judicial oath in his teachings to his disciples, he would have reproved the high priest, and there enforced his teachings for the good of his followers present.
Satan has been pleased to have some view oath-taking in a wrong light, for it has given him opportunities to oppress them, and take from them their Lord's money. The stewards of God must be more wise, lay their plans, and prepare themselves to withstand Satan's devices; for he is to make greater efforts than he has ever made.
Some, I saw, have a prejudice against our rulers and laws; but if it was not for law, this world would be in an awful condition. God restrains our rulers, for the hearts of all are in his hands. Bounds are set, beyond which they cannot go. Many of our rulers are those whom Satan controls; but I saw that God has his agents, even among the rulers; and some of them will yet be converted to the truth. They are now acting the part that God would have them. When Satan works through his agents, propositions are made that, if carried out, would impede the work of God, and would produce great evil. The good angels move upon these agents of God to oppose the propositions, with strong reasons, which Satan's agents cannot resist. A few of God's agents will have power to bear down a great mass of evil. Thus the work will go on until the third message has done its work, and at the loud cry of the third angel, these agents will have an opportunity to receive the truth, and some of them will be converted, and endure with the saints through the time of trouble. When Jesus leaves the most holy, his restraining Spirit is withdrawn from rulers and people. They are left to the control of evil angels. Then such laws will be made by the counsel and direction of Satan, that unless time should be very short, no flesh could be saved.