November 20, 1855, while in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came suddenly and powerfully 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 which 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 of the truth. There must be a power to attend the truth, a living testimony to move them.
I saw that the enemy is busy to destroy souls. Exaltation has come into the ranks; there must be more humility. There is too much of an independence of spirit indulged in among the messengers. This must be laid aside, and there must be a drawing together of the servants of God. There has been too much of a spirit to ask, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Said the angel: "Yea, thou art thy brother's keeper. Thou
shouldest 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 that man should be openhearted and honest, without affectation, meek, humble, 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 had 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 spare 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. But as soon as they are free from debt they are farther from helping the cause than before; for they again involve themselves by adding to their property. They 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; the attraction to earth grows stronger and the attraction to heaven weaker. Their heart is with their treasure. By their example they say 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."
Many have indulged in needless expense, merely to gratify the feelings, the taste, and the eye, when the cause needed the very means thus used, and when some of the servants of God were poorly clothed and were 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 everything must bow.
I saw that the church has nearly lost the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice; they make self and self-interest first, and then they do for the cause what they think they can as well as not. Such a sacrifice, I saw, is 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 property, but have strength of body, are 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 can sacrifice, and that it is their duty to do so, as well as those who have property. But often those 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 tastes and appetites, and find much to spare for the cause, and thus lay up a treasure in heaven. I saw that there is loveliness and beauty in the truth; but take away the power of God, and it is powerless.