In the vision given me in Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865, I was shown that a most solemn work is before us. Its importance and magnitude are not realized. As I marked the indifference which was everywhere apparent, I was alarmed for ministers and people. There seemed to be a paralysis upon the cause of present truth. The work of God seemed stayed. Ministers and people are unprepared for the time in which they live, and nearly all who profess to believe present truth are unprepared to understand the work of preparation for this time. In their present state of worldly ambition, with their lack of consecration to God, their devotion to self, they are wholly unfitted to receive the latter rain and, having done all, to stand against the wrath of Satan, who by his inventions would cause them to make shipwreck of faith, fastening upon them some pleasing self-deception. They think they are all right when they are all wrong.
Ministers and people must make greater advancement in the work of reform. They should commence without delay to correct their wrong habits of eating, drinking, dressing, and working. I saw that quite a number of the ministers are not awake upon this important subject. They are not all where God would have them. The result is, some can show but little fruit of their labors. Ministers should be ensamples to the flock of God. But they are not safe from Satan's temptations. They are the very ones whom he will seek to ensnare. If he
can succeed in lulling one minister to carnal security, and by so doing divert his mind from the work, or deceive him with regard to his own true condition before God, he has accomplished much.
I saw that the cause of God was not progressing as it might and as it should. Ministers fail to take hold of the work with that energy, devotion, and decided perseverance which the importance of the work demands. They have a vigilant adversary to contend with whose diligence and perseverance are untiring. The feeble effort of ministers and people can bear no comparison with those of their adversary, the devil. On one side are the ministers who battle for the right and have the help of God and holy angels. They should be strong and valiant, and wholly devoted to the cause in which they are engaged, having no separate interest. They should not be entangled with the things of this life, that they may please Him who hath chosen them to be soldiers.
On the other side are Satan and his angels, with all his agents on earth, who make every effort and use every device to advance error and wrong, and to cover up their hideousness and deformity with a pleasing garb. Selfishness, hypocrisy, and every species of deception, Satan clothes with a garment of apparent truth and righteousness, and triumphs in his success, even with ministers and people who profess to understand his wiles. The greater distance they keep from Christ their great Leader, the less they are like Him in character, the more close is their resemblance in life and character to the servants of their great adversary, and the more sure is he of them at last. While they profess to be servants of Christ, they are servants of sin. Some ministers have their minds too much on the wages they receive. They labor for wages and lose sight of the sacredness and importance of the work.
Some become slack and negligent in their labor; they pass over the ground, but are weak and unsuccessful in their
efforts. Their hearts are not in the work. The theory of truth is clear. Many of them had no part in searching out this truth by hard study and earnest prayer, and they know nothing of its preciousness and value by being compelled to sustain their positions against the opposition of its enemies. They do not see the necessity of preserving a spirit of entire consecration to the work. Their interest is divided between themselves and the work.
I saw that before the work of God can make any decided progress, the ministers must be converted. When converted they will place less estimate upon wages and far more value upon the important, sacred, solemn work which they have accepted at the hand of God to perform, and which He requires them to do faithfully and well, as those who must render to Him a strict account. A faithful record of all their works is daily made by the recording angels. All their acts, and even the intents and purposes of the heart, stand faithfully revealed. Nothing is hid from the all-seeing eye of Him with whom we have to do. Those who have thrown all their energies into the cause of God, and who have ventured out and invested something, will feel that the work of God is a part of them, and will not labor merely for wages. They will not be eyeservants and seek to please themselves, but will consecrate themselves and all their interests to this solemn work.
Some in their public labors with the churches are in danger of making mistakes from a lack of thoroughness. It is for their own interest and that of the cause that they should search closely, try their motives, and be certain to divest themselves of selfishness. They should watch lest, while they preach straight truths to others, they fail to live by the same rule, and allow Satan to substitute something else for the deep heartwork. They should be thorough with themselves and with the cause of God lest they work for wages and lose sight of the important and exalted character of the work. They should not let self rule instead of Jesus, and they should be
careful not to say to the sinner in Zion, It shall be well with thee, when God has pronounced a curse upon him.
Ministers must arouse and manifest a life, zeal, and devotion to which they have for quite a length of time been almost strangers because they have failed to walk with God. The cause of God in many places is not improving. Soul work is needed. The people are overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life. They are entering deeper and deeper into a spirit of worldly enterprise. They are ambitious to get gain. Spirituality and devotion are rare. The spirit that prevails is to work, to accumulate, and to add to that which they already possess. "What will be the end of these things?" was the burden of my inquiry.
Conference meetings have accomplished no lasting good. Those who attend the meetings carry a spirit of traffic with them. Ministers and people frequently bring their merchandise to these large gatherings, and the truths spoken from the desk fail to impress the heart. The sword of the Spirit, the word of God, fails to do its office work; it falls tamely upon the hearers. The exalted work of God is made to connect too closely with common things.
The ministers must be converted before they can strengthen their brethren. They should not preach themselves, but Christ and His righteousness. A reformation is needed among the people, but it should first begin its purifying work with the ministers. They are watchmen upon the walls of Zion, to sound the note of warning to the careless, the unsuspecting; also to portray the fate of the hypocrite in Zion. It seemed to me that some of the ministers had forgotten that Satan was yet alive, as persevering, earnest, and artful as ever; that he was still seeking to allure souls from the path of righteousness.
One important part of the work of the ministry is to faithfully present to the people the health reform as it stands connected with the third angel's message as part and parcel
of the same work. They should not fail to adopt it themselves, and should urge it upon all who profess to believe the truth.
Ministers should have no separate interest aside from the great work of leading souls to the truth. Their energies are all needed here. They should not engage in merchandise, in peddling, or in any business aside from this one great work. The solemn charge given to Timothy rests with equal weight upon them, laying upon them the most solemn obligations and most fearful responsibilities. "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
Wrong habits of life have lessened our mental and physical sensibilities, and all the strength we can acquire by right living and placing ourselves in the best relation to health and life should be devoted unreservedly to the work which God has assigned us. We cannot afford to use the few enfeebled, crippled energies which we possess to serve tables or to mingle merchandise with the work God has committed to us. Every faculty of mind and body is now needed. The work of God requires this, and no separate business can be engaged in aside from this great work without taking time and strength of mind and body, and thus lessening the vigor and force of our labor in the cause of God. Ministers who do this will not have all that time for meditation and prayer, and all that strength and clearness of mind that they should have to understand the cases of those who need help, and to be prepared to "be instant in season, out of season." A word fitly spoken at the right time may save some poor, erring, doubting, fainting soul. Paul exhorted Timothy: "Meditate upon these things;
give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all."
In Christ's commission to His disciples He tells them: "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." If this is the fearfully responsible work of God's ministers, how important that they give themselves wholly to it and watch for souls as they that must give an account. Should any separate or selfish interest come in here and divide the heart from the work? Some ministers linger about their homes, and run out on the Sabbath, and then return and exhaust their energies in farming or in attending to home matters. They labor for themselves through the week, and then spend the remnant of their exhausted energies in laboring for God. But such feeble efforts are not acceptable to Him. They have no mental or physical strength to spare. At best their efforts are feeble enough. But after they have been engrossed and entangled all through the laboring days of the week with the cares and perplexities of this life, they are wholly unfitted for the high, the sacred, the important work of God. The destiny of souls hangs upon the course they pursue and the decisions they make. How important then that they should be temperate in all things, not only in their eating, but in their labor, that their strength may be unabated and devoted to their sacred calling.
A great mistake has been made by some who profess present truth, by introducing merchandise in the course of a series of meetings and by their traffic diverting minds from the object of the meetings. If Christ were now upon earth, He would drive out these peddlers and traffickers, whether they be ministers or people, with a scourge of small cords, as when He entered the temple anciently "and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and
said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." These traffickers might have pleaded as an excuse that the articles they held for sale were for sacrificial offerings. But their object was to get gain, to obtain means, to accumulate.
I was shown that if the moral and intellectual faculties had not been clouded by wrong habits of living, ministers and people would have been quick to discern the evil results of mixing sacred and common things. Ministers have stood in the desk and preached a most solemn discourse, and then by introducing merchandise, and acting the part of a salesman, even in the house of God, they have diverted the minds of their hearers from the impressions received, and destroyed the fruit of their labor. If the sensibilities had not been blunted, they would have had discernment to know that they were bringing sacred things down upon a level with common. The burden of selling our publications should not rest upon ministers who labor in word and doctrine. Their time and strength should be held in reserve, that their efforts may be thorough in a series of meetings. Their time and strength should not be drawn upon to sell our books when they can be properly brought before the public by those who have not the burden of preaching the word. In entering new fields it may be necessary for the minister to take publications with him to offer for sale to the people, and it may be necessary in some other circumstances also to sell books and transact business for the office of publication. But such work should be avoided whenever it can be done by others.
Ministers have all that they ought to do to preach the word, and after they have urged solemn truth upon the people they should maintain a humble dignity as the preachers of exalted truth and as representatives of the truth presented to the people. After their labored effort they need rest. Even selling books upon present truth is a care, a tax to the mind, and a
weariness to the body. If there are those who still have a reserve force and can be taxed without injury to themselves, there is important work for them to do, and it has but just commenced when they have spoken the truth to the people. Then come the exemplary preaching, the watchful care, the seeking to do good to others, the conversation, and visiting at the fireside from house to house, entering into the condition of mind and the spiritual state of those who listened to the discourse from their lips; exhorting this one, reproving that one, rebuking another, and comforting the afflicted, suffering, and desponding. The mind should be as free from weariness as possible that they may be minutemen, "instant in season, out of season." They should obey the injunction given by Paul to Timothy: "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them."
The responsibility of the work rests very lightly upon some. They feel that after they leave the desk their work is done. It is a burden to visit, a burden to talk; and the people who are really desirous of getting all the good there is for them, and who wish to hear and learn that they may see all things clearly, are not benefited and satisfied. Ministers excuse themselves because they are weary, and yet some exhaust their precious strength and spend their time in work which another could do just as well as they. They should preserve moral and physical vigor that as faithful workmen of God they may give full proof of their ministry.
In every important place there should be a depository for publications. And someone who really appreciates the truth should manifest an interest to get these books into the hands of all who will read. The harvest is great, but the laborers are few, and the few experienced laborers now in the field have all they should do to labor in word and doctrine. Men will arise who claim that God has laid upon them the burden of teaching the truth to others. All such should be proved and
tried. They should not be relieved from all care, neither should they be lifted into responsible positions at once; but they should be encouraged if they deserve encouragement, to give full proof of their ministry. It would not be the best course for such ones to pursue, to enter into other men's labors. Let them first labor in connection with one of experience and wisdom, and he can soon see whether they are capable of exerting an influence that will be saving. Young preachers who have never had wearing labor, nor felt the draft upon their mental and physical strength, should not be encouraged to hope for a support independent of their own physical labor, for this will only injure them and will be a bait to entice men to engage in the work who realize nothing of the burden of it or the responsibility resting upon God's chosen ministers. Such will feel competent to teach others when they have scarcely learned the first principles themselves.
Many who profess the truth are not sanctified by it and are not endowed with wisdom; they are not led and taught of God. God's people, as a general thing, are worldly-minded and have departed from the simplicity of the gospel. This is the cause of the great lack of spiritual discernment in the course they have pursued toward ministers. If a minister preaches with freedom, some will praise him to his face. Instead of dwelling upon the truths he uttered, and improving upon them, thus showing themselves to be not forgetful hearers, but doers of the work, they exalt him by referring to what he has done. They dwell upon the virtues of the poor instrument, but forget Christ who employed the instrument. Ever since the fall of Satan, who was once an exalted angel in glory, ministers have fallen through exaltation. Unwise Sabbathkeepers have pleased the devil well by praising their ministers. Were they aware that they were aiding Satan in his work? They would have been alarmed had they realized what they were doing. They were blinded, they were not
standing in the counsel of God. I lift my voice of warning against praising or flattering the ministers. I have seen the evil, the dreadful evil, of this. Never, never speak a word in praise of ministers to their faces. Exalt God. Ever respect a faithful minister, realize his burdens and lighten them if you can; but do not flatter him, for Satan stands ready at his watchtower to do that kind of work himself.
Ministers should not use flattery or be respecters of persons. There ever has been, and still is, great danger of erring here, of making a little difference with the wealthy, or flattering them by special attention, if not by words. There is danger of "having men's persons in admiration" for the sake of gain, but in doing this their eternal interests are endangered. The minister may be the special favorite of some wealthy man, and he may be very liberal with him; this gratifies the minister, and he in turn lavishes praise upon the benevolence of his donor. His name may be exalted by appearing in print, and yet that liberal donor may be entirely unworthy of the credit given him. His liberality did not arise from a deep, living principle to do good with his means, to advance the cause of God because he appreciated it, but from some selfish motive, a desire to be thought liberal. He may have given from impulse and his liberality have no depth of principle. He may have been moved upon by listening to stirring truth which for the time being loosed his purse strings; yet, after all, his liberality has no deeper motive. He gives by spasms; his purse opens spasmodically and closes just as securely spasmodically. He deserves no commendation, for he is in every sense of the word a stingy man, and unless thoroughly converted, purse and all, will hear the withering denunciation: "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." Such will awake at last from a horrible self-deception. Those who praised their spasmodic liberalities
helped Satan to deceive them and make them think that they were very liberal, very sacrificing, when they knew not the first principles of liberality or self-sacrifice.
Some men and women make themselves believe that they do not consider the things of this world of much value, but prize the truth and its advancement higher than any worldly gain. Many will awake at last to find that they have been deceived. They may have once appreciated the truth, and earthly treasures in comparison with truth may have appeared to them valueless; but after a time, as their worldly treasure increased, they became less devotional. Although they have enough for a comfortable sustenance, yet all their acts show that they are in nowise satisfied. Their works testify that their hearts are bound up in their earthly treasure. Gain, gain, is their watchword. To this end every member of the family participates in their labor. They give themselves scarcely any time for devotion or for prayer. They work early and late. Sickly, diseased women and feeble children whip up their flagging ambition and use up the vitality and strength they have to reach an object, to gain a little, make a little more money. They flatter themselves that they are doing this that they may help the cause of God. Terrible deception! Satan looks on and laughs for he knows that they are selling soul and body through their lust for gain. They are continually making flimsy excuses for thus selling themselves for gain. They are blinded by the god of this world. Christ has bought them by His own blood; but they rob Christ, rob God, tear themselves to pieces, and are almost useless in society.
They devote but little time to the improvement of the mind, and but little time to social or domestic enjoyment. They are of but little benefit to anyone. Their lives are a terrible mistake. Those who thus abuse themselves feel that their course of unremitting labor is praiseworthy. They are destroying themselves by their presumptuous labor. They are
marring the temple of God by continually violating the laws of their being through excessive labor, and yet they think it a virtue. When God calls them to account, when He requires of them the talents He has lent them, with usury, what can they say? What excuse can they make? Were they heathen who know nothing of the living God, and in their blind idolatrous zeal throw themselves under the car of Juggernaut, their cases would be more tolerable. But they had the light, they had warning upon warning to preserve their bodies, which God calls His temple, in as healthy a condition as possible that they might glorify Him in their bodies and spirits, which are His. The teachings of Christ they disregarded: "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, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." They let worldly cares entangle them. "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." They worship their earthly treasure, as the ignorant heathen does his idols.
Many flatter themselves that their desire for gain is that they may help the cause of God. Some promise that when they have gained such an amount, then they will do good with it and advance the cause of present truth. But when they have realized their expectations, they are no more ready to help the cause than before. They again pledge themselves that after they purchase that desirable house or piece of land, and pay for it, then they will do a great deal with their means to advance the work of God. But as the desire of their heart is attained, they have far less disposition than in the days of their poverty to aid in the advancement of the work of God. "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth
the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." The deceitfulness of riches leads them on, step by step, until they lose all love for the truth, and yet they flatter themselves that they believe it. They love the world and the things of the world, but the love of God or of the truth is not in them.
In order to gain a little money, many deliberately arrange their business matters so that it necessarily brings a great amount of hard work upon those laboring out of doors, and upon their families in the house. The bone, muscle, and brain of all are taxed to the utmost; a great amount of work is before them to be done, and the excuse is, they must accomplish just all that they possibly can or there will be a loss, something will be wasted. Everything must be saved, let the result be what it may. What have such gained? Perhaps they have been able to keep the principal good and add to it. But, on the other hand, what have they lost? Their capital of health, which is invaluable to the poor as well as the rich, has been steadily diminishing. The mother and the children have made repeated drafts upon their fund of health and strength, thinking that such an extravagant expenditure would never exhaust their capital, until they are surprised at last to find their vigor of life exhausted. They have nothing left to draw upon in case of emergency. The sweetness and happiness of life is embittered by racking pains and sleepless nights. Both physical and mental vigor are gone. The husband and father, who, for the sake of gain, made the unwise arrangement of his business, it may be with the full sanction of the wife and mother, may, as the result, bury the mother and one or more of the children. Health and life were sacrificed for the love of money. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
There is a great work to be accomplished for Sabbathkeepers.
Their eyes must be opened and they see their true condition, and be zealous and repent, or they will fail of everlasting life. The spirit of the world has taken possession of them, and they are brought into captivity by the powers of darkness. They do not heed the exhortation of the apostle Paul: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." With many, a worldly spirit, with covetousness and selfishness, predominates. Those who possess it are looking out for their own special interest. The selfish rich man does not interest himself in the things of his neighbors, unless it be to study how he can advantage himself at their disadvantage. The noble and godlike in man is parted with, sacrificed for selfish interests. The love of money is the root of all evil. It blinds the vision and prevents people from discerning their obligations to God or to their neighbors.
Some flatter themselves that they are liberal because they at times donate freely to ministers and for the advancement of the truth. Yet these so-called liberal men are close in their deal and ready to overreach. They have abundance of this world, and this binds upon them great responsibilities as God's stewards. Yet, when dealing with a poor, hard-laboring brother, they are exacting to the last farthing. The poor side to a bargain is the poor man's legacy. Instead of favoring his poor brother, the sharp, exacting rich man takes all the advantage and adds to his already accumulated wealth by the misfortune of the other. He prides himself because of his shrewdness, but with his wealth he is heaping up to himself a heavy curse and laying a stumbling block in the way of his brother. By his meanness and close calculation he is cutting off his ability to benefit him with his religious influence. All this lives in the memory of that poor brother, and the most earnest prayers and apparently zealous testimonies from his
rich brother's lips will only have an influence to grieve and disgust. He looks upon him as a hypocrite; a root of bitterness springs up whereby many are defiled. The poor man cannot forget the advantages taken of him; neither can he forget how he has been crowded into difficult places because he was willing to bear burdens, while the wealthy brother ever had some excuse ready for not putting his shoulder under the load. Yet the poor man may be so imbued with the spirit of Christ as to forgive the abuses of his rich brother.
True, noble, disinterested benevolence is too rarely found among the wealthy. In their ambition for wealth they overlook the claims of humanity. They cannot see and feel the cramped, disagreeable position of their brethren in poverty, who perhaps have labored as hard as themselves. Like Cain they say: "Am I my brother's keeper?" "I have worked hard for what I have; I must hold on to it." Instead of praying, "Help me to feel my brother's woe," their constant study is to forget that he has any woes, any claims upon their sympathy or liberalities.
Many Sabbathkeepers who are wealthy are guilty of grinding the face of the poor. Do such think that God takes no notice of their little acts of meanness? If their eyes could be opened they would see an angel following them wherever they go, making a faithful record of all their acts in their families and at their places of business. The True Witness is on their track, declaring: "I know thy works." As I saw this spirit of defrauding, of overreaching, of meanness, even among some professed Sabbathkeepers, I cried out in anguish of spirit. This great evil, this terrible curse, is folding around some of the Israel of God in these last days, making them a detestation to even noble-spirited unbelievers. This is the people professedly waiting for the coming of the Lord.
There is a class of poor brethren who are not free from temptation. They are poor managers, they have not wise judgment, they wish to obtain means without waiting the
slow process of persevering toil. Some are in such haste to better their condition that they engage in various enterprises without consulting men of good judgment and experience. Their expectations are seldom realized; instead of gaining, they lose, and then come temptation and a disposition to envy the rich. They really want to be benefited by the wealth of their brethren, and feel tried because they are not. But they are not worthy of receiving special help. They have evidence that their efforts have been scattered. They have been changeable in business, and full of anxiety and cares which bring but small returns. Such persons should listen to the counsel of those of experience. But frequently they are the last ones to seek advice. They think they have superior judgment and will not be taught.
These are often the very ones who are deceived by those sharp, shrewd peddlers of patent rights whose success depends upon the art of deception. These should learn that no confidence whatever can be put in such peddlers. But the brethren are credulous in regard to the very things they should suspect and shun. They do not take home the instruction of Paul to Timothy: "But godliness with contentment is great gain." "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." Let not the poor think that the rich are the only covetous ones. While the rich hold what they have with a covetous grasp, and seek to obtain still more, the poor are in great danger of coveting the rich man's wealth. There are very few in our land of plenty who are really so poor as to need help. If they would pursue a right course, they could in almost every case be above want. My appeal to the rich is, Deal liberally with your poor brethren, and use your means to advance the cause of God. The worthy poor, those who are made poor by misfortune and sickness, deserve your special care and help. "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous."
Men and women professing godliness and expecting translation to heaven without seeing death, I warn you to be less greedy of gain, less self-caring. Redeem your godlike manhood, your noble womanhood, by noble acts of disinterested benevolence. Heartily despise your former avaricious spirit and regain true nobility of soul. From what God has shown me, unless you zealously repent, Christ will spew you out of His mouth. Sabbathkeeping Adventists profess to be followers of Christ, but the works of many of them belie their profession. "Ye shall know them by their fruits." "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven."
I appeal to all who profess to believe the truth, to consider the character and life of the Son of God. He is our example. His life was marked with disinterested benevolence. He was ever touched with human woe. He went about doing good. There was not one selfish act in all His life. His love for the fallen race, His desire to save them, was so great that He took upon Himself the wrath of His Father, and consented to suffer the penalty of that transgression which plunged guilty man in degradation. He bore the sins of man in His own body. "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
True generosity is too frequently destroyed by prosperity and riches. Men and women in adversity or in humble poverty will sometimes express very great love for the truth and special interest for the prosperity of the cause of God and for the salvation of their fellow men, and will tell what they would do if they only had the means. God frequently proves these; He prospers them, blesses them in basket and in store, far beyond their expectations. But their hearts are deceitful. Their good intentions and promises are like the rolling sand. The more they have the more they desire. The more they are
prospered the more eager are they for gain. Some of these, who in their poverty were once even benevolent, become penurious and exacting. Money becomes their god. They delight in the power which money gives them, in the honor they receive because of it. Said the angel: "Mark ye how they stand the test. Watch the development of character under the influence of riches." Some were oppressing the needy poor and would obtain their services for the lowest figure. They were overbearing; money was power to them. God's eye, I saw, was upon them. They were deceived. "And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
Some who are wealthy do not withhold from ministers. They keep up their systematic benevolence exactly and pride themselves upon their punctuality and generosity, and think their duty ends here. This is well as far as it goes, but their duty does not cease here. God has claims upon them that they do not realize. Society has claims upon them; their fellow men have claims upon them. Every member of their family has claims upon them. All these claims should be regarded; not one should be overlooked or neglected. Some men give to ministers and put into the treasury with as much satisfaction as though it would entitle them to heaven. Some think that they can do nothing to aid the cause of God unless they constantly have a large increase. They feel that they can in nowise touch the principal. Should our Saviour speak the same words to them that He did to the certain ruler, "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me," they would go away sorrowful, choosing like him to run the risk of retaining their idols, riches, rather than to part with them to secure treasure in heaven. This ruler claimed that he had kept all the commandments of God from his youth up, and confident in his fidelity and righteousness, and thinking that he was perfect,
he asks: "What lack I yet?" Jesus immediately tears off his sense of security by referring to his idols, his possessions. He had other gods before the Lord, which were of greater value to him than eternal life. Supreme love to God was lacking. Thus it is with some who profess to believe the truth. They think they are perfect, think that there is no lack, when they are far from perfection and are cherishing idols which will shut them out of heaven.
Many pity the Southern slaves because they are bound down to labor, while slavery exists in their own families. Mothers and children are allowed to toil from morning till night; they have no recreation. A ceaseless round of labor is before them and crowded upon them. They profess to be Christ's followers; but where is the time for them to meditate and pray, and obtain food for the intellect, that the mind, with which we serve God, may not be dwarfed in its growth? God calls upon every individual to use the talents He has committed to them to His glory, and by thus improving them to gain others also. God has laid obligations upon us to benefit others. Our work in this world for the good of others is not done until Christ shall say in heaven: "It is done." "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still."
Many seem to have no true sense of their responsibility before God. They are required to strive to enter in at the strait gate, because many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able. Heaven requires them to try to induce others also to strive to enter in at the strait gate. A work is before young and old to labor earnestly to save not only their own souls, but the souls of others. There are none who have reasoning faculties who have not some influence. By their indifference they use that influence to hinder souls from striving to enter in at the strait gate, or by their earnest, persevering, untiring efforts they urge
upon them the necessity of striving diligently to enter there. No one occupies a neutral position, doing nothing to encourage others and doing nothing to hinder them. Says Christ: They that gather not with Me scatter abroad. Take heed, old and young; you are either doing the work of Christ, to save souls, or the work of Satan, to lead them to perdition. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
The young can exert a powerful influence if they will give up their pride and selfishness, and devote themselves to God; but as a general thing they will not bear burdens for others. They have to be carried themselves. The time has come when God requires a change in this respect. He calls upon young and old to be zealous and repent. If they continue in their state of lukewarmness, He will spew them out of His mouth. Says the True Witness: "I know thy works." Young man, young woman, your works are known, whether they be good or whether they be evil. Are you rich in good works? Jesus comes to you as a counselor: "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."