Brother M: From what was shown me, there is a great work to be accomplished for you before you can be accepted in the sight of God. Self is too prominent. You possess a hasty, passionate temper, and are arbitrary and overbearing in your family. Sister M is slack and untidy in her house. She has not the elements of order and neatness in her organization. Yet she can improve in these things. Brother M, you censure your wife, you are dictatorial, and do not have that love which you should have. She dreads your oppressive spirit, but does not do what she might to correct her wrong habits, which make home distasteful and disagreeable.
Brother M, you have not taken a judicious course with your family. Your children do not love you. They have more hatred than love. Your wife does not love you. You do not take a course to be loved. You are an extremist. You are severe, exacting, arbitrary, to your children. You talk the truth to them, but do not carry its principles into your everyday
life. You are not patient, forbearing, and forgiving. You have so long indulged your own spirit, you are so ready to fly into a passion if provoked, that it looks exceedingly doubtful whether you will make efforts sufficient to meet the mind of Christ. You do not possess the power of endurance, forbearance, gentleness, and love. These Christian graces must be possessed by you before you can be truly a Christian. You reserve your encouraging words, your kindly acts, for those who are not entitled to them as much as your own wife and children. Cultivate kind words, pleasant looks, praise, and approbation for your own family, for this will materially affect your happiness. Never let censure or fretful words escape your lips. Subdue this desire to rule and to place your iron heel wherever you can. You possess a most disagreeable spirit, a close spirit. With some you are selfish and stingy; for others whom you wish to think highly of you, you would sacrifice anything, even the very things your own family need. You are liberal in these cases that you may have the praise and esteem of men. If you could purchase heaven by a great sacrifice for those to whom you choose to be liberal, you would certainly obtain it. You do not object to being put to the greatest inconvenience to advantage others, if in so doing you can exalt yourself. In these things you tithe mint and rue, while you neglect the weightier matters, justice and the love of God.
You are not just in your family. You have a work to do there. Make your wife comfortable and happy first; then consider the condition of your children. Provide them with comfortable food and clothing. Then if you can, without limiting your wife and children, help those who most need help, and bestow your favors where they will be appreciated; it will be praiseworthy for you to be liberal. But your first and most sacred duty is to your family. They should not be robbed for others to be favored. Let your benevolence, your
liberality, be seen in your own family. Give them tangible proofs of your affection, interest, care, and love. This has much to do with your happiness. Cease finding fault and scolding your wife, for this only makes it much harder for you and makes a hell for her.
Angels of God will not abide in your family until there is a different order of things. It is not your means that is wanted. Yet when reproved you have thought it was your means that the church wanted. You are deceived here. You have been too liberal with your means, for the very reason that you have thought this was to obtain salvation for you and buy you a position in the church. No, indeed! it is you that is wanted, not the little means you possess. If you would be transformed by the renewing of your mind and be converted, deal truly with your own soul. It is all that the church require. You have deceived yourself. If any man seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that man's religion is vain. Treat your family in a manner that Heaven can approve, and so that peace may be in your dwelling. There needs to be everything done for your family. Your children have had your bad example before them; you have blamed, and censured, and manifested a passionate spirit at home, while you would, at the same time, address the throne of grace, attend meeting, and bear testimony in favor of the truth. These exhibitions have led your children to despise you and the truth you profess. They have no confidence in your Christianity. They believe you to be a hypocrite, and it is true that you are a sadly deceived man. You can no more enter heaven without a thorough change than could Simon Magus, who thought that the Holy Ghost could be bought with money. Your family have seen your overreaching spirit, your readiness to take advantage of others, your penurious spirit toward those with whom you sometimes deal, and they despise you for it; yet
they will too surely follow in your footsteps of wrongdoing.
Your deal is not what it should be. It is difficult for you to deal justly and to love mercy. You have dishonored the cause of God by your life. You have contended for the truth, but not in a right spirit. You have hindered souls from embracing the truth who otherwise would have done so. They have excused themselves by pointing to the errors and wrongs of professed Sabbathkeepers, saying: "They are no better than I; they will lie, cheat, exaggerate, get angry, and boastingly talk of their own praise; such a religion as this I do not want." Thus the unconsecrated lives of these shortcoming Sabbathkeepers make them stumbling blocks to sinners.
The work now before you must commence in your family. You have tried hard to improve outwardly; but the work has been too much on the surface, an outside work and not a work of the heart. Set your heart in order, humble yourself before God, and implore His grace to help you. Do not, like the hypocritical Pharisees, do things to make you appear devotional and righteous in the eyes of others. Break your heart before God, and know that it is impossible for you to deceive the holy angels. Your words and acts are all open to their inspection. Your motives and the intents and purposes of your heart stand revealed to their gaze. The most secret things are not hid from them. Oh, then, rend your heart, and be not overanxious to make your brethren think you are right when you are not! Be circumspect in your family. You are watching to see others' wrongs, but do this no more. The work you have now to do is to overcome your own wrongs, to battle with your strong internal foes. Deal justly with the widow and the fatherless. Do not throw over your acts the flimsy covering of deception, to influence those whom you greatly wish would think you right, while your motives and acts will not bear the construction you would have put upon them.
Cease all contention, and try to be a peacemaker. Love not in word, but in deed and in truth. Your works are to bear the inspection of the judgment. Will you deal truly with your own soul? Do not deceive yourself. Oh, remember that God is not mocked! Those who possess everlasting life will have all they can do to set their houses in order. They must commence at their own hearts and follow up the work until victories, earnest victories, are gained. Self must die, and Christ must live in you and be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life. You now have precious hours of probation granted you to form a right character even at your advanced age. You now have a period allotted you in which to redeem the time. You cannot in your own strength put away your errors and wrongs; they have been increasing upon you for years, because you have not seen them in their hideousness and in the strength of God resolutely put them away. By living faith you must lay hold on an arm that is mighty to save. Humble your poor, proud, self-righteous heart before God; get low, very low, all broken in your sinfulness at His feet. Devote yourself to the work of preparation. Rest not until you can truly say: My Redeemer liveth, and, because He lives, I shall live also.
If you lose heaven, you lose everything; if you gain heaven, you gain everything. Do not make a mistake in this matter, I implore you. Eternal interests are here involved. Be thorough. May the God of all grace so enlighten your understanding that you may discern eternal things, that by the light of truth your own errors, which are many, may be discovered to you just as they are, that you may make the necessary effort to put them away, and in the place of this evil, bitter fruit may bring forth fruit which is precious unto eternal life. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Every tree is known by its fruit. What kind of fruit shall henceforth be found upon this tree?
The fruit you bear will determine whether you are a good tree, or one of which Christ shall say to his angel: "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"