When the amusements were introduced into the Institute, some in ----- manifested their superficial character. They were well pleased and gratified; their frivolous turn of mind was just suited. The things recommended for invalids they thought good for themselves; and Dr. C is not accountable for all the results accruing from the counsel given to his patients. Those in different churches abroad, who were unconsecrated, seized upon the first semblance of an excuse to engage in pleasure, hilarity, and folly. As soon as it was known that the physicians at the Institute had recommended plays and amusements in order to divert the minds of the patients from themselves into a more cheerful train of thought, it went like fire in the stubble; the young in ----- and other churches thought that they had need of just such things, and the armor of righteousness was laid off by many. As they were no longer held in by bit and bridle, they engaged in these things with as much earnestness and perseverance as though everlasting life depended upon their zeal in this direction. Here was an opportunity to discern between the conscientious followers of Christ and those who were self-deceived. Some had not the cause of God at heart. They had not the work of true holiness wrought in the soul. They had failed to make God their trust, and were unstable, and only needed a wave to raise them from their feet and toss them to and fro. Such showed that they possessed but little stability and moral independence. They had not an experience for themselves, and therefore walked in the sparks of others' kindling. They had not Christ in their hearts to confess to the world. They professed to be His followers, but earthly and
temporal things held their frivolous, selfish hearts in subjection.
There were others who did not seem to possess anxiety in regard to the amusement question. They felt such confidence that God would make all right that their peace of mind was not disturbed. They decided that a prescription for invalids was not for them, therefore they would not be troubled. Whatever others in the church or in the world might do was nothing to them; for, said they, whom have we to follow but Christ? He has left us a command to walk even as He walked. We must live as seeing Him who is invisible, and do what we do heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men.
When such things arise, character is developed. Moral worth can then be truly estimated. It is not difficult to ascertain where those are to be found who profess godliness, yet have their pleasure and happiness in this world. Their affections are not upon things above, but upon things on the earth, where Satan reigns. They walk in darkness, and cannot love and enjoy heavenly things because they cannot discern them. They are alienated from the life of Christ, having their understanding darkened. The things of the Spirit are foolishness unto them. Their pursuits are according to the course of this world, and their interests and prospects are joined with the world and with earthly things. If such can pass along bearing the name of Christians, yet serving both God and mammon, they are satisfied. But things will occur to reveal the hearts of these, who are only a burden and a curse to the church.
The spirit existing in the church is such as to lead away from God and the path of holiness. Many of the church have ascribed their state of spiritual blindness to the influence growing out of the principles taught at the Institute. This is not entirely correct. Had the church stood in the counsel of God, the Institute would have been controlled. The light of the church would have been diffused to that branch of the work,
and the errors would not have existed there that did. It was the moral darkness of the church that had the greatest influence to create the moral darkness and spiritual death in the Institute. Had the church been in a healthy condition, she could have sent a vitalizing, healthful current to this arm of the body. But the church was sickly and did not enjoy the favor of God nor the light of His countenance. A sickly, deathly influence was circulated all through the living body until the disease was apparent everywhere.
Dear Brother D has not understood the condition of his own heart. Selfishness has found a lodgment there, and peace, healthful, calm peace, has departed. What you all lack is the element of love--love to God and love to your neighbor. The life that you now live you do not live by faith in the Son of God. There is a lack of firm trust, a fearfulness to resign all into the hands of God, as though He could not keep that which is committed to His trust. You are afraid some evil is designed which will do you harm unless you assume the defensive and commence a warfare in your own favor. The children of God are wise and powerful according to their reliance upon His wisdom and power. They are strong and happy according to their separation from the wisdom and help of man.
Daniel and his companions were captives in a strange land, but God suffered not the envy and hatred of their enemies to prevail against them. The righteous have ever obtained help from above. How often have the enemies of God united their strength and wisdom to destroy the character and influence of a few simple persons who trusted in God. But because the Lord was for them, none could prevail against them. Only let the followers of Christ be united, and they will prevail. Let them be separated from their idols and from the world, and the world will not separate them from God. Christ is our
present, all-sufficient Saviour. In Him all fullness dwells. It is the privilege of Christians to know indeed that Christ is in them of a truth. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." All things are possible to him that believeth; and whatsoever things we desire when we pray, if we believe that we receive them we shall have them. This faith will penetrate the darkest cloud and bring rays of light and hope to the drooping, desponding soul. It is the absence of this faith and trust which brings perplexity, distressing fears, and surmisings of evil. God will do great things for His people when they put their entire trust in Him. "Godliness with contentment is great gain." Pure and undefiled religion will be exemplified in the life. Christ will prove a never-failing source of strength, a present help in every time of trouble.