In the case of Sister Hannah More, I was shown that the neglect of her was the neglect of Jesus in her person. Had the Son of God come in the humble, unpretending manner in which He journeyed from place to place when He was upon earth, He would have met with no better reception. It is the deep principle of love that dwelt in the bosom of the humble Man of Calvary that is needed. Had the church lived in the light, they would have appreciated this humble missionary whose whole being was aglow to be engaged in her Master's service. Her very earnest interest was misconstrued. Her externals were not just such as would meet the approval of the eye of taste and fashion, for familiarity with strict economy and poverty had left its impress upon her apparel. Her hard-earned means had been exhausted as fast as obtained to benefit
others, to get light to those whom she hoped to lead to the cross of truth.
Even the professed church of Christ, with their exalted privileges and high professions, discerned not the image of Christ in this self-denying child of God because they were so far removed from Christ themselves that they reflected not His image. They judged by the external appearance and took no special pains to discern the inward adorning. Here was a woman whose resources of knowledge and genuine experience in the mysteries of godliness exceeded those of anyone residing at -----, and whose manner of address to the youth and children was pleasing, instructive, and salutary. She was not harsh, but correct and sympathetic, and would have proved one of the most useful laborers in the field as an instructor of the youth and an intelligent, useful companion and counselor to mothers. She could reach hearts by her earnest, matter-of-fact presentation of incidents in her religious life, which she had devoted to the service of her Redeemer. Had the church emerged from darkness and deception into the clear light, their hearts would have been drawn out after the lonely stranger. Her prayers, her tears, her distress, at seeing no way of usefulness open to her, have been seen and heard in heaven. The Lord offered to His people talented help; but they were rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. They turned from and rejected a most precious blessing of which they will yet feel the need. Had Elder E stood in the clear light of God and been imbued with His Spirit when this servant of Jesus, lonely, homeless, and thirsting for a work to do for her Master, was brought to his notice, spirit would have answered to spirit, as face answereth to face in a mirror; his heart would have been drawn out after this disciple of Christ, and he would have understood her. Thus also with the church. They had been in such spiritual blindness they had
lost the sound of the voice of the True Shepherd and were following the voice of a stranger, who was leading them from the fold of Christ.
Many look upon the great work to be accomplished for God's people, and their prayers go up to Him for help in the great harvest. But, if help does not come in just the manner they expect, they will not receive it, but turn from it as the Jewish nation turned from Christ because disappointed in the manner of His appearing. Too much poverty and humility marked His advent, and in their pride they refused Him who came to give them life. In this God would have the church humble their hearts and see the great need of correcting their ways before Him, lest He visit them in judgment. Many who profess godliness make the external adorning far more important than the inward adorning. Had the church all humbled themselves before the Lord and corrected their past errors so fully as to meet His mind, they would not be so deficient in estimating moral excellence of character.
The light of Sister Hannah More has gone out, whereas it might now be burning brightly to illuminate the pathway of many who are walking in the dark paths of error and rebellion. God calls upon the church to arouse from their slumber and with deep earnestness inquire into the cause of this self-deception among professors whose names are on the church book. Satan is deluding and cheating them in the great concern of salvation. Nothing is more treacherous than the deceitfulness of sin. It is the god of this world that deludes, and blinds, and leads to destruction. Satan does not enter with his array of temptations at once. He disguises these temptations with a semblance of good; he mingles some little improvement with the folly and amusements, and deceived souls urge as an excuse for engaging in them that great good is to be derived. This is only the deceptive part; Satan's hellish arts
are masked. Beguiled souls take one step, then are prepared for the next. It is much more pleasant to follow the inclination of their own hearts than to stand on the defensive and resist the first insinuation of the wily foe, and thus shut out his incomings. Oh, how Satan watches to see his bait taken so readily and to see souls walking in the very path he has prepared! He does not want them to give up praying and maintaining a form of religious duties, for while they do this he can make them more useful in his service. He unites his sophistry and deceptive snares with their experience and profession, and thus wonderfully advances his cause. The hypocritical Pharisees prayed and fasted, and observed the forms of godliness, while they were corrupt at heart. Satan stands by to taunt Christ and His angels with insults, saying: "I have them! I have them! I have prepared my deception for them. Your blood is worthless here. Your intercessions and power and wonderful works may as well cease; I have them! They are mine! Notwithstanding their high profession as subjects of Christ, notwithstanding they once enjoyed the illumination of His presence, I will secure them to myself in the very face of heaven, which they are talking about. It is such subjects as these that I can use to decoy others."
Solomon says, "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool;" and there are hundreds of such to be found among professors of godliness. Says the apostle: "We are not ignorant of his devices." Oh, what art, what skill, what cunning, is exercised to lead the professed followers of Christ to a union with the world by seeking for happiness in the amusements of the world, under the delusion that some good is to be gained! And thus the unguarded walk right into the net, flattering themselves that there is no evil in the way. The affections and sympathies of such are wrought upon, and this lays a slim
foundation upon which they build their confidence that they are the children of God. They compare themselves with others and settle down satisfied that they are even better than many true Christians. But where is the deep love of Christ shining forth in their lives, its bright rays blessing others? Where is their Bible? and how much is it studied? Where are their thoughts? Are they upon heaven and heavenly things? It is not natural for their minds to go forth in that direction. The study of God's word is uninteresting to them. It does not possess that which excites and fevers the mind, and the natural, unrenewed heart prefers some other book to the word of God. Their attention is engrossed in self. They have no deep, earnest longings for the influence of the Spirit of God upon the mind and heart. God is not in all their thoughts.
How can I endure the thought that most of the youth in this age will come short of everlasting life! Oh, that the sound of instrumental music might cease and they no more while away so much precious time in pleasing their own fancy. Oh, that they would devote less time to dress and vain conversation, and send forth their earnest, agonizing prayers to God for a sound experience. There is great necessity for close self-examination in the light of God's word; let each one raise the inquiry: "Am I sound, or am I rotten at heart? Am I renewed in Christ, or am I still carnal at heart, with a new dress put on the outside?" Rein yourself up to the great tribunal, and in the light of God examine to see if there be any secret sin that you are cherishing, any idol that you have not sacrificed. Pray, yes, pray as you have never prayed before, that you may not be deluded by Satan's devices, that you may not be given up to a heedless, careless, vain spirit, and attend to religious duties to quiet your own conscience.
It is inappropriate for Christians in any age of the world
to be lovers of pleasure, but how much more so now when the scenes of this earth's history are so soon to close. Surely the foundation of your hope of everlasting life cannot be laid too sure. The welfare of your soul and your eternal happiness depend upon whether your foundation is built upon Christ. While others are panting after earthly enjoyments, be ye panting after the unmistakable assurance of the love of God, earnestly, fervently crying: Who will show me how to make my calling and election sure? One of the signs of the last days is, that professed Christians are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Deal truly with your own soul. Search carefully. How few, after a faithful examination, can look up to heaven and say: "I am not one of those thus described! I am not a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God!" How few can say: "I am dead to the world; the life I now live is by faith in the Son of God! My life is hid with Christ in God, and when He who is my life shall appear, then shall I also appear with Him in glory." The love and grace of God! Oh, precious grace! more valuable than fine gold. It elevates and ennobles the spirit beyond all other principles, and sets the affections upon heaven. While those around us may be vain and engaged in pleasure-seeking and folly, our conversation is in heaven, whence we look for the Saviour; the soul is reaching out after God for pardon and peace, for righteousness and true holiness. Converse with God and contemplation of things above transform the soul into the likeness of Christ.