I have been shown that the disciples of Christ are His representatives upon the earth; and God designs that they shall be lights in the moral darkness of this world, dotted all over the country, in the towns, villages, and cities, "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." If they obey the teachings of Christ in His Sermon on the Mount, they will be seeking continually for perfection of Christian character, and will be truly the light of the world, channels through which God will communicate His divine will, the truth of heavenly origin, to those who sit in darkness and who have no knowledge of the way of life and salvation.
God cannot display the knowledge of His will and the wonders of His grace among the unbelieving world unless He has witnesses scattered all over the earth. It is His plan that those
who are partakers of this great salvation through Jesus Christ should be His missionaries, bodies of light throughout the world, to be as signs to the people, living epistles, known and read of all men, their faith and works testifying to the near approach of the coming Saviour and showing that they have not received the grace of God in vain. The people must be warned to prepare for the coming judgment. To those who have been listening only to fables, God will give an opportunity to hear the sure word of prophecy, whereunto they do well that they take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place. He will present the sure word of truth to the understanding of all who will take heed; all may contrast truth with the fables presented to them by men who claim to understand the word of God and to be qualified to instruct those in darkness.
In order to increase the numbers at Bordoville, brethren have moved there, leaving the places from which they came destitute of strength and influence to sustain meetings. This has pleased the enemies of God and the truth. Those brethren should have remained as faithful witnesses, their good works testifying to the genuineness of their faith by exemplifying in their lives the purity and power of the truth. Their influence would convict and convert, or condemn.
Every follower of Jesus has a work to do as a missionary for Christ in the family, in the neighborhood, in the town or city where he lives. All who are consecrated to God are channels of light. God makes them instruments of righteousness to communicate to others the light of truth, the riches of His grace. Unbelievers may appear indifferent and careless; yet God is impressing and convicting their hearts that there is a reality in the truth. But when our brethren leave the field, give up the contest, and allow the cause of God to languish, before God says, "Let them alone," they will be only a burden to any church where they may move. Those whom they leave,
who were convicted, frequently quiet their consciences with thinking that, after all, they were needlessly anxious; they decide that there is no reality in the profession made by Seventh-day Adventists. Satan triumphs to see the vine of God's planting either entirely uprooted or left to languish. It is not the purpose of God that His people should cluster together and concentrate their influence in a special locality.
The efforts of the Brethren D to encourage brethren to move to their place were made in good faith, yet not according to the mind of God. God's ways are not as our ways. He seeth not as man seeth. Their object was good; but, in so doing, the purposes of God in regard to the salvation of souls could not be carried out.
God designs that His people shall be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. The plan of gathering together in large numbers, to compose a large church, has contracted their influence, and narrowed down their sphere of usefulness, and is literally putting their light under a bushel. It is God's design that the knowledge of the truth should come to all, that none may remain in darkness, ignorant of its principles; but that all should be tested upon it and decide for or against it, that all may be warned and left without excuse. The plan of colonizing, or moving from different localities where there is but little strength or influence, and concentrating the influence of many in one locality, is removing the light from places where God would have it shine.
The followers of Christ scattered throughout the world do not have a high sense of their responsibility and the obligation resting upon them to let their light shine forth to others. If there are but one or two in a place, they can, although few in number, so conduct themselves before the world as to have an influence which will impress the unbeliever with the sincerity of their faith. The followers of Jesus are not meeting the mind
and will of God if they are content to remain in ignorance of His word. All should become Bible students. Christ commanded His followers: "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me." Peter exhorts us: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."
Many who profess to believe the truth for these last days will be found wanting. They have neglected the weightier matters. Their conversion is superficial, not deep, earnest, and thorough. They do not know why they believe the truth, only because others have believed it, and they take it for granted that it is the truth. They can give no intelligent reason why they believe. Many have allowed their minds to be filled with things of minor importance, and their eternal interest is made secondary. Their own souls are dwarfed and crippled in spiritual growth. Others are not enlightened or edified by their experience or by the knowledge which it was their privilege and duty to obtain. Strength and stability are with truehearted professors.
Christ and Him crucified should become the theme of our thoughts and stir the deepest emotions of our souls. The true followers of Christ will appreciate the great salvation which He has wrought for them; and wherever He leads the way, they will follow. They will consider it a privilege to bear whatever burdens Christ may lay upon them. It is through the cross alone that we can estimate the worth of the human soul. Such is the value of men for whom Christ died that the Father is satisfied with the infinite price which He pays for the salvation of man in yielding up His own Son to die for their redemption. What wisdom, mercy, and love in its fullness are here manifested! The worth of man is known only by going
to Calvary. In the mystery of the cross of Christ we can place an estimate upon man.
What a responsible position, to unite with the Redeemer of the world in the salvation of men! This work calls for self-denial, sacrifice, and benevolence, for perseverance, courage, and faith. But those who minister in word and doctrine have not the fruit of the grace of God in their hearts and lives; they have not faith. This is why there are so small results from their labor. Many who profess to be ministers of Christ manifest a wonderful submission as they see the unconverted all around them going to perdition. A minister of Christ has no right to be at ease and sit down submissively in view of the fact that his presentation of the truth is powerless and souls are not stirred by it. He should resort to prayer, and should work and pray without ceasing. Those who submit to remain destitute of spiritual blessings, without earnest wrestling for those blessings, consent to have Satan triumph. Persistent, prevailing faith is necessary. God's ministers must come into closer companionship with Christ and follow His example in all things, in purity of life, in self-denial, in benevolence, in diligence, in perseverance. They should remember that a record will one day appear in evidence against them for the least omission of duty.
Brother D did not discern that in thus encouraging brethren to move to his place he was bringing burdens upon himself and into the church; he did not see that it would require much time and labor to keep them in a condition where they could be a help instead of a hindrance. He thought that if he could collect families at his place they would help compose a church and relieve him of care and burdens. But it has proved at Bordoville as at Battle Creek; the more the brethren moved there, the heavier were the burdens which fell upon the laborers who had the cause of God at heart. Men and women of
varied minds and different organizations could cluster together and live in sweet harmony, if they would esteem others better than themselves, if they would love their neighbors as themselves, as Christ enjoined upon them.
But it is most difficult to deal with human minds that are not under the special control of the Spirit of God and are exposed to the control of Satan. Selfishness so possesses the hearts of men and women, and iniquity is so cherished, even by some professing godliness, that the clustering together of a large company should be avoided; for they will not thus be the most happy.
Those whom Brother D really desired to have come to Bordoville were those whom he considered the best of society, capable of exerting a good influence. Just such men and women are wanted to be stationed over the world as faithful sentinels, that those who are without God may be convinced that there is a power in the religion of Christ. Such men of influence are in truth the salt of the earth. God would not be pleased to have them congregate together and narrow down their sphere of usefulness. Reliable men are very scarce for the reason that the hearts of men are so devoted to their own selfish interests that they know no other.
If there could be a number of picked men at the important post at Battle Creek, God would be pleased; and if they would make a sacrifice of their own selfish interests for the sake of the suffering cause, they would only be following in the footsteps of their Redeemer, who left His glory, His majesty and high command, and for our sakes became poor, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich. Christ sacrificed for man; but man, in his turn, will not willingly and cheerfully sacrifice for Christ. If a number of responsible, true-hearted, burden-bearing men and women who could be depended upon as minutemen, who would promptly respond
to the call for help when help is needed, would move to Battle Creek, God would be glorified. God wants men at Battle Creek who can be depended upon; who will ever be found on the right side in times of danger; who will faithfully war against the enemy, instead of taking their position with those who trouble the Israel of God, and stand in defense of those who weaken the hands of God's servants, turning their weapons against the very ones whom God enjoins upon them to sustain. In order to prosper, every church must have men upon whom it can rely in times of peril, men who are as true as steel, unselfish men, who have the interest of God's cause lying nearer their hearts than anything which concerns their own opinions or their worldly interests.
Churches are not wholly composed of pure, sincere Christians. Not all the names that stand registered upon the church books are worthy to be there. The life and character of some as compared with others is as gold with worthless dross. It need not be so. Those who are valuable in life and influence have felt the importance of following Jesus closely, of making the life of Christ their study and example. This will require effort, meditation, and earnest prayer. It requires exertion to obtain the victory over selfishness and to make the interest of God's cause primary. Some have made the effort and practiced close discipline of self, and they have gained precious victories. Those who consider their own interest primary, live for self. Their character in the sight of God is as worthless dross.
Brother D has had more than one man should do in working for the interest of the church in his place. If he absented himself for a short time to labor for others, heavier and greater burdens were all ready to be laid upon him when he returned home. He has permitted them to rest upon his shoulders, and has bowed groaning under the load. The Brethren D have
been in danger of being too exacting and of presenting their own lives and example as a criterion. Self has not been lost sight of in Christ. These brethren should say little about self, but exalt Christ. They should hide behind Jesus and let Him alone appear as the perfect pattern which all should seek to copy.
Where were the men to be depended upon in times of trial and danger? Where were the God-fearing men to rally around the standard when the foe was seeking an advantage? Some who should have been at their post were unfaithful when their help was most needed. Their course showed that they had no special interest in the advancement of the work and cause of God. Some thought that too much was expected of them; and, instead of cheerfully moving forward to do what they could, they sat down in Satan's easy chair and refused to do anything.
Some were ever jealous. Brother E was of this class. He has a peculiar stubbornness in his organization that leads him to persist in a wrong course because he thinks it would gratify his brethren for him to change and take an opposite course. At times, when he feels just like it, he is ready to do anything in his power to advance the cause of God. But he loves so well to have his own way that he will let the precious cause of God suffer rather than give up his will and his way. Brother E is not a man who can be depended upon. He is subject to the temptations of Satan and is frequently under his control. He has a selfish, unsubdued heart. He is fitful, impulsive, now hating, then loving. At times he is kind, at other times jealous, envious, and very selfish. He cannot perfect Christian character until he resists temptation, subdues his own stubborn will, and cherishes a spirit of humility, a willingness to see and confess his errors. He has been, at times, true and earnest. Then a wave would carry him in an opposite direction, and he would cherish jealousy, envy, and distrust. Self and selfish interest were paramount, he was full of faultfinding, and
suspicious that others did not appreciate him, but wished to injure him. Brother E needs a thorough conversion. It is not enough for men to profess the truth. They may acknowledge the whole truth, and yet know nothing--have no experimental knowledge in their daily life--of the sanctifying influence of the truth upon the heart and life, or of the power of true godliness.
The truth is holy and powerful, and will effect a thorough reformation in the hearts and lives of those who are sanctified by it. Brother E is capable of exerting an influence for good. If he subdues self and humbles his heart before God he can become a true bearer of the yoke of Christ. He can be a help instead of a hindrance to his family and to others. He weakens the cause of God in Bordoville because of the defects in his Christian character. If Brother E lives according to the light he has received, he will work out his salvation with fear and trembling, and, in so doing, will let a bright light shine upon the pathway of others and will glorify God. The case of Brother E represents that of others in the church who need the same work of transformation in their hearts in order to be right.
Brother F can be more useful in his life than he now is or has ever been. God has not called him especially to minister in word and doctrine. He is not qualified for this position, yet he can do errands for the Lord and be a help in the meetings. If he lives in the light himself he can reflect light to others. He can be a blessing to others; he can speak words of comfort and encouragement to the desponding. But in order to do this, he should encourage a more hopeful, cheerful spirit himself, refusing to look upon the dark side or to talk unbelief. He should express cheerfulness, hope, and courage in his words and even in the tones of his voice.
Sister G has infirmities, yet she does not make the best of her case. She permits the enemy to control her mind and
increase her difficulties by an unsubmissive spirit. She suffers from bodily infirmities and should have sympathy; but restlessness, peevishness, complaints, murmuring, and useless regrets do not alleviate her sufferings or bring happiness to her, but only aggravate the difficulty.
The world is full of dissatisfied spirits who overlook the happiness and blessings within their reach, and are continually seeking for happiness and satisfaction that they do not realize. They are constantly on the stretch for some expected, far-off good greater than they possess, and are ever in a state of disappointment. They cherish unbelief and ingratitude, in that they overlook the blessings right in their pathway. The common, everyday blessings of life are unwelcome to them, as was the manna to the children of Israel.
Sister G is addressed by Christ: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." The words, deportment, and general example of Sister G teach a lesson entirely different from that taught by our Lord. She loses much in overlooking the present blessings within her grasp and uneasily searching for happiness. Her efforts are unrewarded, and her fruitless search makes great unhappiness for herself and for all who associate with her. Her unrest, her anxious, troubled spirit, is expressed in her countenance and casts a shadow. This gloom, unbelief, and discontent encourages the temptations of the enemy. By her continual distrust, by borrowing trouble, she casts a shadow instead of shedding a sunbeam.
Brother G should be patient and forbearing, and carefully shield her from unnecessary burdens; for she is not prepared to bear them. She, in her turn, should watch against the incoming foe, should take up her life burdens unmurmuringly and bear them with cheerfulness, sweetening them all
with gratitude because they are no heavier. Brother G is prone to look upon the dark side. He should hold himself in readiness to do the will of God and use to the very best advantage the influence which God has given him. He should cheerfully perform the duties of today and not borrow tomorrow's trouble to make himself miserable over. He has not to perform the duties of next week, but the work and duties which the day brings.
Brother and Sister G should unite their influence in saying: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It is a misfortune to borrow the trouble of next week to embitter the present week. When real trouble comes, God will fit every meek and lowly one to bear it. When His providence permits it to come, He will provide help to endure it. Fretting and murmuring cloud and stain the soul, and shut out the bright sunlight from the pathway of others.
Brother G might have pursued a course to help Brother H and at the same time help himself; but selfishness deprived Brother H of advantages, and Brother G himself was disadvantaged through fear that he would advantage others. Brother G has not loved his neighbor as himself, and his supreme selfishness in many things has deprived him of good and shut away from him the blessing of God. In the end, it does not profit any man to be selfish; for God marks it all and will render to every man according to his works. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly."
I have mentioned these persons to represent the true state of many in the church at Bordoville whose cases are similar. The many congregated at that place have brought burdens and cares upon Brother D to keep them straight. Had they been free from jealousy, and kept themselves in the love of God, they would have stayed up his hands, comforted his heart, and sent him forth to labor for the salvation of souls, while
their prayers would have followed him as sharp sickles in the harvest field. Their lack of consecration and devotion to God has weakened their own faith, weakened the hands of Brother D, destroyed his courage, and made his labors in the gospel field nearly useless. Church trials at home have crippled his efforts both at home and abroad, and kept his labors confined, in a great measure, to the locality of his place. This confining of the labor mostly to one locality has a withering influence upon the spiritual interest and zeal of a minister of Christ.
In order to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, laborers must have a varied experience. This will be best acquired in extended labor in new fields, in different localities, where they will come in contact with all classes of people and all varieties of minds, and where various kinds of labor will be required to meet the wants of many and varied minds. This drives the true laborer to God and the Bible for light, strength, and knowledge, that he may be fully qualified to meet the wants of the people. He should heed the exhortation given to Timothy: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?" Wisdom is needed to discern the most appropriate subject for the occasion.
Brother D has not been growing up into a successful workman. He has become dwarfed. His mind has been narrowed down, and his spiritual strength has been waning. He should now be a successful laborer, a thorough workman. Instead of giving himself wholly to the work, he has been serving tables. Paul exhorted Timothy: "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to
doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."
Brother D is active and willing to do, willing to bear burdens that are not connected with his calling; and he has had his mind and time too much engrossed in temporal things. Some ministers maintain a certain dignity not in accordance with the life of Christ, and are unwilling to make themselves useful by engaging in physical labor, as occasion may require, to lighten the burdens of those whose hospitalities they share, and to relieve them of care. Physical exercise would prove a blessing to them, rather than an injury. In helping others they would advantage themselves. But some go to the other extreme. When their time and strength are all required in the work and cause of God, they are willing to engage in labor and become servants of all, even in temporal things; and they really rob God of the service He requires of them. Thus trivial matters take up precious time which should be devoted to the interests of God's cause.
Brother J. N. Andrews has erred here. The time and strength which he has devoted to correspondence with his brethren, answering their private letters of inquiry, should have been given to the special interests of the work of God at large. But few realize the responsibilities resting upon the few ministers who bear the burdens in this cause. The brethren frequently call these men from the work to attend to their little matters, or to settle some church trial, which they can and should attend to themselves. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith,
nothing wavering." He must be earnest and persevering. If he is irresolute, doubting continually whether the Lord will indeed do as He has promised, he will receive nothing.
Many look to their ministers to bring the light from God to them, seeming to think this a cheaper way than to be to the trouble of going to God for it themselves. Such lose much. If they would daily follow Christ and make Him their guide and counselor, they might obtain a clear knowledge of His will, and thus be gaining a valuable experience. For want of this very experience, brethren professing the truth walk in the sparks of others' kindling; they are unacquainted with the Spirit of God and have not a knowledge of His will, and are therefore easily moved from their faith. They are unstable, because they trusted in others to obtain an experience for them. Ample provisions have been made for every son and daughter of Adam to obtain individually a knowledge of the divine will, to perfect Christian character, and to be purified through the truth. God is dishonored by that class who profess to be followers of Christ and yet have no experimental knowledge of the divine will or of the mystery of godliness.
Brother D has had a multiplicity of home cares. The increase of numbers in the church has not lessened his burdens. The increase of numbers in his family has been too heavy a tax upon himself and his family, and these things have been a hindrance to his becoming a successful laborer. He has become rusty in the work of God and needs burnishing. His testimony needs to be vitalized by the Spirit and power of God. His brethren in Bordoville, who have not a special work to do in laboring in word and doctrine, should be awake to see where others need help, and should help them. Many close their eyes to the good which they have opportunity to do for others, and by their neglect they lose the blessing which they might obtain. Brother D has been left to bear burdens that
his brethren should have considered it their duty and privilege to bear.
Our work in this world is to live for others' good, to bless others, to be hospitable; and frequently it may be only at some inconvenience that we can entertain those who really need our care and the benefit of our society and our homes. Some avoid these necessary burdens. But someone must bear them; and because the brethren in general are not lovers of hospitality, and do not share equally in these Christian duties, a few who have willing hearts, and who cheerfully make the cases of those who need help their own, are burdened. A church should take special care to relieve its ministers of extra burdens in this direction. The ministers who are actively engaged in the cause of God, laboring for the salvation of souls, have continual sacrifices to make.
Brother D's testimony needs to be enlivened by the grace of God. He needs a new anointing, that he may be able to comprehend the magnitude of the work and devote his entire being to the advancement of the cause of God. The Lord has work enough to employ all His followers. All can show forth His glory if they will. But the majority refuse to do this. They profess faith, but have not works. Their faith is dead, being alone. They shun responsibilities and burdens, and will be rewarded as their works have been. Because some will not lift the burdens they could lift, or do the work they might do, the work is too great for the few who will engage in it. They see so much to do that they overtax their strength and are fast wearing out.
God calls at this time for laborers whose interests are fully identified with His work and His cause. The ministers engaged in this work must be energized by the spirit and power of the truths they preach, and then they will have an influence. The people will seldom rise higher than their minister. A
world-loving spirit in him has a tremendous influence upon others. The people make his deficiencies an excuse to cover their world-loving spirit. They quiet their own consciences, thinking that they may be free to love the things of this life and be indifferent to spiritual things because their ministers are so. They deceive their own souls and remain in friendship with the world, which the apostle declares to be enmity with God.
Ministers should be examples to the flock. They should manifest an undying love for souls and the same devotion to the cause which they desire to see in the people. The ministers in Vermont have made a mistake in their labor. They have passed over the same ground again and again to help the churches, when frequently they needed labor bestowed upon themselves, to bring them into a position where God could bless their labors and make them fruitful. There has not been one efficient, thorough laborer, fully qualified to keep up all parts of the work, in Vermont.
Brother and Sister I are invalids. God does not lay very heavy responsibilities upon them. They need to watch closely, lest they narrow down their influence. They have no children of their own to call into exercise parental love and care, and are in danger of becoming narrow, selfish, and notional in their views and feelings. All these things have a bad influence upon the cause of God. They should labor to keep their minds elevated above themselves and should not make themselves a criterion for others. Those who have no children of their own to share their thoughts and labor, and to call for the exercise of forbearance, patience, and love, should guard themselves lest their thoughts and labor center upon themselves. They are poorly qualified to instruct parents as to the training of their children, for they have not had experience in this work. Yet in very many cases those who have no children are the
most ready to instruct those who have, when, at the same time, the former make children of themselves in many respects. They cannot be turned out of a certain course, and they require even more patience exercised toward them than children do. It is selfish to have a certain course marked out and pursue this course to the inconvenience of others.
It is little things which test the character. It is the unpretending acts of daily self-denial, with cheerfulness and gentleness, that God smiles upon. We should not live for ourselves, but for others. We should be a blessing by our forgetfulness of self and our thoughtfulness of others. We should cherish love, forbearance, and fortitude.
Very few realize the benefits of the care, responsibility, and experience that children bring to the family. Many have large families coming up without discipline; the parents are neglecting a precious trust and sacred duty, which, if faithfully performed in the fear of God, would obtain, not only for their children, but for themselves, a fitness for the kingdom of heaven. But a childless house is a desolate place. The hearts of the inmates are in danger of becoming selfish, of cherishing a love for their own ease, and consulting their own desires and conveniences. They gather sympathy to themselves, but have little to bestow upon others. Care and affection for dependent children removes the roughness from our natures, makes us tender and sympathetic, and has an influence to develop the nobler elements of our character. Many are diseased physically, mentally, and morally, because their attention is turned almost exclusively to themselves. They might be saved from stagnation by the healthy vitality of younger and varying minds, and the restless energy of children.
Brother J is aged. No weighty responsibility should now rest upon him. He has displeased God in his misapplied love for his children. He has had too much anxiety to help them
pecuniarily that he might not offend them. In order to please, he has injured them. They are not wise and faithful in the management of means, even from the worldling's standpoint. Viewed from a religious standpoint, they are very deficient. They have not conscientious scruples in regard to religious things. They do not adorn society by their position and influence in the world, nor do they adorn the cause of God by pure Christian morals and virtuous acts in the service of Christ. They have not been trained to habits of self-denial and self-reliance as their safeguards in life. Here is the great sin resting upon parents. They do not discipline their children and do not train them up for God. They do not teach them self-government, stability of character, and the necessity of a resolute, well-directed will. Most children, in this age, are left to come up. They are not taught the necessity of developing their physical and mental powers for some good purpose, to bless society with their influence, to be well qualified to adorn the Christian life, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God.
Brother J has erred in entrusting his property to his children. He has laid upon them responsibilities which they were not qualified to bear. He placed his means out of his control and has gathered up means from his brethren for his feeble labors. God has not been glorified by the course which he has pursued in regard to his property. He has excused a wrong course pursued by his children, which is not in keeping with our faith or the Bible standard. He has virtually said to the wicked, It shall be well with thee; when God has plainly declared it shall be ill with him.
These errors upon the part of Brother J show a great lack of heavenly wisdom and have, in a great degree, disqualified him for the solemn work resting upon the faithful minister of Christ. What can Brother J plead before God when the Master shall bid him give an account of his stewardship? He
has been led by the unconsecrated minds of his children and has not felt the necessity of seeking counsel and advice from God's servants who were standing in the light. He has been led by a perverted sympathy and has failed in judgment. He has been moving like a blind man. His course has injured himself and the cause of God.
It is not preachers merely, to go among the churches and pray and exhort occasionally, that Vermont needs. A cry for laborers could be consistently raised among God's people in Vermont. Earnest, zealous workmen are needed to strengthen the things that remain by ministering to the spiritual wants of the people. The cause of God everywhere, especially in Vermont, needs burden bearers. Men go over and over the same ground, but accomplish very little, if anything. They have a good visit with their brethren, and this is frequently all that is accomplished; and yet they expect to be remunerated for their time.
The case of Brother and Sister K comes before me as I write. They have not practiced caring for others. They have not felt the responsibility resting upon them to be burden bearers. Brother K was shown me among others who have felt that they had a work to do for the Lord. Indeed he has, and so have very many others, if they will do it. There are thorough workmen in the cause of God, who have an experience in the work and who devote their time and strength to the service of God. These should be liberally sustained. But those who are merely starting out to visit the churches occasionally--especially those who have no families to provide for and who have a competency themselves--should not draw upon the treasury of the Lord.
Neither Brother nor Sister K has an experience in sacrificing for the truth, in being rich in good works, laying up their treasures in heaven. Their sympathy, care, and patience have
not been called into exercise by dependent, loving children. They have consulted their own selfish convenience. Their hearts have not been a wellspring sending forth the living streams of tenderness and affection. In blessing others by kindly words of love and acts of mercy and benevolence, they would realize a blessing themselves. They have been too narrow in their sphere of usefulness. Unless such become transformed in mind and being, and are renewed by the spirit of Christ, they cannot become thorough, efficient workmen in the Redeemer's cause. His life is the example for Christians. Self-sacrifice and disinterested benevolence should characterize their lives. Self-interest is too prominent. Oh, how little does Brother K know of what it is to labor for God, to lift the cross of Christ and walk in the footsteps of the self-denying Redeemer!
A minister of Christ, a teacher of the truth, a true shepherd, is in one sense a servant of all, anticipating the wants of those who need help, and knowing how to be useful here and there in the great work of saving souls. A man who professes to teach the truth, and goes just where he pleases, and works when and how he pleases, yet shuns responsibilities, is not bearing the cross after Christ nor fulfilling the commission of a gospel minister. Few know by experience what it is to suffer for Christ's sake. They desire to be like Christ, but wish to avoid poverty and crucifixion. They would gladly be with Him in glory, but do not love to come to Him through much self-denial and tribulation.
It has not cost Brother K hard effort to search out the truth; for chosen men of God have prepared arguments to his hand, clear, plain, and convincing. Difficult points of present truth have been reached by the earnest efforts of a few who were devoted to the work. Fasting and fervent prayer to God have moved the Lord to unlock His treasuries of truth to their understanding. Wily opponents and boasting Goliaths have
had to be met, sometimes face to face, but more frequently with the pen. Satan has urged men on to fierce opposition, to blind the eyes and darken the understanding of the people. The few who had the interest of the cause and truth of God at heart were aroused to its defense. They did not seek for ease, but were willing to venture even their lives for the truth's sake.
These zealous searchers after truth risked their capital of strength and their all in the work of defending the truth and spreading the light. Link after link of the precious chain of truth has been searched out, until it stands forth in beautiful harmony, uniting in a perfect chain. These men of investigating minds have brought out arguments and made them so plain that a schoolboy may understand them. How easy now for men to become teachers of the truth, while they shun self-sacrifice and self-denial.
These searchers for truth have suffered for it and know what it cost. They value it and feel the most intense interest in its advancement. Self-denial and the cross lie directly in the pathway of every follower of Christ. The cross is that which crosses the natural affections and the will. If the heart is not wholly sanctified to God, if the will and affections and thoughts are not brought into subjection to the will of God, there will be a failure to carry out the principles of true religion and to exemplify in the life the life of Christ. There will not be a true desire to sacrifice ease and self-love, and the carnal mind will not be crucified to work the works of Christ.
There is a work to be accomplished for many who live at Bordoville. I saw that the enemy was busily at work to carry his points. Men to whom God has entrusted talents of means have shifted upon their children the responsibility which Heaven has appointed them of being stewards for God. Instead of rendering to God the things that are His, they claim that all they have is their own, as though by their own might
and power and wisdom they had obtained their possessions. Who gave them power and wisdom to obtain earthly treasure? Who watered their lands with the dew of heaven and with the showers of rain? Who gave them the sun to warm the earth and awaken into life the things of nature, causing them to flourish for the benefit of man? Men whom God has blessed with His bounties clasp their arms about their earthly treasure and make these bounties and blessings, which God has graciously given them, a curse by filling their hearts with selfishness and distrust of Him. They accept the goods lent them, yet claim them as their own, forgetting that the Master has any claim upon them, and refusing to yield to Him even the interest that He demands. Riches cause the professed followers of Christ many perplexities and pierce them through with many sorrows because they forget God, and love and worship mammon. They allow worldly treasures to embitter their lives and prevent them from perfecting Christian character. And, as though this were not enough, they transmit to their children, to curse them, that which has proved the bane of their own lives. God has entrusted men with means to prove them, to see if they are willing to acknowledge Him in His gifts, and use them to advance His glory upon the earth.
The earth is the Lord's, and all the treasures it contains. The cattle upon a thousand hills are His. All the gold and silver belongs to Him. He has entrusted His treasures to stewards, that with them they may advance His cause and glorify His name. He did not entrust these treasures to men that they might use them to exalt and glorify themselves, and have power to oppress those who were poor in this world's treasure. God does not receive the offerings of any because He needs them and cannot have glory and riches without them, but because it is for the interest of His servants to render to God the
things which are His. The freewill offerings of the humble, contrite heart He will receive, and will reward the giver with the richest blessings. He receives them as the sacrifice of grateful obedience. He requires and accepts our gold and silver as an evidence that all we have and are belongs to Him. He claims and accepts the improvement of our time and of our talents as the fruit of His love existing in our hearts. To obey is better than sacrifice. Without pure love the most expensive offering is too poor for God to accept.
Many have their hearts so fixed upon their earthly treasure that they do not discern the advantage of laying up for themselves treasures in heaven. They do not realize that their freewill offerings to God are not enriching Him, but themselves. Christ counsels us to lay up treasures in heaven. For whom? For God, that He may be enriched? Oh, no! The treasures of the entire world are His, and the indescribable glory and priceless treasures of heaven are all His own, to give to whom He will. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Men whom God has made stewards are so infatuated by the riches of this world that they do not discern that by their selfishness and covetousness they are not only robbing the Lord in tithes and offerings, but robbing themselves of eternal riches. They could be daily adding to their heavenly treasure by doing the very work that the Lord has left them to do, and which He has entrusted them with means to carry out. The Master would have them watch for opportunities to do good and, while they live, apply their means themselves to aid in the salvation of their fellow men and in the advancement of His cause in its various branches. In so doing they only do that which God requires of them; they render to God the things that are His. Many willingly close their eyes and hearts, lest they should see and feel the wants of the Lord's cause, and by helping in its advancement should lessen their increase by detracting from
the interest or the principal. Some feel that what they give to advance the cause of God is really lost. They consider so many dollars gone and feel dissatisfied unless they can immediately replace them so that their earthly treasure may not decrease. They exercise closeness and even sharpness in dealing with their brethren and also with worldlings. They do not scruple to overreach in deal in order to advantage themselves and gain a few dollars.
Some, fearing they will suffer loss of earthly treasure, neglect prayer and the assembling of themselves together for the worship of God, that they may have more time to devote to their farms or their business. They show by their works which world they place the highest estimate upon. They sacrifice religious privileges, which are essential to their spiritual advancement, for the things of this life and fail to obtain a knowledge of the divine will. They come short of perfecting Christian character and do not meet the measurement of God. They make their temporal, worldly interests first, and rob God of the time which they should devote to His service. Such persons God marks, and they will receive a curse rather than a blessing. Some place their means beyond their control by putting it into the hands of their children. Their secret motive is to place themselves in a position where they will not feel responsible to give of their property to spread the truth. These love in word, but not in deed and in truth. They do not realize that it is the Lord's money they are handling, not their own.
Many would love to see souls converted if it could be done without any sacrifice on their part; but if their property is touched, they draw back, for it is of more value to them than the souls of men and women for whom Christ died. If those to whom God has entrusted means understood their responsibilities as His stewards, they would retain in their own hands
that which God has lent them, that they might faithfully perform the duty devolving upon them to do their part in helping carry forward the work of God. If all could comprehend the plan of salvation, and the worth of even one soul purchased by the blood of Christ, they would make every other interest of minor consequence.
Parents should have great fear in entrusting children with the talents of means that God has placed in their hands, unless they have the surest evidence that their children have greater interest in, love for, and devotion to, the cause of God than they themselves possess, and that these children will be more earnest and zealous in forwarding the work of God, and more benevolent in carrying forward the various enterprises connected with it which call for means. But many place their means in the hands of their children, thus throwing upon them the responsibility of their own stewardship, because Satan prompts them to do it. In so doing they effectually place that means in the enemy's ranks. Satan works the matter to suit his own purpose and keeps from the cause of God the means which it needs, that it may be abundantly sustained. The efforts made to get the truth before the people are not half as thorough and extensive as they should be. Not a fiftieth part is now being done to extend the truth that might be done by scattering publications and bringing within the sound of the truth all that can be induced to come.
The probation of many is closing. Satan is daily gathering his harvest of souls. Some are making final decisions against the truth, and many are dying without a knowledge of it. Their minds are unenlightened, and their sins unrepented of; and yet men professing godliness are hoarding up their earthly treasures and directing their efforts to gaining more. They are insensible to the condition of men and women who come within the sphere of their influence and who are perishing for
want of knowledge. Well-directed labor, bestowed in love and humility, would do much to enlighten and convert their fellow men; but the example of many who might do great good is virtually saying: Your souls are of less value to me than my worldly interests.
Many love the truth a little, but they love this world more. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Spiritual things are sacrificed for temporal. The fruit that such bear is not unto holiness, and their example will not be such as to convict sinners and convert them from the error of their ways to the truth. They allow souls to go to perdition, when they might save them if they would make as earnest efforts in their behalf as they have made to secure the treasures of this life. To obtain more of the things of the world, which they do not really need and which only increase their responsibility and condemnation, many labor on the high-pressure plan, and peril health and spiritual enjoyment, and the peace, comfort, and happiness of their families. They let souls go to perdition around them because they fear that it will require a little of their time and means to save them. Money is their god. They decide that it will not pay to sacrifice their means to save souls.
The one to whom is entrusted one talent is not responsible for five, or for two, but for the one. Many neglect to lay up for themselves a treasure in heaven by doing good with the means that God has lent them. They distrust God and have a thousand fears in regard to the future. Like the children of Israel they have evil hearts of unbelief. God provided this people with abundance, as their needs required; but they borrowed trouble for the future. They complained and murmured in their travels that Moses had led them out to kill them and their children with hunger. Imaginary want closed their eyes and hearts from seeing the goodness and mercies of God in their journeyings, and they were ungrateful for all His bounties.
So also are the distrustful, professed people of God in this age of unbelief and degeneracy. They fear that they may come to want, or that their children may become needy, or that their grandchildren will be destitute. They dare not trust God. They have no genuine faith in Him who has entrusted them with the blessings and bounties of life, and who has given them talents to use to His glory in advancing His cause.
Many have such a constant care for themselves that they give God no opportunity to care for them. If they should be a little short at times, and be brought into strait places, it would be the best thing for their faith. If they would calmly trust in God, and wait for Him to work for them, their necessity would be God's opportunity; and His blessing in their emergency would increase their love for Him and lead them to prize their temporal blessings in a higher sense than they have ever done before. Their faith would increase, their hope would brighten, and cheerfulness would take the place of gloom and doubts and murmuring. The faith of very many does not grow for want of exercise.
That which is eating out the vitals of God's people is the love of money and friendship with the world. It is the privilege of God's people to be bright and shining lights in the world, to increase in the knowledge of God, and to have a clear understanding of His will. But the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches choke the seed sown in their hearts, and they bear no fruit to His glory. They profess faith, but it is not a living faith because it is not sustained by works. Faith without works is dead, being alone. Those who profess great faith, yet have not works, will not be saved by their faith. Satan believes the truth and trembles, yet this kind of faith possesses no virtue. Many who have made a high profession of faith are deficient in good works. If they should show their faith by their works they could exert a powerful influence on
the side of truth. But they do not improve upon the talents of means lent them of God. Those who think to ease their consciences by willing their property to their children, or by withholding from God's cause and suffering it to pass into the hands of unbelieving, reckless children for them to squander or hoard up and worship, will have to render an account to God; they are unfaithful stewards of their Lord's money. They allow Satan to outgeneral them through these children, whose minds are under his control. Satan's purposes are accomplished in many ways, while the stewards of God seem stupefied and paralyzed; they do not realize their great responsibility and the reckoning which must shortly come.
Those who have property and whose minds are darkened by the god of this world seem to be controlled by Satan in the disposal of it. If they have true, believing children, and also children whose affections are wholly upon the things of the world, in making a transfer of their means to their children, they generally give a larger amount to those children who do not love God, and who are serving the enemy of all righteousness, than to those who are serving God.
They place in the hands of the unfaithful children the very things that will prove a snare to them and that will be obstacles in the way of their making a surrender to God. While they make large presents to the unbelieving children they make very stinted gifts to those who are of the same faith with themselves. This very fact should startle the men of means who have pursued this course. They should see that the deceitfulness of riches has perverted their judgment. If they could see the influence operating upon their minds they would understand that Satan had these matters very much according to his own purposes and plans. Instead of God's controlling the mind and sanctifying the judgment, it is controlled by exactly the opposite power. The ones who have been with them in the
faith they sometimes even neglect, and are frequently very close and exacting in all their deal with them; while they have an open hand to the unbelieving, world-loving children, who they know will not use the means they have placed in their hands, to advance the cause of God. The Lord requires that those to whom He has lent talents of means make a right use of them, having the advancement of His cause prominent. Every other consideration should be inferior to this.
The talents of means, be they five, two, or one, are to be improved. Those who have a large amount of means are responsible for a large number of talents. But the comparatively poor men are not released from responsibility. Those who have but little of this world are represented as having one talent. Yet they are in just as great danger of having too great love for that little, and of selfishly retaining it from the cause of God, as are the more wealthy. They do not sense their danger. They apply the stirring reproofs addressed in the word of God to the lovers of this world, to the rich alone, while they themselves may be in even greater danger than the more wealthy. Whether they have much or little, all are required to put their talents out to the exchangers, that when the Master comes He may receive His own with usury. They are also required to maintain a consecration to God and an unselfish interest in His cause and work. Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, they are to believe His promise that all things shall be added. In comparison with every other consideration the salvation of the souls of their fellow men should be primary, but this is not generally the case. If there is a neglect anywhere, it is the cause of God that must suffer. God has lent men talents, not to foster their pride, or to excite in them envy, but to be used by them to His glory. He has made these men agents to disperse the means with which to carry forward the work of the salvation of men. Christ has given them an
example in His life. He left all His heavenly riches and splendor, and for our sakes became poor, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich. It is not the plan of God to rain down means from heaven in order that His cause may be sustained. He has entrusted, or deposited, ample means with men, that there shall be no lack in any department of His work. He proves those who profess to love Him by placing means in their hands, and then tries them to see if they love the gift better than the Giver. God will reveal, in time, the true feelings of the heart.
In order to advance the cause of God, means are necessary. God has provided for this necessity by placing an abundance in the hands of His agents to use in any department of the work where it may be required in the labor of saving souls. Every soul saved is a talent gained. If truly converted, the one brought to a knowledge of the truth will, in his turn, use the talents of influence and of means which God has given him, in working for the salvation of his fellow men. He will engage with earnestness in the great work of enlightening those who are in darkness and error. He will be instrumental in saving souls. Thus the talents of influence and means are continually exchanging and constantly increasing. When the Master comes, the faithful servant is prepared to return Him both principal and interest. By his fruits he can show the increase of talents that he has gained to return to the Master. The faithful servant will then have done his work, and the Master, whose reward is with Him to give every man according as his work shall be, will return to that faithful servant both principal and interest.
In His word the Lord has plainly revealed His will to those who have riches. But because His direct commands have been slighted, He mercifully presents their dangers before them through the Testimonies . He does not give new light, but
calls their attention to the light that has already been revealed in His word. If those who profess to love the truth are holding on to their riches and, failing to obey the word of God, do not seek opportunities to do good with that which He has entrusted to them, He will come closer and will scatter their means. He will come near to them with judgments. He will in various ways scatter their idols. Many losses will be sustained. The souls of the selfish shall be unblest. But "the liberal soul shall be made fat." Those who honor God, He will honor.
The Lord made a covenant with Israel that, if they would obey His commandments, He would give them rain in due season, the land should yield her increase, and the trees of the field should yield their fruit. He promised that their threshing should reach unto the vintage and the vintage unto the sowingtime, and that they should eat their bread to the full and dwell in their land safely. He would make their enemies to perish. He would not abhor them, but would walk with them and would be their God, and they should be His people. But if they disregarded His requirements, He would deal with them entirely contrary to all this. His curse should rest upon them in place of His blessing. He would break their pride of power and would make the heavens over them as iron and the earth as brass. "Your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. And if ye walk contrary unto Me," "then will I also walk contrary unto you."
Those who are selfishly withholding their means need not be surprised if God's hand scatters. That which should have been devoted to the advancement of the work and cause of God, but which has been withheld, may be entrusted to a reckless son, and he may squander it. A fine horse, the pride of a vain heart, may be found dead in the stable. Occasionally a cow may die. Losses of fruit or other crops may come. God
can scatter the means He has lent to His stewards, if they refuse to use it to His glory. Some, I saw, may have none of these losses to remind them of their remissness in duty, but their cases may be the more hopeless.
Jesus warned the people: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." He then addressed His disciples: "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment."
These warnings are given for the benefit of all. Will they improve the warnings given? Will they be benefited? Will they regard these striking illustrations of our Saviour and shun the example of the foolish rich man? He had an abundance; so have many who profess to believe the truth, and they are acting over the case of the poor, foolish rich man. Oh, that they would be wise and feel the obligations resting upon them to use the blessings that God has given them in blessing others, instead of turning them into a curse. God will say to all such, as to the foolish rich man: "Thou fool."
Men act as though they were bereft of their reason. They are buried up in the cares of this life. They have no time to
devote to God, no time to serve Him. Work, work, work, is the order of the day. All about them are required to labor upon the high-pressure plan, to take care of large farms. To tear down and build greater is their ambition, that they may have wherewith to bestow their goods. Yet these very men who are weighed down with their riches pass for Christ's followers. They have the name of believing that Christ is soon to come, that the end of all things is at hand; yet they have no spirit of sacrifice. They are plunging deeper and deeper into the world. They allow themselves but little time to study the word of life and to meditate and pray. Neither do they give others in their family, or those who serve them, this privilege. Yet these men profess to believe that this world is not their home, that they are merely pilgrims and strangers upon the earth, preparing to move to a better country. The example and influence of all such is a curse to the cause of God. Hollow hypocrisy characterizes their professed Christian lives. They love God and the truth just as much as their works show, and no more. A man will act out all the faith he has. "By their fruits ye shall know them." The heart is where the treasure is. Their treasure is upon this earth, and their hearts and interests are also here.
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." When those who profess the faith show their lives to be consistent with their faith, then we shall see a power attending the presentation of the truth, a power that will convict the sinner and draw souls nigh to Christ.
A consistent faith is rare among rich men. Genuine faith, sustained by works, is seldom found. But all who possess this faith will be men who will not lack influence. They will copy after Christ; they will possess that disinterested benevolence,
that interest in the work of saving souls, that He had. The followers of Christ should value souls as He valued them. Their sympathies should be with the work of their dear Redeemer, and they should labor to save the purchase of His blood, at any sacrifice. What are money, houses, and lands in comparison with even one soul?
Christ made a full and complete sacrifice, a sacrifice sufficient to save every son and daughter of Adam who should show repentance toward God for having transgressed His law, and manifest faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet notwithstanding the sacrifice was ample, but few consent to a life of obedience that they may have this great salvation. Few are willing to imitate His amazing privations, to endure His sufferings and persecutions, and to share His exhausting labor to bring others to the light. But few will follow His example in earnest, frequent prayer to God for strength to endure the trials of this life and perform its daily duties. Christ is the Captain of our salvation, and by His own sufferings and sacrifice He has given an example to all His followers that watchfulness and prayer, and persevering effort, were necessary on their part if they would rightly represent the love which dwelt in His bosom for the fallen race.
Men of property are dying spiritually because of their neglect to use the means God has placed in their hands to aid in saving their fellow men. Some become aroused at times and resolve that they will make to themselves friends with the unrighteous mammon, that they may finally be received into everlasting habitations. But their efforts in this direction are not thorough. They commence, but, not being heartily and thoroughly in earnest in the work, they make a failure. They are not rich in good works. While lingeringly retaining their love and grasp of their earthly treasures, Satan outgenerals them.
A flattering prospect may be presented to invest in patent rights or some other supposed brilliant enterprise around which Satan throws a bewitching enchantment. The prospect of getting more money, fast and easily, allures them. They reason that, although they had resolved to put this money into the treasury of God, they will use it in this instance, and will greatly increase it, and will then give a larger sum to the cause. They can see no possibility of a failure. Away goes the means out of their hands, and they soon learn, to their regret, that they have made a mistake. The brilliant prospects have faded. Their expectations are not realized. They were deceived. Satan outgeneraled them. He was more shrewd than they, and he managed to get their means into his ranks and thus deprive the cause of God of that which should have been used to sustain it in extending the truth and saving souls for whom Christ died. They lost all they had invested, and robbed God of that which they should have rendered to Him.
Some who have been entrusted with only one talent excuse themselves because they have not as large a number of talents as those to whom are entrusted many talents. Like the unfaithful steward they hide the one talent in the earth. They are afraid to render to God that which He has entrusted to them. They engage in worldly enterprises, but invest little, if anything, in the cause of God. They expect that those who have large talents will bear the burden of the work, while they feel that they are not responsible for its advancement and success.
When the master comes to reckon with his servants, the unwise servants will acknowledge with confusion: "I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed; and I was afraid [Afraid of what? That the lord would claim some portion of the small talent entrusted to them], and went
and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine." His lord will answer: "Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming, I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Many who have but little of this world are represented by the man with one talent. They are afraid to trust God. They are afraid that He will require something which they claim to be their own. They hide their talent in the earth, fearing to invest it anywhere, lest they will be called to give back the improvements to God. Instead of putting the talent out to the exchangers, as God required, they bury it, or hide it, where neither God nor man can be benefited by it. Many who profess to love the truth are doing this very work. They are deceiving their own souls, for Satan has blinded their eyes. In robbing God, they have robbed themselves more. Because of covetousness and an evil heart of unbelief, they have deprived themselves of the heavenly treasure. Because they have but one talent, they are afraid to trust it with God, and so hide it in the earth. They feel relieved of responsibility. They love to see the truth progress, but do not think that they are called upon to practice self-denial and aid the work by their own individual effort and by their means, although they have not a large amount.
All should do something. The case of the widow who cast in her two mites is placed upon record for the benefit of others. Christ commended her for the sacrifice she made and called
the attention of His disciples to the act: "Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Christ esteemed her gift more valuable than the large offerings of the most wealthy. They gave of their abundance. They would not feel the least privation because of their offerings. But the widow had deprived herself of even the necessaries of life to make her little offering. She could not see how her future wants were to be supplied. She had no husband to support her in want. She trusted God for the morrow. The value of the gift is not estimated so much by the amount that is given as by the proportion and by the motive which prompts the gift. When Christ shall come, whose reward is with Him, He will give every man according as his work shall be.
All, both high and low, rich and poor, have been entrusted by the Master with talents; some more, some less, according to their several ability. The blessing of God will rest upon the earnest, loving, diligent workers. Their investment will be successful and will secure souls to the kingdom of God and an immortal treasure to themselves. All are moral agents, and all are entrusted with the goods of heaven. The talents are proportioned according to the capabilities possessed by each.
God gives to every man his work, and He expects returns according to the various trusts bestowed. He does not require the increase of ten talents from the man to whom He has given only one talent. He does not expect the man of poverty to give alms as the man who has riches. He does not expect of the feeble and suffering the activity and strength which the healthy man has. The one talent, used to the best account, God will accept, "according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
God calls us servants, which implies that we are employed by Him to do a certain work and bear certain responsibilities. He has lent us capital for investment. It is not our property, and we displease God if we hoard up our Lord's goods or spend them as we please. We are responsible for the use or abuse of that which God has thus lent us. If this capital which the Lord has placed in our hands lies dormant, or we bury it in the earth, even if it is only one talent, we shall be called to an account by the Master. He requires, not ours, but His own with usury.
Every talent which returns to the Master will be scrutinized. The doings and trusts of God's servants will not be considered an unimportant matter. Every individual will be dealt with personally and will be required to give an account of the talents entrusted to him, whether he has improved or abused them. The reward bestowed will be proportionate to the improvement of the talents. The punishment awarded will be according as the talents have been abused.
The inquiry of each one should be: What have I of my Lord's, and how shall I use it to His glory? "Occupy," says Christ, "till I come." The heavenly Master is on His journey. Our gracious opportunity is now. The talents are in our hands. Shall we use them to God's glory, or shall we abuse them? We may trade with them today, but tomorrow our probation may end and our account be forever fixed.
If our talents are invested for the salvation of our fellow men, God will be glorified. Pride and position are made apologies for extravagance, vain show, ambition, and profligate selfishness. The Lord's talents, lent to man as a precious blessing, will, if abused, reflect upon him a terrible curse. Riches may be used by us to advance the cause of God and to relieve the wants of the widow and the fatherless. In so doing, we gather to ourselves rich blessings. Not only shall we receive expressions of gratitude from the recipients of our
bounties, but the Lord Himself, who has placed the means in our hands for this very purpose, will make our souls like a watered garden whose waters fail not. When the reaping time shall come, who of us will have the inexpressible joy of seeing the sheaves we have gathered, as a recompense of our fidelity and our unselfish use of the talents the Lord has placed in our hands to use for His glory?
With many in Vermont there has been a decided failure to come up to the requirements of God. Some have fallen into a cold and lifeless condition spiritually because they are unfaithful servants. The love of the world has so filled their hearts that they have lost their relish for heavenly things and have become dwarfs in spiritual attainments. The state has been deprived of the right kind of labor. Bordoville has been the center of attraction. All the large gatherings have been held in one locality, which has been like putting light under a bushel; its rays have not benefited the people of the state at large. Many are still in darkness who might now be rejoicing in the knowledge of the truth. The talents and special efforts have been drawn to one locality. This is not as the Lord would have it. He designs that the warning, testing message should be given to the world, and that His people, who are the light of the world, should be scattered as witnesses amid the moral darkness of the world; that their lives, their testimony, and their example may be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death.
The Brethren D will need to be guarded, that they do not thwart the purposes of God by plans of their own. They are in danger of narrowing down the work of God, which is deep and extended.
Brother D will be in danger of taking too narrow views of the work. God has given him an experience which will be of value if he makes the right use of it. But there is danger that his peculiarities will shape that experience and that other
minds will become affected. Brother D's usefulness as a laborer is not what it otherwise would be if he were not so prone to concentrate the strength of his mind upon one idea. He dwells upon incidents and upon thoughts that he has had, and repeats them at length, when they are unimportant to others.
His mind was aroused in reference to the subject of his health. He concentrated the strength of his mind on this point. He and his symptoms were the principal subjects of conversation. He was particular to go through with the course he had established in his mind; and, when seeking his own accommodation, he failed to consider how inconvenient he made it for others. His mind has been, to a great extent, shut up to his own case. This was the burden of his thoughts and the theme of his conversation. In this precise, systematic course he has failed to receive the benefit, in point of health, that he might have realized if he had been more forgetful of himself and, from day to day, engaged in physical exercise, which would have diverted his mind from himself.
The same deficiencies have marked his labor in the gospel field. In speaking to the people, he has many apologies to make and many preliminaries to repeat, and the congregation become wearied before he reaches his real subject. As far as possible, ministers should avoid apologies and preliminaries.
Brother D is too specific. He dwells upon minutiae. He takes time to explain points which are really unimportant and would be taken for granted without producing proof, for they are self-evident. But the real, vital points should be made as forcible as language and proof can make them. They should stand forth as prominent as mileposts. He should avoid many words over little particulars, which will weary the hearer before the important points are reached.
Brother D has large concentrativeness. When he gets his mind in a certain direction, it is difficult for him to place it
anywhere else; he lingers tediously upon one point. In conversation he is in danger of wearying the listener. His writings lack a free, easy style. The habit of concentrating the mind upon one thing, to the exclusion of other things, is a misfortune. This should be understood by him, and he should labor to restrain and control this power of the mind, which is too active. Too great activity of one organ of the mind strengthens that organ to the enfeebling of other organs. If Brother D would make a successful laborer in the gospel field, he should educate his mind. The large development of this organ impairs his health and his usefulness. There is a lack of harmony in the organization of his mind, and his body suffers in consequence.
It would be greatly for the interest of Brother D to cultivate simplicity and ease in his writings. He needs to avoid dwelling at length upon any point that is not of vital importance; and even the most essential, manifest truths, those which are of themselves clear and plain, may be so covered up with words as to be made cloudy and indistinct.
Brother D may be sound upon all points of present truth and yet not be qualified in every respect to give the reasons of our hope to the French people in writing. He can aid in this work. But the matter should be prepared by more than one or two minds, that it may not bear the stamp of any one's peculiarities. The truth which was reached and prepared by several minds, and which in God's time was brought out link after link in a connected chain by the earnest searchers after truth, should be given to the people, and it will be adapted to meet the wants of many. Brevity should be studied in order to interest the reader. Long, wordy articles are an injury to the truth which the writer aims to present.
Brother D should have his mind less occupied with himself and talk less of himself. He should keep himself out of sight and, in conversation, avoid making reference to himself
and making his peculiarities of life a pattern for others to imitate. He should encourage genuine humility. He is in danger of thinking his life and experience superior to that of others.
Brother D can be of value to the cause of God if there is a harmony in the character of his labors. If he can see and correct the imperfections of his peculiar organization, which have a tendency to injure his usefulness, God can use him to acceptance. He should avoid lengthy preaching and long prayers. These are no benefit to himself or to others. Long and violent exercise of the vocal organs has irritated his throat and lungs, and injured his general health, more than his precise round of rules for eating and resting have benefited him. One overexertion or strain of the vocal organs may not soon be recovered from, and may cost the life of the speaker. A calm, unhurried, yet earnest, manner of speaking will have a better influence upon a congregation than to let the feelings become excited and control the voice and manners. As far as possible the speaker should preserve the natural tones of the voice. It is the truth presented that affects the heart. If the speaker makes these truths a reality, he will, with the aid of the Spirit of God, be able to impress the hearers with the fact that he is in earnest, without straining the fine organs of the throat or the lungs.
Brother D is deeply interested in his domestic life; yet there is danger, in conversation, of his cultivating the habit of concentrating his whole mind upon the things which especially interest him, but which cannot interest or profit others. He tries to maintain a system which, in itself, is correct; but here again it will be seen that those things which are useful of themselves may become wearisome and burdensome by dwelling too much upon them, and by seeking to carry them out under all circumstances. There is danger of neglecting the weightier matters.
The Brethren D should avoid being tedious in their labor. Their influence has been good in the man. Brother D is naturally a good manager in temporal things. His instruction and example in this direction have helped those who were humble enough to be advised. But the jealousy, distrust, rebellion, complaining, and murmuring which have existed in the church have been disheartening. These brethren should guard against being too exacting.
In order to perfect Christian character, we should not cultivate merely a life of quiet, prayerful abstraction, nor a life of all outward zeal and busy excitement, while personal piety is neglected. But the present time requires us to be waiting for the coming of the Lord and vigilantly working for the salvation of our fellow men. "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." God will not accept the most exalted services unless they are first consecrated by the surrender of the soul to Him and His love. With a certain class of minds there is danger of systematizing away the Spirit of God and the vitality of the religion of Christ, and preserving an exact round of wearisome duties and ceremonies.
We are living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, and our nice and exact plans cannot always be carried out to the advantage of all. If we stand back upon our dignity we shall fail to help those who need help the most. The servants of Christ should accommodate themselves to the varied conditions of the people. They cannot carry out exact rules if they meet the cases of all. Labor will have to be varied to meet the people where they are. "Of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
The apostle counsels his Corinthian brethren: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the
glory of God. Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." 1 Corinthians 10:31-33. "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more." 1 Corinthians 9:19. "To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." Verse 22. "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me." Romans 15:1-3.
Brother and Sister L of Canada have been gradually losing their hold on God and their love for heavenly and divine things as they have been more earnestly grasping for worldly treasures. They have been relaxing their hold on heaven and fastening it more firmly on this world. A few years ago they loved to have an interest in the advancement of the truth and work of God. More recently their love for gain has increased, and they have not felt interested to do their part to save their fellow men. Self-denial and benevolence for Christ's sake have not characterized their lives. They have done but little for the cause of God. What have they been doing with their talents? They have been burying them in the earth, investing them in lands. They have not been putting them out to the exchangers, that when the Master comes, He may receive His own with usury.
They have a work to do to set their hearts and house in order, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Their hearts have been upon the things of this life, and eternal considerations have been made secondary. They should work earnestly to get the love of the world out of their hearts and
should place their affections upon things above, not upon things on the earth. If God's servants would bear in mind that their work is to do all in their power, with their influence and their means, to save souls for whom Christ died, there would be more unselfish effort, and unbelievers would be stirred; they would be convinced that there is a reality in the truth thus presented and thus backed up by example.
Brother and Sister L should have confidence in the work for these last days and should be perfecting Christian character, that they may receive the eternal reward when Jesus comes. Brother L is failing in physical and mental vigor. He is becoming incapable of bearing much responsibility. He should counsel with his brethren who are discreet and faithful.
Brother L is a steward of God. He has been entrusted with means and should be awake to his duty and render to God the things that are God's. He should not fail to understand the claims that God has upon him. While he lives, and has his reasoning powers, he should improve the opportunity of appropriating the property that God has entrusted to him, instead of leaving it for others to use and appropriate after the close of his life.
Satan is ever ready to take advantage of the weaknesses and infirmities of men to suit his own purposes. He is a wily adversary, and has outgeneraled many whose purposes were good to benefit the cause of God with their means. Some have neglected the work that God has given them to do in appropriating their means. And while they are negligent in securing to the cause of God the means that He has lent them, Satan comes in and turns that means into his own ranks.
Brother L should move more cautiously. Men who are not of our faith obtain means of him upon various pretenses. He trusts them, believing them to be honest. It will be impossible for him to get back all the means he has let slip out of his hands into the enemy's ranks. He could make a safe investment
of his means by aiding the cause of God and thus laying up for himself treasures in heaven. Frequently he is unable to help when he would because he is crippled and cannot command the means to do so. When the Lord calls for his means, it is frequently in the hands of those to whom he has lent it, some of whom never design to pay, and others feel no anxiety in the matter. Satan will accomplish his purpose as thoroughly through dishonest borrowers as in any other way. All that the adversary of truth and righteousness is working for is to prevent the advancement of our Redeemer's kingdom. He works through agents to carry out his purposes. If he can prevent means from going into the treasury of God he is successful in one branch of his work. That means which should have been used to aid in the great plan of saving souls he has retained in his ranks to aid him in his work.
Brother L should have his business all straight and not left at loose ends. It is his privilege to be rich in good works, and to lay up for himself a good foundation against the time to come, that he may lay hold on eternal life. It is not safe for him to follow his failing judgment. He should counsel with experienced brethren, and seek wisdom of God, that he may do up his work well. He should now be really in earnest, providing himself "bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not."
Brother M has made a mistake in his domestic life. He has not, in words, expressed that affection for his wife that it was his duty to express. He has failed to cultivate true Christian courtesy and politeness. He has failed to be at all times as kind and considerate of her wishes and comfort as was his duty. Her not uniting in faith with him has led to much unhappiness for both. Brother M has not respected his wife's judgment and counsel as he should. In many respects her judgment and discernment are better than his. If consulted, she
could, by her clearer perception and keener discernment, help him essentially in his business matters, in dealing with his neighbors. He should not stand back upon his dignity, feeling that he understands it all himself. If he would be advised by his wife, and by his kindly actions would show a regard for her, and a desire to please her, he would be doing nothing less than his duty. If her advice conflicts with his duty to God and His claims upon him, then he can choose to differ, and in the most quiet manner possible give as his reason that he cannot sacrifice his faith or his principles. It would be for Brother M's interest in temporal matters to have his wife's judgment and counsel.
While he is harsh, rough, and unaccommodating, he can have no influence to win his wife to the truth. He should reform. He needs to become softened, to be tender, gentle, and loving. He should let the sunshine of cheerfulness and happy contentment into his heart, and then let its beams shine into his family. He has brought into his family those whose influence would prove a curse to his wife rather than a blessing. In so doing, he has brought burdens upon her that might have been avoided. She should be consulted, and her wishes regarded, as far as possible without compromising his faith.
Brother M has chosen his own way, and has had a set will, savoring of stubbornness. He has frequently been unyielding. This should not be. He professes to believe a truth which has a sanctifying, softening, refining influence; his wife does not. He should show that the truth is exerting a power over his perverse nature, that it makes him patient, kind, forbearing, tender, affectionate, forgiving. The best way for Brother M to be a living missionary in his family is for him to exemplify in his life the life of our dear Redeemer.