Dear Brother and Sister A: For some months I have felt that it was time to write to you some things which the Lord was pleased to show me in regard to you several years ago. Your cases were shown me in connection with those of others who had a work to do for themselves in order to be fitted for the work of presenting the truth. I was shown that you were both deficient in essential qualifications and that if these are not obtained your usefulness and the salvation of your own souls will be endangered. You have some faults in your characters which it is very important that you should correct. If you neglect to take hold of the work resolutely and in earnest, these wrongs will increase upon you and will greatly cripple your influence in the cause and work of God, and will finally result in your being separated from the work of preaching the truth, which you love so well.
In the vision given me for B, I was shown that he had a very unfortunate stamp of character. He had not been disciplined, and his temper had not been subdued. He had been
permitted to have his own head and to do very much as he pleased. He was greatly deficient in reverence for God and man. He had a strong, unsubmissive spirit and but a very faint idea of proper gratitude to those who were doing their utmost for him. He was extremely selfish.
I was shown that independence, a firm, set, unyielding will, a lack of reverence and due respect for others, selfishness and too great self-confidence, mark the character of Sister A. If she does not watch closely and overcome these defects in her character she will surely fail of sitting with Christ in His throne.
In regard to Brother A, I was shown that many of the things mentioned in the testimony to B applied to you. I was pointed back to your past life. I saw that from a child you have been self-confident, headstrong, and self-willed, and have followed your own mind. You have an independent spirit, and it has been very difficult for you to yield to anyone. When it was your duty to yield your way and your wishes to others, you would carry matters out in your own rash way. You have felt that you were fully competent to think and act for yourself independently. The truth of God has been accepted and loved by you and has done much for you, but it has not wrought all that transformation necessary for the perfection of Christian character. When you first started out to labor in the cause of God you felt more humble and were willing to be advised and counseled. But as you began to be successful in a degree, your self-confidence increased, and you were less humble and became more independent.
As you looked at the work of Brother and Sister White you thought that you could see where you could have done better than they. Feelings have been cherished in your heart against them. You were naturally skeptical, infidel, in your feelings. As you have seen their work, and heard the reproofs given to those who were wrong, you have questioned how you would bear such plain testimony. You decided that you could not receive it, and began to brace yourself against the manner of their laboring, and thus opened a door in your heart
for suspicion, doubt, and jealousy of them and their work.
You became prejudiced in your feelings against their labor. You watched, and listened, and gathered up all you could, and surmised much. Because God had given you a measure of success, you began to place your short experience and labors upon a level with Brother White's labors. You flattered yourself that, were you in his place, you could do very much better than he. You began to grow large in your own eyes. You thought your knowledge far more extensive and valuable than it was. Had you had one-hundredth part of the experience in real labor, care, perplexity, and burden bearing in this cause that Brother White has had, you would be better able to understand his work and be better prepared to sympathize with him in his labors, rather than to murmur and be suspicious and jealous of him.
In regard to your own post of labor you should be very jealous of yourself lest you fail to do your work to God's acceptance, and lest you fail to honor the cause of truth in your labors. You should, in humiliation of soul, feel: "Who is sufficient for these things?" The reason why both of you are so ready to question and surmise in regard to Brother White's work is because you know so little about it. So few real burdens have ever pressed upon your souls, so little real anguish for the cause of God has touched your hearts, so little perplexity and real distress have you borne for others, that you are no more prepared to appreciate his work than is a ten-year-old boy the care, anxiety, and wearisome toil of his burdened father. The boy may pass along joyous in spirit because he has not the experience of the burdened, careworn father. He may wonder at the fears and anxieties of the father, which look needless to him; but when years of experience shall be added to his life, when he takes hold of and bears its real burdens, then he may look back to his father's life and understand that which was mysterious to him in his boyhood; for bitter experience has given him knowledge.
I was shown that you are in danger of getting above the
simplicity of the work and of placing yourself upon the pinnacle. You feel that you need no reproof and counsel, and the language of your heart is: "I am capable of judging, discriminating, and determining between right and wrong. I will not have my rights infringed upon. No one shall dictate to me. I am capable of forming my own plans of action. I am as good as anybody. God is with me and gives me success in my efforts. Who has authority to interfere with me?" These words I heard you utter, as your case was passing before me in vision, not to any person, but as if in conversation with yourself. My attending angel repeated these words, as he pointed to you both: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
I saw that the strength of the children of God is in their humility. When they are little in their own eyes, Jesus will be to them their strength and their righteousness, and God will prosper their labors. I was shown that God would prove Brother A. He would give him a measure of prosperity; and if he would bear the test, if he would turn the blessings of God to good account, not taking honor to himself and not becoming lifted up, selfish, and self-confident, the Lord would continue His blessings for the sake of His cause and for His own glory.
I saw, Brother A, that you were in the greatest danger of becoming lifted up, self-righteous, self-sufficient, and feeling that you are rich and in need of nothing. Unless you guard yourself upon these points, the Lord will allow you to go on until you make your weakness apparent to all. You will be brought into positions where you will be sorely tempted if others do not regard you in as exalted a light as you estimate yourself and your ability. I was shown that you were poorly prepared to bear much prosperity and a great amount of success. A thorough conversion alone will do the work necessary to be done in your case.
I have been shown that both of you are naturally selfish. You are in constant danger, unless guarded, of thinking and acting in reference to yourselves. You will lay your plans for your own accommodation, without taking into account how much you may inconvenience others. You are inclined to carry out your ideas and plans without regarding the plans and respecting the views or feelings of others. Both of you should cultivate reverence and respect for others.
Brother A, you have considered that your work was of too great importance for you to come down to engage in household duties. You have not a love for these requirements. You neglected them in your younger days. But these small duties which you neglect are essential to the formation of a well-developed character.
I have been shown that our ministers generally are deficient in making themselves useful in the families where they are entertained. Some devote their minds to study because they love this employment. They do not feel that it is a duty which God enjoins upon ministers to make themselves a blessing in the families which they visit, but many give their minds to books and shut themselves away from the family and do not converse with them upon the subjects of truth. The religious interests in the family are scarcely mentioned. This is all wrong. Ministers who have not the burden and care of the publishing interest upon them, and who have not the perplexities and numerous cares of all the churches, should not feel that their labor is excessively hard. They should feel the deepest interest in the families they visit; they should not feel that they are to be petted and waited upon while they give nothing in return. There is an obligation resting upon Christian families to entertain the ministers of Christ, and there is also a duty resting upon ministers who receive the hospitality of Christian friends to feel under mutual obligation to bear their own burdens as far as possible and not be a tax to their friends. Many ministers entertain the idea that they must be especially favored and waited upon, and they are frequently injured and their usefulness crippled by being treated as pets.
Brother and Sister A, while among your brethren you have too frequently made it a practice to make arrangements agreeable to yourselves and to take a course to gather attention to yourselves, without considering the convenience or inconvenience of others. You are in danger of making yourselves a center. You have received the attention and consideration of others when, for the good of your own souls as well as for the benefit of others, you should have devoted more attention to those you visited. Such a course would have given you far greater influence, and you would have been blessed in winning more souls to the truth.
Brother A, you have ability to present the truth to others. You have an investigative mind; but there are serious defects in your character, which I have mentioned and which must be overcome. You neglect many of the little courtesies of life because you think so much of yourself that you do not realize that these little attentions are required of you. God would not have you burden others while you neglect to see and do the things that someone must do. It does not detract from the dignity of a gospel minister to bring in wood and water when needed or to exercise by doing necessary work in the family where he is entertained. In not seeing these little important duties and improving the opportunity to do them, he deprives himself of real blessings and also deprives others of the good that it is their privilege to receive from him.
Some of our ministers do not have an amount of physical exercise proportionate to the taxation of the mind. As the result they are suffering from debility. There is no good reason why the health of ministers who have to perform only the ordinary duties devolving upon the minister should fail. Their minds are not constantly burdened with perplexing cares and heavy responsibilities in regard to the important institutions among us. I saw that there is no real reason why they should fail in this important period of the cause and work if they will pay due regard to the light that God has given them in regard to how to labor and how to exercise, and will give proper attention to their diet.
Some of our ministers eat very heartily and then do not exercise sufficiently to work off the waste matter which accumulates in the system. They will eat and then spend most of their time sitting down, reading, studying, or writing, when a share of their time should be devoted to systematic physical labor. Our preachers will certainly break down in health unless they are more careful not to overload the stomach by too great a quantity of even healthful food. I saw that you, Brother and Sister A, were both in danger on this point. Overeating prevents the free flow of thought and words, and that intensity of feeling which is so necessary in order to impress the truth upon the heart of the hearer. The indulgence of appetite beclouds and fetters the mind, and blunts the holy emotions of the soul. The mental and moral powers of some of our preachers are enfeebled by improper eating and lack of physical exercise. Those who crave great quantities of food should not indulge their appetite, but should practice self-denial and retain the blessings of active muscles and unoppressed brains. Overeating stupefies the entire being by diverting the energies from the other organs to do the work of the stomach.
The failure of our ministers to exercise all the organs of the body proportionately causes some organs to become worn, while others are weak from inaction. If wear is left to come almost exclusively upon one organ or set of muscles, the one most used must become overwearied and greatly weakened. Each faculty of the mind, and each muscle, has its distinctive office, and all are required to be equally exercised in order to become properly developed and to retain healthful vigor. Each organ has its work to do in the living organism. Every wheel in the machinery must be a living, active, working wheel. All the faculties have a bearing upon one another, and all need to be exercised in order to be properly developed.
Brother and Sister A, neither of you enjoy physical, domestic labor. Both of you need to cultivate a love for the practical duties of life. This education is necessary for your
health and will increase your usefulness. You think too much of what you eat. You should not touch those things which will give a poor quality of blood; both of you have scrofula.
Brother A, your love for reading and your dislike for physical taxation, while talking and exercising your throat, make you liable to disease of the throat and lungs. You should be guarded and should not speak hurriedly, rattling off what you have to say as though you had a lesson to repeat. You should not let the labor come upon the upper portion of the vocal organs, for this will constantly wear and irritate them, and will lay the foundation for disease. The action should come upon the abdominal muscles. The lungs and throat should be the channel, but should not do all the work.
I was shown that the manner in which you and your wife eat will bring disease, which, when once fastened upon you, will not be easily overcome. You may both bear up for years and not show any special signs of breaking, but cause will be followed by the sure results. God will not work a miracle for either of you to preserve your health and life. You must eat and study and work understandingly, following enlightened conscience. Our preachers should all be sincere, genuine health reformers, not merely adopting the reforms because others do, but from principle, in obedience to the word of God. God has given us great light upon the health reform, which He requires us all to respect. He does not send light to be rejected or disregarded by His people without their suffering the consequences.
Pioneers in the Cause
I was shown that neither of you really know yourselves. If God should let the enemy loose upon you, as He did upon His servant Job, He would not find in you that spirit of steadfast integrity that He found in Job, but a spirit of murmuring and of unbelief. Had you been situated at Battle Creek during my husband's illness, at the time of the trial of our brethren and
sisters there, when Satan had special power upon them, both of you would have drunk deep of their spirit of jealousy and faultfinding. You would have been among the number, as zealous as the rest, to make a diseased, careworn man, a paralytic, an offender for a word.
You are inclined to offset your deficiencies by magnifying and dwelling upon the wrongs you suppose exist in Brother and Sister White; and had you an opportunity, as those had in Battle Creek, you would venture to go to greater lengths than did some of them in their wicked crusade against us; for you have less faith and less reverence than some of them had, and would be less inclined to respect our work and our calling.
I was shown that, notwithstanding you have before you the sad experience and example of others who have become disaffected and have murmured and been faultfinding and jealous of us, you would fail to be warned by their example, and God would test your fidelity and reveal the secrets of your hearts. Your distrust, suspicions, and jealousies would be revealed, and your weaknesses exposed, that you might see them and understand yourselves, if you would.
I saw you listening to the conversation of men and women, and saw that you were only too pleased to gather up their views and impressions that were detrimental to our labors. Some found fault with one thing, and some with another, as did the murmurers among the children of Israel when Moses was their leader. Some were censuring our course, saying that we were not as conservative as we ought to be; we did not seek to please the people as we might; we talked too plainly; we reproved too sharply. Some were talking in regard to Sister White's dress, picking at straws. Others were expressing dissatisfaction with the course that Brother White pursued, and remarks were passing from one to another, questioning their course and finding fault. An angel stood before these persons, unseen by them, busily writing their words in the book which is to be opened to the view of God and angels.
Some are eagerly watching for something to condemn in
Brother and Sister White, who have grown gray in their service in the cause of God. Some express their views that the testimony of Sister White cannot be reliable. This is all that many unconsecrated ones want. The testimonies of reproof have checked their vanity and pride; but if they dared, they would go to almost any length in fashion and pride. God will give all such an opportunity to prove themselves and to develop their true characters.
Some years ago I saw that we would yet have to meet the same spirit which rose at Paris, Maine, and which has never been thoroughly cured. It has slumbered, but it is not dead. From time to time this spirit of determined murmuring and rebellion has cropped out in different individuals who have at some time been leavened with this wicked spirit which has followed us for years. Sister A, this spirit has been cherished by you to some extent, and has had an influence to mold your views and feelings. Sanctimonious infidelity has been gradually growing in the mind of C, and it is not now easy, even for her, to get rid of it. This same determined spirit which held D and others in Maine in a fanatical delusion so long, against every influence to lead them to the truth, has had a powerful, deceptive influence over E's mind in -----, and the same influence has affected you. You were of that calm, determined, unyielding temperament that the enemy could affect, and the same results, only in a greater degree, will attend your influence, if wrong, as attended that of Sister E.
Feelings of suspicion, jealousy, and unbelief have for years been gaining power upon your mind. You have a hatred for reproof. You are very sensitive, and your sympathies arise at once for anyone who is reproved. This is not a sanctified feeling, and is not prompted by the Spirit of God. Brother and Sister A, I was shown that when this spirit of faultfinding and murmuring should be developed in you, when it should be manifested and the leaven of dissatisfaction, jealousy, and unbelief which has cursed the life of E and her husband should appear, we would have a work to do to meet it decidedly and
give that spirit no quarter; and that, until this should be developed, I should keep silent, for there was a time to speak and a time to keep silent. I saw that, should apparent prosperity attend the labors of Brother A, unless he was a thoroughly converted man he would be in danger of losing his soul. He does not have becoming respect for the position and labors of others; he considers himself second to none.
I was shown that temptations will continually increase in regard to the labors of Brother and Sister White. Our work is a peculiar work, it is different in character from that of any others who labor in the field. God does not call ministers who have only to labor in word and doctrine to do our work, neither does He call us to do only their work. We each have, in some respects, a distinct work. God has been pleased to open to me the secrets of the inner life and the hidden sins of His people. The unpleasant duty has been laid upon me to reprove wrongs and to reveal hidden sins. When I have been compelled by the Spirit of God to reprove sins that others did not know existed, it has stirred up the natural feelings in the hearts of the unsanctified. While some have humbled their hearts before God, and with repentance and confession have forsaken their sins, others have felt a spirit of hatred rise in their hearts. Their pride has been hurt when their course has been reproved. They entertain the thought that it is Sister White who is hurting them, instead of feeling grateful to God that He has in mercy spoken to them through His humble instrument, to show them their dangers and their sins, that they may put them away before it shall be too late for wrongs to be righted.
Some are ready to inquire: Who told Sister White these things? They have even put the question to me: Did anyone tell you these things? I could answer them: Yes; yes, the angel of God has spoken to me. But what they mean is: Have the brethren and sisters been exposing their faults? For the future, I shall not belittle the testimonies that God has given me, to make explanations to try to satisfy such narrow minds,
but shall treat all such questions as an insult to the Spirit of God. God has seen fit to thrust me into positions in which He has not placed any other one in our ranks. He has laid upon me burdens of reproof that He has not given to any other one. My husband has stood by my side to sustain the testimonies and to give his voice in union with the testimony of reproof. He has been compelled to take a decided stand to press back the unbelief and rebellion which has been bold and defiant, and which would break down any testimony that I might bear, because the ones reproved were cut and felt deeply over the reproof given. This is exactly as God designed. He meant that they should feel. It was necessary that they should feel before their proud hearts would yield up their sins and they would cleanse their hearts and lives from all iniquity.
In every advance move that God has led us to make, in every step gained by God's people, there have been ready tools of Satan among us, to stand back and suggest doubts and unbelief, and to throw obstacles in our way, to weaken our faith and courage. We have had to stand like warriors, ready to press and fight our way through the opposition raised. This has made our work tenfold harder than it otherwise would have been. We have had to stand as firm and unyielding as a rock. This firmness has been interpreted to be hardheartedness and willfulness. God never designed that we should swerve, first to the right and then to the left, to gratify the minds of unconsecrated brethren. He designed that our course should be straightforward. One and another have come to us, professing to have a great burden for us to have us go this way or that, contrary to the light that God has given us. What if we had followed these false lights and fanatical impressions? Surely our people should not then put confidence in us. We have had to set our faces as flints for the right and then press on to work and duty.
Some among us have been ever ready to carry matters to extremes, to overreach the mark. They seem to be without an anchor. Such have greatly injured the cause of truth. There
are others who seem never to have a position where they can stand firmly and surely, ready to battle if need be when God calls for faithful soldiers to be found at the post of duty. There are those who will not make a charge upon the enemy when required of God to do so. They will do nothing until others have fought the battle and gained the victory for them, and then they are ready to share the spoils. How much can God count upon such soldiers? They are accounted as cowards in His cause.
This class, I saw, gained no experience for themselves in regard to warfare against sin and Satan. They were more inclined to fight against the faithful soldiers of Christ than against Satan and his host. Had they girded on the armor and pressed into the battle, they would have gained a valuable experience which it was their privilege to have. But they had no courage to contend for the right, to venture something in the warfare, and to learn how to attack Satan and take his strongholds. Some have no idea of running any risk or venturing anything themselves. But somebody must venture; someone must run risks in this cause. Those who will not venture and expose themselves to censure will stand all prepared to watch those who do bear responsibilities, and will be ready, if there is a semblance of chance, to find fault with them and injure them if they can. This has been the experience of Brother and Sister White in their labors. Satan and his host have been arrayed against them, but these were not all; when those who should have stood by them in the warfare have seen them overburdened and pressed beyond measure, they have stood prepared to join Satan in his work to discourage and weaken them, and, if possible, drive them from the field.
Brother and Sister A, I have been shown that as you have traveled you have been looked up to and highly esteemed, and treated with greater respect and deference than was for your good. It is not natural for you to treat with like respect those who have borne the burdens which God has laid upon them
in His cause and work. Both of you love your ease. You are not inclined to be turned out of your course or to inconvenience yourselves. You desire to have things bend to your convenience. You have large self-esteem and exalted opinions of your acquirements. You have not had the perplexing cares and burdens to bear, and the important decisions to make which involved the interests of God's cause, that have fallen to the lot of my husband. God has made him a counselor to His people, to advise and counsel such young men as yourself, as children in the truth. And when you take that humble position which a true sense of your real state will lead you to take, you will be willing to be counseled. It is because of the few responsibilities you have borne that you do not understand why Brother White should feel more deeply than you. There is just this difference between you and him in this matter. He has invested thirty of the best years of his life to the cause of God, while you have had but few years of experience and have had comparatively nothing of the hardships to meet that he has had.
After those who led out in this work have labored hard to prepare the truth and bring the work up ready to your hand, you embrace it and go out to labor, presenting the precious arguments which others, with inexpressible anxiety, have searched out for you. While you are amply provided for in point of means, your weekly wages sure, leaving you no reason for care or anxiety in this direction, these pioneers of the cause suffered deprivations of every kind. They had no assurance of anything. They were dependent upon God and upon the few truehearted ones who received their labors. While you have sympathizing brethren to sustain you and fully appreciate your labors, the first laborers in this work had but very few to stand by them. All could be counted in a few minutes. We knew what it was to go hungry for want of food and to suffer with cold for the want of suitable clothing. We have traveled all night by private conveyance to visit the brethren, because we had no means with which to defray the
expenses of hotel fare. We traveled miles on foot, time and again, because we had no money to hire a carriage. Oh, how precious was the truth to us! how valuable souls purchased by the blood of Christ!
We have no complaints to make of our sufferings in those days of close want and perplexity, which made the exercise of faith necessary. They were the happiest days of our lives. There we learned the simplicity of faith. There, while in affliction we tested and proved the Lord. He was our consolation. He was to us like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. It is unfortunate for you, my brother, and for our young ministers generally, that you and they have not had a similar experience in privation, in trial, and in need; for such an experience would be worth to you more than houses or lands, gold or silver.
When we refer to our past experience of excessive labor and want, and of laboring with our hands to support ourselves and to publish the truth at the very commencement of the work, some of our young preachers of but few years' experience in the work seem to be annoyed and charge us with boasting of our own works. The reason of this is that their own lives have been so free from wearing care, want, and self-sacrifice that they know not how to sympathize with us, and the contrast is not agreeable to their feelings. To have presented before them the experience of others which is in such wide contrast with their own course does not make their labors appear in so favorable a light as they would have them.
When we commenced this work we were both in feeble health. My husband was a dyspeptic; yet three times a day, in faith, we made our supplications to God for strength. My husband went into the hayfield with his scythe, and, in the strength that God gave him in answer to our earnest prayers, he there earned, by mowing, means with which to purchase us neat, plain clothing and to pay our fare to a distant state to present the truth to our brethren.
We have a right to refer to the past, as did the apostle Paul.
"And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia." In referring to our past experience, we are carrying out the exhortation of the apostle to the Hebrews: "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used."
Our lives are interwoven with the cause of God. We have no separate interest aside from this work. And when we see the advancement that the cause has made from a very small beginning, coming up slowly yet surely to strength and prosperity; as we see the success of the cause in which we have toiled, and suffered, and nearly sacrificed our lives, who shall prevent or forbid our boasting in God? Our experience in this cause is valuable to us. We have invested everything in it.
Moses was the meekest man that lived; yet, because of the murmurings of the children of Israel, he was repeatedly compelled to bring up their course of sin after leaving Egypt and to vindicate his course as their leader. Just before leaving Israel, when he was about to die, he rehearsed before them their course of rebellion and murmuring since they had left Egypt, and how his interest and love for them had led him to plead with God in their behalf. He related to them how he had earnestly entreated of the Lord to let him pass over Jordan into the Promised Land; "but the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me." Moses presented before them their sins, and said to them: "Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you." He related to them how many times he had pleaded with God and humbled his soul in anguish because of their sins.
It was the design of God that Moses should frequently remind Israel of their transgressions and rebellion, that they might humble their hearts before God in view of their sins. The Lord would not have them forget the errors and sins which had provoked His anger against them. The rehearsal of their transgressions, and of the mercies and goodness of God to them, which they had not appreciated, was not agreeable to their feelings. Nevertheless, God directed that this should be done.
I have been shown that young men like you, who have had but a few years of imperfect experience in the cause of present truth, are not the ones whom God will trust to bear weighty responsibilities and to lead out in this work. Such should manifest a delicacy in taking positions which will conflict with the judgment and opinions of those of mature experience, whose lives have been interwoven with the cause of God nearly as many years as you have lived and who have had an active part in this work from its small beginning. God will not select men of but little experience and considerable self-confidence to lead out in this sacred, important work. There is much at stake here. Men who have had but little experience in the sufferings, trials, opposition, and privations that have been endured to bring the work up to its present condition of prosperity should be very jealous of themselves.
Young men who now engage in the work of preaching the truth should cultivate modesty and humility. They should be careful how they become exalted, lest they be overthrown. They will be accountable for the clear light of truth which now shines upon them. I saw that God is displeased with the disposition that some have to murmur against those who have fought the heaviest battles for them and who endured so much in the commencement of the message, when the work went hard.
The experienced laborers, those who toiled under the weight and the oppressive burdens when there were but few to help bear them, God regards; and He has a jealous care for
those who have proved faithful. He is displeased with those who are ready to find fault with and reproach those servants of God who have grown gray in building up the cause of present truth. Your reproaches and your murmurings, young men, will surely stand against you in the day of God. As long as God has not laid heavy responsibilities upon you, do not get out of your place and rely upon your own independent judgment and assume responsibilities for which you are not fitted.
Dear brother and sister, you need to cultivate watchfulness and humility, and to be diligent in prayer. The more closely you live to God, the more clearly will you discern your weaknesses and your dangers. A practical view of the law of God, a clear discernment of the atonement of Christ, will give you a knowledge of yourselves and will show you wherein you fail to perfect Christian character. In short, you both need a daily experience in God's will concerning you. When you see your great spiritual lack you will realize the fact that human depravity, specified in the word of God, is true in your experience. You are both pharisaical, and are in danger of remaining voluntarily and fearfully in the dark in regard to your dangers and your true standing before God.
You both need to learn the duties which devolve upon you in the various circumstances and relations of life. You have neglected your duties to both God and man. Self-knowledge you need so much. The ignorance of your own hearts leads you to overlook the necessity of a daily, living experience in the divine life. In a degree you overlook the necessity of having a divine influence constantly with you. This is positively necessary in doing the work of God. If you neglect this, and pass on in self-confidence and self-sufficiency, you will be left to make very great blunders. You need constantly to cherish lowliness of mind and a spirit of dependence. He who feels his own weakness will look higher than himself and will feel the need of constant strength from above. The grace of God will lead him to exercise and cherish a spirit of constant gratitude. He who is best acquainted with his own weakness will
know that it is the matchless grace of God alone that will triumph over the rebellion of the heart.
You need to become acquainted with the weak as well as the strong points in your characters, that you may be constantly guarded lest you engage in enterprises, and assume responsibilities, for which God has never designed you. You should not compare your actions and measure your lives by any human standard, but with the rule of duty revealed in the Bible. You have a work to do for yourselves, Brother and Sister A, that you have not dreamed was necessary. For years you have been cherishing temptations and jealousies in regard to us and our work. This is not pleasing to God. You may think that you believe the testimonies that God has given, but unbelief in regard to their being of God is gaining ground with you.
Your labors, Brother A, would be more effectual in the conversion of souls to the truth if you dwelt upon the practical as well as the theoretical, having the living, practical elements in your own heart and carrying them out in your own life. You need to have a firmer hold from above. You are too dependent upon your surroundings. If you have a large congregation, you are elevated, and you desire to address them. But sometimes your congregations diminish, your spirits sink, and you have but little courage to labor. Surely something is wanting. Your hold is not firm enough upon God. Some of the most important truths in the teachings of Christ were preached by Him to one Samaritan woman who came to draw water as He, being weary, sat upon the well to rest. The fountain of living waters was within Him. The fountain of living waters must be in us, springing up to refresh those who are brought under our influence.
Christ sought for men wherever He could find them--in the public streets, in private houses, in the synagogues, by the seaside. He toiled all day, preaching to the multitude and healing the sick that were brought to Him; and frequently, after He had dismissed the people that they might return to their homes to rest and sleep, He spent the entire night in
prayer, to come forth and renew His labors in the morning. O brother and sister, you do not know anything in reality of self-denial and self-sacrifice for Christ and for the truth's sake. You must depend more fully upon God and less upon your own abilities. You need to hide in God.
You are inclined, Brother A, to be severe in reproof and to form your own conclusions in regard to individuals, especially if their course has crossed your track; and, according to your views of the case, you sometimes deal with them in an unsparing manner. You have not been a tenderhearted, pitiful, courteous man, as was your Exemplar. You need to soften your spirit, to be more courteous and kind, and to have greater disinterested benevolence. You need to bring your soul into closer communion with God by earnest prayer mixed with living faith. Every prayer offered in faith lifts the suppliant above discouraging doubts and human passions. Prayer gives strength to renew the conflict with the powers of darkness, to bear trials patiently, and to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ.
While you take counsel with your doubts and fears, or try to solve everything that you cannot see clearly before you have faith, your perplexities will only increase and deepen. If you come to God, feeling helpless and dependent, as you really are, and in humble, trusting prayer make your wants known to Him whose knowledge is infinite, who sees everything in creation and who governs everything by His will and word, He can and will attend to your cry, and will let light shine into your heart and all around you; for through sincere prayer your soul is brought into connection with the mind of the Infinite. You may have no remarkable evidence at the time that the face of your Redeemer is bending over you in compassion and love, but this is even so. You may not feel His visible touch, but His hand is upon you in love and pitying tenderness.
God loves both of you and wants to save you with an abundant salvation. But it must not be in your way, but in God's own appointed way. You must comply with the
conditions laid down in the Scriptures of truth, and God will as surely fulfill on His part as His throne is sure. Because the admonitions that God sends to His people are humiliating to human nature, you must not, my brother, rise up against these reproofs and warnings. You need to die daily, to experience a daily crucifixion to self.
According to the light that God has given me in vision, wickedness and deception are increasing among God's people who profess to keep His commandments. Spiritual discernment to see sin as it exists, and then to put it out of the camp, is decreasing among God's people; and spiritual blindness is fast coming upon them. The straight testimony must be revived, and it will separate those from Israel who have ever been at war with the means that God has ordained to keep corruptions out of the church. Wrongs must be called wrongs. Grievous sins must be called by their right name. All of God's people should come nearer to Him and wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. Then will they see sin in the true light and will realize how offensive it is in the sight of God.
It seemed a small matter to our first parents, when tempted, to transgress the command of God in one small act and eat of a tree that was beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the taste. To the transgressors this was but a small act, but it destroyed their allegiance to God and opened a flood of woe and guilt which has deluged the world. Who can know, in the moment of temptation, the terrible consequences which will result from one wrong, hasty step! Our only safety is to be shielded by the grace of God every moment, and not put out our own spiritual eyesight so that we will call evil, good, and good, evil. Without hesitation or argument, we must close and guard the avenues of the soul against evil.
It will cost us an effort to secure eternal life. It is only by long and persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict that we shall be overcomers. But if we patiently and determinedly, in the name of the Conqueror who overcame in our
behalf in the wilderness of temptation, overcome as He overcame, we shall have the eternal reward. Our efforts, our self-denial, our perseverance, must be proportionate to the infinite value of the object of which we are in pursuit.
You must not allow your sympathies for yourselves to shield you and others in wrong because you see nothing in outward appearances to condemn. God sees; He can read the motives and purposes of the soul. I entreat you in the name of our Master, who has called us and appointed us our work, to keep your hands off and leave us to do the work that God has laid upon us. Keep your words of sympathy and pity for those who really deserve them, those who are pressed by the Spirit of God to show His people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins. Error and sin in these last days are embraced more readily than truth and righteousness. The soldiers of the cross of Christ are now required to gird on the Christian armor and to press back the moral darkness that is flooding the world.
God will give both of you precious victories if you surrender yourselves wholly to Him and let His grace subdue your proud hearts. Your self-righteousness will avail nothing with God. Nothing should be done by fits and starts or in a spirit of rashness. Wrongs cannot be righted, nor reformations in character made, by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. Sanctification is not a work of a day or a year, but of a lifetime. Without continual efforts and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor's crown. We are doing up work for the judgment, and it is unsafe to work in our own wisdom and trust to our own judgment. With the spirit of self-confidence that you now possess, neither of you could be happy in heaven; for there all, even the exalted angels, are subordinate. You have yet to learn subordination and submission. Both of you must be transformed by the grace of God.
Sister A, I saw that you should be careful that you do not open a door of temptation to your husband that you cannot
close at will. It is easier to invite the enemy into your hearts than to dismiss him after he has the ground. Your pride is easily hurt, and you need to come closer to God, and seek with earnestness for grace, divine grace, to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. God will be your helper if you choose Him for your strength. Both of you should encourage greater devotion to God. The only way to watch humbly is to watch prayerfully. Do not for a moment think that you may sit down and enjoy yourselves, and study your own pleasure and convenience. The life of Christ is our example. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; He was wounded, He was bruised. You are too well satisfied with your position. You have need of constant watchfulness, lest Satan beguile you through his subtlety, corrupt your minds, and lead you into inconsistencies and gross darkness. Your watchfulness should be characterized by a spirit of humble dependence upon God. It should not be carried on with a proud, self-reliant spirit, but with a deep sense of your personal weakness and a childlike trust in the promises of God.
It is now an easy and pleasant task to preach the truth of the third angel's message, in comparison with what it was when the message first started, when the numbers were few and we were looked upon as fanatics. Those who bore the responsibility of the work in the rise and early progress of the message knew what conflict, distress, and soul anguish were. Night and day the burden was heavy upon them. They thought not of rest or convenience even when they were pressed with suffering and disease. The shortness of time called for activity, and the laborers were few.
Frequently, when brought into strait places, the entire night has been spent in earnest, agonizing prayer with tears for help from God and for light to shine upon His word. When the light has come and the clouds have been driven back, what joy and grateful happiness have rested upon the anxious, earnest seekers! Our gratitude to God was as complete as had been our earnest, hungering cry for light. Some
nights we could not sleep because our hearts were overflowing with love and gratitude to God.
Men who now go forth to preach the truth have things made ready to their hand. They cannot now experience such privations as the laborers in present truth have endured before them. The truth has been brought out, link after link, till it forms a clear, connected chain. To bring the truth out in such clearness and harmony has required careful research. Opposition, the most bitter and determined, drove the servants of God to the Lord and to their Bibles. Precious indeed to them was the light which came from God.
I have been shown that the reason why some cannot discern the right is because they have so long cherished the enemy, who has worked side by side with them while they have not discerned his power. It sometimes seems hard to wait patiently till God's time comes to vindicate the right. But I have been shown that if we become impatient we lose a rich reward. As faithful husbandmen in God's great field, we must sow with tears and be patient and hopeful. We must meet troubles and sorrows. Temptations and wearisome toil will afflict the soul, but we must patiently wait in faith to reap with joy. In the final victory God will have no use for those persons who are nowhere to be found in time of peril and danger, when the strength, courage, and influence of all are required to make a charge upon the enemy. Those who stand like faithful soldiers to battle against wrong, and to vindicate the right, warring against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, will each receive the commendation from the Master: "Well done, good and faithfulservant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
Never was there greater need of faithful warnings and reproofs, and close, straight dealing, than at this very time. Satan has come down with great power, knowing that his time is short. He is flooding the world with pleasing fables, and the people of God love to have smooth things spoken to
them. Sin and iniquity are not abhorred. I was shown that God's people must make more firm, determined efforts to press back the incoming darkness. The close work of the Spirit of God is needed now as never before. Stupidity must be shaken off. We must arouse from the lethargy that will prove our destruction unless we resist it. Satan has a powerful, controlling influence upon minds. Preachers and people are in danger of being found upon the side of the powers of darkness. There is no such thing now as a neutral position. We are all decidedly for the right or decidedly with the wrong. Said Christ: "He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad."
There are ever to be found those who will sympathize with those who are wrong. Satan had sympathizers in heaven, and took large numbers of the angels with him. God and Christ and heavenly angels were on one side, and Satan on the other. Notwithstanding the infinite power and majesty of God and Christ, angels became disaffected. The insinuations of Satan took effect, and they really came to believe that the Father and the Son were their enemies and that Satan was their benefactor. Satan has the same power and the same control over minds now, only it has increased a hundredfold by exercise and experience. Men and women today are deceived, blinded by his insinuations and devices, and know it not. By giving place to doubts and unbelief in regard to the work of God, and by cherishing feelings of distrust and cruel jealousies, they are preparing themselves for complete deception. They rise up with bitter feelings against the ones who dare to speak of their errors and reprove their sins.
Those who have in the fear of God ventured out to faithfully meet error and sin, calling sin by its right name, have discharged a disagreeable duty with much suffering of feelings to themselves; but they get the sympathy of but few and suffer the neglect of many. The sympathizers are on the wrong side, and they carry out the purposes of Satan to defeat the design of God.
Reproofs always hurt human nature. Many are the souls that have been destroyed by the unwise sympathy of their brethren; for, because the brethren sympathized with them, they thought they must indeed have been abused, and that the reprover was all wrong and had a bad spirit. The only hope for sinners in Zion is to fully see and confess their wrongs, and put them away. Those who step in to destroy the edge of sharp reproof that God sends, saying that the reprover was partly wrong and the reproved was not just right, please the enemy. Any way that Satan can devise to make the reproofs of none effect will accomplish his design. Some will lay blame upon the one whom God has sent with a message of warning, saying, He is too severe; and in so doing they become responsible for the soul of the sinner whom God desired to save, and to whom, because He loved him, He sent correction, that he might humble his soul before God and put his sins from him. These false sympathizers will have an account to settle with the Master by-and-by for their work of death.
There are many who profess to believe the truth who are blind to their own danger. They cherish iniquity in their hearts and practice it in their lives. Their friends cannot read their hearts, and frequently think that such are all right.
Black Hawk, Colorado, Aug. 12, 1873.