In my last vision I was shown the introduction of the truth, and the progress of the cause of God, upon the Pacific Coast. I saw that good work had been wrought for many in California, but that there were many who professed the truth who were not ready to take hold of the work of God at the right time and to move as the opening providence of God indicates their duty. A great work may be done on this coast in bringing souls to the knowledge of the truth if there is united action.
If all who have influence felt the necessity of co-operation and would seek to answer the prayer of Christ, that they may be one as He is one with the Father, the cause of present truth would be a power upon this coast. But the people of
God are asleep, and do not see the wants of the cause for this time. They do not feel the importance of concentrated action. Satan is ever seeking to divide the faith and hearts of God's people. He well knows that union is their strength, and division their weakness. It is important and essential that all of Christ's followers understand Satan's devices and with a united front meet his attacks and vanquish him. They need to make continual efforts to press together even if it be at some sacrifice to themselves.
The people of God, with various temperaments and organizations, are brought together in church capacity. The truth of God, received into the heart, will do its work of refining, elevating, and sanctifying the life and overcoming the peculiar views and prejudices of each. All should labor to come as near to one another as possible. All who love God and keep His commandments in truth will have influence with unbelievers and will win souls to Christ, to swell the glad songs of triumph and victory before the great white throne. Selfishness will be overcome, and overflowing love for Christ will be manifested in the burden they feel to save souls for whom He died.
I was shown many families who are not living as Jesus would have them; they have a work to do at home before they can make advancement in the divine life. I was shown the case of Brother B and was pointed back to the time when he first accepted the truth. It then had a transforming influence upon his life. Self was in a measure lost in the interest he felt for the truth. He sought to show his faith by his works, and his personal interests were made secondary. He loved the work of the Lord and cheerfully sought to advance the interest of His cause; the Lord accepted his efforts to serve Him, and the hand of the Lord prospered him.
I was shown that Brother B displeased God and brought great darkness upon himself when he set up his judgment in opposition to that of his brethren in regard to the true way to observe the Sabbath. Brother B's interest was at stake, and he refused to see the correct bearing of the question
under consideration. He never would have taken the course he did when he returned from the East, if he had been in the light. I was then carried to another point in his history and saw him journeying. While among unbelievers he did not let his light so shine before men that they by seeing his good works would glorify our Father which is in heaven. He was forgetful of God and of his duty to rightly represent his Saviour in every place and upon all occasions.
Brother B is especially weak upon some points; he loves praise and flattery; he loves pleasure and distinction. He exalted himself and talked much and prayed little, and God left him to his own weakness; for he did not bear fruit to the glory of God. On that journey he had an opportunity to do a great amount of good, but he did not realize that he was accountable to God for his talents and that as a steward of God he would be called to an account whether he had used his ability to please himself or to glorify God. If Brother B had felt the power of the love of Christ in his own heart, he would have felt an interest for the salvation of those with whom he was brought in contact, that he might speak to them words which would cause them to reflect in regard to their eternal interest.
He had an opportunity to sow the seed of truth, but he did not improve it as he should. He should have carried his religion with him while among his relatives. His holy profession and the truth of God should have blended with all his thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Christ commands His followers to walk in the light. Walking means moving onward, exerting ourselves, exercising our ability, being actively engaged. Unless we exercise ourselves in the good work to which our Saviour has called us, and feel the importance of personal effort in this work, we shall have a sickly, stunted religion. We gain new victories by our experience in working. We gain activity and strength by walking in the light, that we may have energy to run in the way of God's commandments. We may gain an increase of strength at every step we advance heavenward. God will bless His people only
when they try to be a blessing to others. Our graces are matured and developed by exercise.
I was shown that while Brother B was at Battle Creek he was weak in moral power. He had not been seeking to cling to God and preserve his soul in purity of thought and action, and he was left to follow his own mind and to receive impressions that were detrimental to his spiritual interest. He met those who perverted the truth and was led by them to believe things that were untrue; and as he had opened the door to the enemy and received him as an angel of light, he was readily overcome by temptation.
He became wickedly prejudiced and was suspicious of the very ones in whom God would have him have confidence. He saw things in a perverted light, and the meetings, which should have been to him a great source of strength, were an injury. This was as Satan would have it, that Brother B might lose confidence in the men whom God had appointed to lead out in this work. He became at variance with them and with the heart of the work. He was like a vessel at sea without an anchor or a rudder. If he could not have confidence in those at the head of the work he would have confidence in no one.
Brother B has but little reverence or respect for his brethren; he thinks that his judgment and his knowledge and abilities are superior to theirs; therefore he will not receive anything from them, nor trust to their judgment, nor seek to counsel with them, unless he can lead and teach them. He will act according to his own judgment, irrespective of his brethren's feelings, their griefs, or entreaties. When he separated his confidence from the heart of the work, Satan knew that, unless this confidence could be restored, he was sure of him. Brother B's eternal interest depends upon his accepting and respecting the helps and governments which God has been pleased to place in the church. If he follows a course of his own choosing he will eventually find out that he has been altogether upon a wrong track and that he has deceived himself to his ruin. He will take first one turn, then another, and yet after all miss the true and only path which leads to heaven.
There are thousands who are traveling the road of darkness and error, the broad road which leads to death, who flatter themselves that they are in the path to happiness and heaven; but they will never find the one nor reach the other. Brother B needs the helps that God has placed in the church, for he cannot constitute a church of himself, and yet his course shows that he would be satisfied to be a complete church, subject to none. Brother B long since lost his consecration to God; he did not guard the avenue of his soul against the suggestions of Satan. I saw that angels of God were writing his words and actions. He was going further and further from the light of heaven. When the grace of God does not especially control you, Brother B, you are a hard man to connect with. You have great self-confidence and firmness, which are felt in your family and in the church. You have but little reverence and respect for anyone. You do not possess the grace of humility.
Brother B returned to this coast in great darkness; he had lost his love for the truth and his love for God. His natural feelings controlled him, and he was proud. He loved himself, and he loved money better than he loved the truth and his Redeemer. I was shown that his course after he returned to the coast was a dishonor to the Christian name. I saw him joining hands with the gay lovers of pleasure. He grieved his brethren and wounded his Saviour and put Him to open shame before unbelievers. I saw that from this time he did not take pleasure in the service of God or in the advancement of the truth. He seemed to possess a zeal to search the Scriptures and different authors, not that he might become established upon important points of present truth which the providence of God had furnished him through men of His choice, but to find a new position and to advance new views in opposition to the established faith of the body. His researches were not made for the glory of God, but to promote self.
When Brother B once takes a position on the wrong side, it is not according to his nature to see his error and confess
his wrong, but to fight it out to the last, whatever may be the consequences. This spirit is ruinous to the church and ruinous in his family. He needs to soften his heart and let in tenderness, humility, and love. He needs benevolence and noble generosity. In short, he needs to be thoroughly converted, to be a new man in Christ Jesus. Then his influence in the church will be all right and he will be just the help they need. He will have the respect and love of his family and will command his household after him. Duty and love like twin sisters, will be his helps in the management of his children.
I saw that Sister B had much to grieve over in the course that her husband had pursued toward her; that her life had been very sad, when he was able to make it happy. She seemed to be dispirited and to keenly feel that she was neglected and unloved by her husband. In his absence she at times felt nearly distracted and became jealous and distrustful in regard to him. Satan was present with his temptations, and she looked upon some things in an exaggerated light. All this might have been saved had Brother B preserved his consecration to God. I was carried on still further and saw that he was walking in unbelief and darkness while he was flattering himself that he alone had the true light. The further he separated from God the less love did he have for his brethren and for the truth.
I was shown Brother B questioning one after another of the points of our faith which have brought us out from the world and made us a separate and distinct people, looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His unbelief and darkness have not moved the main pillars of our faith. The truth of God is not made of none effect by him. It remains the truth still, but he has had some influence upon the minds of his brethren. The reports of lying lips in regard to my husband and me, which he brought from the East, had an influence to create suspicions and doubts in the minds of others. Those unacquainted with us could not stand in our defense. The church in -----, I saw, might have numbered three times as
many as it now does, and might have had tenfold greater strength, had not Brother B played himself into the hands of the enemy. In his blind unbelief he has done all that he could to discourage and scatter the believers in the truth. In his blindness he has not realized that his course was grievous in the sight of God. The discouragement and darkness which he has caused have made the labors of Brother C doubly hard, for his influence has not only been felt by the church in -----, but by other churches.
Brother B has strengthened unbelief and an opposing influence which Brother C has had to meet. I saw that we would meet the same and that it would take time to eradicate the old root of bitterness whereby many have been defiled; that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent; that when God should lay upon us the burden to speak we should not hesitate, whether men would hear or whether they would forbear; and that we should press the matter through if it left some outside the church and outside the truth. God has a great and important work for somebody to do in -----, and at the right time it will be done, and truth will triumph.
Those of our brethren who had not obtained an experience for themselves in present truth could not answer the arguments of Brother B, and although they could not receive the views advocated by him, they were more or less affected by his talk and reasoning. Some have felt no spirit of freedom when they met for worship. They were afraid upon the Sabbath to speak out their real feelings and faith, expecting that he would criticize what they would say. There has been death in the meetings and but little freedom.
Brother B desires that others should look up to him as a man who can explain the Scriptures, but I was shown that he is deceived and does not understand them. He has started upon a wrong track in seeking to get up a new faith, an original theory of faith. He would uproot and misplace those waymarks which show us our correct bearings, that we are near the close of this earth's history. He may flatter himself that he is being led of the Lord, but it is surely another spirit.
Unless he changes his course entirely, and is willing to be led and to learn, he will be left to follow his own ways and make entire shipwreck of faith.
Some have been so blinded by their own unbelief that they could not discern the spirit of Brother B. They might have been helped by him if he had been standing in the counsel of God. He could have led them to the light instead of increasing their confusion of faith and their perplexities. But he has been a stumbling block, a blind leader of the blind. Had he made straight paths for his feet, the lame would not have been turned out of the way, but would have been healed. He has refused to walk in the light of truth which God has given His people, and those who would walk in the light he has hindered.
He feels that it is an honor to suggest doubts and unbelief in regard to the established faith of God's commandment-keeping people. The truth that he once rejoiced in is now darkness to him, and, unless he changes his course, he will fall back into a mixture of the views of the different denominations, but will agree in the whole with none of them; he will be a distinct church of himself, but not under the control of the great Head of the church. By bringing his views in opposition to the faith of the body, he is disheartening and discouraging the church. He sees that if the body of Sabbathkeepers have the truth he is in darkness, and this he cannot admit. The truth condemns him, and instead of seeking to bring his soul into harmony with it, surrendering to its claims and dying to self, he is seeking a position where he will not be under condemnation.
I was shown that if he continues in his present course, blinded to his real condition, he will be glad after a while to find some pretext for giving up the Sabbath. Satan is surely leading him, as he has led many others, away from the body in a course of deception and error. How much safer for Brother B to bring his soul into harmony with the truth than to misinterpret Scripture to bring it into harmony with his ideas and actions. If he would bring his actions into harmony with the principles of God's law he has a task on his hands
of which he has scarcely dreamed. The carnal heart is at enmity with God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The insinuations and open speeches of those who are our enemies in Battle Creek were received by Brother B while on his journey East, and he returned with bitter and wicked feelings in his heart against those at the heart of the work and especially against me and my work. He had no good reason for the feelings he cherished and the views he expressed in regard to my labors and testimonies. The unbelief and prejudice which had corrupted his own soul he sought to instill into the minds of others. He did this with considerable effect. At first, many were influenced by his sophistry and darkness, for he can make assertions and draw inferences as though he were handling positive facts. He knows how to press matters and is of ready speech. His words had influence with some who were unconsecrated and who wished to have it just as he represented in regard to our work and our calling. He had influence and excited prejudice in the minds of some whom we could have helped, had he not closed our way so that we could not gain access to them. Of this class were Brother and Sister D.
In this Brother B may see the fruits of his course, and there are others who were influenced in the same way, with the same results, so far as their faith and confidence in the truth are concerned. As soon as Brother B or any others decide that the men who have had the most to do in bringing the cause of present truth up to its present condition are not led of God, but are scheming and designing men, deceiving the people, then the course for them to pursue in order to be consistent is to renounce the entire work as a delusion, a fraud. In order to be consistent, they must throw all overboard. This Brother B has almost imperceptibly to himself been doing, and this others have done. He will at some future time, if not now, review his work with different feelings than he now has. He will see the work which he has been doing during the past few years as God sees it, and will not
view it with the satisfaction he now feels. When he sees the miserable work in which he has been engaged for a few years past, his proud boasting of wisdom and superior knowledge will have an end, and he will repent in bitterness of soul, for the blood of souls is on his garments.
If Brother B had wanted to view things correctly and had felt the possibility of being deceived, he would have come to Brother and Sister White with the reports injurious to their reputation and would have given them an opportunity to speak for themselves. The reports which he brought away across the plains to the Pacific Coast bear false witness, thus breaking the law of God. He will one day meet the hard speeches, as well as the deceptive sophistry instigated by Satan, which he has instilled into minds to injure the influence of my husband and myself. This matter lies not between Brother B and me, but between him and God.
God has given us our work, and if He has given us a message to bear to His people, those who would hinder us in the work and weaken the faith of the people in its truth and verity are not fighting against the instrument, but against God, and they must answer to Him for the result of their words and actions. All who have spiritual discernment may judge of the tree by its fruits. Brother B stands forth as one enlightened by God to undeceive the people in regard to our work and mission. All may see, if they will, the fruit growing upon this tree. Brother B, is it to eternal life, or is it to death?
After Brother B received from Battle Creek this special knowledge, which led him to take a course to belittle our work and mission, he felt at liberty to join with the unbelieving in the dissipation of pleasure, and by his levity of conduct he brought reproach upon the cause of Christ and great suffering upon his wife. Was he so blinded that he had no conviction that he was seeking to tear down what God was building up? Had he no thoughts that he might be fighting against God? The work which he has been doing angels have recorded in heaven, and he will have to answer for it when
every work shall be brought into judgment to bear the inspection of the infinite God. In his blindness Brother B has been lifting his puny arm to fight against God while flattering his deceived soul that he was doing God service. Every man's work is to be tried by the fire of the last day, and only gold, silver, and precious stones will stand the test.
God will not be trifled with. He may bear long with men, but He will visit their transgressions and render to every man as his works have been. Although men may talk boastingly and pride themselves upon their wisdom, one breath from the lips of God can bring their honor and glorying to the dust. I was shown that Brother B will be inexcusable in the day of God, when every case is weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. He knows better than to do as he has done. He has had sufficient evidence to determine the character of the work which God has committed to us. The fruits of this work are before him, which he can see and understand if he will.
Brother B's self-confidence is most wonderful, and is a fearful snare to him. If he does not overcome this dangerous trait in his character, it will prove his ruin. He is in his natural element when he is battling and controverting points of doctrine; he will question and quibble and be at variance with his brethren until Satan so controls his mind that he really thinks that he has the truth and his brethren are in error. He does not stand in the light and has not the blessing of God, for it constitutes a part of his religion to oppose the settled points of God's commandment-keeping people. Are all these deceived? and is Brother B the only man to whom God has given correct truth? Is not God just as willing to give His devoted, self-sacrificing servants a correct understanding of the Scriptures as to give it to Brother B for them?
Does Brother B try his course by this simple test: "Does this light and knowledge that I have found, and which places me at variance with my brethren, draw me more closely to Christ? does it make my Saviour more precious to me and make my character more closely resemble His?" It is a natural, but not a pleasing, trait in our characters to be keen in
our perceptions, and tenacious in our remembrance, of the faults and failings of others.
Brother B does not try to be in union with his brethren; his self-confidence has led him to feel no special necessity for union. He feels that their minds have been cast in a mold inferior to his own and that to receive their opinions and counsel as worthy of attention would be a great condescension. This self-confidence has shut him away from the love and sympathy of his brethren and from union with them. He feels that he is too wise and experienced to need the precautions which are indispensable to many. He has so high an opinion of his own abilities and such a reliance upon his own attainments that he believes himself prepared for any emergency. Said the heavenly angels, pointing to Brother B: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Self-confidence leads to neglect of watchfulness and of humble, penitential prayer. There are outward temptations to be shunned and inward foes and perplexities to be overcome, for Satan adapts his temptations to the different characters and temperaments of individuals.
The church of Christ is in constant peril. Satan is seeking to destroy the people of God, and one man's mind, one man's judgment, is not sufficient to be trusted. Christ would have His followers brought together in church capacity, observing order, having rules and discipline, and all subject one to another, esteeming others better than themselves. Union and confidence are essential to the prosperity of the church. If each member of the church feels at liberty to move independently of the others, taking his own peculiar course, how can the church be in any safety in the hour of danger and peril? The prosperity and very existence of a church depend upon the prompt, united action and mutual confidence of its members. When, at a critical time, one sounds the alarm of danger, there is need of prompt and active work, without stopping to question and canvass the whole subject from end to end, thus letting the enemy gain every advantage by delay, when united action might save many souls from perdition.
God wants His people to be united in the closest bonds of Christian fellowship; confidence in our brethren is essential to the prosperity of the church; union of action is important in a religious crisis. One imprudent step, one careless action, may plunge the church into difficulties and trials from which it may not recover for years. One member of the church filled with unbelief may give an advantage to the great foe that will affect the prosperity of the entire church, and many souls may be lost as the result. Jesus would have His followers subject one to another; then God can use them as instruments to save one another; for one may not discern the dangers which another's eye is quick to perceive; but if the undiscerning will in confidence obey the warning, they may be saved great perplexities and trials.
As Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He prayed for them in a most touching, solemn manner that they all might be one "as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." The apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians exhorts them to unity: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
God is leading a people out from the world upon the exalted platform of eternal truth, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. He will discipline and fit up His people. They will not be at variance, one believing one thing, and another having faith and views entirely opposite, each moving independently of the body. Through the diversity of the gifts and governments that He has placed in the church, they will all come to the unity of the faith. If one man takes
his views of Bible truth without regard to the opinions of his brethren, and justifies his course, alleging that he has a right to his own peculiar views, and then presses them upon others, how can he be fulfilling the prayer of Christ? And if another and still another arises, each asserting his right to believe and talk what he pleases without reference to the faith of the body, where will be that harmony which existed between Christ and His Father, and which Christ prayed might exist among His brethren?
God is leading out a people and establishing them upon the one great platform of faith, the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. He has given His people a straight chain of Bible truth, clear and connected. This truth is of heavenly origin and has been searched for as for hidden treasure. It has been dug out through careful searching of the Scriptures and through much prayer.
Brother B is doubting point after point of our faith. If he is right in his new theories, the body of Sabbathkeepers is wrong. Shall the established faith in the strong points of our position, which has led us out from the world and united us a distinct and peculiar people, be given up as erroneous? Shall we receive the faith of this one man, with the evidences he gives us of the fruits of his religious character? Or will Brother B yield his judgment and opinions, and come to the body? If he had not blinded his soul by receiving prejudice, and by cherishing wicked opposition to the work of God, he would not have been left to such darkness and deception.
He is a ready talker and will persistently urge his opinions and will not yield to the weight of evidence against him. It is cruel for him to stand in the way of the prosperity of the church, as he has done. The world is large; he has all the privileges that he can ask of going out among unbelievers and converting them to his theories; and when he can present a well-organized body that he has been the means of converting from sin to righteousness, then, and not before, should he press his peculiar views upon the church of God, which is
pained and disheartened with his darkness and error. He has no right to build upon another man's foundation his wood, hay, and stubble to be consumed by the fires of the last day.
I was shown that the only safe position for Brother B is to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn the way of life more perfectly. His doctrine shall drop as the rain, and His speech shall distill as the dew, upon the heart of the humble and teachable. Brother B must obtain a teachable disposition. He is not to sit as a judge, but as a learner; not to cavil, but to believe; not to question and find fault and oppose, but to listen. Pride must give way to humility, and prejudice must be exchanged for candor, or the gracious words of Christ will be in vain to him. My brother, you may reason with your blind judgment and unsanctified mind until the day of God and not advance a step toward heaven; you may debate and investigate and search learned authors, and even the Scriptures, and yet grow more and more self-deceived, and become darker and darker, as did the Jews in reference to Christ. What was their fault? They rejected the light which God had already given them and were seeking for some new light by which they might so interpret the Scriptures as to sustain their actions.
You are doing the same; you pass over the light that God has seen fit to give you in the publications upon present truth and in His word, and are seeking doctrines of your own, theories which cannot be sustained by the word of God. When you become as a little child, willing to be led, and when your understanding is sanctified and your will and prejudices surrendered, such a light will be shed abroad in your heart as will illumine the Scriptures and show you present truth in its beautiful harmony. It will appear like a golden chain, link joined to link in a perfect whole. "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." "Learn of Me," says Christ; "for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
If you have indeed entered the school of Christ, He expects you to manifest in your character and deportment the
lowliness which is so beautifully exemplified in His character. Christ will not undertake to teach the self-righteous, self-conceited, and self-willed. If such come to Him with the inquiry, What is truth? He gives them no answer. It is only the meek that He will guide in judgment; the meek will He teach His way. Solomon was naturally endowed with good judgment and large reasoning powers, but he acknowledged himself before God as a little child. He sought for wisdom from God with humility, and he sought not in vain. If you really search for the truth with the right motive you will come with the body, for they have the truth. If you are searching the Scriptures and different authors that you may find doctrines which will coincide with your own preconceived opinions, and if you have already settled your faith, then you will be boastful, self-confident, and unyielding.
Self-Confidence a Snare
Brother B, with your present self-willed, stubborn spirit, you will go further and further from the truth; and unless you are converted you will prove to be a great hindrance to the cause of God in any place where you have any influence. You are persistent to carry your points. Your self-sufficient spirit must be yielded before you can see anything clearly. You have led your wife to think that you knew the truth better than any of our ministers; you have taken the key of knowledge into your own hands, so far as she is concerned, and have kept her in darkness. God has given His church men of judgment, experience, and faith. They know the way of truth and salvation, for they have searched for it in agony of spirit because of the opposition they had to meet from men who turned the truth of God into a lie; and the benefit of the labor of these faithful servants of God is given to the world.
There are very few who realize the exalted nature of the work of God in comparison with the temporal business cares of life. Jesus, the heavenly Teacher, has given us lessons of
instruction through His disciples. When He sent out the twelve, He instructed them that into whatever city or town they should enter they must inquire who in it was worthy of their attention and visits; and if a suitable place was found where the people would esteem the blessing sent them,--the privilege of entertaining the messengers of Christ,--there they were to abide and there let their peace rest until they left that city. They were not instructed to visit any and every house indiscriminately, urging their presence upon the people whether they were welcome or not; but if they were not welcomed, if their peace could not rest in the house, they were to leave it and seek a house where the members were worthy and where their spirit could rest.
When the messengers of Christ who go forth to teach the truth to others are rejected and their words find no place in the heart, Christ is rejected and His word despised in the messengers of truth whom He has chosen and sent. This has just as full an application in this age of the world as it had when Christ gave the instruction to His chosen messengers.
When Christ was upon the earth, there were men who had no respect or reverence for God's messengers and no more regard for their warning than for their own judgment; also in this age of the world there are those who do not respect the testimony of God's chosen servants so highly as their own opinions. Such cannot be benefited by the labors of God's servants, and time should not be lost in degrading the work of God to meet such minds. Christ said to the servants whom He sent forth: "He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me."
Christ gives power to the voice of the church. "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." No such thing is countenanced as one man's starting out upon his own individual responsibility and advocating what views he chooses, irrespective of the judgment
of the church. God has bestowed the highest power under heaven upon His church. It is the voice of God in His united people in church capacity which is to be respected.
God has given to His church men who have an experience, those who have fasted and wept and prayed, even through the entire night, for the Lord to open the Scriptures to their minds. In humility these men have given the world the benefit of their mature experience. Is this light of heaven, or of men? Is it of any value, or is it worthless? Brother B is doing a work in disseminating erroneous views of Bible truth that he will one day wish to undo; but it will be in vain. He may repent, he may yet be saved as by fire; but, oh, how much precious time will have been lost that never can be redeemed! How much seed has he sown that has borne only briers and thorns! How many souls have been lost that might have been saved had he tried as earnestly to let the true light shine as he has to scatter his darkness! What might he not have done had he been consecrated, sanctified through the truth! Brother B feels too self-sufficient, too rich and increased with goods, to see his need of anything. The True Witness pointed to him and said: "Unless ye become converted as a little child, ye cannot see the kingdom of heaven." The light of truth so carefully brought out in books and papers he does not respect; but he exalts his own judgment above the most precious light, and this light will rise up in the judgment to condemn him.
I saw that he would question the men upon whom God has seen fit to lay the responsibility of His work. He would exalt his own opinions and views above the light which God had given through them, and would boast of his knowledge; and he would be an accuser of his brethren, not excepting the ambassadors of Christ. All this overbearing influence to belittle the judgment of the servants of God and to accuse them of weaknesses and errors, exalting his own opinions above theirs, if not repented of, will be found written against him in the books, which he will see with shame in the day of God.
God will hold up His servants, will preserve His favored ones; but woe unto him who would make of none effect the words of Christ's ambassadors, who receive the word from the mouth of God to speak to the people and who would tell the people that the sword is coming and warn them to prepare for the great day of God. Brother B will find that it is no light or trivial work in which he has been engaged; it is a work which will roll back upon his soul with crushing weight. He has brought his spirit in opposition to God. He has a hard work before him. Said Christ: "It must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh."
Brother B, the course that you have been pursuing was shown me three years ago. I saw that you were wrong in almost every action, and yet you tried to gauge the truth to your actions instead of gauging them to the truth. You were not a light to the people of God, but a terrible burden. You will not lift when there is lifting to be done, and you discourage others from union of action. You are ever finding fault and talking of your brethren, and while you have been questioning the course of others, a rank growth of poisonous weeds has flourished and taken deep root in your own heart. These roots of bitterness springing up have defiled many and will defile many more unless you see them and root them out.
I was shown that a harsh, pharisaical spirit would grow upon Brother B and control him unless he sees the terrible defects in his character and obtains grace from God to correct the evil. Before he embraced the truth, his hand seemed to be against everyone; his combative spirit would strengthen at any provocation, and his self-esteem would be injured; he was a hard man, getting into and making trouble. The truth of God wrought a reformation in him. God accepted him, and His hand held him up. But since Brother B has lost the spirit of consecration, his old, turbulent spirit, at variance with others, has been strengthening and seeking to gain the mastery. When he dies to self and humbles his proud heart before God he will find how weak is his strength; he will
feel the need of heavenly succor and will cry: "Unclean, unclean, before Thee, O God." All his proud boasting in self will have an end.
Life in this stormy world, where moral darkness triumphs over truth and virtue, will be to the Christian a continual conflict. He will find that he must keep the armor on, for he will have to fight against forces that never tire and foes that never sleep. We shall find ourselves beset with countless temptations, and we must find strength in Christ to overcome them or be overcome by them and lose our souls. We have a great and solemn work to do, and how terrible will be our loss if we fail. If the work which our Master has left us be found undone, we cannot have a second probation granted us. It must remain undone forever.
I was shown the life of Brother B in his family. Angels wept as they viewed his course at home, as they viewed the unloved wife, who receives no respect from him whose duty it is to love and cherish her as his own body, even as Christ has loved and cherished the church. He takes pains to make her defects apparent and to exalt his own wisdom and judgment and to make her feel her inferiority in company and alone. Notwithstanding she is illiterate, her spirit is far more acceptable to God than the spirit of her husband. God looks upon Sister B with feelings of the deepest pity. She lives out the principles of truth, as far as she has light, much better than her husband. She will not be answerable for the light and knowledge that her husband has had but which she has not had. He could be a light and comfort and blessing to her, but his influence is used in a wrong way. He reads to her what he pleases, that which will give strength to his views and his ideas, while he keeps back essential light which he does not want her to hear.
He does not respect his wife, and he allows his children to show her disrespect. Like Eli's sons, these children are left to come up. They are not restrained, and all this neglect will by and by rebound upon himself. That which Brother B is now sowing he will most assuredly reap. Sister B, in
many respects, is nearer the kingdom of heaven than her husband. These unruly, disobedient children, that are not educated to self-control, will plant thorns in the hearts of their parents that they cannot prevent; and then in the judgment God will call the parents to account for bringing children into the world and letting them come up untrained, unloving, and unloved. These children cannot be saved in the kingdom of heaven without a great change in their characters.
Brother B seeks to have his wife believe as he believes, and he would have her think that all he does is right and that he knows more than any of the ministers and is wise above all men. I was shown that in his boasted wisdom he is dealing with the bodies of his children as he is with the soul of his wife. He has been following a course according to his own wisdom, which is ruining the health of his child. He flatters himself that the poison which he has introduced into her system keeps her alive. What a mistake! He should reason how much better she might have been had he let her alone and not abused nature. This child can never have a sound constitution, for her bones and the current of blood in her veins have been poisoned. The shattered constitutions of his children and their aches and distressing pains will cry out against his boasted wisdom, which is folly.
But what is more deplorable than all the rest is that he has, as it were, left the door to perdition wide open for his children to enter and be lost. The natures of his children will have to be changed, their characters transformed and made over new, or there can be no hope for them. Can angels look lovingly upon your family, Brother B? Can they delight to dwell in your house? The building is good, but the house does not make the happiness within. Those who live within the walls make it a heaven or a hell. You do not respect the mother of your children. You permit in them disobedience and disrespect.
You may say: "Why does Sister White come to me with this? I have no faith in the visions." I knew this before I attempted to write, but I feel that the time has come for me
to set these things before you. I must tell you the truth, for I expect to meet in the judgment what I have here imperfectly written. I have waited, hoping that I might say something that would reach your heart and soften it for the very words I have here written. But I have lost all hope in that direction, for you are fortified with an armor as impenetrable as steel. You will not accept of anything that does not meet your mind. I was shown that it would have been better for the cause of present truth if you had never embraced the Sabbath. Your conscience is not a very sensitive one; you are blinded by the enemy.
I have given up all hope of doing anything for the church in ----- while you are a stumbling block to them. You once loved the truth, and had you followed on in the pathway of truth and holiness you would now have been an ambassador for Christ. You will have a fearful account to give in the great day of God for your talents which have been unimproved. You had good abilities. God lent these talents to you for you to put to good account, but you have abused these gifts. Had you used the ability that God had given you, on the right side, you would have done much in winning souls to Christ, and you would see in the kingdom of heaven souls saved through your instrumentality. But you have scattered abroad instead of gathering with Christ. Your brethren have been discouraged from trying to rise and advance, because you, like an opposing body, counteract the good they would do.
The heart of God never yearned toward His earthly children with deeper love and more compassionate tenderness than now. There never was a time when God was ready and waiting to do more for His people than now. And He will instruct and save all who choose to be saved in His appointed way. Those who are spiritual can discern spiritual things and see tokens of the presence and work of God everywhere. Satan, by his skillful and wicked strategy, led our first parents from the Garden of Eden--from their innocence and purity into sin and unspeakable wretchedness. He has not ceased to destroy; all the forces which he can command are
diligently employed by him in these last days to compass the ruin of souls. He seizes every artifice that he can use to deceive, perplex, and confuse the people of God.
He has used you as his agent to scatter darkness and confusion, and he finds that you work admirably in his hands. You are the very instrument that he can handle with good effect to hurt, discourage, and tear down. You are not zealous to put your shoulder under the load with the people of God; but when they would move, you throw yourself as an additional load to prevent them from doing what they might do in advancing in the right direction. Satan is at work with those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. The most bitter hatred exists within him against all who are loyal to God and who obey His commandments. He sleeps not; he does not abate his vigilance for one moment. Would that God's professed followers were half as wise, diligent, and persevering in the work of God as Satan is in his work.
Had you, Brother B, followed on when you first set your hand to the plow, and not looked back, you would now have been a messenger of light to bear the truth to those in darkness. But God could not use you to His glory until you should learn to counsel with your brethren and not to think you knew all that was worth knowing. Satan has succeeded in keeping you from doing good. You did run well for a season, but Satan's temptations overcame you. You loved to be first and to be flattered. You loved the power which money gives. Satan understands the weakness of men. He has the knowledge which he has accumulated for ages and is an experienced hand at his work. His cunning and devices are well matured, and are too often successful because God's people are not as wise as serpents.
Satan frequently appears as an angel of light, arrayed in the livery of heaven; he assumes friendly airs, manifesting great sanctity of character and high regard for his victims, the souls whom he means to deceive and destroy. Perils lie in the path which he invites souls to travel, but he succeeds
in concealing these and presents the attractions only. The great Captain of our salvation has conquered in our behalf, that through Him we might conquer, if we would, in our own behalf. But Christ saves none against their choice; He compels none to obedience. He made the infinite sacrifice that they might overcome in His name and His righteousness be imputed unto them.
But in order to be saved you must accept the yoke of Christ and lay off the yoke which you have fashioned for your neck. The victory that Jesus gained in the wilderness is a pledge to you of the victory that you may gain through His name. Your only hope and salvation is in overcoming as Christ overcame. The wrath of God now hangs over you. You love the attractions of the world above the heavenly treasure. The lust of the eye and the pride of life have separated you from God. Your confidence in your own poor, weak, faulty self must be broken. You must feel your weakness before you will drop, with your burden, into the hands of God. The soul that trusts fully and entirely in God will never be confounded.
God would not have us consult our own convenience in obeying Him. Christ pleased not Himself when He was a man among men. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The Majesty of heaven had not where to lay His head, no place that He could claim as His own. He became poor for our sakes, that through Him we might be rich indeed. Let us not talk of sacrifice, for we know not what it is to sacrifice for the truth. As yet we have scarcely lifted the cross for Christ's dear sake. Let us not seek for a way which is easier than the path our Redeemer has traveled before us. How incompetent are you, with all your boasted wisdom, to guide yourself! How liable are you to follow the dictates of a deceived conscience, to run in the way of error, and drag others with you!
Your natural temperament is such that submission and obedience to God's requirements are very hard. Your unbounded self-confidence, your prejudices, and your feelings
easily lead you to choose a wrong path. Christ will be to you an infallible guide if you will choose Him before your own blind judgment. In your business you have not had an eye single to the glory of God. You have had many perplexities and many difficulties to encounter, and if you had trusted to the True Counselor instead of to your own judgment, you would ever have been guided out of your perplexities in your business transactions.
You have an important work before you which you can never do without the special help of God. You are capable of securing the companionship of angels and of being an heir of God, a joint heir with Jesus Christ; and for you to labor to confine the range of hope and desire within the narrow compass of your own convenience would be a lifelong mistake. It is a terrible mistake to live only for this world. You look back and feel the condemnation of your own wrong course, and seek to justify yourself by finding fault with others. Whatever course others may pursue, or however wrong they may be, their errors will never cover one of your mistakes; and in the day of final reckoning you will not dare to plead this before God as a palliation for your neglect of duty.
God proposes to accept you as His child and make you a member of the royal family, a child of the heavenly King, upon conditions that you come out from the world and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. The Monarch of heaven would have you possess and enjoy all that can ennoble, expand, and exalt your being and fit you to dwell with Him forever, your existence measuring with the life of God. What a prospect is the life which is to come! What charms it possesses! How broad and deep and measureless is the love of God manifested to man! No words can describe this love; it surpasses all thought and imagination, but it is a reality that you may learn by experience; you may rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
With such a prospect before you, how can you narrow your mind to the compass of worldly thoughts and to the
range of worldly occupations, seeking gain and yielding one point after another of present truth. Truth, principle, and conscience are desirable for you to retain. The favor of God is better than houses of silver and of gold. The deepest joy of the heart comes from the deepest humiliation. Trust and submission to God work out strength and nobleness of character. Tears are not in every case evidences of weakness. In order for you to build up a character which is symmetrical in the sight of a pure and holy God you must begin at the foundation. The heart must be broken before God, and true repentance for sin must be shown, till you meet the demands of truth and duty. Then you will have true respect for yourself and true confidence in God. You will have tenderness of feeling. All that braggadocio spirit will be gone. In the place of harshness will be great tenderness blended with firmness of purpose to stand for the truth at all events. You will then see much in the world and in your own heart to make you weep.