The following testimony was written in January, 1875, and its truthfulness was acknowledged by Brother C, who said that it gave him light and hope.
Brother C, you are backslidden from God. Your views of God's requirements have never been too well defined nor too strict. It is no excuse for you to become remiss in duty and less vigilant because the course of so many professed Christians is wrong. You have not been consecrated to God. You have not felt your dependence upon Him to keep you, and therefore you have been overcome and brought into the slavery of doubt; the bondage of unbelief has chained your soul. You do not glorify God in your life. Our faith sometimes looks to you very questionable. The reason of this is in yourself. In the world, truth and falsehood are so mixed that one is not always clearly discerned from the other. But why has one who professes the truth so little strength? Because he understands not his own ignorance and his own weakness. If he knew this, if he were distrustful of himself, he would feel the importance of divine help to preserve him from the wiles of the enemy. We need to be active, working Christians, unselfish in heart and life, having an eye single to the glory of God. Oh, what wrecks we meet everywhere! what silent lips and fruitless lives! "This," said the angel, "is because of falling under temptation. Nothing mars the peace of the soul like sinful unbelief."
You should not give up in despair, thinking you must live and die in the bondage of doubt and unbelief. In the Lord we have righteousness and strength. Lean upon Him; and through His power you may quench all the fiery darts of the
adversary and come off more than conqueror. You may yet become sanctified through the truth; or you may, if you choose, walk in the darkness of unbelief, lose heaven, and lose all. By walking in the light and working out the will of God, you may overcome your selfish nature.
You have been ready to give of your means, but have withheld yourself. You have not felt called upon to make sacrifices which would involve care; you have not had a willingness to do any work for Christ, be it ever so humble. God will bring you over the ground again and again until with humble heart and subdued mind you bear the test that He inflicts and are wholly sanctified to His service and work. Then you may win immortal life. You may be a fully developed man in Christ Jesus, or you may be a spiritual dwarf, gaining no victories. My brother, which will you choose? Will you live a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice, doing your work with cheerfulness and joy, perfecting Christian character, and pressing on for the immortal reward? or will you live for yourself and lose heaven? God will not be trifled with; Christ accepts no divided service. He asks for all. It will not do to withhold anything. He has purchased you with an infinite price, and He requires that all you have shall be yielded to Him a willing offering. If you are fully consecrated to Him in heart and life, faith will take the place of doubts, and confidence the place of distrust and unbelief.
My brother, you are in positive danger through neglecting to carry out health reform more strictly in your own life and in your family. Your blood is impure, and you are still corrupting and inflaming it by the gratification of taste. Never be betrayed into indulging in the use of stimulants; for this will result not only in reaction and loss of physical strength, but in a benumbed intellect. Strictly temperate habits in eating and drinking, with firm trust in God, will improve your physical, mental, and moral health. You are of a highly excitable temperament. You have but little self-control and under excitement frequently say and do things which you afterward
regret. You should call a determined will to your aid in the warfare against your own inclinations and propensities. You need to keep the avenues of your soul open to the reception of light and truth. But when something occurs to test and prove you, prejudice frequently comes in, and you rise at once against what you deem a restriction of your liberty or an infringement upon your rights.
The word of God plainly presents before us this truth, that our physical natures will be brought into warfare with the spiritual. The apostle charges us to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Every perverted appetite becomes a warring lust. Appetite indulged to the injury of physical strength causes disease of the soul. The lust which the apostle mentions is not confined to the violation of the seventh commandment, but every indulgence of the taste which lessens physical vigor is a warring lust. The apostle declares that he who would gain special victories and make higher attainments in righteousness must be "temperate in all things." Temperance in eating and drinking at our tables, as well as the exercise of temperance in every other respect, is essential if we would overcome as Christ overcame. God has given us light, not to be treated indifferently, but to be our guide and help.
You need to cultivate self-control. The lesson you should have learned in your youth should be mastered now. Discipline yourself to die to self, to bring your will in subjection to the will of Christ. A deep and thorough conversion is essential, or you, my dear brother, will fail of eternal life. Your service in the cause of God must be more hearty, full, and thorough. You cannot perfect a Christian character by serving God when you feel inclined to do so and neglecting it when you please. A decided change must take place in your life, and you must obtain a different experience from any you have yet had, or your service will not be accepted of God.
Our heavenly Father has been very gracious to you. He has dealt tenderly with you. Sickness and disease came upon you when you were unprepared to die, for you had not
perfected a Christian character and had not a moral fitness for heaven. Satan stood by your side to afflict and destroy, that you might be numbered with the transgressors. Fervent and effectual prayer prevailed in your behalf. Angels were sent to wait and watch about you, to guard and protect you from Satan's power and preserve your life. God has, in His matchless love, granted you another trial. Not because of any goodness or virtue in you but, because of His mercy, He has answered the prayers of faith. Your probation has been lengthened that you may have an opportunity to redeem the past, overcome the defects in your character, and show in your life that devotion to God which He claims from you. You have had emotions of gratitude, but you have not experienced that heartfelt thankfulness and becoming humility that should have been kindled by His unsurpassed love.
You have not sufficiently felt your obligations to God for sparing your life. You have, for pettish reasons of your own, excused yourself time and again from religious duties which devolve upon us at all times and under all circumstances. Feelings of discouragement are no apology before God for the neglect of a single duty. You are not your own; you have been purchased by the blood of Christ. He claims all that you are capable of doing; your time and strength are not your own.
God indicated that you could be educated to act a part in His cause, but it was necessary that your mind should be trained and disciplined to work in harmony with the plan of God. You could gain the required experience if you would; you had the privilege presented before you of denying your inclination, as your Saviour had given you an example in His life. But you have not placed yourself in a position to learn all that you could and all that it was important for you to learn in order to become a correct worker in the cause of God. There were some things to reform in yourself before the Lord could use you effectually as His instrument.
Brother C, it was a sacrifice for you to leave your farm; you enjoyed your life there. You did not come to ----- from
choice. You had no knowledge of the work in connection with the publishing interest. But you were determined to do the best you could, and in many respects you have done well. But many things have arisen as stumbling blocks in your way. The course of Brother F was wrong in many respects; but you did not preserve your consecration to God; you united with him in spirit, and did not stand free; you displeased God in many things and separated your soul from Him. Satan was obtaining great power over you; your steps had well-nigh slipped; you were almost gone in unbelief, when sickness arrested your course. It was in great mercy that God spared you and gave you a new lease of life. But you have not made an entire surrender to Him; your stubborn will has not been subdued and softened; you need a new conversion. You have been easily fretted and annoyed; you have braced yourself to resist every thing that you thought reflected upon you; your feelings have arisen like a flash when anything has touched your pride. Now, my dear brother, this is all wrong. This you must over come, or the enemy will gain the victory over you.
You have felt sick at heart because you did not love the work in -----. You have looked back toward -----, for your heart is there, and your body should be where your heart is. God has been testing and proving you; how have you borne the test? You needed to be planed and polished, to have the rough and jagged points of your character removed, that you might become refined for the kingdom of heaven. How hard it is for human nature to deny inclination; how hard for men to leave flattering worldly inducements and, through love of their Saviour and their fellow men, to deny their own pleasure in order to engage more directly in the service of God.
Brother C, you do not enter heart and soul into the work. You have never made it a direct personal interest, and it is not agreeable to you. Had you been so disposed you could have trained your mind to better understand the work; but you have, in a measure, held aloof from it; you have not connected yourself closely with it and tried to become familiar with its various branches.
You are not as social and courteous as you should be, and your cold, unapproachable manner is not pleasing to God. You allow your feelings to be easily excited. No man can properly fill a position in connection with the work of God who is controlled by feeling and moves from impulse. Your mind must come in closer connection with God, and in sympathy and interest you must be more closely identified with those who are engaged in His work, or you can be of no use in advancing the cause in -----. You are too independent and exclusive; you need to soften and assimilate your disposition to the mind and feelings of others. You can, as a businessman and as a Christian, do much valuable service for the cause of God if you will only surrender your will and your way to the Lord. You need to be sanctified by the truth, having your mind elevated above every personal consideration and every selfish interest.
I point you to the life of Jesus as a perfect pattern. His life was characterized by disinterested benevolence. Precious Saviour! What sacrifices has He made for us that we should not perish, but have everlasting life! Heaven will be cheap enough if we resign every selfish interest to obtain it. Can we afford to have our own way, and take ourselves out of the hands of God, because it is more pleasing to the natural heart? God requires perfect submission and perfect obedience. Eternal life is worth everything to us. You may come in close connection with God if you will agonize to enter in at the strait gate.
You could never be aware of your deficiencies unless you were brought where these deficiencies were developed by circumstances. You have not felt as you should since you have come to -----. You have not entered freely and heartily into the work and made it your chief interest. You have cherished an independence that could not be maintained if you realized your true position--that you are an apprentice, learning how to work in the very best manner for the prosperity of God's cause; that you are a scholar, seeking to obtain
knowledge concerning that with which you are unacquainted. You could have made much greater progress had you earnestly tried to serve God as an efficient worker.
You have been too reserved. You have not come into close relation with men engaged in the different departments of the work; you have not consulted with them as familiarly as you should to move understandingly. Had you done this you might have been a more efficient helper. You have moved too much according to your own judgment and carried out your own ideas and plans. There has been a lack of harmonious connection between the workers. Those who might have helped you have been reluctant to impart their knowledge to you on account of this lack of familiarity on your part, and also because you move so much from impulse and feeling that they have dreaded to approach you.
The Saviour of the world was the adored of angels, He was a prince in the royal courts of heaven; but He laid aside His glory and clothed His divinity with humanity. He became the meek and lowly Jesus. He left His riches and glory in heaven and became poor that we, through His poverty, might be made rich. Three years He journeyed from place to place, a homeless wanderer. But selfish men will repine and murmur if called to leave their little earthly treasure for Christ's sake, or to labor in the work of saving souls for whom He gave His precious life. Oh, what ingratitude! No one can appreciate the blessings of redemption unless he feels that he can joyfully afford to make any and every sacrifice for the love of Christ. Every sacrifice made for Christ enriches the giver, and every suffering and privation endured for His dear sake increases the overcomer's final joy in heaven.
You know but little of real sacrifice and genuine denial of self. You have had but little experience in hardships and taxation of your energies. Your burden has been light, while others have been loaded down with serious responsibilities. The young man who asked Jesus what he should do that he might have eternal life was answered: "Keep the commandments."
He confidently and proudly replied: "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" Jesus looked pityingly upon the young man; He loved him, and He knew the words He spoke would forever separate the youth from Himself. Nevertheless Jesus touched the plague spot of his soul. He said to him: "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me." The young man wanted heaven, but not enough to withdraw his affections from his earthly treasure. He refused to yield to the conditions required by God in order to enter into life. He was very sorrowful; for he had great possessions, which he thought were too valuable to exchange for eternal rewards. He had asked what he must do to be saved, and the answer had been given; but his worldly heart could not make the sacrifice of his wealth to become Christ's disciple. His decision was to give up heaven and to cling to his earthly treasure. How many are now making the very same decision which fixed the destiny of this young man?
Have any of us an opportunity of doing something for Christ, how eagerly should we seize it and with the greatest earnestness do all we can to be co-workers with Him. The very trials that test our faith most severely, and make it seem that God has forsaken us, are designed to lead us more closely to Christ, that we may lay all our burdens at His feet and experience the peace He will give us in exchange. You need a new conversion; you need to be sanctified through the truth and to become in spirit like a little child, meek and humble, relying wholly upon Christ as your Redeemer. Your pride and independence are closing your heart to the blessed influences of the Spirit of God and rendering it as unimpressible as the hard-beaten highway. You have yet to learn the great lesson of faith. When you surrender yourself entirely to God, when you fall all broken upon Jesus, you will be rewarded by a victory the joy of which you have never yet experienced. As you review the past with a clear vision, you will see that at the very time when life seemed to you only a perplexity and
a burden, Jesus Himself was near you, seeking to lead you into the light. Your Father was by your side, bending over you with unutterable love, afflicting you for your good, as the refiner purifies the precious ore. When you have thought yourself forsaken, He has been near you to comfort and sustain. We seldom view Jesus as He is, and are never so ready to receive His help as He is to help us.
What a victory you will gain when you learn to follow the opening providences of God with a grateful heart and a determination to live with an eye single to His glory, in sickness or health, in abundance or want. Self is alive and quivering at every touch. Self must be crucified before you can overcome in the name of Jesus and receive the reward of the faithful.