Brother G: In my last vision your case was shown me. I saw that you love the truth which you profess, but you are not sanctified through it. Your affections have been divided between the service of God and of mammon. This division of affection stands as a barrier in the way of your being a missionary for God. While professedly serving the cause of God, self-interest has marred your work and greatly injured your influence. God could not work with you, because your heart was not right with Him.
So far as words go, you have been deeply interested in the truth; but when it comes to showing your faith by works, there has been a great lack. You have not correctly represented our faith. You have injured the cause of God by your manifest love of gain; and your love to trade and bicker has not been for your good, nor for the spiritual health of those with whom you are brought in contact. You are a sharp man in trade, and you often overreach. You have peculiar tact for looking out for the best end of the bargain, watching for your own good rather than that of others. If a man would cheat himself, and you were to be advantaged thereby, you have let him do it. This is not following the golden rule, doing unto others as you would wish them to do by you.
While engaged in the missionary work, you have at the same time manifested your scheming propensities in buying and selling. This makes a poor combination. You should be one thing or the other. "If the Lord be God, follow Him:
but if Baal, then follow him." "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." God will not accept your labors in the tract and missionary work while you are scheming to advantage yourself. You are in danger of counting gain as godliness. The tempter will present flattering inducements before you to fascinate you and allure you on to indulge a spirit of scheming which will kill your spirituality.
The world, angels, and men look upon you as a sharper, as a man who is studying his own interest and securing advantages to himself without looking carefully and conscientiously after the interest of those with whom he deals. In your business life there is a vein of dishonesty that tarnishes the soul and dwarfs religious experience and growth in grace. You are watching with keen business eye the best chance to secure a bargain. This scheming propensity has become second nature with you, and you do not see and realize the evil of encouraging it.
Business which you may engage in fairly and squarely, advantaging others as well as yourself, would be all right so far as dealing honorably is concerned; but the Lord would have accepted your service and used your powers, your keen perceptions, in securing the salvation of souls, had you been sanctified through the truth. The desire of the eye in the love of gain has warred against the Spirit. The habits and culture of years have left their deforming impress upon your character, and have been disqualifying you for God's work. You have a constant, longing desire to traffic. If sanctified to the service of God, this would make you an earnest, persevering laborer for the Master; but, abused as it has been, it has endangered your own soul, and others also are in danger of being lost through your influence.
At times reason and conscience remonstrate, and you feel rebuked because of your course; your soul longs after holiness and the surety of heaven; the din of the world looks repulsive to you, and you put it aside and cherish the Spirit of God. Then, again, your worldly propensity comes in, and overrules
everything. You will surely have to meet the assaults of Satan, and you should prepare for them by firmly resisting your inclination.
While the apostle Paul was immured in prison walls that were reeking with dampness, himself a sufferer from infirmities, he greatly desired to see Timothy, his son in the gospel, and leave him his dying charge. He had no hope of release from his bondage until his life should be yielded up. The wicked Nero's heart was thoroughly satanic, and at a word or a nod from him the apostle's life would be cut short. Paul urged the immediate presence of Timothy, and yet feared he would not come soon enough to receive the last testimony from his lips. He therefore repeated the words he would speak to Timothy, to one of his fellow laborers, who was allowed to be his companion in bonds. This faithful attendant wrote the dying charge of Paul, a small portion of which we here quote:
"They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself
with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." A man may be avaricious, and yet excuse himself by saying that he is working for the cause of God; but he obtains no reward, for God does not want money that is obtained by overreaching or by any semblance of dishonesty.
Paul further urges Timothy: Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica." These words, dictated by Paul just prior to his death, were written by Luke[* THE SUBSTITUTION OF THE NAME OF MARK FOR THAT OF LUKE IN THE FIRST EDITION WAS AN ERROR OF THE PRINTER, AND NOT OF THE MANUSCRIPT. A FEW SIMILAR ERRORS HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED AND CORRECTED IN THIS REVISION.] for our profit and warning.
Christ, in teaching His disciples, said: I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it [pruneth it], that it may bring forth more fruit." He who is united to Christ, partaking of the sap and nourishment of the Vine, will work the works of Christ. The love of Christ must be in him or he cannot be in the Vine. Supreme love to God, and love to your neighbor equal to that which you bear to yourself, is the basis of true religion.
Christ inquires of everyone professing His name: Lovest thou Me?" If you love Jesus you will love the souls for whom He died. A man may not bear the most pleasant exterior, he may be deficient in many respects; but if he has a reputation for straightforward honesty, he will gain the confidence of others. The love of truth, the dependence and confidence which men can place in him, will remove or overbear objectionable features in his character. Trustworthiness in your place and calling, a willingness to deny self for the purpose of benefiting others, will bring peace of mind and the favor of God.
Those who will walk closely in the footsteps of their self-sacrificing, self-denying Redeemer will have the mind of Christ reflected in their minds. Purity and the love of Christ will shine forth in their daily lives and characters, while meekness and truth will guide their way. Every fruitful branch is pruned, that it may bring forth more fruit. Even fruitful branches may display too much foliage and appear what they really are not. The followers of Christ may be doing some work for the Master and yet not be doing half what they might do. He then prunes them, because worldliness, self-indulgence, and pride are cropping out in their lives. Husbandmen clip off the surplus tendrils of the vines that are grasping the rubbish of earth, thus making them more fruitful. These hindering causes must be removed and the defective overgrowth cut away, to give room for the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
God purposed through Christ that fallen man should have another trial. Many misunderstand the object for which they were created. It was to bless humanity and glorify God, rather than to enjoy and glorify self. God is constantly pruning His people, cutting off profuse, spreading branches, that they may bear fruit to His glory and not produce leaves only. God prunes us with sorrow, with disappointment and affliction, that the outgrowth of strong, perverse traits of character may be weakened and that the better traits may have a chance to develop. Idols must be given up, the conscience must become more tender, the meditations of the heart must be spiritual, and the entire character must become symmetrical. Those who really desire to glorify God will be thankful for the exposure of every idol and every sin, that they may see these evils and put them away; but the divided heart will plead for indulgence rather than denial.
The apparently dry branch, by being connected with the living vine, becomes a part of it. Fiber by fiber, and vein by vein, it adheres to the vine till it derives its life and nourishment from the parent stock. The graft buds, blossoms, and produces fruit. The soul, dead in trespasses and sins, must
experience a similar process in order to be reconciled to God and to become a partaker of Christ's life and joy. As the graft receives life when united to the vine, so the sinner partakes of the divine nature when connected with Christ. Finite man is united with the infinite God. When thus united, the words of Christ abide in us, and we are not actuated by a spasmodic feeling, but by a living, abiding principle. The words of Christ must be meditated upon and cherished and enshrined in the heart. They should not be repeated, parrot-like, finding no place in the memory and having no influence over the heart and life.
As the branch must abide in the vine to obtain the vital sap which causes it to flourish, so those who love God and keep all His sayings must abide in His love. Without Christ we cannot subdue a single sin or overcome the smallest temptation. Many need the Spirit of Christ and His power to enlighten their understanding, as much as blind Bartimaeus needed his natural sight. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me." All who are really in Christ will experience the benefit of this union. The Father accepts them in the Beloved, and they become objects of His solicitude and tender, loving care. This connection with Christ will result in the purification of the heart and in a circumspect life and faultless character. The fruit borne upon the Christian tree is "love joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."
My brother, you need a close connection with God. You have traits of character for which you are responsible. Your powers have been put to a wrong use. God cannot approve your course. Your standard is that of the worldling, and not that which Christ has given us in His life. You have looked through the eyes of the world and discerned with their unsanctified judgment. Your soul must be cleansed from the polluting influence of the world. You have repeatedly deviated from strict integrity for that which you flattered yourself was gain, but which was really loss. Every act of overreaching in
deal will detract from your reward in heaven, should you gain that home. Every man will receive his reward as his works have been.
You have no time to lose, but should make diligent efforts to overcome the marked traits in your character, which, if indulged, will close the doors of glory against you. You cannot afford to lose heaven. You now need to make a decided change in your words and deeds, to overcome your avaricious spirit, and to turn your thoughts into the channel of sanctified truth. In short, you need to be transformed. Then God will accept your labors in His cause. You should be a man of such undeviating veracity that the love of gain will not seduce you and no temptation overcome you. The Lord requires of all who profess His name a strict adherence to truth. This will be as salt which has not lost its savor, as a light amid the moral darkness and deception of the world.
"Ye are the light of the world," says Christ. Those who are truly connected with God, by reflecting the light of heaven will have a saving power in the church and also in the world; for the perfume of good deeds and truthful acts will make them of good repute, even among those who are not of our faith. Those who fear God will respect and honor such a character; and even the enemies of our faith, as they see the spirit and life of Christ exhibited in their daily works, will glorify God, the source of their strength and honor.
You, my brother, should have been truly converted to the truth and wholly given to the work of God years ago. Precious years, which should have been rich with experience in the things of God and in practical labor in His cause, have been lost. Whereas you should now be able to teach others, you have failed to come to the full knowledge of the truth yourself. You ought now to have an experimental knowledge of the truth and be qualified to bear the message of warning to the world. Your services have been nearly lost to the cause of God because your mind has been divided; you have been planning and scheming, buying and selling, serving tables.
The mildew of the world has clouded your perception and perverted your intellect, so that your feeble efforts have not been acceptable offerings to God. Had you divorced yourself from your speculating propensities, and worked in the opposite direction, you would now be enriched with divine knowledge and would be a gainer in spiritual things generally, whereas you have been losing spiritual power and dwarfing your religious experience.
To have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ is to be ennobled and elevated, and made a partaker of joys unspeakable and full of glory. Food, clothing, station, and wealth may have their value; but to have a connection with God and to be a partaker of His divine nature is of priceless value. Our lives should be hid with Christ in God; and although it "doth not yet appear what we shall be," "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear," "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." The princely dignity of the Christian character will shine forth as the sun, and the beams of light from the face of Christ will be reflected upon those who have purified themselves even as He is pure. The privilege of becoming sons of God is cheaply purchased, even at the sacrifice of everything we possess, be it life itself.
My dear brother, you should set your face to be a man after God's own heart. What others may venture to do or say that is not strictly in accordance with the Christian standard should be no excuse for you. You must stand before the Judge of all the earth, not to answer for another, but for yourself. We have an individual responsibility, and no man's defects of character will be the least excuse for our guilt; for Christ has given us in His character a perfect pattern, a faultless life.
The most persistent attacks of the enemy of souls are made upon the truth we profess, and any deviation from the right reflects dishonor upon it. Our chief danger is in having the mind diverted from Christ. The name of Jesus has power to drive back the temptations of Satan and lift up for us a standard against him. So long as the soul rests with unshaken
confidence in the virtue and power of the atonement, it will stand firm as a rock to principle, and all the powers of Satan and his angels cannot sway it from its integrity. The truth as it is in Jesus is a wall of fire around the soul that clings to Him. Temptations will pour in upon us, for by them we are to be tried during our probation upon earth. This is the proving of God, a revelation of our own hearts. There is no sin in having temptations; but sin comes in when temptation is yielded to.
If your aptness and skill had been as much exercised in saving souls, and in disseminating the truth to those who are in darkness, as it has been to get gain and to increase your earthly possessions, you would have many stars in the crown of your rejoicing in the kingdom of glory. There are but few who are as faithful in the service of God as they are in serving their own temporal interests. A resolute purpose is sure to accomplish the desired end. Many do not feel that it is essential to be as discriminating, apt, and accomplished in the work of God as in their own temporal business. The mind and heart of those who profess to believe the truth should be elevated, refined, ennobled, and spiritualized. The work of educating the mind for this great and important matter is fearfully neglected. The work of God is done negligently, slothfully, and in a most bungling manner, because so often left to the caprice of feeling, rather than to sanctified principle and holy purpose.
There is the greatest necessity that men and women who have a knowledge of the will of God should learn to become successful workers in His cause. They should be persons of polish, of understanding, not having the deceptive outside gloss and simpering affectation of the worldling, but that refinement and true courteousness which savors of heaven, and which every Christian will have if he is a partaker of the divine nature. The lack of true dignity and Christian refinement in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers is against us as a people and makes the truth which we profess unsavory. The work of educating the mind and manners may be carried forward
to perfection. If those who profess the truth do not now improve their privileges and opportunities to grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, they will be no honor to the cause of truth, no honor to Christ.
If you, my brother, had studied the Holy Scriptures as faithfully as you have watched to get gain, you would now be an able man in the word of God and able also to teach others. It is your own fault that you are not qualified to teach the truth to others. You have not been cultivating that set of faculties which will make you an intelligent, successful, spiritual worker for your Master. Such traits of character as acquisitiveness and shrewdness in worldly dealing have been exercised so much that your mind has been largely developed in the direction of buying and selling, and getting the best end of the bargain. Instead of establishing yourself in the confidence of your brethren and sisters and friends as a man who possesses true nobility of character, elevating you above all smallness and avariciousness, you make them afraid of you. Your religious faith has been used to secure the confidence of your brethren that you might practice your sharp dealing and make a saving. This has been done so much by you that it has become second nature, and you do not realize how your course appears to others. True godliness must mark all your future life and course of action if you would counteract the influence you have exerted to scatter from Christ and the truth.
Your relation to God and your fellow men demands a change in your life. In the Sermon on the Mount the injunction of the world's redeemer was: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." These words are of the highest value to us, a golden rule given us by which to measure our conduct. This is the true rule of honesty. Very much is comprehended in these words. We are here required to deal with our neighbors as we would wish them to deal with us were we in their circumstances.
Plano, Texas, Nov. 24, 1878 .