My Dear Brother I: Since meeting you at the Maine camp meeting I have felt that it is not too late for you to set your heart and house in order. I know that you have been impressed by the Spirit of God; and now the question is: Will you, in response to this invitation to repent, gladly surrender your heart to God? Your case has been presented to me in vision; but while you were so completely under the control of the enemy of souls, I had no courage to send you the message given me of the Lord. I feared that you would make light of it and that the Holy Spirit would be grieved away for the last time. But now I feel urged to send you this testimony, which will prove to you a savor of life unto life or death unto death.
Do not read this if you are decided to choose darkness rather than light, to serve mammon rather than Christ. But if you really want to do the will of God, and are willing to be saved in His own appointed way, then read the testimony; but do not read it to cavil, nor to pervert, ridicule, and despise it; for in that case it will be to you a savor of death unto death, and will witness against you in the judgment. Before reading this warning message, go alone before God and ask Him to remove from you the spirit of defiance, rebellion, and unbelief, and to melt and subdue your stony heart.
We do not understand the greatness and majesty of God nor remember the immeasurable distance between the Creator and the creatures formed by His hand. He who sitteth in the heavens, swaying the scepter of the universe, does not judge according to our finite standard, nor reckon according to our computation. We are in error if we think that that which is great to us must be great to God, and that which is small to us must be small to Him. He would be no more exalted than ourselves if He possessed only the same faculties.
God does not regard all sins as of equal magnitude; there are degrees of guilt in His estimation as well as in that of finite man. But however trifling this or that wrong in their course may seem in the eyes of men, no sin is small in the sight of God. The sins which man is disposed to look upon as small may be the very ones which God accounts as great crimes. The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven, while pride, selfishness, and covetousness go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God. He "resisteth the proud," and Paul tells us that covetousness is idolatry. Those who are familiar with the denunciations against idolatry in the word of God will at once see how grave an offense this sin is.
God speaks through His prophet: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts, are not your thoughts neither are your ways, My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." We need clear discernment, that we may measure sin by the Lord's standard and not by our own. Let us take for our rule, not human opinions, but the divine word.
We are on the great battlefield of life, and let it never be forgotten that we are individually responsible for the issue of the struggle; that though Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land, yet should they deliver neither son nor daughter by their righteousness. You, my brother, have not thought of this. But you have justified your own course because you thought that your brethren did not do right. Sometimes you have acted like a petted, spoiled child and have talked unbelief and doubt to spite others; but will it pay? Is there anything in your family, in the church, or in the world to justify your indifference to the claims of God? Will any of your excuses avail when you stand face to face with the Judge of all the earth? How foolish and sinful will your selfish, avaricious course then appear. How unaccountable it will seem to you that you could let worldly opinions and worldly gain eclipse the reward to be given to the faithful,--an eternity of bliss in the Paradise of God.
When you were in great physical suffering and there was no hope for you in human skill, the Lord pitied you and mercifully removed disease from you. Satan has sought to afflict and ruin you, and even to take your life; but your Saviour has shielded you again and again, lest you should be cut down when your heart was filled with a satanic frenzy, your tongue uttering words of bitterness and unbelief against the Bible and against the truth you once advocated. When Satan has clamored for you, claiming you as his own, Christ has repulsed your cruel and malignant foe with the words: "I have not yet withdrawn My Spirit from him. He has two more steps to take before he will pass the boundary of My mercy and love. Souls are the purchase of My blood. The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; the Lord rebuke thee."
I was then carried back in your life, and you were shown to me when the truth found a response in your heart. The Spirit of God convicted you of the course you should pursue, and you had quite a struggle with self. You had been a sharp, scheming man. You had not done by others as you would wish them to do by you, but had taken advantage of them whenever you could. You had a close, stern battle to fight to subdue self and mortify pride; and it was only through the grace of God that this work could be accomplished. Instead of effecting a thorough reformation, you joined the truth to a patched-up character, which would not stand the test of temptation. You did not begin by seeking God with a broken and contrite heart, and making wrongs right. Had you done this, you would not have stumbled and fallen into the snare of the enemy. There was a mixture of selfishness in your motives, which you yourself did not clearly see. Arguments drawn from worldly interest, social position, and comparative respectability influenced you and decided you not to make earnest, thorough work before God and men. Reaching after the worldly standard marred the sincerity and purity of your Christian character; and you failed to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.
Zacchaeus declared: "If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." You could at least have made efforts to correct your acts of injustice to your fellow men. You cannot make every case right, for some whom you have injured have gone into their graves, and the account stands registered against you. In these cases the best you can do is to bring a trespass offering to the altar of the Lord, and He will accept and pardon you. But where you can, you should make reparation to the wronged ones.
Had the unbelievers with whom you have associated seen in you the transforming power of the truth, they would have had an argument in favor of Christianity which they could not controvert. You might thus have reflected a clear, sharp light to the world; but instead of this you have mingled with the world and imbibed its spirit. My brother, you must be born again. A mere form of Christianity is not of the least value. It is destitute of saving power, having in it no reformative energy. A religion which is confined to Sabbath worship emits no rays of light to others. I entreat you to examine your own heart closely. You have a combative, contentious spirit, and you are cultivating instead of repressing that spirit. You should make a decided change, and cultivate meekness, faith, humility, and love. Your soul is in peril; you will surely be subject to the strong delusions of Satan unless you stop where you are and press against the current of worldliness and ambition. Your relations with the world must be changed, and a decided separation must take place. The positions which you occupy, which are continually opening to you doors of temptation, must be given up. Avoid politics; shun contention. Keep clear of every office which would encourage those traits in your character that need to be battled down and overcome.
My brother, you must make a strong, decided effort, or you will never be able to cast off the works of darkness. Satan looks upon you as his own. When you listen to the testimonies of God's servants, as at the late camp meeting, you are deeply convicted. But you do not respond to the impressions of the Spirit of God; and as you mingle with worldlings you drink in their spirit and are borne down by the worldly current, having no moral power to resist its influence. You become one with the world-loving, and your spirit is worse than theirs, for your choice is voluntary. You love the praise of men, and you love worldly possessions above Jesus. The love of mammon has been woven into every fiber of your being and has become all-absorbing. To eradicate it will be like plucking out the right eye or cutting off the right arm. But I speak to you as one who knows: Unless you overcome this intense love of money, it will cost you your soul's salvation, and then it would have been better for you had you never been born.
"Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Just as far as you love and cherish the spirit of the world you will have a spirit of defiance and will question and find fault with those who bring you the message of truth. You will deride the truth, and will become a false witness, an accuser of the brethren. The talents given you of God to be improved to His glory will be actively employed against His work and cause. There is no concord between Christ and Belial. You have already chosen the friendship of the world, therefore you are decidedly on the side of Satan. The natural heart is at enmity against God, and will resist the clearest evidence of truth. The wicked will not endure the light that condemns their wrong course of action.
You have opened your heart to doubt and skepticism, but you will never be able to be an honest infidel. You may boast that you do not believe the Bible; but you will be perjuring yourself all the time, for you know better.
I entreat you to make earnest work for eternal life. Break the snare of Satan; work against his devices. Let this be the language of your soul. "There is nothing in the universe that I fear so much as that I shall not know all my duty, or that, knowing, I shall fail to do it." "Stand up for Jesus" were the words of a dying saint. Yes, Brother I, stand up for Jesus. It will take all to do this. You may have to change your position in the world; but a name, distinction, office, are to you a snare, imperiling your soul. A calculating, worldly wisdom is continually seeking to turn you away from the Saviour. A bold, defiant, blasphemous infidelity will attempt to crush His gospel, not only out of your own soul, but out of the world. But stand up for Jesus. In the presence of your relatives and friends, in all your business relations, in your associations with the world,--anywhere and everywhere, under all circumstances,--stand up for Jesus.