Manuscript Releases Volume Fifteen
Page 294 - 311
This afternoon I had a long conversation with Brother Foster, a member of the Prahran church, who is in perplexity and trial. He is a tailor by trade, and is a first-class workman. Before accepting the truth he had a position that commanded $30 a week. When he began to keep the Sabbath, he was permitted to retain his position, losing only the day's wages for the Sabbath. He is a man of good address, and has good ability to teach the truth. He left his position and went into the field as a laborer, but was sent alone into a hard field, and became discouraged and confused, and almost fell under the delusive power of Satan.
At the conference one year ago he had a conversation with me. He became free; the meeting did him good. He has since moved to Melbourne, and works at his trade and leads the meetings in Prahran. But in the present depression of business he is in close circumstances; and being in poor health, with a large family, he has become much discouraged, and in this state of mind Satan has pressed temptation and darkness upon him. For weeks he has been in sore trial, and today he came to tell me his troubles.
He says her knew so little of the testimonies he did not understand the relation they sustained to the cause. Some time since while he was in perplexity asking the Lord for light, he had a very striking dream. He saw Sister White in a boat riding on the billows, which were sending the spray like light in every direction. It came into the room where he was with many others. He moved to get beyond its reach, when a hand stretched out to him [and] gave him a paper. The paper was on fire. [A voice said:] "Read quickly."
He put out the fire, and opened the paper. There was a testimony, and a key lying upon the testimony. The interpretation came to his mind with great force: the key to the testimonies is the testimonies themselves. He awoke with the blessing of God upon him. Then he prayed, "Lord, direct me to the testimony I should read, to help my case." He took up Testimony 31, and opened at the article, "The Testimonies Rejected." He read it through with intense interest and was deeply impressed that the testimonies were from God.
After this he saw in the Review the articles of Brother A. T. Jones in regard to the image of the beast, and then the one from Elder Smith presenting the opposite view. He was perplexed and troubled. He had received much light and comfort in reading articles from Brethren Jones and Waggoner; but here was one of the old laborers, one who had written many of our standard books, and whom we had believed to be taught of God, who seemed to be in conflict with Brother Jones.
What could all this mean? Was Brother Jones in the wrong? Was Brother Smith in error? Which was right? He became confused. When the important laborers in the cause of God take opposite positions in the same paper, whom can we depend on? Who can we believe has the true position?
Brother Foster was in such perplexity that he sent word by letter that he could not lead in the meetings. Since the beginning of the week of prayer, temptations were pressed so strongly upon him that he has received no benefit.
These differences among our leading men have absorbed all his thoughts, and he is much distressed over the matter. I told him that I expected that others who should read these articles would have the same experience. These differences should not have been made public, for some who were weak in the faith would be caused to stumble, and as the result might lose their souls. I felt keen regret and deep sorrow of heart, for I know that the Lord was displeased.
But I said, "Brother Foster, you have the Bible. Search its pages with a prayerful heart; your Redeemer has promised that the Holy Spirit shall lead you into all truth. You have an Instructor that is full of wisdom, One who never errs. I charge you before God to cease worrying, receive the precious rays of light that come to you. Feast upon the truth as it is in Jesus, walk in the light while you have the light, and more light will shine upon you from the Source of all light.
Do not suffer your mind to dwell upon the differences you think you discern. If our leading brethren are so unwise as to allow their conflicting views to appear in the paper published to go to the world; if they present these differences before the large gatherings that assemble to worship God in the tabernacle or elsewhere, they are doing the very things the Lord Jesus told them not to do, and going directly contrary to the light given them through the testimonies.
Now, brethren, the zeal that leads to this kind of work is not inspired of God; Christ never prompts any man to work against Christ. He will not lead us to counteract His own instruction, or to act contrary to the spirit of the prayer He offered for His disciples just before He left them.
He knew they would be exposed to trials from the opposition of the world, and He said: "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name; those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil" [John 17:12-15].
Our work is clearly aggressive. Our warfare is to be directed against error and sin, not against one another. God requires us to be a strength to one another, to heal, not to destroy. We are to be constantly receiving light; and we are not to spurn the message nor the messengers by whom God shall send light to His people.
If before publishing Elder Jones's article concerning the image of the beast, Elder Smith had conferred with him, plainly stating that his own view differed from that of Brother Jones, and, that if the article appeared in the Review , he himself must present the opposite position, then the matter would appear in a more favorable light than it now does.
But the course pursued in this case was the same as that taken at Minneapolis. Those who opposed Brethren Jones and Waggoner manifested no disposition to meet them like brethren, and with the Bible in hand consider prayerfully and in a Christlike spirit the points of difference. This is the only course that would meet the approval of God, and His rebuke was upon those who would not do this at Minneapolis.
Yet this blind warfare is continued. Men of the same faith, in the same city, turn their weapons against each other. It is an astonishment to the heavenly universe. I feel deeply grieved, and if these things are a grief to me, how do they appear to Jesus, who suffered untold agony upon the cross to redeem men from the power of Satan and make them one in Christ? "All ye are brethren." What can lead brethren to present before the world opposite opinions without first coming together in love and comparing views to see if they cannot come into harmony? Will my brethren tell me what spirit is moving them to action?
We know that Brother Jones has been giving the message for this time--meat in due season for the starving flock of God. Those who do not allow prejudice to bar the heart against the heaven-sent message, cannot but feel the spirit and force of the truth. Brother Jones has borne the message from church to church and from State to State; and light and freedom and the outpouring of the Spirit of God have attended the word, as events of a most startling nature in the fulfilment of prophecy show that the great crisis is rapidly approaching.
Brother Jones seeks to arouse the professed people of God from their death-like slumber, to see the importance of giving the warning to the world. But he advances some ideas with which not all agree, and instantly Brother Gage is aroused; he harnesses for the battle, and before the congregation in the tabernacle he takes his position in opposition to Brother Jones. Was this in the order of God? Did the Spirit of the Lord go from Brother Jones and inspire Brother Gage to do this work? Suppose that Brother Jones's statement concerning the formation of the image was premature; did the case demand such demonstrations? I answer No, no; not if God has ever spoken by me.
The Bible rules must be strictly followed. The matter concerning which a difference of opinion prevails should be calmly considered, with much prayer, with hearts yearning for unity, and with perfect love for one another's souls. Examine every point as if you could see the whole heavenly universe looking upon you. If there is a positive evidence that one of the brethren is in error, try to convince him from the Word of God. If success should not crown your efforts, even then the world has no business with this matter, for it would only dishonor the God of truth and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.
I have received letters from different points telling the sad, discouraging results of these things. We have opposition enough from our foes, and we shall have conflicts fierce and strong; let us not now cause Satan to glory because of the pitched battles within our own ranks. The unity for which our Saviour prayed should be brought into our practical life. Peace, the peace of Christ, inspired by truth and sustained by righteousness, we must each cultivate.
God so loved the world that He manifested His love by giving His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus said: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" [John 13:34, 35]. "This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you" [John 15:12]. Let your zeal be manifest, not in exposing your variances but in cultivating the precious plant of love, just as Jesus has told us to do.
[1 John 3:16, 18, 19, 23; 4:8-13, 20, 21, quoted.]
I have quoted only a few passages, but the Bible abounds in just such lessons. If it is not possible to love God unless we love our brother, the case will certainly go against us in the courts of heaven if we do not cherish Christlike love for one another. The Word is very explicit.
I am pained beyond measure when I see how little love is cherished and manifested among brethren. How long shall Satan use his arguments against us and weaken our influence by revealing to others how little love and deference and respect are shown for one another? Is it not time we were doers of the Word, and not hearers only? Shall we not closely examine our own souls, and see whether we are in the possession of the love of God?
Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh, by a pure and holy life to condemn sin in the flesh. He came to our world to represent the character of God, and it is our work to represent the character of Christ. If we have lost His love out of our hearts, our work is to seek the Lord, that our hearts may be renewed by His Holy Spirit.
"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. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" [1 Cor. 1:10-13].
The cause of division or discord in the church is separation from Christ. The secret of unity is union with Christ. Christ is the great Center. We shall approach one another just in proportion as we approach the Center. United with Christ, we shall surely be united with our brethren in the faith.
To be a Christian means a great deal more than is supposed. A Christian is Christlike. Membership in the church does not make us Christians. Has the light from Christ penetrated the heart? Are justice and purity and truth abiding in the soul temple? We may know; for the fruits will appear. [Gal. 5:22-26; 6:1-3, quoted.] This is not a time for brother to cherish prejudice against brother. Put not into our enemies' hands anything that bears the least suggestion of differences among us, even in opinion.
The conference at Minneapolis was the golden opportunity for all present to humble the heart before God and to welcome Jesus as the great Instructor, but the stand taken by some at that meeting proved their ruin. They have never seen clearly since, and they never will, for they persistently cherish the spirit that prevailed there, a wicked, criticizing, denunciatory spirit. Yet since that meeting, abundant light and evidence has been graciously given, that all might understand what is truth.
Those who were then deceived might since have come to the light. They might rejoice in the truth as it is in Jesus, were it not for the pride of their own rebellious hearts. They will be asked in the judgment, "Who required this at your hand, to rise up against the message and the messengers I sent to My people with light, with grace and power? Why have you lifted up your souls against God? Why did you block the way with your own perverse spirit? And afterward when evidence was piled upon evidence, why did you not humble your hearts before God, and repent of your rejection of the message of mercy He sent you?" The Lord has not inspired these brethren to resist the truth. He designed that they should be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and be living channels of light to communicate the light to our world, in clear, bright rays.
"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13]. Here, according to the appointment of God, are the two agencies in man's salvation --the divine influence and a strong, living, working faith, a faith that receives the truth. God requires no man to cast aside his reason, and yield to the control of blind credulity. But we are to search the Scriptures in the spirit of learners.
In the meekness of Christ canvass every point of difference. Search for the truth as for hidden treasures. It will not do to ignore these questions of vital interest. Human assertions are as valueless as straw. Many will miss the path to heaven because they risk their faith upon men. They resist the message of mercy because someone in whom they have confidence is indifferent to it. But the soul is of too great value to rest its faith on man. No one but Christ can ransom the soul.
We have the Word of God, and this alone can we trust unwaveringly. Let brethren seek God together. Let them fall upon the Rock and be broken. "We are laborers together with God." We must understand the obligations imposed upon us by this cooperation, or we shall never stand approved in the judgment. "Laborers together with God" means fellow laborers with those of our own fallen race, but cooperating with divine agencies. It is the work of salvation to accomplish this union of the human with the divine.
The time of peril is now upon us. It can no longer be spoken of as in the future. And the power of every mind, sanctified to the Master's work, is to be employed, not to hedge up the way before the messages God sends to His people, but to labor unitedly in preparing a people to stand in the great day of God. It is not the inspiration from heaven that leads one to be suspicious, watching for a chance and greedily seizing upon it to prove that those brethren who differ from us in some interpretation of Scripture are not sound in the faith.
There is danger that this course of action will produce the very result which they are seeking to avoid, and to a great degree the guilt will rest upon those who are watching for evil. Had they been free from prejudice, and walking in humility, they would have been ready to receive light from whatever source; recognizing the Spirit of God and the grace of Christ, they would be indeed channels of light, and their long experience would make them safe counselors, men of sound judgment.
God would have His people love one another and help one another, thus strengthening every good work. We should counsel with one another, the old, experienced laborers with those whom God shall raise up to advance His work as we approach the great consummation. But if such men as Elder Smith, Elder Van Horn, and Elder Butler shall stand aloof, not blending with the elements God sees essential to carry forward the work in these perilous times, they will be left behind. God will complete His work in righteousness. These brethren have had every opportunity to stand in the ranks that are pressing on to victory, but if they refuse, the work will advance without them.
God will send by whom He will; His message will not return unto Him void, but will accomplish that whereunto it is sent. And if they refuse the message, the men whom God designed should hold the same relation to the younger workers as did Moses to Joshua, will fail of doing the work the Lord designed they should do. They will be a hindrance in the place of a blessing. The work will go forward; but these brethren, who might have received the richest blessings, will meet with eternal loss, for though they should repent and be saved at last, they can never regain that which they have lost through their wrong course of action. They might have been God's instruments to carry the work forward with power; but their influence was exerted to counteract the Lord's message, to make the work appear questionable. Every jot and tittle of this will have to be repented of.
The opposition in our own ranks has imposed upon the Lord's messengers a laborious and soul-trying task; for they have had to meet difficulties and obstacles which need not have existed. While this labor had to be performed among our own people to make them willing that God should work in the day of His power, the light of the glory of God has not been shining in clear, concentrated rays to our world. Thousands who are now in the darkness of error might have been added to our numbers.
All the time and thought and labor required to counteract the influence of our brethren who oppose the message has been just so much taken from the work of warning the world of the swift coming judgments of God. The Spirit of God has been present in power among His people, but it could not be bestowed upon them, because they did not open their hearts to receive it.
It is not the opposition of the world that we have to fear, but it is the elements that work among ourselves that have hindered the message. The efficiency of the movements for extending the truth depends upon the harmonious action of those who profess to believe it. Love and confidence constitute a moral force that would have united our churches, and insured harmony of action; but coldness and distrust have brought disunion that has shorn us of our strength.
The Lord designed that the messages of warning and instruction given through the Spirit to His people should go everywhere. But the influence that grew out of the resistance of light and truth at Minneapolis tended to make of no effect the light God had given to His people through the Testimonies. Great Controversy , vol. 4, has not had the circulation it should have had, because some of those who occupy responsible positions were leavened with the spirit that prevailed at Minneapolis, a spirit that clouded the discernment of the people of God.
The work of opponents to the truth has been steadily advancing while we have been compelled to devote our energies in a great degree to counteracting the work of the enemy through those who were in our own ranks. The dullness of some and the opposition of others have confined our strength and means largely among those who knew the truth but did not practice its principles. If every soldier of Christ had done his duty, if every watchman on the walls of Zion had given the trumpet a certain sound, the world might ere this have heard the message of warning. But the work is years behind. What account will be rendered to God for thus retarding the work?
While the angels were holding the four winds that they should not blow, giving opportunity for everyone who had light to let it shine to the world, there have been influences at work among us to cry peace and safety. Many did not understand that we had not time or strength or influence to be lost through dilatory action. While men slept, Satan has been steadily stealing a march upon us, working up the advantages given him to have things after his own order.
The Lord has revealed to us that the Laodicean message applies to the church at this time, and yet how few make a practical application of it to themselves. God has wrought for us; we have no complaint to make of heaven, for the richest blessings have been proffered us, but our people have been very reluctant to accept them. Those who have been so stubborn and rebellious that they would not humble themselves to receive the light God sent in mercy to their souls, became so destitute of the Holy Spirit that the Lord could not use them. Unless they are converted these men will never enter the mansions of the blest.
Some have been preaching the Word whose labors are tainted with impurity and licentiousness. They have done far more harm than good. Unless they shall turn from their evil ways, they will perish with the wicked. Others have carried the truth in a very indifferent manner; they have had no real burden of the work; they have gone backward rather than forward. It is high time for these to retrace their steps, for they have lost their first love. The Lord's injunction to them is, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
A great work is before us. There are a few who carry the heavy burden of responsibility. They feel that God has committed to our American churches a solemn trust in the messages of truth to be given to the world. From all nations the Macedonian cry is heard, "Come over and help us." God in His providence has opened fields before us, and if the human agents cooperate with the divine agencies, many souls may be made partakers of a pure and saving faith. For years the appeal has been made, but the Lord's professed people have been sleeping over their allotted work, and it remains almost untouched.
God has sent message after message to arouse our churches to do something, and to do it now. But to the call of God, "Whom shall I send?" there have been few voices to respond, "Here am I, send me." Through this neglect, many souls will lose the opportunity the Lord desired to give them.
[Luke 14:16-24, quoted.]
When the message of God is brought to them, many will thus excuse themselves. But the work must be pressed wherever there is an opening. Men and money are needed to carry it forward. Still there is opportunity for us to share the Saviour's self-denial and sacrifice for the salvation of souls.
The necessities of the work now demand a far greater outlay than ever before. The Lord calls upon His people to make every effort to curtail their expenses. Again I plead that instead of spending money for pictures of yourselves and your friends, you should turn it into another channel. Let the money that has been devoted to the gratification of self flow into the Lord's treasury to sustain those who are working to save perishing souls. Let those who have houses and lands give heed to the message, "Sell that ye have, and give alms." "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse; that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" [Mal. 3:10].
The Lord is soon to come. We must work while the day lasts; for the night is coming, in which no man can work. Oh, many, many have lost the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice. They have been burying their money in temporal possessions. There are men whom God has blessed, whom He is testing to see what response they will make to His benefits. They have withheld their tithes and offerings until their debt to the Lord God of hosts has become so great that they grow pale at the thought of rendering unto the Lord His own--a just tithe. Make haste, brethren, you have now [the] opportunity to be honest with God; delay not. For your soul's sake, no longer rob God in tithes and offerings.
The Lord calls for every talent of means and ability to be put to use. When the reproach of indolence and slothfulness shall have been wiped away from the church, the Spirit of the Lord will be graciously manifested; divine power will combine with human effort, the church will see the providential interpositions of the Lord God of hosts, the light of truth will be diffused, the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. As in the apostles' time, many souls will turn unto the Lord. The earth will be lightened with the glory of the angel from heaven.
If the [people of the] world are to be convinced of sin as transgressors of God's law, the agency must be the Holy Spirit working through human instrumentalities. The church needs now to shake off her death-like slumber, for the Lord is waiting to bless His people who will recognize His blessing when it comes, and diffuse it in clear, strong rays of light.
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. . . . And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes" [Eze. 36:25, 27]. If the wilderness of the church is to become as a fruitful field, and the fruitful field to be as a forest, it is through the Holy Spirit of God poured out upon His people.
The heavenly agencies have long been waiting for the human agents, the members of the church, to cooperate with them in the great work to be done. They are waiting for you. So vast is the field, so comprehensive the design, that every sanctified heart will be pressed into service as an agent of divine power.
At the same time there will be a power stirring everything from beneath. The working of evil angels will be manifest in deceptions, delusions, in calamities, and in casualties and crimes of no ordinary character. While God employs the angels of mercy to work through His human agents, Satan sets his agencies in operation, laying under tribute all the powers that submit to his control.
There will be lords many and gods many. The cry will be heard, "Lo, here is Christ," and "Lo, He is there." The deep plotting of Satan will reveal its working everywhere for the purpose of distracting attention from present duty. The appearance of a false Christ will awaken delusive hopes in the minds of those who allow themselves to be deceived. The church members that are awake will rise to the emergency, manifesting greater diligence as iniquity abounds.
The very manifestations of satanic power are to be presented in their true light before the people. There will be signs and wonders in the world of nature. The powers of earth and heaven[* GC BULLETIN, FEB. 28, 1893, SAYS, "HELL."] will manifest a terrifying, destructive activity. But the eye of faith will discern in all these manifestations harbingers of the grand and awful future, and the triumphs that will surely come to God's people.
Let all who believe the truth for this time put away their differences; put away envy, evil speaking, and evil thinking. Press together, press together. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
Work, oh, work, keeping eternity in view. Bear in mind that every power must be sanctified. In yourselves you are powerless to do anything good. Christ declares, "Without Me ye can do nothing." Becoming partakers of the divine nature, you can do all things. Through Christ you can have power with God and with men.
A great work is to be done. Let the prayer go forth from unfeigned lips, "God be merciful unto us and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; that Thy way may be known upon the earth, Thy saving health among all nations." Our God is waiting to be gracious. "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." Will the church give to the world the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Shall the light shine forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples?
"There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" [Rom. 10:12-15]. "For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." [Acts 13:47].
"But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion
on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having
no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous,
but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that
He will send forth laborers into His harvest" [Matt.
9:36-38]. Our work is plainly laid down in the Word of God. Christian
is to be united to Christian, church to church, the human instrumentality
cooperating with the divine, every agency to be subordinate to the Holy
Spirit, and all to be combined in giving to the world the good tidings
of the grace of God.-- Letter 77, 1893. Ellen G. White Estate March 12,
1986. Entire Manuscript.
Source: EGW Website