All who in that evil day would faithfully serve God according to the dictates of conscience, will need courage, firmness, and a knowledge of God and His word; for those who are true to God will be persecuted, their motives will be impugned, their best efforts misinterpreted, and their names cast out as evil.
Satan will work with his deceptive power to influence the heart and becloud the understanding, to make evil appear good, and good evil. The stronger and purer the faith of God's people, and the firmer their determination to obey Him, the more fiercely will Satan strive to stir up against them the rage of those who, while claiming to be righteous, trample upon the law of God. It will require the firmest trust, the most heroic purpose, to hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints.
The messengers of the cross must arm themselves with watchfulness and prayer, and more forward in
faith and courage, working always in the name of Jesus. They must have confidence in their Leader; for troublous times are before us. The judgements of God are abroad in the land. Calamities follow one another in rapid succession. Soon God is to rise out of His place to shake terribly the earth, and to punish the wicked for their iniquity. Then He will stand up in behalf of His people, and will give them His protecting care. He will throw His everlasting arms about them, to shield them from all harm.
"Courage in the Lord"
After the passing of the time in 1844, a number of brethren and sisters were assembled in a meeting. All were very sad, for the disappointment had been sore. Presently a man came in, crying, "Courage in the Lord, brethren; courage in the Lord!" This he repeated again and again, till every face was aglow, and every voice lifted in praise to God.
To-day I say to every worker for the Master, "Courage in the Lord!" Ever since 1844 I have been proclaiming present truth, and to-day this truth is dearer to me than ever before.
Some look always at the objectionable and discouraging features, and therefore discouragement overtakes them. They forget that the heavenly universe is waiting to make them agencies of blessing to the world; and that the Lord Jesus is a never-failing storehouse from which human beings may draw strength and courage. There is no need for despondency and apprehension. The time will never come when the shadow of Satan will not be cast athwart
our pathway. Thus the enemy seeks to hide the light shining from the Sun of Righteousness. But our faith should pierce this shadow.
God calls for cheerful co-workers, who refuse to become discouraged and disheartened by opposing agencies. The Lord is leading us, and we may go forward courageously, assured that He will be with us, as He was in past years, when we laboured in feebleness, but under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Angels ministered to Christ, but their presence did not make His life one of ease and freedom from temptation. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."[1 HEB. 4:15.] If ministers, while engaged in the work that the Master has appointed them, have trials and perplexities and temptations, should they be discouraged? Should they cast away their confidence because their labours do not always bring the results that they so greatly desire to see? True workers will not despond in view of the work before them, arduous though it may be. Shrinking from hardship, complaining under tribulation, makes the servants of God weak and inefficient.
As those who stand in the forefront of the battle see that the special warfare of Satan is directed against them, they will realise their need of strength from God, and they will labour in His strength. The victories that they gain will not exalt them, but will cause them to lean more securely upon the Mighty One. Deep and fervent gratitude to God will spring up in their hearts, and they will be joyful in the tribulation that comes to them while pressed by the enemy.
A Season of Trust and Privilege
The present is a season of solemn privilege and sacred trust. If the servants of God keep faithfully the trust given to them, great will be their reward when the Master shall say, "Give an account of thy stewardship."[2 LUKE 16:2.] The earnest toil, the unselfish work, the patient, persevering effort, will be abundantly rewarded. Jesus will say, Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends.[3 SEE JOHN 15:15.] The approval of the Master is not given because of the greatness of the work performed, but because of fidelity in all that has been done. It is not the results we attain, but the motives from which we act, that weigh with God. He prizes goodness and faithfulness above all else.
I entreat the heralds of the gospel of Christ never to become discouraged, never to regard the most hardened sinner as beyond the reach of the grace of God. The one apparently hopeless may accept the truth in the love of it. He who turns the hearts of men as the rivers of water are turned, can bring the most selfish, sin-hardened soul to Christ. Is anything too hard for God to do? "My word," He declares, "shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."[4 ISA. 55:11.]
Those who are endeavouring to build up the work in new territory will often find themselves in great need of better facilities. Their work will seem to be hindered for lack of these facilities; but let them not lose their faith and courage. Often they are obliged to go to the limit of their resources. At times it may seem
as if they could advance no farther. But if they pray and work in faith, God will answer their petitions, sending them means for the advancement of the work. Difficulties will arise; they will wonder how they are going to accomplish what must be done. At times the future will look very dark. But let the workers bring to God the promises He has made, and thank Him for what He has done. Then the way will open before them, and they will be strengthened for the duty of the hour. -
Few realise the significance of the words of Luke, that when Paul saw his brethren, "he thanked God, and took courage."[5 ACTS 28:15.] In the midst of the weeping, sympathising company of believers, who were not ashamed of his bonds, the apostle praised God aloud. The cloud of sadness that had rested upon his spirit was swept away. His Christian life had been a succession of trials, sufferings, and disappointments, but in that hour he felt abundantly repaid. With firmer step and joyful heart he continued on his way. He would not complain of the past, nor fear for the future. Bonds and afflictions awaited him, he knew; but he knew also that it had been his to deliver souls from a bondage infinitely more terrible, and he rejoiced in his sufferings for Christ's sake.-- "The Acts of the Apostles," page 449 .