My Brethren And Sisters,--
Last night after I had retired to rest a strange depression came over me, and for a long time I was unable to sleep.
Then I seemed to be talking with companies of our people,--to a little group here, and a little group there, and a little group somewhere else. I was saying to them. You do not need to plan for unholy amusements. When your life is hid with Christ in God, you will find in Him all the enhancement that you need. Words like these had been spoken to me.
As I passed from one group to another, I experienced disappointment after disappointment. There was revealed in each company a desire for foolish pleasure. Men and women, acting like children, seemed to have forgotten their responsibility to glorify God. I saw the foolish actions, and heard the foolish words that were spoken. And I saw how the Spirit of God was grieved, and the Lord dishonoured. While God and angels were working by every possible means for the upbuilding of the kingdom of heaven in earth in truth and righteousness, those who should have been standing as heaven's representatives were taking a low level and dishonouring their Redeemer's name.
I said to some, You should bear in mind that as God's professed people you are called to reach a high standard. The Lord cannot be glorified by such a course as you are now pursuing. He bids us glorify Him in our body, and in our spirit, which are His. I do not know with what words to describe these scenes, or what character to give them: but I know that in participating in them you are lessening your
influence for righteousness; you are displeasing the Lord; you are setting an example that none can safely follow.
I was cited to the words of inspiration with which Paul voiced his hope for those who had been won to the gospel in Thessalonica. "We pray always for you," he declared, "that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." The example of these converts to the faith would tell more for the glory of God than all the preaching of Paul and his fellow-labourers. And so the consistent course of believers in this age will do more to magnify the power of truth than all the sermons of our ministers.
At the camp-meeting that has just closed at Santa Rosa, truths were presented and instruction given, which, if appropriated and rightly used, would work transformations in the church, and would change the atmosphere in the home, aiding parents in giving the right mould to the characters of the children and youth. It would change the relations of many of the workers in our institutions, enabling them to bear testimony for the truth in consistent, devoted lives. The impressions made by the camp-meeting were good. I feel sad that any should come from that meeting to take part in scenes that could not fail to remove the impressions of the Spirit from the mind. My heart is burdened as I think of such experiences being repeated after such good instruction had been given.
Examples of Good Works
All sanatorium workers, and parents, and ministers should realise their responsibility to God to be themselves patterns of what they desire the youth to become.
"For their sakes I sanctify Myself." Christ declared, "that they also might be sanctified through the truth." So those to whom the youth look for direction and a godly example should sanctify themselves. Paul directed Timothy, "Be thou an example of the believers." This is instruction to the workers in every institution. If they are learning of Christ daily, they will never forget how potent for good is the influence of right example. But if they are seeking only to amuse and please themselves, they set for themselves and for those within the range of their influence a low standard. Such a course can only end eventually in the yielding up of their faith.
How can gospel believers act in such a way as to encourage those with whom they associate in frivolity and pleasure-loving, and spend their time in acting out the foolishness of the sinner? Do they not know that angels of God are standing by, making a record of their words and actions? I saw angels of God writing, and I looked to see what they had written. I read these words: None of these things will give you spiritual strength, but will lessen your influence for righteousness.
"I was directed to the words of Paul to Timothy: "Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. * * * Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us."
"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which 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. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things."
Warning And Appeal
I was given words of warning and appeal to parents and ministers. Turning from one to another, I told them of their need of being converted daily, of the great importance of having the Spirit of God resting upon them. I said, My brethren and sisters, we have no time to spend in glorifying the enemy of all righteousness. Individually we are to strive for the mastery over all foolishness; we are to strengthen our souls be training our minds to dwell upon the sound, sensible truths of the word of God, that when the enemy seeks to take possession of the mind and to lead us into sin, we shall have strength to act like Christians. If we will let the Spirit of God make its impression on our minds, and will yield our lives to His control, we shall not dishonour God before the world.
I asked the youth and those more advanced in years what impression such scenes were likely to make on the minds of unbelievers; what influence this folly would have upon those to whom it was their privilege to minister the things of eternal life.
As I spoke with great earnestness, pointing them to their privileges as sons and daughters of God, some were overcome with a sense of their wrong-doing. And as the conviction of the Spirit of God came upon them, they fell on their knees and prayed for forgiveness.
When I awoke, I supposed that these things presented to me related to something that would transpire in the future; and I thought I would wait before saying anything to my brethren. I had not heard of anything that was going on at the sanatorium the day before; but I felt discouraged and disappointed.
The gatherings together in our institutions should never be of such a nature as to give the stamp of pleasure-loving and worldliness. There is enough of foolishness in the world. It should be the endeavour of the workers, not to encourage a delight in these things in those who come to our institutions, but to learn how to fill the mind with the things of God. Our ministers need to work during the vacation time to strengthen and steady the minds of the youth.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God: having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." The class will be developed among us as a people as well as in the world. Great, then, is the need that we stand in that position where every jot of our powers may be used to magnify God and His truth.
"Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine," the apostle enjoins: "that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be
discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young man likewise exhort to be sober-minded, in all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."