There have been so many church trials among the brethren in the State of New York, that God has not had the least to do with, that the church have lost their strength, and they know not how to regain it. Love for one another has disappeared, and a faultfinding, accusing spirit has prevailed. It has been considered a virtue to hunt up everything about one another that looked wrong, and make it appear fully as bad as it really was. The bowels of compassion that yearn in love and pity toward brethren, have not existed. The religion of some has consisted in faultfinding, picking at everything bearing the appearance of wrong, until the noble feelings of the soul are withered. The mind should be elevated to dwell upon eternal scenes, heaven, its treasures, its glories, and should take sweet and holy satisfaction in the truths of the Bible. It should love to feed upon the precious promises that God's word affords, draw comfort from them, and be lifted above trifles to weighty, eternal things.
But, oh, how differently has the mind been employed! Picking at straws! Church meetings, as they have been held, have been a living curse to many in New York. These manufactured trials have given full liberty to evil surmising. Jealousy has been fed. Hatred has existed, but they knew it not. A wrong idea has been in the minds of some, to reprove without love, hold others to their idea of what is right, and spare not, but bear down with crushing weight.
I saw that many in New York have had so much care for their brethren, to keep them straight, that they have neglected their own hearts. They are so fearful that their brethren will not be zealous and repent, that they forget that they have wrongs that must be righted. With their own hearts unsanctified, they try to right their brethren. Now the only way the brethren and sisters in New York can rise is for each to attend to his own individual case, and set his own heart in order. If sin is plain in a brother, breathe it not to another, but with love for the brother's soul, with a heart full of compassion, with bowels of mercy, tell him the wrong, then leave the matter with him and the Lord. You have discharged your duty. You are not to pass sentence.
It has been made too light an affair to rein up a brother, to condemn him, and hold him under condemnation. There has been a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. If each would set his own heart in order, when the brethren meet together their testimony would be ready and come from a full soul, and the people around that believe not the truth would be moved. The manifestation of the Spirit of God would tell to their hearts that you are the children of God. Our love for one another should be visible to all. Then it will tell. It will have an influence.
I saw that the church in New York might rise. Take hold of the work individually, be zealous and repent; and after all known wrongs are righted, then believe that God accepts you. Go not mourning, but take God at His word. Seek Him diligently, and believe that He receives you. A part of the work is to believe. He is faithful who has promised. Climb up by faith.
The brethren can rise in New York as well as in other places; and they can drink of the salvation of God. They can move understandingly, and each have an experience for himself in this message of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. The church feel that they are down, but know not how to
rise. The intentions of some may be very good; they may confess; yet I saw that they are watched with suspicion, and are made offenders for a word, until they have no liberty, no salvation. They dare not act out the simple feelings of the heart, because they are watched. It is God's pleasure that His people should fear Him, and have confidence before one another.
I saw that many have taken advantage of what God has shown in regard to the sins and wrongs of others. They have taken the extreme meaning of what has been shown in vision, and then have pressed it until it has had a tendency to weaken the faith of many in what God has shown, and also to discourage and dishearten the church. With tender compassion should brother deal with brother. Delicately should he deal with feelings. It is the nicest and most important work that ever yet was done to touch the wrongs of another. With the deepest humility should a brother do this, considering his own weakness, lest he also should be tempted.
I have seen the great sacrifice which Jesus made to redeem man. He did not consider His own life too dear to sacrifice. Said Jesus: "Love one another, as I have loved you." Do you feel, when a brother errs, that you could give your life to save him? If you feel thus, you can approach him and affect his heart; you are just the one to visit that brother. But it is a lamentable fact that many who profess to be brethren, are not willing to sacrifice any of their opinions or their judgement to save a brother. There is but little love for one another. A selfish spirit is manifested.
Discouragement has come upon the church. They have been loving the world, loving their farms, their cattle, etc. Now Jesus calls them to cut loose, to lay up treasure in heaven, to buy gold, white raiment, and eyesalve. Precious treasures are these. They will obtain for the possessor an entrance into the kingdom of God.
The people of God must move understandingly. They should not be satisfied until every known sin is confessed; then it is their privilege and duty to believe that Jesus accepts them. They must not wait for others to press through the darkness and obtain the victory for them to enjoy. Such enjoyment will last only till the meeting closes. But God must be served from principle instead of from feeling. Morning and night obtain the victory for yourselves in your own family. Let not your daily labour keep you from this. Take time to pray, and as you pray, believe that God hears you. Have faith mixed with your prayers. You may not at all times feel the immediate answer; but then it is that faith is tried. You are proved to see whether you will trust in God, whether you have living, abiding faith. "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." Walk the narrow plank of faith. Trust all on the promises of the Lord. Trust God in darkness. That is the time to have faith. But you often let feeling govern you. You look for worthiness in yourselves when you do not feel comforted by the Spirit of God, and despair because you cannot find it. You do not trust enough in Jesus, precious Jesus. You do not make His worthiness to be all, all. The very best you can do will not merit the favour of God. It is Jesus' worthiness that will save you, His blood that will cleanse you. But you have efforts to make. You must do what you can on your part. Be zealous and repent, then believe.
Confound not faith and feeling together. They are distinct. Faith is ours to exercise. This faith we must keep in exercise. Believe, believe. Let your faith take hold of the blessing, and it is yours. Your feelings have nothing to do with this faith. When faith brings the blessing to your heart, and you rejoice in the blessing, it is no more faith, but feeling.
The people of God in New York must steadily rise, and come out of darkness, and let their light shine. They are
standing right in the way of the work of God. They must let the message of the third angel do its work upon their hearts. Brethren, God is dishonoured by your long, faithless prayers. Look away from the unworthiness of self, and exalt Jesus. Talk of faith, of light, and of heaven, and you will have faith, light, and love, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.