I saw that God wants you to turn your attention to yourselves. Try your motives. You are deceived in regard to yourselves. You have an appearance of humility, and this has influence with others, and leads them to think that you are far advanced in the Christian life; but when your peculiar notions are touched, self rises at once, and you manifest a wilful, stubborn spirit. This is a sure evidence that you do not possess true humility.
I saw that you had mistaken notions about afflicting your bodies, depriving yourselves of nourishing food. These things lead some of the church to think that God is surely with you, or you would not deny self, and sacrifice thus. But I saw that none of these things will make you more holy. The heathen do all this, but receive no reward for it. A broken and contrite spirit before God is in His sight of great price. I saw that your views concerning these things are erroneous, and that you are looking at the church and watching them, noticing little things, when your attention should be turned to your own soul's interest. God has not laid the burden of His flock upon you. You think that the church is upon the background, because they cannot see things as you do, and because they do not follow the same rigid course which you think you are required to pursue. I saw that you are deceived in regard to your own duty and the duty of others. Some have gone to extremes in regard to diet. They have taken a rigid course, and lived so very plain that their health has suffered, disease has strengthened in the system, and the temple of God has been weakened.
I was referred back to our experience in Rochester, New York. I saw that when we lived there we did not eat nourishing food as we should, and disease nearly carried us to the grave. I saw that as God gives His beloved sleep, He is willing to grant them suitable food to nourish the strength. The motive we had was pure. It was to save means, that the paper might be sustained. We were poor. I saw that the fault then was in the church. Those who had means were covetous and selfish. If these had done their part, the burden upon us would have been lightened; but as some did not do their part, we were burdened and others eased. I saw that God does not require anyone to take a course of such rigid economy as to weaken or injure the temple of God. There are duties and requirements in His word to humble the church and cause them to afflict their souls, and there is no need of making
crosses and manufacturing duties to distress the body in order to cause humility. All this is outside of the word of God.
The time of trouble is just before us; and then stern necessity will require the people of God to deny self, and to eat merely enough to sustain life; but God will prepare us for that time. In that fearful hour our necessity will be God's opportunity to impart His strengthening power, and to sustain His people. But now God requires them to labour with their hands, the thing that is good, and lay by them in store as He has prospered them, and do their part in sustaining the cause of truth. This is a duty enjoined upon all who are not especially called to labour in word and doctrine, to devote their time to proclaiming to others the way of life and salvation.
Those who labour with their hands must nourish their strength to perform his labour, and those also who labour in word and doctrine must nourish their strength; for Satan and his evil angels are warring against them to tear down their strength. They should seek rest of body and mind from wearing labour when they can, and should eat of nourishing, strengthening food to build up their strength; for they will be obliged to exercise all the strength they have. I saw that it does not glorify God in the least for any of His people to make a time of trouble for themselves. There is a time of trouble just before God's people, and He will prepare them for that fearful conflict.
I saw that your views concerning swine's flesh [THIS REMARKABLE TESTIMONY WAS WRITTEN OCTOBER 21, 1858, NEARLY FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE GREAT VISION OF 1863, IN WHICH THE LIGHT UPON HEALTH REFORM WAS GIVEN. WHEN THE RIGHT TIME CAME, THE SUBJECT WAS GIVEN IN A MANNER TO MOVE ALL OUR PEOPLE. HOW WONDERFUL ARE THE WISDOM AND GOODNESS OF GOD! IT MIGHT BE AS WRONG TO CROWD THE MILK, SALT, AND SUGAR QUESTION NOW, AS THE PORK QUESTION IN 1858.-- J.W., NOTE TO SECOND EDITION.] would prove no injury if you have them to yourselves; but in your judgement and opinion you have made this question a test,
and your actions have plainly shown your faith in this matter. If God requires His people to abstain from swine's flesh, He will convict them on the matter. He is just as willing to show His honest children their duty, as to show their duty to individuals upon whom He has not laid the burden of His work. If it is the duty of the church to abstain from swine's flesh, God will discover it to more than two or three. He will teach His church their duty.
God is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. Some run ahead of the angels that are leading this people; but they have to retrace every step, and meekly follow no faster than the angels lead. I saw that the angels of God would lead His people no faster than they could receive and act upon the important truths that are communicated to them. But some restless spirits do not more than half do up their work. As the angel leads them, they get in haste for something new, and rush on without divine guidance, and thus bring confusion and discord into the ranks. They do not speak or act in harmony with the body. I saw that you both must speedily be brought where you are willing to be led, instead of desiring to lead, or Satan will step in and lead you in his way, to follow his counsel. Some look at your set notions, and consider them an evidence of humility. They are deceived. You both are making work for repentance.
Brother A, you are naturally close and covetous. You tithe mint and rue, but neglect the weightier matters. When the young man came to Jesus, and asked what he should do to have eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments. He declared that he had done so. Said Jesus: Yet lackest thou one thing. Go sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. The result was the
young man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. I saw that you had wrong ideas. God requires economy of His people; but some have stretched their economy into meanness. I wish that you could see your case as it is. The true spirit of sacrifice, which is acceptable to God, you do not possess. You look at others, and watch them, and if they do not bring themselves to the same rigid course that you follow, you can do nothing for them. Your souls are withering beneath the blighting influence of your own errors. A fanatical spirit is with you, that you take to be God's Spirit. You are deceived. You cannot bear the plain, cutting testimony. You would have a smooth testimony borne to you; but when anyone reproves your wrongs, how quick self rises. Your spirits are not humbled. You have a work to do. . . . Such acts, such a spirit, I saw, was the fruit of your errors, and the fruit of setting up your judgement and notions as a rule for others, and against those whom God has called into the field. You have both overreached the mark.
I saw that you had thought this one and that one were called to labour in the field, when you know nothing of the matter. You cannot read the heart. If you had drunk deep of the truth of the third angel's message, you would not be so free to tell who were called of God, and who were not. The fact that one can pray and talk well is no evidence that God has called him. Everyone has an influence, and that influence should tell for God; but the question whether this one or that one should devote his time to labour for souls, is of the deepest importance, and none but God can decide who shall engage in the solemn work. There were good men in the apostles' days, men who could pray with power and talk to the point; yet the apostles, who had power over unclean spirits and could heal the sick, dared not with merely their wisdom set one apart for the holy work of being mouthpiece for God. They waited unmistakable evidence of the
manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I saw that God had laid upon His chosen ministers the duty of deciding who was fit for the holy work; and in union with the church and the manifest tokens of the Holy Spirit, they were to decide who should go and who were unfit to go. I saw that if it should be left to a few individuals here and there to decide who was sufficient for this great work, confusion and distraction everywhere would be the fruit.
God has repeatedly shown that persons should not be encouraged into the field without unmistakable evidence that He has called them. The Lord will not entrust the burden for his flock to unqualified individuals. Those whom God calls must be men of deep experience, tried and proved, men of sound judgement, men who will dare to reprove sin in the spirit of meekness, men who understand how to feed the flock. God knows the heart, and He knows whom to select. Brother and Sister A may decide in this matter, and be all wrong. Your judgement is imperfect, and can be no evidence in this matter. I saw that you were drawing off from the church, and if you continue to do so, you will have enough of it; for God will let you go, to suffer by following your own way.
Now God invites you to get right, to try your motives, and to press into harmony with His people. Mannsville, New York, October 21, 1858.