It is important that all now come up to the work and act as though they were living men, labouring for the salvation of souls who are perishing. If all in the church would come up
to the help of the Lord, we would see such a revival of His work as we have not hitherto witnessed. God requires this of you and of each member of the church. It is not left with you to decide whether it is best for you to obey the call of God. Obedience is required; and unless you obey you will stand on worse than neutral ground. Unless you are favoured with the blessing of God you have His curse. He requires you to be willing and obedient, and says that you shall eat the good of the land. A bitter curse is pronounced on those who come not to the help of the Lord. "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." Satan and his angels are in the field to oppose every advance step that God's people take, therefore the help of everyone is required.
Brother and Sister N, the influence of unbelieving friends affects you more than you are aware of. They bring you no strength, but darkness and unbelief. You have an individual work in the vineyard of the Lord. You have thought and cared too much for yourselves. Set your hearts in order, and then be in earnest. Inquire: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" God requires of you an earnest reaching out after Him. He bids you search your own hearts diligently to discover all there that prevents your bringing forth much fruit, and that which will remain. The reason you possess no more of the Spirit of God is that you do not cheerfully bear the cross of Christ. In the last vision I saw that you were deceived in regard to the strength of your love for this world. The cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and you become unfruitful. God requires us to bear much fruit. He will not give commands without giving with them power for their performance. He will not do our part of the work, neither does He require that we do His. It is God that
worketh in us, but we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. "Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." Faith must be sustained by works; the doers of the work are justified before God. You displease God in talking of your poverty, while you have abundance. All that you possess belongs to Him, yet He has seen fit to make you a steward of it for a short time, He is testing and proving you. How will you bear the test? He will require His own with usury.
You have fixed your eyes upon what you have given to different enterprises, and it looks large to you. But had you done very much more, had your hearts expanded, and your hands dispensed to the cause of God and to the needy, you would have done no more than your duty, and you would have been far happier. The Lord calls upon you to bring your offering to the altar, and not hold it within reach merely, but lay it on the altar. The altar sanctifies the gift when it is placed upon it, and not before.
You are not as separate from the world as God requires you to be, but you do not see and understand your danger. You are led astray by your love of the world. You both need to take a deeper draught at the Fountain of truth. Unless you do come into a different condition where you can honour God with your influence and your substance, His curse will come upon you. You may gather, but He will scatter. Instead of your health springing forth speedily, you will become like a withered branch. The Lord calls for workers--men who can and will feel for the salvation of souls, and who will sacrifice anything that they may be saved. No one else can do this work for you; the offerings of others, if ever so liberal, cannot take the place of yours. It is a surrender to God which you have to make, which no other one can make for you. It is only the Spirit's power, working through mighty faith, that can make
you able to successfully resist the many snares Satan has laid for your feet. The words and example of your Redeemer will be the light and strength of your heart. If you follow and trust in Him, He will not leave you to perish. You fear too much the displeasure of those who do not love and serve God. Why should you wish to keep the friendship of your Lord's enemies or be influenced by their opinions? "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" If the heart were right, there would be a more decided separation from the world.
The Lord would have done a great and good work in this vicinity last spring had all felt the need of this work and come up to the help of the Lord. There was not unity of action. All did not feel the necessity of the work and engage in it heartily. There was not a surrendering of all to God. You were shown me as being troubled and perplexed, a mist of darkness gathering over you. You were questioning and were not in a position to receive strength yourselves nor to impart it to others. It is a solemn, fearful time. There is no time now for cherishing idols, no place for concord with Belial or for friendship with the world. Those whom God accepts and sanctifies to Himself are called to be diligent and faithful in His service, being set apart and devoted to Him. It is not a form of godliness, nor a name upon the church records, that constitutes "a living stone" in the spiritual building. It is being renewed in knowledge and true holiness, being crucified to the world and made alive in Christ, that unites the soul to God. The followers of Christ have one leading object in view, one great work: the salvation of their fellow men. Every other interest should be inferior to this; it should engage the most earnest effort and the deepest interest.
God first requires the heart, the affections. He requires His followers to love and serve Him with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength.
His commandments and grace are adapted to our necessities, and without them we cannot be saved, do what we may. Acceptable obedience He requires. The offering of goods, or any service, will not be accepted without the heart. The will must be brought into subjection. The Lord requires of you a greater consecration to Him and a greater separation from the spirit and influence of the world.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." Christ has called you to be His followers, to imitate His life of self-sacrifice and self-denial, to be interested in the great work of the redemption of the fallen race. You have no just sense of the work that God requires you to perform. Christ is your pattern. That in which you are deficient is love. This pure and holy principle distinguishes the character and conduct of Christians from those of worldlings. Divine love has a powerful, purifying influence. It is to be found only in renewed hearts, and naturally flows out to their fellow men.
"Love one another," says our Saviour, "as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Christ has given us an example of pure, disinterested love. You have not as yet seen your deficiency in this respect, and your great need of this heavenly attainment, without which all your good purposes, and your zeal, even if it be of that nature that you could give your goods to feed the poor and your body to be burned, is nothing. You need that charity which suffereth long, is not easily provoked, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Without the spirit of love, no one can be like Christ. With this living principle in the soul, no one can be like the world.
The conduct of Christians is like that of their Lord. He
erected the standard, and it is left for us to say whether or not we will rally around it. Our Lord and Saviour laid aside His dominion, His riches and glory, and sought after us, that He might save us from misery and make us like Himself. He humbled Himself and took our nature that we might be able to learn of Him and, imitating His life of benevolence and self-denial, follow Him step by step to heaven. You cannot equal the copy; but you can resemble it and, according to your ability, do likewise. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." Such love must dwell in your hearts, that you will be ready to give the treasures and honours of this world if thereby you may influence one soul to engage in the service of Christ.
God bids you with one hand, faith, take hold of His mighty arm, and with the other hand, love, reach perishing souls. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Follow Him. Walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Walk even as He walked. This is the will of God, even your sanctification. The work you have to perform is to do the will of Him who sustains your life for His glory. If you labour for yourselves, it can profit you nothing. To labour for others' good, to be less self-caring and more in earnest to devote all to God, will be acceptable to Him and be returned by His rich grace.
God has not apportioned you your lot to merely watch over and care for yourselves. You are required to minister to, and watch over, others, and in this exercise you will manifest those evils in your character which need correcting, and will strengthen those weak points that need strengthening. This is the part of the work we have to perform; not impatiently, fretfully, unwillingly, but cheerfully, gladly, in order to reach Christian perfection. To remove from us everything which is not exactly agreeable is not imitating Christ.
You should be very jealous for the honour of God. How circumspectly should you walk, where now your course is not as it should be. If you could see the pure angels with their bright, searching eyes intently fixed on you, watching to record how the Christian glorifies his Master; or could you observe the exulting, sneering triumph of the evil angels, as they trace out every crooked way, and then quote Scripture which is violated, and compare the life with this Scripture which you profess to follow but from which you swerve, you would be astonished and alarmed for yourselves. It takes the entire man to make a valiant Christian. Oh, what blind, short-sighted creatures we are! How little do we discern sacred things, and how feebly do we comprehend the riches of His grace!
One thing I wish to impress upon your minds. You have the special mediums of Satan closely connected with you, and their power and influence have a manifest effect upon you, because you do not remain near enough to God to ensure the special aid of angels that excel in strength. Your union is altogether too strong with your Lord's enemies, and you perceive not that you are in danger of making shipwreck of your faith. If you encourage, in the least, the temptations of Satan, you place yourself upon his battleground, and then the conflict will be long and sore before you obtain the victory and triumph in the name of Jesus, who has conquered him.
Satan has great advantages. He possessed the wonderful intellectual power of an angel, of which few form any just idea. Satan was conscious of his power, or he would not have engaged in a conflict with the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Satan closely watches events, and when he finds one who has a specially strong spirit of opposition to the truth of God he will even reveal to him unfulfilled events, that he may more firmly secure himself a seat in his heart. He who did not hesitate to brave a conflict
with Him who holds creation as in His hand, has malignity to persecute and deceive. He holds mortals in his snare at the present time. During his experience of nearly six thousand years he has lost none of his skill and shrewdness. All this time he has been a close observer of all that concerns our race.
Those who have bitterly opposed the truth of God, Satan uses as his mediums. To such he will appear in the assumed person and garb of another, it may be a friend of the medium. He will increase their faith by using the words of this friend and relating circumstances which are about to take place or which really have taken place and of which the medium knew nothing. Sometimes previous to a death or an accident he gives a dream or, personating another, converses with the medium, even imparting knowledge by means of his suggestions. But it is wisdom from beneath and not from above. The wisdom taught by Satan is opposed to the truth, unless, to serve his purpose, he apparently clothes himself with the light which enshrouds angels. To a certain class of minds he will come sanctioning a part of what Christ's followers believe to be truth, while he warns them to reject the other part as dangerous and fatal error.
Satan is a master workman. His infernal wisdom he employs with good success. He is ready and able to teach those who reject the counsel of God against their own souls. The bait which he has found will avail in bringing souls into his net, that he may fasten his hellish grasp upon them, he will clothe with every possible good and make as attractive as possible. All who are thus ensnared will learn at a dreadful expense the folly of selling heaven and immortality for a deception that is fatal in its consequences. Our adversary, the devil, is not void of wisdom or strength. He goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He will work "with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all
deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." Because they rejected the truth, "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." We have a powerful, deceptive foe with whom to contend, and our only safety is in Him who is to come, who will consume this archdeceiver with the spirit of His mouth, and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
I commend this to you in the fear of God, and implore you to arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you life.