With many of the church at Battle Creek there is a great lack of feeling their responsibility. Those who have practical religion will retain their identity of character under any circumstances. They will not be like the reed trembling in the wind. Those situated at a distance feel that they would be highly favoured could they have the privilege of living in Battle Creek, among a strong church, where their children could be benefited by the Sabbath school and meetings. Some of our brethren and sisters in times past have made sacrifices to have their children live there. But they have been disappointed in almost every case. There were but few in the church to manifest an unselfish interest for these youth. The church generally stood as pharisaical strangers, aloof from those who needed their help the most. Some of the youth connected with the church, who were professedly serving God, but loving pleasure and the world more, were ready to make the acquaintance of youthful strangers who came among them, and to exert a strong influence over them to lead them to the world instead of nearer to God. When these return home, they are further from the truth than when they came to Battle Creek.
Men and women are wanted at the heart of the work who will be nursing fathers and mothers in Israel, who will have hearts that can take in more than merely me and mine. They should have hearts that will glow with love for the dear youth, whether they are members of their own families or children of their neighbours. They are members of God's great family, for whom Christ had so great an interest that He made every sacrifice that it was possible for Him to make to save them. He left His glory, His majesty, His kingly throne and robes of royalty, and became poor, that through His poverty the children of men might be made rich. He finally poured out His soul unto death that He might save the race from hopeless misery. This is the example of disinterested benevolence that Christ has given us to pattern after.
In the special providence of God many youth and also those of mature age have been thrown into the arms of the Battle Creek church for them to bless with the great light God has given them, and that, through their disinterested efforts, they might have the precious privilege of bringing them to Christ and to the truth. Christ commissions His angels to minister unto those who are brought under the influence of the truth, to soften their hearts and make them susceptible of the influences of His truth. While God and His angels are doing their work, those who profess to be followers of Christ seem to be coolly indifferent. They do not work in unison with Christ and holy angels. Although they profess to be servants of God they are serving their own interest and loving their own pleasure, and souls are perishing around them. These souls can truly say:" No man careth for my soul." The church have neglected to improve the privileges and blessings within their reach, and through their neglect of duty have lost golden opportunities of winning souls to Christ.
Unbelievers have lived among them for months, and they have made no special efforts to save them. How can the Master regard such servants? The unbelieving would have responded to efforts made in their behalf if the brethren and sisters had lived up to their exalted profession. If they had been seeking
an opportunity to work for the interest of their Master, to advance His cause, they would have manifested kindness and love for them, they would have sought opportunities to pray with and for them, and would have felt a solemn responsibility resting upon them to show their faith by their works, by precept and example. Through their instrumentality these souls might have been saved to be as stars in the crown of their rejoicing. But, in many cases, the golden opportunity has passed never to return. The souls that were in the valley of decision have taken their position in the ranks of the enemy and become enemies of God and the truth. And the record of the unfaithfulness of the professed followers of Jesus has gone up to heaven.
I was shown that if the youth at Battle Creek were true to their profession, they might exert a strong influence for good over their fellow youth. But a large share of the youth at Battle Creek need a Christian experience. They know not God by experimental knowledge. They have not individually a personal experience in the Christian life, and they must perish with the unbelieving unless they obtain this experience. The youth of this class follow inclination rather than duty. Some do not seek to be governed by principle. They do not agonize to enter in at the strait gate, trembling with fear lest they will not be able. They are confident, boastful, proud, disobedient, unthankful, and unholy. Just such a class as this lead souls in the broad road to ruin. If Christ is not in them, they cannot exemplify Him in their lives and characters.
The church at Battle Creek have had great light. As a people they have been peculiarly favoured of God. They have not been left in ignorance in regard to the will of God concerning them. They might be far in advance of what they now are, if they had walked in the light. They are not that separate, peculiar, and holy people that their faith demands, and that God recognizes and acknowledges as children of the light. They are not as obedient and devotional as their exalted position and sacred obligation as children walking in the light require them to be. The most solemn message of mercy ever
given to the world has been entrusted to them. The Lord has made that church the depositories of His commandments in a sense that no other church is. God did not show them His special favour in trusting to them His sacred truth that they alone might be benefited by the light given, but that the light reflected upon them from heaven should shine forth to others and be reflected again to God by those who receive the truth glorifying Him. Many in Battle Creek will have a fearful account to give in the day of God for this sinful neglect of duty.
Many of those who profess to believe the truth in Battle Creek contradict their faith by their works. They are as unbelieving, and as far from fulfilling the requirements of God and from coming up to their profession of faith, as was the Jewish church at the time of Christ's first advent. Should Christ make His appearance among them, reproving and rebuking selfishness, pride, and love of the friendship of the world, as He did at His first advent, but few would recognise Him as the Lord of glory. The picture He would present before them of their neglect of duty they would not receive, but would tell Him to His face:" You are entirely mistaken; we have done this good and great thing, and performed this and that wonderful work, and we are entitled to be highly exalted for our good works."
The Jews did not go into darkness all at once. It was a gradual work, until they could not discern the gift of God in sending His Son. The church at Battle Creek have had superior advantages, and they will be judged by the light and privileges they have had. Their deficiencies, their unbelief, their hardness of heart, and their neglect to cherish and follow the light are not less than those of the favoured Jews, who refused the blessings they might have accepted, and crucified the Son of God. The Jews are now an astonishment and reproach to the world.
The church at Battle Creek are like Capernaum, which Christ represents as being exalted unto heaven by the light and privileges that had been given them. If the light and privileges with which they had been blessed had been given to Sodom
and Gomorrah, they might have stood unto this day. If the light and knowledge which the church in Battle Creek have received had been given the nations who sit in darkness, they might have been far in advance of that church.
The Laodicean church really believed, and enjoyed the blessings of the gospel, and thought they were rich in the favour of God, when the True Witness called them poor, naked, blind, and miserable. This is the case with the church at Battle Creek and with a large share of those who profess to be God's commandment-keeping people. The Lord seeth not as man seeth. His thoughts and ways are not as our ways.
The words and law of God, written in the soul, and exhibited in a consecrated, holy life, have a powerful influence to convict the world. Covetousness, which is idolatry, and envy, and love of the world, will be rooted from the hearts of those who are obedient to Christ, and it will be their pleasure to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God. Oh, how much is comprised in this, walking humbly before God! The law of God, if written in the heart, will bring the mind and will into subjection to the obedience of Christ.
Our faith is peculiar. Many who profess to be living under the sound of the last message of mercy are not separated in their affections from the world. They bow down before the friendship of the world and sacrifice light and principle to secure its favour. The apostle describes the favoured people of God in these words: "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."