The brethren in ----- have been willing to give of their means for the various enterprises, but they have withheld themselves. They have not said: Here am I, Lord; send me. It is not the strength of human instruments, but the power and wisdom of Him who employs them and works with them that makes men successful in doing the work that is necessary to be done. By offering our goods to the Possessor of heaven and earth while we withhold ourselves, we cannot meet His approbation nor secure His blessing. There must be in the hearts of the brethren and sisters in ----- a principle to lay all, even themselves, upon the altar of God.
Men are needed in Battle Creek who can and will take burdens and bear responsibilities. The call has been given time and again, but hardly a response has been made. Some would have answered the call if their worldly interests would have been advanced by so doing. But as there was no prospect of increasing their means by coming to Battle Creek, they could see no duty to come. "To obey is better than sacrifice." And without obedience and unselfish love, the richest offerings are too meagre to be presented to the Possessor of all things.
God calls upon the brethren and sisters in ----- to arise and come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The reason why there is so little strength among those who profess the truth is that they do not exercise the ability that God has given them. Very many have wrapped their talent in a napkin and hid it in the earth. It is by using the talents that they increase. God will test and prove His people.
Brother and Sister I have been faithful burden bearers in the cause of God, and now their children should not stand back and let the burdens rest so heavily upon them. It is time that the powers of the less-worn minds of the children should be exercised and they work more especially in the Master's vineyard.
Some of the brethren and sisters in New York have felt anxious that Brother and Sister K, especially Sister K, should be encouraged to labour among the churches. But this is the
wrong place for them to prove themselves. If God has indeed laid upon them the burden of labour, it is not for the churches; for these are generally in advance of them. There is a world before Brother and Sister K, a world lying in wickedness. Their field is a large one. They have plenty of room to try their gifts and test their calling without entering into other men's labours and building upon a foundation that they have not laid. Brother and Sister K have been very slow to obtain an experience in self-denial. They have been slow to adopt the health reform in all its branches. The churches are in advance of them in the denial of appetite. Therefore they cannot be a benefit to the churches in this direction, but rather a hindrance.
Brother K has not been a blessing to the church in -----, but a great burden. He has stood directly in the way of their advancement. He has not been in a condition to help when and where they needed help the most. He has not correctly represented our faith; his conversation and life have not been unto holiness. He has been far behind, and has not been ready or willing to discern the leadings of God's providence. He has stood in the way of sinners; he has not been in such a position that his influence would recommend our faith to unbelievers.
His example has been a hindrance to the church and to his unbelieving neighbours. If Brother K had been wholly consecrated to God, his works would have been fruitful, productive of much good. But that which more especially distinguishes God's people from the popular religious bodies is not their profession alone, but their exemplary characters and their principles of unselfish love. The powerful, purifying influence of the Spirit of God upon the heart, carried out in words and works, separates them from the world and designates them as God's peculiar people. The character and disposition of Christ's followers will be like their Master's. He is the pattern, the holy and perfect example given for Christians to imitate. His true followers will love their brethren and be in harmony with them. They will love their neighbours as Christ has given
them example and will make any sacrifice if they can by so doing persuade souls to leave their sins and be converted to the truth.
The truth, deeply rooted in the hearts of believers, will spring up and bear fruit unto righteousness. Their words and works are the channels through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. Especial blessings and privileges are for those who love the truth and walk according to the light they have received. If they neglect to do this, their light will become darkness. When the people of God become self-sufficient, the Lord leaves them to their own wisdom. Mercy and truth are promised to the humble in heart, the obedient and faithful.
Brother K has stood in the way of his children. If he had been consecrated to God, having his heart in the work, and living out the truth he professed, he would have felt the importance of commanding his household after him, as did faithful Abraham.
The lack of harmony and love between the two brothers K is a reproach to the cause of God. Both are at fault. Both have a work to do in subduing self and cultivating the Christian graces. God is dishonoured by the dissensions, and I do not go too far when I say hatred, that exist between these two natural brothers. Brother A K is greatly at fault. He has cherished feelings that have not been in accordance with the will of God. He knows the peculiarities of his brother, B K, that he has a fretful, unhappy temperament. Frequently he cannot see good when it lies directly in his path. He sees only evil and becomes discouraged very easily. Satan magnifies a molehill into a mountain before him. All things considered, Brother B K has in many things pursued a less censurable course than his brother, because it has been less injurious to the cause of present truth.
These natural brothers must be fully reconciled to each other before they can lift the reproach from the cause of God that their disunion has caused. "In this the children of God
are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now." Those who labour for God should be clean vessels, sanctified to the Master's use. "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
The ambassadors of Christ have a responsible and sacred work before them. They are savours of life unto life, or of death unto death. Their influence decides the destiny of souls for whom Christ died. Brother and Sister K both lack experience. Their lives have not been unto holiness. They have not had a deep and thorough knowledge of the divine will. They have not been steadily advancing onward and upward in the divine life, so that their experience could be of value to the church. Their course has burdened the church not a little.
Sister K's past life has not been of such a character that her experience could be a blessing to others. She has not lived up to her convictions of duty. Her conscience has been violated too many times. She has been a pleasure seeker and has given her life to vanity, frivolity, and fashion, in face of the light of truth which has shone upon her pathway. She knew the way, but neglected to walk in it. The Lord gave Sister K a testimony of warning and reproof. She believed the testimony and separated herself from that class who were lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Then, as she viewed her past life, so full of neglects and wrongs, she gave up to unbelief and stolid gloom. Despair spread its dark wings over her. Her marriage to Brother K changed the order of things somewhat, but at times since she has been very gloomy and desponding.
Sister K has a good knowledge of the prophecies and can trace them and speak upon them very readily. Some of the brethren and sisters have been anxious to urge Brother and
Sister K to go out as active labourers. But there is danger of their working from a wrong standpoint. Sister K's educational advantages have been superior to those of many by whom she is surrounded. As she has laboured publicly, she has depended upon her own strength more than upon the Spirit of God. She has had a spirit of lofty independence and has thought that she was qualified to teach rather than be taught. With her lack of experience in spiritual things she is unprepared to labour among the churches. She has not the discernment and spiritual strength necessary to build them up. If she and her husband engage in this work at all, they should commence by exerting a good influence in the church at -----. Their labour should be bestowed where the work most needs to be done.
There is work to be done in new fields. Sinners who never have heard the warning message need to be warned. Here Brother and Sister K have ample room to work and prove their calling. No one should hinder them in their efforts in new fields. There are sinners to save in every direction. But some ministers are inclined to go over and over the same ground among the churches, when their labours cannot help them, and their time is wasted.
We wish that all the Lord's servants were labourers. The work of warning souls should not be confined to ministers alone, but brethren who have the truth in their hearts, and who have exerted a good influence at home, should feel that a responsibility rests upon them to devote a part of their time to going out among their neighbours and into adjoining towns to be missionaries for God. They should carry our publications and engage in conversation and, in the spirit of Christ, pray with and for those whom they visit. This is the work that will arouse a spirit of investigation and reformation.
For years the Lord has been calling the attention of His people to health reform. This is one of the great branches of the work of preparation for the coming of the Son of man. John the Baptist went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah
to prepare the way of the Lord and to turn the people to the wisdom of the just. He was a representative of those living in these last days to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ. John was a reformer. The angel Gabriel, direct from heaven, gave a discourse upon health reform to the father and mother of John. He said that he should not drink wine or strong drink, and that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth.
John separated himself from friends and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel's hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests, and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite and the gluttony that everywhere prevailed. The prophet Malachi declares: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." Here the prophet describes the character of the work. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ's first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things.
The self-denial, humility, and temperance required of the righteous, whom God especially leads and blesses, is to be presented to the people in contrast to the extravagant, health-destroying habits of those who live in this degenerate age. God has shown that health reform is as closely connected with the third angel's message as the hand is with the body. There is nowhere to be found so great a cause of physical and moral degeneracy as a neglect of this important subject. Those who indulge appetite and passion, and close their eyes to the light for fear they will see sinful indulgences which they are
unwilling to forsake, are guilty before God. Whoever turns from the light in one instance hardens his heart to disregard the light upon other matters. Whoever violates moral obligations in the matter of eating and dressing prepares the way to violate the claims of God in regard to eternal interests. Our bodies are not our own. God has claims upon us to take care of the habitation. He has given us, that we may present our bodies to Him a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. Our bodies belong to Him who made them, and we are in duty bound to become intelligent in regard to the best means of preserving them from decay. If we enfeeble the body by self-gratification, by indulging the appetite, and by dressing in accordance with health-destroying fashions, in order to be in harmony with the world, we become enemies of God.
Brother and Sister K have not appreciated the light upon health reform. They have not seen a place for it in connection with the third message. Providence has been leading the people of God out from the extravagant habits of the world, away from the indulgence of appetite and passion, to take their stand upon the platform of self-denial and temperance in all things. The people whom God is leading will be peculiar. They will not be like the world. But if they follow the leadings of God they will accomplish His purposes, and will yield their will to His will. Christ will dwell in the heart. The temple of God will be holy. Your body, says the apostle, is the temple of the Holy Ghost. God does not require His children to deny themselves to the injury of physical strength. He requires them to obey natural law, to preserve physical health. Nature's path is the road He marks out, and it is broad enough for any Christian. God has, with a lavish hand, provided us with rich and varied bounties for our sustenance and enjoyment. But in order for us to enjoy the natural appetite, which will preserve health and prolong life, He restricts the appetite. He says: Beware; restrain, deny, unnatural appetite. If we create a perverted appetite, we violate the laws of our being and assume the responsibility of abusing our bodies and of bringing disease upon ourselves.
The spirit and power of Elijah have been stirring hearts to reform and directing them to the wisdom of the just. Brother and Sister K have not been converted to the health reform, notwithstanding the amount of evidence that God has given upon the subject. Self-denial is essential to genuine religion. Those who have not learned to deny themselves are destitute of vital, practical godliness. We cannot expect anything else than that the claims of religion will come in contact with the natural affections and worldly interests. There is work for everyone in the vineyard of the Lord. None should be idle. Angels of God are all astir, ascending to heaven and descending to earth again with messages of mercy and warning. These heavenly messengers are moving upon minds and hearts. There are men and women everywhere whose hearts are susceptible of being inspired with the truth. If those who have a knowledge of the truth would now work in unison with the Spirit of God, we would see a great work accomplished.
New fields are open in which all can test their calling by experimental effort in bringing souls out from darkness and error, and establishing them upon the platform of eternal truth. If Brother and Sister K feel that God has called them to engage in His work, they have enough to do to call sinners to repentance; but in order for God to work in and through them, they need a thorough conversion. The work of fitting a people in these last days for the coming of Christ, is a most sacred, solemn work, and calls for devoted, unselfish labourers. Those who have humility, faith, energy, perseverance, and decision will find plenty to do in their Master's vineyard. There are responsible duties to be performed, which require earnestness and the exertion of all their energies. It is willing service that God accepts. If the truth we profess is of such infinite importance as to decide the destiny of souls, how careful should we be in its presentation.
"The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Brother and Sister K, had you walked in the light as it shone upon your pathway,
had you been drawing nearer to God, steadfastly believing the truth and walking humbly before God in the light He has given, you would now have an experience that would be of inestimable value. Had you improved the talents lent you of God, you would have shone as lights in the world. But light becomes darkness to all those who will not walk in it. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as our fathers were, we must, like them, be faithful. We must improve our light as the ancient, faithful prophets improved theirs. God requires of us according to the grace that He has bestowed upon us, and He will not accept less than He claims. All His righteous demands must be fully met. In order for us to discharge our responsibilities, we must stand on that elevated ground which the order and advancement of holy, sacred truth has prepared for us.
Brother L fails to realize the sanctifying influence of the truth of God upon the heart. He is not as patient, humble, and forbearing as he should be. He is easily stirred; self arises, and he says and does many things without due reflection. He does not at all times exert a saving influence. If he were imbued with the Spirit of Christ, he could with one hand take hold of the Mighty One, while with the hand of faith and love he would reach the poor sinner. Brother L needs the powerful influence of divine love; for this will renew and refine the heart, sanctify the life, and elevate and ennoble the entire man. Then his words and works will savour of heaven rather than of his own spirit.
If the words of eternal life are sown in the heart, fruit will be produced unto righteousness and peace. A spirit of self-sufficiency and self-importance must be overcome by you, my dear brother. You should cultivate a spirit that is willing to be instructed and counselled. Whatever others may say or do, you should say: What is that to me? Christ has bidden me follow Him. You should cultivate a spirit of meekness. You need an experience in genuine godliness, and unless you have this, you cannot engage in the work of God understandingly.
Your spirit must soften and be subdued by being brought into obedience to the will of Christ. You should at all times maintain the lowly dignity of a follower of Jesus. Our deportment, our words and actions, preach to others. We are living epistles, known and read of all men.
You should be careful not to preach the truth from strife or contention, for if you do you will most assuredly turn the battle against yourself and be found advancing the cause of the enemy rather than the truth of God. Every time that you engage in a contest it should be from a sense of duty. If you make God your strength and subdue yourself, and let the truth bear away the victory, the devices of Satan and his fiery darts will fall upon himself, and you will be strengthened, kept from error, and guarded from every false way. You need to cultivate caution and not rush on in your own strength. The work is important and sacred, and you need great wisdom. You should counsel with your brethren who have had experience in the work. But, above everything else, you should obtain a thorough knowledge of your own weakness and dangers, and should strengthen the weak points in your character, that you may not make shipwreck of faith.
We are living amid the perils of the last days, and if we have a spirit of self-sufficiency and independence we shall be exposed to the wiles of Satan and be overcome. Self-importance must be put away from you, and you be hid in God, depending alone upon Him for strength. The churches do not need your labour. If you are consecrated to God, you can labour in new fields, and God will work with you. Purity of heart and life God will accept. Anything short of this, He will not regard. We must suffer with Christ if we would reign with Him.
Brother M could have accomplished good if he had, years ago, given all for Christ. He has not been sanctified through the truth; his heart has not been right with God. He has hid his talent in the earth. What will he who has put his talents to a wrong use say when the Master shall require him to give
account of his stewardship? Brother M has not been an honour to the cause of God. It is dangerous to contend with the providence of God and to be dissatisfied with almost everything, as though there had been a special arrangement of circumstances to tempt and destroy. The work of pruning and purifying to fit us for heaven is a great work and will cost us much suffering and trial, because our wills are not subjected to the will of Christ. We must go through the furnace till the fires have consumed the dross and we are purified and reflect the divine image. Those who follow their inclinations and are governed by appearances are not good judges of what God is doing. They are filled with discontent. They see failure where there is indeed triumph, a great loss where there is gain; and, like Jacob, they are ready to exclaim, "All these things are against me," when the very things whereof they complain are all working together for their good.
No cross, no crown. How can one be strong in the Lord without trials? To have strength we must have exercise. To have strong faith, we must be placed in circumstances where our faith will be exercised. The apostle Paul, just before his martyrdom, exhorted Timothy: "Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." It is through much tribulation that we are to enter the kingdom of God. Our Saviour was tried in every possible way, and yet He triumphed in God continually. It is our privilege to be strong in the strength of God under all circumstances and to glory in the cross of Christ.