Boulder, Colorado, September 25, 1881.
Dear Brethren and Sisters Who Shall Assemble at the Michigan Camp Meeting: [THIS APPEAL WAS WRITTEN FOR THE MICHIGAN CAMP MEETING, BUT BEING FORGOTTEN AT THAT TIME, WAS READ BEFORE THE GENERAL CONFERENCE, DECEMBER, 1881.]
I feel a deeper interest in this meeting than in any other that has been held this season. Michigan has not had the labour which she should have had. God has planted important institutions among you, and this brings upon you greater responsibilities than upon any other conference in the whole field. Great light has been given you, and few have responded to it; yet my heart goes out in tender solicitude for our beloved people in Michigan. The warning that the Son of man is soon to come in the clouds of heaven has become to many a familiar tale. They have left the waiting, watching position. The selfish, worldly spirit manifested in the life reveals the sentiment of the heart, "My Lord delayeth His coming." Some are enveloped in so great darkness that they openly express their unbelief, notwithstanding our Saviour's declaration that all such are unfaithful servants and their portion shall be with hypocrites and unbelievers.
Our ministers are not doing their whole duty. The attention of the people should be called to the momentous event which is so near at hand. The signs of the times should be kept fresh before their minds. The prophetic visions of Daniel and John foretell a period of moral darkness and declension; but at
the time of the end, the time in which we are now living, the vision was to speak and not lie. When the signs predicted begin to come to pass, the waiting, watching ones are bidden to look up and lift up their heads and rejoice because their redemption draweth nigh.
When these things are dwelt upon as they should be, scoffers will be developed who walk after their own lusts, saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." But "when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them." "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." Thank God, all will not be rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security. There will be faithful ones who will discern the signs of the times. While a large number professing present truth will deny their faith by their works, there will be some who will endure unto the end.
The same spirit of selfishness, of conformity to the practices of the world, exists in our day as in Noah's. Many who profess to be children of God follow their worldly pursuits with an intensity that gives the lie to their profession. They will be planting and building, buying and selling, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the last moment of their probation. This is the condition of a large number of our own people. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold. To but few can it be said: "Ye are all ... the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."
My soul is burdened as I see the great want of spirituality among us. The fashions and customs of the world, pride, love of amusement, love of display, extravagance in dress, in houses, in lands--these are robbing the treasury of God, turning to the gratification of self the means which should be used to send forth the light of truth to the world. Selfish purposes are made
the first consideration. The work of qualifying men to labour for the salvation of souls is not considered of so great consequence as worldly enterprises. Souls are perishing for want of knowledge. Those who have had the light of present truth, and yet feel no spirit of labour to warn their fellow men of the coming judgment, must give an account to God for their neglect of duty. The blood of souls will be upon their garments.
The old standard-bearers are fainting and falling. Our young men have not been educated to feel their accountability to God; little inducement is presented for them to labour in the cause, and they enter the fields that promise the largest remuneration with the least toil and responsibility. As a people we are not advancing in spirituality as we near the end. We do not realize the magnitude and importance of the work before us. Hence our plans are not becoming wider and more comprehensive. There is a sad lack of men and women prepared to carry forward the increasing work for this time.
We are not doing one-twentieth part of what God requires us to do. There has been a departure from the simplicity of the work, making it intricate, difficult to understand, and difficult to execute. The judgment and wisdom of man rather than of God has too often guided and controlled. Many feel that they have not time to watch for souls as they that must give account. And what excuse will they render for this neglect of the important work which was theirs to do?
At our college young men should be educated in as careful and thorough a manner as possible that they may be prepared to labour for God. This was the object for which the institution was brought into existence. Our brethren abroad should feel an interest not only to sustain but to guard the college, that it may not be turned away from its design and be moulded after other institutions of the kind. The religious interest should be constantly guarded. Time is drawing to a close. Eternity is
near. The great harvest is to be gathered. What are we doing to prepare for this work?
The leading men in our college should be men of piety and devotion. They should make the Bible the rule and guide of life, giving heed to the sure word of prophecy as to "a light that shineth in a dark place." Not one of us should dare to be off guard for a moment, for "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." It is only those who continue faithful in well-doing that shall reap the reward. Much that has no part in Christ is allowed a place among us. Unconsecrated ministers, professors, and teachers assist Satan to plant his banner in our very strongholds.
The design of our college has been stated again and again, yet many are so blinded by the god of this world that its real object is not understood. God designed that young men should there be drawn to Him, that they should there obtain a preparation to preach the gospel of Christ, to bring out of the exhaustless treasury of God's word things both new and old for the instruction and edification of the people. Teachers and professors should have a vivid sense of the perils of this time and the work that must be accomplished to prepare a people to stand in the day of God.
Some of the teachers have been scattering from Christ instead of gathering with Him. By their own example they lead those under their charge to adopt the customs and habits of worldlings. They link the hands of the students with fashionable, amusement-loving unbelievers, and carry them an advance step toward the world and away from Christ. And they do this in the face of warnings from heaven, not only those given to the people in general, but personal appeals to themselves. The anger of the Lord is kindled for these things.
God will test the fidelity of His people. Many of the mistakes that are made by the professed servants of God are in consequence of their self-love, their desire for approval, their
thirst for popularity. Blinded in this manner, they do not realize that they are elements of darkness rather than of light. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." These are the conditions upon which we may be acknowledged as the sons of God-- separation from the world, and renunciation of those things which delude, and fascinate, and ensnare.
The apostle Paul declares that it is impossible for the children of God to unite with worldlings: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." This does not refer to marriage alone; any intimate relation of confidence and copartnership with those who have no love for God or the truth is a snare.
The apostle continues: "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said: I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." In consideration of these facts, he exclaims: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate." Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
If we comply with the conditions, the Lord will fulfill to us His promises. But there is a work for us to do which we should in no wise neglect. In the strength of Jesus we can perform it aright. We may press ever onward and upward, constantly growing in grace and in a knowledge of the truth.
The children of the light and of the day are not to gather about them the shades of night and darkness which encompass
the workers of iniquity. On the contrary, they are to stand faithfully at their post of duty as light bearers, gathering light from God to shed upon those in darkness. The Lord requires His people to maintain their integrity, touching not--that is, imitating not--the practices of the ungodly.
Christians will be in this world "an holy nation, a peculiar people," showing forth the praises of Him who hath called them "out of darkness into His marvellous light." This light is not to grow dim, but to shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. Christ's standard-bearers are never to be off duty. They have a vigilant foe who is waiting and watching to take the fort. Some of Christ's professed watchmen have invited the enemy into their stronghold, have mingled with them, and in their efforts to please have broken down the distinction between the children of God and the children of Satan.
The Lord never designed that our college should imitate other institutions of learning. The religious element should be the controlling power. If unbelievers choose this influence, it is well; if those who are in darkness choose to the light, it is as God would have it. But to relax our vigilance, and let the worldly element take the lead in order to secure students, is contrary to the will of God. The strength of our college is in keeping the religious element in the ascendancy. When teachers or professors shall sacrifice religious principle to please a worldly, amusement-loving class, they should be considered unfaithful to their trust and should be discharged.
The thrilling truth that has been sounding in our ears for many years, "The Lord is at hand; be ye also ready," is no less the truth today than when we first heard the message. The dearest interests of the church and people of God, and the destiny of an impenitent and ungodly world, for time and for eternity, are here involved. We are all judgment bound. "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and
the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain [unto the coming of the Lord] shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Christ will then be revealed from heaven, "taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel."
These momentous events are nigh at hand, yet many who profess to believe the truth are asleep. They will surely be numbered with the unfaithful servant who saith in his heart, "My Lord delayeth His coming," if they remain in their present position of friendship with the world. It is only to those who are waiting in hope and faith that Christ will appear, without sin unto salvation. Many have the theory of the truth who know not the power of godliness. If the word of God dwelt in the heart, it would control the life. Faith, purity, and conformity to the will of God would testify to its sanctifying power.