There are and ever will be many perplexities connected with the publishing office at Battle Creek. The institutions established there are God's instrumentalities for accomplishing His work in the earth. For this reason Satan is on the ground, exercising his ingenuity to embarrass and hinder. He comes with his temptations to men and women connected with these institutions, whether in responsible positions or doing the humblest work, and if possible he so ensnares them with his devices that they lose their connection with God, become confused in judgment, and are unable to discern between right and wrong. He knows that the time will surely come when the spirit that has controlled the life will be made manifest, and he is glad to have the lives of these persons testify against them that they are not co-workers with Christ.
Many who have grown to the years and stature of manhood are deficient in the elements that constitute a noble, manly character. God does not regard them as men. They are not reliable. Some of these are connected with our institutions. They have influence; but it is of a pernicious character, for it is seldom on the side of right. While they profess godliness, their example constantly tends to encourage unrighteousness. Skepticism is interwoven with their thoughts and expressed in their words, and their powers are used for the perversion of righteousness, truth, and justice. Their minds are controlled by Satan, and he works through them to demoralize and bring in confusion. The more pleasing and attractive their manners, the more richly they are endowed with brilliant talents,
the more effectual agents are they in the hands of the enemy of all righteousness to demoralize all who come under their influence. It will be found a hard and thankless task to keep these from becoming a ruling power and carrying out their own purposes in encouraging disorder and loose, lax principles.
The youth exposed to their influence are never safe unless those under whose care they are placed exercise the greatest vigilance and they themselves have right principles firmly established. But it is a sad fact that in this age many of the young yield readily to the influence of Satan, but resist the Spirit of God; and in many cases wrong habits have become so firmly fixed that the greatest effort on the part of the managers would not result in moulding their characters in the right direction.
Those who stand in positions of trust in the publishing house have weighty responsibilities to bear, and they are not fitted for these places unless they are day by day gaining a deeper and more reliable Christian experience. Eternal interests should be made the first consideration, and every influence which would help in the divine life should be welcomed. Men to whom the Lord has given the charge of business matters connected with His cause should be spiritually minded. They should not neglect to attend religious meetings nor consider it a task to speak often one to another of their religious life and experience. God will listen to their testimonies; they will be recorded in His book of remembrance; and He will favour His faithful ones and "will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
Those standing at the head of the publishing work should remember that they are an example to many; and they should be faithful in the public worship of God, just as they would have every workman in every department of the office faithful. If they are seen in the house of worship only occasionally, others will excuse themselves on account of their neglect. These businessmen can at any time talk fluently and intelligently on business matters, showing that they have not
exercised their powers in this direction in vain. They have put tact and skill and knowledge into their work, but how important it is that their hearts, their minds, and all their powers be also trained for faithful service in the cause and worship of God; that they be able to point out the way of salvation through Christ in language eloquent in its simplicity. They should be men of earnest prayer and firm reliance upon God; men who, like Abraham, will order their households after them and will manifest a special interest in the spiritual welfare of all connected with the office.
Those who make Christ first in everything can be trusted. They will not be self-confident, nor will they sink their religious interest in their business. Has God entrusted men with sacred responsibilities? then He would have them feel their own weakness and their dependence upon Him. It is unsafe for men to lean to their own understanding; therefore they should daily seek strength and wisdom from above. God should be in all their thoughts; then all the wiles and subtleties of the old serpent cannot betray them into sinful neglect of duty. They will meet the adversary with the simple weapon that Christ used, "It is written," or will repulse him with, "Get thee behind Me, Satan."
In the warning to "watch and pray," Jesus has indicated the only safe course. There is need of watchfulness. Our own hearts are deceitful; we are compassed with the weaknesses and frailties of humanity, and Satan is intent to destroy. We may be off our guard, but our adversary is never idle. Knowing his tireless vigilance, let us not sleep, as do others, but "watch and be sober." The spirit and influence of the world must be met, but they must not be allowed to take possession of the mind and heart.
The active man of business, as he is brought in contact with the world, will have trials, perplexity, and anxious care. He will find that there is a tendency to let worldly thoughts and plans take the lead, and that it will require effort, and discipline of mind and soul, to maintain a devotional spirit.
But divine grace waits his demand, and his great need is the mighty argument that will prevail with God. For these men Jesus has made special provision. He invites them: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Those who have fellowship with Christ have constant rest and peace. Then why do we walk alone, disdaining His companionship? Why do we not take Him into all our counsels? Why do we not come to Him in all our perplexities and prove the strength of His promises?
The Holy Spirit illumines our darkness, informs our ignorance, and understands and helps us in our manifold necessities. But the mind must be constantly going out after God. If coldness and worldliness are allowed to come in, we shall have no heart to pray, no courage to look up to Him who is the source of strength and wisdom. Then pray always, dear brethren and sisters, "lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." Urge your requests to the throne of grace, and rely upon God hour by hour and moment by moment. The service of Christ will regulate all your relations with your fellow men and make your life fruitful in good works.
Let none imagine that selfishness, self-esteem, and self-indulgence are compatible with the Spirit of Christ. Upon every truly converted man or woman there rests a responsibility that we cannot rightly estimate. The maxims and ways of the world are not to be adopted by the sons and daughters of the heavenly King. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." But the world know us not, because they knew not Christ, our Master.
Business managers are needed in the Review office who will correctly represent Jesus and the plan of salvation. God is displeased
when they use all their powers in worldly enterprises, or even in business relating to the publishing work, and do nothing for the strengthening of His church, the upbuilding of His kingdom. To labour for God and for the salvation of souls is the highest and noblest calling that men ever had or ever can have. The losses and gains in this business are of great importance; for the results do not end with this life, but reach over into eternity.
Brethren, whatever business you engage in, whatever department of the work is allotted to you, carry your religion with you. God and heaven should not be left out of the experience and the lifework. The workers in this cause should guard against becoming one-sided men and letting only the worldly element in their characters appear. In the past there have been decided failures on the part of men connected with the office. They have not been spiritually minded; and their influence has not tended to lead toward the heavenly Canaan, but backward toward Egypt.
Brother P has been blessed with abilities which, if consecrated to God, would enable him to do great good. He has a quick mind. He understands the theory of the truth and the claims of God's law; but he has not learned in the school of Christ the meekness and lowliness that would make him a safe man to stand in a position of trust. He has been weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting. He has had great light in warnings and reproofs; but he has not given heed to them; he has not even seen the necessity of changing his course of action. His example before those labouring in the office has not been consistent with his profession. He has not manifested a steadfast purpose; he has been a boyish man, and his influence has had a tendency to lead away from Christ toward conformity to the world.
The cross of Christ has been presented to Brother P; but he has turned away from it, for it involves shame and reproach rather than the honour and praise of the world. Again and again Jesus has called: Take up the cross and follow Me, so
shall ye be My disciple. But other voices have been calling in the direction of worldly pride and ambition; and he has listened to these voices because their spirit is more pleasing to the natural heart. He has turned from Jesus, divorced himself from God, and embraced the world. He was called to represent Christ, and to be a bright light in the world; but he has betrayed his sacred trust. The world interposes between his soul and Jesus, and he has had a worldly experience when he should have been gaining one of an entirely opposite character. He has been decidedly worldly in his tastes and opinions, and consequently has been unable to comprehend spiritual things.
Brother P's success in the ministry, and also in his position of trust in the office, depended upon the character he should maintain. Painstaking, persevering effort was needed that in going out and coming in before his fellow labourers no wrong example should be set. The plan he should have adopted, the course of action he should have pursued, is plainly marked out in the word of God. Had he taken heed to that word, it would have been a light to his path, guiding his inexperienced feet into a safe way. Testimonies of the Spirit of God have been sent to him again and again, showing him where he was diverging from the highway cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in and warning and entreating him to change his course of action. But his own ways have seemed right in his eyes; and he has followed inclination, not heeding the light given him. He was not a safe Counsellor. He was not a safe man in the office; neither was he a safe shepherd, for he would lead the sheep astray. He has preached excellent discourses; but out of the desk he has not carried out the principles he has preached. This kind of work is an offense to God.
Brother P's union with the world has proved a snare to him self and to others. Oh, how many stumble over such lives as his. They get the impression that when they take the first steps in conversion,--repentance, faith, and baptism,--this is all that is required of them. But this is a fatal error. The arduous struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven,
is a lifelong struggle. There is no release in this war; the effort must be continuous and persevering. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.
A genuine religious experience unfolds and intensifies. Continual advancement, increasing knowledge and power in the word of God, is the natural result of a vital connection with God. The light of holy love will grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. It was Brother P's privilege to have such an experience as this; but he has not had the oil of grace in his vessel with his lamp, and his light has been growing dim. If he does not make a decided change soon, he will be where no warnings or entreaties will ever reach him. His light will go out in darkness, and he will be left in despair.