Many of our people are backsliding from God. We need to arouse. Let every soul that has named the name of Christ depart from iniquity. We want a pure Christianity. Great dangers are lurking for us on every side. When they most need the presence of God, many have it least. They are in danger of becoming like the Jewish nation, who knew not the Scriptures nor the power of God. Like the teachers of Israel, you may explain Bible truth to others, and yet not practice it in your daily life. If the Jews had possessed an experimental knowledge of the Scriptures, they would not have been ignorant of the power of God. Like them, we have great light and privileges; but many do not respond to these, and herein lies their peril. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, His tears were for all who abuse present privileges. He wept that so many who profess His name fail to become what God designed them to be; that they continue in sin and weakness, while He is willing and able to save them if they will but come to Him. The Saviour says, "What more could I have done that I have not done in it?" He has dealt with His people as a loving father with a wayward and rebellious child. But He sees grace resisted, privileges abused, opportunities slighted. Where He had a right to expect earnest, vital piety, He sees insincerity, hollow formalism, and Pharisaic pride. Neglect of light is chargeable on those whom God has intrusted with great and solemn truths. Ingratitude for God's mercies, abuse of blood-bought privileges, stand registered against many in the books of heaven, and are treasuring up for them wrath against the day of wrath. Vengeance will surely be visited on those who have had so great light, yet are so cold and unimpressible that no light shines from them to the world.
God has loaded us with His benefits. Immortal blessings have been poured upon us in great measure. Messengers have been sent with warnings, reproofs, and entreaties. God's servants have wept and prayed over the lukewarm state of the church. Some may arouse, but only to fall back into unconsciousness of their sin and peril. Passion, worldliness, malice, envy, pride, strife for supremacy make our churches weak and powerless. Some of Christ's ambassadors are carrying a heavy burden on their souls, because their message is treated by so many as an idle tale. The eye of Jesus, looking down the ages, was fixed upon our time when He said, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" Luke 19:42 (first part). It is still thy day, O church of God, whom He has made the depository of His law. But this day of trust and probation is fast drawing to a close. The sun is fast westering. Can it be that it will set, and thou not know the things that belong unto thy peace? Must the irrevocable sentence be passed, "But now they are hid from thine eyes"? Luke 19:42 (last part). I tell you there is need to be alarmed. It is time to seek God earnestly, saying with Jacob, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Genesis 32:26. It will be of no avail to make a spasmodic effort, only to fall back into spiritual lethargy and lukewarmness. The past, with the slighted mercies, the admonitions unheeded, the earthly passions uncorrected, the privileges unimproved, the soul temple filled with desecrated shrines--all are recorded in the books of heaven. But most solemn moments are still before you. Because of past neglect, the efforts you make must be the more earnest.
The Saviour speaks to His people, "Be zealous therefore . . . and repent." Revelation 3:19. It is not ministers whom you have slighted; it is not the warnings of men that you have rejected; it is not my delegated prophets that you have refused to hear, but your Redeemer, your only hope. If ye are destroyed, it is yourselves alone that are responsible. Ye will not come to me that ye might have life. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" Luke 13:34. I desired to save you, but ye would not be doers of my Word. The arm strong to save, is also strong to punish. Jesus is now looking from heaven above with yearning pity upon thee, even thee in this thy day, O thoughtless, careless soul. But unless there is in our churches a general arousing, unless there is an individual work of confessing and putting away sin, unless all shall give earnest heed to the things that belong to their peace, the words of Christ may at any moment be applicable to them: "Now they are hid from thine eyes." I intrusted thee with a solemn, sacred message of truth to be made known to others, but thou hast been unfaithful to thy holy trust. Souls have not been enlightened, warned, and urged to repentance. Their blood will I require at thy hand.
Will our churches humble themselves before the Lord in this day of atonement? Will they put away the sins which defile their garments of character, and separate them from God? The present is our day of visitation. Look not to a future, more convenient season, when the cross to be lifted will be less heavy, when the inclinations of the carnal heart will be subdued with less effort. "To-day" saith the Spirit of God, "if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." Hebrews 4:7. Today go about the work, else you may be one day too late. The impression that you have now may not be as strong tomorrow. Satan's snare may close about you. The candlestick may be moved out of its place, and you left in darkness. "See that you refuse not him that speaketh." Hebrews 12:25. Says the true Witness, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock." Revelation 3:20. Every warning, reproof, and entreaty in the Word of God, or through His delegated messengers, is a knock at the door of the heart; it is the voice of Jesus, asking for entrance. With every knock unheeded, your determination to open becomes weaker and weaker. If the voice of Jesus is not heeded at once, it becomes confused in the mind with a multitude of other voices, the world's care and business engross the attention, and conviction dies away. The heart becomes less impressible, and lapses into a perilous unconsciousness of the shortness of time, and of the great eternity beyond. The heavenly Guest is standing at your door, while you are piling up obstructions to bar His entrance. Jesus is knocking through the prosperity He gives you. He loads you with blessings to test your fidelity, that they may flow out from you to others. Will you permit your selfishness to triumph? Will you squander God's talents, and lose your soul through idolatrous love of the blessings He has given?
There are some whose hold on life is weakening. Disease is preying upon them. Soon will come the time for the separation from all earthly things. Will they venture to trifle with God now? Will they rob Him by withholding help from His cause? Are there any who will prefer perishable, earthly treasure to the heavenly, immortal substance? Christ is making His last appeal to hearts. How importunate His entreaty, how reluctant He is to give you up to separation from His love and presence forever! Still is heard the step of Him who waiteth at your door; His voice is yet pleading for entrance; but there is a point beyond which His forbearance will not reach. Shall the words be written over the doomed doorway, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone"? Hosea 4:17. Shall it be spoken concerning you, He is joined to his idol of sensuality: let him alone? He is joined to his idol of earthly treasure: let him alone? He is joined to his idolatry of self: let him alone? The Sun of righteousness may set this very day for those who have had great light and privileges, and have not improved them. You have no time to loiter, no time to consult your convenience. It is now, even now, that you are to be zealous and repent. Oh, it is peace that you need--Heaven's forgiveness, peace, and love in the soul! Money cannot buy it, intellect cannot procure it, wisdom cannot attain to it; but Jesus offers it as a gift. It is yours if you will but reach out your hand and grasp it. Many are weary of their half-hearted service. Their souls cry out after the living God. We are so weak, so helpless, yet so desirous for a better state of things, that we turn away from a religion that has no divine manifestation. We cannot be satisfied with a form of godliness. We must have the deep movings of the Spirit of God in the soul.
Let the minister of God in his labors lean upon the arm of infinite power. Let him lay bare his soul in the secret place alone before God. Let him with loathing put away soul defilement. Let the weary, discouraged soul cry as did Jacob, for the Comforter. Never trust in what you yourself can do. Your wisdom is but foolishness. Ever keep in heart the knowledge that we are laborers for God. The Lord is leading His church in these last days as He led ancient Israel. While He gives them warnings, reproofs, and encouragement through His delegated servant, Christ, the angel of the covenant, who in the pillar of cloud and of fire went before the Hebrew host, is the Leader of His people today. Provoke Him not with your murmurings, by your selfish withholding from His cause, by cherishing iniquity; for in the face of great light He will not pardon your continual transgressions. The warning to the Sardis church is applicable at this time: "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Revelation 3:1-3. And to us also the promise is extended. "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." Revelation 3:4-5.
Review and Herald, November 2, 1886.