There is an element in the church at ----- that is detrimental to its spiritual interests. There is a great want of vital godliness, of experimental religion. I call no names. Let each search his own heart and understand his own imperfections. There are some who are ever leaning toward the world, ever lowering the standard of religion by their worldly conversation. They have not the love of God in their hearts. They are weak-handed when real help is needed in the church. This spiritual weakness is the result of their own unwillingness to bear burdens when and where they can help the most. When, however, there is any plan or device of their own to carry out, they are willing to assume any responsibility; to have their own way is their purpose. If that were a sanctified way, it would not be so bad; but it is not.
There is great need of zealous, disinterested workers in God's cause. One Christ-loving, devoted member will do more good in a church than one hundred half-converted, unsanctified, self-sufficient workers. It is impossible for the church to be a living, active church unless its members shall be willing to bear burdens and assume responsibilities. In church relationship are brought together different temperaments and dispositions. In the -----church there are a few devoted, God-fearing, faithful souls who pray much, who carry the burden of the church, and whose happiness is in the prosperity of its members. Here, as elsewhere, Satan is constantly at work to drag down and demoralize. It is the business of the adversary of souls to weaken and destroy every organization which, if prospered, would glorify God.
Young men have received the truth and run well for a season, but Satan has woven his meshes about them in unwise attachments and poor marriages. This he saw would
be the most successful way he could allure them from the path of holiness. For a while some of these youth bore the gospel armour with dignity and grace. Just as long as the heart and mind were in subjection to the divine will, there was prosperity; but when the eye was diverted from Jesus and attracted to unworthy objects, then it was that self asserted the sway, that carnal reason overbore wise judgment and integrity, and the Christian armour was thought too weighty to be borne by those so young in years. It would do for old, experienced soldiers of the gospel, but it was too heavy for youth. The tempter offered many suggestions calculated to cause inconstancy and vacillation in the Christian course.
The injunction of the Captain of their salvation was, "Take ye heed, watch and pray," "lest ye enter into temptation;" but it was too much trouble to faithfully guard the soul, and the deceptive power of Satan and the deceitful heart allured away from Christ. If these young men and young women had considered the words of the apostle, "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price," they would not have felt at liberty to keep back from God that which He had purchased at an infinite cost.
There is not one youth in one hundred who feels his God-given responsibility. Every physical and mental capability should be carefully preserved and put to the best and highest use to advance the glory of God. Those youth who permit their powers to be perverted, thus abusing God's gifts, will be called to strict account for the good they might have done had they availed themselves of the provision made through Jesus Christ. God claims the working of every faculty.
There are youth in the ----- church who should be cultivating the grace of Christian steadfastness and growing up to be men of faith. They should become firm, unwavering, rooted and grounded in the truth. The church needs the very
help which God designed they should give. Those professing His name have not consecrated their powers fully and entirely to Him, but have yielded them, in a measure, to the service of Satan. Such have been, and still are, robbing God. Like the unfaithful steward to whom were entrusted talents, they have hid the gifts of God in the world.
Another great detriment to the church at ----- has been the material which has come into it. This material needs to be melted over by the Spirit of God. The dross is seen in crude, sharp traits of character, which might have been removed had these individuals been learners of Christ. But they have not fully separated themselves from the spirit and influences of the world. They rob God by daily mingling His time, His talents, and His strength with a worldly element. These powers cannot be withheld from God without resulting in eternal ruin. You have been bought with a price, even if you perish because you will not be saved in God's appointed way.
Holy angels are watching with intense interest, to see if the individual members of the church will honour their Redeemer, to see if they will place themselves in connection with heaven and no longer defraud the Lord, whom they profess to love, honour, and serve. God calls for His own. You are His by creation, and doubly His by redemption. But when you suffer the fires of unhallowed passion to light up the eye, when you speak words that drive the holy angels from you, when you think evil of your brethren, when you profane your hands with the gains of ungodliness, you are yielding your members as instruments of unrighteousness.
Brother -----, I saw that "Wanting" was written against your name in the Ledger of Heaven--wanting in patience, in forbearance, in self-control, in lowliness and meekness. The want of these heavenly graces will surely close the gates of heaven against you. Your body, your soul, your entire
being with all its capabilities, God claims as His. That hasty, uncontrolled temper must be overcome. Spiritual disease is the sure result of giving way to this fretting, complaining, murmuring spirit. And this disease of soul will be your own fault. Cease to fret, cease to be stubborn, cease to pet self, and be a noblehearted, valiant man for God. Jesus loves you. Has He not made ample provision for you, that you should have help when brought into difficult places? "What," He says, "could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" The fruit Christ claims, after the patient care bestowed upon His church, is faith, patience, love, forbearance, heavenly-mindedness, meekness. These are clusters of fruit which mature amid storm and cloud and darkness, as well as in the sunshine.
Brother ----- is joined to the church, but not to the Lord. He has a dyspeptic religion. He is not right with God; he is filled with self. He has lost much by uniting with individuals who have not the spirit of Christ. He is lacking in almost every grace. He is useless to himself, and a great stumbling block to the church. Dear brother, Satan has controlled you to a great extent; your thoughts are unsanctified, your actions are not in accordance with the spirit of a true Christian. You have brought on your own disease; you must be your own restorer through the help of the divine Physician. Your moral powers are weak for want of nourishment. You are starving spiritually for Bible truth--the bread of life. You need to draw daily nourishment from the living Vine. The church receives no strength from you and in your present condition would be better off without you, for now, if anything arises to cross your track and you cannot control matters, you settle back with stubbornness, a dead weight on the church. You bear no burden or weight of the cause. God has borne long with you, but there is a limit to His forbearance,
a line beyond which you may venture, when His Spirit will no longer strive with you, but leave you in your own perversity, defiled with selfishness, and debased with sin.
Brother ----- does not possess a right spirit. His disposition to lead hurts him, for he is not fitted for any such work. He can act a good part in the church if self is not made prominent. More meekness and lowliness will make his efforts a blessing to the church instead of a burden.
Brother and Sister -----, I saw opposite your names also, in the heavenly record, the word, "Wanting." You need to be emptied of self and the soul temple cleansed. Both of you have ability to do good, but it is unsanctified. You are greatly deficient in the simplicity of godliness. Were the church left to be moulded by your standard of religion, it would be demoralized into a worldly, unconsecrated form. You might have been a great blessing to the church, but you have greatly failed. Jesus bids you come out from the spirit of the world. Sister -----, I am alarmed for you and for those who are brought in contact with your influence. You reach a low standard. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." By your words and actions you are now casting the seed. You are either sowing to the flesh or to the Spirit. In the day of final reckoning everyone must take the sickle and mow down the crop his own hand has sown.
Your husband is mistaking his work. When he shall humble his heart as a little child, and when he shall feel his own importance less and his need of help from God more, then he may be where he can be used to God's glory. But, as he is, he does not realize the wants of the cause. There is so much great I, and so little Jesus exhibited in the life and character of many, that God will accept nothing from their hands. But few realize the solemnity of the time in which we live--the day of God's preparation. Should you both be
converted and devote your ability to studying how to build up the church instead of weakening it and helping the enemy in his work of leading its members to the world you would be gaining a valuable experience every day as you pass along. Brother ----- has been a great hindrance to the church. He should not be a member of the church unless his daily life is in harmony with his profession. God does not acknowledge him as His child. He stands today under the black banner of the powers of darkness. Satan has him completely under his control.
Such strong, discouraging influences as these have been a tide almost too strong for the church to stand against. Ten members, who were walking in all humbleness of mind, would have a far greater power upon the world than has the entire church, with its present numbers and lack of unity. The more there is of the divided, inharmonious element, the less power will the church have for good in the world.
Would that I could make plain to your beclouded senses, my brethren, the great peril you are in. Every action, good or bad, prepares the way for its repetition. How was it in the case of Pharaoh? The statement in Holy Writ is that God hardened his heart, and at every repetition of light in the manifestation of God's power the statement is repeated. Every time he refused to submit to God's will his heart became harder and less impressible by the Spirit of God. He sowed the seed of obstinacy, and God left it to vegetate. He might have prevented it by a miracle, but that was not His plan. He allowed it to grow and produce a harvest of its own kind, thus, proving the truthfulness of the scripture: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." When a man plants doubts, he will reap doubts. By rejecting the first light and every following ray, Pharaoh went from one degree of hardness of heart to another, until the cold, dead
forms of the first-born only checked his unbelief and obstinacy for a moment. And then, determined not to yield to God's way, he continued his willful course until overwhelmed by the waters of the Red Sea.
This case is placed on record for our benefit. Just what took place in Pharaoh's heart will take place in every soul that neglects to cherish the light and walk promptly in its rays. God destroys no one. The sinner destroys himself by his own impenitence. When a person once neglects to heed the invitations, reproofs, and warnings of the Spirit of God, his conscience becomes seared, and the next time he is admonished, it will be more difficult to yield obedience than before. And thus with every repetition. Conscience is the voice of God, heard amid the conflict of human passions; when it is resisted, the Spirit of God is grieved.
We want all to understand how the soul is destroyed. It is not that God sends out a decree that man shall not be saved. He does not throw a darkness before the eyes which cannot be penetrated. But man at first resists a motion of the Spirit of God, and, having once resisted, it is less difficult to do so the second time, less the third, and far less the fourth. Then comes the harvest to be reaped from the seed of unbelief and resistance. Oh what a harvest of sinful indulgences is preparing for the sickle!
When secret prayer and reading of the Scriptures are neglected today, tomorrow they can be omitted with less remonstrance of conscience. There will be a long list of omissions, all for a single grain sown in the soil of the heart. On the other hand, every ray of light cherished will yield a harvest of light. Temptation once resisted will give power to more firmly resist the second time; every new victory gained over self will smooth the way for higher and nobler triumphs. Every victory is a seed sown to eternal life.
There is great need of zealous, faithful, self-denying workers
in our churches throughout the land. No one can labour in the Sabbath school or in the temperance work without reaping a bountiful harvest, not only in the end of the world, but in the present life. In the very effort to enlighten and bless others his own views will become clearer and broader. The more we endeavour to explain the truth to others, with a love for souls, the plainer will it become to ourselves. It ever opens with new beauty and force to the understanding of the expounder.
There are some good workers in your church, and these self-denying ones will never know how much good they have accomplished by their persevering efforts in the missionary field. But the Lord has claims upon more men and women in the church than have yielded to His demands. Some of the stones composing God's holy temple reflect the light which shines upon them from Jesus Christ, while others emit no light, thus clearly revealing that they are not living stones, elect, precious. They are not devotional, but prayerless, talkative, irreligious. True Christians will copy the pattern given them by our Saviour and will be meek, lowly, forbearing, gentle, easy to be entreated, free from pomposity and stubbornness.