Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8

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Chapter 18—The Review and Herald Fire

St. Helena, California,

January 5, 1903

To the Brethren in Battle Creek

Today I received a letter from Elder Daniells regarding the destruction of the Review office by fire. I feel very sad as I consider the great loss to the cause. I know that this must be a very trying time for the brethren in charge of the work and for the employees of the office. I am afflicted with all who are afflicted. But I was not surprised by the sad news, for in the visions of the night I have seen an angel standing with a sword as of fire stretched over Battle Creek. Once, in the daytime, while my pen was in my hand, I lost consciousness, and it seemed as if this sword of flame were turning first in one direction and then in another. Disaster seemed to follow disaster because God was dishonored by the devising of men to exalt and glorify themselves. 8T 97.1

This morning I was drawn out in earnest prayer that the Lord would lead all who are connected with the Review and Herald office to make diligent search, that they may see wherein they have disregarded the many messages God has given. 8T 97.2

Sometime ago the brethren at the Review office asked my counsel about the erection of another building. I then said that if those who were in favor of adding another building to the Review and Herald office had the future mapped out before them, if they could see what would be in Battle Creek, they would have no question about putting up another building there. God said: “My word has been despised; and I will turn and overturn.” 8T 97.3

At the General Conference, held in Battle Creek in 1901, the Lord gave His people evidence that He was calling for reformation. Minds were convicted, and hearts were touched; but thorough work was not done. If stubborn hearts had then broken in penitence before God, there would have been seen one of the greatest manifestations of the power of God that has ever been seen. But God was not honored. The testimonies of His Spirit were not heeded. Men did not separate from the practices that were in decided opposition to the principles of truth and righteousness, which should ever be maintained in the Lord's work. 8T 97.4

The messages to the church of Ephesus and to the church in Sardis have been often repeated to me by the One who gives me instruction for His people. “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and the labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:1-5. 8T 98.1

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; 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. 8T 98.2

We are seeing the fulfillment of these warnings. Never have scriptures been more strictly fulfilled than these have been. 8T 99.1

Men may erect the most carefully constructed, fireproof buildings, but one touch of God's hand, one spark from heaven, will sweep away every refuge. 8T 99.2

It has been asked if I have any advice to give. I have already given the advice that God has given me, hoping to prevent the falling of the fiery sword that was hanging over Battle Creek. Now that which I dreaded has come—the news of the burning of the Review and Herald building. When this news came, I felt no surprise, and I had no words to speak. What I have had to say from time to time in warnings has had no effect except to harden those who heard, and now I can only say: I am so sorry, so very sorry, that it was necessary for this stroke to come. Light enough has been given. If it were acted upon, further light would not be needed. 8T 99.3

To our people, ministers and lay members, I am instructed to say: “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord,”—for many ministers and people are walking in strange paths,—“and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6, 7. 8T 99.4

Let every soul be on the alert. The adversary is on your track. Be vigilant, watching diligently lest some carefully concealed and masterly snare shall take you unawares. Let the careless and indifferent beware lest the day of the Lord come upon them as a thief in the night. Many will wander from the path of humility, and, casting aside the yoke of Christ, will walk in strange paths. Blinded and bewildered, they will leave the narrow path that leads to the city of God. 8T 99.5

A man cannot be a happy Christian unless he is a watchful Christian. He who overcomes must watch; for, with worldly entanglements, error, and superstition, Satan strives to win Christ's followers from Him. It is not enough that we avoid glaring dangers and perilous, inconsistent moves. We are to keep close to the side of Christ, walking in the path of self-denial and sacrifice. We are in an enemy's country. He who was cast out of heaven has come down with great power. With every conceivable artifice and device he is seeking to take souls captive. Unless we are constantly on guard we shall fall an easy prey to his unnumbered deceptions. 8T 100.1

The experience of the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane contains a lesson for the Lord's people today. Taking with Him Peter and James and John, Christ went to Gethsemane to pray. He said to them: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, Abba Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt. And He cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Mark 14:34-38. 8T 100.2

Read these words carefully. Many today are asleep, as were the disciples. They are not watching and praying lest they enter into temptation. Let us read and study those portions of God's word that have special reference to these last days, pointing out the dangers that will threaten God's people. 8T 100.3

We need keen, sanctified perception. This perception is not to be used in criticizing and condemning one another, but discerning the signs of the times. We are to keep our hearts with all diligence, that we may not make shipwreck of faith. Many who were once firm believers in the truth have become careless in regard to their spiritual welfare and are yielding, without the slightest opposition, to Satan's well-laid plots. It is time for our people to take their families from the cities into more retired localities, else many of the youth, and many also of those older in years, will be ensnared and taken by the enemy. 8T 101.1

*****

January 7, 1903.

We have all been made very sad by the news of the terrible loss that has come to the cause in the burning of the Review and Herald office. In one year two of our largest institutions have been destroyed by fire. The news of this recent calamity has caused us to mourn deeply, but it was permitted by the Lord to come upon us, and we should make no complaint, but learn from it the lesson that the Lord would teach us. 8T 101.2

The destruction of the Review and Herald building should not be passed over as something in which there is no meaning. Everyone connected with the office should ask himself: “Wherein do I deserve this lesson? Wherein have I walked contrary to a ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ that He should send this lesson to me? Have I heeded the warnings and reproofs that He has sent, or have I followed my own way?” 8T 101.3

Let the heart-searching God reprove the erring, and let each one bow before Him in humility and contrition, casting aside all self-righteousness and self-importance, confessing and forsaking every sin, and asking God, in the name of the Redeemer, for pardon. God declares, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37); and those who in sincerity present themselves before Him will be pardoned and justified, and will receive power to become the sons of God. 8T 101.4

I pray that those who have resisted light and evidence, refusing to listen to God's warnings, will see in the destruction of the Review and Herald office an appeal to them to turn to God with full purpose of heart. Will they not realize that God is in earnest with them? He is not seeking to destroy life, but to save life. In the recent destruction the lives of the workers were graciously preserved, that all might have an opportunity to see that God was correcting them by a message coming not from a human source, but from above. God's people have departed from Him; they have not followed His instruction, and He has come near them in correction; but He has not brought extinction of life. Not one soul has been taken by death. All have been left alive to recognize the Power that no man can gainsay. 8T 102.1

Let us praise the Lord that the lives of His children have been so precious in His sight. He might have cut off the workers in their heedlessness and self-sufficiency. But, no! He says: “They shall have another chance. I will let the fire speak to them and will see if they will counterwork the action of My providence. I will try them as by fire to see if they will learn the lesson that I desire to teach them.” 8T 102.2

When the Battle Creek Sanitarium was destroyed, Christ gave Himself to defend the lives of men and women. In this destruction God was appealing to His people to return to Him. And in the destruction of the Review and Herald office, and the saving of life, He makes a second appeal to them. He desires them to see that the miracle-working power of the Infinite has been exercised to save life, that every worker may have opportunity to repent and be converted. God says: “If they turn to Me, I will restore to them the joy of My salvation. But if they continue to walk in their own way, I will come still closer; and affliction shall come upon the families who claim to believe the truth, but who do not practice the truth, who do not make the Lord God of Israel their fear and their dread.” 8T 102.3

Let everyone examine himself to see whether he be in the faith. Let the people of God repent and be converted, that their sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Let them ascertain wherein they have failed to walk in the way that God has marked out, wherein they have failed to purify their souls by taking heed to His counsels. 8T 103.1