Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Chapter 29—The Cause in Texas -

God has shown me much in regard to the work of Satan in Texas and the unchristian conduct of some who have moved there from Michigan. I was shown that the Brethren B have not in heart accepted the testimony which has been given them. They have more confidence in themselves than in the spirit of prophecy. They have felt that the light given was not of heaven, but that it originated from reports made to me in regard to them. This is not correct. But let me ask: Was there not foundation for reports? Does not their very life history condemn their course? 4T 330.3

Not one of this family has had a religious experience that would qualify him to take any leading position in teaching the truth to others. “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord,” were the words spoken by the angel of God. “Ye are not chosen vessels of God to do any part of His most sacred work. Ye mar and corrode, but do not purify and bless.” You have, Brethren B, ever held a low standard of Christianity. For a time, where you are not fully known, you have influence. This once gained, you become less guarded and act out the natural propensities of the heart, until the lovers of the truth feel that you are a great hindrance to the advancement of the work of God. This is no evil surmising, but the actual facts in the case. 4T 330.4

If you would always manifest kindness, respect, noble love and generosity, toward even wicked men, you might render effectual service to Christ. If the spirit of Christ dwelt in you, you would represent Him in your words, in your actions, and even in the expression of your countenance. Your conversation would be expressive of meekness, not proud and boastful. You would not seek to exalt and glorify self. Humility is a Christian grace with which you are unacquainted. You have aspired for the supremacy and have tried to cause your power and superiority to be felt in ruling and dictating to others. Especially has this been the case with A B. He and his wife cannot advance the moral and spiritual standing of the cause of God by their influence. The more limited their sphere in connection with the cause of God the better will it be for the cause. Their words and acts in matters of deal are not reliable. This is the case with A B and his brothers generally. The world and the church have a right to say that their religion is vain. They are worldly and scheming, and watch their opportunity to make a close bargain. They are harsh and severe with those who are connected with them. They are envious, jealous, puffed up. 4T 331.1

Those who thus represent the truth rear a mighty barrier to the salvation of others. Unless they become transformed, it would be better had they never embraced the truth. Their minds are controlled more by Satan than by the Spirit of God. Brother A B's wife naturally possesses a kind heart, but she has been molded by her husband. She is a careless talker. Her tongue is frequently set on fire of hell; it is untamable. “In the multitude of words,” says Solomon, “there wanteth not sin.” This is certainly true in her case. She exaggerates and bears false witness and is thus constantly transgressing the commandment of God, while she professes to be a commandment keeper. She does not mean to do wrong, but her heart is not sanctified by the truth. 4T 331.2

While you, Brethren B, have been forward to engage in controversy with others upon points of our faith, without an exception you have been asleep in reference to those things which pertain to Christianity. You are not even dreaming of the perilous position you occupy. This apathy extends over the church and over everyone who, professing Christ as you have done, denies Him by his works. You are leading others in the same path of recklessness in which you are treading. God's word declares that without holiness no man shall see God. Jesus died to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 4T 332.1

“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Christ says: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” What do your prayers amount to while you regard iniquity in your hearts? Unless you make a thorough change, you will, not far hence, become weary of reproof, as did the children of Israel; and, like them, you will apostatize from God. Some of you in words acknowledge reproof, but you do not in heart accept it. You go on the same as before, only being less susceptible to the influence of the Spirit of God, becoming more and more blinded, having less wisdom, less self-control, less moral power, and less zeal and relish for religious exercises; and, unless converted, you will finally yield your hold upon God entirely. You have not made decided changes in your life when reproof has come, because you have not seen and realized your defects of character and the great contrast between your life and the life of Christ. It has been your policy to place yourselves in a position where you would not entirely lose the confidence of your brethren. 4T 332.2

I was shown that the condition of the ----- church is deplorable. Your influence, Brother A B, and that of your wife, has resulted, as you and all may see, in discord and strife, and will prove utter ruin to the church unless you either change your location or become converted. You rust and corrode those connected with you. You have sympathizers, because all do not see you as God sees. Their perception is perverted by your multiplicity of words and fair speeches. This is a sad, discouraging state of things. 4T 332.3

I was shown that so far as talk is concerned, A B is qualified to lead the meetings; but when moral fitness is weighed, he is found wanting. His heart is not right with God. When others are placed in a leading position, they have the opposing spirit of himself and his wife to meet. This unsanctified spirit is not manifested openly, but works secretly to hinder, perplex, and discourage those who are trying to do the very best they can. God sees this, and it will in due time receive its just reward. Rule or ruin is the policy of this brother, and his wife is now in no better condition herself. Her senses are perverted. She is not right with God. 4T 333.1

Brother A B, a record of the sad history you are making is kept in heaven. In heart you are at war with the testimonies of reproof. The E family have been, and are still, deceived in you. Others are more or less perplexed because you can talk well on present truth. Harmony and unity do not exist in the church at -----. You have not received and acted upon the light given you. Had you heeded the words of Solomon you would not today be found standing in such a slippery path. He says: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Entire submission to the will and ways of God, united with deep distrust of your own wisdom, would have led you in a safer path. 4T 333.2

Your self-confidence has been very great. No sooner has a brother been suggested to lead the meetings, or to take a position of trust in preference to yourself, than you have resolved that he should not succeed if you could help it, and with the might of your perverse will you have set your spirit to oppose. 4T 333.3

Your course toward Brother D was abusive. His heart was stirred with the deepest sympathy for you. He had been your friend, but the fact that he disconnected from you was sufficient to create in you a spirit of jealousy which was as cruel as the grave. And this spirit was exercised against a blind man, one who should have had the kindest care and the deepest sympathy from all. It was your perverse and deceptive spirit which led others to sympathize with you rather than with him. When he saw that the clear light of the case could not be brought before the brethren, and was fully convinced that wrong was triumphing over right, his spirit was so wounded that he became desperate. It was then that he let go his hold upon God. A partial shock of paralysis came upon him. He was nearly ruined, mentally and physically. In the church meetings, matters of no special account were talked over, dwelt upon, and made the most of; and wrong, cruelly wrong impressions were made upon the minds of those present. 4T 333.4

To thus seek to injure a man who is in full possession of all his faculties is a great sin; but such a course toward a man who is blind, and who should be treated in such a manner as to cause him to feel his loss of sight as little as possible, is a sin of far greater magnitude. Had you been a man of fine feelings, or a Christian, as you profess to be, you could not have abused him as you did. But Brother D has a Friend in heaven who has pleaded his cause for him and strengthened him to grasp God's promises anew. When Brother D was crazed with his great grief and the treatment he had received, he acted like an insane man. This was used against him as evidence that he had a wrong spirit. But the all-seeing Judge weighs motives, and He will reward as the works have been. 4T 334.1

You, Brother A B, have been puffed up with vain conceit and have felt yourself competent for any task. You have renounced the Testimonies of the Spirit of God; and if you had your own way, would cast everything in a new mold. How hard it is for you to see things in a just light when duty leads in one direction and inclination in another. Your ideas of the character of Christ, and of the necessary preparation for the life to come, are narrow and perverted. 4T 334.2

I was shown that the brothers B and their families are descending lower and lower. “Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit;” and if they continue in the course they have been pursuing, they will finally be “twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” In leaning to their own understanding, they have gone down to the point where they have no practical godliness, no heaven, no God as theirs. 4T 335.1

If God's people were all connected with Him, they would discern the limited capacities of these men, their prejudices, envy, jealousy, and self-confidence. The objections which their wicked hearts may raise against the Testimonies of the Spirit of God, will not, in the providence of God, be removed. They may stumble and fall upon questions of their own originating. But God's people should see that their proud hearts have never been humbled, and their high looks have never been brought low. The Bible is clear upon all points which relate to Christian duty. All who do the will of God shall know of the doctrine. But these persons are seeking light from their own tapers and not from the Sun of Righteousness. 4T 335.2

No man who does not utter the real sentiment of his heart can be called a truthful man. Falsehood virtually consists in an intention to deceive; and this may be shown by a look or a word. Even facts may be so arranged and stated as to constitute falsehoods. Some are adepts at this business, and they will seek to justify themselves for departing from strict veracity. There are some who, in order to tear down or injure the reputation of another, will, from sheer malice, fabricate falsehoods concerning them. Lies of self-interest are uttered in buying and selling goods, cattle, or any kind of merchandise. Lies of vanity are uttered by men who love to appear what they are not. A story cannot pass through their hands without embellishment. Oh, how much is done in the world which the doers will one day wish to undo! But the record of words and deeds in the books of heaven will tell the sad story of falsehoods spoken and acted. 4T 335.3

Falsehood and deception of every cast is sin against the God of truth and verity. The word of God is plain upon these points. Ye shall not “deal falsely, neither lie one to another.” “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” God is a God of sincerity and truth. The word of God is a book of truth. Jesus is a faithful and true witness. The church is the witness and ground of the truth. All the precepts of the Most High are true and righteous altogether. How, then, must prevarication and any exaggeration or deception appear in His sight? For the falsehood he uttered because he coveted the gifts which the prophet refused, the servant of Elisha was struck with leprosy, which ended only with death. 4T 336.1

Even life itself should not be purchased with the price of falsehood. By a word or a nod the martyrs might have denied the truth and saved their lives. By consenting to cast a single grain of incense upon the idol altar they might have been saved from the rack, the scaffold, or the cross. But they refused to be false in word or deed, though life was the boon they would receive by so doing. Imprisonment, torture, and death, with a clear conscience, were welcomed by them, rather than deliverance on condition of deception, falsehood, and apostasy. By fidelity and faith in Christ they earned spotless robes and jeweled crowns. Their lives were ennobled and elevated in the sight of God because they stood firmly for the truth under the most aggravated circumstances. 4T 336.2

Men are mortals. They may be sincerely pious and yet have many errors of understanding and many defects of character, but they cannot be Christ's followers and yet be in league with him who “loveth and maketh a lie.” Such a life is a fraud, a perpetual falsehood, a fatal deception. It is a close test upon the courage of men and women to be brought to face their own sins and to frankly acknowledge them. To say, “That mistake must be charged to my account,” requires a strength of inward principle that the world possesses in but a limited degree. But he who has the courage to say this in sincerity gains a decided victory over self and effectually closes the door against the enemy. 4T 336.3

An adherence to the strictest principles of truth will frequently cause present inconvenience and may even involve temporal loss, but it will increase the reward in the future life. Religion does not consist merely in a system of dry doctrines, but in practical faith, which sanctifies the life and corrects the conduct in the family circle and in the church. Many may tithe mint and rue, but neglect the weightier matters, mercy and the love of God. To walk humbly with God is essential to the perfection of Christian character. God requires undeviating principle in the minutest details of the transactions of life. Said Christ: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” 4T 337.1

It is neither the magnitude nor the seeming insignificance of a business transaction that makes it fair or unfair, honest or dishonest. By the least departure from rectitude we place ourselves on the enemy's ground, and may go on, step by step, to any length of injustice. A large proportion of the Christian world divorce religion from their business. Thousands of little tricks and petty dishonesties are practiced in dealing with their fellow men, which reveal the true state of the heart, showing its corruption. 4T 337.2

You, Brother A B, do not honor the cause of truth. The fountain needs to be cleansed, that the streams may be pure. Your wife is engaged too much in seeking spot and stain upon the characters of her brethren and sisters. While seeking to weed the gardens of her neighbors, she has neglected her own. She must make most diligent efforts in order to build up a spotless character. There is the most fearful danger that she will fail here. If she loses heaven, she loses everything. Both of you should cleanse the soul-temple, which has become terribly polluted. Your minds have become sadly perverted. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Be very jealous and distrustful of self, but never let your tongues be used to express the jealousy of your hearts in regard to another. A great work remains for both of you to do, to so humble yourselves before God that He will accept your repentance. Hitherto you have been hearers but not persevering doers of the word. You have admitted again and again that you were wrong, but the carnal mind has remained unchanged. You have made a little change under the influence of feeling, but there has not been a reformation of principle. I saw that the time has now fully come when action must be taken in your cases unless a thorough change is wrought in your lives. The church of God must not compromise with your coarse ways and low standard of Christianity. 4T 337.3

One of you brothers is enough in a place. You are continually at strife and war among yourselves, hateful, and hating one another. But although you are a byword to those of the world with whom you associate, yet you are so far distant from God that you cannot see but that you are about right. You each need a nearer view of the character of Christ, that you may discern more clearly what it is to be like Him. Unless you all change your deportment, and entirely overcome your pompous, dictatorial, uncourteous course of conduct, you will dishonor the cause wherever you are; and it would have been better had you never been born. The time has come for you to turn to the right or to the left. “If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” The deformed character developed in you is a disgrace to the Christian name. No church will prosper under your rule or guidance, for you are not connected with God. You are boastful, proud, and self-important, and would mold others after the same pattern as yourselves. 4T 338.1

The church of God has long been burdened with your unchristian acts and deportment. God help you to see and feel that your eternal interests demand an entire transformation. By your example others are led astray from the pure, elevated path of holiness. Truly great men are invariably modest. Humility is a grace which sits naturally upon them as a garment. Those who have stored their minds with useful knowledge, and who possess genuine attainments and refinement, are the ones who will be most willing to admit the weakness of their own understanding. They are not self-confident nor boastful; but in view of the higher attainments to which they might rise in intellectual greatness, they seem to themselves to have but just begun the ascent. It is the superficial thinker, the one who has but a beginning or smattering of knowledge, who deems himself wise and who takes on disgusting airs of importance. 4T 338.2

You might today be men of honor and of trust, but you have all been so well satisfied with yourselves that you have not improved the light and privileges which have been graciously granted you. Your minds have not been expanded by the Christian graces, neither have your affections been sanctified by communion with the Life-giver. There is a littleness, an earthliness, which stamps the outer character and reveals the fact beyond doubt that you have been walking in the way of your own heart and in the sight of your own eyes and that you are filled with your own devices. 4T 339.1

When connected with God and sincerely seeking His approval, man becomes elevated, ennobled, and sanctified. The work of elevation is one that man must perform for himself through Jesus Christ. Heaven may give him every advantage so far as temporal and spiritual things are concerned, but it is all in vain unless he is willing to appropriate these blessings and to help himself. His own powers must be put to use, or he will finally be weighed in the balances and pronounced wanting; he will be a failure so far as this life is concerned, and will lose the future life. 4T 339.2

All who will with determined effort seek help from above, and subdue and crucify self, may be successful in this world, and may gain the future, immortal life. This world is the field of man's labor. His preparation for the future world depends upon the way he discharges his duties in this world. He is designed of God to be a blessing to society; and he cannot, if he would, live and die to himself. God has bound us together as members of one family, and this relationship everyone is bound to cherish. There are services due to others which we cannot ignore and yet keep the commandments of God. To live, think, and act for self only is to become useless as servants of God. High-sounding titles and great talents are not essential in order to be good citizens or exemplary Christians. 4T 339.3

We have in our ranks too many who are restless, talkative, self-commending, and who take the liberty to put themselves forward, having no reverence for age, experience, or office. The church is suffering today for help of an opposite character—modest, quiet, God-fearing men, who will bear disagreeable burdens when laid upon them, not for the name, but to render service to their Master, who died for them. Persons of this character do not think it detracts from their dignity to rise up before the ancient and to treat gray hairs with respect. Our churches need weeding out. Too much self-exaltation and self-sufficiency exists among the members. 4T 340.1

Those who fear and reverence God, He will delight to honor. Man may be so elevated as to form the connecting link between heaven and earth. He came from the hand of his Creator with a symmetrical character, endowed with such capacities for improvement that, combining divine influence with human effort, he might elevate himself almost to an angel's sphere. Yet, when thus elevated, he will be unconscious of his goodness and greatness. 4T 340.2

God has given man intellectual faculties capable of the highest cultivation. Had the Brethren B seen the natural coarseness and roughness of their characters, and with assiduous care cultivated and trained the mind, strengthening their weak points of character and overcoming their glaring defects, some of them would have been accepted as Christ's messengers. But as they now are, God cannot accept any one of them as His representative. They have not sufficiently realized the need of improvement to cause them to seek for it. Their minds have not been trained by study, observation, reflection, and a constant effort to thoroughly discipline themselves for the duties of life. The means of improvement are within the reach of all. None are so poor or so busy but that with Jesus to help them they can make improvements in their life and character. 4T 340.3