Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Chapter 56—Christian Influence

In their intercourse with others all at the sanitarium who are followers of Christ should seek to elevate the standard of Christianity. I have hesitated to speak of this because some who are ever ready to go to extremes will conclude that it is necessary to discuss with the patients upon points of doctrine and, in the religious meetings held at the sanitarium, to talk as they would if among their brethren in our own house of worship. Some manifest no wisdom in bearing their testimony in these little meetings intended more especially for the benefit of the patients, but rush on in their zeal and talk of the third angel's message, or other peculiar points of our faith, while these sick people understand no more what they are talking about than if they spoke in Greek. 4T 565.1

It may be well enough to introduce these subjects in a prayer meeting of believers, but not where the object is to benefit those who know nothing of our faith. We should adapt our prayers and testimonies to the occasion and to the company present. Those who cannot do this are not needed in such meetings. There are themes that Christians may at any time dwell upon with profit, such as the Christian experience, the love of Christ, and the simplicity of faith; and if their own hearts are imbued with the love of Jesus, they will let it shine forth in every prayer and exhortation. Let the fruits of the sanctifying truth be seen in the life, in a godly example, and it will make an impression that no opposing influence can counteract. 4T 565.2

It is a shame to the Christian name that so little stability and true godliness are seen in the lives of many who profess Christ. When brought in contact with worldly influences, they become divided in heart. They lean to the world rather than toward Christ. Unless there is a powerful excitement to stir the feelings, one would never think, from their deportment, that they loved the truth or were Christians. 4T 565.3

Some will acknowledge the truthfulness of what I have written, but will make no radical change; they cannot discern the deceitful workings of the carnal heart, and because of their spiritual blindness they will be seduced by influences that corrupt and ruin the soul. The spell of temptation will hold under its charm those who see and feel not their danger. At every favorable opportunity the adversary of souls will use them as his agents and will stir every element of depravity which exists in their unsanctified natures. They will manifest a continual tendency toward that which is wrong. Appetite and passion will clamor for indulgence. The habits of years will be revealed under the strong power of Satan's temptations. If this class were many miles from any of our institutions at Battle Creek, the cause of God would be far more prosperous. 4T 565.4

Such persons might reform if they would have any true sense of their condition and the pernicious influence which they exert, and would make decided efforts to correct their errors. But they do not meditate or pray or read the Scriptures as they should. They are frivolous and changeable. They are anchored nowhere. Those who would be faithful and exert a saving influence upon others find this class a stumbling block in their path, and their work is tenfold harder than it otherwise would be. 4T 566.1

I have been shown that the physicians should come into a closer connection with God and stand and work earnestly in His strength. They have a responsible part to act. Not only the lives of the patients, but their souls also, are at stake. Many who are benefited physically may, at the same time, be greatly helped spiritually. Both the health of the body and the salvation of the soul are in a great degree dependent upon the course of the physicians. It is of the utmost consequence that they are right; that they have not only scientific knowledge, but the knowledge of God's will and ways. Great responsibilities rest upon them. 4T 566.2

My brethren, you should see and feel your responsibility and, in view of it, humble your souls before God and plead with Him for wisdom. You have not realized how much the salvation of the souls of those whose bodies you are seeking to relieve from suffering, depends upon your words, your actions and deportment. You are doing work which must bear the test of the judgment. You must guard your own souls from the sins of selfishness, self-sufficiency, and self-confidence. 4T 566.3

You should preserve a true Christian dignity, but avoid all affectation. Be strictly honest in heart and life. Let faith, like the palm tree, strike its penetrating roots beneath the things which do appear, and obtain spiritual refreshment from the living springs of God's grace and mercy. There is a well of water which springeth up into everlasting life. You must draw your life from this hidden spring. If you divest yourselves of selfishness, and strengthen your souls by constant communion with God, you may promote the happiness of all with whom you come in contact. You will notice the neglected, inform the ignorant, encourage the oppressed and desponding, and, as far as possible, relieve the suffering. And you will not only point the way to heaven, but will walk in that way yourselves. 4T 567.1

Be not satisfied with superficial knowledge. Be not elated by flattery nor depressed by faultfinding. Satan will tempt you to pursue such a course that you may be admired and flattered, but you should turn away from his devices. You are servants of the living God. 4T 567.2

Your intercourse with the sick is an exhausting process and would gradually dry up the very springs of life if there were no change, no opportunity for recreation, and if angels of God did not guard and protect you. If you could see the many perils through which you are conducted safely every day by these messengers of heaven, gratitude would spring up in your hearts and find expression from your lips. If you make God your strength, you may, under the most discouraging circumstances, attain a height and breadth of Christian perfection which you hardly think it possible to reach. Your thoughts may be elevated, you may have noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, and purposes of action which shall raise you above all sordid motives. 4T 567.3

Both thought and action will be necessary if you would attain to perfection of character. While brought in contact with the world, you should be on your guard that you do not seek too ardently for the applause of men and live for their opinion. Walk carefully if you would walk safely; cultivate the grace of humility, and hang your helpless souls upon Christ. You may be, in every sense, men of God. In the midst of confusion and temptation in the worldly crowd you may, with perfect sweetness, keep the independence of the soul. 4T 568.1

If you are in daily communion with God you will learn to place His estimate upon men, and the obligations resting upon you to bless suffering humanity will meet with a willing response. You are not your own; your Lord has sacred claims upon your supreme affections and the very highest services of your life. He has a right to use you, in your body and in your spirit, to the fullest extent of your capabilities, for His own honor and glory. Whatever crosses you may be required to bear, whatever labors or sufferings are imposed upon you by His hand, you are to accept without a murmur. 4T 568.2

Those for whom you labor are your brethren in distress, suffering from physical disorders and the spiritual leprosy of sin. If you are any better than they, it is to be credited to the cross of Christ. Many are without God and without hope in the world. They are guilty, corrupt, and degraded, enslaved by Satan's devices. Yet these are the ones whom Christ came from heaven to redeem. They are subjects for tenderest pity, sympathy, and tireless effort; for they are on the verge of ruin. They suffer from ungratified desires, disordered passions, and the condemnation of their own consciences; they are miserable in every sense of the word, for they are losing their hold on this life and have no prospect for the life to come. 4T 568.3

You have an important field of labor, and you should be active and vigilant, rendering cheerful and unqualified obedience to the Master's calls. Ever bear in mind that your efforts to reform others should be made in the spirit of unwavering kindness. Nothing is ever gained by holding yourselves aloof from those whom you would help. You should keep before the minds of patients the fact that in suggesting reforms of their habits and customs you are presenting before them that which is not to ruin but to save them; that, while yielding up what they have hitherto esteemed and loved, they are to build on a more secure foundation. While reform must be advocated with firmness and resolution, all appearance of bigotry or an overbearing spirit should be carefully shunned. Christ has given us precious lessons of patience, forbearance, and love. Rudeness is not energy; nor is domineering, heroism. The Son of God was persuasive. He was manifested to draw all men unto Him. His followers must study His life more closely and walk in the light of His example, at whatever sacrifice to self. Reform, continual reform, must be kept before the people; and your example should enforce your teachings. 4T 568.4

The case of Daniel was presented before me. Although he was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities and privileges within his reach. Daniel was an intellectual giant; yet he was continually seeking for greater knowledge, for higher attainments. Other young men had the same advantages; but they did not, like him, bend all their energies to seek wisdom—the knowledge of God as revealed in His word and in His works. Although Daniel was one of the world's great men, he was not proud nor self-sufficient. He felt the need of refreshing his soul with prayer, and each day found him in earnest supplication before God. He would not be deprived of this privilege even when a den of lions was opened to receive him if he continued to pray. 4T 569.1

Daniel loved, feared, and obeyed God. Yet he did not flee away from the world to avoid its corrupting influence. In the providence of God he was to be in the world yet not of the world. With all the temptations and fascinations of court life surrounding him, he stood in the integrity of his soul, firm as a rock in his adherence to principle. He made God his strength and was not forsaken of Him in his time of greatest need. 4T 569.2

Daniel was true, noble, and generous. While he was anxious to be at peace with all men, he would not permit any power to turn him aside from the path of duty. He was willing to obey those who had rule over him, as far as he could do so consistently with truth and righteousness; but kings and decrees could not make him swerve from his allegiance to the King of kings. Daniel was but eighteen years old when brought into a heathen court in service to the king of Babylon, and because of his youth his noble resistance of wrong and his steadfast adherence to the right are the more admirable. His noble example should bring strength to the tried and tempted, even at the present day. 4T 570.1

A strict compliance with the Bible requirements will be a blessing, not only to the soul, but to the body. The fruit of the Spirit is not only love, joy, and peace, but temperance also. We are enjoined not to defile our bodies, for they are the temples of the Holy Ghost. The case of Daniel shows us, that, through religious principle, young men may triumph over the lust of the flesh and remain true to God's requirements, even though it cost them a great sacrifice. What if he had made a compromise with those heathen officers, and had yielded to the pressure of the occasion by eating and drinking as was customary with the Babylonians? That one wrong step would probably have led to others, until, his connection with heaven being severed, he would have been borne away by temptation. But while he clung to God with unwavering trust, the spirit of prophetic power came upon him. While he was instructed of man in the duties of court life, he was taught of God to read the mysteries of future ages. 4T 570.2