Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2


Chapter 81—Accountability for Light Received

I have been shown the case of Brother P. He had been standing for some time resisting the truth. His sin was not that he did not receive that which he sincerely believed to be error, but that he did not investigate diligently and gain a knowledge of what he was opposing. He took it for granted that Sabbathkeeping Adventists, as a body, were in error. This view was in harmony with his feelings, and he did not see the necessity of finding out for himself by diligently searching the Scriptures with earnest prayer. Had he pursued this course he might now have been far in advance of his present position. He has been too slow to receive evidence and too neglectful in searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so. Paul did not consider those worthy of commendation who resisted his teachings as long as they could until compelled by overwhelming evidence to decide in favor of the doctrine which he taught and which he had received of God. 2T 695.1

Paul and Silas labored in the synagogue of the Jews at Thessalonica with some success; but the unbelieving Jews were greatly dissatisfied, and created a disturbance, and made a great uproar against them. These devoted apostles were obliged to leave Thessalonica under the cover of night and go to Berea, where they were gladly welcomed. They speak in commendation of the Bereans thus: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed.” 2T 695.2

Brother P has failed to see the vital importance of the question. He has not felt the burden pressing him to search diligently, independent of any man, to find out what is truth. He has thought too much of Elder P, and has not felt the necessity of learning of One who is meek and lowly of heart. He has not been teachable, but self-confident. Our Saviour has no words of commendation for those who are slow of heart to believe in these last days, any more than He had for doubting Thomas, who boasted that he would not believe upon the evidence which the disciples rehearsed, and which they credited, that Christ had indeed risen and appeared to them. Said Thomas: “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails,” “and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Christ granted Thomas the evidence that he had declared he must have; but He reprovingly said to him: “Be not faithless, but believing.” Thomas acknowledged himself convinced. Jesus said unto him: “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” 2T 696.1

Brother P's position has made him a weak man. He remained for quite a length of time warring against nearly everything but the Sabbath. At the same time he was fellowshiping commandment breakers, being still claimed by the Adventists who were in bitter opposition to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. He was in no condition to help them because he was in a state of indecision himself. His influence has rather confirmed many in their unbelief. With all the help, evidence, and encouragement that he has had, his standing back has displeased the Lord, while it has strengthened the hands of those who were fighting against God by their opposition to the truth. 2T 696.2

Brother P might now be a strong man possessing influence with God's people in Maine and esteemed highly in love for his works’ sake. But he inclines to the idea that his backwardness is a special virtue, rather than a sin of which he must repent. He has been very slow to learn the lessons which God has intended to teach him. He has not been an apt scholar, and has not had a growth and experience in present truth, which would qualify him to bear the weight of responsibility that he might now bear had he diligently improved upon all the light given. I was shown a time when Brother P began to make an effort to subdue himself and restrain his appetite; then he could the more easily be patient. He had been easily excited, passionate, irritable, depressed in spirit. His eating and drinking had very much to do in keeping him in this state. The lower passions bore sway, predominating over the higher powers of the mind. Temperance would do much for Brother P; and more physical exercise and labor is necessary for his health. As he made efforts to control himself, he began to grow, but did not receive that blessing in his efforts to improve that he would have received had they been made at an earlier period. 2T 697.1

Instead of gathering with Christ into the truth, he too long drew back; he would not advance himself and stood directly in the way of the advancement of others, thus scattering abroad. His influence has stood directly in the way of the progress of the work which God sent His servants to do. 2T 697.2

Brother P's ideas of order and organization have been in direct opposition to God's plan of order. There is order in heaven, and it is to be imitated by those upon earth who are heirs of salvation. The nearer mortals attain to the order and arrangement of heaven, the nearer are they brought to that acceptable state before God which will make them subjects of the heavenly kingdom and give them that fitness for translation from earth to heaven which Enoch possessed preparatory to his translation. 2T 697.3

Brother P should be guarded. There is a lack of order in his organization. He has not been in harmony with that restraint, that care and diligence, which are necessary in order to preserve harmony and union of action. His experience, his education in religious things for years past, has been a great detriment to his dear children and especially to God's people. The obligations which Heaven has imposed upon a father, and especially upon a minister, he has not realized. A man who has but a feeble sense of his responsibility as a father to encourage and enforce order, discipline, and obedience will fail as a minister and as a shepherd of the flock. The same lack which characterizes his management at home in his family will be seen in a more public capacity in the church of God. Wrongs will exist uncorrected because of the unpleasant results which attend reproof and earnest appeal. 2T 698.1

A great reform is needed in Brother P's family. God is not pleased with their present state of disorder, their having their own way, following their own course of action. This condition of things in his family is destined to counteract his influence wherever he is known. It also has the effect to discourage those who have a will to help him in the support of his family. This lack is an injury to the cause. Brother P does not restrain his children. God is not pleased with their disorderly, boisterous ways, their unrefined deportment. All this is the result of, or the curse that follows, the unabridged liberty which Adventists have claimed that it was their blessed privilege to enjoy. Brother and Sister P have desired the salvation of their children, but I saw that God would not work a miracle in their conversion while there were duties resting upon the parents of which they have but little sense. God has left a work for these parents to do which they have thrown back upon Him to do for them. When Brother and Sister P feel the burden that they ought to feel for their children, they will unite their efforts to establish order, discipline, and wholesome restraint in their family. 2T 698.2

Brother P, you have been slothful in bearing the burdens which every father should bear in his family; and, as the result, the burden which has been left for the mother to bear has been very heavy. You have been too willing to excuse yourself from care and burdens at home and abroad. When, in the fear of God, with solemnity of mind in view of the judgment, you resolutely take the burden that Heaven has designed you should take, and when you have done all that you can on your part, then you can pray understandingly, with the Spirit, and in faith, for God to do that work for your children which it is beyond the power of man to perform. 2T 699.1

Brother P has not made a judicious use of means. Wise judgment has not influenced him as much as have the voices and desires of his children. He does not place the estimate that he should upon the means in his hands and expend it cautiously for the most needful articles, for the very things he must have for comfort and health. The entire family need to improve in this respect. Many things are needed in the family for convenience and comfort. The lack of appreciating order and system in the arrangement of family matters leads to destructiveness and working to great disadvantage. Every member of the family should realize that a responsibility rests upon him individually to do his part in adding to the comfort, order, and regularity of the family. One should not work against another. All should unitedly engage in the good work of encouraging one another; they should exercise gentleness, forbearance, and patience, speak in low, calm tones, shunning confusion, and each doing his utmost to lighten the burdens of the mother. Things should no longer be left at loose ends, all excusing themselves from duty, leaving others to do that which they can and should do themselves. These things may be trifles; but when all are put together, they make great disorder and bring down the frown of God. It is the neglect of the littles, the trifles, that poisons life's happiness. A faithful performance of the littles composes the sum of happiness to be realized in this life. He that is faithful in little is faithful also in much. He that is unfaithful or unjust in small matters will be in greater matters. Each member of the family should understand just the part he is expected to act in union with the others. All, from the child six years old and upward, should understand that it is required of them to bear their share of life's burdens. 2T 699.2

There are important lessons for these children to learn, and they can learn them better now than at a later period. God will work for these dear children in union with the wisely directed efforts of their parents and will bring them to become learners in the school of Christ. Jesus would have these children separate from the vanities of the world, leave the pleasures of sin, and choose the path of humble obedience. If they will now heed the gracious invitation, accept Jesus as their Saviour, and follow on to know the Lord, He will cleanse them from their sins and impart to them grace and strength. 2T 700.1

Dear Brother P, the lessons which you have learned amid the distracting influences that have existed in Maine have been exceedingly injurious to your family. You have not been as circumspect in your conversation as God requires you to be. You have not dwelt upon the truth in your family, diligently teaching its principles and the commandments of God unto your children when you rise up and when you sit down, when you go out and when you come in. You have not appreciated your work as a father or as a minister. 2T 700.2

You have not zealously performed your duty to your children. You have not devoted sufficient time to family prayer, and you have not required the presence of the entire household. The meaning of “husband” is house band. All members of the family center in the father. He is the lawmaker, illustrating in his own manly bearing the sterner virtues, energy, integrity, honesty, patience, courage, diligence, and practical usefulness. The father is in one sense the priest of the household, laying upon the altar of God the morning and evening sacrifice. The wife and children should be encouraged to unite in this offering and also to engage in the song of praise. Morning and evening the father, as priest of the household, should confess to God the sins committed by himself and his children through the day. Those sins which have come to his knowledge, and also those which are secret, of which God's eye alone has taken cognizance, should be confessed. This rule of action, zealously carried out by the father when he is present, or by the mother when he is absent, will result in blessings to the family. 2T 701.1

The reason why the youth of the present age are not more religiously inclined is that their education is defective. True love is not exercised toward children when they are allowed to indulge passion, or when disobedience of your laws is permitted to go unpunished. As the twig is bent, the tree's inclined. You love your ease too well. You are not painstaking enough. Constant effort is required, constant watchfulness and earnest, fervent prayer. Keep the mind in a praying mood, uplifted to God; be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. 2T 701.2

You have failed in your family to appreciate the sacredness of the Sabbath and to teach it to your children and enjoin upon them the importance of keeping it according to the commandment. Your sensibilities are not clear and ready to discern the high standard that we must reach in order to be commandment keepers. But God will assist you in your efforts when you take hold of the work earnestly. You should possess perfect control over yourself; then you can have better success in controlling your children when they are unruly. There is a great work before you to repair past neglects; but you are not required to perform it in your own strength. Ministering angels will aid you in the work. Do not give up the work nor lay aside the burden, but take hold of it with a will and repair your long neglect. You must have higher views of God's claims upon you in regard to His holy day. Everything that can possibly be done on the six days which God has given to you, should be done. You should not rob God of one hour of holy time. Great blessings are promised to those who place a high estimate upon the Sabbath and realize the obligations resting upon them in regard to its observance: “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath [from trampling upon it, setting it at nought], from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” 2T 701.3

When the Sabbath commences, we should place a guard upon ourselves, upon our acts and our words, lest we rob God by appropriating to our own use that time which is strictly the Lord's. We should not do ourselves, nor suffer our children to do, any manner of our own work for a livelihood, or anything which could have been done on the six working days. Friday is the day of preparation. Time can then be devoted to making the necessary preparation for the Sabbath and to thinking and conversing about it. Nothing which will in the sight of Heaven be regarded as a violation of the holy Sabbath should be left unsaid or undone, to be said or done upon the Sabbath. God requires not only that we refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The fourth commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or by engaging in light and trifling conversation. Talking upon anything or everything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words. Every deviation from right brings us into bondage and condemnation. 2T 702.1

Brother P, you should discipline yourself to discern the sacredness of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment and should labor to raise the standard in your family and wherever you have, by example, lowered it among God's people. You should counteract the influence you have cast in this respect, by changing your words and actions. You have frequently failed to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy;” you have often forgotten, and have spoken your own words upon God's sanctified day. You have been unguarded, and have upon the Sabbath joined with the unconsecrated in conversation upon the common topics of the day, such as gains and losses, stocks, crops, and provisions. In this your example injures your influence. You should reform. 2T 703.1

Those who are not fully converted to the truth frequently let their minds run freely upon worldly business, and, although they may rest from physical toil upon the Sabbath, their tongues speak out what is in their minds; hence these words concerning cattle, crops, losses, and gains. All this is Sabbath breaking. If the mind is running upon worldly matters, the tongue will reveal it, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 2T 703.2

The example of ministers especially should be circumspect in this respect. Upon the Sabbath they should conscientiously restrict themselves to conversation upon religious themes—to present truth, present duty, the Christian's hopes and fears, trials, conflicts, and afflictions; to overcoming at last, and the reward to be received. 2T 703.3

Ministers of Jesus should stand as reprovers to those who fail to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. They should kindly and solemnly reprove those who engage in worldly conversation upon the Sabbath and at the same time claim to be Sabbathkeepers. They should encourage devotion to God upon His holy day. 2T 704.1

None should feel at liberty to spend sanctified time in an unprofitable manner. It is displeasing to God for Sabbathkeepers to sleep during much of the Sabbath. They dishonor their Creator in so doing, and, by their example, say that the six days are too precious for them to spend in resting. They must make money, although it be by robbing themselves of needed sleep, which they make up by sleeping away holy time. They then excuse themselves by saying: “The Sabbath was given for a day of rest. I will not deprive myself of rest to attend meeting, for I need rest.” Such make a wrong use of the sanctified day. They should, upon that day especially, interest their families in its observance and assemble at the house of prayer with the few or with the many, as the case may be. They should devote their time and energies to spiritual exercises, that the divine influence resting upon the Sabbath may attend them through the week. Of all the days in the week, none are so favorable for devotional thoughts and feelings as the Sabbath. 2T 704.2

All heaven was represented to me as beholding and watching upon the Sabbath those who acknowledge the claims of the fourth commandment and are observing the Sabbath. Angels were marking their interest in, and high regard for, this divine institution. Those who sanctified the Lord God in their hearts by a strictly devotional frame of mind, and who sought to improve the sacred hours in keeping the Sabbath to the best of their ability, and to honor God by calling the Sabbath a delight—these the angels were specially blessing with light and health, and special strength was given them. But, on the other hand, the angels were turning from those who failed to appreciate the sacredness of God's sanctified day, and were removing from them their light and their strength. I saw them overshadowed with a cloud, desponding, and frequently sad. They felt a lack of the Spirit of God. 2T 704.3

Dear Brother P, you should at all times be circumspect in your conversation. Has God called you to be a representative of Christ upon earth, in His stead beseeching sinners to be reconciled to God? This is a solemn, exalted work. When you cease speaking in the desk, that work is but just begun. You are not released from responsibilities when out of meeting, but should still maintain your consecration to the work of saving souls. You are to be a living epistle, known and read of all men. Ease is not to be consulted. Pleasure is not to be thought of. The salvation of souls is the all-important theme. It is to this work that the minister of the gospel of Christ is called. He must maintain good works out of meeting and adorn his profession by his godly conversation and circumspect deportment. Frequently, after your pulpit labor is over and you are seated with company around the fireside, you have, by your unconsecrated conversation, counteracted your efforts in the pulpit. You must live out what you preach as duty to others, and must take upon yourself, as you never yet have done, the burden of the work, the weight of responsibility which should rest upon every minister of Christ. Confirm the labor bestowed in the desk by following it up with private effort. Engage in judicious conversation upon present truth, candidly ascertaining the state of mind of those present, and in the fear of God making a practical application of important truth to the cases of those with whom you are associated. You have failed to be instant in season, out of season, to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. 2T 705.1

As a watchman upon the walls of Zion, constant watchfulness is necessary. Your vigilance must not abate. Educate yourself to be able to appeal to families around the fireside. You can accomplish even more in this direction than by your pulpit labors alone. Watch for souls as one that must give an account. Give no occasion for unbelievers to charge you with remissness in this duty, by neglecting to appeal to them personally. Talk with them faithfully, and beseech them to yield to the truth. “For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other the savor of life unto life.” As the apostle views the magnitude of the work and the weighty responsibilities resting upon the minister, he exclaims: “And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” 2T 706.1

Those who corrupt the word, handing out wheat and chaff, or anything that they may deem gospel, while they oppose the commandments of God, cannot appreciate the feelings of the apostle as he trembled under the weight of the solemn work, and of his responsibility as a minister of Christ, having the destiny of souls for whom Christ died resting upon him. In the estimation of self-made ministers it will take but a small pattern to fill the bill and make a minister. But the apostle placed a high estimate upon the qualifications necessary to make a minister. 2T 706.2

The deportment of a minister while in the desk should be circumspect, not careless. He should not be negligent in regard to his attitude. He should possess order and refinement in the highest sense. God requires this of those who accept so responsible a work, that of receiving the words from His mouth and speaking them to the people, warning and reproving, correcting and comforting, as the case may require. God's representatives upon earth should be in daily communion with Him. Their words should be select, their speech sound. The haphazard words frequently used by ministers who preach not the gospel in sincerity should be forever discarded. 2T 706.3

I was shown, Brother P, that you were naturally irritable, easily provoked, and that you had lacked patience and forbearance. If your course was questioned, or you were urged to take your position upon the truth, you felt too much that you would not be hurried. You would not move a step because others desired you to do so. You would take your time. Should your hearers pursue the same course, you would consider them blameworthy. If all should do as you have done, God's people would require a temporal millennium in which to make the needed preparations for the judgment. God has mercifully borne with your backwardness; but it will not answer for others to follow your example, for you are now weak and deficient where you might be strong and well qualified for the work. 2T 707.1

Brother R could effect but little for you. His labors were unwisely directed. He erred in especially interesting himself for those who thought they should become teachers. Had he not touched the case of a minister in Maine, and had he labored in new fields where there had been no Adventists, many would have been brought to the knowledge of the truth. Brother S has been advancing slowly and occupying a position more pleasing to God in regard to patience, forbearance, and endurance; and yet there is a much greater work to be done for him before he can make a successful minister in the cause and advance the work of God. 2T 707.2

Brother R zealously interested himself in your case, but you refused to be helped by him. Time and strength were devoted to you; and matters were shaped for your special benefit to remove your prejudice and win you to accept the truth, until your indolence and unbelief exhausted the patience of Brother R. Then the character of his labor changed, and he pressed you to come to a decision and move out upon the light and evidence you had received. This earnest effort on his part you termed crowding and jamming you. Your mulish temperament was manifested; you rose up against this dealing and rejected the efforts he made to help you. Here you injured yourself, disheartened Brother R, and displeased God. Your feelings toward Brother R were not Christian. You gloried in your resistance of his efforts in your behalf. The Lord blessed the labors of Brother R in raising up a people in the State of Maine. This labor was hard and trying, and you did your share in making it so. You did not realize how hard you were making the work for those whom God had sent to present the truth to the people. They were exhausting their energies to bring the people to the point of decision in regard to the truth, while you and others of the ministers stood directly in their way. God was working through His ministers to draw to the truth, and Satan was working through you and other ministers to discourage and counteract their labor. The very men who professed to be watchmen, and who, if they had stood in the counsel of God, would have been the first to receive the word of warning and give it to the people, were among the last to accept the truth. The people were in advance of their teachers. They received the warning even before the watchmen because the watchmen were unfaithful and were sleeping at their post. 2T 707.3

Brother P, you should have had feelings of brotherly sympathy and love for Brother R, for he deserved this from you rather than one word of censure. You should severely censure your own course because you were found fighting against God. But you have amused yourself and others at the expense of Brother R by relating his efforts for you and your resistance of his labors, and have enjoyed a hearty laugh over the matter. 2T 708.1

It becomes every minister of Christ to use sound speech, which cannot be condemned. I was shown that a solemn work is to be accomplished for the ministers of Christ. This cannot be done without effort on their part. They must feel that they have a work to do in their own cases which no one else can do for them. They must seek to gain the qualifications necessary, in order to become able ministers of Christ, that in the day of God they may stand acquitted, free from the blood of souls, having done all their duty in the fear of God. As their reward, the faithful undershepherds will hear from the Chief Shepherd: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He will then place the crown of glory upon their heads and bid them enter into the joy of their Lord. What is that joy? It is beholding with Christ the redeemed saints, reviewing with Him their travail for souls, their self-denial and self-sacrifice, their giving up of ease, of worldly gain, and every earthly inducement, and choosing the reproach, the suffering, the self-abasement, the wearing labor, and the anguish of spirit as men would oppose the counsel of God against their own souls; it is calling to remembrance the chastening of their souls before God, their weeping between the porch and the altar, and their becoming a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. All this is then ended, and the fruits of their labors are seen; souls are saved through their efforts in Christ. The ministers who have been co-workers with Christ enter into the joy of their Lord and are satisfied. 2T 709.1

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Ministers are too forgetful of the Author of their salvation. They think they endure much, when they bear and suffer but little. God will work for ministers if they will let Him work for them. But if they feel that they are all right and do not need a thorough conversion, and will not see themselves and come up to the measurement of God, He can do better without their labors than with them. 2T 709.2

God requires ministers to come up to the standard, to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed. If they refuse this strict discipline, God will release them and select men who will not rest until they are thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Our hearts are naturally sinful, and slothful in the service of Christ; and we need to be guarded constantly, or we shall fail to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ; and we shall not feel the necessity of aiming vigorous blows against besetting sins, but will readily yield to the suggestions of Satan and raise a standard for ourselves rather than accept the pure and elevated standard that God has raised for us. 2T 710.1

I saw that the Sabbathkeeping ministers of Maine have failed to become Bible students. They have not felt the necessity of a diligent study of the word of God for themselves, that they might be thoroughly furnished unto all good works; neither have they felt the necessity of urging the close searching of the Scriptures upon their hearers. If there had not been one Seventh-day Adventist minister in Maine to oppose the counsel of God, all that has been accomplished might have been done with one half the effort that has been made, and the people might have been brought out of their distracted, confused state into order, and now have been strong enough to stand against opposing influences. Many places which have not yet been entered might have been visited and successful labor bestowed, which would have brought many to a knowledge of the truth. 2T 710.2

Much of the labor which has been spent in Maine has been for Seventh-day Adventist ministers, to bring them into a right position. It has required hard labor to counteract the influence which they exerted while opposing the counsel of God against their own souls and standing in the way of sinners. They would not enter in themselves, and them that would, they hindered by precept and example. A mistake has been made in entering fields where there are Adventists who do not as a general thing feel any necessity of being helped, but who think themselves in a good condition and able to teach others. The laborers are few, and their strength must be spent to the best possible advantage. Much more can be done in the State of Maine, as a general thing, where there is not one Adventist. New fields should be entered; and the time that has hitherto been spent in wearing labor for Adventists who have no wish to learn should be devoted to these new fields, to going out into the highways and hedges, and working for the conversion of unbelievers. If Adventists will come and hear, let them come. Leave the way open for them to come if they choose. 2T 711.1