Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)



Ms 1, 1883

Sermon/Doubting the Testimonies

[Battle Creek, Michigan]

November 1883

This manuscript is published in entirety in 1SM 45-48.

[Extract from a sermon at the General Conference of 1883.] 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 1

When you find men questioning the testimonies, finding fault with them and seeking to draw away the people from their influence, be assured that God is not at work through them. It is another spirit. Doubt and unbelief are cherished by those who do not walk circumspectly. They have a painful consciousness that their life will not abide the test of the Spirit of God, whether speaking through His Word or through the testimonies of His Spirit that would bring them to His Word. Instead of beginning with their own hearts and coming into harmony with the pure principles of the gospel, they find fault and condemn the very means that God has chosen to fit up a people to stand in the day of the Lord. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 2

Let some skeptical one come along who is not willing to square his life by the Bible rule, who is seeking to gain the favor of all, and how soon the class that are not in harmony with the work of God are called out. Those who are converted and grounded in the truth will find nothing pleasing or profitable in the influence or teaching of such a one. But those who are defective in character, whose hands are not pure, whose hearts are not holy, whose habits of life are loose, who are unkind at home or untrustworthy in deal—all these will be sure to enjoy the new sentiments presented. All may see, if they will, the true measure of the man, the nature of his teaching, from the character of his followers. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 3

Those who have most to say against the testimonies are generally those who have not read them, just as those who boast of their disbelief of the Bible are those who have little knowledge of its teachings. They know that it condemns them, and their rejection of it gives them a feeling of security in their sinful course. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 4

There is in error and unbelief that which bewilders and bewitches the mind. To question and doubt and cherish unbelief in order to excuse ourselves in stepping aside from the straight path is a far easier matter than to purify the soul through a belief of the truth and obedience thereto. But when better influences lead one to desire to return, he finds himself entangled in such a network of Satan, like a fly in a spider’s web, that it seems a hopeless task to him, and he seldom recovers himself from the snare laid for him by the wily foe. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 5

When once men have admitted doubt and unbelief in the testimonies of the Spirit of God, they are strongly tempted to adhere to the opinions which they have avowed before others. Their theories and notions fix themselves like a gloomy cloud over the mind, shutting out every ray of evidence in favor of the truth. The doubts indulged through ignorance, pride, or love of sinful practices rivet upon the soul fetters that are seldom broken. Christ, and He alone, can give the needed power to break them. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 6

The testimonies of the Spirit of God are given to direct men to His Word, which has been neglected. Now if their messages are not heeded, the Holy Spirit is shut away from the soul. What further means has God in reserve to reach the erring ones and show them their true condition? 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 7

The churches that have cherished influences which lessen faith in the testimonies are weak and tottering. Some ministers are working to attract the people to themselves. When an effort is made to correct any wrong in these ministers, they stand back in independence and say, “My church accepts my labors.” 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 8

Jesus said, “Every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” [John 3:20.] There are many today pursuing a similar course. In the testimonies are specified the very sins of which they are guilty; hence they have no desire to read them. There are those who from their youth up have received warning and reproofs through the testimonies; but have they walked in the light and reformed? Not at all. They still indulge the same sins; they have the same defects of character. These evils mar the work of God and make their impress upon the churches. The work the Lord would do to set the churches in order is not done, because the individual members, and especially the leaders of the flock, would not be corrected. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 9

Many a man professes to accept the testimonies while they have no influence upon his life or character. His faults become stronger by indulgence until, having been often reproved and not heeding the reproof, he loses the power of self-control and becomes hardened in a course of wrong doing. If he is overworked, if weakness comes upon him, he has not moral power to rise above the infirmities of character which he did not overcome; they become his strongest points, and he is overborne by them. Then bring him to the test and ask, “Did not God reprove this phase in your character by the testimonies years ago?” He will answer, “Yes, I received a written testimony saying that I was wrong in these things.” “Why, then, did you not correct these wrong habits?” “I thought the reprover must have made a mistake; that which I could see, I accepted; that which I could not see, I said was the mind of the one who gave the message. I did not accept the reproof.” 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 10

In some cases the very faults of character which God would have His servants see and correct, but which they refused to see, have cost these men their lives. They might have lived to be channels of light. God wanted them to live and sent them instruction in righteousness, that they might preserve their physical and mental powers to do acceptable service for Him; and had they received the counsel of God and become altogether such as He would have them, they would have been able workmen for the advancement of the truth, men who would have stood high in the affections and confidence of our people. But they are sleeping in the grave because they did not see that God knew them better than they knew themselves. His thoughts were not their thoughts, nor His ways, their ways. These one-sided men have moulded the work wherever they have labored. The churches under their management have been greatly weakened. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 11

God reproves men because He loves them. He wants them to be strong in His strength, to have well-balanced minds and symmetrical characters; then they will be examples to the flock of God, leading them by precept and example nearer to heaven. Then they will build up a holy temple for God. 4LtMs, Ms 1, 1883, par. 12