The Signs of the Times


January 19, 1882

The Missionary

Among the Churches



After leaving Petaluma, I visited the church at Healdsburg. Accompanied by Sr. Rogers, I made the journey with my own horse and carriage, hoping thus to receive benefit healthwise. After a ride of thirty-three miles, we were warmly welcomed to the home of Bro. and Sr. Harmon. These friends furnished me a convenient room, where I could write or rest undisturbed, and did all in their power for my health and happiness. ST January 19, 1882, par. 1

I was far from well, yet felt a duty to write upon important matters that would not admit of delay. Being unable to sleep more than a few hours at night, I would rise at three A.M. and write by lamplight. Such a strain upon mind and body could not be long endured. Intense pain in my eyes soon compelled me to lay aside my writing. ST January 19, 1882, par. 2

This was a severe trial. My thoughts seemed consuming me. I felt an unceasing anxiety for the cause of God, especially for the institutions which his own hand has established. There is a great lack of spiritual life among us. Religious declension is seen and felt everywhere. As the faithful standard-bearers fall at their post, who will come up to fill their place, and to work with unselfish interest in the cause of God? As I thought of these things, my soul was troubled day and night. I felt the need of my husband's help. The future looked dark and lonely. Weighed down by disease and by a heavier burden of care, anxiety, and sorrow, I knew that unless the Lord should come to my help, and the balm of Gilead should be applied to soul and body, I could no longer labor. ST January 19, 1882, par. 3

Yet the thought of becoming useless was too terrible to be entertained for a moment. It seemed to me that death would be preferable. Satan was determined that my testimony of warning, encouragement, and reproof, should not reach the people. I felt urged to go forward, but seemed powerless. Night after night I dreamed that my husband and myself were laboring together to bring souls to Christ, and awoke to find that I was alone, wrestling with the powers of darkness. Oh, how I longed for rest in Christ! I thought how he once hushed the tempest-tossed waves of Galilee, and I prayed that his voice might speak peace to my soul. I humbled myself before God, and earnestly presented my petitions at the throne of grace. My faith was tried to the utmost. I received no direct evidence that my prayers were answered, but I decided to go to work as though I had received the help so greatly needed. ST January 19, 1882, par. 4

On the Sabbath I attended meeting, trusting in God for support. In speaking to the church, I was comforted and refreshed. The Lord gave me peace and rest in him. I felt burdened for the youth, and my words were addressed especially to them. They listened attentively, with serious faces and tearful eyes. At the close of my remarks I requested all who wished to become Christians to come forward. Thirteen responded. These were all children and youth, from eight to fifteen years of age, who thus manifested their determination to begin a new life. Such a sight was enough to soften the hardest heart. The brethren and sisters, especially the parents of the children, seemed to feel deeply. Christ has told us that there is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth. Angels were looking with gladness upon this scene. Nearly all who came forward spoke in a few words of their hope and determination. Such testimonies ascend like incense to the throne of God. All hearts felt that this was a precious season. The presence of God was with us. ST January 19, 1882, par. 5

I sought to impress upon fathers and mothers their duty to lead these inexperienced youth into the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord. They now need special care and tenderness and earnest prayer. In the Christian life they have everything to learn, and they should daily have patient, faithful instruction. The young cannot be gained to the service of Christ by faultfinding or compulsion. They must be won by love. This requires time and effort. Parents must arouse from their carnal security. They cannot afford to waste precious hours in dress and gossip. They must close their ears to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. They must begin in earnest to work for Christ—begin to be missionaries at home, themselves closely following in the Saviour's footsteps, that they may give a right example to their children. ST January 19, 1882, par. 6

Fathers and mothers, will you not make this effort to save the souls of your loved ones? Have you not a sufficient incentive? Is not this work of infinitely greater consequence than your temporal affairs? To gain the whole world would be no compensation for the loss of a soul. You need daily the spirit which moved our Saviour to come to earth to suffer and to die for us. He wept and agonized and prayed, that lost man might be redeemed. What will you do to save your own souls and the souls of your dear children? ST January 19, 1882, par. 7

There is need of earnestness and zeal in this work. The juvenile depravity which is everywhere so painfully apparent, spurning restraint and defying law, should arouse every parent to decided, effectual action. The corrupting influences in our great cities should alarm us. And yet fathers and mothers are asleep. How many move from the country to these cities, which are hot-beds of vice, in order to educate their children! Like Lot, they choose that which seems most agreeable, irrespective of moral influence. Like him they see too late the sin and folly of their course. They place their children where the temptations to dissipation and crime are almost irresistible, where they daily associate with youth of dissolute habits and corrupt morals, and then are not careful to give them proper instruction and wholesome restraint. If balanced by religious principle, the youth might pass the ordeal in safety; but unless they have learned to look daily to God for strength, they will be overcome. The work of ruin is gradual. The children's feet are set in a path which diverges from the way of purity, integrity, and holiness, and the parents, blinded by pride and the customs of the world, do not discern the danger till a great gulf yawns between them; and then it is too late. ST January 19, 1882, par. 8

We should bring our children early to Christ, and teach them that he alone can keep them from the tempter's power. I know that parents are not doing what they might do in this work. Unceasing watchfulness and prayer are the weapons by which we must overcome the foe. Parents, do not permit Satan to take the children from your hands. He will often urge, “You must indulge children, in order to keep them with you;” but, on the contrary, it is this unwise indulgence that separates your children from you, and leads them into the ranks of the great deceiver. ST January 19, 1882, par. 9

I look back with interest to the Sabbath spent at Healdsburg. May the Lord bless all who that day had moral courage to lift the cross. Temptations will assail them as surely as Satan lives. They must seek strength from Christ to resist the power of evil. We fear that the older members of the church were not all prepared to guide these youth in the path to Heaven. It is difficult for those who have cherished a self-righteous, Pharisaical spirit, to come down to the simplicity of humble, experimental religion. They need to have their own hearts softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit, and then they will be able to win the children to Christ. ST January 19, 1882, par. 10

We should seek to enter into the feelings of the youth, to sympathize with them in their joys and sorrows, their conflicts and victories. Jesus did not remain in Heaven, away from the sorrowing and sinful, but he came down to this world that he might become acquainted with the weakness, the suffering, and temptations of the fallen race. He reached us where we were, that he might lift us up. Such should be our work. We must come to the youth where they are, and make their case our own, if we would benefit them. If these youthful disciples are overcome by temptation, I hope that you who are older in experience, who have yourselves shown but little strength to resist the tempter's power, will not deal with them harshly, or regard their efforts with indifference. I entreat you to be as patient with these lambs of the flock as you wish others to be with you. God has so constituted us that even the strongest desire sympathy. How much more then do children need it. Even a look of compassion will often soothe and strengthen the tried and tempted child. ST January 19, 1882, par. 11

Jesus calls to every wanderer, “My son, give me thine heart;” “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, and will heal all your backslidings.” The youth cannot be happy without the love of Jesus. He is waiting with pitying tenderness to hear the confessions of the wayward, and to accept their penitence. He watches for some return of gratitude from us, as the mother watches for the smile of recognition from her beloved child. The great God teaches us to call him Father. He would have us understand how earnestly and tenderly his heart yearns over us in all our trials and temptations. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pities them that fear him.” The mother might sooner forget her child than God forget one soul that trusts in him. ST January 19, 1882, par. 12

The young should be constantly growing in grace, and in a knowledge of the truth. The Creator of all things, with whom are all the treasures of wisdom, has promised to be the guide of their youth. He who has conquered in their behalf all the powers of evil asks for their homage. There can be no higher knowledge than the knowledge of Him whom to know aright is life and peace; no purer, deeper affection than the love of our Saviour. ST January 19, 1882, par. 13

Many parents have through mistaken fondness permitted their children to grow up with habits of selfish gratification, perhaps have indulged them because this required less effort than the exercise of proper restraint. They should now labor earnestly and prayerfully to undo their own past work, and to form aright the character of their children. These fathers and mothers enter the field to engage in a hand to hand combat with Satan and his angels. There are temptations on every hand to ensnare the feet of the unwary. Ungodly, corrupt youth exert a strong influence to lead others into forbidden paths. These are among the most successful agents of Satan. If parents would detect and successfully resist the advances of the wily foe, their own perceptive and reasoning powers must be quickened and strengthened by the Spirit of God. Every member of the church is pledged to stand as a faithful sentinel. The lovers of the world will often approach under a garb of friendship, and attempt to introduce its customs and practices. Let every true soldier stand ready to resist these allurements. ST January 19, 1882, par. 14

When the youth attempt to break away from Satan's control, he will redouble his temptations. Taking advantage of their ignorance and inexperience, he attempts to obscure the distinction between right and wrong. He transforms himself into an angel of light, and beguiles by promises of pleasure in a forbidden path. If the youth have formed the habit of following inclination rather than duty, they will find it hard to resist temptation. They do not see the danger in indulging even once in forbidden pleasures. ST January 19, 1882, par. 15

The suggestions of Satan will stir every lingering element of depravity in the heart. The eager desires which the parents have not guided in the right channel, wrong habits which have been indulged until they have become second nature, will arouse as an armed man to second his temptations. Too often reason and conscience remonstrate in vain. Oh, then will there be fathers and mothers in Israel, to rescue these youth from Satan's snare? Will there be wisdom to out-general the enemy, and guide the wandering feet into the narrow path of holiness? ST January 19, 1882, par. 16

The older members of the church should give the youth an example of Christian firmness and self-control, of patient, cheerful submission to the divine will. God forbid that the fathers and mothers of children whose help we need so much should themselves be overcome by Satan. There are many professed Christians who are as fitful and moody as the weather of a California winter. There may be a few sunshiny days, but you may look oftener for fogs and rain. Children are critical observers. They mark the caprice, the petulance, the sullenness. They cannot desire a religion which bears such fruit. ST January 19, 1882, par. 17

There is no excuse for a man, with a man's reasoning powers and a man's experience, to yield to his feelings and cast a gloom on all around him. Says Christ, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.” Satan attacks us at our weak points; but we need not be overcome. The assault may be severe and protracted, but God has promised help for us, and in his strength we may conquer. I entreat my brethren to become established, rooted and grounded, in the truth. Study the Bible diligently and prayerfully. The precepts and promises of God's word will arm you with divine power to resist the enemy. “Thy word,” says the psalmist, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Satan will be baffled and defeated when he finds the heart preoccupied with the truth of God. We need also to be often found at the throne of grace. Earnest, persevering prayer, uniting our human weakness to Omnipotence, will give us the victory. ST January 19, 1882, par. 18

The Lord would have the church at Healdsburg become strong in him. They may be thus if they will hide self behind the cross of Christ. Those who cherish self-love and a desire for self-exaltation open the soul to temptations that set aside reason and weaken judgment. Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt us in due time. There is work to be done for our Master. There are souls who may by our influence be led to Christ. Who is ready to engage in this work with all the heart? ST January 19, 1882, par. 19

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.” ST January 19, 1882, par. 20

“Thine is the seed-time; God alone
Beholds the end of what is sown;
Beyond our vision, weak and dim,
The harvest time is hid with him;
Yet unforgotten where it lies,
The seed of generous sacrifice,
Though seeming on the desert cast,
Shall rise with bloom and fruit at last.”
ST January 19, 1882, par. 21

E. G. White.