The Signs of the Times


October 4, 1883

Christian Privileges and Duties


It is the privilege of every soul to seek and find peace in Christ. Yet this peace is granted only upon conditions. We must surrender our own ways and wills and plans, and thus put off the grievous yoke which we have bound upon our own necks, and we must take upon us the yoke of Christ, which will bring rest to our souls. “Learn of me,” says the Divine Teacher; “for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ST October 4, 1883, par. 1

We each need to learn in the school of Christ; and it is because we are not more humble and diligent students that we are so slow to manifest meekness and lowliness of heart. It is only when we cherish these precious graces that peace and rest can abide in the soul. Only the humble and contrite ones find shelter in the promises of God; only these obtain a saving knowledge of the Scriptures, and a rich experience in trusting God and obeying his precepts. In our own strength we are indeed feeble; but in the strength of our Redeemer we may be strong. In the midst of tumult we may have quietness and peace. We must believe in him, even though darkness envelop the soul; we must work from principle, rather than from feeling. By this continual, unwavering trust, Satan is baffled and disappointed. Says the psalmist, “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” ST October 4, 1883, par. 2

If we would maintain our fidelity to God, in this time of danger and deception, we must constantly rely upon the power of Christ. We must be often before God in prayer, holding every emotion and every passion in calm subjection to reason and conscience, banishing all unholy imaginings, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. By earnest prayer and living faith we can resist the assaults of Satan, and keep our hearts unspotted from pollution. ST October 4, 1883, par. 3

The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel any one to sin. The will must consent, the heart must yield, or passion cannot overbear reason, nor iniquity triumph over righteousness. ST October 4, 1883, par. 4

I appeal to you who profess to be followers of Christ to depart from all iniquity. You must do this, if you would represent the truth as it is in Jesus. God wants whole-hearted, thorough-going men. These only can stand the test of the Judgment. If those who have received the light were but true to their trust, what a flood of light would be poured upon the world! But how is it, not only with the members of the church, but with those who stand as ministers of the gospel? Do their habits and experience correctly represent the purity and simplicity of a holy, cross-bearing life? ST October 4, 1883, par. 5

The true toilers in the Lord's vineyard will be men of prayer, of faith, of self-denial,—men who hold in restraint the natural appetites and passions. These will, in their own lives, give to the world evidence of the power of the truth which they present to others; and their labors will not be without effect. “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 October 4, 1883, par. 6

Fellow-workers for Christ, time is short; we have no moments to idle away. Are you watching for souls as they that must give an account, or are you yourselves drowsy, ease-loving, and lukewarm? Have you a living faith? Are you every day increasing in the knowledge of Christ? Do you possess practical godliness, Christian meekness, and deep love for the souls for whom Christ died? Search the Scriptures. Do not depend upon the little knowledge which you already have. Pray for clearer light. Dig for the precious gems of truth as for hid treasure. Thus will you be enabled to bring forth from the storehouse of God things new and old. ST October 4, 1883, par. 7

In this age of conflicting doctrines, when fables abound, and there is so much sensational preaching on the one hand, and so great formality on the other, it is a difficult matter to arouse the people. Our only hope of success is to reach them through God. We must give evidence of earnestness, zeal, and devotion commensurate to the importance and solemnity of our work. There should be no exaltation of self. We are not to call attention to the instrument, but to present Christ and the sacred truths that are to test the people of God. If these truths sanctify our own hearts, if they purify and ennoble our own characters, we shall be living epistles, known and read of all men. ST October 4, 1883, par. 8

The ambassadors of Christ must learn where their strength lies. They must themselves drink of the living water, before they can guide others to the fountain. We must learn by experience what it is to lean upon the arm of our Beloved. There is no evil more fatal to the prosperity of the church than the influence of professed teachers and ministers of the gospel who are deficient in Christian experience, in faith, self-denial, self-control, and in the tact and energy essential for skillful warfare. ST October 4, 1883, par. 9

My brethren, you should be constant learners in the school of Christ, obtaining from the heavenly Teacher precious lessons to impart to others. You have lost much in your labors because you have not constantly felt the necessity of vital connection with God. There is earnest solemn work to do in every branch of the cause of Christ. You need the Spirit and power of God, that your testimony, like a sharp, two-edged sword, may cut to the heart of those who hear. ST October 4, 1883, par. 10

The faithful witnesses for Christ will keep themselves unspotted from the world. Those who seek to be popular with the world, will not love the testimony of the Spirit of God. They are not sanctified through the truth; and after a brief period of half-hearted service, they will make a decided move toward uniting with the enemies of God. They reject the light, and it is withdrawn from them. In time it will be seen that they are in utter darkness. ST October 4, 1883, par. 11

Many retain a form of godliness and a connection with the church, when they bring no strength, help, or blessing to the church. They seek to make the narrow way broad and pleasant for the multitude to walk in. Such are destitute of spiritual eyesight. They have put out their own eyes, and they stumble at every step. The word of God has not widened the narrow way; and if the half-hearted and pleasure-loving choose a path where they need not bear the cross or suffer tribulation, they are in a path where the Saviour did not walk. ST October 4, 1883, par. 12

In all parts of our country, during the summer and autumn, large companies assemble in the tented grove, to worship God and to listen to words of warning and instruction from his servants. Great privileges are afforded by these yearly convocations. The Lord Jesus himself comes up to the feast. We have a precious opportunity to humble our hearts before God, and to become settled and grounded in the truth. Are these opportunities wisely improved? They will prove to us either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. After these seasons are over, and those who met together have returned to their homes, will they be prepared to let their light shine forth to the world? Will their works correspond with the faith which they profess? If we continue to love the world, to have fellowship with the works of darkness, or to find pleasure in unrighteousness, then we have put the stumbling-block of our iniquity before our face, and have set up idols in our hearts. If we do not heed the word of the Lord, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean,” we are in a worse condition than if we had not listened to the words of truth. ST October 4, 1883, par. 13

The Scriptures clearly set before us the high and holy position which we should occupy as sons and daughters of God. If all who attend the camp-meetings would seek earnestly to attain this position, and would receive the spiritual benefit which it is their privilege to receive, they would be prepared to do good when they return home. If the love of Christ is kindled afresh in their own hearts, if they have drank anew from the heavenly fountain, their cheerful testimonies and their prayers, sent up in faith, will be as great a help to the church as ministerial labor. The Spirit of God will come into their meetings, and the hearts of believers will say, It is good to be here. ST October 4, 1883, par. 14

Every church, be it large or small, should be taught not to depend on ministerial labor. Therefore, fellow-Christians, there is the greater need that you kindle your tapers at the divine altar, that the light may shine forth to all around. However weak you may be, you can become a help and blessing to others, if you will keep your own souls in the love of God, and search the Scriptures for a clear understanding of the truth. It is not only your privilege but your duty to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. You may rejoice in a living Saviour, and may show to all connected with you that he is the center of your affections and your hopes. ST October 4, 1883, par. 15

Would that all might view this matter of daily, practical Christianity as it has been presented to me; would that they could see what we might be in spiritual power, and what we are because we neglect the light which God has given us! Many will have to combat intellectual slothfulness and spiritual stupor, before they can be a blessing to themselves or to their fellow-men. We are living under the most solemn message of warning ever given to our world. We are altogether too near the closing scenes of this world`s history to be inattentive, to occupy a neutral position. It behooves us now to be wide awake, ready for every good work, ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. ST October 4, 1883, par. 16

Brethren, you must come closer, closer to the bleeding side of Jesus. Instead of yielding to every passing influence, seek earnestly to know the truth, and then endeavor to form a character consistent therewith. Seek to be like Christ, meek and lowly of heart, and, like him, be resolute also; in principle be firm as a rock; be pure, sincere, and holy. Be ever cheerful, humble, grateful. Keep yourselves separate from the spirit and influence of the world. Let not sin find a sanction in your position. Give no occasion for evil-doers even to imagine that they have your sympathies. Let not irreligion find in your lax principles a pretext to excuse itself. ST October 4, 1883, par. 17

God calls upon you to be zealous and repent of your half-heartedness. Strive to walk wisely, in a perfect way. Begin and end each day with earnest prayer and close self-examination. Compare your life and character with the law of God, mark where its precepts condemn you, and set to work at once to correct the wrong by repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Wash your robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Let your words be well chosen. Put away all lightness, trifling, and irreverence. ST October 4, 1883, par. 18

Those who really desire to advance in the divine life will cherish every ray of light, and heed every warning given by the servants of God. The Holy Spirit admonishes those who preach the gospel, “Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” If the Lord has given this command, there is certainly a work of reproving, rebuking, warning, and correction to be done. Let all be careful, then, how they allow their hearts to rise up against the reproofs of God through his servants; for in so doing they rise up against God. ST October 4, 1883, par. 19

Like the Pharisees of old, the self-deceived, the self-sufficient, the self-righteous, refuse to be warned. The Lord points out their dangers, but they do not heed his voice. As they assimilate to the world, they become the friends of evil-doers. While God reproves the transgressor, they feel inclined to excuse and encourage him. Thus they say to the sinner, It shall be well with thee. Such persons call good evil, in that they oppose and denounce those who faithfully deliver the messages of warning and reproof committed to them of God. They call evil good by extolling those who have no reproofs to bear and no warnings to give, who pass along in a careless, indifferent spirit, excusing sin, and by their own course encouraging worldliness and backsliding. All these are sanctioning a deception which has proved the ruin of many. The blood of souls is upon them. Their course is more offensive to God than is that of the open sinner. Anciently, the Lord always had among his people faithful prophets, whom, he sent to reprove sin. He has never removed these from his church. Those who rise up against warning and reproof, and seek by their jests, their smart speeches, or their deceptions, to make of no effect the plain words of reproof prompted by the Spirit of God, will find, in the great day of final reckoning, an account against them which they will not wish to meet. ST October 4, 1883, par. 20

To be a Christian is to be Christ-like, a man of faith, a man of principle. The Christians most serviceable in the church are those whose convictions are so firm, whose characters are so strong, that nothing can sway them from their faith or deter them from their duty. As a people, we are altogether too much like the world. We are not the separate, holy people that God requires us to be. When we come up to the high standard of God`s law, then shall we be indeed the light of the world. ST October 4, 1883, par. 21

The professed church of Christ has wandered from her privilege, her duty, and her God. Like ancient Israel, she has forsaken the covenant, and joined herself in harmony with the world. Pride, luxury, and pleasure are invited into the sanctuary, and her holy places are defiled. Those who have pledged their allegiance to God, enjoy the company and spirit of his avowed enemies. Their choice determines their character. Strong is the Lord God who judgeth them. ST October 4, 1883, par. 22

But, thank God, in every age he has had men who were not time-servers, men who would stand firm for the right, and risk all consequences. In the strength of God, Martin Luther fearlessly proclaimed the truths of the Bible. In vain earthly potentates sought to intimidate him. In vain they attempted to break his hold on God, and drive him to seek the favor of the pope or the protection of the emperor at the sacrifice of his faith. His one answer was, “God and the right will triumph.” Neither men nor devils could silence him. Gold, ambition, honors, could not win him from his work of exposing error and declaring truth. In like manner Huss, Jerome, Ridley, and many others, counted not their own lives dear unto themselves that they might keep the testimony of Jesus. Amid torture and flames, amid dungeons and horrible deaths, these faithful standard-bearers held aloft the banner of the cross of Christ. ST October 4, 1883, par. 23

We also, who are called to stand in these last trying days of peril and conflict, must be willing, for the truth's sake, to sacrifice our ease, our time, our reputation, yea, even life itself. At whatever cost, we must be true to principle and to God. ST October 4, 1883, par. 24