The Signs of the Times


May 1, 1884

Dangers and Duties of the Young


In these days, persecution and reproach for Christ's sake are scarcely known. Very little self-denial and sacrifice are necessary in order to put on a form of godliness, and have the name upon the church-book; but to live in such a manner that our ways will be pleasing to God, and our names registered in the book of life, will require watchfulness and prayer, sacrifice and self-denial. Very few of the youth know what experimental religion is. They have not a fixed principle to serve God. They sink under every cloud; they have no power of endurance. They appear to serve God; they make now and then a formal prayer, and are called Christians; but they do not grow in grace. They are not led to search their own hearts diligently, and to count the cost of becoming a Christian. As a result, they profess to be Christians without sufficiently trying their motives. ST May 1, 1884, par. 1

The young are often urged to speak or pray in meeting; they are urged to die to self. At every step of the Christian way, they are urged. Such religion is worth nothing. Let the heart be changed, and it will not be such drudgery to serve God. The love of dress and pride of appearance will be gone. The apostle John exhorts, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” Then he adds the warning, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” It is an alarming fact that the love of the world predominates in the minds of the young, and the things that are in the world, and for this reason the love of God finds no room in their hearts. God is dishonored by the frivolity and fashion, and empty, vain talking and laughing that characterize the life of the youth generally. There will be no place for these things in the heart renewed by the grace of God; but there will be an earnest, anxious seeking for the Christian graces, the fruits of the Spirit of God. ST May 1, 1884, par. 2

Words and acts testify plainly what is in the heart. If vanity and pride, love of self and love of dress, fill the heart, the conversation will be upon the dress, the fashions, and the appearance, but not on Christ or the kingdom of Heaven. If envious feelings dwell in the heart, they will be manifested in words and acts. Those who measure themselves by others, and make no higher attainments, are feeding on husks, and will remain spiritual dwarfs. ST May 1, 1884, par. 3

Many have their hearts filled with the love of self. They are not aware that the great heavenly Artist is taking cognizance of every act, every word; that their deportment, and even the thoughts and intents of the heart, stand faithfully delineated; and that old and young will have the faithful picture presented to them in all its deformity at the execution of the judgment. Those vain, frivolous words are all written in the book. Those false words are written. Those deceptive acts, whose motives were concealed from human eyes, but discerned by the all-seeing eye of Jehovah, are all written in living characters. Every selfish act will be exposed. ST May 1, 1884, par. 4

Solemn responsibilities rest upon the young, which they lightly regard. They should heed the injunction of the inspired word, “Obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.” “Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with thee, and thou mayst live long on the earth.” They should honor their parents by cheerful, loving obedience, and by doing what they can to make home happy. Often they would like to do this in their own way, by introducing amusements that lead away from God. They urge that they need something to enliven and divert the mind; and sometimes music is introduced into the home as a means of supplying this need. Music, when not abused, is a great blessing. God is glorified by songs of praise from a pure heart filled with love and devotion to him. But when put to a wrong use, it is a terrible curse. It excites, but does not impart that strength and courage which can be found only at the throne of grace. Frivolous songs and the popular sheet music of the day, which often seem congenial to their tastes, lead the mind from God. ST May 1, 1884, par. 5

Many seek after pleasures that prove bitter in the end. They love worldly society, where they receive praise and flattery that gratifies vanity, and fosters pride and self-esteem. They are led to believe that with such advantages and attractions as they possess, it is really a great pity for them to come out from the world and be separate. But the pleasures of earth will have an end, and that which is sown must also be reaped. Young friends, are your personal attraction, abilities, or talents too valuable to be devoted to God and used in his service? ST May 1, 1884, par. 6

“Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Young friends, when you are restless and unhappy, it is because you have strayed from this path of peace. You are trying to find out of Christ that happiness that is found only in him. In him are no disappointed hopes. Prayer,—oh, how is this precious privilege neglected! The reading of the word of God prepares the mind for prayer. One great reason that you have so little disposition to pray is that you have unfitted yourselves for this sacred duty by reading fascinating stories, which have excited the imagination and aroused unholy passions. The word of God becomes distasteful; the hour of prayer is forgotten. And yet to have the consciousness that the eyes of the Lord are upon us, and his ears open to our prayers, is a satisfaction indeed. To know that we have a never-failing Friend in whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul, is a privilege which words can never express. ST May 1, 1884, par. 7

The consciousness of right-doing is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. The special blessing of God resting upon the receiver is health and strength. Those whose moral faculties are clouded by disease are not the ones to rightly represent the Christian life or the beauties of holiness. They are too often in the fire of fanaticism, or the water of cold indifference or stolid gloom. The words of Christ are of more worth than the opinions of all the physicians in the universe: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is the first great object,—the kingdom of Heaven, the righteousness of Christ. Other objects to be attained should be secondary. ST May 1, 1884, par. 8

Perhaps some will inquire how they are to know that they are accepted of God. The answer is, Study his word prayerfully. Lay it not aside for any other book. This holy book convinces of sin. It plainly reveals the way of salvation. It brings to view a bright and glorious reward. It reveals to you a complete Saviour, and teaches you that through his boundless mercy alone can you expect salvation. The hope of eternal life is not to be received upon slight grounds. It is a subject to be settled between God and your own soul,—settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin. Since you are to stand or fall by the word of God, it is to that word you must look for the testimony in your case. There you can see what is required in order to become a Christian. Compare your life with that of your Master, who made so great a sacrifice that you might be saved. Do not neglect secret prayer. Plead as earnestly as you would if your mortal life were at stake. Remain before God until unutterable longings for salvation are begotten within you, and the sweet evidence is obtained of pardoned sin. Do not lay off your armor or leave the battle-field until you have obtained the victory, and can triumph in your Redeemer. ST May 1, 1884, par. 9

Young friends, if found in the way of righteousness, you can exert a mighty influence. Ministers, or church-members advanced in years, cannot have one-half the influence on your young associates that you are capable of exerting; and you ought to feel that a responsibility rests upon you to do all you can for their salvation. Those who have themselves tasted the sweets of redeeming love will not, cannot rest, until all with whom they associate are made acquainted with the plan of salvation. You should inquire, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? How can I honor and glorify thy name upon the earth?” Souls are perishing all around us; what are you doing to win them to Christ? Oh, that you would use your powers of mind in seeking to so approach sinners that you may win even one soul to the path of righteousness! What a thought! One soul to praise God through eternity! One soul to enjoy happiness and everlasting life! One gem in your crown to shine forever and ever! But more than one may be won from sin to holiness, and the reward is rich in the kingdom of Heaven. Says the Lord by the prophet, “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever.” ST May 1, 1884, par. 10