The Signs of the Times


September 10, 1885

Influence and Importance of Associations


In our social relations, in our intercourse one with another, the words of Christ, “Ye are the light of the world,” are especially true. Every association we form, however limited, exerts an influence on the life and character; and the extent of that influence will be determined by the degree of intimacy maintained, the constancy of the intercourse, and the love and confidence felt for the one with whom we associate. Even the enemies of Christ, as they see his spirit and life exemplified in the daily life of his followers, will be led to glorify God, the source of their strength and honor. Thus those who have a living connection with God can exert a saving power in the church and in society. Reader, examine your own course; consider the character of the associates you are choosing. Do you seek the company of the wise, or are you willing to choose worldly associates, companions who fear not God, and obey not the gospel? Are your recreations such as to impart moral and spiritual vigor? Will they lead to purity of thought and action? ST September 10, 1885, par. 1

Many parents are disregarding the most sacred claims of God, by their neglect to consecrate themselves and their children to him. Many are reposing in false security, absorbed in selfish interests and attracted by earthly treasures. They fear no evil. Danger seems a great way off. They will be deceived, deluded, to their eternal ruin, unless they arouse, and with penitence and deep humiliation, return unto the Lord. ST September 10, 1885, par. 2

The pride, self-indulgence, impiety, and iniquity that surround us, have an evil influence upon us. Few realize the importance of shunning, so far as possible, all associations unfriendly to religious life. In choosing their surroundings, few make their spiritual prosperity the first consideration. ST September 10, 1885, par. 3

Parents flock with their families to the cities, because they fancy it easier to obtain a livelihood there than in the country. The children, having nothing to do when not in school, obtain a street education. From evil associates they acquire habits of vice and dissipation. The parents see this, but because it will require a sacrifice to correct their error, they stay where they are, until Satan gains full control of their children. Better sacrifice any and every worldly consideration than to imperil the precious souls committed to your care. They will be assailed by temptations, and should be taught to meet them; but it is your duty to cut off every influence, to break up every habit, to sunder every tie, that keeps you from the most free, open, and hearty committal of yourselves and your family to God. ST September 10, 1885, par. 4

Instead of the crowded city, seek some retired situation where your children will be, so far as possible, shielded from temptation, and there train and educate them for usefulness. The prophet Ezekiel thus enumerates the causes that led to Sodom's sin and destruction: “Pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." All who would escape the doom of Sodom, must shun the course that brought God's judgments upon that wicked city. ST September 10, 1885, par. 5

Who will heed the counsel of the True Witness, to seek the gold tried in the fire, the white raiment, and the eye-salve? The gold is faith and love, the white raiment is the righteousness of Christ, the eye-salve is that spiritual discernment which will enable us to see the wiles of Satan and shun them, to detect sin, and abhor it, to see truth and obey it. ST September 10, 1885, par. 6

The deadly lethargy of the world is paralyzing the senses. Sin does not appear repulsive to those who are blinded by Satan. The judgments of God are soon to be poured out upon the earth. “Escape for thy life,” is the warning from the angels of God. Other voices are heard saying, “Do not become excited; there is no cause for special alarm.” Those who are at ease in Zion, cry peace and safety, while Heaven declares that swift destruction is about to come upon the transgressor. The young, the frivolous, the pleasure-loving, consider these warnings as idle tales, and turn from them with a jest. Parents are inclined to think their children about right in the matter, and all sleep on at ease. Thus it was at the destruction of the old world, and when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed by fire. On the night prior to their destruction, the cities of the plain rioted in pleasure. Lot was derided for his fears and warnings. But these scoffers perished in the flames. That very night the door of mercy was forever closed to the wicked, careless inhabitants of Sodom. ST September 10, 1885, par. 7

It is God who holds in his hands the destiny of souls. He will not always be mocked; he will not always be trifled with. Already his judgments are in the land. Fierce and awful tempests leave destruction and death in their wake. The devouring fire lays low the desolate forest and the crowded city. Storm and ship-wreck await those who journey upon the deep. Accident and calamity threaten all who travel upon the land. Hurricanes, earthquakes, sword, and famine follow in quick succession. Yet the hearts of men are hardened. They recognize not the warning voice of God. They will not flee to the only refuge from the gathering storm. ST September 10, 1885, par. 8

Many who have been placed upon the walls of Zion, to watch with eagle eye for the approach of danger, and lift the voice of warning, are themselves asleep. The very ones who should be most active and vigilant in this hour of peril are neglecting their duty, and bringing upon themselves the blood of souls. ST September 10, 1885, par. 9

Let no one put aside the warning, and say, “It does not mean me. I will not be disturbed by this excitable message.” It is the evil servant who says in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” Professedly a servant of Christ, he may not, in words, deny that the Lord is soon to come; but his actions show that he puts off that day to a distant period. He guiltily presumes on the supposed delay; he becomes careless, and his works testify his unbelief. He adopts the maxims and conforms to the practices of the world. ST September 10, 1885, par. 10

As soon as the evil servant begins to lose the spirit and power of the message, he manifests his unbelief. He smites his fellow-servants. He is ready to pass censure on those who are better than himself. “The poison of asps is under their lips” His course is downward. Erelong he may be found “eating and drinking with the drunken”—uniting with worldlings in their gatherings for pleasure, and, to all intents and purposes, one with them. Such is the condition of very many among us today. ST September 10, 1885, par. 11

In the instruction given by our Saviour to his disciples are words of admonition especially applicable to us: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” Watch, pray, work—this is the true life of faith. “Pray always,” that is, be ever in the spirit of prayer, and then you will be in readiness for your Lord's coming. ST September 10, 1885, par. 12

The Christian life is a warfare. The Apostle Paul speaks of wrestling against principalities and powers as he fought the good fight of faith. Again, he declares, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Ah, no. Today sin is cherished and excused. The sharp sword of the Spirit, the word of God, does not cut to the soul. Has religion changed? Has Satan's enmity to God abated? A religious life once presented difficulties, and demanded self-denial. All is made very easy now. And why is this? The professed people of God have compromised with the powers of darkness. ST September 10, 1885, par. 13

The path to Heaven is no smoother now than in the days of our Saviour. All our sins must be put away. Every darling indulgence that hinders our religious life must be cut off. The right eye or the right hand must be sacrificed if it cause us to offend. Are we willing to renounce our own wisdom, and to receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child? Are we willing to part with self-righteousness? Are we willing to give up our chosen worldly associates? Are we willing to sacrifice the approbation of men? The prize of eternal life is of infinite value. Will we put forth efforts and make sacrifices proportionate to the worth of the object to be attained? ST September 10, 1885, par. 14

Great importance is attached to our associations. We may form many that are pleasant and helpful; but none are so precious as that by which finite man is brought into connection with the infinite God. When thus united, the words of Christ abide in us. We are not actuated by a spasmodic feeling, but by a living, abiding principle. The result will be a purified heart, a circumspect life, and a faultless character. But it is only by acquaintance and association with Christ that we can become like him, the one faultless example. ST September 10, 1885, par. 15

Communion with Christ—how unspeakably precious! Such communion it is our privilege to enjoy, if we will seek it, if we will make any sacrifice to secure it. When the early disciples heard the words of Christ, they felt their need of him. They sought, they found, they followed him. They were with him in the house, at the table, in the closet, in the field. They were with him as pupils with a teacher, daily receiving from his lips lessons of holy truth. They looked to him as servants to their master, to learn their duty. They served him cheerfully, gladly. They followed him, as soldiers follow their commander, fighting the good fight of faith. “And they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” ST September 10, 1885, par. 16