The Review and Herald

206/1902

March 28, 1882

Where Are We Drifting?

EGW

Seventh-day Adventists profess to believe that the day of this world's history is far spent, and the night is at hand. Should we then manifest greater earnestness and zeal in the service of God as the end draws nigh, or may we now relax our energies, and participate in the pursuits and pleasures of the world? The Lord has ever required his people to show in all their habits of life a marked difference between themselves and worldlings. Even if the end were not near, it would be the duty of every Christian to be true to his profession of faith, and by an example of simplicity and self-denial, to rebuke the pride and selfishness of the ungodly. How much more, then, is it incumbent upon this people to manifest unfailing zeal and consecration to God. If when we first heard the message of warning we endeavored to live in accordance with our faith, if the convictions of the Holy Spirit led us to shun the habits and fashions of the world, should we not be more earnest and zealous and faithful now that we are so much nearer the great consummation? RH March 28, 1882, par. 1

The apostle Paul looking down to our day, declares, “It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” And again, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting, and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” These words plainly set forth our duty. Every year is shortening our probation, and bringing us nearer the coming of our Lord. We should now put forth every energy to prepare for the great event. This life at the longest is represented as a vapor, which soon passes away. Its treasures, its honors, and its joys are transitory and uncertain. If we live for God and the immortal future, we shall secure all that is worth the having. RH March 28, 1882, par. 2

Only by our life can we prove to the world the genuineness of our solemn faith. But if the coming of Christ is indeed nearer than when we believed, why has there been such a change in the conduct of many? Why are they so careless, so indifferent to the teachings of God's word, so regardless of his claims upon them? Why are they seeking to unite with those whose influence would divert their minds from God, and from a preparation for eternity? It is the love of the world that leads to the neglect of eternal interests. “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” This is our work. Let us not be diverted from it by the world's allurements, nor disheartened by its revilings. “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” We have not long to work. Our time, our talents, are too precious to be buried in the world. RH March 28, 1882, par. 3

A great responsibility rests upon all who have received the light of truth, and especially upon those to whom the people look for instruction and guidance. Those who occupy positions of responsibility in our institutions are exerting an influence scarcely less potent and wide-spread than that of our ministers. They should be men and women of moral worth and of deep and living experience in the things of God. By their influence and example they are either proclaiming to the world the truths we hold or declaring these truths to be of none effect. RH March 28, 1882, par. 4

The fearful effect of a worldly, unconsecrated influence at the head of the work is felt by our own people throughout the land. An instance of this came under my own notice not long since. A sister who had spent some weeks at one of our institutions in Battle Creek, said that she felt much disappointed in what she saw and heard there. She had thought to find a people far in advance of the younger churches, both in knowledge of the truth and in religious experience. Here she hoped to gain much instruction which she could carry to her sisters in the faith in a distant State. But she was surprised and pained at the lightness, the worldliness, and lack of devotion which she met on every hand. RH March 28, 1882, par. 5

Before accepting the truth, she had followed the fashions of the world in her dress, and had worn costly jewelry and other ornaments; but upon deciding to obey the word of God, she felt that its teachings required her to lay aside all extravagant and superfluous adorning. She was taught that Seventh-day Adventists did not wear jewelry, gold, silver, or precious stones, and that they did not conform to worldly fashions in their dress. When she saw among those who profess the faith such a wide departure from Bible simplicity, she felt bewildered. Had they not the same Bible which she had been studying, and to which she had endeavored to conform her life? Had her past experience been mere fanaticism? Had she misinterpreted the words of the apostle, “The friendship of the world is enmity with God, for whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”? RH March 28, 1882, par. 6

Mrs. D., a lady occupying a position in the institution, was visiting at Sr.-----'s room one day, when the latter took out of her trunk a gold necklace and chain, and said she wished to dispose of this jewelry and put the proceeds into the Lord's treasury. Said the other, “Why do you sell it? I would wear it if it was mine.” “Why,” replied Sr.-----, “when I received the truth, I was taught that all these things must be laid aside. Surely they are contrary to the teachings of God's word.” And she cited her hearer to the words of the apostles, Paul and Peter, upon this point, “In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but, as becometh women professing godliness, with good works.” “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” RH March 28, 1882, par. 7

In answer, the lady displayed a gold ring on her finger, given her by an unbeliever, and said she thought it no harm to wear such ornaments. “We are not so particular,” said she, “as formerly. Our people have been over- scrupulous in their opinions upon the subject of dress. The ladies of this institution wear gold watches and gold chains, and dress like other people. It is not good policy to be singular in our dress; for we cannot exert so much influence.” RH March 28, 1882, par. 8

We inquire, Is this in accordance with the teachings of Christ? Are we to follow the word of God, or the customs of the world? Our sister decided that it was safest to adhere to the Bible standard. Will Mrs. D. and others who pursue a similar course be pleased to meet the result of their influence, in that day when every man shall receive according to his works? RH March 28, 1882, par. 9

God's word is plain. Its teachings cannot be mistaken. Shall we obey it, just as he has given it to us, or shall we seek to find how far we can digress and yet be saved? Would that all connected with our institutions would receive and follow the divine light, and thus be enabled to transmit light to those who walk in darkness. RH March 28, 1882, par. 10

Conformity to the world is a sin which is sapping the spirituality of our people, and seriously interfering with their usefulness. It is idle to proclaim the warning message to the world, while we deny it in the transactions of daily life. I have received letters of inquiry concerning some of these things. One brother states that a few years ago he had money to build a new house, but a call came for means to sustain our institutions. He felt that these institutions were the Lord's and he said to his wife, “It is true that our house is old and decaying; we need a plain, healthful house; but if you will agree to it, I will send this money to meet the call for means, and we will live on as we have done. Our house is inconvenient, and not always comfortable, but Jesus had not where to lay his head. If the Lord of glory could leave the royal mansions for a life of toil and poverty, those for whom he suffered and died should not complain of hardships. We have far more than he had.” RH March 28, 1882, par. 11

“Not long since,” says our brother, “the question of having a new house again came up. Again we prayed about it. We saw in the paper that our institutions were in debt. We could send this time easier than before; for that came rather hard on us. Now, we thought, we are several years nearer the end than when we sent our first offering. We will not indulge ourselves, and let our institutions suffer.” RH March 28, 1882, par. 12

He adds: “I cannot harmonize with the experience I have had the course of some at Battle Creek. Those who are expounding the word of God to others are building large, expensive dwellings like the worldlings around them. What does this mean? I am not sorry that I put into the cause what I did; but I cannot interpret these things. Unbelievers taunt me with them, and laugh at my faith. Are not some of our brethren saying, ‘My Lord delayeth his coming’? If they really believed that time is short, would they invest so much in their dwellings? One house is finished very fancifully, at considerable expense, and yet the owner is preaching that Christ is soon coming. What shall we do when our responsible men give us such an example? Please answer through the Review. Persons question me about these matters every day, and I am at loss how to answer.” RH March 28, 1882, par. 13

My brother, tell them that however the professed followers of Christ may depart from his instructions, “Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” You ask if Sr. White's testimony from God does not reprove these things. I answer, It does. The Lord has given warning and reproof to prevent this very state of things. The testimonies of God's word and of his Spirit have alike been disregarded. This is why there is such backsliding among us,—so little of the life and power of true godliness. RH March 28, 1882, par. 14

It may be necessary for our brethren at Battle Creek to build more commodious houses than they would need elsewhere; for there are several hundred students to find homes among them. But we have no apology to offer for those who are expending in the indulgence of worldliness and pride the means which God has intrusted to their hands. As a people we should be distinct from the world. We should be separating ourselves more and more from that state of things which Christ describes as characteristic of a former age, and which made that people ripe for the vengeance of God. The world before the flood were wholly engrossed in the things of this life, in the gratification of their own desires. Just such a condition existed in Sodom before its destruction. How dangerous, how presumptuous, then, for us to enter the same path which has led so many to ruin! RH March 28, 1882, par. 15

Let none think to find, even at the great heart of the work, a faultless people. Christ himself has taught us that the gospel net gathers of every kind, and these are not wholly separated until the Judgment. Those who seek to maintain the standard of spirituality in that large church have difficulties to encounter of which our smaller churches know little. We must expect to be thrown in contact with unconsecrated and world-loving professors of godliness. But none need stumble over the example of even their brethren in the faith. We have one unerring Pattern. Says Christ, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” RH March 28, 1882, par. 16