The Review and Herald


July 8, 1884

Thoroughness in the Christian Minister

[Remarks addressed to the ministers assembled in General Conference at Battle Creek, Mich., in their morning meeting held November 20, 1883.]


I thank the Lord for the marked manifestation of his Spirit that we have enjoyed in our meeting this morning. We have had sweet peace and joy in our hearts. But my soul is drawn out after God. I fear many do not grasp his promises firmly, but depend too much on feeling instead of what the Lord says. Have we not every evidence that Jesus is waiting to bless us? Is it his will that we should go forth to labor in his cause, and yet have no special help, no power from on high, to attend our labors? RH July 8, 1884, par. 1

It is our duty to vindicate the claims of the law of God. This holy law is almost universally despised and made void in the land, but that is no reason why any of us should turn traitors to God and our duty. We may honor God by respecting the claims of his law. Now, when it is held in great contempt, he will be most glorified by our loyalty. We should say with David, “I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” We are not to wage this warfare against error at our own charges. God has never bidden us hold up the standard of his law in these days of general apostasy without the aid of divine grace and power. Mere arguments, however clear and convincing, are not enough. We may have help from God, and we should not feel free to go out to battle without the evidence that his presence will attend us. RH July 8, 1884, par. 2

We need to have a deeper experience. We must pray more, believing that we have a living Saviour. Jesus loves us; he has not withdrawn himself from us, but we have withdrawn from him. There is often too little fervency in our prayers. The Scriptures are not studied with earnestness; the word of God is not made the rule of life. Paul charged Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine.” The heart must be right with God. But we do not urge you to prosecute your work only when you have a happy flight of feeling; for feeling would mislead you. The victory is gained through faith; then do not be years learning how to take God at his word. Ministers, you who have had years of experience, never let the hand of faith tremble in grasping the promises of God; for your unbelief is a stumbling block to the young and inexperienced, and gives the powers of darkness occasion to triumph. RH July 8, 1884, par. 3

Be diligent in the service of God: It is not enough to preach in the pulpit; you should carry the truth to homes. Show those in error that you love them. Indifference here is sin. There should be fewer long sermons, and more time spent in visiting, in making personal efforts for souls. Self-denying labor is needed, and will result in great good, but it has been sadly neglected. RH July 8, 1884, par. 4

You want to do a great work, but you do not work in the right spirit. You carry heavy burdens, and groan under the load, when Jesus invites you to lay your burdens at the foot of the cross, and find rest to your souls. When we see you working so hard, and almost ready to faint, when we see you grieve and mourn at every step, we know that you have lessons to learn in the school of Christ before you can successfully teach others. Without Jesus by your side you will find the way and work hard. You have much to learn, dear brethren, before you will accept the rest that he invites you to find in him. If you look to yourselves, and deplore your weakness and sinfulness, and continue to do this, you will make no advancement, but will remain spiritual dwarfs. You should be intelligent, growing Christians; for how else can you labor with the zeal, energy, and devotion necessary to insure success? RH July 8, 1884, par. 5

Do not cultivate a pride for consistency in petty matters, and thus gain the reputation of being a fusser. Such a course lends no strength to the cause of truth. We are none of us required to make ourselves singular, or to be martyrs in a small way all through life, by contending for little things when there is really nothing to contend about. Those who take this course pity themselves, thinking they have so much trouble on account of being conscientious, upright, and straightforward in everything. But instead of being influenced by conscientiousness, they are indulging a wicked, selfish pride of notions. The life that is thought so straightforward is full of crookedness, and no one can live at peace with them, except by humoring their whims, and ever studying to avoid a collision. RH July 8, 1884, par. 6

If these persons could only know how much trouble and grief they bring upon themselves by imagining that they are having a hard time and are great sufferers, they would change the current of their thoughts. We need not keep our own record of trials and difficulties, griefs and sorrows. All these things are written in the books, and Heaven will take care of them. While we are carefully counting up these disagreeable things, many things that are pleasant to reflect upon are passing from the memory; such as the merciful kindness of God surrounding us every moment, and the love over which angels marvel, that God gave his Son to die for us. RH July 8, 1884, par. 7

The path of uprightness is the path of peace. Those who have the meekness and lowliness of Christ can walk this humble path calmly, restfully, trustingly. No matter what may be our temperament, we may walk this path if we will. It is plain, and there is no need of constant anxiety and fear, fretting and worry, lest we shall lose the way. This path is the highway of holiness, cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. It is the glorious path of the just, which “shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Those who walk this way will wear a cheerful, happy countenance; for it is lighted up by bright beams from the Sun of Righteousness. RH July 8, 1884, par. 8

Remember that your works must stand the test of the Judgment. Let your eye be single to the glory of God, your hearts pure, your thoughts brought into obedience to the will of Christ. Do something every day to improve, beautify, and ennoble the life that Christ has purchased by his own blood. RH July 8, 1884, par. 9

It was the joy of Christ to save souls. Let this be your work and your joy. Perform all duties and make all sacrifices for Christ's sake, and he will be your constant helper. Go straight forward when the voice of duty calls; let no seeming difficulties obstruct your path. Take up your God-given responsibilities; and as you bear your sometimes heavy burdens, do not ask, “Why idle stands my brother, no yoke upon him laid?” Do the duty nearest you thoroughly and well, not coveting praise, but as working for the Master because you belong to him. RH July 8, 1884, par. 10

Paul exhorted Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We are to give the message of warning to the world, and how are we doing our work? Are you, brethren, preaching that part of the truth that pleases the people, while other parts of the work are left incomplete? Will it be necessary for some one to follow after you, and urge upon the people the duty of faithfully bringing all the tithes and offerings into the Lord's treasury? This is the work of the minister, but it has been sadly neglected. The people have robbed God, and the wrong has been suffered because the minister did not want to displease his brethren. God calls these men unfaithful stewards. The charge to his servants is, “Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” If the under shepherds do their duty with fidelity, when the chief Shepherd shall appear he will give them “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Daniel saw their reward, and he says, “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.” RH July 8, 1884, par. 11

Writing to his Philippian brethren, Paul sets before them the anxiety he experienced lest those who were newly converted should be drawn away from the pure and simple faith of Christ. He exhorts them to be in nothing terrified by their adversaries. “For unto you it is given,” he says, “in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake, having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” He could see and understand their danger; and he prayed most earnestly in their behalf, that their hearts might be comforted, strengthened, knit together in love. Love is the bond of perfectness, an element of strength. United in faith and love, having a thorough knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity, they would not only believe and defend the gospel of Christ, but if need be, suffer for it. RH July 8, 1884, par. 12

The apostle labored to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” This is the high standard that every minister should strive to reach. He is not fulfilling his commission unless he has an experience similar to that of Paul, and labors with the same unselfish spirit. RH July 8, 1884, par. 13

The guardian angels whom Jacob saw in vision ascending and descending that ladder of shining brightness, are with us, recording our work, and bringing us divine strength and power to be combined with human effort. These angels weep over the coldness, the indolence, and want of love for souls, that exists among ministers who are laboring in their own strength. RH July 8, 1884, par. 14

Do not be unreliable in your Christian course. Sin must not be cherished. This is a time when the love of many is waxing cold, and any defection on your part will encourage others in a wrong course, and lead to many and grievous transgressions. Do not set an example of lukewarmness; do not turn away from the testimonies of the Spirit of God. We are intrusted with a solemn message to give to the world, and there is much at stake. What a fearful thing it would be if any of us were to prove unfaithful to our sacred, holy trust, and in the Judgment be condemned to be separated from God and lose heaven. RH July 8, 1884, par. 15

We cannot be safe amid the temptations that surround us in these times of peril without constantly watching unto prayer. We must guard against accepting a low standard of our own instead of the high Bible standard of character. Satan works through defects in character to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Often he gains the advantage, and betrays into sin those who should represent Christ to the world; and our Saviour is more deeply afflicted by this ingratitude and disobedience than is a tender, loving mother by the misconduct of a wayward child. RH July 8, 1884, par. 16

You may forget childish things, and grow in grace day by day. As you make advancement, set your face like a flint against all falsehood, all pretense. You will sometimes be flattered by men, but more frequently by women. Especially when you present the truth in new fields, will you meet persons who will engage in this wicked flattery. As a servant of Christ, despise the flattery; shun it as you would a venomous serpent. Rebuke the woman who will praise your smartness, holding your hand as long as she can retain it in her own. Have little to say to persons of this class; for they are the agents of Satan, and carry out his plans by laying bewitching snares to beguile you from the path of holiness. Every sensible Christian lady will act a modest part; she will understand the devices of Satan, and will not be a co-laborer with him. RH July 8, 1884, par. 17

Never earn the reputation of being a minister who is a particular favorite with the women. Shun the society of those who by their arts would weaken in the least your purpose to do right, or bring a stain upon the purity of your conscience. Do not give them your time or your confidence; for they will leave you feeling bereft of your spiritual strength. Do nothing among strangers, on the cars, in the home, in the street, that would have the least appearance of evil. RH July 8, 1884, par. 18