The Review and Herald

327/1902

November 3, 1885

The Swiss Conference and the European Council

EGW

The Swiss Conference was held at this place September 10-14, and was followed by the European Council, which continued until the 28th. The Conference was quite generally attended by our Swiss brethren, and by representatives from Germany, France, Italy, and Roumania. There were nearly two hundred brethren and sisters assembled; and a more intelligent, noble-looking company is seldom seen. Although gathered from different nations, we were brought near to God and to one another by our eyes being fixed upon the one object, Jesus Christ. We were one in faith, and one in our efforts to do the will of God. The influence of the gospel is to unite God's people in one great brotherhood. We have only one model to follow, and that is Christ. Worldly maxims and differences of nationalities are lost sight of in him. The love of God, sanctifying the soul, breaks down the wall of partition between the customs and practices of different individuals and nations. The great principles of Bible truth bring all into perfect harmony. The ten commandments, accepted as the one rule, the one measurement of character, unite all in the precious bonds of Christian fellowship. This was the work of the Holy Ghost when it descended upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost. RH November 3, 1885, par. 1

As I looked over the congregation of dear friends, so ardent and cheerful in the truth, and so anxious to catch every ray of additional light, my reflections were indeed solemn. I thought, These are members of Christ's body, and we are members one of another. The Morning-star has arisen in their hearts; the rays of the Sun of Righteousness have shone upon their minds. Happy people indeed who are thus highly favored. Truly, “it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” To me this was a precious place, a precious assembly. In answer to earnest prayer, the Lord gave freedom to his servants in speaking words which were meat in due season to his waiting people. RH November 3, 1885, par. 2

The meetings increased in interest from the first. The congregations was divided into three parts, those speaking German, French, and English, each company occupying a different part of the hall. Two interpreters followed the speaker. If the sermon or testimony was given in English, it was translated into French and German. If given in French, it was translated into German and English, and into French and English if given in German. This way of speaking was rather embarrassing at first; but this soon wore away, and it has been far less taxing to me than my usual manner of continuous speaking, and has given more time for meditation on what has been said. RH November 3, 1885, par. 3

Sabbath and Sunday were precious seasons for those assembled. The Lord especially blessed in speaking Sunday afternoon. All listened with the deepest interest, and at the close of the discourse an invitation was given for all who desired to be Christians, and all who felt that they had not a living connection with God, to come forward, and we would unite our prayers with theirs for the pardon of sin, and for grace to resist temptation. This was a new experience for many of our brethren in Europe, but they did not hesitate. It seemed that the entire congregation were on their feet, and the best they could do was to be seated, and all seek the Lord together. Here was an entire congregation manifesting their determination to put sin away, and to engage most earnestly in the work of seeking God. In every company there are always two classes, the self-complacent and the self-abhorring. To the first class the gospel has no charms except as they can construe detached portions to flatter their vanity. They love those peculiar features of lofty morality which they think they possess. But many of those who view Jesus in the perfection of his character see their own imperfections in such a light that they are almost in despair. Such was the case here; but the Lord was present to instruct and reprove, to comfort and bless as the several cases required. Earnest prayer was then offered, not for a happy flight of feeling, but for a true sense of our sinfulness, and of our hopelessness without the atoning sacrifice. Never did Jesus seem dearer than on this occasion. There was weeping throughout the congregation. The promise was grasped, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” If the vail could have been withdrawn, we should have seen angels of God standing ready to minister to the humble, penitent ones. After prayer, one hundred and fifteen testimonies were borne. Many of these showed a real, genuine experience in the things of God. RH November 3, 1885, par. 4

The Holy Spirit operates the same the world over. When it is received into the heart, the whole character is changed. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Old habits and customs and national pride and prejudice are broken down. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” When these are abiding in the soul, there will be unity of thought and action. RH November 3, 1885, par. 5

I felt grateful for the privilege of speaking to a people who seemed to appreciate all that was said. It was not to them as idle tales. RH November 3, 1885, par. 6

Monday afternoon I spoke upon the necessity of laboring for unity and cultivating Christian courtesy, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The effect of truth upon the heart is to cleanse it from every defilement. It will not increase self love, but will lead the receiver to humble his heart, and to ascribe nothing to self, but all to God. He ceases to esteem himself more highly than his brethren. His former sensitiveness to reproach, neglect, or contempt disappears, and he is not so easily irritated; he becomes gentle and condescending, and exemplifies the simplicity of Christ who was meek and lowly of heart. His own nation and personal friends are no longer the boundary lines of his love. He loves Jesus with all his heart, and all who are trying to be the children of God he loves as himself. There is an entire change in his life. Whereas he once lived for himself, he now lives for God's glory, and holds up the cross of Christ as his banner, to be adored by all. RH November 3, 1885, par. 7

A baptism followed the discourse. Fourteen went forward in the ordinance. This was the first time the baptistery connected with the new meeting hall had been used, and it is to be hoped that many others may follow these dear souls. God grant that none of these may ever forget their baptismal vows; but they may take heed to the words of the apostle: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Will those who have recently taken the cross of Christ, both here and in America, continue to climb the ladder of progress? Will they grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth? Will they live upon the plan of addition, so that God can work for them upon the plan of multiplication in bestowing his grace and salvation? It remains for each to answer these questions for himself. RH November 3, 1885, par. 8

At the close of the Conference many of our Swiss brethren were obliged to return to their homes, but some remained to the close of the Council, although it was continued one week longer than was expected. The Council was attended by laborers from England, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, and Roumania. Besides the regular business meetings each day, there were held two Bible readings, a class for the benefit of canvassers and colporteurs, and one for those who wished to learn English. There were also several ministers’ meetings, besides the sermons and regular morning meetings for social worship. These meetings were interesting, and according to the universal testimony, very profitable. The testimonies of the brethren were good, and the hearts of all seemed tender and humble. I felt urged by the Spirit of God throughout the meetings to impress upon all the importance of cultivating love and unity. I tried to present the danger of building up separate interests between nationalities. We are all bound together in the great web of humanity, and all that we do has a relation to others. There is a great work before us, and our hearts must be open to receive of God's light and love, that we may reflect it to others. There is a light in truth and a power in example, which will reach the indifferent and the unconverted. In the days of the apostles the Holy Spirit was the efficient agent in reaching hearts, and it would be now if there was that exercise of living faith now that there was then. True piety and earnest zeal are greatly lacking. There is too much half-hearted religion. Many are superficial. They confess their sins without realizing the hatefulness of sin in God's sight, and without repenting with brokenness of heart. This is renouncing the world, but not forsaking it. The truth, the sacred, sanctifying truth, does not abide in the heart. RH November 3, 1885, par. 9

The end of all things is at hand. Our time to work is short, and there is a world to be warned. We feel the need of having more thorough missionary work done. The calls are urgent for more laborers, but where are the light-bearers to the world? God has sent the truth to our doors, but are we doing all in our power to send it to the dark corners of the world? How can you who believe the truth, and who repeat the Lord's prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” sit at ease in your homes without helping to carry the torch of truth to others? How can you lift up your hands before God and ask his blessing upon yourselves and your families when you are doing so little to bless others? The living and the dead are to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. What are you doing to show that you are the light of the world? RH November 3, 1885, par. 10

The work of God must go forward. The world must be warned; but where are the men and the means to carry it forward? One brother in Italy, who is doing what he can to spread the light of truth, said, “I fear I will have to give up my work. I have a wife and five children to support, and I see there are no means in the treasury. We live on the simplest fare, but we must live.” The question was asked how much he would have to receive to support himself and family. He said he thought that one hundred dollars a year would supply his wants. He stated that his mouth had often watered at the smell of a dish cooking upon the fire. And what was this delicious dish? Chopped hay and coarse corn meal. Few know how the poor live in these countries, and yet there are no complaints. They are willing to do all they can. Now I wish you, my American brother, to compare figures with this earnest worker, and then begin to retrench. Cut down your expenses. Exercise economy in building and furnishing your houses, and in eating and dressing. Souls are to be saved. “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.” RH November 3, 1885, par. 11

We have tried to set before the workers here the necessity of strict economy. We are sorry that all our missionary workers at home and abroad do not realize the value of money. When the lesson of frugality is not learned early in life, it is difficult to weave into one's experience the self-denying, self-sacrificing part of religion. What is needed now is not preachers merely, but laborers, those who will give themselves heartily to the work of the Master; those who will visit from the house to house, and bring the truth home to the hearts of the people. Here is a vast field which our sisters can enter. If devoted to God, women can do fully as much good by opening the Scriptures in families as the ministers can. RH November 3, 1885, par. 12

If we have the truth, the work must enlarge in these countries. New fields will be continually opening, and the church must extend her efforts by entering these fields. The message must go, notwithstanding the hard times. We must make special efforts in this direction now, while the angels are holding the four winds. Soon the time to labor will be past. Who does not want to have a part in this closing work? All can do something. Those who cannot give themselves can give of their means, and all can pray that the Lord will not only raise up laborers, but that the treasury, now empty, may be supplied with the necessary funds to extend the work. Pray, brethren, pray earnestly, that the hearts of some who are doing very little, and of others who have as yet done nothing, may be opened, and that the means that God has intrusted to them may be used to his glory. The truth must go to all nations, tongues, and people, and that speedily. RH November 3, 1885, par. 13

Bale, Suisse.