The Review and Herald


June 19, 1888

The Work at Fresno, California


We came to Fresno, March 16, 1888. The climate is mild, and the city, which has grown very rapidly of late, contains about 10,000 inhabitants. The church here numbers about 100 persons. The present place of worship is a good, comfortable building, but it is altogether too small for the increasing congregation. On Sabbath the house was filled. There were a number of persons present who were not of our faith. I spoke with much freedom from Ephesians 3:14-21. Many precious testimonies were borne in the meeting that followed. We invited those who desired to seek God most earnestly to come forward, and we had a precious season in supplicating the throne of grace. The congregation was composed of men and women of good influence, that, if they meet their responsibilities, will make a strong church. RH June 19, 1888, par. 1

Friday evening we called on Bro. Church, and had a profitable social interview with him. He has been recently afflicted in the death of his wife. We united in prayer with him and his family. I related my earnest conviction that the time had come for the believers at Fresno to unite in erecting a church, a building for a primary and boarding school, and a mission house. Bro. Church was in harmony with this plan, and seemed much pleased at the prospect of advancement in the work at this place. I felt that the time had come to invest in the cause of God, that the means intrusted to believers might be set flowing in the right channel, before it was diverted in other directions. RH June 19, 1888, par. 2

After the good meeting on Sabbath, some of the prominent brethren met to consider the matter of erecting a house of worship, and the other buildings spoken of. All were anxious that the plans might be carried out. Sunday forenoon the church assembled to act upon the suggestions given, and the result was far beyond our most sanguine expectations. Every member of the church gave a tangible proof of his interest in the enterprise. Thirty thousand dollars were pledged for the work, before this meeting was dismissed. There were also $1,000 pledged for the European Mission. RH June 19, 1888, par. 3

Sunday evening I spoke in the hall, which was filled to its utmost capacity. My subject was Christ riding into Jerusalem. Although I felt weary and exhausted, the Lord gave me freedom in speaking, and the people listened with interest. There were in the audience men of intelligence, whose knowledge of the truth had enabled them to exert an influence to strengthen and encourage the churches they had left in the East. Their removal had left offices vacant, and the churches have felt weakened because of the loss of the very help which these men, if sanctified through the truth, could have given. Is it not possible that the Lord may say to some of these as he said to Elijah, “What doest thou here?” Elijah might have thought that the journey from Samaria to Horeb had been ordered of the Lord, that it was a divine path which he was traveling; but the inquiry alarmed him. It awakened him from deception. It reminded him of the weakness of his faith in flying from the wrath of Jezebel. If the voice of God could be heard by some of these brethren in Fresno, inquiring, What doest thou here? would not the question bring them to consider closely their motives in coming to this place? They might see, by examining their hearts, that they are not where God placed them, but where they have placed themselves; they might see that they have mistaken their duty, and that they do not belong in the society in which they are found. RH June 19, 1888, par. 4

In the Laodicean state of the church at the present time, how little evidence is given of the direct, personal guidance of God! Men place themselves in positions of temptation, where they see and hear much that is contrary to God, and detrimental to spirituality. They lose their warmth and fervor, and become lukewarm Christians, who are, in a great measure, indifferent to the glory of God, and the advancement of his work. If God calls his servants to positions where the influence is of a worldly character, he will give special grace that they may be enabled to overcome the evil consequent upon their circumstances. There should be religious fervor corresponding to the faith and doctrines we have accepted as truth. If this were the case, how earnestly would prayers be offered to know the will of God, and how diligently would the heart be kept, out of which are the issues of life! The servants of God become estranged from the truth by associating with the world, and by partaking of its spirit. When this is done, the truth is not appreciated as a sacred and sanctifying truth. RH June 19, 1888, par. 5

What doest thou here in Fresno, my brother? Is it evident that your moving here has been in the order of God, when the large congregation that meets for Sabbath worship is composed of men of experience, who have talents intrusted by the Master to them for the advancement of his work? Have not some of you, at least, left churches over which you were made overseers, and chosen your own work? Have you not left the charge committed to you, that you might seek worldly treasure? Has not the Lord a more spiritual work for you elsewhere? Do you see no peril in this fever of speculation? Is there not danger that the precious, immortal inheritance may be eclipsed by the valueless treasure of earth? There is danger that your usefulness may be destroyed, your faith weakened, your soul-temple defiled with buyers and sellers. There is need that we keep our souls in the love of God. There is need of a closer connection with the Master, of walking in the light as he is in the light. It is our duty to place ourselves in a position where we may give our whole heart's loving service to God, by personal holiness and practical benevolence. RH June 19, 1888, par. 6

There is a great work to be done in the vineyard of the Lord, and it cannot be neglected without loss to your own souls, and to the souls of others; for the vineyard of the Lord needs constant cultivation. God requires far more of heart and mind than we give him. There is need of men who will love God, who will not have a dwarfed, stunted religion, but will ever be gaining new supplies of grace, spirituality, and energy, by doing the commandments of the Lord. There is need of men who will lose sight of self and selfish interests, and will live to promote the glory of God by seeking the salvation of those around them. RH June 19, 1888, par. 7

The Lord wants his servants, to whom he has committed his work, to become more and more intelligent, and to employ their tact and ability in keeping the garden of the Lord in a healthy condition. The duty of every church-member is, to love God with all the heart, and his neighbor as himself. If we make the religion of Jesus what we should make it, it will attract others; for they will see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven. If we walk in the light, we shall be examples full of cheerfulness and inspiration. RH June 19, 1888, par. 8

The Lord has shown me that his name is not honored and exalted by those who call themselves his children. He has given varied trusts, proportioned to our varied abilities, and he expects corresponding returns. Some have five talents to improve, some have two, some have one; and these talents are not to be used merely for the service of self, but are to be put out to the exchangers, to be doubled, and returned to the Master. It is the duty of every church-member to consider carefully whether he is acting as a wise servant, doing his Master's business, or is using his time and talents to please and honor himself. Have you acted as if you were your own master, instead of a servant hired to do the work that God has given you to do in his vineyard? Can you dispose of yourselves as you see fit, without looking to the Master for his directions? There is much nice work to be done in the vineyard of the Lord, and God expects you to bring tact and skill and thoughtful consideration into his work. You manifest skill in managing temporal matters, and shall the work of God be done in a hap-hazard manner? If anything demands the very best service that human skill can give, it is the service of God. Men and women are required to give their noblest energies to the work of the salvation of souls for whom Christ died. There are many who are simply passive church-members. They do not feel the necessity of struggling for immortality; but God calls upon all to throw their energies into the warfare, to put to the stretch every muscle, and exert every power, in order to be found worthy of eternal life. Half-hearted and indolent service will not be acceptable to God. The servant of God must gain increased ability by using what he has. He must pray for guidance, for help, for wisdom, that he may serve God intelligently. To keep carefully apart from the church, and invest the powers God has given you in worldly schemes, is robbing God and dishonoring him before his face. RH June 19, 1888, par. 9

There is danger that men will leave the very place for which God has qualified them, and, through the glowing statements of other laborers, seek another field, in the hope of gaining worldly treasure. They obey impulse, making choice for themselves, and leaving the church with which they have been connected, to move to a new country. Is this work of the Lord? It may be so regarded. Worldly gain is a great inducement; but the temptations that come with it, may prove the ruin of your soul. There is need that all closely examine their own lives, to see whether they are walking in the way of the Lord, and keeping his statutes, or following in the path of their own choosing. The sincerity of your prayers is proved by the vigor of your endeavor to obey God in every matter of life. RH June 19, 1888, par. 10

I am afraid to have Sabbath-keepers engage in land speculation, and become real estate agents. If they come forth from this dangerous experiment, sounder in faith, purer in morals, unpolluted by the influences that surround them, it will be a marvel. The tendency of the real estate business is not of a nature to strengthen moral power. It will not lead men to humble self, to feel their own inefficiency and weakness. The influence will be all in another direction. RH June 19, 1888, par. 11

You should be very careful how you hold out flattering inducements before your brethren, to lead them to move to new countries, for the sake of engaging in land speculation. You may be a tempter, drawing them away from the duty assigned to them by the Lord. The change may be, of all things, the most disastrous to them. All cannot bear prosperity. An increase of worldly possessions often proves a snare to souls. There are great losses sustained, in more ways than one, in brethren making removals from one State to another, in order to better their condition. Those who are attracted by selfish considerations are often disappointed in their expectations, and meet with loss instead of gain. Another who is successful in obtaining property, becomes greatly elated; for, in making haste to be rich, he has fallen into the snare of the enemy. A feverish unrest takes possession of him, and he is absorbed in adding to his property by continual investment. He finds it much easier to gain possessions in this way than to practice economy and industry, in order to make a livelihood. But precious qualities of character, developed by contending with hardship, are lost from his life. A most valuable element is dropped from his experience, and this very element is essential to make him a successful wrestler for eternal rewards. Those who are enriched by sudden prosperity are not qualified to teach others how to surmount difficulties, and gain victories, how to tax mind and muscle to reach high and perfect accomplishment of useful aims. The brain should be quick to suggest, the hands prompt to perform, the will steadfast to sustain, the servant of God, that he may be an overcomer when circumstances are hard and trying. RH June 19, 1888, par. 12

Another reason why you should seek divine counsel, and exercise careful consideration before you leave one locality for another, is, your removal may be a damage to the church in which you have been bearing responsibility. Is there any one you have educated to take your place, upon whom you can rely as a faithful substitute? Can you trust him to carry forward the work so that the church will not be weakened by your removal? These are considerations that should not be lightly regarded. If you settle down in a church where there is no special need of your help, you will not feel the burden of responsibility as you have in the past, and you will not exercise the ability that God has given you; for if you do, it will seem like self-confidence in putting yourself forward. In this way you will meet with loss; for you are not cultivating the talents intrusted to your care. RH June 19, 1888, par. 13

The servants of God should become workmen that need not to be ashamed, that they may build up the church of God in the earth. This work cannot possibly be done without much meditation, prayer, and humility. There must be thought and skill and hearty thoroughness in doing this spiritual labor for the people of God. If it is properly done, it will be as much more valuable and successful than temporal work, as the heavenly is more important than the earthly. Jesus has said of his followers, “Ye are the light of the world.” A living, working church will be a power in the world, but there must be well-defined plans carried out with all faithfulness. If those who are elders and deacons in the church devote their God-given powers to money making, they will not be serving the Lord or the church; but they will be serving themselves, and the high task committed to their hands will suffer for the lack of patient, intelligent, well-directed effort. RH June 19, 1888, par. 14

An inspiring influence should be brought into the life and character of God's people, to qualify them to do the great work committed to them. God requires that the graces of his Spirit shall flourish in his church. The life of every member should exert a vital influence, that the activity and usefulness of the church may be increased. The church should never remit her vigilance against the enemy of God and man, for he is constantly sowing tares among the wheat. He finds access to every unconsecrated, unfaithful member, and makes him his agent to carry out his purposes, in marring the work of God. RH June 19, 1888, par. 15

The agency of Satan must be understood as a working, vigilant power, awakening in every possible way the same activity in others to work evil, as he himself possesses. We are not ignorant of his wiles. We know he thrusts unconverted persons into the church, and lulls those who know the truth into a state of security, that they may not discern his devices, and counteract his influence. RH June 19, 1888, par. 16

The workers for God are not what they should be. Their own imperfection dims the light, and they do not shine forth to the world in good works so that men may glorify the Father who is in heaven. It is time to “be sober,” to “be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” But you are to “resist the Devil, and he will flee from you, Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” Put intelligence into your work, and seek to bring the church of God into a healthy condition. RH June 19, 1888, par. 17