The Review and Herald


March 12, 1889

The Need of Self-Denial

[Morning talk at South Lancaster, Mass.]


Brethren and sisters,

I have felt burdened, lest the work of confession and repentance would not go as deep and thorough as it should, in order to meet the mind of the Spirit of God. We are to draw to the light, that our errors may be revealed. If we make diligent work of repentance, we may come to God, claiming his promise to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We want to be in a position where we can have the blessing of God, where we can have strength to overcome the temptations that are suggested to our minds by the evil one, and power to rise above the peculiar weaknesses in our character. There must be a warfare of the spirit against the flesh, and through the grace of Christ we may obtain the victory. The divine power working with our efforts will result in the slaying of the old man, and in the renewing of the mind in the image of Him who created it. The divine image has been almost obliterated. The appetites and the passions have led to selfish and injurious indulgences for their gratification, and the flesh has triumphed over the spirit. RH March 12, 1889, par. 1

We should be as firm as was Daniel in controlling the appetites and the desires of the flesh. We must institute a warfare against every sinful inclination, and submit to the control of the Spirit of God. Every time we yield to temptation it becomes easier to yield the next time. The conscience becomes more and more hardened by our indulgence in evil and our association with it, until we become powerless, and evil practices become habitual. Wrong habits are not formed by occasional indulgence in evil, but they are the result of repeated actions, and become more and more fixed and difficult to overcome. How necessary it is that every soul bring the solid timbers of righteousness into his character-building, so that there will be a fixed determination to do right because it is right. We should be in that condition of mind and heart that, should an accident occur, and death result in a moment, our destiny would be decided for heaven, and not for perdition. The great and all-important question to every soul should be, Am I right with God? RH March 12, 1889, par. 2

The young people of our school want to make a success of their education. Daniel made a success, when he feared God, and such a course will lead others to success; for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” You may be in a position where your influence will tell on the Lord's side. It is your exalted privilege to be a victor over the appetites and passions of the flesh, through the strength of Christ. Enoch walked with God for three hundred years. He was in harmony with the will of heaven. Enoch is a representative of the people who are to be translated from the earth. Is it not time for us to make a complete surrender to God? We must be in earnest in seeking his blessing. We must crucify the old man, with the affections and lusts, in order to meet the requirements of God. Those who have been blessed of God did not cease seeking him until they knew they had fulfilled his requirements and stood approved before him. RH March 12, 1889, par. 3

In Oakland, in Battle Creek, and in other places where the deep movings of the Spirit of God have been felt, the people confessed their sins, and made restitution for their wrongs. The servants of God desired to make clean work for eternity. They confessed their jealousies, evil-speaking, murmurings, and uncleanness. They desired to have Jesus dwell in their souls, but he can never abide in hearts that are full of uncleanness. We must brush out the corners with the dust-brush. We must not hide our evils. Of course we should not expose evils to the public that are matters to be confessed to God alone. But while it is a disgrace to sin, it is no disgrace to confess sins. I entreat you, Do not rest until your souls stand free before God. You may have ten-fold more success in influencing others than you have had in the past. RH March 12, 1889, par. 4

It is too late in the day for a superficial work. It is time to arise and shine, for the glory of God has risen upon you. It is too late to play into the hands of the enemy. The plowshare must go deep; the fallow ground must be broken up. We need to have our hearts broken. We need to feel how offensive is sin before God. We are to keep the heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. RH March 12, 1889, par. 5

How far we come from representing the character of Christ! But we must lay hold of his merits by living faith, and claim him as our Saviour. He died on Calvary to save us. Each should make it a personal work between God and his own soul, as though there were no one in the world but himself. When we exercise personal faith, our hearts will not be as cold as an iron wedge; we shall be able to realize what is meant by the psalmist when he says, “Blessed is the man whose sin is covered.” Our God says he will forgive transgressions, and remove them as a thick cloud. RH March 12, 1889, par. 6

One brother has made a confession of discontentment because of his small wages. I wish every family in America could have some idea of the way the poor of Europe are situated. They are very destitute, and yet you hear no murmuring or complaining. I visited a family in Valence, France, where the mother was a widow. Her daughter was an intelligent woman, but as she had failed in one part of an examination, she could not obtain a teacher's certificate, and she was obliged to go from house to house sewing, for twenty cents a day. The mother tied on her little white cap, and took her basket on her arm and a crust of bread for lunch, and started for the gardens to work like a man, and receive but twenty cents a day for her labor. The son was a book-binder, diligent and sober, and he received but three dollars a week. They had only one small room to live in, and had but simple, meager food. Still there was no complaint. When this class of persons heard the truth, the tears trickled down their cheeks, and their faces lighted up with love and gratitude to God. One young man, a musician in France, who had heard and rejoiced in the truth of God, was separated from his friends because of his acceptance of the Bible faith; and although his people are wealthy, he could not obtain money to go to Basle, Switzerland, where he could receive a better knowledge of our methods of missionary work. We were soon to go to Torre Pellice, Italy, and we said, “We will go third-class on the cars.” This is the way in which the rough, smoking, working peasants travel; but we said, “By this means we can save enough money to send this young man to Basle.” RH March 12, 1889, par. 7

I found a great deal of poverty in Europe, for small wages are paid to the laborers. At the silk-factories, men in high positions get but forty cents per day. We saw in the homes of the peasants loaves of bread piled up on a shelf to dry. Upon inquiry, we found that this was done for economy's sake, for it took less to satisfy their hunger when it was dry and hard, than when fresh. Bro. Geymet, a man who understands several languages, was engaging in missionary work with earnestness and with great self-sacrifice. We took a carriage to ascend the mountain, winding up the path he traveled to carry the truth to those who would hear. We were obliged to leave the carriage as the pathway grew narrow, and a terrible precipice yawned beneath us. Winding up and up, he finally came to a stable, and there the peasants gathered to study the Bible. He had to traverse this perilous path at night, as that was the only time the people could meet him. In the winter these poor peasants of Italy live in the stables, that the heat of the cattle may be utilized for their warmth. Our missionaries there get a little milk and bread, and eat it with gladness of heart. This is the way the truth is carried to the people in the Piedmont Valley. RH March 12, 1889, par. 8

At ten and eleven o'clock at night the workers would have to climb over these terrible paths through the mountains, and for seven miles take their way beside precipice and gorge. We asked, “How do you manage to go in safety over these dangerous places?” They answered, “When we come near the precipices, we crawl on our hands and knees.” We asked one brother how much he would take to labor a year in the cause of God. He answered, “One hundred dollars,” and then said, “You know we wear out shoes and clothes in traveling over the mountains, and we have our families to support.” How many of us with families of five and six would be willing to live on such meager pay for the sake of the cause? RH March 12, 1889, par. 9

My heart ached when I saw how the poor had to get along in this country. We would see the children going along eating their dinner,-a piece of dry bread moistened in the water of the fountain. But they were happy, and thought they had nothing to complain of. Why is it that we think we must have our pie and cake and rich puddings, when these very things only hinder us from becoming sanctified to God? We should seek to bring our expenses within our means. I want to see every laborer fully consecrated to the work. Some of our workers have thought that they must go to the very best hotels. But is this the way to do? How can we indulge ourselves, in the face of all the misery and distress that there is around us? How much money is swept from the treasury of God by the everlasting habit of picture taking! All this needless expense is registered in the books of heaven. Is it not best for us to believe that the eye of God is upon us? Shall we not so run that we may obtain the prize, and become temperate in all things? Those who engaged in the games in Paul's time were temperate. They kept a stern control of their appetites and passions, that they might be in the best condition to run and obtain the prize. And what was it?—Simply a corruptible crown; but we run for an incorruptible crown that fadeth not away. We do not run with uncertainty, knowing not whether we may receive the prize or not; for if we fulfill the conditions, there is no doubt in the matter. Those in the races often fell fainting and dead within a few feet of victory, but it need not be so with us. We are not as those who beat the air. Is it not of the highest consequence that the brain nerve-force should not be weakened by indulgence, as we have to contend with spiritual wickedness in high places? We are to keep the body under, and bring it into subjection, that we may accomplish all that is possible. The self-denial and self-sacrifice involved in this is essential to our good, that we may reach the high standard that God has set before us. Put yourselves to the task. Put your powers to the stretch, and come out into a position where you can reach the perishing around you. Where is your working-power, your skill, your tact, your means? Does not the cause of God call for the best talents, and the highest use of our faculties? Does it not demand that you obtain a knowledge of your God and Saviour? O, let there be no more complaint! “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Let us follow in the steps of Him who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. Let us be willing to give ourselves for others, as he has given himself for us. RH March 12, 1889, par. 10