Dear Brethren and Sisters: I have been shown some things in reference to the church in -----. Individual cases were presented to me which in many respects represent the cases of many others. Among them was that of Sister A and her husband. The Lord convicted him of the truth. He was charmed with the harmony and spirit of the truth, and was blessed in confessing it. But Satan came to him with his temptations upon the point of appetite.
Brother A had long indulged his appetite for stimulants, which had had an influence to becloud the mind, weaken the intellect, and lessen the moral powers. Reason and judgment were brought into bondage to depraved, unnatural appetite, and his birthright, his God-given manhood, was sacrificed to intemperate habits. Had Brother A made the word of God his study and his guide, had he trusted in God and prayed for grace to overcome, he would have had strength in the name of Jesus to baffle the tempter.
But Brother A had never felt the high claims that God has upon him. His moral faculties had been enfeebled by his habits of eating and drinking, and by his dissipation. When he embraced the truth he had a character to form for heaven. God would test and prove him. He had a work to do for himself that no one could do for him. By his course of life he had lost many years of precious probationary time, when he might
have been gaining an experience in matters of religion, and a knowledge of the life of Christ, and of the infinite sacrifice made in man's behalf to free him from the fetters that Satan had bound upon him, and enable him to glorify His name.
Christ paid a dear price for man's redemption. In the wilderness of temptation He suffered the keenest pangs of hunger; and while He was emaciated with fasting, Satan was at hand with his manifold temptations to assail the Son of God, to take advantage of His weakness and overcome Him, and thus thwart the plan of salvation. But Christ was steadfast. He overcame in behalf of the race, that He might rescue them from the degradation of the Fall. Christ's experience is for our benefit. His example in overcoming appetite points out the way for those who would be His followers and finally sit with Him on His throne.
Christ suffered hunger in the fullest sense. Mankind generally have all that is needful to sustain life. And yet, like our first parents, they desire that which God would withhold because it is not best for them. Christ suffered hunger for necessary food and resisted the temptation of Satan upon the point of appetite. Indulgence of intemperate appetite creates in fallen man unnatural desires for the things which will eventually prove his ruin.
Man came from the hand of God perfect in every faculty of mind and body; in perfect soundness, therefore in perfect health. It took more than two thousand years of indulgence of appetite and lustful passions to create such a state of things in the human organism as would lessen vital force. Through successive generations the tendency was more swiftly downward. Indulgence of appetite and passion combined led to excess and violence; debauchery and abominations of every kind weakened the energies and brought upon the race diseases of every type, until the vigor and glory of the first generations passed away, and, in the third generation from Adam, man began to show signs of decay. Successive generations after the Flood degenerated more rapidly.
All this weight of woe and accumulated suffering can be traced to the indulgence of appetite and passion. Luxurious living and the use of wine corrupt the blood, inflame the passions, and produce diseases of every kind. But the evil does not end here. Parents leave maladies as a legacy to their children. As a rule, every intemperate man who rears children transmits his inclinations and evil tendencies to his offspring; he gives them disease from his own inflamed and corrupted blood. Licentiousness, disease, and imbecility are transmitted as an inheritance of woe from father to son and from generation to generation, and this brings anguish and suffering into the world, and is no less than a repetition of the fall of man.
A continual transgression of nature's laws is a continual transgression of the law of God. The present weight of suffering and anguish which we see everywhere, the present deformity, decrepitude, disease, and imbecility now flooding the world, make it, in comparison to what it might be and what God designed it should be, a lazar house; and the present generation are feeble in mental, moral, and physical power. All this misery has accumulated from generation to generation because fallen man will break the law of God. Sins of the greatest magnitude are committed through the indulgence of perverted appetite.
The taste created for the disgusting, filthy poison, tobacco, leads to the desire for stronger stimulants; as liquor, which is taken on one plea or another for some imaginary infirmity or to prevent some possible disease. Thus an unnatural appetite is created for these hurtful and exciting stimulants; and this appetite has strengthened until the increase of intemperance in this generation is alarming. Beverage-loving, liquor-drinking men may be seen everywhere. Their intellect is enfeebled, their moral powers are weakened, their sensibilities are benumbed, and the claims of God and heaven are not realized, eternal things are not appreciated. The Bible declares that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Tobacco and liquor stupefy and defile the user. But the evil does not stop here. He transmits irritable tempers,
polluted blood, enfeebled intellects, and weak morals to his children, and renders himself accountable for all the evil results that his wrong and dissipated course of life brings upon his family and the community. The race is groaning under a weight of accumulated woe, because of the sins of former generations. And yet with scarcely a thought or care, men and women of the present generation indulge intemperance by surfeiting and drunkenness, and thereby leave, as a legacy for the next generation, disease, enfeebled intellects, and polluted morals.
Intemperance of any kind is the worst sort of selfishness. Those who truly fear God and keep His commandments look upon these things in the light of reason and religion. How can any man or woman keep the law of God, which requires man to love his neighbor as himself, and indulge intemperate appetite, which benumbs the brain, weakens the intellect, and fills the body with disease? Intemperance inflames the passions and gives loose rein to lust. And reason and conscience are blinded by the lower passions.
We inquire: What will the husband of Sister A do? Will he, like Esau, sell his birthright for a mess of pottage? Will he sell his godlike manhood to indulge a perverted taste which only brings unhappiness and degradation? "The wages of sin is death." Has not this brother the moral courage to deny appetite? His habits have not been in harmony with the truth and with theTestimonies of reproof which God has seen fit to give His people. His conscience was not altogether dead. He knew that he could not serve God and indulge his appetite; therefore he yielded to the temptation of Satan, which was too strong for him to resist in his own strength. He was overcome. He has assigned his want of interest in the truth to other causes than the true one in order to cover his own weak purpose and the real cause of his backsliding from God, which was uncontrolled appetite.
This is where many stumble; they waver between denial of appetite and its indulgence, and finally are overcome by the enemy and yield the truth. Many who have backslidden
from the truth assign as a reason for their course that they do not have faith in the Testimonies. Investigation reveals the fact that they had some sinful habit that God has condemned through the Testimonies. The question now is: Will they yield their idol which God condemns, or will they continue in their wrong course of indulgence and reject the light God has given them reproving the very things in which they delight? The question to be settled with them is: Shall I deny myself and receive as of God the Testimonies which reprove my sins, or shall I reject theTestimonies because they reprove my sins?
In many cases the Testimonies are fully received, the sin and indulgence broken off, and reformation at once commences in harmony with the light God has given. In other instances sinful indulgences are cherished, the Testimonies are rejected, and many excuses which are untrue are offered to others as the reason for refusing to receive them. The true reason is not given. It is a lack of moral courage -- a will, strengthened and controlled by the Spirit of God, to renounce hurtful habits.
It is not an easy matter to overcome an established taste for narcotics and stimulants. In the name of Christ alone can this great victory be gained. He overcame in behalf of man in the long fast of nearly six weeks in the wilderness of temptation. He sympathizes with the weakness of man. His love for fallen man was so great that He made an infinite sacrifice that He might reach him in his degradation and through His divine power finally elevate him to His throne. But it rests with man whether Christ shall accomplish for him that which He is fully able to do.
Will man take hold of divine power, and with determination and perseverance resist Satan, as Christ has given him example in His conflict with the foe in the wilderness of temptation? God cannot save man against his will from the power of Satan's artifices. Man must work with his human power, aided by the divine power of Christ, to resist and to
conquer at any cost to himself. In short, man must overcome as Christ overcame. And then, through the victory that it is his privilege to gain by the all-powerful name of Jesus, he may become an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ. This could not be the case if Christ alone did all the overcoming. Man must do his part; he must be victor on his own account, through the strength and grace that Christ gives him. Man must be a co-worker with Christ in the labor of overcoming, and then he will be partaker with Christ of His glory.
It is a sacred work in which we are engaged. The apostle Paul exhorts his brethren: "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." It is a sacred duty that we owe to God to keep the spirit pure, as a temple for the Holy Ghost. If the heart and mind are devoted to the service of God, obeying all His commandments, loving Him with all the heart, might, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, we shall be found and true to the loyal requirements of heaven.
Again the apostle says: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." He also urges his brethren to earnest diligence and steady perseverance in their efforts for purity and holiness of life, in these words: "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible."
The Christian Warfare
Paul presents before us the spiritual warfare and its reward, in contrast with the various games instituted among the heathen in honor of their gods. Young men who were trained for these games practiced close self-denial and the most severe discipline. Every indulgence which would have a tendency to weaken physical power was forbidden. Those who submitted to the training process were not allowed wine or luxurious food, for these would debilitate instead of increasing
personal vigor, healthful activity, fortitude, and firmness. Many witnesses, kings and nobles, were present on these occasions. It was considered the highest honor to gain a simple chaplet which would fade in a few short hours. But after the competitors for this perishable crown had exercised severe abstemiousness and submitted to rigid discipline in order to obtain personal vigor and activity with the hope of becoming victors, even then they were not sure of the prize. The prize could be awarded to but one. Some might labor fully as hard as others, and put forth their utmost powers to gain the crowning honor; but as they reached forth the hand to secure the prize, another, an instant before them, might grasp the coveted treasure.
This is not the case in the Christian warfare. All may run this race, and may be sure of victory and immortal honor if they submit to the conditions. Says Paul: "So run, that ye may obtain." He then explains the conditions which are necessary for them to observe in order to be successful: "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things."
If heathen men, who were not controlled by enlightened conscience, who had not the fear of God before them, would submit to deprivation and the discipline of training, denying themselves of every weakening indulgence merely for a wreath of perishable substance and the applause of the multitude, how much more should they who are running the Christian race in the hope of immortality and the approval of High Heaven, be willing to deny themselves unhealthy stimulants and indulgences, which degrade the morals, enfeeble the intellect, and bring the higher powers into subjection to the animal appetites and passions.
Multitudes in the world are witnessing this game of life, the Christian warfare. And this is not all. The Monarch of the universe and the myriads of heavenly angels are spectators of this race; they are anxiously watching to see who will be successful overcomers and win the crown of glory that fadeth not away. With intense interest God and heavenly angels mark the self-denial, the self-sacrifice, and the agonizing efforts
of those who engage to run the Christian race. The reward given to every man will be in accordance with the persevering energy and faithful earnestness with which he performs his part in the great contest.
In the games referred to, but one was sure of the prize. In the Christian race, says the apostle: "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly." We are not to be disappointed at the end of the race. To all those who fully comply with the conditions in God's word, and have a sense of their responsibility to preserve physical vigor and activity of body, that they may have well-balanced minds and healthy morals, the race is not uncertain. They all may gain the prize, and win and wear the crown of immortal glory that fadeth not away.
The apostle Paul tells us that "we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." A cloud of witnesses are observing our Christian course. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
The world should be no criterion for us. It is fashionable to indulge the appetite in luxurious food and unnatural stimulus, thus strengthening the animal propensities, and crippling the growth and development of the moral faculties. There is no encouragement given to any of the sons or daughters of Adam that they may become victorious overcomers in the Christian warfare unless they decide to practice temperance in all things. If they do this they will not fight as one that beateth the air.
If Christians will keep the body in subjection, and bring all their appetites and passions under the control of enlightened conscience, feeling it a duty that they owe to God and to their neighbors to obey the laws which govern health and life, they will have the blessing of physical and mental vigor.
They will have moral power to engage in the warfare against Satan, and in the name of Him who conquered appetite in their behalf they may be more than conquerors on their own account. This warfare is open to all who will engage in it.
I was shown the case of Brother B, that a cloud of darkness surrounds him. The light of heaven is not in his dwelling. Although he professes to believe the truth, he does not in his daily life exemplify its sanctifying influence upon the heart. He does not naturally possess a benevolent, kind, affectionate, courteous disposition. His temperament is very unfavorable to himself, his family, and the church where his influence is felt. He has a work to do for himself that no one can do for him. He has need of the transforming influence of the Spirit of God. We are bound by our profession as Christ's followers to test our ways and actions by comparing them with the example of our Redeemer. Our spirit and deportment must correspond with the copy that our Saviour has given us.
Brother B is not of a temperament to bring sunshine into his family. Here is a good place for him to begin to work. He is more like a cloud than a beam of light. He is too selfish to speak words of approval to the members of his family, especially to the one of all others who should have his love and tender respect. He is morose, overbearing, dictatorial; his words are frequently cutting, and leave a wound that he does not try to heal by softening his spirit, acknowledging his faults, and confessing his wrongdoings. He does not make efforts to come to the light. There is not with him a searching of heart, of motives, temper, speech, and conduct, to see if his life is like the example. He does not apply God's law to his life and character as his rule of action. The Lord would have a people honest and upright before Him.
Sister B has many trials and the weakness of her own nature to contend with, and her lot should not be made any harder than is positively necessary. Brother B should soften; he should cultivate refinement and courtesy. He should be very tender and gentle toward his wife, who is his equal in
every respect; he should not utter a word that would cast a shadow upon her heart. He should begin the work of reformation at home; he should cultivate affection and overcome the coarse, harsh, unfeeling, and ungenerous traits of his disposition, for these are growing upon him. If we poor mortals reach heaven we must overcome as Christ overcame. We must be assimilated to His image; our characters must be spotless.
I was shown that Brother B has not a high sense of the perfection of character necessary to a Christian. He has not a proper sense of his duty to his fellow men. He is in danger of advancing his own interests, if an opportunity presents, irrespective of his neighbor's advantage or loss. He regards his own prosperity as exceedingly important, but is not interested in the fortunes or misfortunes of his neighbors, as a follower of Christ should be. For a trifling advantage to himself, Satan can allure him from his integrity. This darkens his own soul and brings darkness upon the church. "All this," says Satan, "shall be yours, if you will depart from strict integrity. All this will I give you if you will only please me in this, or do and say that." And too often has Brother B been deceived by the adversary to his own hurt and the darkening of other minds.
There are some others in the church who need to view things from a higher standpoint before they can be spiritually minded and in a position where they can discern the mind and will of God, and shed light instead of casting a shadow. Brother B needs to have his eyes anointed, that he may clearly discern spiritual things and also the devices of Satan. The Christian standard is high and exalted. But, alas, the professed followers of Christ lower it to the very dust!
You have need, Brother B, of constant vigilance lest you be overcome by Satan's temptations to live for yourself, to be jealous and envious, suspicious and faultfinding. If you go murmuringly along, you make not one step of progress in the heavenly road. If you stop for a moment in your earnest
efforts and prayerful endeavors to subdue and control yourself, you are in danger of being overcome by some strong temptation; you may take imprudent steps; you may manifest an unchristian spirit, which will not only bring bitterness to your own soul, but sadness to the minds of others. You may bring upon them a weight of perplexity and sadness that will endanger their souls, and you will be accountable for this baneful influence. Brother B, if you would escape the pollution that is in the world through lust, you must adorn the Christian profession in all things.
You will say: This is hard work; the way is too narrow, I cannot walk in it. Is the way more strait in this letter than you find it plainly marked out in the word of God? Heaven is worth a lifelong, persevering, untiring effort. If you now draw back and become discouraged, you will certainly lose heaven--lose immortal life and the crown of glory that fadeth not away. Those who have a seat at the Saviour's side on His throne are only that class who have overcome as He overcame. Love for pure, sanctifying truth, love for the dear Redeemer, will lighten the labor of overcoming. His strength will be cheerfully granted to all who are really desirous of it. He will crown with grace and peace every persevering effort made in His name.
If your daily study is to glorify God and subdue self, He will make His strength perfect in your weakness, and you may live so that your conscience will not condemn you. You may have a good report from those who are without. A circumspect life will not only bring great profit to your own soul, but will be a bright light to shine upon the pathway of others, and will show them the way to heaven.
Brother B, how have you governed your own temper? Have you sought to overcome your hasty spirit? With the disposition and feelings you now possess, you will fail of heaven as surely as there is a heaven. For your own soul's sake, and for the sake of Christ, who has given you unmistakable evidence of His infinite love, bring yourself nearer to Him that you may be imbued with His Spirit. Cultivate
a spirit of watchfulness and prayer that you may rightly represent the holy faith you profess as a follower of our dear Redeemer, who has left an example in His own life. Imitate our Saviour. Learn of Christ. Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, overcome the temptations of Satan as He overcame, and come off conqueror over all your defects of character.
Christ was a perfect overcomer; and we must be perfect and entire, wanting nothing, without spot or blemish. The redemption which Christ achieved for man was at infinite cost to Himself. The victory we gain over our own evil hearts and over the temptations of Satan will cost us strong effort, constant watchfulness, and persevering prayer; and we shall then not only reap the reward, which is the gift of eternal life, but shall increase our happiness on earth by a consciousness of duty performed, and by the greater respect and love of those about us.
I was shown that there is a general lack of devotion, and of sincere, earnest effort in the church. There are many who need to be converted. Brother C is not a stay and strength to the church. He does not advance in the divine life as he advances in years. He has professed the truth many years, yet has been slow to learn and live its principles; therefore he has not been sanctified through the truth. He holds himself in a position to be tempted of Satan. He is still as a child in experience. He is watching others and marking their failings, when he should be diligently searching his own heart. That readiness to question, and to see faults in his brethren and talk of them to others, is reproved by the words of Christ to one who, He saw, was more interested in the course of his brethren than careful to watch and pray lest Satan should overcome him. Said Christ to His disciples: "What is that to thee? follow thou Me."
It is all that Brother C can do, in the weakness of his nature, to guard his own soul and close every avenue whereby Satan can gain access to insinuate doubts in regard to others. He is in great danger of losing his soul by failing to perfect Christian
character during probationary time. He is slow to follow Christ. His senses seem to be clouded and almost paralyzed so that he does not place a proper estimate upon sacred things. He may even now correct his errors and overcome his defects, if he will work in the strength of God.
There are several in the church at ----- whose names I cannot call who have victories to gain over their appetites and passions. Some talk too much; they stand in this position: "Report, . . . and we will report it." Miserable indeed is such a position! If all these gossipers would ever bear in mind that an angel is following them, recording their words, there would be less talking and much more praying.
There are children of Sabbathkeepers who have been taught from their youth to observe the Sabbath. Some of these are very good children, faithful to duty as far as temporal matters are concerned; but they feel no deep conviction of sin and no need of repentance from sin. Such are in a dangerous condition. They are watching the deportment and efforts of professed Christians. They see some who make high professions, but who are not conscientious Christians, and they compare their own views and actions with these stumbling blocks; and as there are no outbreaking sins in their own lives, they flatter themselves that they are about right.
To these youth I am authorized to say: Repent ye and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. There is no time for you to waste. Heaven and immortal life are valuable treasures that cannot be obtained without an effort on your part. No matter how faultless may have been your lives, as sinners you have steps to take. You are required to repent, believe, and be baptized. Christ was wholly righteous; yet He, the Saviour of the world, gave man an example by Himself taking the steps which He requires the sinner to take to become a child of God, and heir of heaven.
If Christ, the spotless and pure Redeemer of man, condescended to take the steps necessary for the sinner to take in conversion, why should any, with the light of truth shining
upon their pathway, hesitate to submit their hearts to God, and in humility confess that they are sinners, and show their faith in the atonement of Christ by words and actions, identifying themselves with those who profess to be His followers? There will ever be some who do not live out their profession, whose daily lives show them to be anything but Christians; but should this be a sufficient reason for any to refuse to put on Christ by baptism into the faith of His death and resurrection?
Even when Jesus Himself was upon earth, and walked with and taught His disciples, there was one among the twelve who was a devil. Judas betrayed his Lord. Christ had a perfect knowledge of the life of Judas. He knew of the covetousness which Judas did not overcome, and in His sermons to others He gave him many lessons upon this subject. Through indulgence, Judas permitted this trait in his character to grow and take so deep a root that it crowded out the good seed of truth sown in his heart; evil predominated until, for love of money, he could sell his Lord for a few pieces of silver.
The fact that Judas was not right at heart, that he was so corrupted by selfishness and love of money that he was led to commit a great crime, is no evidence that there were not true Christians, genuine disciples of Christ, who loved their Saviour and tried to imitate His life and example, and to obey His teachings.
I was shown that the fact that Judas was numbered among the twelve, with all his faults and defects of character, is an instructive lesson, one by the study of which Christians may be profited. When Judas was chosen by our Lord, his case was not hopeless. He had some good qualities. In his association with Christ in the work, by listening to His discourses, he had a favorable opportunity to see his wrongs, to become acquainted with his defects of character if he really desired to be a true disciple. He was even placed in a position by our Lord where he could have his choice either to develop his covetous disposition or to see and correct it. He carried the
little means collected for the poor and for the necessary expenses of Christ and the disciples in their work of preaching.
This little money was to Judas a continual temptation, and from time to time, when he did a little service for Christ, or devoted a little time to religious purposes, he paid himself out of the meager fund collected to advance the light of the gospel. He finally became so penurious that he made bitter complaint because the ointment poured upon the head of Jesus was expensive. He turned it over and over in his mind, and counted the money that might have been placed in his hands to expend if that ointment had been sold. His selfishness grew stronger until he felt that the treasury had really met with a great loss in not receiving the value of the ointment in money. He finally made open complaint of the extravagance of this expensive offering to Christ. Our Saviour rebuked him for this covetousness. This rankled in the heart of Judas, until, for a small sum of money, he consented to betray his Lord. There will be those among Sabbathkeepers who are no truer at heart than was Judas; but the cases of such should be no excuse to keep others from following Christ.
God loves the children of Brother D, but they are in fearful danger of feeling whole, and in no need of a physician. Trusting in their own righteousness will never save them. They must feel the need of a Saviour. Christ came to save sinners. Said Jesus: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The Pharisees, who felt that they were righteous, and who trusted in their good works, felt no need of a Saviour. They felt that they were well enough off without Christ.
The dear children of Brother D should plead with Jesus to reveal to them their sinfulness, and then ask Him to reveal Himself as their sin-pardoning Saviour. These precious children must not be deceived and miss eternal life. Except they are converted they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. They must wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. Jesus invites them to take the steps that sinners must take in order to become His children. He has given them an example
in life in submitting to the ordinance of baptism. He is our example in all things.
God requires these children to give Him their hearts' best and holiest affections. He has bought them with His own blood. He claims their service. They are not their own. Jesus has made infinite sacrifice for them. A pitying, loving Saviour will receive them if they will come to Him just as they are, and depend on His righteousness and not on their own merits.
God pities and loves the youth of -----, and He wants them to find happiness in Him. He died to redeem them. He will bless them if they come to Him in meekness and sincerity. He will be found of them, if they seek Him with all the heart.