My mind has been very much exercised for several nights, sleeping and waking, in regard to the work to be done in this country. In this wide missionary field there is a great deal to be done in advancing the cause and work of the Master, and with the great want of means and of workers, we know not how it can be done. We must humble our hearts before God, and offer up sincere, fervent prayer that the Lord, who is rich in resources, will open our way. "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord," "and the cattle upon a thousand hills."
The life of Christ, the Lord of glory, is our example. He came from heaven, where all was riches and splendor; but He laid aside His royal crown, His royal robe, and clothed His divinity with humanity. Why? That He might meet men where they were. He did not rank Himself with the wealthy, the lordly of earth. The mission of Christ was to reach the very poor of earth. He Himself worked from His earliest years as the Son of a carpenter. Self-denial, did He not know its meaning? The riches and glory of heaven were His own, but for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. The very foundation of His mission was self-denial, self-sacrifice. The world was His, He made it; yet in a world of His own creating the Son of man had not where to lay His head. He said, "The foxes have
holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head."
Now in the establishment and broadening of the work in this country, means will be essential, that we may do a large work in a short time. And the only way we can do it is, in every movement, to keep the eye single to the glory of God, so that it may not be said of us, They began to build, and were not able to finish. In leading out to do a broader work, we need, at the very beginning, to put pride and worldly ambition entirely out of our hearts. Having before us the example of Christ, the greatest Teacher the world ever knew, we need not make a mistake. "He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." We must study the Pattern, and inquire at every step, "Is this the way of the Lord?" We shall certainly make grave mistakes if we do not keep self-denial and self-sacrifice prominent before the people in every movement.
The work in this missionary field is yet in its infancy. The believers have made only a beginning in the Christian life; and the reason why we have felt so great a burden for this people is, that henceforth they may learn greater things. It doth not yet appear what they shall be through a practical belief in the truth and the sanctification of the entire being by the truth. The words and example of our Redeemer in His life of humility and self-denial will be the light and strength of His people if they follow Jesus fully, trusting in Him at every step. Let it be the language of our hearts, "Be Thou my pattern." He that "willeth to do His will,
he shall know of the teaching." Nothing is so desirable as to live as Christ lived, to deny self as Christ denied Himself, and to labor with Him in seeking to save that which is lost.
In the line of furniture, do not purchase one article merely to make a show. Get things that will be useful, and that will bear handling. Educate the people to practice self-denial. Let it be considered that every dollar may represent a soul, for someone might be brought to a knowledge of the truth through the use of that dollar in the missionary work. We may have very nice taste, and enjoy that which is beautiful and artistic; but had not Christ the very finest, purest, holiest taste? His home was heaven, yet He denied Himself; humiliation marked all His life, from the manger to Calvary. In the beginning of the work, we must not reproduce the very things that the Lord has condemned in America, the needless, extravagant expenditure of money to gratify pride and love of display. Let everything of this order be scrupulously shunned.
In eating, dressing, and in the furnishing of our school building, we want to preserve the simplicity of true godliness. Many will deny themselves and sacrifice much in order to contribute toward making the missionary work a success, and should they see this means expended upon the finest linen and the more expensive furniture or articles for the table, it would have a most unfortunate influence upon these brethren and sisters. Nothing could militate more decidedly against our present and future usefulness in this country. The very first lesson to teach the students
is self-denial. Let their eyes, their senses, take in the lesson; let all the appointments of the school convey practical instruction in this line, that the work can be carried forward only by a constant sacrifice.
In every movement let us follow closely the example of our Saviour. I feel deeply over these things. We must consider in what lines to work in order to secure success; we must come to the work with our hearts imbued with the spirit of Christ. Then we shall realize that our work must be carried forward in a humble way. Our ministers and their wives should be an example in plainness of dress; they should dress neatly, comfortably, wearing good material, but avoiding anything like extravagance and trimmings, even if not expensive; for these things tell to our disadvantage. We should educate the youth to simplicity of dress, plainness with neatness. Let the extra trimmings be left out, even though the cost be but a trifle.
Some have had a burden in regard to the wearing of a marriage ring, feeling that the wives of our ministers should conform to this custom. All this is unnecessary. Let the ministers' wives have the golden link which binds their souls to Jesus Christ, a pure and holy character, the true love and meekness and godliness that are the fruit borne upon the Christian tree, and their influence will be secure anywhere. The fact that a disregard of the custom occasions remark is no good reason for adopting it. Americans can make their position understood by plainly stating that the custom is not regarded as obligatory in our country. We need not wear the sign,
for we are not untrue to our marriage vow, and the wearing of the ring would be no evidence that we were true. I feel deeply over this leavening process which seems to be going on among us, in the conformity to custom and fashion. Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married. In countries where the custom is imperative, we have no burden to condemn those who have their marriage ring; let them wear it if they can do so conscientiously; but let not our missionaries feel that the wearing of the ring will increase their influence one jot or tittle. If they are Christians, it will be manifest in their Christlikeness of character, in their words, in their works, in the home, in association with others; it will be evinced by their patience and long-suffering and kindliness. They will manifest the spirit of the Master, they will possess His beauty of character, His loveliness of disposition, His sympathetic heart.
God calls for decided improvement to be made in the various branches of the work. The business done in connection with the cause of God must be marked with greater precision and exactitude. There have not been close, decided, firm efforts put forth to bring about essential reform. Some connected with the cause are drawing near to the close of their lives, and yet they have not so learned the lessons of the Bible as to feel the necessity of bringing them into their practical life. They have wasted opportunities, and gracious
blessings have been unappreciated because they did not wish to make a change.
My Guide said: "Elevate the standard in all school education. You must set up no lower standard. Discipline must be maintained. Teach the youth by precept and example." There has not been too much strictness but too much laxness of action tolerated. But the workers must not despair. Work with the spirit of Christ, with the mind of Christ to correct existing evils. Expect that the wrongdoers will have the sympathy of wrongdoers; but faithful shepherds of the flock have lessons to learn in order to keep on an elevated standard and yet teach that the star of hope is still shining. Work on patiently; but rebuke sin firmly, and give it no sanction. The refuge of lies for the covering up of sin must be torn away in order that poor deluded souls may not sleep on to their everlasting ruin.
The world is soon to be left by the angel of mercy, and the seven last plagues are to be poured out. Sin, shame, sorrow, and darkness are on every side; but God still holds out to the souls of men the precious privilege of exchanging darkness for light, error for truth, sin for righteousness. But God's patience and mercy will not always wait. Let not one soul think that he can hide from God's wrath behind a lie, for God will strip from the soul the refuge of lies. The bolts of God's wrath are soon to fall, and when He shall begin to punish the transgressors, there will be no period of respite until the end. The storm of God's wrath is gathering, and those only will stand who are sanctified through the truth in the love of God. They shall be hid with Christ in God till the desolation shall be overpast. He shall come forth to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity,
and "the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." Let the language of the soul be--
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide! Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide, Oh, receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none, Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, oh, leave me not alone! Still support and comfort me.
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." There is but one remedy for indolence, and that is to throw off sluggishness as a sin that leads to perdition, and go to work using the physical ability that God has given you for this purpose. The only cure for a useless, inefficient life is effort, determined, persevering effort. The only cure for selfishness is to deny self, and work earnestly to be the blessing that you can be to your fellowmen. "He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap."
As God's human agents we are to do the work that He has given us. To every man He has given his work, and we are not going to give ourselves up to conjecture as to whether or not our earnest endeavors will prove successful. All that we as individuals are
responsible for is the unwearied, conscientious discharge of duty that someone must do; and if we fail to do that which is placed in our way, we cannot be excused of God. But having done the best we can, then we are to leave all results with God. But it is required of us that we exercise more mental and spiritual power. It is your duty, and it has been your duty every day of the life God has graciously granted you, to pull at the oars of duty, for you are a responsible agent of God.
The command to you is, "Go work today in My vineyard." We are all God's workmen, and not one is to be idle; but I would ask, What are you doing for the Master in order that you may hear His words of approval, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things? God never makes a mistake; He will never call men good and faithful who are not good and faithful.
Christ identifies His interest with that of humanity. The work that bears the divine credentials is that which manifests the spirit of Jesus, which reveals His love, His carefulness, His tenderness in dealing with the minds of men. What revelations would come to man if the curtain should be rolled back and you could see the result of your work in dealing with the erring who have needed most judicious treatment lest they should be turned out of the way. "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your
feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
We will always have tried and tempted ones to deal with, and it is essential that we be converted to God every day and be vessels that can be used unto His name's honor and glory. The true value of the soul can be estimated only by the cross of Calvary. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Those who are unconverted, who are unsanctified, will make manifest what manner of spirit they are of. They will show by their likes and dislikes that their natural feelings are not under the control of a sanctified will. The religion of Jesus Christ is one which will revolutionize the entire man. The truth of God has power to transform the character.
We are to have the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. A faith that does not result in this is of no value. The fruit of the branch will show what is the character of the parent stock. He who is planted in Christ will be elevated. In place of acting rashly, in place of cutting off the erring from faith and hope with your severity and harshness, the true Christian will teach the ignorant, reform the sinful, comfort those who mourn, restrain oppression and injustice, and work after a Christlike plan, even in all business transactions. Instead of stirring up strife, he will bring about peace and harmony.
A hard, unjust, critical spirit has been indulged among those who have held positions of trust in the work of God. Unless those who have indulged this spirit are converted, they will be relieved of the responsibility of acting a part in committees of counsel, even in the transaction of business. Unless they are
converted, their voices must not be heard in the council, for the aggregate result is more injurious than beneficial. Wrong prevails, man is made an offender for a word, and suspicion, distrust, jealousy, evil-surmising, evilspeaking, and injustice reproduce themselves even in connection with the cause of God. A false zeal passes for jealousy for the cause of God; but the miserable, filthy garment of self must be destroyed, and in its place men must accept the righteousness of Christ. The persecution that is carried on among church members is a most terrible thing. It is true that some have committed errors and made mistakes, but it is equally true that these errors and mistakes are not nearly as grievous in the sight of God as is the harsh and unforgiving spirit of those who are criticizers and censors. Many of those who are free to pass judgment on others are committing errors which, although not made manifest, are tainted with deadly evil that is corrupting their spiritual life.
God would open the eyes of His professed people in order that they may see that they must love God supremely, and their neighbors as themselves, if they would be saved in His kingdom. Many are making manifest that they are not controlled by the Spirit of Christ but by another spirit. The attributes they display are as unlike the attributes of Christ as are the characteristics of Satan. It is high time that believers should stand shoulder to shoulder and strive together for eternal life, in place of holding themselves aloof and expressing by word and action, "I am holier than thou." Those who would exert all their powers for the salvation of perishing souls must come heart to heart, and be bound together in cords of sympathy and
love. The brethren should manifest the same spirit as that manifested by our merciful and faithful High Priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. We may inspire fainting, hopeless ones with new life. We may achieve victories which our own erroneous and misconceived opinions, our own defects of character, our own smallness of faith, have made to seem impossible. Faith! we scarcely know what it is.
The end of all things is at hand. The Lord is soon coming. Already His judgments are abroad in our land. We are not only to talk of Christ's coming, but in every action we are to reveal the fact that He is soon to be manifested in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Have we the wedding garment on? Have we personal piety? Have we cooperated with divine agencies in a wholehearted, unreserved manner, in weaving into our life's practices the divine principles of God's holy law? It is one thing to talk the law, and it is another thing entirely to practice it. It is the doers of the law that shall be justified before God; for those who do the law represent the character of God, and lie not against the truth.
The Lord is coming. Oh, the time is short, and who in the Bible view are laborers together with God? Shall we not be filled with fear and awe lest we are still in our own natural tempers, lest we are unconverted and unholy, and seeking to pass off a counterfeit experience for a genuine one? Awake, brethren, awake, before it shall be forever too late.
There are many who are laborers together with God whom we do not discern. The hands of ministers have never been laid upon them in ordination for the work; but nevertheless they are wearing the yoke of Christ, and exert a saving influence in working in different lines to win souls to Christ. The success of our work depends upon our love to God and our love to our fellowmen. When there is harmonious action among the individual members of the church, when there is love and confidence manifested by brother to brother, there will be proportionate force and power in our work for the salvation of men. Oh, how greatly we need a moral renovation! Without the faith that works by love, you can do nothing. May the Lord give you hearts to receive this testimony.
Read and study the fourth chapter of Zechariah. The two olive trees empty the golden oil out of themselves through the golden pipes into the golden bowl from which the lamps of the sanctuary are fed. The golden oil represents the Holy Spirit. With this oil God's ministers are to be constantly supplied, that they, in turn, may impart it to church. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." God's servants can obtain victories only by inward purity, by cleanness of heart, by holiness. It is of the utmost importance that ministers set a right example. If they follow lax, loose principles, their example is quoted by those who are doing wrong as a vindication of their course. The whole synagogue of Satan is watching for defects in the lives of God's representatives, and the most is made of every defect.-- Review and Herald, December 22, 1904.