When men will show confidence in their fellowmen they will come much nearer to possessing the mind of Christ. The Lord has revealed the estimate that He places upon man. "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." But some minds are ever seeking to reshape the character of others according to their own ideas and measure. God has not given them this work to do.
Self will ever cherish a high estimate of self. As men lose their first love, they do not keep the commandments of God, and then they begin to criticize one another. This spirit will constantly be striving for the mastery to the close of time. Satan is seeking to foster it in order that brethren in their ignorance may seek to devour one another. God is not glorified but greatly dishonored; the Spirit of God is grieved. Satan exults, because he knows that if he can set brother to watch brother in the church and in the ministry some will be so disheartened and discouraged as to leave their posts of duty. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit; a power from beneath is working in the chambers of the mind and in the soul temple to place his attributes where the attributes of Christ should be.
He who has paid the infinite price to redeem men reads with unerring accuracy all the hidden workings of the human mind, and knows just how to deal with every soul. And in dealing with men, He
manifests the same principles that are manifest in the natural world. The beneficent operations of nature are not accomplished by abrupt and startling interpositions; men are not permitted to take her work into their own hands. God works through the calm, regular operation of His appointed laws. So it is in spiritual things. Satan is constantly seeking to produce effects by rude and violent thrusts; but Jesus found access to minds by the pathway of their most familiar associations. He disturbed as little as possible their accustomed train of thought by abrupt actions or prescribed rules. He honored man with His confidence, and thus placed him on his honor. He introduced old truths in a new and precious light. Thus when only twelve years old, He astonished the doctors of the law by His questions in the temple.
Jesus assumed humanity that He might meet humanity. He brings men under the transforming power of truth by meeting them where they are. He gains access to the heart by securing sympathy and confidence, making all feel that His identification with their nature and interest is complete. The truth came from His lips beautiful in its simplicity, yet clothed with dignity and power. What a teacher was our Lord Jesus Christ! How tenderly did He treat every honest inquirer after truth, that He might gain admission to his sympathies and find a home in his heart.
I must tell you, brethren, that you are far from what the Lord would have you be. The attributes of the enemy of God and man too often find expression in your spirit and attitude toward one another. You hurt one another because you are not partakers of the divine nature. And you work against your own perfection of character, you bring trouble to yourselves, make your work hard and toilsome, because you
regard your own spirit and defects of character as precious virtues to be clung to and fostered.
Jesus points the highest minds, as well as the lowest, to the lily, in the freshness of the dew of the morning, and bids us, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." And He impresses the lesson: "If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"
Men make the work of advancing the truth tenfold harder than it really is by seeking to take God's work out of His hands into their own finite hands. They think that they must be constantly inventing something to make men do things which they suppose these persons ought to do. The time thus spent is all the while making the work more complicated, for the great chief Worker is left out of the question in the care of His own heritage. Men undertake the job of tinkering up the defective character of others, and only succeed in making the defects much worse. They would better leave God to do His own work, for He does not regard them as capable of reshaping character.
What they need is to be imbued with the spirit of Christ. If they take hold of His strength, they will make peace with Him; then they will be in a fair way to make peace with their fellow laborers. The less of the meekness and lowliness of Christ the human agent has in his spirit and character, the more he sees perfection in his own methods and imperfection in the methods of others. Our only safety is to watch
unto prayer, and to counsel together, believing that God will keep our brethren as well as ourselves, for there is no respect of persons with Him. God will work for us when we are faithful students and the doers of His words.
But when there is, on the part of the laborers, so manifest a disregard of Christ's express command that we love one another as He has loved us, how can we expect that brethren will heed the commandments of finite men, and the regulations and definite specifications as to how each shall labor? The wisdom that prescribes for us must be supernatural, else it will prove a physician that cannot heal, but will only destroy. We would better seek God with the whole heart, and lay down self-importance; for "all ye are brethren."
Instead of toiling to prepare set rules and regulations, you might better be praying and submitting your own will and ways to Christ. He is not pleased when you make hard the things He has made easy. He says: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." The Lord Jesus loves His heritage; and if men will not think it their special prerogative to prescribe rules for their fellow laborers, but will bring Christ's rules into their life and copy His lessons, then each will be an example, and not a judge.
Christ's most favorite theme was the paternal character and abundant love of God. The curse of every church today is that men do not adopt Christ's methods. They think they can improve on the rules given in
the gospel, and so are free to define them, hoping thus to reform the churches and the workmen. Let God be our one Master, our one Lord, full of goodness, compassion, and love.
God gives knowledge to His workmen; and He has left on record for us the rich, full promise: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." Is it not best to obtain wisdom individually by going to God, and not to man? What saith the Great Teacher? "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world."
There is among us an evil that needs to be corrected. Brethren feel free to look at, and speak of, the supposed defects of others, when that very liberty reveals a decided defect in themselves. They make it manifest that they are wise in their own conceits; and God cannot give them His special blessing, for they would exalt themselves and hurt the precious cause of truth. When the world was destitute of the knowledge of God, Jesus came to impart this inestimable blessing--a knowledge of the paternal character of our heavenly Father. This was His own gift to our world; and this gift He committed to His disciples, to be communicated by them to the world.
Having learned the simple rules, they [the ministers] should bend their minds to the acquisition of knowledge
in connection with their labor, so that they may be workmen that need not be ashamed. They can master one branch of science after another, while they are engaged in the work of preaching the truth, if they will wisely employ their time. Golden moments are thrown away in unimportant conversation, in indolence, and doing those things which are of little consequence, that ought to be used every day in useful employments that will fit us more nearly to approach the high standard.
The men who now stand before the people as representatives of Christ have generally more ability than they have training, but they do not put their faculties to use, making the most of their time and opportunities. Nearly every minister in the field, had he exerted his God-given energies, might not only be proficient in reading, writing, and grammar, but even in languages. It is essential for them to set their aim high. But there has been but little ambition to put their powers to the test to reach an elevated standard in knowledge and in religious intelligence.
Our ministers will have to render to God an account for the rusting of the talents He has given to improve by exercise. They might have done tenfold more work intelligently had they cared to become intellectual giants. Their whole experience in their high calling is cheapened because they are content to remain where they are. Their efforts to acquire knowledge will not in the least hinder their spiritual growth if they will study with right motives and proper aims.
Workers are needed all over the world. The truth of God is to be carried to foreign lands, that those that are in darkness may be enlightened. Work should
be done that will qualify the students to be laborers together with God.
God requires that a zeal be shown in this direction infinitely greater than has hitherto been manifested. As a people we are in some respects far behind in missionary work. We are not doing one twentieth part of the good we might accomplish in positions of trust, because selfishness prevails to a large extent among us. Some are envious of others, fearing that they will be more highly esteemed than themselves.
Cultivated intellects are now needed in every part of the work of God; for novices cannot do the work acceptably in unfolding the hidden treasure to enrich souls. God has devised that schools shall be an instrumentality for developing workers for Jesus Christ of whom He will not be ashamed, and this object must ever be kept in view. The height man may reach by proper culture has not hitherto been realized. We have among us more than an average of men of ability. If their capabilities were brought into use, we should have twenty ministers where we now have one. Physicians, too, would be educated to battle with disease.
Cities and towns are steeped in sin, yet there are Lots in every Sodom. The poison of sin is at work at the heart of society. God calls for reformers to stand in defense of the laws He has established to govern the physical system, and to maintain an elevated standard in the training of the mind and the culture of the heart.
There is danger of pharisaical exactitude, burdening minds with worldly forms and customs which will, in many cases become all-important, making a world of an atom and an atom of a world. The grace of Christ with its purifying, ennobling influence
will do more for us than all the worldly education upon etiquette that is made so essential. To many the externals are the sum total of religion, and yet it will be evidenced that the heart has not that genuine courtesy which alone is of value with God. If they are spoken to about their faults, they have so little Christian politeness that the sacred position of the minister whom God has sent with His message of warning is lost sight of in their effort to criticize his attitude, his gestures, and the formation of his sentences. They think themselves paragons of wisdom, but they pay no heed to the words of God from the courts of heaven. To all such God says that they will have to become fools in order to know the true wisdom of Christ.
I was shown that our college was designed of God to accomplish the great and good work of saving souls. It is only when brought under the full control of the Spirit of God that the talents of an individual are rendered useful to the fullest extent. The precepts and principles of religion are the first steps in the acquisition of knowledge, and lie at the very foundation of true education. Knowledge and science must be vitalized by the Spirit of God in order to serve the noblest purposes. The Christian alone can make the right use of knowledge. Science, in order to be fully appreciated, must be viewed from a religious standpoint. Then all will worship the God of science. The heart which is ennobled by the grace of God can best comprehend the real value of education. The attributes of God as seen in His created works can be appreciated only as we have a knowledge of the Creator. The teachers must be acquainted, not only with the theory of the truth, but must have an experimental knowledge of the way of holiness in order to lead the youth to the fountains of truth, to the Lamb of God that taketh away
the sins of the world. Knowledge is power only when united with true piety. A soul emptied of self will be noble. Christ abiding in the heart by faith will make us wise in God's sight.
You inquire with respect to the propriety of receiving gifts from Gentiles or the heathen.[* SEE APPENDIX.] The question is not strange; but I would ask you, Who is it that owns our world? Who are the real owners of houses and lands? Is it not God? He has an abundance in our world which He has placed in the hands of men, by which the hungry might be supplied with food, the naked with clothing, the homeless with homes. The Lord would move upon worldly men, even idolaters, to give of their abundance for the support of the work, if we would approach them wisely, and give them an opportunity of doing those things which it is their privilege to do. What they would give we should be privileged to receive.
We should become acquainted with men in high places and, by exercising the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove, we might obtain advantage from them, for God would move upon their minds to do many things in behalf of His people. If proper persons would set before those who have means and influence the needs of the work of God in a proper light, these men might do much to advance the cause of God in our world. We have put
away from us privileges and advantages that we might have had the benefit of, because we chose to stand independent of the world. But we need not sacrifice one principle of truth while taking advantage of every opportunity to advance the cause of God.
The Lord would have His people in the world, but not of the world. They should seek to bring the truth before the men in high places, and give them a fair chance to receive and weigh evidence. There are many who are unenlightened and uninformed, and as individuals we have a serious, solemn, wise work to do. We are to have travail of soul for those who are in high places, and go to them with the gracious invitation to come to the marriage feast. Very much more might have been done than has been done for those in high places. The last message that Christ gave to His disciples before He was parted from them and taken up into heaven was a message to carry the gospel to all the world, and was accompanied by the promise of the Holy Spirit. The Lord said, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
"The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord of hosts." "Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof."
There is a great work to be done in the earth, and the Lord Jesus has taken men into copartnership with
Himself, in order that heavenly agencies may cooperate with human agencies. Christ was in travail of soul for the redemption of the world, and those who are laborers together with God are representatives of Christ to our world and will have compassion for the lost and will travail in soul for the redemption of men. Unless the church awakes and attends to her post of duty, God will charge the loss of souls to her account. I have a deep interest that the work of God shall advance.
Those who are the chosen of God are required to multiply churches wherever they may be successful in bringing souls to the knowledge of the truth. But the people of God are never to collect together into a large community as they have done in Battle Creek. Those who know what it is to have travail of soul will never do this, for they will feel the burden that Christ carried for the salvation of men.
Everyone who is chosen of God should improve his intellectual powers. Jesus came to represent the character of the Father, and He sent His disciples into the world to represent the character of Christ. He has given us His word to point out the way of life, and He has not left us simply to carry that word, but has also promised to give it efficiency by the power of the Holy Spirit. Is there need, then, that any should walk in uncertainty, grieving that they do not know and experience the movings of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts? Are you hungering and thirsting for instruction in righteousness? Then you have the sure promise that you shall be filled. "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."
The Lord would have us in possession of the spirit of heavenly wisdom. Are we all being impressed to pray to the Lord humbly and earnestly as our necessities require, importuning Him for the spirit of wisdom? Do we pray, saying, "Show me the secrets which I know not, teach Thou me"? Oh, for humble, earnest prayer to go forth from unfeigned lips praying for the counsel that is of God! He says, Counsel is Mine, and sound wisdom.
Solemn, serious times are upon us, and perplexities will increase, to the very close of time. There may be a little respite in these matters, but it will not be for long. I have letters to write that must go in the next mail to Battle Creek. Our brethren there are not looking at everything in the right light. The movements they have made to pay taxes[* SEE APPENDIX.] on the property of the sanitarium and Tabernacle have manifested a zeal and conscientiousness that in all respects is not wise nor correct. Their ideas of religious liberty are being woven with suggestions that do not come from the Holy Spirit, and the religious liberty cause is sickening, and its sickness can only be healed by the grace and gentleness of Christ.
The hearts of those who advocate this cause must be filled by the spirit of Jesus. The Great Physician alone can apply the balm of Gilead. Let these men read the book of Nehemiah with humble hearts touched by the Holy Spirit, and their false ideas will be modified,
and correct principles will be seen, and the present order of things will be changed. Nehemiah prayed to God for help, and God heard his prayer. The Lord moved upon heathen kings to come to his help. When his enemies zealously worked against him, the Lord worked through kings to carry out His purpose, and to answer the many prayers that were ascending to Him for the help which they so much needed.
I am often greatly distressed when I see our leading men taking extreme positions, and burdening themselves over matters that should not be taken up or worried over, but left in the hands of God for Him to adjust. We are yet in the world, and God keeps for us a place in connection with the world, and works by His own right hand to prepare the way before us, in order that His work may progress along its various lines. The truth is to have a standing place, and the standard of truth is to be uplifted in many places in regions beyond.
Be sure that God has not laid upon those who remain away from these foreign fields of labor the burden of criticizing the ones on the ground where the work is being done. Those who are not on the ground know nothing about the necessities of the situation, and if they cannot say anything to help those who are on the ground, let them not hinder, but show their wisdom by the eloquence of silence, and attend to the work that is close at hand. I protest against the zeal that they manifest that is not according to knowledge, when they ventilate their ideas about foreign fields of labor.
Let the Lord work with the men who are on the ground, and let those who are not on the ground walk humbly with God, lest they get out of their place, and
lose their bearings. The Lord has not placed the burden of criticizing the work upon those who have taken this burden, and He does not give them the sanction of His Holy Spirit. Many move according to their own human judgment, and zealously seek to adjust things that God has not placed in their hands. Just as long as we are in the world, we shall have to do a special work for the world; the message of warning is to go to all countries, tongues, and peoples.
The Lord does not move upon His workers to make them take a course which will bring on the time of trouble before the time. Let them not build up a wall of separation between themselves and the world, by advancing their own ideas and notions. There is now altogether too much of this throughout our borders. The message of warning has not reached large numbers of the world in the very cities that are right at hand, and to number Israel is not to work after God's order.
Just as long as we are in this world, and the Spirit of God is striving with the world, we are to receive as well as to impart favors. We are to give to the world the light of truth as presented in the Sacred Scriptures, and we are to receive from the world that which God moves upon them to do in behalf of His cause. The Lord still moves upon the hearts of kings and rulers in behalf of His people, and it becomes those who are so deeply interested in the religious liberty question not to cut off any favors, or withdraw themselves from the help that God has moved men to give, for the advancement of His cause.
We find examples in the word of God concerning this very matter. Cyrus, king of Persia, made a
proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it into writing, saying: "Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel." A second commandment was issued by Darius for the building of the house of the Lord, and is recorded in the sixth chapter of Ezra.
The Lord God of Israel has placed His goods in the hands of unbelievers, but they are to be used in favor of doing the works that must be done for a fallen world. The agents through whom these gifts come may open up avenues through which the truth may go. They may have no sympathy with the work, and no faith in Christ, and no practice in His words; but their gifts are not to be refused on that account.
It is very strange that some of our brethren should feel that it is their duty to bring about a condition of things that would bind up the means that God would have set free. God has not laid upon them the responsibility of coming in conflict with the authorities and powers of the world in this matter. The withstraining hand of God has not yet been withdrawn from the earth. Let the leaders in the work bide their time, hide in Christ, and move and work with great wisdom. Let them be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves. I have repeatedly been shown that we might receive far more favors than we do in many ways if we would approach men in wisdom, acquaint them with our work, and give them an opportunity of doing those things which it is our privilege to induce them to do for the advancement of the work of God.
The prevailing monotony of the religious round of service in our churches needs to be disturbed. The leaven of activity needs to be introduced that our church members may work along new lines, and devise new methods. The Holy Spirit's power will move upon hearts when this dead, lifeless monotony is broken up, and many will begin to work in earnest who never before thought of being anything but idle spectators. A working church on earth is connected with the working church above. God works, angels work, and men should work for the conversion of souls. Efforts should be made to do something while the day lasts, and the grace of God will be revealed that souls may be saved to Christ. Everywhere souls are perishing in their sins, and God is saying to every believing soul, Hasten to their help with the message that I shall give you.
The Lord has made men His agents, and with heart filled with the love of Jesus, they are to cooperate with Him in turning men from error to truth. God blesses the earth with sunshine and showers. He causes the earth to bring forth its plenteous treasures for the use of man. The Lord has made man His almoner to dispense His heavenly gifts by bringing souls to the truth. Will my brethren in America inquire how the precious, saving truth reached them when they were in darkness? Men and women brought their tithes and offerings unto God, and as means filled the treasury, men were sent out to advance the work.
This same process must be repeated if souls in darkness
are reached in this day. But I have seen that there are many who are withholding their tithes altogether, and others are withholding a part, and yet the great missionary work increases year by year. We should learn to economize in our household expenditures. No needless expenses should be incurred; because want and wretchedness, poverty and misery of every description press upon our notice, and we are called upon to help those who are needy and distressed. We must see that those who need food and clothing are supplied, that those who are in soul poverty may understand the goodness of salvation.
It is when we are engaged in earnest work, working according to our several abilities, that God manifests Himself to us, and gives us grace for grace. A working church in travail for souls will be a praying church, a believing church, and a receiving church. A church whose members are found upon their knees before God, supplicating His mercy, seeking Him daily, is a church that is feeding upon the bread of life, and drinking of the waters of life. The promise, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you," will be verified to them.
Christlike activity pursued with persevering zeal will bring large returns. There will be an enlarged experience in love, and the human agents will have elevated views as to what God would do through them as they stand at their post of duty. Then will the church arise and shine, realizing that the glory of the Lord has risen upon her, and that darkness is receding.
Missionary success will be proportionate to wholehearted, thoroughly consecrated effort. Every departure from true missionary effort, every failure to cherish
the missionary spirit, has reacted upon the church, and there has been a decline of spirituality. But every earnest effort that has been made in missionary lines has brought spiritual health to the church, and has not only increased the membership of the church, but has increased its holy zeal and gladness.
The commandment-keeping people of God erelong will be placed in a most trying position; but all those who have walked in the light, and diffused the light, will realize that God interposes in their behalf. When everything looks most forbidding, then the Lord will reveal His power to His faithful ones. When the nation for which God has worked in such a marvelous manner, and over which He has spread the shield of Omnipotence, abandons Protestant principles, and through its legislature gives countenance and support to Romanism in limiting religious liberty, then God will work in His own power for His people that are true. The tyranny of Rome will be exercised, but Christ is our refuge.
Many have been altogether too long in a sleepy condition. While some have worked intently, and have manifested unfailing energy, others have stood as spectators, and have been ready to make remarks of a critical character as to methods and results. This they are ready to do, though they have never exercised their minds in originating any plans whereby precious souls might be saved for Christ. They stand ready to find fault with those who do something. When these indolent souls awake and show some signs of returning consciousness, they are disappointed if others do not at once find them pleasant places in the work. It is a great shock to them to find out that work cannot
be done without painstaking, self-denying, self-crucifying efforts. They expect success, and think that they must have the same order of success as did the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. This success they will have when they go through the experience of humble, self-denying sacrifice as did the apostles. When they present as earnest supplications from broken, contrite, believing hearts as did the apostles, then the same proportion of success will attend their labors. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word."
The home missionary spirit is little known among us, and its manifestation is greatly needed in every line of work. A portion of the church has begun to exhibit some activity along missionary lines. But if we do not awake more generally and fully, then those who know not the truth for this time will advance before us and block up our way.
How long will it require to wake up the idlers who have for years loitered in Battle Creek? When will they become faithful witnesses for God? How long will it be before they yoke up with Christ? How much time each day is set apart for the worship of God? How many have seasons for contemplation and for fervent prayer? How many have educated themselves in economical habits, so that they may have gifts and offerings for the Lord's house? How many have had their hearts warmed by the practical exercise
of benevolence? How many have made earnest efforts to inspire others to work for the Master? To work at home successfully will need a spirit, faith, and perseverance that will not fail nor be discouraged. There is not one inactive in heaven, and no one will enter the mansions of bliss who has failed to show love for Christ, who has put forth no efforts for the salvation of others.
Who can tell the work that might have been done in our churches, if those who had advocated the truth had not left these feeble churches, to crowd into Battle Creek? If all our people had been faithful, diligent, God-fearing servants of Christ, and had put forth efforts to make their influence as far-reaching as possible at home, where they were, how many souls might have been saved! One taper kindled in one place might have been the means of kindling many others, and the result would have been that the voice of praise and thanksgiving would have been heard, and many would have said: "What hath God wrought! He hath done exceedingly abundantly above all that we asked or thought."
It is not in the order of God that any man, or any class of men, should assume that God has made them conscience for their brethren, or put forth their finite hand in a patronizing manner to control the Lord's delegated workers, thus endangering the safety of the Lord's heritage as well as their own, and
retarding the work of God. God does not confine Himself to one man, or to a set of men, through whom to accomplish His work, but says of all, Ye "are laborers together with God." This means that every believing soul should have a part to act in His sacred work, and every individual believer in Jesus Christ is to manifest to the world a symbol of Christ's sufficiency, to represent to His church the higher laws of the future immortal world, and in obedience to the mandates of Heaven that are without a parallel, they should reveal a depth of knowledge independent of human inventions.
The Lord must be believed and served as the great "I Am," and we must trust implicitly in Him. Let not men prescribe laws to take the place of God's law. Never educate men to look to men, to trust in men; for man's wisdom is not sufficient to decide as to their right to engage in the Lord's work. When God lays a work upon individuals, men are not to reject His sanction. God must not be impeded in the working out of His plans by man's interference, but this has been done again and again.
If the church on earth is to resemble a temple, let it be built according to the pattern shown in heaven and not according to man's genius. The invention of man often counteracts the working out of God's plans. The golden measuring rod has not been placed in the hands of any finite man or any class of men, whatever their position or calling, but is in the hand of the heavenly Architect. If men will not meddle with God's plan, and will let Him work upon minds and characters, building them up according to His plan, a work will be accomplished that will stand through the severest of trials.