There is a great work to be done in the Master's vineyard, and God calls for men to do his work to whom he has given ability for that work. Those who are successful in the work of God should not become proud and selfish and lift up themselves with boasting. They should constantly remember that they have nothing but that which God has given them in trust. The Lord has furnished that by which men may become successful preachers and teachers to labor for the good of their fellow-men. It is true that men must put forth efforts so as to use their capabilities in the very best manner. Through cultivation the value of God's gifts bestowed upon men for improvement will be made manifest. God requires that men should put forth taxing effort in the line of study, and in this work divine power will surely combine with human effort. The Lord can do nothing without man's cooperation, and it is thus that man works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in him to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The cause of God needs efficient men; it needs men who are trained and educated to do valuable service as schoolteachers, and as preachers in word and doctrine. There are men who have labored with a measure of success who have had little training in either school or college; but they have put hard study into their work. They would have attained a far greater measure of success, and have been more efficient laborers, if at the very start they had acquired mental discipline. But by diligently applying themselves, and putting to use the knowledge they had already attained, by studying and by practicing, they made a success of their work.
Faithful shepherds of the flock will not be ashamed of the banner of truth, however unpopular it may be. They will not hold their peace from proclaiming the truth in all places. Whether in season or out of season, they will herald the glad tidings of salvation, they will be missionaries for God, facing danger, enduring privation, and suffering reproach for the truth's sake. The third angel is represented as flying swiftly through the midst of heaven, proclaiming his message with a loud voice. This representation symbolizes the work of God's witnesses near the end of time. With no shame upon their countenances, with no hanging down of their heads as a bulrush, but with uplifted heads, with the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness shining upon them, with rejoicing that their redemption draweth nigh, they go forth as bold soldiers of Jesus Christ. They make it manifest that they have tasted of the powers of the world to come, that their feet are not upon the sliding sand but upon the solid rock, and that they are not to be easily moved away from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. They will be strengthened by their Leader to cope with difficulties, and will be messengers of righteousness, representing the character of the great Example, and revealing the triumphs of his grace.
The Lord has endowed men and women with capabilities and talents that are to be improved by exercise, not for the glory of self, but for the glory of the divine Giver. From those who believe the truth the rays of truth must shine forth. The truth must be heard from their lips, reflected from their countenances, and demonstrated in their characters. The grace of Christ ever has a refining, elevating, ennobling influence on the character. There are men and women of refinement and education who will throw the whole weight of their influence on the Lord's side, will ignore worldly interests, part with friends, and become missionaries for God, going forth to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. Their unconquerable fidelity will be registered as approved of God in the books of heaven. They will make it manifest to the world that there is power in Christianity to exalt the character in righteousness and true holiness. The Gospel will be seen to be the power of God unto salvation.
Those who are reckless in regard to obeying the law of God in this world, can never be intrusted with the judgment of the world hereafter. Those who have not especial respect and reverence for a "Thus saith the Lord" in this world, will not have a place among the saints who are to judge the world. Transgressors of the law of God would not feel at home in society that is pure and holy, for they would not cheerfully submit to the law of Jehovah which is to govern all the universe. How then could they judge the unlawful? Not being in harmony with the law of God in this life, they would be unfitted to have a place among those who hearken unto his commandments and cheerfully obey his statutes. This world is the training school for the future kingdom to which we are bound. It is not enough to have an intellectual religion, for this will not sanctify the soul. A mechanical, ceremonial religion is a share, and cannot take the place of genuine heart work. Theological training must not be neglected, but experimental religion must accompany it.
The work of teachers in our schools is not to be of the same order as the work done in the colleges and seminaries of the world. The great, grand work of education is not to be of an inferior order in scientific branches, but at the same time knowledge must be imparted which will fit up a people to stand in the great day of God's preparation. Those who teach in our schools must have a deep religious experience. They must be closely connected with God, so that they may be able to bring divine wisdom and knowledge into their work of educating the youth for the future, immortal life. Students must be trained to place their will on the side of God's will, in order that they may be able to sing the new song and blend with the harmonies of heaven. They are to be, as were Joseph and Daniel, moral heroes, living noble, devoted lives of self-denial and self-sacrifice. They are not to seek worldly recognition and worldly fame as the end of their efforts. Their plans, their ideas, must be in harmony with the law of God; the object for which they must strive is the blessing of humanity and the salvation of the lost.
From age to age the heroes of faith have been marked by their fidelity to God. They have been brought conspicuously before the world, in order that their light might shine forth to those who are in darkness. The devotion and godliness that characterize the light bearers will result in glorifying God.
The world is full of men, women, and youth who are eager for distinction. Their highest aim is to obtain a knowledge of science; but they feel no sense of obligation to God for their intrusted talents. They do not realize that their influence should be exerted to bring men closer to Jesus, to help men to view the life and character of Christ, and to behold the matchless mercy, purity, humility, and loveliness of the world's Redeemer. Seeking the highest place for themselves, they do not understand that they might become agents by which to bring men in contact with the divine life, to inspire them to unselfish labor in imparting the light of truth to those who are in darkness. God has qualified some men with more than ordinary ability. They are deep thinkers, they are energetic and thorough in their pursuits, but they are working wholly for selfish ends, and are leaving God's honor and glory out of the question. Some of these have been blessed with the light of truth, and yet they are rapidly drifting away from faith, trust, and confidence in God, and do not recognize his blessings; and, unless arrested in their mad course, they will be found in the dark, restless, turbulent waters of skepticism and infidelity. This will be the result of honoring themselves and of not making God first and best in everything. Some of these will be suddenly arrested by the chastisements of God, and they will be led through a series of affliction until they shall inquire for the old paths, zealously repent, and return to their first love. Through sorrow they may be led to place their feet in the way that is cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. They will no longer seek for a place where money and selfish interests are the only objects to be attained. All worldly success without God is dry and barren waste. They will value the working of the Spirit of God upon the heart more highly than they value gold and the praise of mortals. Their minds will become free from the influence of selfishness and skepticism, for there will be an amazing change in heart and character, in thought and feeling. The aspirations will be stirred toward that which is divine, and the effort of the life be to practice that which is holy.
True religion has power to enable man to overcome stubbornness, pride, selfishness, worldly ambition, questioning, and unbelief. There is grace and strength in Christ to enable us to rise superior to the alluring, infatuating temptations of Satan, and to lead us to the cross of Calvary, to become active, devoted, loyal workers for the cause of truth. What is redemption?- It is that process by which the soul is trained for heaven, and it requires something higher, something more divine, than a mere knowledge of books. This training means a knowledge of Christ. It means emancipation from ideas, from habits and practices that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness. The soul must be delivered from the feelings and practices which are opposed to loyalty to God. We are here to learn submission to the divine will, or we shall not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those who are corrupt in their sympathies, who have never had the divine touch, never can sing the song of the redeemed. They would be unhappy in heaven; they would feel that they were inharmonious elements. Their dark souls and untrained powers would utterly disqualify them to join the heavenly host in ascribing praise unto God and to the Lamb.