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Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2

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    Chapter 39—Deceitfulness of Riches

    Dear Sister M,

    When the Lord showed me your case, I was pointed back many years in the past, when you became a believer in the near coming of Christ. You looked for, and loved, His appearing.2T 268.2

    Your husband was naturally an affectionate, noble-minded man; but he relied upon his own strength, which was weakness. He did not feel the need of making God his strength. Intoxicating drink benumbed his brain and finally paralyzed the higher powers of his mind. His godlike manhood was sacrificed to gratify his thirst for strong drink.2T 268.3

    You suffered opposition and abuse, yet God was your source of strength. While you trusted in Him, He sustained you. In all your trials you were not permitted to be overwhelmed. How often have the heavenly angels strengthened you when desponding, by presenting vividly to your mind passages of Scripture expressing the never-failing love of God, and giving evidence that His loving-kindness changeth not! Your soul trusted in God. It was your meat and drink to do the will of your heavenly Father. At times you had a firm trust in the promises of God, and then, again, your faith would be tried to the utmost. God's dealings seemed mysterious, yet most of the time you had the evidence that He looked upon your affliction and would not cause your burdens to be greater than you could bear.2T 268.4

    The Master saw that you needed a fitness for His heavenly kingdom. He did not leave you in the furnace for the fire of affliction to consume. As a refiner and purifier of silver, He kept His eye upon you, watching the process of purification until He should discern His image reflected in you. Although you have often felt affliction's flame kindling upon you, and at times have thought it would consume you, yet the loving-kindness of God has been just as great toward you at these times as when you were free in spirit and triumphing in Him. The furnace was to purify and refine, but not to consume and destroy.2T 269.1

    I saw you struggling with poverty, seeking to support yourself and your children. Many times you knew not what to do; the future looked dark and uncertain. In your distress you cried unto the Lord, and He comforted and helped you, and hopeful rays of light shone around you. How precious was God to you at such times! how sweet His comforting love! You felt that you had a precious treasure laid up in heaven. As you viewed the reward of the afflicted children of God, what a consolation to feel that you could claim Him as your Father!2T 269.2

    Your case was, in reality, worse than if you had been widowed. Your heart was agonized by the wicked course pursued by your husband. But his persecutions, his threats and violence, did not lead you to trust in your own wisdom, and forget God. Far from this; you sensibly felt your weakness and that you were incapable of carrying your burdens, and in your conscious weakness you were relieved by bringing your heavy burdens to Jesus, the great Burden Bearer. How you cherished every ray of light from His presence! and how strong you often felt in His strength! When a storm of persecution and cruelty unexpectedly burst upon you, the Lord did not suffer you to be overwhelmed; but in those times of trial you realized strength, calmness, and peace, which were a marvel to you.2T 269.3

    When railing accusations and taunts more cruel than spears and arrows have fallen upon you, the influence of the Spirit of God upon your heart has led you to speak calmly, dispassionately. It was not in nature to do this. It was the fruit of the Spirit of God. It was the grace of God which strengthened your faith amid all the heartsicknesses of hope deferred. Grace fortified you for the warfare and hardships, and brought you through conqueror. Grace taught you to pray, to love and trust, notwithstanding your unfavorable surroundings. As you repeatedly realized that your prayers were answered in a special manner, you did not feel that it was because of any merit in yourself, but because of your great need. Your necessity was God's opportunity. Your life in those days of trial was to trust in God. And the manifestations of His special deliverance when in most trying places were like the oasis in the desert to the faint and weary traveler.2T 270.1

    The Lord did not leave you to perish. He frequently raised up friends to aid you when you least expected it. Angels of God ministered unto you, as step by step they led you up the rugged pathway. You were pressed by poverty, but this was the least of the difficulties with which you had to contend. When N exercised his power to abuse and harm you, you felt that the cup you had to drink was bitter indeed; and when he degraded himself to pursue a course of iniquity, and you were outraged and insulted in your own house, he made a gulf between himself and you which could never be passed. Then in your sore distress and perplexity the Lord raised you up friends. He did not leave you alone; but His strength was imparted, and you could say: “The Lord is my helper.”2T 270.2

    Through all your trials, which have never been fully revealed to others, you have had a never-failing Friend, who has said: “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” While upon the earth, He was ever touched with human woe. Although He is now ascended to His Father, and is adored by angels who quickly obey His commands, His heart, which loved, pitied, and sympathized, knows no change. It remains a heart of unchangeable tenderness still. That same Jesus was acquainted with all your trials, and did not leave you alone to struggle with temptations, battle with evil, and be finally crushed with burdens and sorrow. Through His angels He whispered to you: “‘Fear not, for I am with thee.’ ‘I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.’ I know your sorrows; I have endured them. I am acquainted with your struggles; I have experienced them. I know your temptations; I have encountered them. I have seen your tears; I also have wept. Your earthly hopes are crushed; but let the eye of faith be uplifted and penetrate the veil, and there anchor your hopes. The everlasting assurance shall be yours that you have a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”2T 271.1

    O my dear sister, if you could only see, as I have seen, the ways and works of God manifested all through your perplexities and trials in the former part of your experience, when pressed by the hand of poverty, you could never forget Him, but your love would increase, and your zeal to promote His glory be untiring.2T 271.2

    In consequence of your afflictions and peculiar trials, your health failed. The friends of the cause of God were but few, and many of them were poor; and you could see but little to hope for on the right hand or on the left. You looked upon your children and your destitute, helpless condition, and your heart well-nigh fainted. At this time, through the influence of Adventists who had united with the Shakers, and in whom you had confidence because they had been your friends in time of need, you were induced to go among that sect for a time. But the angels of God did not leave you. They ministered unto you and were as a wall of fire round about you. Especially did the holy angels protect you from the deceptive influences which prevail among that people. The Shakers believed that you would unite your interest with theirs; and they thought that if they could induce you to become one of them, you would be a great help to their cause; for you would make an ardent member of their society. They would have given you a high position among them. Some of the Shakers had received spiritual manifestations, telling them that you were designed of God to be a prominent member of their society; but that you were one who should not be urged; that kindness would have a powerful influence where force or pressure would cause a failure of their hopes.2T 271.3

    Magnetism was exercised among them in a powerful manner. Through this power they flattered themselves that you would be brought to view things in the same light in which they viewed them. You were not aware of all the arts and deception used to bring about their purpose. The Lord preserved you. There seemed to be a circle of light round about you, proceeding from the ministering angels, so that the darkness which prevailed about you did not cloud the circle of light. The Lord opened the way for you to leave that deceived community, and you left unharmed, the principles of your faith as pure as when you went among them.2T 272.1

    Your diseased arm was a great affliction. You had turned to the right and to the left for help. You had consented to have a woman try her boasted skill upon you. This woman was a special agent of Satan. Through her experiments, you nearly lost your life. The poison introduced into your system was sufficient to kill a person of the most robust constitution. Here again God interposed, or your life would have been sacrificed.2T 272.2

    Every means you had resorted to for the recovery of health had failed. Not only your arm, but your entire system, was diseased. Your lungs were affected, and you were fast going down to death. At this time you felt that God alone could deliver. You could do one thing more; you could follow the direction of the apostle in the fifth chapter of James. You there made a covenant with God, that if He would spare your life to minister still to the wants of your children, you would be for the Lord, and Him only would you serve; you would dedicate your life to His glory; you would use your strength to advance His cause and to do good in the earth. Angels recorded the promise there made to God.2T 273.1

    We came to you in your great affliction and claimed the promise of God in your behalf. We dared not look to appearances; for in so doing we should be like Peter, whom the Lord bade come to Him on the water. He should have kept his eye lifted upward to Jesus; but he looked down at the troubled waves, and his faith failed. We calmly and firmly grasped the promises of God alone, irrespective of appearances, and by faith claimed the blessing. I was especially shown that God wrought in a wonderful manner, and you were preserved by a miracle of mercy, to be a living monument of His healing power, to testify of His wondrous works to the children of men.2T 273.2

    At the time you felt such a decided change, your captivity was turned, and joy and gladness in the place of doubt and distress filled your heart. The praise of God was in your heart and upon your lips. “Oh, what hath the Lord wrought!” was the sentiment of your soul. The Lord heard the prayers of His servants, and raised you up to still live and endure trials, to watch and wait for His appearing, and to glorify His name. Poverty and care pressed heavily upon you. As dark clouds at times enshrouded you, you could not forbear inquiring: “O God, hast Thou forsaken me?” But you were not forsaken, although you could see no way open before you. The Lord would have you trust in His love and mercy amid clouds and darkness, as well as in the sunshine. At times the clouds would part, and beams of light would shine through to strengthen your desponding heart and increase your wavering confidence, and you would again fix your trembling faith upon the sure promises of your heavenly Father. You would involuntarily cry out: “O God, I will believe; I will trust in Thee. Thou hast hitherto been my helper, and Thou wilt not leave me now.”2T 273.3

    As victory was gained by you, and light again shone upon you, you could not find language to express your sincere gratitude to your gracious heavenly Father; and you thought you never again would doubt His love nor distrust His care. You did not seek for ease. You did not consider hard labor a burden if the way would only open that you might care for your children and shield them from the iniquity prevailing in this age of the world. It was the burden of your heart that you might see them turning to the Lord. You pleaded before God for your children with strong cries and tears. Their conversion you so much desired. Sometimes your heart would despond and faint, and you would fear that your prayers would not be answered; then again you would consecrate your children to God afresh, and your yearning heart would lay them anew upon the altar.2T 274.1

    When they went into the army, your prayers followed them. They were wonderfully preserved from harm. They called it good luck; but a mother's prayers from an anxious, burdened soul, as she felt the peril of her children and the danger of their being cut off in their youth without hope in God, had much to do with their preservation. How many prayers were lodged in heaven that these sons might be preserved to obey God, to devote their lives to His glory! In your anxiety for your children you pleaded with God to return them to you again, and you would seek more earnestly to lead them in the path of holiness. You thought you would labor more faithfully than you had ever done.2T 275.1

    The Lord suffered you to be schooled in adversity and affliction, that you might obtain an experience which would be valuable to yourself and others. In the days of your poverty and trial you loved the Lord, and you loved religious privileges. The nearness of Christ's coming was your consolation. It was a living hope to you that you would soon find rest from labor, and the end of all your trials; when you would find that you had not labored nor suffered too much; for the apostle Paul declares: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”2T 275.2

    To meet with the people of God seemed to you almost like visiting heaven. Obstacles did not deter you. You could suffer weariness and hunger for temporal food, but you could not be deprived of spiritual food. You earnestly sought for the grace of God, and you did not seek in vain. Communion with the people of God was the richest blessing you could enjoy.2T 275.3

    In your Christian experience your soul abhorred vanity, pride, and extravagant show. When you have witnessed the expenditure of means among professed Christians to make a display and to foster pride, your heart and lips have said: “Oh, if I only had the means handled by those who are unfaithful in their stewardship, I would feel it one of the greatest privileges to help the needy and to aid in the advancement of the cause of God!”2T 275.4

    You often realized the presence of God while you sought in your humble way to enlighten others in regard to the truth for these last days. You had experienced the truth for yourself. That which you had seen, and heard, and experienced, and testified unto, you knew was no fiction. You delighted to present before others, in private conversation, the wonderful way in which God had led His people. You recounted His dealings with such an assurance as to strike conviction to the hearts of those who listened to you. You talked as though you had a knowledge of the things whereof you affirmed. When speaking to others in regard to the present truth, you longed for greater opportunities and a more extended influence, that you might bring to the notice of many in darkness the light which had lightened your pathway. At times you looked at your poverty, your limited influence, and your best endeavors, frequently misinterpreted by the professed friends of the cause of truth, and you were nearly discouraged.2T 276.1

    Sometimes in your unsettled state you erred in judgment, and there were those who should have possessed that charity which thinketh no evil, who watched, and surmised evil, and made the most of the errors they thought they saw in you. But the love and tender pity of Jesus were not withdrawn; they were your support amid the trials and persecutions of your life. The kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of Christ were primary with you. Your life was marred with imperfections, because it is human to err; but from what the Lord has been pleased to show me of your discouraging surroundings in the days of your poverty and trial, I know of no one who would have pursued a course more free from mistakes than you did, were they situated as you were, in poverty and embarrassing trials. It is easy for those who are spared the severe trials to which others are subjected, to look on and question, and surmise evil and find fault. Some are more ready to censure others for pursuing a certain course than to take the responsibility of saying what should be done, or of pointing out a more correct way.2T 276.2

    You became confused. You knew not where to trust. There were but few Sabbathkeepers in ----- and vicinity who exerted a saving influence. Some who professed the faith were no honor to the cause of present truth. They did not gather with Christ, but scattered abroad. They could talk loud and long; yet their hearts were not in the work. They were not sanctified by the truth they professed. These, not having root in themselves, gave up the faith. Had they done this at an earlier period, it would have been better for the cause of truth. In consequence of these things, Satan took advantage of you and prepared the way for your backsliding.2T 277.1

    My attention was called to your desire to possess means. The sentiment of your heart was: “Oh, if I only had means, I would not squander it! I would set an example to those who are close and penurious. I would show them the great blessing there is to be received in doing good.” Your soul abhorred covetousness. As you have seen those who possessed abundance of this world's goods shut their hearts to the cry of the needy you have said: “God will visit them; He will reward them according to their works.” As you have seen the wealthy walking in their pride, their hearts girt about with selfishness, as with iron bands, you have felt that they were poorer than yourself, although you were in want and suffering. When you have seen these purse-proud men bearing themselves loftily because money has power, you have felt pity for them, and in no case would you have been induced to change places with them. Yet you desired means that you might so use it as to be a rebuke to the covetous.2T 277.2

    The Lord said to His angel who had hitherto ministered unto you: “I have proved her in poverty and affliction, and she has not separated herself from Me, nor rebelled against Me. I will now prove her with prosperity. I will reveal to her a page of the human heart with which she is unacquainted. I will show her that money is the most dangerous foe she has ever met. I will reveal to her the deceitfulness of riches; that they are a snare, even to those who feel that they are secure from selfishness, and proof against exaltation, extravagance, pride, and love of the praise of men.”2T 278.1

    I was then shown that a way was opened for you to improve your condition in life and at length to obtain the means which you had thought you would use with wisdom and to the glory of God. How anxiously did your ministering angel watch the new trial to see how you would stand the test. As means came into your hands, I saw you gradually and almost imperceptibly separating from God. The means entrusted to you were expended for your own convenience, to surround yourself with the good things of this life. I saw the angels looking upon you with yearning sadness, their faces half averted, loath to leave you. Yet their presence was not perceived by you, and your course was pursued without reference to your angel guard.2T 278.2

    The business and cares of your new position claimed your time and attention, and your duty to God was not considered. Jesus had purchased you by His own blood. You were not your own. Your time, your strength, and the means you handled all belonged to your Redeemer. He had been your constant Friend, your strength and support when every other friend had proved a broken reed. You have repaid the love and bounty of God with ingratitude and forgetfulness.2T 278.3

    Your only safety was in implicit trust in Christ, your Saviour. There was no safety for you away from the cross. How weak human strength seemed in this instance! Oh, how evident that there is no real strength but that which God imparts to those who trust in Him! One petition offered up to God in faith has more power than a wealth of human intellect.2T 279.1

    In your prosperity you did not carry out the resolves you had made in adversity. The deceitfulness of riches turned you from your purposes. Cares increased upon you. Your influence became extended. As the afflicted realized relief from suffering, they glorified you, and you learned to love praise from the lips of poor mortals. You were in a popular city, and thought it necessary for the success of your business, as well as to retain your influence, for your surroundings to be somewhat in accordance with your business. But you carried things too far. You were swayed too much by the opinions and judgment of others. You expended means needlessly, only to gratify the lust of the eye and the pride of life. You forgot that you were handling your Lord's money. When means were expended by you which would only encourage vanity, you did not consider that the recording angel was making a record which you would blush to meet again. Said the angel, pointing to you: “You glorified yourself, but did not magnify God.” You even gloried in the fact that it was in your power to purchase these things.2T 279.2

    A large sum has been expended in needless things which could only answer for show and encourage vanity and pride that will cause you remorse and shame. If you had borne in mind the claims Heaven has upon you and had made a right disposition of the means entrusted to your care, by helping the needy and advancing the cause of present truth, you would have been laying up treasure in heaven and would have been rich toward God. Consider how much means you have invested where no one has been really benefited, no one fed or clothed, and no one helped to see the error of his ways that he might turn to Christ and live.2T 279.3

    You have made large investments in uncertain enterprises. Satan blinded your eyes so that you could not see that these enterprises would yield you no returns. The enterprise of securing eternal life did not awaken your interest. Here you could have expended means, and run no risks, met no disappointments, and in the end would have received immense profits. Here you could have invested in the never-failing bank of heaven. Here you could have bestowed your treasures where no thief approacheth nor rust corrupteth. This enterprise is eternal and is as much nobler than any earthly enterprise as the heavens are higher than the earth.2T 280.1

    Your children were not disciples of Christ. They were in friendship with the world, and their natural hearts desired to be like worldlings. The lust of the eye and the pride of life controlled them and have influenced you to a certain extent. You have sought more earnestly to please and gratify your children than to please and glorify God. You have forgotten the claims of God upon you, and the wants of His cause. Selfishness has led you to expend money in ornaments for the gratification of yourself and your children. You did not think that this money was not yours; that it was only lent you to test and prove you, to see if you would shun the evils you had marked in others. God made you His steward, and when He cometh and reckoneth with His servants, what account can you give of your stewardship?2T 280.2

    Your faith and simple trust in God began to wane as soon as means flowed in upon you. You did not depart from God all at once. Your backsliding was gradual. You ceased the morning and evening devotions because it was not always convenient. Your son's wife caused you trials of a peculiar, aggravating character, which had considerable to do in discouraging you from continuing family devotions. Your house became a prayerless house. Your business was made primary, and the Lord and His truth were made secondary. Look back to the days of your earlier experience; would these trials then have driven you from family prayer?2T 280.3

    Here, in the neglect of vocal prayer, you lost an influence in your house which you could have retained. It was your duty to acknowledge God in your family, irrespective of consequences. Your petitions should have been offered to God morning and evening. You should have been as priest of the household, confessing your sins and the sins of your children. Had you been faithful, God, who had been your guide, would not have left you to your own wisdom.2T 281.1

    Means were expended needlessly for show. Over this sin in others you had felt deeply grieved. And while thus using means, you were robbing God. Then the Lord said: “I will scatter. I will permit her for a time to walk in the way of her own choosing. I will blind judgment, and remove wisdom. I will show her that her strength is weakness, and her wisdom foolishness. I will humble her, and open her eyes to see how far she has departed from Me. If she will not then turn unto Me with her whole heart, and in all her ways acknowledge Me, My hand shall scatter, and the pride of the mother and of the children shall be brought down, and poverty shall again be their lot. My name shall be exalted. The loftiness of man shall be brought down, and the pride of man shall be laid low.”2T 281.2

    The above view was given December 25, 1865, in the city of Rochester, New York. Last June I was shown that the Lord was dealing with you in love, that He now invited you to turn to Him that you might live. I was shown that for years you have felt that you were in a backslidden state. If you had been consecrated to God you might have done a good and great work in letting your light shine to others. To everyone there is given a work to do for the Master. To each of His servants are committed special gifts, or talents. “Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability.” Every servant has some trust for which he is responsible; and the varied trusts are proportioned to our varied capabilities. In dispensing His gifts, God has not dealt with partiality. He has distributed the talents according to the known powers of His servants, and He expects corresponding returns.2T 281.3

    In your earlier experience the Lord imparted to you talents of influence, but did not give you talents of means, and therefore did not expect you in your poverty to bestow that which you had not to give. Like the widow, you did give what you could, although, had you considered your own circumstances, you would have felt excused from doing even as much as you did. In your sickness, God did not require from you that active energy of which disease had deprived you. Though you were restricted in your influence and in your means, yet God accepted your efforts to do good and to advance His cause according to what you had, not according to what you had not. The Lord does not despise the humblest offering bestowed with readiness and sincerity.2T 282.1

    You possess an ardent temperament. Earnestness in a good cause is praiseworthy. In your former trials and perplexity, you were obtaining an experience which was to be of advantage to others. You were zealous in the service of God. You loved to present the evidences of our position to those who did not believe present truth. You could speak with assurance, for these things were a reality to you. The truth was a part of your being; and those who listened to your earnest appeals had not a doubt of your honesty, but were convinced that these things were so.2T 282.2

    In the providence of God your influence has been extended; in addition to this, God has seen fit to prove you by giving you talents of means. You are thereby laid under double responsibility. When your condition in life began to improve, you said: “As soon as I can get me a home, I will then donate to the cause of God.” But when you had a home you saw so many improvements to make to have everything about you convenient and pleasant that you forgot the Lord and His claims upon you, and were less inclined to help the cause of God than in the days of your poverty and affliction.2T 283.1

    You were seeking friendship with the world, and separating further and further from God. You forgot the exhortation of Christ: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”2T 283.2

    There are three watchwords in the Christian life, which must be heeded if we would not have Satan steal a march upon us; namely, Watch, pray, work. Prayer and watching thereunto are necessary for advancement in the divine life. Never was there a time in your history more important than the present. Your only safety is to live like a watchman. Watch and pray always. Oh, what a preventive against yielding to temptation and falling into the snares of the world! How earnestly should you have been at work the past few years, when your influence was extensive.2T 283.3

    Dear sister, the praise of men and the flattery current in the world have had greater influence upon you than you have been aware of. You have not been improving your talents—putting them out to the exchangers. You are naturally affectionate and generous. These traits of character have been exercised to a degree, but not as much as God requires. Merely possessing these excellent gifts is not enough; God requires them to be kept in constant exercise; for through them He blesses those who need to be helped, and carries forward His work for the salvation of man.2T 283.4

    The Lord will not depend upon niggardly souls to take care of the worthy poor nor to sustain His cause. Such are too narrow-minded; they would grudge the smallest pittance to the needy in their distress. They would also want the cause narrowed down to meet their limited ideas. To save means would be the prominent idea with them. Their money would be more valuable to them than precious souls for whom Christ died. The lives of such, so far as God and heaven are concerned, are worse than a blank. God will not trust His important work with them.2T 284.1

    “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” What had Meroz done? Nothing. This was their sin. The curse of God came upon them for what they had not done. The man with a selfish, narrow mind is responsible for his niggardliness, but those who have kindly affections, generous impulses, and a love for souls are laid under weighty responsibilities; for if they allow these talents to remain unemployed and to waste they are classed with unfaithful servants. The mere possession of these gifts is not enough. Those who have them should realize that their obligations and responsibilities are increased.2T 284.2

    The Master will require each of His stewards to give an account of his stewardship, to show what he has gained with the talents entrusted to him. Those to whom rewards are given will impute no merit to themselves for their diligent trading; they will give all the glory to God. They speak of that which was delivered to them, as “Thy pound,” not their own. When they speak of their gain, they are careful to state whence it came. The capital was advanced by the Master. They have traded upon it successfully, and return the principal and interest to the Giver. He rewards their efforts as if the merit belonged to them, when they owe all to the grace and mercy of the bountiful Giver. His words of unqualified approval fall upon their ears: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”2T 284.3

    To you, my sister, are committed talents of influence and talents of money; and your responsibility is great. You should move cautiously and in the fear of God. Your wisdom is weakness, but the wisdom from above is strong. The Lord designs to enlighten your darkness and again give you a glimpse of the heavenly treasure, that you may have some sense of the comparative value of both worlds, and then leave you to choose between this world and the eternal inheritance. I saw that there was yet opportunity to return to the fold. Jesus has redeemed you by His own blood, and He requires you to employ your talents in His service. You have not become hardened to the influence of the Holy Spirit. When the truth of God is presented, it meets a response in your heart.2T 285.1

    I saw that you should study every move. You should do nothing rashly. Let God be your counselor. He loves your children, and it is right that you should love them; but it is not right to give them the place in your affections that the Lord claims. They have kind impulses and generous purposes. They possess noble traits of character. If they would only see their need of a Saviour, and bow at the foot of the cross, they might exert an influence for good. They are now lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. They now stand in the enemy's ranks, under the black banner of Satan. Jesus invites them to come to Him, to leave the ranks of the enemy, and to stand under the bloodstained banner of the cross of Christ.2T 285.2

    This will look to them like a work they cannot perform, for it will require too much self-denial. They have no experimental knowledge of the way. Those who have engaged in their country's warfare, and been subjected to the hardships, toils, and perils of a soldier's life, should be the last to hesitate and manifest cowardice in this great warfare for everlasting life. In this case they will be fighting for a crown of life and an immortal inheritance. Their wages will be sure, and when the war is over their gain will be everlasting life, happiness unalloyed, and an eternal weight of glory.2T 286.1

    Satan will oppose every effort they may make. He will present the world before them in its most attractive light, as he did to the Saviour of the world when he tempted Him forty days in the wilderness. Christ overcame all the temptations of Satan, and so may your children. They are serving a hard master. The wages of sin is death. They cannot afford to sin. They will find it expensive business. They will meet with eternal loss in the end. They will lose the mansions Jesus has gone to prepare for those who love Him, and will lose that life which measures with the life of God. And this is not all. They must suffer the wrath of an offended God for having withheld from Him their service and given all their efforts to His worst enemy. Your children have not yet had the clear light, and condemnation only follows the rejection of light.2T 286.2

    If professed Christians were all sincere and earnest in their efforts to promote the glory of God, what a stir would be made in the enemy's ranks. Satan is earnest and sincere in his work. He does not want souls saved. He does not want his power upon them broken. Satan does not merely pretend. He is in earnest. He beholds Christ inviting souls to come to Him that they may have life, and he is earnest and zealous in his efforts to prevent them from accepting the invitation. He will leave no means untried to prevent them from leaving his ranks and standing in the ranks of Christ. Why cannot the professed followers of Jesus do as much for Him as His enemies do against Him? Why not do all they can? Satan does all he can to keep souls from Christ. He was once an honored angel in heaven, and although he has lost his holiness, he has not lost his power. He exerts his power with terrible effect. He does not wait for his prey to come to him. He hunts for it. He goes to and fro in the earth like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He does not always wear the ferocious look of the lion, but when he can work to better effect he transforms himself into an angel of light. He can readily exchange the roar of the lion for the most persuasive arguments or for the softest whisper. He has legions of angels to aid him in his work. He often conceals his snares, and allures by pleasing deception. He charms and deludes many by flattering their vanity. Through his agents he presents the pleasures of the world in an attractive light, and strews the path to hell with tempting flowers, and thus souls are charmed and ruined. After every advance step in the downward road, Satan has some special temptation to lead them still further on the wrong track.2T 286.3

    If your children were controlled by religious principles, they would be fortified against the vice and corruption surrounding them in this degenerate age. God will be to them a tower of strength, if they will put their trust in Him. “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” The Lord will be the guide of their youth if they will believe and trust in Him.2T 287.1

    My dear sister, the Lord has been very merciful to you and your family. You are laid under obligation to your heavenly Father to praise and glorify His holy name upon the earth. In order to continue in His love, you should labor constantly for humbleness of mind and that meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price. Your strength in God will increase while you consecrate all to Him; so that you can say with confidence: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”2T 288.1


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