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    Young Ministers.

    I was shown that Iowa will be left far behind other States in the standard of pure godliness, if young men are permitted to have influence in her Conference while it is evident that they are not connected with God. I feel it to be a most solemn duty resting upon me to say that Iowa would be in a better condition today if Brn. K—— and W—— had remained silent. Not having experimental godliness themselves, how can they lead the people to that fountain with which they themselves are unacquainted?T29 75.1

    A prevailing skepticism is continually increasing in reference to the testimonies of the Spirit of God; and these youth encourage questionings and doubts instead of removing them, because they are ignorant of the spirit, and power, and force of the testimonies. While thus unsanctified in heart, their labor can do the people no good. They may apparently convince souls that we have the truth; but where is the Spirit and power of God to impress the heart and awaken conviction of sin? Where is the power to carry the convicted forward to an experimental knowledge of vital godliness? They have not a knowledge of this themselves; then how can they represent the religion of Jesus Christ? If young men would enter the field, in nowise discourage them; but first let them learn the trade.T29 75.2

    Bro. W—— might have united his efforts with the physicians at the Sanitarium, but he could not harmonize with them. He was too self-sufficient to be a learner. He was puffed up and egotistical. He had just as good a prospect as other young men; but while they were willing to receive instruction, and to occupy any position where they could be of the greatest service, he would not adapt himself to the situation. He thought he knew too much to occupy a secondary position. He did not commend himself to the patients. He was so overbearing and dictatorial that his influence could not be tolerated in the Sanitarium. He was not lacking in ability, and had he been willing to be taught, he might have gained a practical knowledge of the work of a physician; had he preserved his spirit in the meekness of humility, he might have made a success. But natural defects of character have not been seen and overcome. There has been a disposition on his part to deceive, to prevaricate. This will destroy the usefulness of any one's life, and would certainly close to him the doors of the ministry. The strictest veracity should be cultivated, and all deception shunned as one would shun the leprosy. He has felt embarrassed because of his diminutive stature. This cannot be remedied; but it is within his power to remedy his defective character, if he will. Mind and character may, with care, be molded after the divine Pattern.T29 76.1

    It is not an affecting of superiority that makes the man, but the true elevation of the mind. The proper cultivation of the mental powers makes man all that he is. These ennobling faculties are given to aid in forming character for the future, immortal life. Man was created for a higher, holier state of enjoyment than this world can afford. He was made in the image of God for high and noble purposes, such as engage the attention of angels.T29 76.2

    The youth of today do not generally think deeply or act wisely. Were they aware of the dangers besetting their every step, they would move cautiously, and escape many snares that Satan has prepared for their feet. Be careful, my brother, not to appear what you are not. Gilded imitation will be readily distinguished from the pure metal. Examine yourself with the greatest care, and the position which each one of your family occupies. Trace the history of each, and meditate as to the result of the course pursued. Consider why it is that some persons are loved and respected by the truly good, while others are despised and shunned. Look upon these things in the light of eternity, and wherein you discover that others have failed, carefully avoid the course they pursued. It will be well to remember that tendencies of character are transmitted from parents to children. Meditate seriously upon these things, and then in the fear of God gird on the armor for a life conflict with hereditary tendencies, imitating none but the divine Pattern. You must work with perseverance, constancy, and zeal, if you would succeed. You will have yourself to conquer, which will be the hardest battle of all. Determined opposition to your own ways and your wrong habits will secure for you precious and everlasting victories. But while your strong traits of character are cherished, while you wish to lead instead of being willing to follow, you will make no success. Your feelings are quick, and unless you are guarded, you indulge in temper. Upon the young must rest responsibilities and the discharge of important duties. Are you qualifying yourself to do your part in the fear of God?T29 77.1

    Bro. K—— is not fitted for his work. He has nearly everything to learn. His character is defective. He was not educated from childhood to be a care-taker, a laborer, a burden bearer. He has not seen and felt the work to be done for himself, and hence is not prepared to appreciate the work to be done for others. He is self-sufficient. He assumes to know more than he really does. When he becomes thoroughly consecrated by the Spirit of God, and fully realizes the solemnity and responsibility of the work of a minister of Jesus Christ, he will feel himself entirely insufficient for the task. He is deficient in many respects; and his deficiencies will be reproduced in others, giving to the world an unfavorable impression of the character of our work, and of the ministers who are engaged in it. He must become acquainted with the burdens and duties of practical life before he can be fitted to engage in the most responsible work ever given to mortal man. All young ministers need to be learners before they become teachers. While I would encourage young men to enter the ministry, I would say that I am authorized of God to recommend and urge upon them a fitness for the work in which they are to engage.T29 78.1

    The Brn. K—— are not inclined to be care-takers, burden-bearers. Carelessness and imperfection are seen in all they undertake. They are reckless in their conversation and deportment. The solemn, elevating, ennobling influence which should characterize every minister of the gospel cannot be exerted in their lives until they have been transformed and molded after the divine image. Selfishness exists more or less in each of them, though in a much larger degree in some than in others. There is a spirit of self-sufficiency and self-importance in these young men that unfits them for the work of God. They need to severely discipline themselves before they can be accepted of God as laborers in his cause. There is a natural laziness that must be overcome. They should have a faithful drilling in the temporal affairs of life. They must be learners; and when they show a marked success in the lesser responsibilities, then they will be fitted to be intrusted with greater ones. The different Conferences are better off without such inefficient workers. The burden of souls can no more rest upon men in their state of unconsecration than upon babies. They are ignorant of vital godliness, and need a most thorough conversion before they can be even Christians.T29 79.1

    Bro. V—— K—— needs a thorough drill in our College. His language is defective. There is a coarseness and want of refinement in his deportment; yet, notwithstanding this, he is self-sufficient, and entirely deceived in regard to his ability. He has had no real faith in the testimonies of the Spirit of God. He has not carefully studied them, and practiced the truths brought out. While he has so little spirituality, he will not understand the value of the testimonies, nor their real object. These young men read the Bible, but they have very little experience in prayerful, earnest, humble searching of the Scriptures, that they may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works.T29 79.2

    There is great danger of encouraging a class of men to enter the field who have no genuine burden for souls. They may be able to interest the people, and engage in controversy, while they are by no means men of thought, who will improve their ability and enlarge their capacities. We have a dwarfed and defective ministry. Unless Christ shall abide in the men who preach the truth, they will lower the moral and religious standard wherever they are tolerated. One example is given them, even Christ. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” In the Bible we have the unerring counsel of God. Its teachings practically carried out will fit men for any position of duty. It is the voice of God speaking every day to the soul. How carefully should the young study the word of God, and treasure up its sentiments in the heart, that its precepts may be made to govern the whole conduct. Our young ministers, and those who have been some time preaching, show a marked deficiency in their understanding of the Scriptures. The work of the Holy Spirit is to enlighten the darkened understanding, to melt the selfish, stony heart, to subdue the rebellious transgressor, and save him from the corrupting influences of the world. The prayer of Christ for his disciples was, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, pierces the heart of the sinner, and cuts it in pieces. When the theory of the truth is repeated without its sacred influence being felt upon the soul of the speaker, it has no force upon the hearers, but is rejected as error, the speaker making himself responsible for the loss of souls. We must be sure that our ministers are converted men, humble, meek, and lowly of heart.T29 80.1

    There must be a decided change in the ministry. A more critical examination is necessary in respect to the qualifications of a minister. Moses was directed of God to obtain an experience in care-taking, in thoughtfulness, in tender solicitude for his flock, that he might as a faithful shepherd be ready when God should call him to take charge of his people. A similar experience is essential for those who engage in the great work of preaching the truth. In order to lead souls to the life-giving fountain, the preacher must first drink at the fountain himself. He must see the infinite sacrifice of the Son of God to save fallen men, and his own soul must be imbued with the spirit of undying love. If God appoints us hard labor to perform, we must do it without a murmur. If the path be difficult and dangerous, it is God's plan to have us follow in meekness, and cry unto him for strength. A lesson is to be learned from the experience of some of our ministers who have known nothing comparatively of difficulties, of trials, yet ever look upon themselves as martyrs. They have yet to learn to accept the way of God's choosing, with thankfulness, remembering the Author of our salvation. The work of the minister should be pursued with an earnestness, energy, and zeal, as much greater than that put forth in business transactions as the labor is more sacred and the result more momentous. Each day's work should tell in the eternal records as “well done;” so that if no other day should be granted in which to labor, the work will be thoroughly finished. Our ministers, young men especially, should realize the work of preparation necessary to fit them for their solemn work, and to prepare them for the society of pure angels. In Order to be at home in Heaven, we must have Heaven enshrined in our hearts here. If this is not the case with us, it were better that we had no part in the work of God.T29 81.1

    The ministry is corrupted by unsanctified ministers. Unless there shall be altogether a higher and more spiritual standard for the ministry, the truth of the gospel will become more and more powerless. The human mind is represented by the rich soil of a garden. Unless it shall receive proper cultivation, it will be overgrown with the weeds and briers of ignorance. The mind and heart need culture daily; and neglect will be productive of evil. The more natural abilities God has bestowed upon an individual the greater improvement he is required to make, and the greater his responsibility to use his time and talents for the glory of God. The mind must not remain dormant. If it is not exercised in the acquisition of knowledge, there will be a sinking into ignorance, superstition, and fancy. If the intellectual faculties are not cultivated as they should be to glorify God, they will become strong and powerful aids in leading to perdition.T29 82.1

    While young men should guard against being pompous and independent, they should be continually making marked improvement. They should accept every opportunity to cultivate the more noble, generous traits of character. If young men would feel their dependence upon God every moment, and cherish a spirit of prayer, a breathing out of the soul to God at all times and in all places, they might better know the will of God. But I have been shown that Brn. K—— and W—— are almost wholly unacquainted with the operations of God's Spirit. They have been working in their own strength, and have been so fully wrapped up in themselves that they have not seen and sensed their great destitution. They will talk flippantly of the testimonies given of God for the benefit of his people, and will pass judgment upon them, giving their opinions and criticising this and that, when they would better place their hands upon their lips, and lie with their faces in the dust; for they know no more of the spirit of the testimonies than they do of the Spirit of God. They are novices in the truth, and dwarfs in religious experience. The greatest victories which are gained to this cause are not labored argument, ample facilities, abundance of influence, and plenty of means; but they are those victories which are gained in the audience chamber with God, when earnest, agonizing faith lays hold upon the mighty arm of power. When Jacob found himself utterly prostrate and in a helpless condition, he poured out his soul in an agony of earnestness to God. The angel of God pleads to be released; but Jacob will not let go his hold. The stricken man, suffering with bodily pain, presents his earnest supplication with the boldness which living faith imparts. He answers, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.”T29 83.1

    There are deep mysteries in the word of God, which will never be discovered by minds that are unaided by the Spirit of God. There are also unsearchable mysteries in the plan of redemption, which finite minds can never comprehend. Inexperienced youth might better tax their minds and exercise their ability to gain an understanding of matters that are revealed; for unless they possess more spiritual enlightenment than they now have, it would take a life-time to learn the revealed will of God. When they have cherished the light they already have, and made a practical use of it, they will be able to take a step forward. God's providence is a continual school, in which he is ever leading men to see the true aims of life. None are too young, and none too old, to learn in this school, by paying diligent heed to the lessons taught by the divine Teacher. He is the true Shepherd, and he calls his sheep by name. By the wanderers his voice is heard, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”T29 84.1

    Young men who have never made a success in the temporal duties of life will be equally unprepared to engage in the higher duties. A religious experience is attained only through conflict, through disappointment, through severe discipline of self, through earnest prayer. Living faith must grasp the promises unflinchingly, and then many may come from close communion with God with shining faces, saying, as did Jacob, “I have seen the Lord face to face, and my life is preserved.”T29 85.1

    The steps upward to Heaven must be taken one at a time; every advance step strengthens us for the next. The transforming power of the grace of God upon the human heart is a work which but few comprehend, because they are too indolent to make the necessary effort. The lessons which young ministers learn in going about and being waited upon, when they have not a fitness for the work, have a demoralizing influence upon them. They do not know their place and keep it. They are not balanced with firm principles. They talk knowingly of things they know nothing of, and hence those who accept them as teachers are misled. One such person will inspire more skepticism in minds than several will be able to counteract, do the best they can. Men of small minds delight to quibble, to criticise, to seek for something to question, thinking this a mark of sharpness; but instead it shows a mind lacking refinement and elevation. How much better to be engaged in seeking to cultivate themselves, and to ennoble and elevate their minds. As a flower turns to the sun that the bright rays may aid in perfecting its beauty and symmetry, so should the youth turn to the Sun of Righteousness, that Heaven's light may shine upon them, perfecting their characters and giving them a deep and abiding experience in the things of God. Then they may reflect the divine rays of light upon others. Those who choose to gather doubts, and unbelief, and skepticism, will experience no growth in grace or spirituality, and are unfitted for the solemn responsibility of bearing the truth to others.T29 85.2

    The world is to be warned of its coming doom. The slumbers of those who are lying in sin and error are so deep, so death-like, that the voice of God through a wide-awake ministry is needed to awaken them. Unless the ministers are converted, the people will not be. The cold formalism that is now prevailing among us must give place to the living energy of experimental godliness. There is no fault with the theory of the truth; it is perfectly clear and harmonious. But young ministers may speak the truth fluently, and yet have no real sense of the words they utter. They do not appreciate the value of the truth they present, and little realize what it has cost those, who, with prayers and tears, through trial and opposition, sought for it as for hid treasures. Every new link in the chain of truth was to them as precious as tried gold. These links are now united in a perfect whole. Truths have been dug out of the rubbish of superstition and error, by earnest prayer for light and knowledge, and have been presented to the people as precious pearls of priceless value.T29 86.1

    The gospel is a revelation to man of beams of light and hope from the eternal world. All the light does not burst upon us at once, but as we can bear it. Inquiring minds that hunger for the knowledge of God's will are never satisfied; the deeper they search, the more they sense their ignorance, and deplore their blindness. It is beyond the power of man to conceive the high and noble attainments that are within his reach, if he will combine human effort with the grace of God, who is the Source of all wisdom and all power. And there is an eternal weight of glory beyond. “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”T29 87.1

    We have the most solemn message of truth ever borne to the world. This truth is more and more respected by unbelievers, because it cannot be controverted. In view of this fact, our young men become self-confident and self-inflated. They take the truths which have been brought out by other minds, and without study or earnest prayer meet opponents and engage in contest, indulging in sharp speeches and witticisms, flattering themselves that this is doing the work of a gospel minister. These men need as thorough a conversion as did Paul, in order to be fitted for God's work. Ministers must be living representatives of the truth they preach. They must have greater spiritual life, characterized by greater simplicity. The words must be received from God and given to the people. The attention of the people must be arrested. Our message is a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. The destinies of souls are balancing. Multitudes are in the valley of decision. A voice should be heard crying, “If the Lord be God, serve him; but if Baal, then serve him.”T29 87.2

    Prompt, energetic, and earnest action may save an undecided soul. No one can tell how much is lost by attempting to preach without the unction of the Holy Spirit. There are souls in every congregation who are hesitating, almost persuaded be wholly for God. The decision is being made for time and for eternity; but it is too often the case that the minister has not the spirit and power of the message of truth in his own heart, hence no direct appeals are made to those souls that are trembling in the balance. The result is that impressions are not deepened upon the hearts of the convicted ones; and they leave the meeting feeling less inclined to accept the service of Christ than when they came. They decide to wait for a more favorable opportunity; but it never comes. That godless discourse, like Cain's offering, lacked the Saviour. The golden opportunity is lost, and the cases of these souls are decided. Is not too much at stake to preach in an indifferent manner, and without feeling the burden of souls?T29 88.1

    In this age of moral darkness it will take something more than dry theory to move souls. Ministers must have a living connection with God. They must preach as if they believed what they said. Living truths, falling from the lips of the man of God, will cause sinners to tremble, and the convicted to cry out, “Jehovah is God,” I am resolved to be wholly on the Lord's side. Never should the messenger of God cease his strivings for greater light and power from above. He should toil on, pray on, hope on, amid discouragement and darkness, determined to gain a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, and to come behind in no gift. As long as there is one soul to be benefited, he should press forward, with new courage at every effort. There is work, earnest work, to be accomplished. Souls for whom Christ died are in peril. As long as Jesus has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” as long as the crown of righteousness is offered to the overcomer, as long as our Advocate pleads in the sinner's behalf, ministers of Christ should labor in hope, with tireless energy and persevering faith.T29 88.2

    But while the truth of God is carried by young and inexperienced men whose hearts are scarcely touched by the grace of God, the cause will languish. Brn. K—— and W—— are more ready to argue than to pray; they are more ready to contend than to persuade, endeavoring to impress the people with the solemn character of the work for this time. Men who dare to assume the responsibility of receiving the word from the mouth of God and giving it to the people, make themselves accountable for the truth they represent and the influence they exert. If they are truly men of God, their hope is not in themselves, but in what he will do for them and through them. They do not go forth self-inflated, calling the attention of the people to their smartness and aptness; they feel their responsibility, and work with spiritual energy, treading in the path of self-denial which the Master trod. Self-sacrifice is seen at every step, and they mourn because of their inability to do more in the cause of God. Their path is one of trial and of conflict, but it is marked by the footprints of their Redeemer, the Captain of their salvation, who was made perfect through suffering.T29 89.1

    In their labor, the under-shepherds must closely follow the directions, and manifest the spirit, of the Chief Shepherd. Skepticism and apostasy are met everywhere. God wants men to labor in his cause who have hearts as true as steel, and who will stand steadfast in integrity, and undaunted by circumstances. Amid trial and gloom, they are just what they were when their prospects were brightened by hope, and when outward surroundings were all that they could desire. Daniel in the lion's den is the same Daniel who stood before the king, enshrouded by the light of God. Paul in the dark dungeon, awaiting the sentence which he knew was to come from the cruel Nero, is the same Paul who addressed the court of the Areopagus. A man whose heart is stayed upon God in the hour of his most afflicting trials and most discouraging surroundings, is just what he was in prosperity, when the light and favor of God seemed to be upon him. Faith reaches to the unseen, and grasps eternal things.T29 90.1

    There are many in Iowa who are tearing down rather than building up, casting unbelief and darkness rather than light; and the cause of God is languishing when it should be flourishing. Ministers should dare to be true. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” The word and will of God are expressed in the Scriptures by inspired penmen. We should bind them as frontlets between our eyes, and walk according to their precepts; then we shall walk safely. Every chapter and every verse is a communication of God to man. In studying the word, the soul which hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be impressed by the divine utterances. Skepticism can have no power over a soul who with humility searches the Scriptures.T29 90.2

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