Section XIII - Holiness of Life
Pages 581 - 634
The Lord has let His light shine upon us in these last days, that the gloom and darkness which have been gathering in past generations because of sinful indulgences, might in some degree be dispelled, and that the train of evils which have resulted because of intemperate eating and drinking might be lessened.
The Lord in wisdom designed to bring His people into a position where they would be separate from the world in spirit and practice, that their children might not so readily be led into idolatry and become tainted with the prevailing corruptions of this age. It is God's design that believing parents and their children should stand forth as living representatives of Christ, candidates for everlasting life. All who are partakers of the divine nature will escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection. You cannot arouse the moral sensibilities of your children while you are not careful in the selection of their food.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 339, 400 (1870).
This world is a training school for the higher school, this life a preparation for the life to come. Here we are to be prepared for entrance into the heavenly courts. Here we are to receive and believe and practice the truth, until we are made ready for a home with the saints in light.-- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 200 (1904).
The life of Solomon might have been remarkable until its close, if virtue had been preserved. But he surrendered this special grace to lustful passion. In his youth he looked to God for guidance and trusted in Him, and God chose for him and gave him wisdom that astonished the world. His power and wisdom were extolled throughout the land. But his love of women was his sin. This passion he did not control in his manhood, and it proved a snare to him. His wives led him into idolatry, and when he began to descend the declivity of life, the wisdom that God had given him was removed; he lost his firmness of character and became more like the giddy youth, wavering between right and wrong. Yielding his principles, he placed himself in the current of evil, and thus separated himself from God, the foundation and source of his strength. He had moved from principle. Wisdom had been more precious to him than the gold of Ophir. But, alas! lustful passions gained the victory. He was deceived and ruined by women. What a lesson for watchfulness! What a testimony as to the need of strength from God to the very last!
In the battle with inward corruptions and outward temptations, even the wise and powerful Solomon was vanquished. It is not safe to permit the least departure from the strictest integrity. "Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22. When a woman relates her family troubles, or complains of her husband, to another man, she violates her marriage vows; she dishonors her husband and breaks down the wall erected to preserve the sanctity of the marriage relation; she throws wide open the door and invites Satan to enter with his insidious temptations. This is just as Satan would have it. If a woman comes to a Christian brother with a tale of her woes, her disappointments and trials, he should ever advise her, if she must confide her troubles to someone, to select sisters for her confidants, and then there will be no appearance of evil, whereby the cause of God may suffer reproach.
Remember Solomon. Among many nations there was no king like him, beloved of his God. But he fell. He was led from God and became corrupt, through the indulgence of lustful passions. This is the prevailing sin of this age, and its progress is fearful. Professed Sabbathkeepers are not clean. There are those who profess to believe the truth who are corrupt at heart. God will prove them, and their folly and sin shall be made manifest. None but the pure and lowly can dwell in His presence. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." Psalm 24:3, 4. "Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved." Psalm 15.
Counsel to Physicians and Nurses
The Lord has instructed me to present the following scriptures to our physicians: "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. . . . For this is the will of God, even your sanctification." 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:6-8.
Physicians are placed where peculiar temptations will come to them. If they are not prepared to withstand temptations by the practice of the principles of truth, they will fall when Satan tempts them. There are ministers of the gospel who are too weak to resist temptation. They may have long preached the gospel, and with marked success; they may have won the confidence of the people, but when they think they are strong, they show that they cannot stand alone without being overcome. Unless they govern their habits and passions, unless they keep close to the side of Christ, they will lose eternal life. If ministers are in such danger, physicians are even more so.
The perils of physicians have been opened before me. The physicians in our sanitariums must not allow themselves to think that they are in no danger. They are in positive danger; but they may avoid the perils which surround them if they walk humbly with God, taking heed not to be presumptuous. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12. A power higher and stronger than human power must hold the fort in our medical institutions.
Connected with each sanitarium should be a man and his wife of mature age, who are as firm as a rock to the principles of truth, who can act as guides and counselors. The education of men and women in a sanitarium is a most important and delicate work, and unless physicians are constantly prepared for this work by the power of God, they will be tempted to look upon the bodies of ladies with an unsanctified heart and mind.
There should always be connected with our sanitariums women of mature age, educated and trained for the work, who are competent to treat lady patients. At whatever cost, they should be employed; and if they cannot be found, persons having the right dispositions and traits of character should be educated and prepared for this work.
Physicians must avoid all freedom of manner toward ladies, married or unmarried. They should ever be circumspect in their behavior. It is better that our physicians be married men, whose wives can unite with them in the work. Both the doctor and his wife should have a living experience in the things of God. If they are devoted Christians, their work will be as precious as fine gold.
Souls are always in peril. Even married physicians are subject to temptations. Some have fallen in the snares Satan has prepared for them. We are none of us safe from his wily, seductive power. Some are alive to their danger, but realize that Satan is making masterly efforts to overcome them, and by earnest prayer they brace themselves for duty. While in this lower apartment--the world--they are kept by the power of God. By trial they are fitted for the conflict. They are cleansed from sin in the blood of the Lamb.
Trusting in Jesus
No physician is secure who stands in his own strength. Physicians must not enter upon their work with careless, irreverent thoughts. Moment by moment they are to trust in Him who gave His life for fallen humanity and who respects His purchased inheritance. Thus doing, they will rightly regard the purchase of the blood of Christ. They will gird on every piece of the heavenly armor, that they may be protected from the assaults of the enemy. This is a safeguard against sin which the physician must avail himself of if he would be successful in his work.
Our bodies belong to God. He paid the price of redemption for the body as well as the soul. "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. "The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body." Verse 13. The Creator watches over the human machinery, keeping it in motion. Were it not for His constant care, the pulse would not beat, the action of the heart would cease, the brain would no longer act its part.
The brain is the organ and instrument of the mind and controls the whole body. In order for the other parts of the system to be healthy, the brain must be healthy. And in order for the brain to be healthy, the blood must be pure. If by correct habits of eating and drinking the blood is kept pure, the brain will be properly nourished.
It is the lack of harmonious action in the human organism that brings disease. The imagination may control the other parts of the body to their injury. All parts of the system must work harmoniously. The different parts of the body, especially those remote from the heart, should receive a free circulation of blood. The limbs act an important part and should receive proper attention.
God is the great caretaker of the human machinery. In the care of our bodies we must co-operate with Him. Love for God is essential for life and health. In order to have perfect health our hearts must be filled with hope and love and joy.
The lower passions are to be strictly guarded. The perceptive faculties are abused, terribly abused, when the passions are allowed to run riot. When the passions are indulged, the blood, instead of circulating to all parts of the body, thereby relieving the heart and clearing the mind, is called in undue amount to the internal organs. Disease comes as the result. The man cannot be healthy until the evil is seen and remedied.
"He that is joined unto the Lord"--bound up with Christ in the covenant of grace--"is one spirit. Flee fornication." 1 Corinthians 6:17, 18. Do not stop for one moment to reason. Satan would rejoice to see you overthrown by temptation. Do not stop to argue the case with your weak conscience. Turn away from the first step of transgression.
Would that the example of Joseph might be followed by all who claim to be wise, who feel competent in their own strength to discharge the duties of life. A wise man will not be governed and controlled by his appetites and passions, but will control and govern them. He will drawn nigh to God, striving to prepare mind and body to discharge aright the duties of life.
I wish to impress upon the minds of physicians the fact that they cannot do as they please with their thoughts and imaginations and at the same time be safe in their calling. Satan is the destroyer; Christ is the restorer. I desire our physicians to fully comprehend this point. They may save souls from death by a right application of the knowledge they have gained, or they may work against the great Master Builder. They may co-operate with God, or they may counterwork His plans by failing to work harmoniously with Him.
All physicians should place themselves under the control of the Great Physician. Under His guidance they will do as they should do. But the Lord will not work a miracle to save physicians who recklessly abuse His building. As far as possible, physicians should observe regularity in their habits of eating. They should take a proper amount of exercise. They should be determined to cooperate with the great Master Builder. God works, and man must come into line and work with Him; for He is the Saviour of the body.
Physicians, above all others, need to realize the relation human beings sustain toward God in regard to the preservation of health and life. They need to study the word of God diligently, lest they disregard the laws of health. There is no need for them to become weak and unbalanced. Under the guidance of the heavenly authority, they may advance in clear, straight lines. But they must give the most earnest heed to the laws of God. They should feel that they are the property of God, that they have been bought with a price, and that therefore they are to glorify Him in all things. By the study of God's word they are to keep the mind awake to the fact that human beings are the Lord's property by creation and by redemption. They are to say, I will do all in my power to save the souls and bodies of those for whom I work. They have been bought with a price, even the blood of Christ, and I must do all I can to help them.
The instruction I have for our physicians is that they must study the word of God with earnestness and diligence. God says, "Come out, . . . and be ye separate, . . . and touch not the unclean." 2 Corinthians 6:17. Obey this word, at whatever cost to social position, worldly honor, or earthly wealth. Trust in the Lord. Walk in all humility of mind before Him. Holding by faith to His word, you may go forward.
No physician is to trust to outward display, his elegant furniture or stylish equipage, to give him favor and exalt the truth. Physicians who trust to these things are moved by a power from beneath. It is not the grandeur of the house, the elegance of the furniture, the outward display of any kind, that will gain for our sanitariums a true standard. Physicians who are bound up with God will do all in their power to crush out the inclination to vanity and display. . . .
Humility, self-denial, benevolence, and the payment of a faithful tithe, these show that the grace of God is working in the heart. The greatest Teacher, the greatest Physician the world has ever known, gave many lessons on the need of humility. These lessons His followers are to bring into the practical life. They are to live lives of self-denial and self-sacrifice. To many this will be a new experience, but on it their salvation depends. "Whosoever will come after Me," Christ said, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Mark 8:34. Following Christ produces the virtues of Christ's character. Humility is a precious grace, peculiarly pleasing to God. Christ says, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:29. Those who follow Christ will overcome temptation and will receive the glorious reward of eternal life. And to Christ they will render all the praise and glory.
To the young men and young women who are being educated as nurses and physicians I will say, Keep close to Jesus. By beholding Him we become changed into His likeness. Remember that you are not training for courtship or marriage, but for the marriage of Christ. You may have a theoretical knowledge of the truth, but this will not save you. You must know by experience how sinful sin is, and how much you need Jesus as a personal Saviour. Only thus can you become sons and daughters of God. Your only merit is your great need.
Those selected to take the nurses' course in our sanitariums should be wisely chosen. Young girls of a superficial mold of character should not be encouraged to take up this work. Many of the young men who present themselves as being desirous of being educated as physicians have not those traits of character which will enable them to withstand the temptations so common to the work of a physician. Only those should be accepted who give promise of becoming qualified for the great work of imparting the principles of true health reform.
Young ladies connected with our institutions should keep a strict guard over themselves. In word and action, they should be reserved. Never when speaking to a married man should they show the slightest freedom. To my sisters who are connected with our sanitariums, I would say, gird on the armor. When talking to men, be kind and courteous, but never free. Observant eyes are upon you, watching your conduct, judging by it whether you are indeed children of God. Be modest. Abstain from every appearance of evil. Keep on the heavenly armor, or else for Christ's sake sever your connection with the sanitarium, the place where poor shipwrecked souls are to find a haven. Those connected with these institutions are to take heed to themselves. Never, by word or action, are they to give the least occasion for wicked men to speak evil of the truth.
There are two kingdoms in this world, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan. To one of these kingdoms each one of us belongs. In His wonderful prayer for His disciples, Christ said, "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." John 17:15-18.
Exert a Saving Influence
It is not God's will that we should seclude ourselves from the world. But while in the world we should sanctify ourselves to God. We should not pattern after the world. We are to be in the world as a corrective influence, as salt that retains its savor. Among an unholy, impure, idolatrous generation, we are to be pure and holy, showing that the grace of Christ has power to restore in man the divine likeness. We are to exert a saving influence upon the world.
"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4. The world has become a lazar house of sin, a mass of corruption. It knows not the children of God because it knows Him not. We are not to practice its ways or follow its customs. Continually we are to resist its lax principles. Christ said to His followers, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16. It is the duty of physicians and nurses to shine as lights amid the corrupting influences of the world. They are to cherish principles which the world cannot tarnish.
In order for the church to be healthy, it must be composed of healthy Christians. But in our churches and institutions there are many sickly Christians. The light which the Lord has given me is plainly expressed in the third chapter of Philippians. This chapter should be carefully read and studied. The lessons it contains should be practiced.
He who co-operates with the Great Physician will keep nerves, sinews, and muscles in the best condition of health. In order to do its work properly, the human machinery needs careful attention. The harmonious action of the different parts must be preserved.
Be Strong in the Lord
It is so with the soul. The heart is to be carefully kept and guarded. "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mark 8:36, 37. Christ must abide in the heart by faith. His word is the bread of life and the water of salvation. Trust in its fullness comes to us through constant communion with God. By eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ we gain spiritual strength. Christ supplies the lifeblood of the heart, and Christ and the Holy Spirit give nerve power. Begotten again unto a lively hope, imbued with the quickening power of a new nature, the soul is enabled to rise higher and still higher. Paul's prayer to God for the Ephesians was, "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19.
The blessing of grace is given to men that the heavenly universe and the fallen world may see as they could not otherwise, the perfection of Christ's character. The Great Physician came to our world to show men and women that through His grace they may so live that in the great day of God they can receive the precious testimony, "Ye are complete in Him."
Physicians are to reveal the attributes of Christ, steadfastly persevering in the work God has given them to do. To those who do this work in faithfulness, angels are commissioned to give enlarged views of the character and work of Christ and His power, grace, and love. Thus they become partakers of His image, and day by day grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ. It is the privilege of the children of God to have a constantly enlarging comprehension of truth, that they may bring love for God and heaven into the work, and draw from others thanksgiving to God because of the richness of His grace.
We have reason for everlasting gratitude to God in that He has left us a perfect example. Every Christian should strive to earnestly follow in the footsteps of the Saviour. We should offer grateful praise and gratitude for giving us such a mighty helper, a safeguard against every temptation, against every species of impropriety in thought, deed, and word.
Our only security against falling into sin is to keep ourselves continually under the molding influence of the Holy Spirit, at the same time engaging actively in the cause of truth and holiness, discharging every God-given duty, but taking no burden which God has not laid upon us. Physicians must stand firmly under the banner of the third angel's message, fighting the good fight of faith perseveringly and successfully, relying on a heavenly armor, the equipment of God's word, never forgetting that they have a leader who never has been and never can be overcome by evil.
The Price of Health
Health may be earned by proper habits of life and may be made to yield interest and compound interest. But this capital, more precious than any bank deposit, may be sacrificed by intemperance in eating and drinking, or by leaving the organs to rust from inaction. Pet indulgences must be given up; laziness must be overcome.
The reason why many of our ministers complain of sickness is, they fail to take sufficient exercise and indulge in overeating. They do not realize that such a course endangers the strongest constitution. Those who ... are sluggish in temperament should eat very sparingly and not shun physical taxation. Many of our ministers are digging their graves with their teeth. The system, in taking care of the burden placed upon the digestive organs, suffers, and a severe draft is made upon the brain. For every offense committed against the laws of health, the transgressor must pay the penalty in his own body.
When not actively engaged in preaching, the apostle Paul labored at his trade as a tentmaker. This he was obliged to do on account of having accepted unpopular truth. Before he embraced Christianity, he had occupied an elevated position, and was not dependent upon his labor for support. Among the Jews it was customary to teach the children some trade, however high the position they were expected to fill, that a reverse of circumstances might not leave them incapable of sustaining themselves. In accordance with this custom, Paul was a tentmaker; and when his means had been expended to advance the cause of Christ and for his own support, he resorted to his trade in order to gain a livelihood.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 408, 409 (1880).
Simplicity in Dress
As we see our sisters departing from simplicity in dress and cultivating a love for the fashions of the world, we feel troubled. By taking steps in this direction they are separating themselves from God and neglecting the inward adorning. They should not feel at liberty to spend their God-given time in the unnecessary ornamentation of their clothing. How much better might it be employed in searching the Scriptures, thus obtaining a thorough knowledge of the prophecies and of the practical lessons of Christ.
As Christians, we ought not to engage in any employment upon which we cannot conscientiously ask the blessing of the Lord. Do you, my sisters, in the needless work you put upon your garments, feel a clear conscience? Can you, while perplexing the mind over ruffles and bows and ribbons, be uplifting the soul to God in prayer that He will bless your efforts? The time spent in this way might be devoted to doing good to others and to cultivating your own minds.
Many of our sisters are persons of good ability, and if their talents were used to the glory of God, they would be successful in winning many souls to Christ....
Especially should the wives of our ministers be careful not to depart from the plain teachings of the Bible on the point of dress. Many look upon these injunctions as too old-fashioned to be worthy of notice; but He who gave them to His disciples understood the dangers from the love of dress in our time, and sent to us the note of warning. Will we heed the warning and be wise? Extravagance in dress is continually increasing. The end is not yet. Fashion is constantly changing, and our sisters follow in its wake, regardless of time or expense. There is a great amount of means expended upon dress, when it should be returned to God the giver.
Fashionable Dress a Stumbling Block
The plain, neat dress of the poorer class often appears in marked contrast with the attire of their more wealthy sisters, and this difference frequently causes a feeling of embarrassment on the part of the poor. Some try to imitate their more wealthy sisters, and frill and ruffle and trim goods of an inferior quality, so as to approach as nearly as possible to them in dress. Poor girls, receiving but two dollars a week for their work, [WRITTEN IN 1875, WHEN MONEY VALUES WERE MUCH GREATER THAN IN LATER YEARS.] will expend every cent to dress like others who are not obliged to earn their own living. These youth have nothing to put into the treasury of God. And their time is so thoroughly occupied in making their dress as fashionable as that of their sisters, that they have no time for the improvement of the mind, for the study of God's word, for secret prayer, or for the prayer meeting. The mind is entirely taken up with planning how to appear as well as their sisters. To accomplish this end, physical, mental, and moral health is sacrificed. Happiness and the favor of God are laid upon the altar of fashion.
Many will not attend the service of God upon the Sabbath, because their dress would appear so unlike that of their Christian sisters in style and adornment. Will my sisters consider these things as they are, and will they fully realize the weight of their influence upon others? By walking in a forbidden path themselves, they lead others in the same way of disobedience and backsliding. Christian simplicity is sacrificed to outward display. My sisters, how shall we change all this? How shall we recover ourselves from the snare of Satan and break the chains that have bound us in slavery to fashion? How shall we recover our wasted opportunities? how bring our powers into healthful, vigorous action? There is only one way, and that is to make the Bible our rule of life....
Many dress like the world, in order to have an influence over unbelievers; but here they make a sad mistake. If they would have a true and saving influence, let them live out their profession, show their faith by their righteous works, and make the distinction plain between the Christian and the worldling. The words, the dress, the actions, should tell for God. Then a holy influence will be shed upon all around them, and even unbelievers will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. If any wish to have their influence tell in favor of truth, let them live out their profession and thus imitate the humble Pattern.
Pride, ignorance, and folly are constant companions. The Lord is displeased with the pride manifested among His professed people. He is dishonored by their conformity to the unhealthful, immodest, and expensive fashions of this degenerate age....
To protect the people of God from the corrupting influence of the world, as well as to promote physical and moral health, the dress reform was introduced among us. It was not intended to be a yoke of bondage, but a blessing, not to increase labor, but to save labor, not to add to the expense of dress, but to save expense. It would distinguish God's people from the world and thus serve as a barrier against its fashions and follies. He who knows the end from the beginning, who understands our nature and our needs,--our compassionate Redeemer,--saw our dangers and difficulties, and condescended to give us timely warning and instruction concerning our habits of life, even in the proper selection of food and clothing.
Satan is constantly devising some new style of dress that shall prove an injury to physical and moral health; and he exults when he sees professed Christians eagerly accepting the fashions that he has invented. The amount of physical suffering created by unnatural and unhealthful dress cannot be estimated. Many have become lifelong invalids through their compliance with the demands of fashion....
Among these pernicious fashions were the large hoops, which frequently caused indecent exposure of the person. In contrast with this was presented a neat, modest, becoming dress, which would dispense with the hoops and the trailing skirts, and provide for the proper clothing of the limbs. But dress reform comprised more than shortening the dress and clothing the limbs. It included every article of dress upon the person. It lifted the weights from the hips by suspending the skirts from the shoulders. It removed the tight corsets, which compress the lungs, the stomach, and other internal organs, and induce curvature of the spine and an almost countless train of diseases. Dress reform proper provided for the protection and development of every part of the body.[FOR THE REASONS WHY THIS STYLE OF DRESS IS NOT NOW ADVOCATED, READ TESTIMONIES FOR THE CHURCH, VOL. 4, PP. 635-641.] ...
Many a soul who was convinced of the truth has been led to decide against it by the pride and love of the world displayed by our sisters. The doctrine preached seemed clear and harmonious, and the hearers felt that a heavy cross must be lifted by them in taking the truth. When these persons have seen our sisters making so much display in dress, they have said, "This people dress fully as much as we do. They cannot really believe what they profess; and, after all, they must be deceived. If they really thought that Christ was soon coming, and the case of every soul was to be decided for eternal life or death, they could not devote time and money to dress according to the existing fashions." How little did those professedly believing sisters know of the sermon their dress was preaching!
Our words, our actions, and our dress are daily, living preachers, gathering with Christ, or scattering abroad. This is no trivial matter, to be passed off with a jest. The subject of dress demands serious reflection and much prayer. . . .
We would by no means encourage carelessness in dress. Let the attire be appropriate and becoming. Though only a ten-cent calico, it should be kept neat and clean. If there are no ruffles, the wearer can not only save something by making it herself, but she can save quite a little sum by washing and ironing it herself. Families bind heavy burdens upon themselves by dressing their children in accordance with the fashion. What a waste of time! The little ones would look very inviting in a dress without a ruffle or ornament, but kept sweet and clean. It is such a trifle to wash and iron a dress of this style that the labor is not felt to be a burden....
But the greatest evil is the influence upon the children and youth. Almost as soon as they come into the world they are subjected to fashion's demands. Little children hear more of dress than of their salvation. They see their mothers more earnestly consulting the fashion plates than the Bible. More visits are made to the dry-goods dealer and the milliner than to the church. The outward display of dress is made of greater consequence than the adornment of the character. Sharp reprimands are called forth for soiling the fine clothing, and the mind becomes peevish and irritable under continual restraint.
A deformed character does not disturb the mother so much as a soiled dress. The child hears more of dress than of virtue, for the mother is more familiar with fashion than with her Saviour. Her example too often surrounds the young with a poisonous atmosphere. Vice, disguised in fashion's garb, intrudes itself among the children.
Simplicity of dress will make a sensible woman appear to the best advantage. We judge of a person's character by the style of dress worn. Gaudy apparel betrays vanity and weakness. A modest, godly woman will dress modestly. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate attire.
There is an ornament that will never perish, that will promote the happiness of all around us in this life and will shine with undimmed luster in the immortal future. It is the adorning of a meek and lowly spirit. God has bidden us wear the richest dress upon the soul. By every look into the mirror the worshipers of fashion should be reminded of the neglected soul. Every hour squandered over the toilet should reprove them for leaving the intellect to lie waste. Then there might be a reformation that would elevate and ennoble all the aims and purposes of life. Instead of seeking golden ornaments for the exterior, an earnest effort would be put forth to secure that wisdom which is of more value than fine gold, yea, which is more precious than rubies....
Effect of Dress on Morals
The love of dress endangers the morals and makes woman the opposite of the Christian lady, characterized by modesty and sobriety. Showy, extravagant dress too often encourages lust in the heart of the wearer and awakens base passions in the heart of the beholder. God sees that the ruin of the character is frequently preceded by the indulgence of pride and vanity in dress. He sees that the costly apparel stifles the desire to do good.
The more means persons expend in dress, the less they can have to feed the hungry and clothe the naked; and the streams of beneficence, which should be constantly flowing, are dried up. Every dollar saved by denying one's self of useless ornaments may be given to the needy, or may be placed in the Lord's treasury to sustain the gospel, to send missionaries to foreign countries, to multiply publications to carry rays of light to souls in the darkness of error. Every dollar used unnecessarily deprives the spender of a precious opportunity to do good....
When you place a useless or extravagant article of clothing upon your person, you are withholding from the naked. When you spread your tables with a needless variety of costly food, you are neglecting to feed the hungry. How stands your record, professed Christian? Do not, I beseech you, lay out in foolish and hurtful indulgences that which God requires in His treasury, and the portion which should be given to the poor. Let us not clothe ourselves with costly apparel, but, like women professing godliness, with good works. Let not the cry of the widow and the fatherless go up to Heaven against us. Let not the blood of souls be found on our garments. Let not precious probationary time be squandered in cherishing pride of heart. Are there no poor to be visited? no dim eyes for whom you can read the word of God? no desponding, discouraged ones that need your words of comfort and your prayers? ...
Do not, my sisters, trifle longer with your own souls and with God. I have been shown that the main cause of your backsliding is your love of dress. This leads to the neglect of grave responsibilities, and you find yourselves with scarcely a spark of the love of God in your hearts. Without delay renounce the cause of your backsliding, because it is sin against your own soul and against God. Be not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
As a people, we are looked upon as peculiar. Our position and faith distinguish us from every other denomination. If we are in life and character no better than the world, they will point the finger of scorn at us and say, "These are Seventh-day Adventists." "We have here a sample of the people who keep the seventh day for Sunday." The stigma which should be rightfully attached to such a class is thus placed upon all who are conscientiously keeping the seventh day. Oh, how much better it would be if such a class would not make any pretension to obey the truth!--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 138 (1882).
Extremes in Dress
We as a people do not believe it our duty to go out of the world to be out of the fashion. If we have a neat, plain, modest, and comfortable plan of dress, and worldlings choose to dress as we do, shall we change this mode of dress in order to be different from the world? No, we should not be odd or singular in our dress for the sake of differing from the world, lest they despise us for so doing. Christians are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Their dress should be neat and modest, their conversation chaste and heavenly, and their deportment blameless.
How shall we dress? If any wore heavy quilts before the introduction of hoops, merely for show and not for comfort, they sinned against themselves by injuring their health, which it is their duty to preserve. If any wear them now merely to look like hoops, they commit sin; for they are seeking to imitate a fashion which is disgraceful. Corded skirts were worn before hoops were introduced. I have worn a light corded skirt since I was fourteen years of age, not for show but for comfort and decency. Because hoops were introduced I did not lay off my corded skirt for them. Shall I now throw it aside because the fashion of hoops is introduced? No; that would be carrying the matter to an extreme.
I should ever bear in mind that I must be an example and therefore must not run into this or that fashion, but pursue an even and independent course and not be driven to extremes in regard to dress. To throw off my corded skirt that was always modest and comfortable, and put on a thin cotton skirt, and thus appear ridiculous in the other extreme, would be wrong, for then I would not set a right example, but would put an argument into the mouths of hoop wearers. To justify themselves for wearing hoops they would point to me as one who does not wear them, and say that they would not disgrace themselves in that way. By going to such extremes we would destroy all the influence which we might otherwise have had, and lead the wearers of hoops to justify their course. We must dress modestly, without the least regard to the hoop fashion.
There is a medium position in these things. O that we all might wisely find that position and keep it. In this solemn time let us all search our own hearts, repent of our sins, and humble ourselves before God. The work is between God and our own souls. It is an individual work, and all will have enough to do without criticizing the dress, actions, and motives of their brethren and sisters. "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgments; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Zephaniah 2:3. Here is our work. It is not sinners who are here addressed, but all the meek of the earth, who have wrought His judgments, or kept His commandments. There is work for everyone, and if all will obey we shall see sweet union in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers.
We do not think it in accordance with our faith to dress in the American costume, to wear hoops, or to go to an extreme in wearing long dresses which sweep the sidewalks and streets. If women would wear their dresses so as to clear the filth of the streets an inch or two, their dresses would be modest, and they could be kept clean much more easily and would wear longer. Such a dress would be in accordance with our faith.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 424 (1864).
The work of temperance must begin in our families, at our tables. Mothers have an important work to do that they may give to the world, through correct discipline and education, children who will be capable of filling almost any position and who can also honor and enjoy the duties of domestic life.
The work of the mother is very important and sacred. She should teach her children from the cradle to practice habits of self-denial and self-control. If her time is mostly occupied with the follies of this degenerate age, if dress and parties engage her precious time, her children fail to receive that education which it is essential they should have in order that they may form correct characters. The anxiety of the Christian mother should not be in regard to the external merely, but that her children may have healthy constitutions and good morals.
Many mothers who deplore the intemperance which exists everywhere do not look deep enough to see the cause. They are daily preparing a variety of dishes and highly seasoned food which tempt the appetite and encourage overeating. The tables of our American people are generally prepared in a manner to make drunkards. Appetite is the ruling principle with a large class. Whoever will indulge appetite in eating too often, and food not of a healthful quality, is weakening his power to resist the clamors of appetite and passion in other respects in proportion as he has strengthened the propensity to incorrect habits of eating. Mothers need to be impressed with their obligation to God and to the world to furnish society with children having well-developed characters. Men and women who come upon the stage of action with firm principles will be fitted to stand unsullied amid the moral pollutions of this corrupt age. It is the duty of mothers to improve their golden opportunities to correctly educate their children for usefulness and duty....
We repeat, intemperance commences at our tables. The appetite is indulged until its indulgence becomes second nature. By the use of tea and coffee an appetite is formed for tobacco, and this encourages the appetite for liquors.
Many parents, to avoid the task of patiently educating their children to habits of self-denial, and teaching them how to make a right use of all the blessings of God, indulge them in eating and drinking whenever they please. Appetite and selfish indulgence, unless positively restrained, grow with the growth and strengthen with the strength. When these children commence life for themselves and take their place in society, they are powerless to resist temptation. Moral impurity and gross iniquity abound everywhere. The temptation to indulge taste and to gratify inclination has not lessened with the increase of years, and youth in general are governed by impulse and are slaves to appetite. In the glutton, the tobacco devotee, the winebibber, and the inebriate, we see the evil results of defective education.
When we hear the sad lamentations of Christian men and women over the terrible evils of intemperance, the questions at once arise in the mind: Who have educated the youth and given them their stamp of character? Who have fostered in them the appetites they have acquired? ...
I saw that Satan, through his temptations, is instituting ever-changing fashions and attractive parties and amusements, that mothers may be led to devote their God-given probationary time to frivolous matters, so that they can have but little opportunity to educate and properly train their children. Our youth want mothers who will teach them from their very cradles to control passion, to deny appetite, and to overcome selfishness. They need line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.
Direction was given to the Hebrews how to train their children to avoid the idolatry and wickedness of the heathen nations: "Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deuteronomy 11:18, 19....
We address Christian mothers. We entreat that you feel your responsibility as mothers, and that you live not to please yourselves, but to glorify God.... Woman is to fill a more sacred and elevated position in the family than the king upon his throne. Her great work is to make her life a living example which she would wish her children to copy. By precept as well as example, she is to store their minds with useful knowledge and lead them to self-sacrificing labor for the good of others. The great stimulus to the toiling, burdened mother should be that every child who is trained aright and who has the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, will have a fitness for heaven and will shine in the courts of the Lord....
If children and youth were trained and educated to habits of self-denial and self-control, if they were taught that they eat to live instead of living to eat, there would be less disease and less moral corruption. There would be little necessity for temperance crusades, ... if in the youth, who form and fashion society, right principles in regard to temperance could be implanted. They would then have moral worth and moral integrity to resist, in the strength of Jesus, the pollutions of these last days.
It is a most difficult matter to unlearn the habits which have been indulged through life and have educated the appetite. The demon of intemperance is not easily conquered. It is of giant strength and hard to overcome. But let parents begin a crusade against intemperance at their own firesides, in their own families, in the principles they teach their children to follow from their very infancy, and they may hope for success. It will pay you, mothers, to use the precious hours which are given you of God in forming, developing, and training the characters of your children, and in teaching them to strictly adhere to the principles of temperance in eating and drinking.
Parents may have transmitted to their children tendencies to appetite and passion, which will make more difficult the work of educating and training these children to be strictly temperate and to have pure and virtuous habits. If the appetite for unhealthy food and for stimulants and narcotics has been transmitted to them as a legacy from their parents, what a fearfully solemn responsibility rests upon the parents to counteract the evil tendencies which they have given to their children! How earnestly and diligently should the parents work to do their duty, in faith and hope, to their unfortunate offspring!
Parents should make it their first business to understand the laws of life and health, that nothing shall be done by them in the preparation of food, or through any other habits, which will develop wrong tendencies in their children. How carefully should mothers study to prepare their tables with the most simple, healthful food, that the digestive organs may not be weakened, the nervous forces unbalanced, and the instruction which they should give their children counteracted, by the food placed before them. This food either weakens or strengthens the organs of the stomach, and has much to do in controlling the physical and moral health of the children. ... Those who indulge the appetite of their children, and do not control their passions, will see the terrible mistake they have made in the tobacco-loving, liquor-drinking slave, whose senses are benumbed and whose lips utter falsehoods and profanity.
When parents and children meet at the final reckoning, what a scene will be presented! Thousands of children who have been slaves to appetite and debasing vice, whose lives are moral wrecks, will stand face to face with the parents who made them what they are. Who but the parents must bear this fearful responsibility?
If the sisters were elevated and possessed purity of heart, any corrupt advances, even from their minister, would be repulsed with such positiveness as would never need a repetition. Minds must be terribly befogged by Satan, when they can listen to the voice of the seducer because he is a minister, and therefore break God's plain and positive commands and flatter themselves that they commit no sin. Have we not the words of John, "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him"? 1 John 2:4. What saith the law? "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Exodus 20:14. When a man professing to keep God's holy law, and ministering in sacred things, takes advantage of the confidence his position gives him and seeks to indulge his base passions, this fact should of itself be sufficient to enable a woman professing godliness to see that, although his profession was as exalted as the heavens, an impure proposal coming from him was from Satan disguised as an angel of light. I cannot believe that the word of God is abiding in the hearts of those who so readily yield up their innocency and virtue upon the altar of lustful passions.
My sisters, avoid even the appearance of evil. In this fast age, reeking with corruption, you are not safe unless you stand guarded. Virtue and modesty are rare. I appeal to you as followers of Christ, making an exalted profession, to cherish the precious, priceless gem of modesty. This will guard virtue. If you have any hope of being finally exalted to join the company of the pure, sinless angels and to live in an atmosphere where there is not the least taint of sin, cherish modesty and virtue. Nothing but purity, sacred purity, will stand the grand review, abide the day of God, and be received into a pure and holy heaven.
Resent Undue Familiarity
The slightest insinuations, from whatever source they may come, inviting you to indulge in sin or to allow the least unwarrantable liberty with your persons, should be resented as the worst of insults to your dignified womanhood. The kiss upon your cheek, at an improper time and place, should lead you to repel the emissary of Satan with disgust. If it is from one in high places, who is dealing in sacred things, the sin is of tenfold greater magnitude and should lead a God-fearing woman or youth to recoil with horror, not only from the sin he would have you commit, but from the hypocrisy and villainy of one whom the people respect and honor as God's servant. He is handling sacred things, yet hiding his baseness of heart under a ministerial cloak. Be afraid of anything like this familiarity. Be sure that the least approach to it is evidence of a lascivious mind and a lustful eye. If the least encouragement is given in this direction, if any of the liberties mentioned are tolerated, no better evidence can be given that your mind is not pure and chaste as it should be, and that sin and crime have charms for you. You lower the standard of your dignified, virtuous womanhood and give unmistakable evidence that a low, brutal, common passion and lust has been suffered to remain alive in your heart and has never been crucified.
As I have been shown the dangers of those who profess better things, and the sins that exist among them, --a class who are not suspected of being in any danger from these polluting sins,--I have been led to inquire, Who, O Lord, shall stand when Thou appearest? Only those who have clean hands and pure hearts shall abide the day of His coming.
Modesty and Reserve
I feel impelled by the Spirit of the Lord to urge my sisters who profess godliness to cherish modesty of deportment and a becoming reserve, with shamefacedness and sobriety. The liberties taken in this age of corruption should be no criterion for Christ's followers. These fashionable exhibitions of familiarity should not exist among Christians fitting for immortality. If lasciviousness, pollution, adultery, crime, and murder are the order of the day among those who know not the truth and who refuse to be controlled by the principles of God's word, how important that the class professing to be followers of Christ, closely allied to God and angels, should show them a better and nobler way! How important that by their chastity and virtue they stand in marked contrast to that class who are controlled by brute passions!
I have inquired, When will the youthful sisters act with propriety? I know there will be no decided change for the better until parents feel the importance of greater carefulness in educating their children correctly. Teach them to act with reserve and modesty. Educate them for usefulness, to be helps, to minister to others rather than to be waited upon and be ministered to.
Satan controls the minds of the youth in general. Your daughters are not taught self-denial and self-control. They are petted and their pride is fostered. They are allowed to have their own way, until they become head-strong and self-willed, and you are put to your wit's end to know what course to pursue to save them from ruin. Satan is leading them on to be a proverb in the mouth of unbelievers, because of their boldness, their lack of reserve and womanly modesty. The young boys are likewise left to have their own way. They have scarcely entered their teens before they are by the side of little girls of their own age, accompanying them home and making love to them. And the parents are so completely in bondage through their own indulgence and mistaken love for their children that they dare not pursue a decided course to make a change and restrain their too-fast children in this fast age.
With many young ladies the boys are the theme of conversations; with the young men, it is the girls. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34. They talk of those subjects upon which their minds mostly run. The recording angel is writing the words of these professed Christian boys and girls. How will they be confused and ashamed when they meet them again in the day of God! Many children are pious hypocrites. The youth who have not made a profession of religion stumble over these hypocritical ones, and are hardened against any effort that may be made by those interested in their salvation.
The more responsible the position, the more essential that the influence be right. Every man whom God has chosen to do a special work becomes a target for Satan. Temptations press thick and fast upon him; for our vigilant foe knows that his course of action has a molding influence upon others.... The only safety for any of us is in clinging to Jesus and letting nothing separate the soul from the mighty Helper.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 428, 429 (1885).
I have been shown that we live amid the perils of the last days. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold. The word "many" refers to the professed followers of Christ. They are affected by the prevailing iniquity, and backslide from God; but it is not necessary that they should be thus affected. The cause of this declension is that they do not stand clear from this iniquity. The fact that their love to God is waxing cold because iniquity abounds, shows that they are, in some sense, partakers in this iniquity, or it would not affect their love for God and their zeal and fervor in His cause.
A terrible picture of the condition of the world has been presented before me. Immorality abounds everywhere. Licentiousness is the special sin of this age. Never did vice lift its deformed head with such boldness as now. The people seem to be benumbed, and the lovers of virtue and true goodness are nearly discouraged by its boldness, strength, and prevalence. The iniquity which abounds is not merely confined to the unbeliever and the scoffer. Would that this were the case; but it is not. Many men and women who profess the religion of Christ are guilty. Even some who profess to be looking for His appearing are no more prepared for than event that Satan himself. They are not cleansing themselves from all pollution. They have so long served their lust that it is natural for their thoughts to be impure and their imaginations corrupt. It is as impossible to cause their minds to dwell upon pure and holy things as it would be to turn the course of Niagara and send its waters pouring up the falls.
Youth and children of both sexes engage in moral pollution and practice this disgusting, soul-and-body-destroying vice. Many professed Christians are so benumbed by the same practice that their moral sensibilities cannot be aroused to understand that it is sin, and that if continued its sure results will be utter shipwreck of body and mind. Man, the noblest being upon the earth, formed in the image of God, transforms himself into a beast! He makes himself gross and corrupt. Every Christian will have to learn to restrain his passions and be controlled by principle. Unless he does this, he is unworthy of the Christian name.
Some who make a high profession do not understand the sin of self-abuse and its sure results. Long-established habit has blinded their understanding. They do not realize the exceeding sinfulness of this degrading sin, which is enervating the system and destroying their brain nerve power. Moral principle is exceedingly weak when it conflicts with established habit. Solemn messages from Heaven cannot forcibly impress the heart that is not fortified against the indulgence of this degrading vice. The sensitive nerves of the brain have lost their healthy tone by morbid excitation to gratify an unnatural desire for sensual indulgence. The brain nerves which communicate with the entire system are the only medium through which Heaven can communicate to man, and affect his inmost life. Whatever disturbs the circulation of the electric currents in the nervous system, lessens the strength of the vital powers, and the result is a deadening of the sensibilities of the mind. In consideration of these facts, how important that ministers and people who profess godliness should stand forth clear and untainted from this soul-debasing vice!
My soul has been bowed down with anguish as I have been shown the weak condition of God's professed people. Iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold. There are but few professed Christians who regard this matter in the right light and who hold proper government over themselves when public opinion and custom do not condemn them. How few restrain their passions because they feel under moral obligation to do so, and because the fear of God is before their eyes! The higher faculties of man are enslaved by appetite and corrupt passions.
Some will acknowledge the evil of sinful indulgences, yet will excuse themselves by saying that they cannot overcome their passions. This is a terrible admission for any person to make who names Christ. "Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." 2 Timothy 2:19. Why is this weakness? It is because the animal propensities have been strengthened by exercise, until they have gained the ascendancy over the higher powers. Men and women lack principle. They are dying spiritually, because they have so long pampered their natural appetites that their power of self-government seems gone. The lower passions of their nature have taken the reins, and that which should be the governing power has become the servant of corrupt passion. The soul is held in lowest bondage. Sensuality has quenched the desire for holiness, and withered spiritual prosperity.
My soul mourns for the youth who are forming characters in this degenerate age. I tremble for their parents also, for I have been shown that as a general thing they do not understand their obligations to train up their children in the way they should go. Custom and fashion are consulted, and the children soon learn to be swayed by these and are corrupted, while their indulgent parents are themselves benumbed and asleep to their danger. But very few of the youth are free from corrupt habits. They are excused from physical exercise to a great degree for fear they will overwork. The parents bear burdens themselves which their children should bear. Overwork is bad; but the result of indolence is more to be dreaded.
Idleness leads to the indulgence of corrupt habits. Industry does not weary and exhaust one fifth part as much as the pernicious habit of self-abuse. If simple, well-regulated labor exhausts your children, be assured, parents, there is something, aside from their labor, which is enervating their systems and producing a sense of constant weariness. Give your children physical labor which will call into exercise the nerves and muscles. The weariness attending such labor will lessen their inclination to indulge in vicious habits. Idleness is a curse. It produces licentious habits.
Many cases have been presented before me, and as I have had a view of their inner lives, my soul has been sick and disgusted with the rottenheartedness of human beings who profess godliness and talk of translation to heaven. I have frequently asked myself, Whom can I trust? Who is free from iniquity?
My husband and myself once attended a meeting where our sympathies were enlisted for a brother who was a great sufferer with the phthisic. He was pale and emaciated. He requested the prayers of the people of God. He said that his family were sick, and that he had lost a child. He spoke with feeling of his bereavement. He said that he had been waiting for some time to see Brother and Sister White. He believed that if they would pray for him, he would be healed. After the meeting closed, the brethren called our attention to the case. They said that the church was assisting them; that his wife was sick, and his child had died. The brethren had met at his house, and united in praying for the afflicted family. We were much worn, and had the burden of labor upon us during the meeting, and wished to be excused.
I had resolved not to engage in prayer for anyone, unless the Spirit of the Lord should dictate in the matter. I had been shown that there was so much iniquity abounding, even among professed Sabbathkeepers, that I did not wish to unite in prayer for those of whose history I had no knowledge. I stated my reason. I was assured by the brethren that, as far as they knew, he was a worthy brother. I conversed a few words with the one who had solicited our prayers that he might be healed; but I could not feel free. He wept, and said that he had waited for us to come, and he felt assured that if we would pray for him he would be restored to health. We told him that we were unacquainted with his life; that we would rather those who knew him would pray for him. He importuned us so earnestly that we decided to consider his case, and present it before the Lord that night; and if the way seemed clear, we would comply with his request.
The night we bowed in prayer, and presented his case before the Lord. We entreated that we might know the will of God concerning him. All we desired was that God might be glorified. Would the Lord have us pray for this afflicted man? We left the burden with the Lord, and retired to rest. In a dream the case of that man was clearly presented. His course from his childhood up was shown, and that if we should pray, the Lord would not hear us; for he regarded iniquity in his heart. The next morning the man came for us to pray for him. We took him aside, and told him we were sorry to be compelled to refuse his request. I related my dream, which he acknowledged was true. He had practiced self-abuse from his boyhood up, and he had continued the practice during his married life, but said he would try to break himself of it.
This man had a long-established habit to overcome. He was in the middle age of life. His moral principles were so weak that when brought in conflict with long-established indulgence they were overcome. The baser passions had gained the ascendancy over the higher nature. I asked him in regard to health reform. He said he could not live it. His wife would throw graham flour out of doors, if it were brought into the house. This family had been helped by the church. Prayer had also been offered in their behalf. Their child had died, the wife was sick, and the husband and father would leave his case upon us, for us to bring before a pure and holy God, that He might work a miracle and make him well. The moral sensibilities of this man were benumbed.
When the young adopt vile practices while the spirit is tender, they will never obtain force to fully and correctly develop physical, intellectual, and moral character. Here was a man debasing himself daily, and yet daring to venture into the presence of God and ask an increase of strength which he had vilely squandered and which, if granted, he would consume upon his lust. What forbearance has God! If He should deal with man according to his corrupt ways, who could live in His sight? What if we had been less cautious and carried the case of this man before God while he was practicing iniquity; would the Lord have heard? Would He have answered? "For Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with Thee. The foolish shall not stand in Thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." Psalm 5:4, 5. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psalm 66:18.
This is not a solitary case. Even the marriage relation was not sufficient to preserve this man from the corrupt habits of his youth. I wish I could be convinced that such cases as the one I have presented are rare; but I know they are frequent. Children born to parents who are controlled by corrupt passions are worthless. What can be expected of such children, but that they will sink lower in the scale than their parents? What can be expected of the rising generation? Thousands are devoid of principle. These very ones are transmitting to their offspring their own miserable, corrupt passions. What a legacy! Thousands drag out their unprincipled lives, tainting their associates and perpetuating their debased passions by transmitting them to their children. They take the responsibility of giving to them the stamp of their own characters.
I come again to Christians. If all who profess to obey the law of God were free from iniquity, my soul would be delivered; but they are not. Even some who profess to keep all the commandments of God are guilty of the sin of adultery. What can I say to arouse their benumbed sensibilities? Moral principle, strictly carried out, becomes the only safeguard of the soul. If ever there was a time when the diet should be of the most simple kind, it is now. Meat should not be placed before our children. Its influence is to excite and strengthen the lower passions and has a tendency to deaden the moral powers. Grains and fruits prepared free from grease, and in as natural a condition as possible, should be the food for the tables of all who claim to be preparing for translation to heaven. The less feverish the diet, the more easily can the passions be controlled. Gratification of taste should not be consulted irrespective of physical, intellectual, or moral health.
Indulgence of the baser passions will lead very many to shut their eyes to the light, for they fear that they will see sins which they are unwilling to forsake. All may see if they will. If they choose darkness rather than light, their criminality will be none the less. Why do not men and women read, and become intelligent upon these things, which so decidedly affect their physical, intellectual, and moral strength? God has given you a habitation to care for and preserve in the best condition for His service and glory. Your bodies are not your own. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17.
Satan rejoices to have sinners enter the church as professed Sabbathkeepers, while they allow him to control their minds and affections, using them to deceive and corrupt others.
In this degenerate age many will be found who are so blinded to the sinfulness of sin that they choose a licentious life, because it suits the natural and perverse inclination of the heart. Instead of facing the mirror, the law of God, and bringing their hearts and characters up to God's standard, they allow Satan's agents to erect his standard in their hearts. Corrupt men think it easier to misinterpret the Scriptures to sustain them in their iniquity, than to yield up their corruption and sin and be pure in heart and life.
There are more men of this stamp than many have imagined, and they will multiply as we draw near the end of time. Unless they are rooted and grounded in the truth of the Bible and have a living connection with God, many will be infatuated and deceived. Dangers unseen beset our path. Our only safety is in constant watchfulness and prayer. The nearer we live to Jesus, the more will we partake of His pure and holy character; and the more offensive sin appears to us, the more exalted and desirable will appear the purity and brightness of Christ. . . .
There is always a bewitching power in heresies and in licentiousness. The mind is so deluded that it cannot reason intelligently, and an illusion is continually leading it from purity. The spiritual eyesight becomes blurred, and persons of hitherto untainted morals become confused under the delusive sophistry of those agents of Satan who profess to be messengers of light. It is this delusion which gives these agents power. Should they come out boldly and make their advances openly, they would be repulsed without a moment's hesitation; but they work first to gain sympathy and secure confidence in them as holy, self-sacrificing men of God. As his special messengers, they then begin their artful work of drawing away souls from the path of rectitude, by attempting to make void the law of God.
When ministers thus take advantage of the confidence the people place in them and lead souls to ruin, they make themselves as much more guilty than the common sinner as their profession is higher. In the day of God, when the great Ledger of Heaven is opened, it will be found to contain the names of many ministers who have made pretensions to purity of heart and life and professed to be entrusted with the gospel of Christ, but who have taken advantage of their position to allure souls to transgress the law of God . . . .
If the society of a man of impure mind and licentious habits is chosen in preference to that of the virtuous and pure, it is a sure indication that the tastes and inclinations harmonize, that a low level of morals is reached. This level is called by these deceived, infatuated souls, a high and holy affinity of spirit--a spiritual harmony. But the apostle terms it "spiritual wickedness in high places," against which we are to institute a vigorous warfare.
When the deceiver commences his work of deception, he frequently finds dissimilarity of tastes and habits, but by great pretensions to godliness he gains the confidence, and when this is done, his wily, deceptive power is exercised in his own way, to carry out his devices. By associating with this dangerous element, women become accustomed to breathe the atmosphere of impurity and almost insensibly become permeated with the same spirit. Their identity is lost; they become the shadow of their seducer.
Men professing to have new light, claiming to be reformers, will have great influence over a certain class who are convinced of the heresies that exist in the present age and who are not satisfied with the spiritual condition of the churches. With true, honest hearts, these desire to see a change for the better, a coming up to a higher standard. If the faithful servants of Christ would present the truth, pure and unadulterated, to this class, they would accept it and purify themselves by obeying it. But Satan, ever vigilant, sets upon the track of these inquiring souls. Someone making high profession as a reformer comes to them, as Satan came to Christ, disguised as an angel of light, and draws them still farther from the path of right.
The unhappiness and degradation that follow in the train of licentiousness cannot be estimated. The world is defiled under its inhabitants. They have nearly filled up the measure of their iniquity; but that which will bring the heaviest retribution, is the practice of iniquity under the cloak of godliness. The Redeemer of the world never spurned true repentance, however great the guilt; but He hurls burning denunciations against Pharisees and hypocrites. There is more hope for the open sinner than for this class. . . .
As Christ's ambassador, I entreat you who profess present truth to promptly resent any approach to impurity and forsake the society of those who breathe an impure suggestion. Loathe these defiling sins with the most intense hatred. Flee from those who would, even in conversation, let the mind run in such a channel; "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34.
As those who practice these defiling sins are steadily increasing in the world and would intrude themselves into our churches, I warn you to give no place to them. Turn from the seducer. Though a professed follower of Christ, he is Satan in the form of man; he has borrowed the livery of heaven that he may the better serve his master. You should not for one moment give place to an impure, covert suggestion; for even this will stain the soul, as impure water defiles the channel through which it passes.
Choose poverty, reproach, separation from friends, or any suffering, rather than to defile the soul with sin. Death before dishonor or the transgression of God's law, should be the motto of every Christian. As a people professing to be reformers, treasuring the most solemn, purifying truths of God's word, we must elevate the standard far higher than it is at the present time. Sin and sinners in the church must be promptly dealt with, that others may not be contaminated. Truth and purity require that we make more thorough work to cleanse the camp from Achans. Let those in responsible positions not suffer sin in a brother. Show him that he must either put away his sins or be separated from the church.
The wise man says that wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Proverbs 3:17. Many cherish the impression that devotion to God is detrimental to health and to cheerful happiness in the social relations of life. But those who walk in the path of wisdom and holiness find that "godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Timothy 4:8. They are alive to the enjoyment of life's real pleasures, while they are not troubled with vain regrets over misspent hours, nor with gloom or horror of mind, as the worldling too often is when not diverted by some exciting amusement. . . .
Godliness does not conflict with the laws of health, but is in harmony with them. Had men ever been obedient to the law of Ten Commandments, had they carried out in their lives the principles of these ten precepts, the curse of disease that now floods the world would not be. Men may teach that trifling amusements are necessary to keep the mind above despondency. The mind may indeed be thus diverted for the time being; but after the excitement is over, calm reflection comes. Conscience arouses and makes her voice heard, saying, "This is not the way to obtain health or true happiness."
There are many amusements that excite the mind, but depression is sure to follow. Other modes of recreation are innocent and healthful; but useful labor that affords physical exercise will often have a more beneficial influence upon the mind, while at the same time it will strengthen the muscles, improve the circulation, and prove a powerful agent in the recovery of health.
"What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles." Psalm 34:12-17.
The consciousness of rightdoing is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. The special blessing of God resting upon the receiver is health and strength. One whose mind is quiet and satisfied in God is on the highway to health. To have the consciousness that the eye of the Lord is upon us, and that His ear is open to our prayers, is a satisfaction indeed. To know that we have a never-failing Friend to whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul, is a happiness which words can never express. Those whose moral faculties are clouded by disease are not the ones to rightly represent the Christian life or the beauties of holiness. They are too often in the fire of fanaticism or the water of cold indifference or stolid gloom.
Those who do not feel that it is a religious duty to discipline the mind to dwell upon cheerful subjects, will usually be found at one of two extremes: they will be elated by a continual round of exciting amusements, indulging in frivolous conversation, laughing and joking, or they will be depressed, having great trials and mental conflicts, which they think but few have ever experienced or can understand. These persons may profess Christianity, but they deceive their own souls. . . .
Despondent feelings are frequently the result of too much leisure. The hands and mind should be occupied in useful labor, lightening the burdens of others; and those who are thus employed will benefit themselves also. Idleness gives time to brood over imaginary sorrows; and frequently those who do not have real hardships and trials, will borrow them from the future.
There is much deception carried on under the cover of religion. Passion controls the minds of many who have become depraved in thought and feeling in consequence of "pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness." Ezekiel 16:49. These deceived souls flatter themselves that they are spiritually minded and especially consecrated, when their religious experience consists in a sickly sentimentalism rather than in purity, true goodness, and humiliation of self. The mind should be drawn away from self; its powers should be exercised in devising means to make others happier and better. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27.
True religion ennobles the mind, refines the taste, sanctifies the judgment, and makes its possessor a partaker of the purity and the holiness of heaven. It brings angels near and separates us more and more from the spirit and influence of the world. It enters into all the acts and relations of life and gives us the "spirit of a sound mind," and the result is happiness and peace.
Said the apostle Paul to his Philippian brethren, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Adopt this as the rule of life. "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:8, 6, 7.
The work of educating in medical missionary lines is an advance step of great importance in awakening man to his moral responsibilities. Had the ministers taken hold of this work in its various departments in accordance with the light which God has given, there would have been a most decided reformation in eating, drinking, and dressing. But some have stood directly in the way of the advance of health reform. They have held the people back by their indifferent or condemnatory remarks, or by pleasantries and jokes. They themselves and a large number of others have been sufferers unto death, but all have not yet learned wisdom.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 377 (1900).
Satan found his way into Eden and made Eve believe that she needed something more than that which God had given for her happiness, that the forbidden fruit would have a special exhilarating influence upon her body and mind and would exalt her even to be equal with God in knowledge. But the knowledge and benefit she thought to gain proved to her a terrible curse.
There are persons with a diseased imagination to whom religion is a tyrant, ruling them as with a rod of iron. Such are constantly mourning over their depravity and groaning over supposed evil. Love does not exist in their hearts; a frown is ever upon their countenances. They are chilled with the innocent laugh from the youth or from anyone. They consider all recreation or amusement a sin and think that the mind must be constantly wrought up to just such a stern, severe pitch. This is one extreme. Others think that the mind must be ever on the stretch to invent new amusements and diversions in order to gain health. They learn to depend on excitement, and are uneasy without it. Such are not true Christians. They go to another extreme. The true principles of Christianity open before all a source of happiness, the height and depth, the length and breadth of which are immeasurable. It is Christ in us a well of water springing up into everlasting life. It is a continual wellspring from which the Christian can drink at will and never exhaust the fountain.
That which brings sickness of body and mind to nearly all, is dissatisfied feelings and discontented repinings. They have not God, they have not the hope which reaches to that within the veil, which is as an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast. All who possess this hope will purify themselves even as He is pure. Such are free from restless longings, repinings, and discontent; they are not continually looking for evil and brooding over borrowed trouble. But we see many who are having a time of trouble beforehand; anxiety is stamped upon every feature; they seem to find no consolation, but have a continual fearful looking for of some dreadful evil.
Such dishonor God and bring the religion of Christ into disrepute. They have not true love for God, nor for their companions and children. Their affections have become morbid. But vain amusements will never correct the minds of such. They need the transforming influence of the Spirit of God in order to be happy. They need to be benefited by the meditation of Christ, in order to realize consolation, divine and substantial. "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him speak peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." 1 Peter 3:10-12. Those who have an experimental knowledge of this scripture are truly happy. They consider the approbation of Heaven of more worth than any earthly amusement; Christ in them the hope of glory will be health to the body and strength to the soul.
Ministers and physicians, in your work you are bearing weighty responsibilities. Let not your thoughts become cheap or common or selfish, for want of the grace of Christ. Our preparation for the home above must be wrought out in this life. The grace of Christ must be woven into every phase of the character.
I am to say to all who claim to be converted, Are your hearts truly changed, and are you watching unto prayer, preserving a thoughtful, consistent course of action, that you may have not a semblance of religion, but the precious, genuine article? Ministers and physicians, when you accepted Christ did you experience a deep sense of spiritual need? How much it means to you who are to be ministers of righteousness, to accept the heavenly gift of light and love and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. You are to be imbued with such love for Christ that you will yield to Him your whole affections, surrendering your life to Him who gave His life for you. Imbued with the love of Christ, you are to be constrained to perform acts of unselfish service until such acts become your life practice. Daily growth into the life of Christ creates in the soul a heaven of peace; in such a life there is continual fruit bearing.
Brethren and sisters, we need the reformation that all who are redeemed must have, through the cleansing of mind and heart from every taint of sin. In the lives of those who are ransomed by the blood of Christ, self-sacrifice will constantly appear. Goodness and righteousness will be seen. The quiet, inward experience will make the life full of godliness, faith, meekness, patience. This is to be our daily experience. We are to form characters free from sin--characters made righteous in and by the grace of Christ. . . . Our hearts are to be cleansed from all impurity in the blood shed to take away sin.
When ministers adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour, and when physicians reveal in words and works, and in their influence, the healing grace of Christ, when the Saviour is revealed as the One altogether lovely, a great work will be done in behalf of other souls. God calls for truth in the inner sanctuary of the soul, that the whole being may be a representation of the life of Christ. . . .
I entreat my brethren and sisters who are ministers or physicians, to work out in their lives the precious principles of truth, that others may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus and have learned of Him who is pure and holy and undefiled, without rebuke in a sinful and corrupt generation. Then many will be turned to the Lord through the earnest efforts made in their behalf by those who know the truth.
When temperance is presented as a part of the gospel, many will see their need of reform. They will see the evil of intoxicating liquors, and that total abstinence is the only platform on which God's people can conscientiously stand. As this instruction is given, the people will become interested in other lines of Bible study.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 75 (1902).