“The Lord has seen our backslidings, and he has a controversy with his people. Their pride, their selfishness, their opening of the mind to doubt and unbelief, are manifest in his sight, and grieve his heart of love. Many gather darkness about their souls as a garment, and virtually say,”We want not a knowledge of thy way, O God; we choose our own way.” These are the things that separate the soul from God. There is in the soul of man an obstacle which he holds there with stubborn persistency, and which interposes between his soul and God. It is unbelief. God gives sufficient evidence, but man, with his unsanctified will, refuses to receive evidence unless it comes in his own way, to favor his own ideas. With a spirit of bravado he cries, “Proof, proof, is what we want,” and turns away from the evidence that God gives. He talks doubt, unbelief, sowing the seeds of evil which will spring up and yield their harvest. He is separating his soul farther and farther from God.
Is it proof that such men need? Is it evidence that is wanting?–No; the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is given to help all such souls who are turning away from positive evidence, and crying, “Proof”! The rich man asked that one might be sent from the dead to warn his brethren, lest they come to the place of torment. “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Why is it that men do not believe upon sufficient evidence?–Because they do not want to be convinced. They have no disposition to give up their own will for God’s will. They are unwilling to acknowledge that they have cherished sinful unbelief in resisting the light that God has given them. They have been hunting for doubts, for pegs upon which to hang their unbelief. They have been ready to accept testimony which is weak and insufficient, testimony which God has not given them in his word, but which pleases them because it agrees with their ideas, and is in harmony with their disposition and will. These souls are in great peril. If they will bow their proud will, and put it on God’s side of the question; if they will with humble, contrite hearts seek for the light, believing that there is light for them, then they will see light, because the eye is single to discern the light which comes from God. They will acknowledge the evidence of divine authority. Spiritual truths will shine forth from the divine page. But the heart must be open for the reception of light, for Satan is ever ready to obscure the precious truth which would make them wise unto salvation. If any do not receive it, it will forever remain a mystery of mysteries to them.
We should earnestly seek to know and appreciate the truth, that we may present it to others as it is in Jesus. We need to have a correct estimate of the value of our own souls; then we would not be as reckless in regard to our course of action as at present. We would seek most earnestly to know God’s way; we would work in an opposite direction from selfishness, and our constant prayer would be that we might have the mind of Christ, that we might be molded and fashioned after his likeness. It is in looking to Jesus and beholding his loveliness, having our eyes steadfastly fixed upon him, that we become changed into his image. He will give grace to all that keep his way, and do his will, and walk in truth. But those who love their own way, who worship their idols of opinion, and do not love God and obey his word, will continue to walk in darkness. O, how terrible is unbelief! As well let light be poured upon the blind, as to present truth to these souls; the one cannot see, and the other will not see.
I beseech you whose names are registered on the church-book as worthy members, to be indeed worthy, through the virtue of Christ. Mercy and truth and the love of God are promised to the humble and contrite soul. The displeasure and judgments of God are against those who persist in walking in their own ways, loving self, loving the praise of men. They will certainly be swept into the satanic delusions of these last days, because they received not the love of the truth. Because the Lord has, in former days, blessed and honored them, they flatter themselves that they are chosen and true, and do not need warning and instruction and reproof. The True Witness says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” The professed people of God have the charge against them, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
The love to Jesus that once burned upon the altar of the heart, has become dimmed and nearly extinguished. Spiritual strength has become enfeebled. The displeasure of the Lord is against his people. In their present condition it is impossible for them to represent the character of Christ. And when the True Witness has sent them counsel, reproof, and warnings because he loves them, they have refused to receive the message; they have refused to come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved. Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . Therefore doth my Father love me.” “By taking your sins upon myself, I am opening a channel through which his grace can flow to all who will accept it. In giving myself for the sin of the world, I have prepared a way for the unrepressed tide of his love to flow to men.”
All heaven is filled with amazement, that when this love, so broad, so deep, so rich and full, is presented to men who have known the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, they are so indifferent, so cold and unmoved. What does it mean that such amazing grace does not soften our hard hearts? O! it is because of the power of unbelief; because “thou hast left thy first love.” This is why the word of God has so little influence. It is as a fire, but it cannot penetrate nor warm the ice-bound heart that cherishes unbelief.
There is a lack of moral and spiritual power throughout our Conferences. Many churches do not have light in themselves. The members do not give evidence that they are branches of the True Vine, by bearing much fruit to the glory of God, but appear to be withering away. Their Redeemer has withdrawn his light, the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, from their assemblies; for they have ceased to represent the self-denial, the sympathy and compassionate love of the world’s Redeemer; they have not love for the souls for whom Christ has died. They have ceased to be true and faithful. It is a sad picture,–the feeble piety, the want of consecration and devotion to God. There has been a separation of the soul from God; many have cut off the communication between him and the soul by refusing his messengers and his message.” The Review and Herald, December 23, 1890.
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