Chapter 9—Safeguarding the New Experience
The Contest Following the Revival
After the outpouring of the Spirit of God in Battle Creek it was proved in the college that a time of great spiritual light is also a time of corresponding spiritual darkness. Satan and his legions of satanic agencies are on the ground, pressing their powers upon every soul to make of none effect the showers of grace that have come from heaven to revive and quicken the dormant energies into decided action to impart that which God has imparted. Had all the many souls, then enlightened, gone to work at once to impart to others that which God had given to them for that very purpose, more light would have been given, more power bestowed. God does not give light merely for one person but that he may diffuse light, and God be glorified. Its influence is felt.
In every age seasons of spiritual revival and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit have been followed by spiritual darkness and prevailing corruptions. Taking into account that which God has done in opportunities and privileges and blessings in Battle Creek, the church has not made honorable progress in doing her work, and God's blessing will not rest upon the church in advancing still more light until they use the light as God has directed in His Word. The light that would shine in clear and distinct rays will grow dim amid the moral darkness. The aggressive power of the truth of God is dependent upon the cooperation of the human agent with God in piety, in zeal, in unselfish efforts to get the light of truth before others.—Manuscript 45, 1893.
Peril of Confusing the Spirit's Work With Fanaticism
There have been things written to me in regard to the movings of the Spirit of God at the last conference (1893), and at the college, which clearly indicate that because these blessings were not lived up to, minds have been confused, and that which was light from heaven has been called excitement. I have been made sad to have this matter viewed in this light. We must be very careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in pronouncing the ministration of His Holy Spirit a species of fanaticism. How shall we understand the workings of the Spirit of God if it was not revealed in clear and unmistakable lines, not only in Battle Creek but in many places?
I am not surprised that anyone should be confused at the after result. But in my experience of the past forty-nine years I have seen much of these things, and I have known that God has wrought in a marked manner; and let no one venture to say this is not the Spirit of God. It is just that which we are authorized to believe and pray for, for God is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than parents are to give good gifts unto their children. But the Holy Spirit is not for the human agent to work; it is to work and use the human agent. That God did abundantly bless the students in the school and the church, I have not one doubt; but a period of great light and the outpouring of the Spirit is quite generally followed by a time of great darkness. Why? Because the enemy works with all his deceiving energies to make of none effect the deep movings of the Spirit of God on the human subject.
When the students at the school went into their match games and football playing, when they became absorbed in the amusement question, Satan saw it a good time to step in and make of none effect the Holy Spirit of God in molding and using the human subject. Had the teachers to a man done their duty, had they realized their accountability, had they stood in moral independence before God, had they used the ability which God had given them according to the sanctification of the spirit through the love of the truth, they would have had spiritual strength and divine enlightenment to press on and on and upward on the ladder of progress reaching heavenward. The fact is evident that they did not appreciate or walk in the light or follow the Light of the world.
It is an easy matter to idle away, talk and play away, the Holy Spirit's influence. To walk in the light is to keep moving onward in the direction of light. If the one blessed becomes negligent and inattentive and does not watch unto prayer, if he does not lift the cross and bear the yoke of Christ, if his love of amusements and strivings for the mastery absorb his power or ability, then God is not made the first and best and last in everything, and Satan comes in to act his part in playing the game of life for his soul. He can play much more earnestly than they can play, and make deep-laid plots for the ruin of the soul. ...
The results after the working of the Spirit of God in Battle Creek are not because of fanaticism, but because those who were blessed did not show forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light; and when the earth is lightened with the glory of God, some will not know what it is, and from whence it came, because they misapplied and misinterpreted the Spirit shed upon them. God is a jealous God of His own glory. He will not honor those who dishonor Him. Some persons living in the light ought to have instructed these souls young in experience to walk in the light after they had received the light. I wish I had time to write more fully, but I fear I have not.—Letter 58, 1893.
Easy Ways to Lose the Blessing
Some things have been urged upon my mind with great force of late, and I feel constrained by the Spirit of God to write in reference to them.2 Has the Lord graciously opened to you the windows of heaven and poured you out a blessing? Oh! Then, that was the very time to educate the teachers and students how to retain the precious favor of God by working in accordance with increased light, and send its precious rays to others. Has Heaven's light been given? And for what purpose has it been given? That the light should shine forth in practical works of righteousness. When those so abundantly blessed shall be seen with deeper and more fervent piety, having a sense that they have been bought with the precious blood of the Lamb of God, and are clothed with the garments of His salvation, will they not represent Christ?
Have not the playing of games, and rewards, and the using of the boxing glove been educating and training after Satan's direction to lead to the possession of his attributes? What if they could see Jesus, the Man of Calvary looking upon them in sorrow, as was represented to me. Things are certainly receiving a wrong mold, and are counteracting the work of the divine power which has been graciously bestowed. The work of every true Christian is to represent Christ, to reflect light, to elevate the standard of morals, and by words and influence consecrated to God, to compel the careless and reckless to think of God and eternity. The world would gladly drop eternity out of their reckoning, but they cannot succeed so long as there are those who represent Christ in their practical life.
Every believer forms a link in the golden chain connecting the soul to Jesus Christ, and is the channel of communication of that light to those who are in darkness. Let one lose his connection with Christ, and Satan seizes the opportunity to lead him to dishonor Christ by words, by spirit, by action, and thus Christ's character is misinterpreted. I ask you, my brother, if the religion of Jesus Christ is not by the excess of the amusements misunderstood. When the Lord gave to Battle Creek the riches of His grace, were there those in responsibility who could have directed these souls as to how to improve upon the endowment given, in doing good, useful work that would give a change from their studies, other than the excitement and emotions caused by their games? This kind of pastime is not improving mind or spirit or manners for the preparation for the scenes of trial that they must soon enter. The superficial piety that passes for religion will be consumed when tried in the furnace.
The Lord would have the teachers consider the contagion of their own example. They need to pray much more and consider that the convictions which flow out from a well-ordered life and a godly conversation, from a living, decided Christianity, are the preparation of the garden of the heart for the seeds of truth to be planted for a fruitful harvest, and for the Sun of Righteousness when He comes with healing in His beams. Let your righteousness so shine before men, “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Ye are, said Christ to His disciples, “the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13). The church illuminates the world, not by their profession of godliness, but by their manifestation of the transforming, sanctifying power of the truth on life and character. ...
The time is altogether too full of tokens of the coming conflict to be educating the youth in fun and games.—Letter 46, 1893.
Danger of Light Becoming Darkness
The Lord has condescended to give you an outpouring of His Holy Spirit. At the camp meetings, and in our various institutions, a great blessing has been showered upon you. You have been visited by the heavenly messengers of light and truth and power, and it should not be thought a strange thing that God should thus bless you. How does Christ subdue His chosen people to Himself? It is by the power of His Holy Spirit; for the Holy Spirit, through the Scriptures, speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the hearts of men. Before His crucifixion, Christ promised that the Comforter should be sent to His disciples. He said: “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. ...When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:7, 8, 13-15).
This promise of Christ has been made little enough of, and because of a dearth of the Spirit of God, the spirituality of the law and its eternal obligations have not been comprehended. Those who have professed to love Christ, have not comprehended the relation which exists between them and God, and it is still but dimly outlined to their understanding. They but vaguely comprehend the amazing grace of God in giving His only-begotten Son for the salvation of the world. They do not understand how far reaching are the claims of the holy law, how intimately the precepts of the law are to be brought into practical life. They do not realize what a great privilege and necessity are prayer, repentance, and the doing of the words of Christ. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to reveal to the mind the character of the consecration that God will accept. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, the soul is enlightened, and the character is renewed, sanctified, and uplifted.
Through the deep movings of the Spirit of God, I have had opened before me the character of the work of the visitation of the Spirit of God. I have had opened before me the danger in which souls would be placed who had been thus visited; for afterward, they would have to meet fiercer assaults of the enemy, who would press upon them his temptations to make of none effect the workings of the Spirit of God, and cause that the momentous truths presented and witnessed by the Holy Spirit, should not purify and sanctify those who had received the light of heaven, and thus cause that Christ should not be glorified in them.
The period of great spiritual light, if that light is not sacredly cherished and acted upon, will be turned into a time of corresponding spiritual darkness. The impression made by the Spirit of God, if men do not cherish the sacred impression, and occupy holy ground, will fade from the mind. Those who would advance in spiritual knowledge must stand by the very fount of God, and drink again and again from the wells of salvation so graciously opened unto them. They must never leave the source of refreshment; but with hearts swelling with gratitude and love at the display of the goodness and compassion of God, they must be continually partakers of the living water.
Oh, how much this means to every soul—“I am the light of the world”; “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger (for anything more satisfying); and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 8:12; 6:35).To come to this condition means that you have found the Source of light and love, and have learned when and how you may be replenished, and may make use of the promises of God by continually applying them to your souls.
“But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not” (John 6:36). This has been literally fulfilled in the cases of many; for the Lord gave them a deeper insight into truth, into His character of mercy and compassion and love; and yet after being thus enlightened, they have turned from Him in unbelief. They saw the deep movings of the Spirit of God; but when the insidious temptations of Satan came in, as they always will come after a season of revival, they did not resist unto blood, striving against sin; and those who might have stood on vantage ground, had they made a right use of the precious enlightenment that they had, were overcome by the enemy. They should have reflected the light that God gave to them upon the souls of others; they should have worked and acted in harmony with the sacred revealings of the Holy Spirit; and in not doing so, they suffered loss.
Spiritual Victory Lost to the Passions for Games
Among the students the spirit of fun and frolic was indulged. They became so interested in playing games that the Lord was crowded out of their minds; and Jesus stood among you in the playground, saying, O that thou hadst known, “even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” (Luke 19:42). “Ye also have seen me, and believe not” (John 6:36). Yes; Christ revealed Himself to you, and deep impressions were made as the Holy Spirit moved upon your hearts; but you pursued a course by which you lost these sacred impressions, and failed to maintain the victory. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). You began to come to Christ, but you did not abide in Christ. You forsook Him, and the realization you had had of the great favors and blessings He had given you, was lost from your heart. The question of amusement occupied so large a place in your minds, that after the solemn visitation of the Spirit of God, you entered into its discussion with such great zeal that all barriers were broken down; and through your passion for games, you neglected to heed the word of Christ: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (Mark 14:38). The place that should have been occupied by Jesus was usurped by your passion for games. You chose your amusements instead of the comfort of the Holy Spirit. You did not follow the example of Jesus, who said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
The minds of many are so bewildered with their own human desires and inclinations, and they have been so in the habit of indulging them, that they cannot comprehend the true sense of the Scriptures. Many suppose that in following Christ they will be obliged to be gloomy and disconsolate, because they are required to deny themselves the pleasures and follies that the world indulge in. The living Christian will be filled with cheerfulness and peace, because he lives as seeing Him who is invisible; and those who seek Christ in His true character have within them the elements of everlasting life, because they are partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Jesus said, “This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39, 40).
The Child of God a Laborer With God
All spiritual life is derived from Jesus Christ. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). But what is the sure result of becoming a child of God? The result is that we become laborers together with God. There is a great work to be done for your own soul's salvation, and to qualify you to win others from unbelief to a life sustained by faith in Christ Jesus: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me (with a casual faith?—No, with an abiding faith that works by love and purifies the soul) hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. ... I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. ... Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. ... It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:47, 48, 51, 53, 54, 63-65).
When Jesus spoke these words, He spoke them with authority, assurance, and power. At times He manifested Himself in such a way that the deep movings of His Spirit were sensibly realized. But many who saw and heard and participated in the blessings of the hour, went their way, and soon forgot the light He had given them.
The treasures of eternity have been committed to the keeping of Jesus Christ, to give to whomsoever He will; but how sad it is that so many quickly lose sight of the precious grace that is proffered unto them through faith in Him. He will impart the heavenly treasures to those who will believe in Him, look to Him, and abide in Him. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and He knows no restraint nor control in bestowing the heavenly treasures upon whom He will. He does not exalt and honor the great ones of the world, who are flattered and applauded; but He calls upon His chosen, peculiar people who love and serve Him, to come unto Him and ask, and He will give them the bread of life, and endow them with the water of life, which shall be in them as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.
Jesus brought to our world the accumulated treasures of God, and all who believe upon Him are adopted as His heirs. He declares that great shall be the reward of them who suffer for His name's sake, It is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).—The Review and Herald, January 30, 1894.
Was the Blessing Cherished?
In order to increase our spiritual endowment, it is necessary to walk in the light. In view of the event of Christ's soon coming, we must be vigilantly working to prepare our own souls, to keep our own lamps trimmed and burning, and to urge upon others the necessity of getting ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. Watching and working must go together; faith and works must be united, or our characters will not be symmetrical and well-balanced, perfect in Christ Jesus.
Should we give our lives up to prayerful meditation, our lights would grow dim, for light is given to us that we may impart it to others, and the more we impart light, the brighter our own light will become. If there is any one thing in the world in which we may manifest enthusiasm, it may be manifested in seeking the salvation of the souls for whom Christ died. Work of this kind will not cause us to neglect personal piety. The exhortation is given for us to be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
To have an eye single to the glory of God means to have singleness of purpose, to show forth the work that has been wrought in your heart, that subdues your will to the will of God, and brings into captivity every thought to the glory of God. The world has been looking upon you to see what would be the afterinfluence of the work of revival that came to the college, the sanitarium, the office of publication, and to the members of the church in Battle Creek. What testimony have you borne in your daily life and character?
God expected you all to do your best, not to please, amuse, and glorify yourselves, but to honor Him in all your ways, returning unto Him according to the light and privileges that He had given you through the endowment of His grace. He expected you to testify before heavenly intelligences, and to be living witnesses to the world, of the power of the grace of Christ. The Lord tested you, to see if you would treat His rich blessing as a cheap, light matter, or regard it as a rich treasure to be handled with reverent awe. If all had treated the gift of God in this manner—for the work was of God—then, according to the measure of each one's responsibility, the grace given would have been doubled, as were the talents of him who traded diligently with his lord's money.
A Blessing Turned Into a Curse
God has been testing the fidelity of His people, proving them to see what use they would make of His intrusted precious blessing. This blessing came from our Intercessor and Advocate in the heavenly courts; but Satan was ready to enter any avenue that was open for him, in order that he might turn the light and blessing into darkness and cursing.
How may the blessing be turned into a curse? By persuading the human agent not to cherish the light, or not to reveal to the world that it has been effective in transforming the character. Imbued with the Holy Spirit, the human agent consecrates himself to cooperate with divine agencies. He bears the yoke of Christ, lifts his burdens, and works in Christ's line to gain precious victories. He walks in the light as Christ is in the light. The scripture is fulfilled to him, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Another year has now passed into eternity with its burden of record; and the light which shone from heaven upon you was to prepare you to arise and shine, to show forth the praises of God to the world as His commandment-keeping people. You were to be living witnesses; but if no special endeavor of a high and holy character bears testimony before the world, if no higher effort has been made than that which is seen in the popular churches of the day, then the name of God has not been honored, and His truth has not been magnified before the world, by presenting divine credentials in the people who have received great light. If they have had no greater appreciation of the manifest power of God than to eat and drink, and rise up to play, as did ancient Israel, then how can the Lord trust His people with rich and gracious manifestations? If they act directly contrary in almost every respect to the known will of God, and are found in carelessness, in levity, in selfishness, in ambition and pride, corrupting their way before the Lord, how can He give them another outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
God has the richest blessing for His people; but He cannot bestow it until they know how to treat the precious gift in showing forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1, 2). A portion of the joy which was set before Christ, was the joy of seeing His truth armed with the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit, impressing His image upon the life and character of His followers.
Divine intelligences cooperate with human agencies as they seek to magnify the law and make it honorable. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. It is in the converted soul that the world sees a living testimony. Then shall the Lord of heaven have room to work? Shall He find a place in the hearts of those who claim to believe the truth? Shall His pure, disinterested benevolence meet with a response from the human agent? Shall the world see a display of the glory of Christ in the characters of those who profess to be His disciples? Shall Christ be favored and glorified in seeing His own sympathy and love pouring forth in streams of goodness and truth from His human agents? In implanting His gospel in the heart, He is pouring out the resources of heaven for the blessing of the world. “We are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
What has the rich blessing of God done for those who were humble and contrite in heart to receive it? Has the blessing been cherished? Have the receivers been showing forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light? There are some who are already questioning the work that was so good, and that should have been most highly appreciated. They are looking upon it as a certain species of fanaticism.
Be Exceedingly Careful
It would be surprising if there were not some, who, not being well-balanced in mind, have spoken and acted indiscreetly; for whenever and wherever the Lord works in giving a genuine blessing, a counterfeit is also revealed, in order to make of none effect the true work of God. Therefore we need to be exceedingly careful, and walk humbly before God, that we may have spiritual eye-salve that we may distinguish the working of the Holy Spirit of God from the working of that spirit that would bring in wild license and fanaticism. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). Those who are really beholding Christ will be changed into His image, even by the Spirit of the Lord, and will grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God will inspire men with love and purity; and refinement will be manifest in their characters.
But because some have misappropriated the rich blessing of heaven, shall others deny that Jesus, the Saviour of the world, has passed through our churches, and that to bless? Let not doubt and unbelief question this; for in so doing, you are treading on dangerous ground. God has given the Holy Spirit to those who have opened the door of their hearts to receive the heavenly gift. But let them not yield to the temptation afterward to believe that they have been deceived. Let them not say, “Because I feel darkness, and am oppressed with doubt, and never saw Satan's power so manifest as now, therefore I was mistaken.” I warn you to be careful. Sow not one expression of doubt. God has wrought for you, bringing sound doctrines of truth into actual contact with the heart. Blessing was given you, that it might produce fruit in sound practices and upright character.
The Sin of Rejecting Evidence
The sin for which Christ reproved Chorazin and Bethsaida was the sin of rejecting evidence that would have convinced them of the truth, had they yielded to its power. The sin of the scribes and Pharisees was the sin of placing the heavenly work which had been wrought before them in the darkness of unbelief, so that the evidence which should have led them into a settled faith was questioned, and the sacred things which should have been cherished were regarded as of no value. I fear that the people have permitted the enemy to work along these very lines, so that the good which emanated from God, the rich blessing which He has given, have come to be regarded by some as fanaticism.
If this attitude is preserved, then when the Lord shall again let His light shine upon the people, they will turn from the heavenly illumination, saying, “I felt the same in 1893, and some in whom I have had confidence, said that the work was fanaticism.” Will not those who have received the rich grace of God, and who take the position that the working of the Holy Spirit was fanaticism, be ready to denounce the operations of the Spirit of God in the future, and the heart thus be proof against the solicitations of the still, small voice? The love of Jesus may be presented to those who thus barricade themselves against it, and exercise no constraining power upon them. The riches of the grace of heaven may be bestowed and yet rejected, instead of being cherished and gratefully recognized. With the heart men did believe unto righteousness, and for a time confession was made unto salvation; but, sad to relate, the receiver did not cooperate with heavenly intelligences, and cherish the light by working the works of righteousness.—The Review and Herald, February 6, 1894.