Ellen G. White Writings

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Bible Echo and Signs of the Times

February 1, 1886

The Swiss Conference and the European Council

The Swiss Conference was held at Basle, September 10-14, and was followed by the European Council, which continued until the 28th. The Conference was quite generally attended by our Swiss brethren, and by representatives from Germany, France, Italy, and Roumania. The Council was attended by laborers from England, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, and Roumania. The meetings increased in interest from the first. The congregation was divided into three parts, those speaking German, French, and English, each company occupying a different part of the hall. Two interpreters followed the speaker. If the sermon or testimony was given in English, it was translated into French and German. If given in French, it was translated into German and English, and into French and English if given in German. This way of speaking was rather embarrassing at first; but this soon wore away, and it has been far less taxing to me than my usual manner of continuous speaking, and has given more time for meditation on what has been said.

The Lord especially blessed in speaking Sunday afternoon. All listened with the deepest interest, and at the close of the discourse an invitation was given for all who desired to be Christians, and all who felt that they had not a living connection with God, to come forward, and we would unite our prayers with theirs for the pardon of sin, and for grace to resist temptation. This was a new experience for many of our brethren in Europe, but they did not hesitate. It seemed that the entire congregation were on their feet, and the best they could do was to be seated, and all seek the Lord together. Here was an entire congregation manifesting their determination to put sin away, and to engage most earnestly in the work of seeking God. In every company there are two classes, the self-complacent and the self-abhorring. To the first class the gospel has no charms except as they can construe detached portions to flatter their vanity. They love those peculiar features of lofty morality which they think they possess. But many of those who view Jesus in the perfection of his character see their own imperfections in such a light that they are almost in despair. Such was the case here; but the Lord was present to instruct and reprove, to comfort and bless as the several cases required. Earnest prayer was then offered, not for a happy flight of feeling, but for a true sense of our sinfulness, and of our hopelessness without the atoning sacrifice. Never did Jesus seem dearer than on this occasion. There was weeping throughout the congregation. The promise was grasped, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” If the vail could have been withdrawn, we should have seen angels of God standing to minister to the humble, penitent ones. After prayer, one hundred testimonies were borne. Many of these showed a real, genuine experience in the things of God.

The Holy Spirit operates the same the world over. When it is received into the heart, the whole character is changed. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Old habits and customs, and national pride and prejudice are broken down. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” When these are abiding in the soul, there will be unity of thought and action.

Monday afternoon I spoke upon the necessity of laboring for unity and cultivating Christian courtesy, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The effect of truth upon the heart is to cleanse it from every defilement. It will not increase self love, but will lead the receiver to humble his heart, and to ascribe nothing to self, but all to God. He ceases to esteem himself more highly than his brethren. His former sensitiveness to reproach, neglect, or contempt disappears, and he is not so easily irritated; he becomes gentle and condescending, and exemplifies the simplicity of Christ who was meek and lowly of heart. His own nation and personal friends are no longer the boundary lines of his love. He loves Jesus with all his heart, and all who are trying to be the children of God he loves as himself. There is an entire change in his life. Whereas he once lived for himself, he now lives for God's glory, and holds up the cross of Christ as his banner, to be adored by all.

A baptism followed the discourse. Fourteen went forward in the ordinance. This was the first time the baptistery connected with the new meeting hall had been used, and it is to be hoped that many others may follow these dear souls. God grant that none of these may ever forget their baptismal vows; but may they take heed to the words of the apostle: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Will those who have recently taken the cross of Christ, both here and in all our missions throughout the world continue to climb the ladder of progress? Will they grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth? Will they live upon the plan of addition, so that God can work for them upon the plan of multiplication in bestowing his grace and salvation? It remains for each to answer these questions for himself.

I felt urged by the spirit of God throughout the meetings to impress upon all the importance of cultivating love and unity. I tried to present the danger of building up separate interests between nationalities. We are all bound together in the great web of humanity, and all that we do has a relation to others. There is a great work before us, and our hearts must be open to receive God's light and love that we may reflect it to others. There is a light in truth and a power in example, which will reach the indifferent and the unconverted. In the days of the apostles the Holy Spirit was the efficient agent in reaching hearts, and it would be so now if there was that exercise of living faith now that there was then. True piety and earnest zeal are greatly lacking. There is too much half-hearted religion. Many are superficial. They confess their sins without realizing the hatefulness of sin in God's sight, and without repenting with brokenness of heart. This is renouncing the world, but not forsaking it. The truth, the sacred, sanctifying truth, does not abide in the heart.

The end of all things is at hand. Our time to work is short, and there is a world to be warned. We feel the need of having more thorough missionary work done. The calls are urgent for more laborers, but where are the light-bearers to the world? God has sent the truth to our doors, but are we doing all in our power to send it to the dark corners of the world?

Mrs. E. G. White

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