Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

July 5, 1906

Notes of Travel—No. 3

The Judgments of God on Our Cities

Mrs. E. G. White

It was while we were still at Loma Linda, the second night after the dedication of the sanitarium, that there passed before me an awful scene of buildings shaken down and destroyed, with great loss of life. I have already described this scene, in the article, “The San Francisco Earthquake.”

Terrible as was the representation that passed before me, that which impressed itself most vividly on my mind was the instruction given in connection with it. The angel that stood by my side declared that God's supreme rulership, and the sacredness of his law, must be revealed to those who persistently refuse to render obedience to the King of kings. Those who choose to remain disloyal, must be visited in mercy with judgments, in order that, if possible, they may be aroused to a realization of the sinfulness of their course.

Throughout the following day, I pondered the scenes that had passed before me, and the instruction that had been given. During the afternoon we journeyed to Glendale, near Los Angeles; and the following night I was again instructed regarding the holiness and binding claims of the ten commandments, and the supremacy of God above all earthly rulers. It seemed as if I were before many people, and presenting scripture after scripture in support of the precepts spoken by the Lord from Sinai's height.

It has taken me many days to write out a portion of that which was revealed those two nights at Loma Linda and Glendale. I have not finished yet, as many other matters of urgent importance have come up for consideration. I hope soon to write several articles on God's law, and the blessings that are promised the obedient.

Our God is the Ruler of the universe. His law is of universal application. It is founded on love,—love to God, and love to our fellow men. Satan's supreme efforts are directed toward the setting aside of this law. In this work he has been largely successful. There is a marked disposition to exalt human enactments above the law of our Sovereign Ruler, the Monarch of the heavens and the earth. The world is filled with transgression. A spirit of lawlessness pervades every land, and is especially manifest in the great cities of the earth. The sin and crime to be seen in our cities is appalling. God can not forbear much longer. Already his judgments are beginning to fall on some places, and soon his signal displeasure will be felt in other places.

There is to be, at this period, a series of events which will reveal that God is Master of the situation. The truth will be proclaimed in clear, unmistakable language. As a people, we must prepare the way of the Lord, under the overruling guidance of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is to be given in its purity. The stream of living water is to deepen and widen in its course. In all fields, nigh and afar off, men will be called from the plow and from the more common commercial business vocations that largely occupy the mind, and will be educated in connection with men of experience. As they learn to labor effectively, they will proclaim the truth with power. Through most wonderful workings of divine providence, mountains of difficulties will be removed, and cast into the sea. The message that means so much to the dwellers upon the earth, will be heard and understood. Men will know what is truth. Onward, and still onward the work will advance, until the whole earth shall have been warned. And then shall the end come.

The startling and stupendous events connected with the warning of the world are fraught with momentous results. The messengers who proclaim the truth for this time are laboring in co-operation with all the forces of heaven. In tender compassion God himself is speaking to an impenitent world through judgments; and he will continue to speak in this manner. For many years we have known that the great cities would be visited with divine judgments because of long-continued disobedience. In no uncertain words the Lord has warned us not to establish large institutions in the cities. “Out of the cities; out of the cities,”—this is the message that has often come to us. And this is one reason why the Lord has been opening the way so wonderfully for our publishing houses and sanitariums and schools to be located in country places.

The cities must be worked. The millions living in these congested centers are to hear the third angel's message. This work should have been developed rapidly during the past few years. A beginning has been made, for which we praise God. Outpost centers are being established, from whence, like Enoch of old, our workers can visit the cities and do faithful service.

This was the burden of my message to the brethren and sisters assembled in conference at Los Angeles. On the morning of the San Francisco earthquake, April 18, the second day after the scene of falling buildings had passed before me, I spoke in the Carr Street church, and bore a decided testimony on the necessity of our doing all we can to acquaint the people with the teachings of God's Word. I referred to the great work that must be done in the cities of our land, and of our inability to do this work by establishing institutions in the heart of these cities. We must learn to labor from outpost centers, and to place our dependence, not on buildings or display, but on the power of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will impress the honest heart. Our dependence is in God.

“Out of the cities; out of the cities!”—this is the message the Lord has been giving me. The earthquakes will come; the floods will come; and we are not to establish ourselves in the wicked cities, where the enemy is served in every way, and where God is so often forgotten. The Lord desires that we shall have clear spiritual eyesight. We must be quick to discern the peril that would attend the establishment of institutions in these wicked cities. We must make wise plans to warn the cities, and at the same time live where we can shield our children and ourselves from the contaminating and demoralizing influences so prevalent in these places.

Since the San Francisco earthquake, many rumors have been current regarding statements I have made. Some have reported that while in Los Angeles, I claimed that I had predicted the San Francisco earthquake and fire, and that Los Angeles would be the next city to suffer. This is not true. The morning after the earthquake, I said no more than that “the earthquakes will come; the floods will come;” and that the Lord's message to us is that we shall “not establish ourselves in the wicked cities.”

Not many years ago, a brother laboring in New York City published some very startling notices regarding the destruction of that city. I wrote immediately to the ones in charge of the work there, saying that it was not wise to publish such notices; that thus an excitement might be aroused which would result in a fanatical movement, hurting the cause of God. It is enough to present the truth of the Word of God to the people. Startling notices are detrimental to the progress of the work.

Under date of August 9, 1903, I further wrote regarding this sensational report:

“How comes the word that I have declared that New York is to be swept away by a tidal wave? This I have never said. I have said, as I looked at the great buildings going up there, story after story, ‘What terrible scenes will take place when the Lord shall arise to shake terribly the earth! Then the words of Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled.’ The whole of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is a warning of what is coming on the earth. But I have no light in particular in regard to what is coming on New York, only that I know that one day the great buildings there will be thrown down by the turning and overturning of God's power. From the light given me, I know that destruction is in the world. One word from the Lord, one touch of his mighty power, and these massive structures will fall. Scenes will take place the fearfulness of which we can not imagine.

“But I have sent cautions to the brethren working in New York, saying that these flaming, terrifying notices should not be published. When my brethren go to extremes, it reacts on me, and I have to bear the reproach of being called a false prophet....

“The destroying angels are today executing their commission. Death will come in all places. This is why I am so anxious for our cities to be warned. There is a work to be done by canvassing in our cities that has not yet been done.... The blessing of God rests on the workers who warn those that are unready to meet him.... Now is our time to work.”

For the past twenty years, and particularly since my return from Australia, I have borne a most decided testimony in favor of proclaiming the third angel's message in the cities of America.

About thirty years ago, when my husband and I were planning for the building of a house of worship in San Francisco, some, when they saw the plan, said, “It is too large. The house will never be filled.” At the same time, we were erecting the first building of the Pacific Press and the meeting-house in Oakland. How great was the anxiety felt, and how earnest the prayers offered to God that he would open the way for the advancement of these enterprises!

At that time, I dreamed that I saw two beehives, one in San Francisco and one in Oakland. In the hive in Oakland, the bees were diligently at work. Then I looked at the hive in San Francisco, and saw very little being done. The hive in Oakland seemed to be far the more promising. After a time my attention was again called to the hive in San Francisco, and I saw that an entire change had taken place. Great activity was seen among the bees. They were earnestly at work.

When I related this dream, it was interpreted to mean that in San Francisco there was a great work to be done. There were among us at that time only a few men to whom we could look for large financial assistance. Believers were few in number, and we needed much courage and much faith to brace us for the work.

We prayed much in regard to the necessities of the cause and the meaning of the dream, and resolved to venture out in accordance with the light given. My husband and I decided to sell our property in Battle Creek, that we might use the proceeds in this work. We wrote to our brethren, “Sell everything we have in Battle Creek, and send us the money at once.” This was done, and we helped to build the churches in Oakland and San Francisco. And the Lord revealed to us that although at first the work in San Francisco would move slowly, yet it would make steady advancement, and San Francisco would become a great center. The Lord would inspire men by his Holy Spirit to carry forward the work with faith and courage and perseverance.

Before leaving Australia, I dreamed that I was standing before a large congregation in San Francisco; that the Lord gave me a message to bear, and freedom in bearing this message. The people had ears to hear, and hearts to understand.

Sabbath morning, November 10, 1900, we entered the San Francisco church, and found it crowded to its utmost capacity. As I stood before the people, I thought of the dream and the instruction which had been given me so many years ago, and I was much encouraged. Looking at the people assembled, I felt that I could indeed say, The Lord has fulfilled his word.

During the past few years, the “beehive” in San Francisco has been indeed a busy one. Many lines of Christian effort have been carried forward by our brethren and sisters there. These included visiting the sick and destitute, finding homes for orphans, and work for the unemployed; nursing the sick, and teaching the truth from house to house; the distribution of literature, and the conducting of classes on healthful living and the care of the sick. A school for the children has been conducted in the basement of the Laguna Street meeting-house. For a time a working men's home and medical mission was maintained. On Market Street, near the city hall, there were treatment rooms, operated as a branch of the St. Helena Sanitarium. In the same locality was a health food store. Nearer the center of the city, not far from the Call building, was conducted a vegetarian cafe, which was open six days in the week, and entirely closed on the Sabbath. Along the water front, ship mission work was carried on. At various times our ministers conducted meetings in large halls in the city. Thus the warning message was given by many.

I have carried a constant burden for our work in the large cities. Nearly two years after meeting with our brethren and sisters in the San Francisco church since my return to America, I wrote the following (September 1, 1902):

“The all-wise God is working on minds, leading men to see the advantage of getting away from the congested cities into the country.... It would be a mistake for us to purchase or erect large buildings in the cities of southern California for sanitarium work; and those who see advantages in doing this are not moving understandingly. A great work is to be done in preparing these cities to hear the gospel message; but this work is not to be done by fitting up in them large buildings for the carrying forward of some wonderful enterprise.

“Well-equipped tent-meetings should be held in the large cities, such as San Francisco; for not long hence these cities will suffer under the judgments of God. San Francisco and Oakland are becoming as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord will visit them in wrath.”

In this same manuscript, the opening of hygienic restaurants was mentioned as “a work that God would have done in the cities. If wisely conducted, these restaurants will become missionary centers.”

Some weeks later, October 8, 1902, I wrote: “For years I have been given special light that we are not to center our work in the cities. The turmoil and confusion that fills these cities, the conditions brought about by the labor unions and the strikes, would prove a great hindrance to our work.”

October 30, 1902: “To parents who are living in the cities, the Lord is sending the warning cry, Gather your children into your own houses; gather them away from those who are disregarding the commandments of God, who are teaching and practising evil. Get out of the cities as fast as possible. Parents can secure small homes in the country, with land for cultivation, where the children will not be surrounded with the corrupting influences of city life. God will help his people to find such homes outside the cities.”

November 28, 1902: “A great work is to be done. I am instructed by the Spirit of God to say to those engaged in the Lord's work, that the favorable time for our message to be carried to the cities has passed by; and this work has not been done. I feel a heavy burden that we shall now redeem the time.”

April 20, 1903: “The message of warning should be sounded in the large, wicked cities, such as San Francisco. San Francisco and Oakland are becoming as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord will visit them. Not far hence they will suffer under his judgments.”

June 20, 1903: “The judgments of God are in our land. The Lord is soon to come. In fire and flood and earthquake, he is warning the inhabitants of this earth of his soon approach. O that the people may know the time of their visitation!

“We have no time to lose. We must make more determined efforts to lead the people of the world to see that the day of judgment is at hand.... O, if our people would feel as they should the responsibility resting upon them to give the last message of mercy to the world, what a wonderful work would be done! We need the impartation of the Holy Spirit, that we may realize how closely heavenly things are bound up with God's church on this earth.”

June 3, 1903: “There are many with whom the Spirit of God is striving. The time of God's destructive judgments is the time of mercy for those who have no opportunity to learn what is truth. Tenderly will the Lord look upon them. His heart of mercy is touched; his hand is still stretched out to save, while the door is closed to those who would not enter. Large numbers will be admitted who in these last days hear the truth for the first time. The Lord calls upon every believer to consecrate himself wholly to his service. All are to work for him, according to their several ability.”

November 12, 1902: “The time is nearing when the great crisis in the history of the world will have come, when every movement in the government of God will be watched with intense interest and inexpressible apprehension. In quick succession the judgments of God will follow one another,—fire and flood and earthquakes, with war and bloodshed. Something great and decisive will soon of necessity take place.”

May 27, 1903: “The mercy of God is shown by his long forbearance. He is holding back his judgments, waiting for the message of warning to be sounded to all. There are many who have not yet heard the testing truths for this time. The last call of mercy is to be given more fully to our world. The truths of the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of Revelation should be read and understood by all.”

April 9, 1903: “The divine statutes have been set aside. The time will soon come when God will vindicate his insulted authority. ‘The Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: and the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.’ ‘Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?’”

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