Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

October 5, 1886

The Conference in Sweden

By Mrs. E. G. White

Tuesday evening, June 15, in company with Sr. McEnterfer and Sr. Kristine Dahl, of Christiana, Norway, I left Basel, to attend the Conference in Orebro, Sweden, and general meetings in Christiana and Copenhagen. W. C. White had gone to Leipsic with Elds. Whitney and Conradi, on business connected with the publishing work at Basel, and it had been arranged that we should join him at Hamburg. But on Monday I had an attack of pleurisy, which, though yielding for a time to treatment, returned the next day with greater severity. Every breath was painful. It seemed impossible for me to travel, especially at night. To take a sleeping car, for one night only, would involve an extra expense of ten or twelve dollars, and this was out of the question. Yet it was necessary for us to leave Basel that night in order to reach Orebro before the Sabbath. Although appearances were against us, we determined not to be hindered. We looked to the Lord in faith, and he gave me help. Though not entirely freed from pain, I was relieved from the intense suffering. On the cars we had a compartment to ourselves, and were able to secure some rest.

We reached Hamburg in safety, where we met my son. From this place a three hours’ ride brought us at midnight to Kiel, on an arm of the Baltic Sea. Thence we were conveyed in a small steamer to the shores of Denmark. We traveled by rail to Copenhagen, and again embarked on a steamer for Malmo, Sweden. Here, on the afternoon of the 17th, we took the cars for Orebro, which is situated near the central part of Sweden.

From Hamburg, Sr. Dahl went direct to Christiana, and we were left to make our own way as best we could. Those who are accustomed to traveling in the United States, where one can go from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean without change of country or language, making a journey of nearly four thousand miles with three or four changes and little delay, can hardly appreciate the difficulties of European travel to those who know little of any language except the English, where every day brings one to a new country, with its strange language, its peculiar customs, its customhouses, and frequent changes. At Malmo, however, we found a gentlemanly official who could speak English, and who kindly rendered us assistance. On taking the train for Orebro, we were told that we would not change cars till midnight; and as we had a compartment to ourselves, we determined to improve the time till then in sleeping. About ten o'clock, however, we were abruptly aroused. The Swedish officials came to our door and with great earnestness rattled off something, of which we could only distinguish, “straxe,” “straxe.” What was wanted we could not comprehend, yet there was evident need of haste. They finally made us to understand that we were to change cars immediately, and we sleepily gathered up our belongings, and went where we were directed.

In Sweden we are as far north as Labrador and Hudson's Bay, and the days in summer are very long. The last night of our journey we could hardly call night. The sun did not go out of sight till past nine o'clock, and the long twilight continued till eleven. At 2 a. m. the dawn was already gilding the eastern sky, broad belts of crimson and gold reflecting the light of the sun, which had not yet appeared above the horizon. At three the sun was shining brightly. A sunrise at this early hour was a sight which we had never before witnessed.

We reached Orebro Friday morning, and were soon in the home of Sr. Jacobson, who entertained us at our visit last fall. Here we were pleased to meet Eld. Olsen and his son, recently from America, Bro. and Sr. Matteson, from Stockholm, Sweden, and Eld. Oyen, from Christiana, Norway.

The number of Sabbath-keepers in Orebro is not large, but there is a little company who are striving to obey the truth. When we were here last fall, the meetings were held in a very unfavorable place to obtain an outside attendance. Since that time our people have hired a new hall, which is neat and convenient, and which will seat three hundred persons. This is much larger than is needed for their Sabbath meetings, which are attended by about a score. But during the Conference it was frequently filled, and many were obliged to go away, unable to obtain an entrance.

The Conference was preceded by a meeting for missionary workers, which, beginning June 16, continued one week. There was a larger attendance of our brethren than we had expected, both at these meetings and at the Conference. We have ten churches in Sweden, and though widely scattered, all but one was represented by delegate. There were, in all, between fifty and sixty brethren and sisters present.

The time was well filled up with meetings varying in character, but all-important for those who contemplate giving themselves to the work in any capacity. The morning meetings, held at half past six, were well attended, and they were profitable seasons. The Spirit of the Lord was manifested, and many testified that they had received increased light, and were strengthened and blessed. I spoke six times in the morning meetings, and five times upon other occasions. We were much encouraged by the testimonies borne at these meetings, and to see the brethren eagerly grasping new ideas, and rejoicing in the light given.

Sweden has as yet had but little labor, and the sound of the truth has reached but few ears; yet it is a good field, and earnest, persevering efforts should be made to extend the knowledge of the truth. Calls are coming in from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden for meetings to be held in the large cities, where a few have already been raised up. We look at these cities with pain that we have not more missionaries to send to them. The few who have received the truth in different places are left almost without help, when they should be visited often, and educated to become workers. The openings are many; but where are the laborers?

In Sweden most of our brethren are poor, and as they look at appearances it seems impossible for them to do much to sustain and extend the work. But in the early days of the cause in America similar difficulties had to be met. There were very few at first who accepted the truth, and nearly all of them were poor. We were obliged to practice the strictest economy; we pressed our wants into as close a compass as possible, that we might have even a limited amount of our own hard-earned means to use in advancing the work. Sometimes it seemed that we must come to a stand-still, that the publication of the truth must stop. But after we had done to the utmost of our ability, we cried unto the Lord, and he heard us. Some one would be raised up to supply the present pressing necessity, and as we moved forward, new strength was given us to make advance moves.

It is only by faith, self-denial, and persevering effort that this work can be carried forward. The poorer class have embraced the truth, and it seems to be so ordered in the providence of God that these should be educated and disciplined to strain every nerve and arouse every power, to do that which, if they were to look at appearances, would be impossible. All the mental and financial strength of those who believe the truth must be called out. If they walk by faith, as we were obliged to do at the commencement of the work, God will work with their efforts. When they have done all that they can do, and have gained the experience which God would have them gain in lifting the burdens of responsibility, then he will raise up men to teach the truth, and also men of means to push the work.

In the beginning, the work goes hard and slow. Now is the time when all should bend their shoulders to raise the load and carry it forward. Advance we must, though the Red Sea be before us, and impassable mountains on either hand. God has been with us and has blessed our efforts. We must work by faith. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” We are to pray, believe that our prayers are heard, and then work.

The work may now seem small; but there must be a beginning before there can be any progress. “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” The work may start in weakness, and its progress may for a time be slow; yet if it is commenced in a healthy manner, there will be a steady and substantial gain. A high standard should be placed before those who are newly come to the faith. They should be educated to be careful in speech and circumspect in conduct, giving evidence that the truth has accomplished something for them, and thus by their example shedding light upon those who are in darkness. All who accept the truth are to be lights in the world, not merely in profession, but in good works. Wherever an effort is made to raise up a church, thorough and faithful instructions should be given to those who accept the truth. No part of the work should be neglected, and they should not be left to themselves when the laborer goes to a new field, but should still receive care and instruction. Let nothing be left in an incomplete, slipshod manner. Whatever is done, should be done with thoroughness. The few who are thus brought into the truth will in time accomplish more than if there is a greater number uneducated, untrained, who do not realize their responsibility, and whose peculiarities are woven into their religious experience. It will be far more difficult to undo that which has been done wrong, and put another mold on the work, than to take the work from the very beginning.

Those who have received the truth may be poor, but they should not remain ignorant or defective in character, to give the same mold, by their influence, to others. When the church fully receives the light, darkness will be dispelled; and if in holiness of character they keep pace with the truth revealed, their light will grow brighter and brighter. The truth will do its refining work, restoring the moral image of God in man, and the darkness and confusion and strife of tongues which is the curse of so many churches, will cease. The power that God will give to his church, if they will only walk in the light as fast as it shines upon them, is scarcely conceived of.

The Lord is soon to come, and the message of warning is to go forth to all nations, tongues, and peoples. While God's cause is calling for means and laborers, what are those doing who live under the full light of the present truth? There are some who feel no burden for souls. While they claim to believe that the end is at hand, covetousness has blinded their eyes to the wants of the cause of God. The means which he has placed in their hands to be used to his glory, they are binding up in houses and lands, while the saving truth, which God has intrusted to us to be given to the world, is hedged about and shut in by poverty. God calls upon every individual believer to do to the utmost of his ability, and then to pray in faith for God to do what man cannot.

My brother, you cannot be a Christian and cherish covetousness. You cannot be a Christian and not be a missionary. When you hear that there are thousands upon thousands who are in the darkness of error and superstition, knowing not the things that are coming upon the earth, how can you enjoy the truth and remain at ease? You may feel that the little you can do will be so inadequate to the demand that you will do nothing; but if each will do what he can, God will bless the effort, and the treasury will not be empty. If you were perishing from cold and hunger, would you call one your friend who refused even to attempt to relieve you? Think of the multitudes in foreign lands who are perishing for want of the bread of life in the precious, saving truths for this time; and remember that Christ identifies his interest with that of these needy ones. “Inasmuch,” he says, “as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

During the meetings at Orebro, I was urged by the Spirit of the Lord to present his law as the great standard of righteousness, and to warn our people against the modern, counterfeit sanctification which has its origin in will-worship rather than in submission to the will of God. This error is fast flooding the world, and as God's witnesses we shall be called to bear a decided testimony against it. It is one of the veriest delusions of the last days, and will prove a temptation to all who believe present truth. Those who have not their faith firmly established upon the word of God will be misled. And the saddest part of it all is that so few who are deceived by this error ever find their way to the light again.

The Bible is the standard by which to test the claims of all who profess sanctification. Jesus prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and he says, “Thy word is truth;” while the psalmist declares, “Thy law is the truth.” All whom God is leading will manifest a high regard for the Scriptures in which his voice is heard. The Bible will be to them “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” We need no other evidence in order to judge of men's sanctification; if they are fearful lest they shall not obey the whole will of God, if they are listening diligently to his voice, trusting in his wisdom, and making his word the man of their counsel, then, while they make no boasts of superior goodness, we may be sure that they are seeking to attain to perfection of Christian character. But if the claimants of holiness even intimate that they are no longer required to search the Scriptures, we need not hesitate to pronounce their sanctification spurious. They are leaning to their own understanding, instead of conforming to the will of God.

God requires at this time just what he required of the holy pair in Eden, perfect obedience to his requirements. His law remains the same in all ages. The great standard of righteousness presented in the Old Testament is not lowered in the New. It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God's holy law, but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts.

The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. “Believe, believe,” is their cry; “only believe in Christ, and you will be saved. It is all you have to do.” While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works. And the apostle John declares, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

It is unsafe to trust to feelings or impressions; these are unreliable guides. God's law is the only correct standard of holiness. It is by this law that character is to be judged. If an inquirer after salvation were to ask, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” the modern teachers of sanctification would answer, “Only believe that Jesus saves you.” But when Christ was asked this question he said, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” And when the questioner replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, ... and thy neighbor as thyself,” Jesus said, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” True sanctification will be evidenced by a conscientious regard for all the commandments of God, by a careful improvement of every talent, by a circumspect conversation, by revealing in every act the meekness of Christ.

A number of persons were present at this meeting who held to the popular theory of sanctification; and as the claims of God's law were presented, and the true character of this error was shown, one man was so much offended that he rose abruptly and left the meeting-hall. I afterward heard that he had come from Stockholm to attend the meeting. In conversation with one of our ministers, he claimed to be sinless, and said that he had no need of the Bible, for the Lord told him directly what to do; he was far beyond the Bible teachings. What can be expected of those who follow their own imaginings rather than God's word, but that they will be deluded? They cast away the only detector of error, and what is to prevent the great deceiver from leading them captive at his will?

This man represents a class. Spurious sanctification leads directly away from the Bible. Religion is reduced to a fable. Feelings and impressions are made the criterion. While they profess to be sinless, and boast of their righteousness, the claimants of sanctification teach that men are at liberty to transgress the law of God, and that those who obey its precepts have fallen from grace. A presentation of its claims arouses their opposition, and excites anger and contempt. Thus their character is shown, for “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

The true follower of Christ will make no boastful claims to holiness. It is by the law of God that the sinner is convicted. He sees his own sinfulness in contrast with the perfect righteousness which it enjoins, and this leads him to humility and repentance. He becomes reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, and as he continues to walk with him he will be gaining a clearer sense of the holiness of God's character and the far-reaching nature of his requirements. He will see more clearly his own defects, and will feel the need of continual repentance, and faith in the blood of Christ. He who bears with him a continual sense of the presence of Christ, cannot indulge self-confidence or self-righteousness. None of the prophets or apostles made proud boasts of holiness. The nearer they came to perfection of character, the less worthy and righteous they viewed themselves. But those who have the least sense of the perfection of Jesus, those whose eyes are least directed to him, are the ones who make the strongest claim to perfection.

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