Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

January 4, 1887

Led by the Spirit

[A discourse given in the tabernacle Sabbath, July 16, 1881.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

In the first of these verses there is presented the class that cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Those that do the things here specified shall not inherit that kingdom. But there is presented another class, who can and will enter the kingdom of God, who will have a right to enter there; and they are those who are working to attain such a position that they will have a moral fitness to stand around the great white throne in their white robes of character. In the day of their probation they realized the importance of the work to be done, and took hold of it understandingly and intelligently. They saw that there was a great work to be done in order to obtain a fitness of character for the kingdom of God. They knew that no one could do their work for them; that no one could believe for them; that no one could form a character for them. It was an individual work, a personal effort.

Here is held out the very thing for which we are to labor: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” If we have the love of Christ in our souls, it will be a natural consequence for us to have all the other graces,—joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;” and “against such there is no law.” The law of God does not condemn and hold in bondage those who have these graces; because they are obeying the requirements of the law of God. They are law-keepers, and therefore they are not under the bondage of the law.

Some time ago, when we were passing through Oswego, N. Y., we saw two stern officers, and with them two men were coupled, carrying in their hands large leaden balls. We did not come to the conclusion that they had been keeping the law of the State of New York, but that they had been breaking it, and that they could not walk at liberty because they were transgressors of the law. We were trying to live in harmony with all the laws of the State of New York, and with the law of God; and we were walking at liberty,—we were not under the bondage of the law. If we live in harmony with the life of Christ, with the law of God, that law does not condemn us—we are not under the bondage of the law.

There are two courses of action which we may pursue. One leads us away from God, and shuts us out of his kingdom; and in this path are envyings, strife, murder, and all evil deeds. The other course of action we are to follow, and in its pursuance will be found joy, peace, harmony, and love. Love—that is what we are to cherish; and what we need most is the love of Christ in our hearts. We are more destitute of this precious boon than of anything else. It is the love that glowed in the bosom of Jesus which we most need; and when it is in the heart, it will reveal itself. Can we have the love of Jesus Christ in the heart, and that love not go out to others? It cannot be there without testifying that it is there. It will reveal itself in the words, in the very expression of the countenance.

Not long since, I heard a sick child say that some one did not love him. He was asked why he said so. “How do you know that he does not love you?” “Why I can tell just as soon as I look at him that he does not like me; I know he doesn't love me.” A child reads the very look in the eye, and understands the expression of the countenance; and cannot persons of maturer age tell when there is love in the heart? for it will manifest itself in the deportment, in the words, in the actions, in the expression of the face. Is it a marvel to us that a child can tell who are his friends? Is it anything strange that he knows that certain people are fond of him? Then it should not take us many months to tell whether the love of Christ is in the heart, whether it is overflowing from it.

When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart, like sweet fragrance it cannot be hidden. The holy influence it reflects through the character will be manifest to all. Christ will be formed within, “the hope of glory.” His light and his love will be there; his presence will be felt. There have been times when the blessing of God has been bestowed in answer to prayer, so that when others have come into the room, no sooner did they step over the threshold than they exclaimed. “The Lord is here!” Not a word had been uttered; but the blessed influence of God's holy presence was sensibly felt. The joy that comes from Jesus Christ was there; and in this sense the Lord had been in the room just as verily as he walked through the streets of Jerusalem, or appeared to the disciples when they were in the upper chamber, and said, “Peace be unto you.”

When our eldest son, in whom we had the brightest hopes, and upon whom we expected to lean, and whom we had solemnly dedicated to God, was taken from us; when we had closed his eyes in death, and mourned in great sorrow because of our affliction, then there came a peace into my soul that was beyond description, that was past understanding. I could think of the morn of the resurrection; I could think of the future, when the great Life-giver will come and break the fetters of the tomb, and call forth the righteous dead from their dusty beds; when he will release the captives from their prison houses; that then our son will be among the living ones again. In this there was a peace, there was a joy, there was a consolation, that was beyond description. And why?—Because I felt that my hand was placed in the hand of Jesus Christ; that I was his and he was mine, that he loved me, and that I loved him; and that this affliction was an evidence of his love. I could lean upon the strong arm of the Saviour through all that suffering and affliction; and then I felt that he would sustain me in every trial to the end. How good and gracious a Father we have! We can lean our whole weight upon him, and he will bear us up. It is this virtue that connects us with Jesus; and here the work commences with us.

I have before spoken to you of the plan of addition—Peter's ladder of eight rounds. “Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is something to have a knowledge of Jesus Christ. We should make this our highest, our first, and our last aim. In the verses read in your hearing today, we see that we are to have love, and connected with this are joy, peace, long-suffering, patience. We see the restlessness of the world, their dissatisfied condition. They want something they have not. They want something to keep up an excitement, or something for amusement. But for the Christian there is joy, there is peace, there is long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, and patience; and to these things we want to open the door of our heart, cherishing the heavenly graces of the Spirit of God. Are we every one of us doing this? One cannot do it for another. You may set to work, and obtain the graces of the Spirit; but that will not answer for me. There may be forty or fifty here who will set about cultivating these Christian graces; but that will not do for the remainder of you. Each one individually must do the work, and determine through personal efforts to have the grace of God in the heart. I cannot form a character for you, nor can you for me. It is a burden that rests upon every one individually, young or old.

It has been said of men of gray hairs that there is no danger of their shrinking from their post of duty; but in the case of Solomon, when he became old, we learn that he lost his connection with God. And why?—Because he sought after the renown, honor, and riches of this world; because he took wives from among the idolatrous nations, and became allied with those nations. It is true that by this alliance he brought gold from Ophir and silver from Tarshish; but it was at the expense of virtue, of principle, of integrity of character.

All through the history of the Jewish nation we see that the people of God, whether old or young, had to keep themselves distinct and separate from the idolatrous nations around them. God has a people today; and it is just as necessary now as anciently that his people should keep themselves distinct and separate, pure and unspotted from the world, its spirit, and its influences, because the world sets up a standard opposed to the standard of truth and righteousness.

If I profess to be a servant of Jesus Christ, should I follow a worldly standard, and have my course of action such as to meet the demands of the world? or should I take for my example Him who was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,—Him who so pitied a fallen race that he laid aside his kingly robe, left the royal courts of heaven, and came down to this world of pollution and sin, and took upon himself the form of man, and for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich? What shall we do? take for our example Him who was mocked and abused, who was the light of the world, though the world knew him not? or shall we follow after the pattern of the world?

The people of God are the repositories of his law, and he tells us that we are to be a separate and distinct people. But are we to shut ourselves away from the world so that we can have no influence upon them? Christ says: “Ye are the light of the world;” and that light, he tells us, is not to be hidden under a bushel, or put under a bed, but on a candlestick, that it may give light unto all that are in the house. What does that mean?—It means that the righteous are to give light to all that are in the world. Christ came into the world to provide a way whereby man in his own behalf might fight the battles of the Lord, and be admitted to sit down at the right hand of God.

What a work is this! When Christ left the world he committed a work into our hands. While here he himself carried his work forward; but when he ascended to heaven his followers were left to take it up where he left it. Others took up the work where the disciples left it; and so it has been carried on until now we have the work to do in our time. And as Jesus ascended, and the clouds received him out of the sight of his disciples, who were attempting to catch the last glimpse of him, he said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Thus we have a life companion. We do not have to walk alone. We can carry all our sorrows and griefs, troubles and trials, afflictions and cares, and pour them into the ear that is open to hear, of One who is pleading before the Father the merits of his own blood. He is pleading his wounds—My hands, my hands! “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” He offers the wounded hands to God, and his petitions are heard, and swift angels are sent to minister to fallen man, to lift up and to sustain.

Our danger, then, is in separating from God, and in mingling with the spirit and influence of the world. If you think that you are to bring the world to see and sense the claims that high heaven has upon them; if you think that by letting the standard down you can convert sinners, you are most deluded. Christ was in the world, yet he was not of the world. He kept the standard exalted; and that is how every minister, every Christian, and every man that feels any responsibility in the cause of God is to show whether he is connected with God. All are to represent Heaven.

In your school exercises, do you represent Heaven? Do you elevate the mind to take hold upon God, so that the students may go to their homes with the impression that in the College here at Battle Creek a work is being done to fit souls for heaven, for the companionship of heavenly angels? or are you seeking to bring in the world's standard, even degrading your exercises below the world's standard?

I remember that when I was in Salem, Oregon, there was a large class about to graduate from the college in that place, and they desired to have an address given to the graduating class; and it was announced that I would address them on “The Perils of Youth and the Formation of Character.” They seemed to be very anxious to hear upon this subject. The house was full, although it was the largest church in Oregon; and there seemed to be a solemn impression throughout the entire audience. There was no mirth, nor spirit of jesting, nor anything to which the least exception might be taken. As I saw those youth before me, and realized the importance of the occasion, I felt an inspiration come over me. I might never meet them again until we should meet around the bar of God. I might never see them again until we should see each other in the Judgment; and I felt as though I never had had such an opportunity to say, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”

Why is it not the duty of every professor, and every teacher, and every one who acts any part in our College, to present Jesus? Lift him up, him who died for us, and in whom all our hopes of eternal life are centered. Lift him up, and let them understand that he it is who made an infinite sacrifice for them! Lift him up, and show them how he left the royal courts of heaven, and was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that he might elevate them to his throne at last! Lift him up, oh! lift him up before the people, those who are hungering and thirsting for the bread of life; for there is a fountain open in Jerusalem that they may drink and be satisfied.

Jesus, precious Saviour! I see in him matchless charms! He is the One altogether lovely. He is the chief among ten thousand. I present him to you,—one who can take away the sin of the world; “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Here are the youth growing up in our midst. I speak to you, dear brethren and sisters, as an embassador of Christ; I speak to you who profess to be Christ's followers, and I ask you, What influence are you exerting upon the youth? what are you doing for those in your own homes? A record has gone up before God of what you have done to save them, or of the opportunities that you have let pass by unimproved. Shall it be seen that souls have been driven away from Christ rather than gathered to him, because you have not been connected with Heaven; because you were molded after the world's standard, and presented that before them; because you were devotees of fashion and of pleasure, thus attracting and diverting their minds from the true standard, which is Christ Jesus? God have pity upon us!

We are doing work for eternity. I want to do it better. I want to do it so that it will stand the test of the Judgment; that when the Judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man judged according to the things written in the books, it will there be seen that I have a clean record, without blot; that I have led the right path heavenward, and that I have done what I could to win souls to Christ. Oh that I could speak so as to arouse men and women to realize the importance of the time in which we live! that now is the time of salvation, that now is the time to work. God forbid that we should be idle and asleep, and in the resurrection morn it be said, If it had not been for you, I should have been saved. God forbid that we should allow the spirit and influence of the world to come in, and draw others away upon the wrong track. Here is where the two paths diverge; here is where many will be led astray. And in the day of God many will say, This is why I went into infidelity. I saw that there was no power or worthiness in the church, or among the ministers, and therefore I chose the other path, which has led me to death and destruction. In agony of soul they will seek the rocks and mountains, and cry, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

I feel intensely upon this subject. Day and night it bears upon my soul. Oftentimes when all others in the house were asleep, I have pleaded before God that he would give me wisdom and strength to guide the feet of souls into the path which leads to eternal life. Many times I have gone before him at midnight and entreated for help and wisdom that I might be able to lead the minds of my children in the channel of truth. I did not ask him to give them worldly honors, but that we might raise them up in the ways of truth and righteousness, and that they might love to do the will of God. Mothers have a great responsibility resting upon them; and in the day of God what will be the account which they will have to render to him for the influence they have exerted over the youth under their charge? I want to work for God every hour of my life, and every moment; and then I want to crowd in all the work I can consistent with the amount of strength he gives me.

I want the young to wear at last crowns of immortal glory. Said the inspired apostle, “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, ... and have overcome the wicked one.” And here are young men whom Jesus wants to come into his arms. Here are young men whom God wants to go forth with all the armor on, to fight the battles of the Lord. Young men, will you hear his voice? Will you listen, oh! will you listen to his call? Will you not come to the Lord, and find in him your strength? Will you not give yourselves to him today? Can you not say, Here am I, Lord, and all that I am is thine? Thou hast bought me, and I am thine. Take me just as I am, and wash me from the defilement of sin. Help me to honor thee in the earth, and give me an immortal tongue that I may praise thee throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

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