Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

February 7, 1893

“Seek First the Kingdom of God”

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Concluded.)

Those who are more desirous of securing promotion and a good name in the world than of maintaining right principles, will betray sacred trusts. They will cripple their own influence, they will darken counsel by their words, and make false reasoning to look sound and right. All the success and patronage that can be secured by policy plans will serve only as a snare to those who work on this principle.

Some are flattering themselves that a more auspicious time is coming, when God will vindicate his honor by lifting up his holy law. Many who now look upon the cross as too heavy to bear, think they will then obey the truth, and triumph with it. But in maintaining the right, it is not safe, because of circumstances, to yield in any degree firm adherence to duty, or to teach others that they may yield with comparative safety. Such a course is like that of Judas, who sold his Lord to his enemies, fully believing that Christ would manifest his miraculous power, and give his enemies another evidence of his divinity. Judas never recovered the ground lost through his presumption. To place ourselves in a position where we have an appearance of yielding, is a new position for this people. It is a new experience, a departure from the principles to which we have adhered, which have made us what we are today, a people whom God has prospered, a people who have the Lord of hosts with them.

Brethren in the office of publication, you who have a connection with sacred things, God bids you to be careful where you place your feet. He holds you accountable for the light of truth, that it shall shine forth in clear and distinct rays to the world. The world will never help you by its devices to let your light shine. They stand under their leader, the great deceiver, who works through his human agents to eclipse the light. God calls upon you to shine. With intense solicitude trim your lamps, take the oil of grace in your vessels, and keep your lamps trimmed and burning, that your light may shine bright and clear amid the moral darkness of this world. All who hold the truth should hold it in righteousness, and appreciate its value and sacredness. They should ask wisdom of God, that they may send its rays into all the highways and byways of life. If we are sanctified by the truth, our souls will be pervaded by a deep and abiding sense of its importance, and it will be our meat and drink to obey the truth, and pass along the precious light to others.

Many who claim to believe the truth have rested in the theory, and have not felt the necessity of maintaining vital connection with the pure, sacred springs from which they must derive their life and inspiration. When they should have been earnestly praying to heaven, humbling their hearts before God, they have been busy with human calculations, human imaginings, have been exalting self in place of exalting the Lord. Yet they seemed unaware of their danger of leaving the precious principles of truth. We need to pray continually that God will help us to abide in the truth, and not be swayed from its principles by those who are not sanctified to God, or allow the opinions of worldlings to mold our institutions.

But although we are to stand firm as a rock to principle, we should be courteous and Christ-like in our dealings with all men. In meekness and love we should tell the people why we cannot accept the papal Sabbath, because it is a mark of special dishonor to God, whom we love and worship. But while we sacredly observe the Sabbath of the Lord, it is not our work to compel others to observe it. God never forces the conscience. That is Satan's work. But God is the author of the Sabbath, and it must be presented to men in contrast with the false Sabbath, that they may choose between the truth of God and the error of the enemy.

An effort is now on foot to enforce the observance of Sunday, and while the Sunday question is coming to the front, an opportunity is given to present to the world the true Sabbath in contrast with the false. The Lord is far ahead of us, he has permitted this Sunday question to be pressed to the front, in order that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment may be presented before legislative assemblies. The leading men of the nation are to have their attention called to the testimony of God's word in favor of the true Sabbath. If the testimony does not convert them, it is a witness that will condemn them. The Sabbath question is the great testing question for this time.

No greater contempt could be shown to the Creator than the contempt manifested for the day which he has sanctified and blessed. And as Satan with his human agents pushes the warfare against God, by leading men to trample on the Sabbath, the few who do honor God should be aroused to greater zeal and earnestness in its defense. The Calebs must press to the front. The greater the contempt heaped upon the law, the stronger must be our love for it, and the more earnest our efforts to exalt it. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

The prophet Isaiah says concerning those who advocate the truth of God, “They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations.” What is that?—The Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Raise it up by pen, by voice, and ring out the truth in every way possible. “And thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy Father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

This is a work for those who see the Sabbath of the fourth commandment trodden down. They are to give it the exalted position it deserves. Isaiah says of Christ and his followers, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.”

This is the work now to be done on earth. Those who are living in transgression of the holy law of God will not find the truth palatable. When it is made plain that Sunday is a spurious Sabbath, founded in the power of the man of sin, they will say in language too plain to be misunderstood, “We want not a knowledge of thy ways, O Lord.” Others will say as did Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” But in the face of all opposition we must hold aloft the banner of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. It takes both of these to make up the burden of the message to be given to the world.

We need divine wisdom and skill that we may improve every opportunity that the providence of God shall prepare for the presentation of truth. While Satan will make masterly efforts to suppress truth, we must stand firm to our principles, reflecting light to the world. We should be alarmed at the least manifestation of a disposition to hush the voices that proclaim the third angel's message. That angel represents the people of God, who give the last warning to the world. Let not the fear of man, the desire for patronage, be allowed to obscure a ray of heaven's light. Should the sentinels of truth now fail to sound the warning, they would be unworthy of their position as light-bearers to the world; but should the standard fall from their hands, the Lord would raise up others who would be faithful and loyal.

It will require moral courage to do God's work unflinchingly. Those who do this can give no place to self love, to selfish considerations, ambition, love of ease, or desire to shun the cross. We are commanded to “cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet.” Shall we labor to make the name of God a praise in the earth? Shall we obey his voice, or shall we listen to the soothing voice of the evil one, and be rocked to a fatal slumber just on the eve of eternal realities? The truth is everything to us, or it is nothing. Let those who want to make a name in the world, go with the world; but let those who would serve God, obey God, and not man. In the great conflict between faith and unbelief, the whole Christian world will be involved. All will take sides. Some may not apparently engage in the conflict on either side. They may not appear to take sides against the truth, but they will not come out boldly for Christ, through fear of losing property or suffering reproach. All such are numbered with the enemies of Christ; for Christ says, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

Conservative traditions received from educated men, and from the writings of great men of the past, are not safe guides for us in these last days; for the great struggle before us is such as the world has never seen before. Those who have not acted a part in this work in the past, need to move with great caution in regard to accepting or refusing what may be presented to them as truth. They need to penetrate much deeper than their limited spiritual knowledge, or their present habits or opinions would lead them to do. We are not one of us safe unless we live as seeing Him who is invisible, even with past experience in the work; and we certainly are not safe, if we have not had that experience. Daily, hourly, we must be actuated by the principles of Bible truth,—righteousness, mercy, and the love of God. He who would have moral and intellectual power must draw from the divine source. At every point of decision inquire, “Is this the way of the Lord?” With your Bibles open before you, consult sanctified reason and a good conscience. Your heart must be moved, your soul touched, your reason and intellect awakened, by the Spirit of God; and then holy principles revealed in the word of God will give light to the soul. The true source of wisdom and virtue and power is the cross of Calvary. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. He says, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

Let no man seek to go about God's work in any one of its branches in his own strength; for if he does, the fruit will not be such as will abide unto eternal life. He appears to build on the foundation; but he puts upon it wood, hay, and stubble,—material that will be consumed. Our ideas must be elevated. Lift him up, the Man of Calvary; let the language of the soul be, “He must increase; I must decrease.” It is very hard for self to occupy a subordinate place. It lifts up itself in many ways, runs without Christ, works without prayer and consecration. Man's wisdom is foolishness; but many do not yet know this. They form connections with persons no more pious or consecrated than themselves. They counsel and plan with them, and if their devising is accepted, it will surely lead away from the right path. Their self-sufficiency is great, they do not feel the necessity of prayer at every step. They judge after the sight of the eyes, and the hearing of the ears, but have not the discernment that God gives, which would enable them to look beneath the surface. They favor those who should not be favored, and turn from those who should find help and comfort and justice at their hands. What government are we under? We shall have to make a decided choice either to be under Satan's rule, or under the rule of Him whom John saw while on the isle of Patmos, who hath prepared his throne in the heavens,” and whose “kingdom ruleth over all.”

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