Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

July 4, 1899

God's Design for His People

Mrs. E. G. White

The strength of God's people lies in their union with him through his only begotten Son, and their union with one another. There are no two leaves of a tree precisely alike; neither do all minds run in the same direction. But while this is so, there may be unity in diversity. Christ is our root, and all who are grafted into this root will bear the fruit which Christ bore. They will reveal the fragrance of his character in the talent of speech, in the cultivation of hospitality, of kindness, of Christian courtesy and heavenly politeness. Look at the flowers in a carpet, and notice the different colored threads. All are not pink, all are not green, all are not blue. A variety of colors are woven together to perfect the pattern. So it is in the design of God. He has a purpose in placing us where we must learn to live as individuals. We are not all fitted to do the same kind of work, but each man's work is designed by God to help make up his plan.

When the Lord commanded the children of Israel to build the tabernacle, and gave them the plan for its furniture, its curtains, and everything pertaining to it, all were not given the same work. The Lord chose his workers, and then fitted them for their work by giving to them skill, and imparting to them his wisdom. To each worker was appointed work according to his ability. No worker was to lay hold of one portion of the work, and place himself in the way of his fellow laborer. Each was to do with the strictest fidelity the part appointed him. The plan of the great Deviser was followed, and the tabernacle came forth, from the hands of the workers, complete, each part in harmony with every other.

Industry in a God-appointed work is as much a part of true religion as is devotion. We are not to think that in any of the work essential in the building of the tabernacle one part was menial and the other not. Every part of God's work means service. He declares of his people, Ye are laborers together with God. We are to bear in mind that this world is the Lord's workshop. We are to bear the image of God, and every soul saved through the sacrifice of the Son of God must in this life be made complete in Christ. There is much to do in order to fit us for the courts of the Lord. The roughness of spirit, the coarseness of speech, the cheapness of character, must be put away, or we can never wear the garment woven in the heavenly loom,—the righteousness of Christ.

The Lord designs to bring his people as material from the quarry of the world, that he may work them. They are in need of the ax and the hammer, of planing and polishing; for if this work is not done, the stones will retain their roughness. They will be unsymmetrical, and unfitted to fill the place Christ has prepared for every one who will enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who, under the education of Christ, make it possible to reach the highest attainments will take every divine improvement with them to the higher school. But those who are unwilling to have their characters molded after the divine similitude make the angels sad; for by clinging to their sinful habits and practises they spoil the design of God.

Angels of God are appointed to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation. The work of these heavenly beings is to prepare the inhabitants of this world to become children of God, pure, holy, undefiled. But men, though professing to be followers of Christ, do not place themselves in a position where they can understand this ministry, and thus the work of the heavenly messengers is made hard. The angels, who do always behold the face of the Father in heaven, would prefer to remain close by the side of God, in the pure and holy atmosphere of heaven; but a work must be done in bringing this heavenly atmosphere to the souls who are tempted and tried, that Satan may not disqualify them for the place the Lord would have them fill in the heavenly courts. Principalities and powers in heavenly places combine with these angels in their ministration for those who shall be heirs of salvation. But how sad it is that this work is hindered by the coarseness, the roughness, the worldly-mindedness of men and women who are so desirous of securing their own ends, of gratifying their own wishes, that they lose sight of the word of God, which should be their instructor and their guide.

The Lord gives to every angel his work for this fallen world. Divine help is provided for men and women. They have the opportunity of co-operating with the heavenly intelligences, of being laborers together with God. There is placed before them the possibility of gaining a fitness for the presence of God, of being enabled to see his face. Heavenly angels are working to bring the human family into a close brotherhood, a oneness described by Christ as like that existing between the Father and the Son. How can men so highly favored by God fail to appreciate their opportunities and privileges? How can they refuse to accept the divine help proffered? How much it is possible for human beings to gain if they will keep eternity in view!

Satanic agencies are always warring for the mastery over the human mind, but the angels of God are constantly at work, strengthening the weak hands and confirming the feeble knees of all who call upon God for help. The promise to every child of God is, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

The Lord is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. Then ask. Believe what God has said. He will surely fulfil his word. Say from your heart, “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” The victory must be gained day by day. As Christ's representatives, we are to stand on vantage-ground before the world. Let us, then, engage in this part of the Christian warfare, determinedly overcoming every weakness of character.

The Lord has had true-hearted men and women, those who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. They have not swerved from their integrity. They have kept themselves unspotted from the world, and they have been led by the Light of life to defeat the purposes of the wily foe. Will human beings now act their part in resisting the devil? If they will do this, he will surely flee from them. Angels, who will do for you what you can not do for yourselves, are waiting for your co-operation. They are waiting for you to respond to the drawing of Christ. Draw nigh to God and to one another. By desire, by silent prayer, by resistance of satanic agencies, put your will on the side of God's will. While you have one desire to resist the evil, and sincerely pray, Deliver me from temptation, you will have strength for your day. It is the work of the heavenly angels to come close to the tried, the tempted, the suffering ones. They labor long and untiringly to save the souls for whom Christ has died. And when souls appreciate their advantages, appreciate the heavenly assistance sent them, respond to the Holy Spirit's working on their behalf; when they put their will on the side of Christ's will, angels bear the tidings heavenward. Returning to the heavenly courts, they report their success with the souls for whom they have ministered, and there is rejoicing among the heavenly host.

The angels of God have seen in the churches a condition of things which has grieved them, and grieved the Holy Spirit. The professed people of God have shown a lack of unity and love. They have not heeded the admonition, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” The apostle Paul says, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself.... Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that ye through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God.”

Again he says: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”

This admonition has been strangely neglected: “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Plans have been devised by which the loving attentions shown in hospitality and visiting, a work which should bind heart to heart, are cut off. Let not methods and plans be invented which will give no opportunity for brotherly love to live. The spirit of covetousness, O, let it die! Our Heavenly Father gives us of his bounty freely, and for his sake who gave his life for us we should entertain our brethren and sisters.

The Lord designs that we shall care for the interests of one another. The apostle Paul gives us an illustration of this. Addressing the church at Rome, he says: “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that ye receive her in the Lord as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.”

Christ's admonition to his disciples is to be heeded by us. Almost his last words before he gave his life for the world were, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another.” How much, Lord?—“As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

July 4, 1899

Disease and Its Causes

Mrs. E. G. White

If women of past generations had always moved from high considerations, realizing that future generations would be ennobled or debased by their course of action, they would have taken their stand, that they could not unite their life interest with men who were cherishing unnatural appetites for alcoholic drinks, and tobacco, which is a slow but sure and deadly poison, weakening the nervous system, and debasing the noble faculties of the mind. If men would remain wedded to these vile habits, women should have left them to their life of single blessedness, to enjoy these companions of their choice. Women should not have considered themselves of so little value as to unite their destiny with men who had no control over their appetites, but whose principal happiness consisted in eating and drinking, and gratifying their animal passions. Women have not always followed the dictates of reason instead of impulse. They have not felt in a high degree the responsibilities resting upon them, to form such life connections as would not enstamp upon their offspring a low degree of morals, and a passion to gratify debased appetites, at the expense of health and even life. God will hold them accountable, in a large degree, for the physical health and moral characters thus transmitted to future generations.

Men and women who have corrupted their own bodies by dissolute habits have also debased their intellects, and destroyed the fine sensibilities of the soul. Very many of this class have married, and left, for an inheritance to their offspring, the taints of their own physical debility and depraved morals. The gratification of animal passions, and gross sensuality, have been the marked characteristics of their posterity, descending from generation to generation, increasing human misery to a fearful degree, and hastening the depreciation of the race.

Men and women who have become sickly and diseased have often, in their marriage connection, selfishly thought only of their own happiness. They have not seriously considered the matter from the standpoint of noble, elevated principles, reasoning in regard to what they could expect of their posterity, but diminished energy of body and mind, which would not elevate society, but sink it still lower.

Sickly men have often won the affections of women apparently healthy, and because they loved each other, they felt themselves at perfect liberty to marry, neither considering that by their union the wife must be a sufferer, more or less, because of the diseased husband. In many cases the diseased husband improves in health, while the wife shares his disease. He lives very much upon her vitality, and she soon complains of failing health. He prolongs his days by shortening the days of his wife. Those who thus marry commit sin in lightly regarding health and life given to them of God to be used to his glory. But if those who thus enter the marriage relation were alone concerned, the sin would not be so great. Their offspring are compelled to be sufferers by disease transmitted to them. Thus disease has been perpetuated from generation to generation. And many charge all this weight of human misery upon God, when their wrong course of action has brought the sure result. They have thrown upon society an enfeebled race, and done their part to deteriorate the race, by rendering disease hereditary, and thus accumulating human suffering.

Another cause of the deficiency of the present generation in physical strength and moral worth, is men and women uniting in marriage whose ages widely differ. It is frequently the case that old men choose to marry young wives. By thus doing, the life of the husband has often prolonged, while the wife has had to feel the want of that vitality which she has imparted to her aged husband. It has not been the duty of any woman to sacrifice life and health, even if she did love one so much older than herself, and felt willing on her part to make such a sacrifice. She should have restrained her affections. She had considerations higher than her own interest to consult. She should consider, if children be born to them, what would be their condition? It is still worse for young men to marry women considerably older than themselves. The offspring of such unions, in many cases, where ages widely differ, have not well-balanced minds. They have been deficient also in physical strength. In such families have frequently been manifested varied, peculiar, and often painful traits of character. The children often die prematurely; and those who reach maturity, in many cases are deficient in physical and mental strength, and moral worth.

The father is seldom prepared, with his failing faculties, properly to bring up his young family. These children have peculiar traits of character, which constantly need a counteracting influence, or they will go to certain ruin. They are not educated aright. Their discipline has too often been of the fitful, impulsive kind, by reason of the father's age. He has been susceptible of changeful feelings,—at one time overindulgent, while at another he is unwarrantably severe. In some such families, everything is wrong, and domestic wretchedness is greatly increased. Thus a class of beings has been thrown upon the world as a burden of society. Their parents were accountable in a great degree for the characters developed by their children, which are transmitted from generation to generation.

Those who increase the number of their children, when, if they consulted reason, they must know that physical and mental weakness must be their inheritance, are transgressors of the last six precepts of God's law, which specify the duty of man to his fellow man. They do their part in increasing the degeneracy of the race, and in sinking society lower, thus injuring their neighbor. If God thus regards the rights of neighbors, has he no care in regard to closer and more sacred relationship? If not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice, will he be unmindful of the children born into the world, diseased physically and mentally, suffering, in a greater or less degree, all their lives? Will he not call parents to an account, to whom he has given reasoning powers, for putting these higher faculties in the background, and becoming slaves to passion, when, as the result, generations must bear the mark of their physical, mental, and moral deficiencies? In addition to the suffering they entail upon their children, they have no portion but poverty to leave to their pitiful flock. They can not educate them, and many do not see the necessity, neither could they find time if they did, to train them, and instruct them, and lessen, as much as possible, the wretched inheritance transmitted to them. Parents should not increase their families any faster than they know that their children can be well cared for and educated. A child in the mother's arms from year to year is a great injustice to her. It lessens, and often destroys, social enjoyment, and increases domestic wretchedness. It robs their children of that care, education, and happiness which parents should feel it their duty to bestow upon them.

The husband violates the marriage vow, and the duties enjoined upon him in the word of God, when he disregards the health and happiness of the wife, by increasing her burdens and cares by numerous offspring. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.... So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.”

We see this holy injunction almost wholly disregarded, even by professed Christians. Everywhere you may look, you will see pale, sickly, care-worn, broken-down, dispirited, discouraged women. They are generally over-worked, and their vital energies exhausted by frequent child-bearing. The world is filled with images of human beings who are of no worth to society. Many are deficient in intellect, and many who possess natural talents do not use them for any beneficial purposes. They are not cultivated, and the one great reason is that children have been multiplied faster than they could be well trained, and have been left to come up much like the brutes.

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