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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 16 (1901) - Contents
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    Ms 52, 1901

    “Watch and Pray”


    June 26, 1901

    Portions of this manuscript are published in SD 13.

    “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” [Matthew 26:41.] When a man enters into a strange work, which in any way affects another to his injury, the Lord looks on and gives evidence of His displeasure; and the consequences will react upon the doer. Men may hold an exalted place as rulers and teachers in the visible church, and yet not make God their counsellor. They then substitute human devising and human methods for God’s methods. They make God’s will secondary, placing their human conceptions as supreme. Let him who is connected with the service of God make the living oracles his study. In dealing with believers or unbelievers, let him follow the principles God has given. He is constantly to search the Scriptures, that he may understand the counsel God has given His people from the beginning of the world. He is to take the place of a learner, depending upon God for guidance. Then he will fulfil the purpose of God for him. He will eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. In word, in spirit, and in action he will show that he cherishes the eternal principles of justice and righteousness.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 1

    It has been a sorrowful experience for the church of God that men who have not been converted have, by the vote of the body of believers, been placed in positions of great responsibility. These men have not practiced true godliness, but have turned aside from following God to follow corrupt, worldly practices, which should find no place in the management of the work upon which so much depends.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 2

    The church of God is to be the light of the world, shining amid the moral darkness, opposing Satan’s devisings, striving to uproot selfishness. The Lord’s pure, righteous principles are in marked contrast to Satan’s principles, which have made the world what it is today.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 3

    To the people of God comes the injunction, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” [Verse 41.] Temptations born of selfishness and covetousness will come to us constantly, and constantly we are to resist them, strengthened by the grace of God. Those who in reality put on Christ will work out, before a world that is watching Christians, ready to make capital of any erroneous methods, the pure principles of heaven. Christians are to treat their fellow workers as they would wish to be treated, being careful not to take the least advantage of them. They are not to selfishly seize opportunities which will place their brother at a disadvantage.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 4

    Fathers, masters, rulers, are never to take advantage of their position to bring about such a condition of things that questionable principles shall find place. Let nothing unlike Christ be allowed to make the least appearance among the people to whom God has given the work of revealing His character to a world opposed to Him. We are to bring pure principles into all our dealings with those for whom Christ gave His life.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 5

    These things have been presented to me so many times that I must speak to you in the words of the great Teacher, “Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” [Mark 13:35-37.]16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 6

    I lift my voice in warning. Heed the words of Jesus. In all business transactions, watch, ministers and presidents of conferences, watch unto prayer. Work out your own prayers, and you will find that you are co-operating with Christ.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 7

    My brethren, you cannot afford to make one move on the wrong side, one move that will in any way vindicate the principles which God condemns. Turn aside from wicked examples, by whosoever they may be set, for they should not be followed. Bow not to human authority. God is at work, calling attention to the laws of His kingdom. Bow to no human authority unless a plain “Thus saith the Lord” makes it safe for you to do this. When those who claim to have authority in business lines deviate in the slightest particular from mercy and justice, do not follow in their ways or seek to vindicate their actions.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 8

    Those who see no evil in acting on anti-Christian principles should be given no part to act in institutions where there are souls to be educated to act in accordance with God’s plan. Those who will be most exalted in the kingdom of God will be those who in this life love the Lord Jesus and their fellow men, who are always ready to honor Him who made so great a sacrifice for them. He laid aside His kingly crown and royal robe, and stepped from His high command to take His place at the head of a fallen race. Clothing His divinity with humanity, He came to a world all seared and marred with the curse, to become one with humanity, to endure in behalf of humanity the temptations of the wily foe. He came to show men that they may stand on vantage ground with God, keeping all the laws of His kingdom, acting out His will in love and kindness and loyalty, doing good and not evil.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 9

    Nothing has been so difficult for the people of God to learn as loyalty to the pure, elevated, unselfish principles of heaven, and as a result sin and suffering make up a large part of their history. The words spoken to Daniel by the angel are positive: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand.” [Daniel 12:10.] Be assured that Satan, as a strong man armed, is continually on the watch, seeking to penetrate to the very heart of God’s working force, striving to bring in questionable methods of dealing, and thereby mar the work of God. He works with all his power to bring his specious, evil theories into the business dealing of God’s people. He would be well pleased to eclipse the brightness of God’s principles by the selfishness of the principles on which he works. If he possibly can, he will tarnish the pure gold of character. If he can place the false where the true should be, his object is gained.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 10

    The originator of all evil, he comes with stealthy tread, presenting plausible theories to the people of God, telling them that if they do this or that, even though it may be questionable, they will gain great advantage, and the end will justify the means. He tries to persuade them that the eating of the forbidden fruit will be to them a source of great good. When men listen to him, the spiritual eyesight is dimmed and the power of distinguishing between good and evil weakened.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 11

    The doing of one unrighteous action paves the way for the second. Thus God is dishonored. Satan points to the tarnished principles of His professed followers.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 12

    Satan’s work is represented in the third chapter of Zechariah. We read, “He showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua (by Satan’s speeches) was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.” [Verses 1-3.]16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 13

    Satan comes to God’s people with temptation, the temptation gains the victory, and those claiming to follow Christ fall a prey to the devices of the enemy, giving him an excuse to point at God’s people as clothed with filthy garments. He points to the defects of such ones as a sample of what is done by God’s commandment-keeping people.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 14

    The Lord may seem to have forgotten the perils of His church and the injuries done to her by those who follow principles which He cannot endorse. But God has not forgotten. Nothing in this world is so dear to the heart of God as His church. He marks every action of the members. He would not have worldly policy corrupt her record as a representative of heaven. Nothing so offends the heart of Christ as to injure those whom He died to save. His heart of love is grieved when the lame are turned out of the way by the crooked paths made by others. God does not leave His people to be overcome by Satan’s temptations. He will chastise those who misrepresent Him. But He will be gracious to all who sincerely repent.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 15

    “He answered and spake unto those who stood before him, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” [Verses 4-7.]16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 16

    God will rebuke Satan, refusing to hear his accusations against His church, even though she is far from what she should be. Standing before God in filthy garments, Joshua well represents the condition of God’s ministers and the lay members of the church. They need to be revived and reformed. They need to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Those who continue in the service of God will through the revival of God’s appointed agencies return to wholehearted obedience, depending on the merits of a crucified Saviour and trusting in His atonement for salvation. The righteous will continually follow righteousness, because Christ, who is formed within, is righteousness and truth. They will be imbued with a pure, fervent love, a love begotten by the love of God. Their transgressions will be forgiven and their sins pardoned, and God will look upon them with pleasure.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 17

    Christ loves His church. He will give all needed help to those who call upon Him for strength for the development of Christlike character. But His love is not weakness. He will not serve with their sins to give them prosperity while they continue to follow a wrong course of action. Only by faithful repentance will their sins be forgiven; for God will not cover evil with the robe of His righteousness. He will honor faithful service. He will abundantly bless those who reveal to their fellow men His justice, mercy, and love. Let those who are engaged in His service walk before Him in true humility, following faithfully in His footsteps, cherishing the holy principles which will live through the eternal ages. Let them in word and action show that they obey the laws which are obeyed in heaven.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 18

    Remember that those who are truly united to Christ will show Christlike sympathy for one another. Are they not members of His body? Should they not show a kindly interest in their fellow laborer and rejoice in helping him? Such believers will exert that influence which produces the fruits of righteousness. Their light will shine forth to others, and the church will feel the benefit of the sanctifying power of the grace of Christ.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 19

    The way of the world is to begin with pomp and boasting, exalting human agents. But all this will come to naught. God’s way is to make the day of small things the beginning of the glorious triumph of truth and righteousness. Bear in mind that human power and human inventions did not establish the church and neither will they destroy her. The Holy Spirit will keep everyone who in faith and trust is committed to His charge. The overflowing fountain of life is for God’s servants to enjoy. It makes them more than conquerors, victorious over all opposition.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 20

    I am instructed to present the following Scripture to those who claim to respect the law of Jehovah:16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 21

    “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; the Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; and said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain; yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God. And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth. Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them; for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” [Isaiah 49:1-16.]16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 22

    God means every word that He says. He continues to carry forward His work of redemption on the hearts of those who will repent and be converted. The church has failed, sadly failed, to meet the expectations of her Redeemer, and yet the Lord does not withdraw Himself from His people. He bears with them still, not because of any goodness found in them, but that His name shall not be dishonored before the enemies of truth and righteousness, that the satanic agencies may not triumph in their punishment and destruction. He has borne long with their waywardness and unbelief and folly. With wonderful forbearance and compassion He has disciplined them. If they will heed his instruction, He will cleanse away their perverse tendencies, saving them with an everlasting salvation and making them eternal monuments of the power of His grace. Under His superintending care they will carry forward His work without misrepresenting Him in any line. His glorious work, constructed on eternal principles, will never decay. It will shine with the light of the pure principles with which it is illuminated, and there will be shouting of Grace, grace unto it.16LtMs, Ms 52, 1901, par. 23

    [signed] Ellen G. White

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