Ellen White General Conference Article 1891
Chapter 114—Article Read at Gen. Conf. of 1891
March 12, 1899
—Article read in the Auditorium of the Battle Creek Tabernacle to a large assembly, at the General Conference of 1891.—
God's servants are to impress upon all the importance of finding out for themselves what is truth, watching and praying for a clear understanding of the word. Tell them to go to the Master again and again. Had the common people of the Jewish nation been allowed to receive his message, his precious lessons of instruction, had they known he was the Prince of life, they would not have rejected Jesus, the light of the world, their King and their Redeemer. But the priests and rulers led them astray. Let those whom God has imbued with reason search the Scriptures for themselves, obtaining an experience and knowledge for themselves. Let them search with humble and subdued hearts, seeking earnestly for the precious ore. There is altogether too much at stake for men to accept the opinions of their fellow-men, failing to make diligent search for themselves, as did the noble Bereans.
Walk in the light while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you. There is no safety in standing as criticizers, closing the door of the heart to the light which the Lord has in loving-kindness qualified his servants to speak. It is a serious matter to stand as did Korah, Dathan and Abiram, to become so self-deceived as to call darkness light and light darkness, to regard the truths of the third angel's message as error, and to accept error as truth. God, who gave his only begotten Son to save soul from ruin by dying in the place of the transgressor, demands his followers to do a different work in this time of peril, than to counter work the manifestations of his spirit in those who are seeking to do his will. The only security against failure is the fulfillment of the high duty of representing Christ. This is our only security against doing infinite harm to souls. Absolute consecration, the entire surrender of the entire being to the work of the spirit of God,—this only is acceptable to God. A piety so thorough will make itself felt. God requires all who profess to be his followers to be on their guard. We are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are to receive light from the source of all light, and let it shine upon others, lest it go out.
There are men of experience and ability among us, who should find their place in the work as the Lord shall permit. Make room for these men brethren, give them a place. Michigan and many other states are almost destitute of laborers; for but little encouragement has been given to men who if encouraged would do a good work. Give them your confidence. All are but human, and if imperfections are seen in your laborers, do not lead them, by your words and actions to lose all confidence in themselves, to think that they can do nothing. Lay hold of every jot of ability that God places within your reach. Cultivate the talents entrusted to human beings. Do not turn away from those who err in judgment. Remember that you have faults which you do not see. Seek to correct their mistakes. Encourage them to overcome, as you would desire to be encouraged were you in their place. Pray for them and with them.
There is a great work to be done. We need all the talent that Bro. Smith has gained in his experience. God calls upon him to come into the mount, that he may hear his voice and behold his glory, that he may reflect this glory upon those with whom he is associated. He needs to work with an eye single to the glory of God. He needs to drink deep of the spirit and power of present truth. He has a logical mind, and he can see through the cheap, feeble propositions that are too often made and seconded as right.
Eld. Littlejohn is needed. His talent of intellect is of value, and his brethren can help him by showing that they appreciate his ability. It requires much labor and taxing thought to put to the tax the highest mental and moral abilities with which nature, study, and the word of God have endowed him. His success will be proportionate to his devotion and consecration rather than to his natural and acquired ability. Eld. Littlejohn should have a place in your counsels. The Lord has given him talents to use to his glory. If sanctified, his clear, strong judgment will be a great help in your deliberations. If he will connect with God, God can use him. But you will have to prepare his way if he works to advantage. If you show that you place little value on his time and labor, you cut him away from the work and discourage him from engaging in active service. This will be a loss to him and to the cause of God. Always remember that Eld. Littlejohn has been deprived of his natural sight. Brethren, do your duty by encouraging him to bring his ability into the work.
A lack of faith has been shown by practicing a too rigid economy. Economy is praiseworthy, but there is danger of carrying it too far. You have gone to extremes in practicing economy. In dealing with Eld. Littlejohn sharp words have been uttered over the price given him for his labor. Those who have placed stumbling blocks in his way, who have thought that he was demanding too much, have revealed the spirit controlling them. Men who have an abundance of means, and who are blessed with all their senses, have manifested a parsimonious spirit which is an offence to God. As they cultivate this selfishness they are causing dark chapters to be written in the books of heaven. They do not deal justly; they do not bring mercy and the love of God into their religious experience. They are weighed today in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting. They would turn even a blind man from his rights.
Brethren, you may be quick to see things in Eld. Littlejohn that do not please you. You say he is sharp in money matters. Is he dishonest? He has erred in some things, and been reproved, but those who pronounce judgment against him have made and continue to make mistakes in their religious experience. Those who have criticised so freely must remember that Eld. Littlejohn is a blind man. If you read the Old Testament scriptures you will see that the Lord has a special care for the blind. He has a love exceeding the love of a mother for her afflicted children, and he has given special directions in regard to how they should be treated. Those who for several years in the past have made no difference between those who are blind and those who can see, have not obeyed the voice of the Lord. They have followed their own impulses, irrespective of our infirmities of the men who could be a help and blessing to the work, if they would make a place for them. Those who treat their afflicted brethren coldly pursue a course condemned by God.
The Lord has men prepared for the times. One does his part, carrying the people with him in reforms. The Lord raises up another who answers the call to duty saying, "Here am I, send me." The Lord tests and proves him, to see if he will deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. But when a man begins to regard his judgment as infallible, God can no longer use him as a representative of what a man who occupies a responsible position should be. The instruction God gives is that his people are ever to press forward and upward. Many cease to advance any further than their teachers carry them. This difficulty has existed in every age of the Christian world. God servants find their greatest success among a class who are not wedded to their previous teacher, who ask, Is this the way of the Lord?
Thus the work goes on. God has his men of opportunity, who are ready to do his bidding, who give fresh impetus to the work by bringing in food for needy souls, who wait and pray and watch and work. Be sure men are not chosen to act on your councils who have withstood the Spirit of God and have opposed truth and righteousness.
In the fear and love of God I tell those before whom I stand today that there is increased light for us, and that great blessings come with the reception of this light. And when I see my brethren stirred with anger against God's messages and messengers, I think of similar scenes in the life of Christ and the reformers. The reception given to God's servants in past ages is the same as the reception that those today receive through whom God is sending precious rays of light. The leaders of the people today pursue the same course of action that the Jews pursued. They criticize and ply question after question, and refuse to admit evidence, treating the light sent them in the very same way that the Jews treated the light Christ brought them.
In Christ's work there can be no neutrality, no middle ground He declared, "He that is not with me, is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Jesus saw and read like an open book the motives which actuated those before him, whose consciences pronounced them guilty. The great controversy was waxing strong. Christ was not warring against finite men, but against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places. He tells his hearers that all manner of sin and blasphemy may be forgiven if done in ignorance. In their great blindness they might speak words of insult and derision against the Son of man, and yet be within the boundary of mercy. But when the power and Spirit of God rested upon his messengers they were on holy ground. To ignore the Spirit of God, to charge it with being the Spirit of the devil, placed them in a position where God had no power to reach their souls. No power in any of God's provisions to correct the erring can reach them.
Some in Battle Creek will surely reach this point if they do not change their course. They will place themselves where none of God's ordained means will be able to set them right. Their will is not God's will, their persistency is not the perseverance of the saints. To speak against Christ, charging his work to Satanic agencies, and attributing the manifestations of the Spirit to fanaticism, is not of itself a damning sin, but the spirit that leads men to make these assertions places them in a position of stubborn resistance, where they cannot see spiritual light. Some will never retrace their steps, they will never humble their hearts by acknowledging their wrongs, but like the Jews will continually make assertions that mislead others. They refuse to investigate evidence candidly and frankly, but like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, set themselves against the light.
The evil heart of unbelief will make falsehood appear as truth and truth as falsehood, and will adhere to this position, whatever evidence may be produced. The terrible accusation against Christ, if perseveringly persisted in, places the guilty ones in a position where rays of light from heaven cannot reach them. They will continue to walk in the light of the sparks of their own kindling, until they will blaspheme the most sacred influences that ever came from heaven. They enter upon a path that leads to the darkness of midnight. They think they are following sound reason, but they are following another leader. They have placed themselves under the control of a power which in their blindness they are wholly ignorant of. They have resisted the only Spirit that could lead them, enlighten them, save them. They are following in the path of guilt for which there can be no forgiveness, in this life or in the life to come. Not that any degree of guilt would exhaust the mercy of God, but because pride and persistent stubbornness leads them to do despite to the Spirit of God, to occupy a place where no manifestation of the Spirit can convince them of their error. They will not yield their stubborn wills.
In this our day men have placed themselves where they are wholly unable to fulfil the conditions of repentance and confession; therefore they cannot find mercy and pardon. The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not lie in any sudden word or deed; it is the firm, determined resistance of truth and evidence.
The Lord has been calling his people. In a most marked manner he has revealed his divine presence. But the message and the messengers have not been received but despised. I longed that those who have greatly needed the message of divine love would hear Christ's knock at the door of the heart, and let the heavenly guest enter. But at the hearts of some Jesus has knocked in vain. In rejecting the message given at Minneapolis, men committed sin. They have committed far greater sin by retaining for years the same hatred against God's messengers, by rejecting the truth that the Holy Spirit has been urging home. By making light of the message given, they are making light of the word of God. Every appeal rejected, every entreated unheeded, furthers the work of heart-hardening, and places them in the seat of the scornful.
These rejecters of light cease to recognize light. Their souls are surrounded by a malarious atmosphere, and though some may not show open hostility, those who have spiritual discernment will realize the icy coldness which surrounds their souls.
I am constrained by God to call your attention to Christ's words, "Yet a little while is the light with you, walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.... He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." "Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive."
From Olivet Christ looked upon Jerusalem, and with trembling lips and grief-burdened soul he said, if thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day the things that belong unto thy peace: but now they are hid from thy eyes. He thought of what Jerusalem might have been had she maintained a living connection with God, of what blessings might have rested upon the people had they improved their privileges and blessings they enjoyed through the mercy and grace of a long suffering God. Jerusalem would have become beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth. God would have made Zion his holy habitation.
Christ's heart had said "How can I give thee up." He had dealt with Israel as a loving forgiving father would deal with an ungrateful wayward child. With the eye of Omniscience he saw that the city of Jerusalem had decided her own destiny. For centuries there had been a turning away from God. Grace had been resisted, privileges abused, opportunities slighted. The people themselves had been loading the cloud of vengeance which unmingled with mercy was about to burst upon them. With choked, half broken utterance, Christ exclaimed, "O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day the things that belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes." The irrevocable sentence was pronounced.
In this time light from the throne of God has been long resisted as an objectionable thing. It has been regarded as darkness and spoke of as fanaticism, as something dangerous, to be shunned. Thus men have become guide-posts pointing in the wrong direction. They have followed the example set by the Jewish people. They have hugged their false theories and maxims to their hearts until they have become to them as precious fundamental doctrines. They have come to think that if they let them go, the foundations of their faith will be destroyed. If all those who claim to believe present truth had opened their hearts to receive the message, and the spirit of truth, which is the mercy and justice and love of God, they would not have gathered about the darkness so dense that they could not discern light. They would not have called the operations of the Holy Spirit fanaticism and error.