Testimony to the Church
When at Roosevelt, N.Y., August 3, 1861, the condition of God's people was presented before me. Many failed in coming up to the standard set up by our Saviour. They are in an alarming condition, not careful to examine the foundation of their hope, but are indifferent to their state, and self-deceived. Some, I saw, had departed from God, and were united with the spirit of the world. As different fashions are introduced, one after another have fallen back from their steadfastness, and have lost their peculiarity. It is crossing to come out from the world and be separate. As soon as individuals cease warring against the spirit of the world they are Satan's easy prey. Our efforts are too feeble to resist an influence which leads us from God, and which brings us in union with the world.
Those who separate from God and lose their spirituality, do not fall back all at once into a state which the true Witness calls lukewarm. They conform to the world little by little. As its influence steals upon them, they fail to resist it and maintain the warfare. After the first step is taken to have friendship with the world, darkness follows and they are prepared for the next. At every step they take in the downward course darkness gathers about them, until they are enshrouded. As they conform to the world they lose the transforming influence of the Spirit of God. They do not realize their distance from God. They think themselves in good case because they profess to believe the truth. They grow weaker and weaker, until the Spirit of God is withdrawn, and God bids his angels,Let them alone! Jesus spues them out of his mouth. He has borne their names to his Father; he has interceded for them, but he ceases his pleadings. Their names are dropped, and they are left with the world. They realize no change. Their profession is the same. There has not been so glaring a departure from the appearance of right. They had become so assimilated to the world that when heaven's light was withdrawn they did not miss it.
Truths have been committed to our trust more sacred than were ever imparted to mortals upon earth, yet we have not as a people been faithful to our trust. Unfaithful Sabbath-keepers are the worst enemies the truth can have. If those who profess the truth would live it out, then the Lord would magnify his name among them, and make them a powerful people.
The inhabitants of the earth are given to idolatry. They are filling the cup of their iniquity. Fashion is a tyrant, and nearly all are slaves to it. Travel in the cars, steamboats, or where you will, and you will see the human frame covered with extravagant decorations, and deformed with hoops. Modesty is rare; it seems to have departed from this enlightened age. Sodom and Gomorrah will rise up in the judgment and condemn this generation, for if they had been privileged with the light which now shines upon the inhabitants of the earth, they would have repented long ago.
God will have a separate and peculiar people. Their faith is peculiar. Their prospects are peculiar and glorious, and if they do not consider the heavenly inducement offered them of sufficient value to lead them to renounce the fashions of the world, when God rises up to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, they must perish with them. Please read Isaiah 26:21; James 4:4. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." 1 John 2:15: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." We are called upon in these perilous times to elevate the standard. It has been left to trail in the dust. The fashions of the world hold God's people in bondage.
Those who have really chosen God and heaven as their portion will be peculiar. The sanctifying influence of the truth has separated them from the world, and they will have moral courage to carry out their faith, and by their simple plainness of dress and holy living condemn the idolatry and extravagance of this age. Professed Sabbath-keepers who would advocate the wearing of hoops and useless ornaments, no matter how high their profession, the truth has not had its sanctifying influence upon the heart. They are not dead to the world. When the tree dies the leaves fall off. There is just as wide a difference between the follower of Jesus Christ and the worldling, as there is between a tree clothed with its green foliage and a dead and leafless tree. The truth accomplishes a work for the receivers. It causes them to die to the world, and live unto God. Such can receive no satisfaction in adorning their heads with flowers, while they have a true sense of the sufferings of their Redeemer on account of their sins. His sacred brow was encircled with cruel thorns, which bruised his holy temples. This thought should be enough to cause every true follower of Jesus to discard any useless ornaments to decorate their bodies.
Some Sabbath-keepers so earnestly desire to have friendship with the world, that they mangle their feelings and make wretched work of following Christ. They desire the approval of God and the friendship of the world too. Such, I saw, would certainly lose heaven. They do not enjoy this world, therefore they lose both. In these hours of probation all can choose life if they will. Their fruits will show their choice. For a life of humble obedience here, God will grant the rich reward hereafter. He will accept of nothing but entire consecration. A dreadful deception is upon many minds, even of Sabbath-keepers. They have neglected to cherish and follow the light God has given them, and have been left completely deceived. Please read Matthew 7:21-23. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Souls will come up to the day of God's visitation under a perfect deception. They had marked out a course for themselves. They did not let the Bible place the bounds for them. They did not heed the exhortation, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you."
I was shown that God is not slack concerning his promises, if his people will obey his requirements. He is faithful who hath promised. The condition of our being received of God is, to separate ourselves from the world. The followers of Jesus and the world can not unite. Please read John 17:14: "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world." John 15:18, 19: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
There is a disposition among some Sabbath-keepers to rejoice that they have truths that can be sustained by the word of God, and that the unbeliever can not gainsay, and they rest satisfied. They make no advancement in the divine life; their faith is not made perfect by works; they do not feel their lack of spirituality, but boast that they have the truth, and they sometimes advocate it in an unbecoming manner. They feel rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. What stronger delusion can deceive the human mind than that which makes us believe we are on the right foundation, and God accepts our works, when we are not conforming to his will, and when we mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof, supposing we need nothing when we need all things. Please read James 1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
What a work is before us! Self-denial and the cross were shown me as standing all along in the way of life. Can we persevere in such a warfare as this? Grace is against nature, and the whole strength of self is opposed to the victory. Can we take up the cross and bear it after Jesus, and consent to be like him who was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin? When the pleasures of the world come before us, we must renounce them instantly, and prefer before these the favor of God and the cross of Christ. And in this self-denying course we shall obtain victories, and in the end win eternal glory. The unbelieving world were shown me, unwilling to submit to the claims and order of God's government. They refuse obedience to his will; they are at variance with their Maker, and their words and works are opposed to the principles and laws of his government. Therefore we can not enjoy, and be in harmony with, the friendship of the world, and not become estranged from God.
Amos 9:9, 10, was presented before me. "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us."
God's people will be tested and proved. The plain and pointed testimony must act a prominent part in this work. In these days of darkness and peril who is able to stand and speak the whole truth? Multitudes of teachers prophesy smooth things. They see no special cause of alarm in the present condition of the professed people of God. The people are asleep, and the teachers are asleep. They cry, Peace, peace, and the multitude that hear believe their report and are at ease. This makes the necessity greater for faithful teachers to bear the pointed, faithful testimony. The present is a time of scouring and purifying, a time of warfare and trial. The house of Israel is being sifted, even as corn is sifted in a sieve. The chaff must be removed, and it will require close work to separate the chaff from the kernels of grain. God's discerning eye will detect the smallest particle of chaff, and yet he will not cause to fall upon the ground the least kernel of grain.
Ellen G. White.