By Ellen White: Review and Herald June 12, 1855
It is to be feared that the people of God are not prepared for what is coming upon the earth. Is there not a lack of energy in the church? Are we not upon the enchanted ground, and falling asleep in this important time? We desire to walk too much by sight. We must walk more by faith. We must have more energy, more unwavering faith and confidence in God. Has not pride crept into the church? Is there that close watchfulness of self that there should be? Let us each examine our own hearts and look carefully to our own lives and see how they will compare with the true Pattern who wore a plain seamless coat, whose life was a life of sacrifice, who went about doing others good, and making others happy. Let us search closely and see if we have the fruits of the Spirit.
Just as soon as pride enters the heart, the Spirit of God is shut out. Are there not those among us who indulge in pride and needless expense? They will soon regret it; for trying times are just before us, and they will then need, and desire to have, the misspent means, for they will feel want, and pinching want will be all around them.
While some indulge in pride and needless expense, some are on the opposite extreme, and by their lives and appearance act as though neatness and order are pride and sin. This is not so. They can be neat and orderly, and not have pride in their hearts. The poor can keep tidy as well as the more wealthy. They should not neglect their houses and persons, but should be neat and cleanly. Their dwellings should be kept neat and in order, and then the servants of God can find pleasure in coming to their houses and kneeling upon their floors to ask the blessing of the holy and pure God to rest upon them. He is a God of order and those who suffer themselves to be unclean and disorderly deprive themselves of many blessings they might otherwise enjoy. Filthiness among God's professed people is displeasing to him. Our God is a jealous God, he will have a clean, pure and holy people: a filthy and unclean person he will not acknowledge as his child. Those who profess to be converted to God and take upon themselves the name of Christians (Christ-like) should be the neatest people in the world. It is a dishonor to God, and a stain upon his cause, to profess to be converted to God and the truth, and yet go with slack, untidy habits uncorrected. Such must have a reformation, and their conversion must be more thorough. The fruits of religion are not disorder and uncleanness. Those who have had no ambition to appear in a becoming manner before their brethren and sisters, should, for Christ's sake, and for the sake of the truth take hold of the work in earnest, and thoroughly reform. The world is watching for their faults, they despise God's children, and to give them occasion to reproach the religion of Christ is a sin in the sight of God. If these slack habits have grown with their growth and strengthened with their strength, there is greater necessity for decided efforts to correct these habits. Begin in earnest; do not reform in only a few things, but commence the work at once, and continue it until these slack habits are all rooted out and there is a thorough reformation.
God was so particular as to give direction to the children of Israel, after they came out of Egypt, what to do lest the Lord should pass by and see their uncleanness, and would not go up with their armies to battle against their enemies. The Lord is no less particular now, than he was then. If he noticed the sin of uncleanness then, he will notice it now; and those who are in fault, if they want to please God, and shun his frown, must reform lest he should see their untidiness and withhold victory and salvation in their meetings. Those who have indulged in pride should speedily reform, and put away their pride. They have no time to lose. They should separate themselves from the world, and not mingle with worldly company more than is actually necessary. Soon all the proud, and all that do wickedly will be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord.
Many among us put off the coming of the Lord too far, and their works correspond with their faith. There is a great responsibility resting upon parents. Their children are watching them, and any encouragement of the parents, by their example or advice to their children, a neglect to live out their faith themselves, and a mingling with the world is noticed and has its effect upon the children. Parents, do not, by your silence or consent, suffer your children to associate with those who have no love for God or for the truth which is so dear to us; the truth which is to test us, to purify us, and, by our obedience to it, make us finally overcomers. The straight and narrow path does not lay along side of the broad road. The first leads to heaven, the second to death and hell. Parents, do not try to bring these roads any nearer together. Let the contrast between the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus and those whose god is this world, be kept ever before them. Keep up the distinction between the christian and sinner. Parents whose duty it is to train up their children, should subdue their passions early. This is greatly neglected.
And have not the servants of God and the church a lack of faith? Have we not been too easily discouraged? too willing to believe that our lot was hard, and too ready to think that God had forsaken us? This is not right. God has so loved us as to give his dearly beloved Son to die for us; all heaven is interested in our salvation, and after all this, shall we consider it hard to trust so good a Father? He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those that ask him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. We will not be discouraged, but with faith and confidence ask our Father in heaven for the things we need; and if we do no [not] receive the immediate answer to our prayers, we must not give up our courage and faith, and suffer a murmuring spirit to take possession of us. This only separates us farther from God, for it is displeasing to him.
Every saint who comes to God with a true heart, and sends earnest petitions to him in faith will be answered; but we must have enduring faith. We must not for a moment let go the promises if we do not see and realize the immediate answers to our prayers. We must not waver. We must rely upon his sure promise, “Ask and ye shall receive.” God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Man is erring, and although his petitions are sent up from an honest heart, he does not always ask the things that are good for himself, or that will glorify God. When this is so, our wise and good Father hears our prayers and will answer them, sometimes immediately, but gives us the things that he knows are for our good and his own glory. The blessing received by us will be that which we need the most. If we could look into the plan of God, we should plainly see his wisdom and that he knows what is for our best good. Our prayers will be answered if they are sent up in faith, but nothing hurtful will be given. If we have, in the honesty of our hearts, asked any thing that God sees will not be good for us, he may withhold the thing desired, but in its place give us the blessings we most need. If the answer to our prayers does not come just when we expect it, we must not distrust God, for that will bring darkness. Our confidence in God must be strong.
Secret prayer, which is too much neglected, is the life of the Christian. Let us go to God alone and fix our minds upon him, have every thing else shut out, and then draw by living faith, light and strength from the Sanctuary. Let us not rise from our knees until we can rely upon God's promises with an unwavering faith. Then we shall be benefitted by secret prayer.
Children ask their parents for something they desire: the parent knows it will injure them, and gives them the things that will be good and healthy for them in the place of that which they desired. Not a prayer of the true saint is lost, if sent up from an honest heart.