If we hope to wear the crown, we must expect to bear the cross. Our greatest trials will come from those who profess godliness. It was so with the world’s Redeemer; it will be so with His followers. I should doubt whether I were a child of God, if the world, or even all professed Christians, spoke well of me. Those who are in earnest to win the crown of eternal life need not be surprised or disheartened because at every step toward the heavenly Canaan they meet with obstacles and encounter trials. The opposition which Christ received came from His own nation, who would have been greatly blessed had they accepted Him. In like manner the remnant church receives opposition from those who profess to be their brethren.
But “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (Romans 8:28; II Timothy 3:12). It is good for me to tread a hard and humble path, to encounter difficulties, to experience disappointments, to suffer afflictions and bereavements. The Saviour knows what is best. Faith grows by conflict with doubt and difficulty and trial. Virtue gathers strength by resistance to temptation. The life of the faithful soldier is a battle and a march. No rest, fellow-pilgrim, this side the heavenly Canaan.
When our enemies try to place upon us the black robes of unrighteousness, let us not become exasperated at their injustice. When your efforts are falsified, when your motives and your works are painted in colors black as ink, remember those who were treated the same before you. How have the saints of God in ages past been maligned, traduced, and persecuted! For centuries their names were covered with infamy. All that the hosts of hell could do was done to heap reproach upon them as the vilest of men. But John in holy vision beholds the faithful souls that come up out of great tribulation, surrounding the throne of God, clad in white robes, and crowned with immortal glory (Revelation 7:14, 9). What though they have been counted the offscouring of the earth? In the investigative Judgment their lives and characters are brought in review before God, and that solemn tribunal reverses the decision of their enemies. Their faithfulness to God and to His word stands revealed, and Heaven’s high honors are awarded them as conquerors in the strife with sin and Satan.
Brethren, we can afford to wait. Let our enemies exult because they have represented us in a character to suit their malicious fancy. But Christ will judge righteously, and will reward every man according to his deeds. To the faithful, who have been clothed by their enemies in the black robes of falsehood, He will give the spotless garments of truth and purity.
It will do our proud hearts good to suffer reproach for Christ’s sake. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you” (Matthew 5:10–12). …
Cultivate fortitude, firmness, patience, humility, and self-control. The God whom we serve will arm us with courage in every emergency; but we must abase self, and let God be all in all. It was true faith that gave Caleb courage to bear his decided testimony for God, even when fellow-workers stood ready to take his life. God wants brave men in His cause today—men who in His strength are not afraid to do and dare.
The time is short. How will our cases appear in the Judgment? What is now our standing before God? Are we closely examining our own hearts? Are we by repentance and confession sending our sins beforehand to Judgment, that they may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come? This is an individual work—a work which we cannot safely delay. We should take hold of it earnestly; our salvation depends upon our sincerity and zeal. Let the cry be awakened in every heart, “What must I do to be saved?”
The adversary of souls is constantly seeking to divert our minds by bringing in side-issues. Let us not be deceived. Let enemies handle your name and mine as they please. Let them distort, misrepresent our words and deeds. Let them fabricate falsehoods as best pleases them. We cannot afford to allow our minds to be diverted from Jesus and the preparation of soul which we must have in order to meet Him in peace.
… In Christ’s stead, I beseech you to pray as you never prayed before, to seek earnestly for faith and love, that seem to be almost banished from the earth. Live each day as in the sight of God. …
… We must now make Christ our refuge, or in the days before us our souls will be overwhelmed with darkness and despair. There is a point beyond which human help cannot avail. Every one must live by faith as he is forced into close and apparently deadly conflict with the powers of darkness. Each must stand or fall for himself. The arrows of the destroyer are about to be hurled against the faithful ones, and no earthly power can turn aside the shaft. But could our eyes be opened we could see angels of God encircling the righteous, that no harm may come upon them. We have only to trust in God, and go forward in the way of obedience, and we shall be victorious.
Excerpts from The Review and Herald, August 28, 1883.