It is difficult to write of a changed and an enlarged vision in the experience of a minister of the gospel when he is so painfully conscious of the fact that God's ideal for His ministers is only beginning to be faintly realized, and that beyond the horizon of the present outlook stretch mountain peaks of Christian experience which lift the soul higher and higher into the atmosphere of heaven. Yet so profoundly grateful am I for the degree of enlarged vision which has come to me, that I risk the danger of being misunderstood in the hope that I may be able to say something which will prove an inspiration to some other soul to press onward and upward.
It is now very clear to me that God is calling us at this hour to " rise above the frosty atmosphere in which we have hitherto lived, and with which Satan would surround our souls, and breathe in the hallowed atmosphere of heaven." We are assured that " could we now leave the cold, traditional sentiments which hinder our advancement, we would view the work of saving souls in an altogether different light."— Mrs. E. G. White, in Review and Herald, May 6, 1890.
And God is not only calling us to enter upon this higher ground of life and experience, but He is seeking to impart to His ministers, through His angels, the divine power, designated as " the golden oil," which will enable them to present the truth in an altogether different light. To me, it is a very solemn message which has come to us in the following words: " Let every man who enters the pulpit know that he has angels from heaven in his audience. And when these angels empty from themselves the golden oil of truth into the heart of him who is teaching the word, then the application of the truth will be a solemn, serious matter." But it is also stated that " Christ will withdraw Himself from those who persist in refusing the heavenly blessings that are so freely offered them."—" Testimonies to Ministers," page M.
The presence of Christ is withdrawn from those who persistently refuse to receive the golden oil. What a fearful thought! It is possible to be members of the church in good and regular standing, ordained to the gospel ministry, preaching sermons, performing the mechanical duties of a minister, livings above reproach as a citizen and neighbor, yet separated from Christ. Such is the studied and persistent plan of the devil.
Every worker in God's cause will agree that the contact of the soul with Christ in repentance, surrender, and faith, is the one thing needful. But, really, how much time do we spend in lifting up Jesus and calling upon sinners to behold and live? As I look back over the experiences of the year, I see a situation which frightens me. Our church members are beset by temptations and snares of the devil. Comparatively few attend the weekly prayer meeting, but the majority come to church on Sabbath morning; and on such propitious occasions are we prepared to feed their hungry souls? Is there a mighty spiritual power working through us to draw the erring back to safety, and to strengthen the weak and faltering by pointing them anew to Calvary? Or do we, through lack of vision, fill the precious moments with lengthy announcements, and offer Common fire before the Lord, while our people actually perish for lack of the bread of life, which we, as God's ministers, are commissioned to give?
Our work crowds upon us; it drives us. Thank God that it does! We cannot leave our missionaries to starve; we cannot, dare not, become selfish and self-centered, and think only of our own needs. We must talk finance and present promotion plans. But my conviction is that if we are endowed with that measure of the Holy Spirit which it is our privilege to have, the intensity of our interest in souls would lead us to do the routine work in less time, infusing all with spiritual power. In other words, we would have a greater inclination to meet the strictly spiritual need of our people, and consequently we would find the time to make it first in all our plans and programs.
May God help us that, with all our knowledge of truth, our institutions, our plans and progress, we may not lose our spiritual vision, and thus become like poor, blind Samson, " grinding for the Philistines," the sport and the tool of the enemy of righteousness.
It is to the mountain peaks of spiritual life, high above the frosty atmosphere of mechanical endeavor, that God is calling His people; and the bugle is sounding loud and clear, rallying the ministry to lead the way to the attainment of these heights. Let us heed the call.
A Conference President