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The Spirit of Prophecy
Vol 4 pages 236 and 237
Vol 4 Spirit of Prophecy 236.001
God sent his professed people a message that would have corrected the evils which separated them from his favor. A state of union, faith, and love had been produced among those who from every denomination in Christendom received the Advent doctrine; and had the churches in general accepted the same truth, the same blessed results would have followed. But Babylon scornfully rejected the last means which Heaven had in reserve for her restoration, and then, with greater eagerness, she turned to seek the friendship of the world.
Those who preached the first message had no purpose or expectation of causing divisions in the churches, or of forming separate organizations. "In all my labors," said Wm. Miller, "I never had the desire or thought to establish any separate interest from that of existing denominations, or to benefit one at the expense of another. I thought to benefit all. Supposing that all Christians would rejoice in the prospect of Christ's coming, and that those who could not see as I did would not love any the less those who should embrace this doctrine, I did not conceive there would ever be any necessity for separate meetings. My whole object was a desire to convert souls to God, to notify the world of a coming Judgment, and to induce my fellow-men to make that preparation of heart which will enable them to meet their God in peace. The great majority of those who were converted under my labors united with the various existing churches. When individuals came to me to inquire respecting their duty, I always told them to go where they would feel at home; and I never favored any one denomination in my advice to such."
For a time many of the churches welcomed his labors; but as they decided against the Advent truth, they desired to suppress all agitation of the subject. Those who had accepted the doctrine were thus placed in a position of great trial and perplexity. They loved their churches, and were loth to separate from them; but as they were ridiculed and oppressed, denied the privilege of speaking of their hope, or of attending preaching upon the Lord's coming, many at last arose and cast off the yoke which had been imposed upon them.
In the days of the Reformation, the gentle and pious Melancthon declared, "There is no other church than the assembly of those who have the word of God, and who are purified by it." Adventists, seeing that the churches rejected the testimony of God's word, could no longer regard them as constituting the church of Christ, "the pillar and ground of the truth;" and as the message, "Babylon is fallen," began to be proclaimed, they felt themselves justified in separating from their former connection.
Since the rejection of the first message, a sad change has taken place in the churches. As truth is spurned, error is received and cherished. Love for God, and faith in his word, have grown cold. The churches have grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and it has been in a great measure withdrawn. The words of the prophet Ezekiel are fearfully applicable: "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face. Should I be inquired of at all by them?" "I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols." [EZE. 14:3, 4.] Men may not bow down to idols of wood and stone, but all who love the things of the world and take pleasure in unrighteousness have set up idols in their hearts. The majority of professed Christians are serving other gods besides the Lord. Pride and luxury are cherished, idols are set up in the sanctuary, and her holy places are polluted.
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