“Very many who are seeking for happiness will be disappointed in their hopes, because they seek it amiss. True happiness is not to be found in selfish gratification, but in the path of duty. God desires man to be happy, and for this reason he gave him the precepts of his law, that in obeying these he might have joy at home and abroad. While he stands in his moral integrity, true to principle, having the control of all his powers, he cannot be miserable. With its tendrils entwined about God, the soul will flourish amid unbelief and depravity. But many who are constantly looking forward for happiness fail to receive it, because, by neglecting to discharge the little duties and observe the little courtesies of life, they violate the principles upon which happiness depends.
“Bible rules must be written on the heart and carried into the every-day life. The Christian may lift up his soul to God for strength and grace amid every discouragement. Kind words, pleasant looks, a cheerful countenance, throw a charm around the Christian that makes his influence almost irresistible. This is a way to gain respect, and extend the sphere of usefulness, which costs but little. It is the religion of Christ in the heart that causes the words issuing therefrom to be gentle and the demeanor condescending, even to those in the humblest walks of life. A blustering, fault-finding, overbearing man is not a Christian; for to be a Christian is to be Christ-like. It is no mark of a Christian to be continually jealous of one’s dignity. In forgetfulness of self, in the light and peace and comfort he is constantly bestowing on others, is seen the true dignity of the man. The one who pursues this course will not complain that he does not obtain the respect due him. . . .
“Enoch was a marked character. Many look upon his life as something above what the generality of mortals can ever reach. But Enoch’s life and character, which were so holy that he was translated to heaven without seeing death, represent what the lives and characters of all must be, if, like Enoch, they are to be translated when Christ shall come. His life was what the life of every individual may be if he closely connects with God. We should remember that Enoch was surrounded with influences so depraved that God brought a flood of waters on the world to destroy its inhabitants for their corruption. Were Enoch upon the earth today, his heart would be in harmony with all God’s requirements; he would walk with God, although surrounded with influences which are the most wicked and debasing. The palm tree well represents the life of a Christian. It stands upright amid the burning desert sand, and dies not; for it draws its sustenance from the springs of life beneath the surface.
“When Christ shall come, our vile bodies are to be changed, and made like his glorious body; but the vile character will not be made holy then. The transformation of character must take place before his coming. Our natures must be pure and holy; we must have the mind of Christ, that he may behold with pleasure his image reflected upon our souls. We are none of us what God would have us, and what we may be, and what his word requires us to be. It is our unbelief that shuts us away from God. Joseph preserved his integrity when surrounded by idolaters in Egypt, in the midst of sin and blasphemy and corrupting influences. When tempted to turn from the path of virtue, his answer was, ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Enoch, Joseph, and Daniel depended upon a strength that was infinite. This is the only course of safety for Christians to pursue in our day. Those who profess Christ are too indolent in their religious life to surmount obstacles, and be patient, kind, and forbearing.
“The lives of these marked men were hid with Christ in God. They were loyal to God amidst infidelity, pure amidst depravity, devout and fervent when brought in contact with atheism and idolatry. By faith they gathered to themselves only those properties which are favorable to the development of pure and holy characters. Thus may it be with us; whatever our position, however repulsive or fascinating our surroundings, faith can reach above it all and find the Holy Spirit.
“The spirit which Enoch, Joseph, and Daniel possessed, we may have. We may draw from the same source of strength, and realize the same power of self-control; and the same graces may shine out in our lives. By reflecting the light of Christ to all around us, we shall become the light of the world. Said Christ, ‘A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.’ ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ ”1
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“God does not close the avenues of joy to any of his creatures. The divine requirements call upon man to shun those indulgences which would bring suffering and disappointment, and would close to him the door of happiness and Heaven. The world’s Redeemer accepts men as they are, with all their wants, imperfections, and weaknesses; and he will not only cleanse from the defilement of sin, and grant redemption through his blood, but will satisfy the heart-longings of all who consent to wear his yoke, to bear his burden. It is his purpose to impart peace and rest to all who come to him for the bread of life. He only requires of men to perform those duties which will lead his steps to heights of bliss to which the disobedient can never attain.
“The true, joyous life of the soul is to have Christ formed within, the hope of glory. Then will the servants of the Master feel that it is safe to follow where he leads. They may climb the mountain steeps or tread the burning desert sands singing over the hardest paths, because Jesus is their companion. Had ancient Israel but cherished gratitude to God for his preserving care for his divine companionship in the shadowy cloud and the fiery pillar; had they, instead of murmuring, recounted the blessings which God had bestowed upon them; had they cherished faith, and laid aside their fears and anxieties—they might ever have had the presence of the Divine Helper, and he would have lifted the burden from every weary soul.
“The hindrances which keep many from advancing in a life of purity and holiness are created by themselves. The cross which every Christian must bear if he follows Christ, gives increased spiritual strength. In lifting the burdens of Christ, heavier burdens are removed. To all who are willing and obedient, to all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of the greatest discouragement and difficulty is the time when divine help is nearest. When the path of duty is obstructed by difficulties the most formidable, when it seems that the soul must give up in despair, the glory hidden behind the cloud that has darkened the way shines forth in all its brightness.
“Those who press on in the path of duty will look back with joy and thankfulness upon the darkest part of the way, where trials and difficulties seemed like a heavy cloud to hide every ray of God’s sunshine. The Lord conceals himself from us in the cloudy pillar, as from ancient Israel. His ways are past finding out. Yet all that he makes known of himself, all that he can reveal to the most elevated mind, only convinces us of an infinity beyond, of wisdom, purity, and love.”2