If the canvasser pursues a wrong course, if he utters falsehood or practices deception, he loses his own self-respect. He may not be conscious that God sees him, and is acquainted with every business transaction, that holy angels are weighing his motives and listening to his words, and that his reward will be according to his works; but even if it were possible to conceal his wrongdoing from both human and divine inspection, his own knowledge of the sin is degrading to mind and character.
One act does not determine the character, but it breaks down the barrier, and the next temptation is more readily entertained, until finally a habit of prevarication and dishonesty in business is formed, and the man cannot be trusted.
In the family and in the church there are too many who make little account of glaring inconsistencies. There are young men who appear what they are not. They seem honest and true; but they are like whited sepulchers, fair without, but full of corruption within. The heart is spotted, stained with sin; thus the record stands in the heavenly courts.
A process has been going on in the mind that has made them callous, past feeling. But if their characters, weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, are pronounced wanting in the great day of God, it will be a calamity that they do not now comprehend. Truth, precious, untarnished truth, is to be a part of the character.
Whatever way is chosen, the path of life is beset with perils. If the workers in any branch of the cause become careless and inattentive to their eternal interests, they are meeting with great loss. The tempter will find access to them. He will spread nets for their feet, and will lead them in uncertain paths.
Those only are safe whose hearts are garrisoned with pure principles. Like David they will pray, “Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not” (Ps. 17:5). A constant battle must be kept up with the selfishness and corruption of the human heart.
Often the wicked seem to be prospered in their way; but those who forget God, even for an hour or a moment, are in a dangerous path. They may not realize its perils, but ere they are aware, habit, like an iron band, holds them in subjection to the evil with which they have tampered. God despises their course, and unless they turn from their evil ways, His blessing cannot attend them. Life and death are set before every worker, and the strongest motives are presented to induce them to choose life by obedience to God’s law.
I have seen that some young men undertake this work without having a sense of its importance, and without connecting themselves with Heaven. They place themselves in the way of temptation to show their bravery. They laugh at the folly of others. They boast that they know the right way; they know how to conduct themselves. How easily they can resist temptation! how vain to think of their falling! But they make not God their defense. Satan has an insidious snare prepared for them, and they become the sport of fools.
One safeguard removed from the conscience, the indulgence of one evil habit, a single neglect of the high claims of duty, may be the beginning of a course of deception that will pass you into the ranks of those who are serving Satan, while you are all the time professing to love God and to be sacrificing for His cause. A moment of thoughtlessness, a single misstep, may turn the whole current of your life in the wrong direction.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen White (1827-1915) demonstrated the gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This material is excerpted from pages 58-61 of the book Manual for Canvassers, compiled in 1902 from various of her other works, under the direction of its author.