Magazine Article

“What Have They Seen in Thine House?”

Gabriel Begle
“What Have They Seen in Thine House?”
Photo by Annie Spratt

As part of our 12-part series celebrating 175 years of the Adventist Review, we share what would be representative of a feature during the period of 1865-1877. This article appeared 154 years ago in the February 15, 1870, edition of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. The editor at that time often used selected pieces from other Christian publications that he felt would benefit Adventist readers. This one was originally printed in the Advocate and Guardian, a small tabloid newspaper published by the American Female Guardian Society, a group formed in 1834 by Protestant women concerned with the welfare of poor and indigent women, hoping to guide them away specifically from prostitution, through education and employment opportunities.

A lady had just parted with some friends who had been her guests for a few days, and, with a feeling of loneliness, sat down in her now deserted drawing-room. Looking around for some book, her eyes fell upon the Bible. She opened it, and read the words (Isa. 39:4), “What have they seen in thine house?” Strange words. What do they mean? She glanced through the preceding chapters, and learned how graciously the Lord had delivered Hezekiah, first from the dangers of battle, and then from sickness. She then read how visitors came with presents from the king of Babylon, and how Hezekiah entertained them. What did he show them? “Not the Lord’s doings,” said the lady to herself, with a rising feeling of self-reproach.

“Surely,” she thought, “the Lord must have sent these words to me. Do not I resemble Hezekiah? Two years ago the Lord delivered me in my terrible conflict with unbelief, and brought me out into the liberty and joy of a child of God. Last summer when I lay in my darkened chamber, sick, nigh unto death, I earnestly entreated Him, and said within my heart, Oh! that I were allowed now to tell all my friends of this glorious Jesus, His love, His death, His righteousness, and all His marvelous riches and grace.

“Mrs. R. and her daughters have been my guests. I fear they are too much like the visitors from Babylon. And now the Lord asks, ‘What have they seen in thine house?’ What have I to answer? Last night, a dinner was given for them. I remember how everyone admired the new paintings in my dining room. After dinner I showed them all our water-colored drawings, and then I took Mrs. R. to my boudoir to see my new carpet. I do not remember what they saw on Tuesday, excepting that I showed Mrs. R. that beautiful set of jewels my uncle gave me. We spent Wednesday afternoon consulting about what our children should wear next spring. What an opportunity I lost of telling her of the spotless robe of righteousness of God! And poor Marian has gone home longing to have a bracelet like that she saw on my table, and hoping to persuade her pa to get her one. Had I been faithful, she might have left me to speak to her father of Jesus and His glory. What have they seen in my house? Alas! Vanity, idleness, worldly treasures. And what have they heard? True, they heard family reading and family prayers. But it must have seemed a mere formality. They must have thought that we had far more delight in the songs we sung, and the gay conversation which the form of family worship scarcely interrupted. Although I thought about Jesus, and often longed to speak about Him, yet they have left me, having seen nothing better than the visitors from Babylon saw in the house of Hezekiah. Is not this a word to my soul?”

Reader, is not this a word to thy soul? Look around you, and see how many things you have gathered around you which war against the soul. Review your social intercourse, your entertainment of guests and visitors, and then to God answer the question, “What have they seen in thine house?”

Oh! that the robe of Christ were the rich apparel we delighted to show, and that the word of Jesus dwelt in us so really that we could not refrain from testifying of Him.—Advocate and Guardian.  

Gabriel Begle