If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities - If thou shouldst observe, note, attend to, regard all the evil that I have done. The Hebrew word means properly to keep, to watch, to guard. The word, as used here, refers to that kind of vigilance or watchfulness which one is expected to manifest who is on guard; who keeps watch in a city or camp by night. The idea is, If God should thus look with a scrutinizing eye; if he should try to see all that he could see; if he should suffer nothing to escape his observation; if he should deal with us exactly as we are; if he should overlook nothing, forgive nothing, we could have no hope.
Who shall stand? - Who shall stand upright? Who could stand before thee? Who could hope to be acquitted? This implies
(1) that the petitioner was conscious of guilt, or knew that he was a sinner;
(2) that he felt there was a depth of depravity in his heart which God could see, but which he did not - as every man must be certain that there is in his own soul;
(3) that God had the power of bringing that to light if he chose to do it, so that the guilty man would be entirely overwhelmed;
(4) that he who urged the prayer rested his only hope on the fact that God would not mark iniquity; would not develop what was in him; would not judge him by what he saw in his heart; but would deal with him otherwise, and show him mercy and compassion.
Every man must feel that if God should “mark iniquity” as it is - if he should judge us as we are - we could have no hope. It is only on the ground that we may be forgiven, that we eau hope to come before him.
As noted in the preface to this third edition, Testimonies to Ministers consists of materials drawn from several sources, primarily Ellen G. White articles which have appeared in the Review and Herald and pamphlets bearing testimonies to the Battle Creek church and to the leading workers of the cause. The larger part of the content of this volume was written in the years 1890-1898, with some earlier and later materials drawn in to augment certain areas of counsel. Section I, “The Church of Christ,” gives assurance of the tender regard in which God holds his church, and contains clear-cut promises of the church's triumph. This is followed by Warnings and Counsels to Ministers and Administrators. TM xv.1
The decade of the 1890's was an interesting, yet in some ways distressing, period in the experience of Seventh-day Adventists. The church was growing, more than doubling its membership in the ten-year period. With rapidity its workers were entering new countries. Institutions at home and abroad were brought into being. The original provisions for organization devised at the first general conference session in 1863 were being rapidly outgrown. Older established institutions were expanding and entering upon a period of popularity with both Seventh-day Adventists and the world. This growth was fraught with many perils, from liberalism on one hand to consolidation and centralization on the other hand. Then, in and through the experience of this period, there were elements reflecting the aftermath of the 1888 General Conference session held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where certain doctrinal issues were discussed heatedly and at length. A number of men identified themselves with one camp or the other, with their decisions influenced not alone by the doctrinal arguments presented, but also molded by attitudes toward the spirit of prophecy counsels. In some cases these attitudes were not wholesome. Through most of this period, Ellen White was in Australia, laboring to build up the work in that newly entered land and leading out in the establishment of a college and a sanitarium in that continent. TM xv.2Read in context »