Dear Brother and Sister E: It has been some time since I have taken my pen to write anything except urgent letters which could not be delayed. I have had a discouraging weight upon my spirits for months, which has nearly crushed me. That which discourages me the most is the fear that all I may write will do no more good than has our earnest, anxious, wearing labor in ----- the past winter and spring. The hopeless view I have taken of matters and things at that place has kept my pen nearly still and my voice nearly silent. My hands have been weakened and my heart depressed, to see nothing gained by the protracted effort there. I am nearly hopeless in regard to our efforts' being successful to awaken the sensibilities of our Sabbathkeeping people to see the elevated position which God requires them to occupy. They do not view religious things from an elevated standpoint. This is just your condition.
The Lord has given me a view of some of the corruptions everywhere existing. Wickedness, crime, and sensuality exist even in high places. Even in the churches professing to keep God's commandments there are sinners and hypocrites. It is sin, not trial and suffering, which separates God from His people and renders the soul incapable of enjoying and glorifying
Him. It is sin that is destroying souls. Sin and vice exist in Sabbathkeeping families. Moral pollution has done more than every other evil to cause the race to degenerate. It is practiced to an alarming extent and brings on disease of almost every description. Even very small children, infants, being born with natural irritability of the sexual organs, find momentary relief in handling them, which only increases the irritation, and leads to a repetition of the act, until a habit is established which increases with their growth. These children, generally puny and dwarfed, are prescribed for by physicians and drugged; but the evil is not removed. The cause still exists.
Parents do not generally suspect that their children understand anything about this vice. In very many cases the parents are the real sinners. They have abused their marriage privileges, and by indulgence have strengthened their animal passions. And as these have strengthened, the moral and intellectual faculties have become weak. The spiritual has been overborne by the brutish. Children are born with the animal propensities largely developed, the parents' own stamp of character having been given to them. The unnatural action of the sensitive organs produces irritation. They are easily excited, and momentary relief is experienced in exercising them. But the evil constantly increases. The drain upon the system is sensibly felt. The brain force is weakened, and memory becomes deficient. Children born to these parents will almost invariably take naturally to the disgusting habits of secret vice. The marriage covenant is sacred, but what an amount of lust and crime it covers! Those who feel at liberty, because married, to degrade their bodies by beastly indulgence of the animal passions, will have their degraded course perpetuated in their children. The sins of the parents will be visited upon their children because the parents have given them the stamp of their own lustful propensities.
Those who have become fully established in this soul-and-body-destroying vice can seldom rest until their burden of secret evil is imparted to those with whom they associate. Curiosity is at once aroused, and the knowledge of vice is passed from youth to youth, from child to child, until there is scarcely one to be found ignorant of the practice of this degrading sin.
Your children have practiced self-abuse until the draft upon the brain has been so great, especially in the case of your eldest son, that their minds have been seriously injured. The brilliancy of youthful intellect is dimmed. The moral and intellectual powers have become weakened, while the baser part of their nature has been gaining the ascendancy. For this reason your son turns with loathing from religious things. He has been losing his power of self-restraint, and has less and less reverence for sacred things, and less respect for anything of a spiritual character. You have charged this to your surroundings, but you have not known the real cause. Your son can be said to bear the impress of the satanic instead of the divine. He loves sin and evil rather than true goodness, purity, and righteousness. It is a deplorable picture.
The effect of such debasing habits is not the same upon all minds. There are some children who have the moral powers largely developed, who, by associating with children that practice self-abuse, become initiated into this vice. The effect upon such will be too frequently to make them melancholy, irritable, and jealous; yet such may not lose their respect for religious worship, and may not show special infidelity in regard to spiritual things. They will at times suffer keenly from feelings of remorse, and will feel degraded in their own eyes, and lose their self-respect.
Brother and sister, you are not clear before God. You have failed to do your duty at home, in your own family. You have not controlled your children. You have greatly failed to know
and do the will of God, and His blessing has not rested upon your family. Brother E, you have been selfish. You have had large self-esteem. You have thought that you possessed a good degree of humility, but you have not understood yourself. Your ways are not right before God. Your influence and example have not been in accordance with your profession. You have much fault to find with others; you see deviations from the right in them, but you are blind to the same in yourself.
Sister E has been far from God. Her heart has not been subdued by grace. Her love of the world, and of the things that are in the world, has closed her heart to the love of God. The love of dress and appearance has kept her from good, and led her to place her mind and affections upon these frivolous things. Unbelief has been strengthening in her heart, and she has had less and less love for the truth, and could see but little attraction in the simplicity of true godliness. She has not encouraged a growth of Christian graces. She has not loved humility or devotion. She has taken the errors of those who professed to be devoted to the truth, and made their lack of spirituality, their errors, and their sins an excuse for her world-loving disposition. She has watched the course of those who were connected with the -----, and who were forward to take upon them the burdens of the church, and has offset her failures to their wrongs, saying that she was no worse than they. Such and such individuals in good standing did this or that, and she had as good a right as they. Such and such ones did not live the health reform any better than she; they purchased and ate meat, and they were in high standing in the church, and she was excusable, of course, with such an example, if she did the same.
This is not the only case where neglect to follow the light which the Lord has given has been shielded behind the faults of others. It is to the shame of men and women of intelligence
that they have no higher standard than that of imperfect human beings. The course of those around them, however imperfect, is considered by some a sufficient excuse for them to follow in the same path. Many will be swayed by the influence of some leading brother. If he departs from the counsel of God his example is at once gladly seized by the unconsecrated, who now feel that they are free from restraint. They now have an excuse; and their unconsecrated hearts glory in the opportunity of indulging their desires and taking a step nearer the fellowship with the spirit of the world, where they can enjoy its pleasures and gratify their appetite. They therefore place upon their tables those things which are not the most healthful, and from which they have been taught to abstain, that they may preserve to themselves a better condition of health.
There has been a war in the hearts of some ever since the health reform was first introduced. They have felt the same rebellion as did the children of Israel when their appetites were restricted on their journey from Egypt to Canaan. Professed followers of Christ, who have all their lives consulted their own pleasure and their own interests, their own ease and their own appetites, are not prepared to change their course of action and live for the glory of God, imitating the self-sacrificing life of their unerring Pattern. A perfect example has been given for Christians to imitate. The words and works of Christ's followers are the channel through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. His followers are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
Sister E, you cannot realize the many blessings you have lost by making the failings of others a balm to soothe your conscience for a neglect of your duty. You have been measuring yourself by others. Their crooked paths, their failings, have been your textbook. But their errors, their follies and
sins, do not make your disobedience to God less sinful. We regret that those who should be a strength to you in your efforts to overcome your love of self, your pride of heart, your vanity and love of the approbation of worldlings, have been only a hindrance by their own lack of spirituality and true godliness. We cannot tell you how much we regret that those who should be self-denying Christians are so far from coming up to the standard. Those who should be steadfast, abounding in the work of God, are weakened by Satan because they remain at such a distance from God. They fail to obtain the power of His grace, through which they might overcome the infirmities of their nature, and, by obtaining signal victories in God, show those of weaker faith the way, the truth, and the life.
That which has caused us the greatest discouragement has been to see those in ----- who have had years of experience in the cause and work of God, shorn of their strength by their own faithfulness. They are outgeneraled by the enemy in nearly every attack. God would have made these persons strong, like faithful sentinels at their post, to guard the fort, had they walked in the light He had given them and remained steadfast to duty, seeking to know and do the whole will of God. Satan will, no doubt, through his delusions deceive these delinquent souls, and make them believe that they are about right after all. They have committed no grievous, outbreaking sins, and they must, after all, be on the true foundation, and God will accept their works. They see no special sins to repent of, no sins which call for special humiliation, humble confession, and rending of heart. The delusion upon such is strong indeed when they mistake the form of godliness for the power thereof, and flatter themselves that they are rich and have need of nothing. The curse of Meroz rests upon them: "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the
help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty."
My sister, excuse not your defects because others are wrong. In the day of God you will not dare to plead as an excuse for your neglect to form a character for heaven, that others did not manifest devotion and spirituality. The same lack which you discovered in others was in yourself. And the fact that others were sinners makes your sins nonetheless grievous. Both they and you, if you continue in your present state of unfitness, will be separated from Christ, and will with Satan and his angels be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
The Lord made ample provision for you, that if you would seek Him, and follow the light He would give you, you should not fall by the way. The word of God was given to you as a lamp to your feet, a light to your path. If you stumble, it will be because you have not consulted your guide, the word of God, and made that precious word the rule of your life. God has not given you as a pattern the life of any human being, however good and apparently blameless his life may be. If you do as others do, and act as others act, you will at last be left outside the Holy City, with a vast multitude who have done just as you have done, followed a pattern the Lord did not leave them, and who are lost just as you will be lost.
That which others have done, or may do in the future, will not lessen your responsibility or guilt. A pattern has been given you, a faultless life characterized by self-denial and disinterested benevolence. If you turn from this correct, this perfect pattern, and take an incorrect one, which has been clearly represented in the word of God as one that you should shun, your course of action will receive its merited reward; your life will be a failure.
One of the greatest reasons for the declension of the church at ----- is their measuring themselves by themselves and
comparing themselves among themselves. There are but few who have the living principle in the soul and who serve God with an eye single to His glory. Many at ----- will not consent to be saved in God's appointed way. They will not take the trouble to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. The latter they do not experience; and, rather than be at the trouble of obtaining an experience through individual effort, they will run the risk of leaning upon others and trusting in their experience. They cannot consent to watch and pray, to live for God and Him only. It is more pleasant to live in obedience to self.
The church at ----- are filled with their own backslidings, and they need not dream of prosperity until those who name the name of Christ are careful to depart from all iniquity, until they learn to refuse the evil and choose the good. We are required to watch and pray without ceasing; for a snare is set in our path, and we shall find some device of Satan when and where we least expect it. If at that particular time we are not watching unto prayer we shall be taken by the enemy and meet with decided loss.
What a responsibility has rested upon you as parents! How little have you felt the weight of this burden! Pride of heart, love of show, and the indulgence of appetite have occupied your minds. These things have been first with you, and the incoming of the foe has not been perceived. He has planted his standard in your house and stamped his detestable image upon the characters of your children. But you were so blinded by the god of this world, so deadened to spiritual and divine things, that you could not discern the advantage which Satan had gained nor his workings right in your family.
You have brought children into the world who have had no voice in regard to their existence. You have made yourselves responsible in a great measure for their future happiness,
their eternal well-being. The burden is upon you, whether you are sensible of it or not, to train these children for God, to watch with jealous care the first approach of the wily foe and be prepared to raise a standard against him. Build a fortification of prayer and faith about your children, and exercise diligent watching thereunto. You are not secure a moment against the attacks of Satan. You have no time to rest from watchful, earnest labor. You should not sleep a moment at your post. This is a most important warfare. Eternal consequences are involved. It is life or death with you and your family. Your only safety is to break your hearts before God and seek the kingdom of heaven as little children. You cannot be victors in this warfare if you continue to pursue the course you have pursued. You are not very near the kingdom of heaven.
Some who have not professed Christ are nearer the kingdom of God than are very many professed Sabbathkeepers in -----. You have not kept yourselves in the love of God and taught your children the fear of the Lord. You have not taught them the truth diligently, when you rose up, and when you sat down, when you went out, and when you came in. You have not restrained them. You look to other children and solace yourselves by saying: "My children are no worse than they." This may be true, but does the neglect of others to do their duty lessen the force of the requirements which God has especially enjoined upon you as parents? He has placed upon you the responsibility to bring these children up for Him, and their salvation depends in a great degree upon the education they receive in their childhood. This responsibility others cannot take; it is yours, solely yours, as parents. You may bring to your aid all the helps you can to assist in the solemn and important work; but after you have done this, there is a power above every human agency, that will work with you through
the means which it is your privilege to use. God will come to your aid, and upon His power you can rely. This power is infinite. Human agencies may not prove successful, but God can make them fruitful by working in and through them.
You have a work to do to set your house in order. Pure, sinless angels cannot delight to come into a dwelling where so much iniquity is practiced. You are asleep at your post. Things of minor importance have occupied your minds to the exclusion of more weighty matters. It should be the first business of your life to seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness; then you have the promise that all things shall be added. Here is where you have failed in your family. Had you been agonizing that you and yours might enter in at the strait gate, you would have earnestly gathered every ray of light that the Lord has permitted to shine upon your pathway, and would have cherished and walked in it.
You have not regarded the light that the Lord has graciously given you upon the health reform. You have felt to rise up against it. You have seen no importance in it, no reason why you should receive it. You have not felt willing to restrict your appetite. You could not see the wisdom of God in giving light in regard to the restriction of appetite. All that you could discern was the inconvenience attending the denial of the taste. The Lord has let His light shine upon us in these last days, that the gloom and darkness which have been gathering in past generations because of sinful indulgences might in some degree be dispelled, and that the train of evils which have resulted because of intemperate eating and drinking might be lessened.
The Lord in wisdom designed to bring His people into a position where they would be separate from the world in spirit and practice, that their children might not so readily be led into idolatry and become tainted with the prevailing
corruptions of this age. It is God's design that believing parents and their children should stand forth as living representatives of Christ, candidates for everlasting life. All who are partakers of the divine nature will escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection. You cannot arouse the moral sensibilities of your children while you are not careful in the selection of their food. The tables that parents usually prepare for their children are a snare to them. Their diet is not simple, and is not prepared in a healthful manner. The food is frequently rich and fever-producing, having a tendency to irritate and excite the tender coats of the stomach. The animal propensities are strengthened and bear sway, while the moral and intellectual powers are weakened and become servants to the baser passions. You should study to prepare a simple yet nutritious diet. Flesh meats, and rich cakes and pies prepared with spices of any kind, are not the most healthful and nourishing diet. Eggs should not be placed upon your table.[* SEE APPENDIX.] They are an injury to your children. Fruits and grains, prepared in the most simple form, are the most healthful, and will impart the greatest amount of nourishment to the body, and, at the same time, not impair the intellect.
Regularity in eating is very important for health of body and serenity of mind. Your children should eat only at the regular mealtime. They should not be allowed to digress from this established rule. When you, Sister E, absent yourself from home, you cannot control these important matters. Already your eldest son has enervated his entire system and laid the foundation for permanent disease. Your second child is fast following in his steps, and not one of your children is safe from this evil.
You may be unable to obtain the truth from your children
in regard to their habits. Those who practice secret vice will lie and deceive. Your children may deceive you, for you are not in a condition where you can know if they attempt to lead you astray. You have so long been blinded by the enemy that you have scarcely a ray of light to discern darkness. There is a great, a solemn, and an important work for you to do at once, to set your own hearts and house in order. Your only safe course is to take right hold of this work. Do not deceive yourselves into the belief that, after all, this matter is placed before you in an exaggerated light. I have not colored the picture. I have stated facts which will bear the test of the judgment. Awake! awake! I beseech you, before it shall be too late for wrongs to be righted, and you and your children perish in the general ruin. Take hold of the solemn work, and bring to your aid every ray of light you can gather that has shone upon your pathway and that you have not cherished, and, together with the aid of the light now shining, commence an investigation of your life and character as if you were before the tribunal of God. "Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul," is the exhortation of the apostle. Vice and corruption abound on every hand, and unless you have more than human strength to rely upon to stand against so powerful a current of evil, you will be overcome and borne down with the current to perdition. Without holiness no man shall see God.
The Lord is proving and testing His people. Angels of God are watching the development of character and weighing moral worth. Probation is almost ended, and you are unready. Oh, that the word of warning might burn into your souls! Get ready! get ready! Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh when no man can work. The mandate will go forth: He that is holy, let him be holy still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still. The destiny of all will be decided. A few,
yes, only a few, of the vast number who people the earth will be saved unto life eternal, while the masses who have not perfected their souls in obeying the truth will be appointed to the second death. O Saviour, save the purchase of Thy blood! is the cry of my anguished heart.
I greatly fear for you and for many who profess to believe the truth in -----. Oh, search, search diligently your own hearts, and make thorough work for the judgment! I am pained at heart when I call to mind how many children of Sabbathkeeping parents are ruining soul and body with secret vice. Near you is a family who reveal their evil habits in their bodies as well as their minds. These children are on the direct road to perdition. They are debased themselves, and have instructed many others in this vice. The eldest boy is dwarfed, physically and mentally, by indulging in its practice. What little intellect he has left is of a low order. If he continues in this vicious practice he will eventually become idiotic. Every indulgence of children who have attained their growth is a terrible evil and will produce terrible results, enervating the system and weakening the intellect. But in those who indulge this corrupting vice before attaining their growth, the evil effects are more plainly marked, and recovery from its effects is more nearly hopeless. The frame is weak and stunted; the muscles are flabby; the eyes become small, and appear at times swollen; the memory is treacherous, and becomes sievelike; and inability to concentrate the thoughts upon study increases.
To the parents of these children I would say: You have brought children into the world to be only a curse to society. They are unruly, passionate, quarrelsome, and vicious. Their influence upon others is corrupting. They bear the stamp of the father's character, of his base passions. His hasty, violent temper is reflected in them. These parents should long ago have removed to the country, thus separating themselves and
children from the society of those whom they could not benefit, but would only harm. Steady industry upon a farm would have proved a blessing to these children, and constant employment, as their strength could bear, would have given them less opportunity to corrupt their own bodies by self-abuse, and would have prevented them from instructing a large number in this hellish practice. Labor is a great blessing to all children, especially to that class whose minds are naturally inclined to vice and depravity.
These children have communicated more knowledge of vice in-----than all the united efforts of ministers and people professing godliness can counteract. Many who have learned of your children will go to perdition rather than control their passions and cease the indulgence of this sin. One corrupt mind can sow more evil seed in a short period of time than many can root out in a whole lifetime. Your children are a byword in the mouths of blasphemers of the truth. These are the children of Sabbathkeepers, but they are worse than the children of worldlings in general. They possess less refinement, less self-respect. Brother F has been no honor to the cause of God. His impetuous temper and general influence have not had a tendency to elevate, but to bring down to a low level. The cause of God has been brought into disrepute by his lack of judgment and refinement. It would have been far better for the cause of truth had this family removed long ago to a less important post, where they would have been more secluded and their influence less felt. Their children have lived in the light of truth and have had privileges that but few children have had; yet all this time they have not been benefited, but have been growing more and more hardened in depravity. Their removal would be a blessing to the church and to society, and to the entire family. Steady employment upon land would be a blessing to father and children if they would profit by the advantages of farm life.
I saw that the family of Brother G need a great work done for them. H and I have gone to great lengths in this crime of self-abuse; especially is this true of H, who has gone so far in the practice of this sin that his intellect is affected, his eye-sight is weakened, and disease is fastening itself upon him. Satan has almost full control of this poor boy's mind, but his parents are not awake to see the evil and its results. His mind is debased, his conscience hardened, his moral sensibilities benumbed, and he will be a ready victim for evil associates to lead into sin and crime. Brother and Sister G, arouse yourselves, I beg of you. You have not received the light of health reform and acted upon it. If you had restricted your appetites you would have been saved much extra labor and expense; and, what is of vastly more consequence, you would have preserved to yourselves a better condition of physical health and a greater degree of intellectual strength to appreciate eternal truths; you would have a clearer brain to weigh the evidences of truth and would be better prepared to give to others a reason of the hope that is in you. Your food is not of that simple, healthful quality which will make the best kind of blood. Foul blood will surely becloud the moral and intellectual powers, and arouse and strengthen the baser passions of your nature. Neither of you can afford a feverish diet, for it is at the expense of the health of the body and the prosperity of your own souls and the souls of your children.
You place upon your table food which taxes the digestive organs, excites the animal passions, and weakens the moral and intellectual faculties. Rich food and flesh meats are no benefit to you. Could you know just the nature of the meat you eat, could you see the animals when living from which the flesh is taken when dead, you would turn with loathing from your flesh meats. The very animals whose flesh you eat are frequently so diseased that, if left alone, they would die of
themselves; but while the breath of life is in them, they are killed and brought to market. You take directly into your system humors and poison of the worst kind, and yet you realize it not. You love to indulge appetite. You have this lesson to learn: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
I entreat you, for Christ's sake, to set your house and hearts in order. Let the truth of heavenly origin elevate and sanctify you, soul, body, and spirit. "Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." Brother G, your eating has a tendency to strengthen the baser passions. You do not control your body as it is your duty to do in order to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Temperance in eating must be practiced before you can be a patient man. Remember that you have given to your children, in a great degree, the stamp of your own character. You should guard yourself, and not be harsh, severe, or impatient. Deal with them decidedly, yet patiently, lovingly, pityingly, as Jesus has dealt with you. Be careful how you censure. Bear with your children, yet restrain them. This you have neglected too much. You have not corrected them in the right manner, not having perfect control of your own spirit. A great work must be done for you both.
Brother G, if you had gone on from strength to strength, following in the light the Lord has given, He would now have chosen you as an instrument of righteousness. You have talents; you have ability; you can work for God's glory; but you have not made an entire surrender of yourself to God. Oh, that you would even now seek meekness, seek the righteousness of Christ, that you might be hid in the day of the Lord's fierce anger!
My dear brother and sister, you should take hold unitedly and perseveringly to right your mismanagement of your children. Sister G has been too indulgent; yet unitedly and in
love you can do much, even now, to bind your children to your hearts and instruct them in the good and right way. You have a work to do in setting your own hearts and house in order. You should cultivate harmonious action. The transforming influence of the Spirit of God can do a great work for you both, and will unite your hearts and efforts in the work of reform in your own family. All repining, murmuring, and hasty irritability should cease. Its effects are to weaken you both and to destroy the influence you must exert if you succeed in training your children for heaven.
Satan now has the field. Your poor children are his captives; he has control of their minds and causes them to take a low turn. Their moral sensibilities seem paralyzed. They have practiced self-abuse and gloried in their iniquities. Such boys are capable of poisoning an entire neighborhood or community, and their pernicious influence will endanger all who are brought in contact with them in school capacity. Your children are corrupt in body and in mind. Vice has placed its marks upon your elder children. They are tainted, deeply tainted, with sin. The animal propensities predominate, while the moral and intellectual faculties are very weak. The baser passions have gained strength by exercise, while conscience has become hardened and seared. This is the influence which vice will have upon the mental powers. Those who give themselves up to work the ruin of their own bodies and minds do not stop here. Eventually they will be found ready for crime in almost any form, for their consciences are seared. Parents have not been half aroused to realize their responsibility in becoming parents. They are remiss in their duty. They do not teach their children the sinfulness of these dangerous, virtue-destroying habits. Until parents arouse, there is no hope for their children.
I might mention the cases of many others, but will forbear,
except in a few instances. J is a dangerous associate. He is a subject of this vice. His influence is bad. The grace of God has no influence upon his heart. He has a good intellect, and his father has trusted much to this to balance him; but mental power alone is not a guarantee of virtuous superiority. The absence of religious principle makes him corrupt at heart and sly in his wrongdoing. His influence is pernicious everywhere. He is infidel in his principles and glories in his skepticism. When with those of his own age, or those younger than himself, he talks knowingly of religious things and jests and sneers at truth and the Bible. This pretended knowledge has an influence to corrupt minds and lead young men to feel ashamed of the truth. Such companions should be wholly avoided, for this is the only sure course of safety. Young girls are enamored with the society of this young man; even some who profess to be Christians prefer such society.
K is a boy who can be molded if surrounded by correct influences. He needs a right example. If the young who profess Christ would honor Him in their lives, they could exert an influence which would counteract the pernicious influence of such youth as J. But the young generally have no more religion than those who have never named the name of Christ. They do not depart from iniquity. A smart, intelligent boy, like J, can have a powerful influence for evil. If this intelligence were controlled by virtue and rectitude, it would be powerful for good; but if it is swayed by depravity, its evil influence upon his associates cannot be estimated, and it will assuredly sink him in perdition. A good intellect corrupted makes a very bad heart. A brilliant intellect sanctified by the Spirit of God exerts a hidden power and diffuses light and purity upon all with whom the happy possessor associates.
If a boy of such mental abilities as J would surrender his heart to Christ, it would be his salvation. By means of pure
religion his intellect would be brought into a healthy channel; his mental and moral powers would become vigorous and harmonious; the conscience, illuminated by divine grace, would be quick and pure, controlling the will and desires, and leading to frankness and uprightness in every act of life. Without the principles of religion, this boy will be cunning, artful, sly, in an evil course, and will poison all with whom he associates. I warn all the youth to beware of this young man if he continues to slight religion and the Bible. You cannot be too guarded in his society.
By associating with those boys who do not exert a right influence, L is also being corrupted. J and K are not profitable associates for him, for he is easily influenced in the wrong direction. ----- is not the best place for him. His habits are not pure; self-abuse is practiced by him. Because of this and his love for the company of evil associates, those desires which help to form a virtuous character and to secure heaven at last will be weakened. The young who desire immortality must stop where they are and not allow an impure thought or act. Impure thoughts lead to impure actions. If Christ be the theme of contemplation, the thoughts will be widely separated from every subject which will lead to impure acts. The mind will strengthen by dwelling upon elevating subjects. If trained to run in the channel of purity and holiness, it will become healthy and vigorous. If trained to dwell upon spiritual themes, it will naturally take that turn. But this attraction of the thoughts to heavenly things cannot be gained without the exercise of faith in God and an earnest, humble reliance upon Him for that strength and grace which will be sufficient for every emergency.
Purity of life and a character molded after the divine Pattern are not obtained without earnest effort and fixed principles. A vacillating person will not succeed in attaining
Christian perfection. Such will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. Like a roaring lion, Satan is seeking for his prey. He tries his wiles upon every unsuspecting youth; there is safety only in Christ. It is through His grace alone that Satan can be successfully repulsed. Satan tells the young that there is time enough yet, that they may indulge in sin and vice this once and never again; but that one indulgence will poison their whole life. Do not once venture on forbidden ground. In this perilous day of evil, when allurements to vice and corruption are on every hand, let the earnest, heartfelt cry of the young be raised to heaven: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" And may his ears be open and his heart inclined to obey the instruction given in the answer: "By taking heed thereto according to Thy word." The only safety for the youth in this age of pollution is to make God their trust. Without divine help they will be unable to control human passions and appetites. In Christ is the very help needed, but how few will come to Him for that help. Said Jesus when upon the earth: "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." In Christ all can conquer. You can say with the apostle: "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Again: "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection."
I have written out quite fully the case of Brother E and family because this one illustrates the true state of many families, and God would have these families take this as though written specially for their benefit. There are many more cases I might designate, but I have named enough already. Young girls are not as a general thing clear of the crime of self-abuse. They practice it, and, as the result, their constitutions are being ruined. Some who are just entering womanhood are in danger of paralysis of the brain. Already the moral and intellectual powers are weakened and benumbed, while the animal
passions are gaining the ascendancy and corrupting body and soul. The youth, whether male or female, cannot be Christians unless they entirely cease to practice this hellish, soul-and-body-destroying vice.
Many of the young are eager for books. They read everything they can obtain. Exciting love stories and impure pictures have a corrupting influence. Novels are eagerly perused by many, and, as the result, their imagination becomes defiled. In the cars, photographs of females in a state of nudity are frequently circulated for sale. These disgusting pictures are also found in daguerrean saloons, and are hung upon the walls of those who deal in engravings. This is an age when corruption is teeming everywhere. The lust of the eye and corrupt passions are aroused by beholding and by reading. The heart is corrupted through the imagination. The mind takes pleasure in contemplating scenes which awaken the lower and baser passions. These vile images, seen through defiled imagination, corrupt the morals and prepare the deluded, infatuated beings to give loose rein to lustful passions. Then follow sins and crimes which drag beings formed in the image of God down to a level with the beasts, sinking them at last in perdition. Avoid reading and seeing things which will suggest impure thoughts. Cultivate the moral and intellectual powers. Let not these noble powers become enfeebled and perverted by much reading of even storybooks. I know of strong minds that have been unbalanced and partially benumbed, or paralyzed, by intemperance in reading.
I appeal to parents to control the reading of their children. Much reading does them only harm. Especially do not permit upon your tables the magazines and newspapers wherein are found love stories. It is impossible for the youth to possess a healthy tone of mind and correct religious principles unless they enjoy the perusal of the word of God. This book
contains the most interesting history, points out the way of salvation through Christ, and is their guide to a higher and better life. They would all pronounce it the most interesting book they ever perused, if their imagination had not become perverted by exciting stories of a fictitious character. You who are looking for your Lord to come the second time to change your mortal bodies, and to fashion them like unto His most glorious body, must come up upon a higher plane of action. You must work from a higher standpoint than you have hitherto done, or you will not be of that number who will receive the finishing touch of immortality.