Dear Sister I: Yesterday I had some time for reflection, and now have a few thoughts that I wish to present to you. I could not readily answer your question concerning your duty to travel with your husband. I had not yet learned the result of your accompanying him; therefore I could not speak as understandingly as if I had been acquainted with the influence you had exerted. I cannot give counsel in the dark. I must know that my counsel is correct in the light. Great advantage is taken of my words, therefore I must move very cautiously. After careful reflection, seeking to call up things which have been shown me in your case, I am prepared to write to you.
From the letters you have written to me in regard to Brother J, I fear that you are prejudiced and have some jealousy. I hope this is not the case, but fear that it is. You and your husband are very sensitive and naturally jealous, therefore you need to guard yourselves in this direction. We do not feel that Brother J sees all things clearly. We think his wife is far from
right and has great influence over him; yet we hope that if all move in wisdom toward him, he will recover himself from the snare of Satan and see all things clearly.
Dear sister, we are determined to be impartial and not have our words or acts in any way influenced by hearsay. We have no pets. May the Lord give us heavenly wisdom, that we may deal righteously and impartially, and thus meet the mind of His Spirit. We do not want our works wrought in self. We do not want personal feelings. If we think we are not specially considered, or if we see, or imagine that we see, positive neglect, we want the spirit of our forgiving Master. The people who professed to be His followers received Him not, because His face was toward Jerusalem, and He gave no special indication that He was to tarry with them. They did not open their doors to the heavenly Guest, and did not urge His abiding with them, although they beheld Him weary with His journey, and the night was drawing on. They gave no sign that they really desired Jesus. The disciples knew that He designed to tarry there that night, and they felt so keenly the slight thus given to their Lord that they were angry, and prayed Jesus to show proper resentment and call down fire from heaven to consume those who had thus abused Him. But He rebuked their indignation and zeal for His honor, and told them that He came, not to visit with judgment, but to show mercy.
This lesson of our Saviour's is for you and for me. No resentment must come into our hearts. When reviled, we must not revile again. O jealousy and evil surmising, what mischief have ye wrought! how have ye turned friendship and love into bitterness and hatred! We must be less proud, less sensitive, have less self-love, and be dead to self-interest. Our interest must be submerged in Christ and we be able to say: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Christ has told us how to
make everything easy and happy as we pass along: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." The great difficulty is, there is so little meekness and lowliness that the yoke galls and the burden is heavy. When we possess true meekness and lowliness we are so lost in Christ that we do not take neglect or slights to heart; we are deaf to reproach and blind to scorn and insult.
Sister I, as the peculiarities of your case come clearly before me, I see a serious objection to your traveling. You do not take upon yourself the burdens that you should. You call forth sympathy from others, but do not give in return. You lay your whole weight where you are, and too frequently are waited upon when those who bear their own burden and yours also are no more able to do this than yourself. You are too helpless for your own good, and the influence is not such as that of a minister's wife should be. You need more physical labor than you have; and from what has been shown me, I think that you would be more in the line of your duty engaging cheerfully in the work of educating your daughter and encouraging a love of domestic duties. You did not receive the education in this direction that you should have had in your girlhood, and this has made your life more unhappy than it would otherwise have been. You do not love physical labor; and when journeying, you fill the bill of an invalid, and fail to be helpful and do what you can to lighten the burdens you make. You fail to realize that frequently the very ones who wait on you are no more able to perform the extra task than you are. You lean on others, and lay your whole weight upon them. I have no evidence that God has called you to do a special work in traveling.
You have an education to obtain that you do not yet possess.
Who can so well instruct the child as the mother? Who can so well learn the defects in her own organization and in her child's as the mother while in the performance of the duties which Heaven has allotted her? The fact that you do not love this work is no evidence that it is not the work which the Lord has assigned you. You have not sufficient physical or mental strength to make it an object for you to travel. You wish to be ministered unto, instead of ministering to others. You are not helpful enough to offset the burden you are to your husband and to those around you.
Those who cannot wisely manage their own child or children are not qualified to act wisely in church matters or to deal with wiry minds subject to Satan's special temptations. If they can cheerfully and lovingly perform the part required of them as parents, then they can better understand how to bear burdens in the church. Dear sister, I advise you to make a good wife to your husband and a good home for him. Rely upon your own resources, and lean less heavily upon him. Arouse yourself to do the very work which the Lord would have you do. You are inclined to be anxious to do some great work, to fill some large mission, and neglect the small duties right in your path, which are just as necessary to be accomplished as the larger. You walk over these and aspire to a larger work. Let your ambition be aroused to be useful, to be a workman in the world instead of a spectator.
My dear sister, I speak plainly; for I dare not do otherwise. I plead with you to take up life's burdens instead of shunning them. Help your husband by helping yourself. The ideas which you both hold of the dignity to be maintained by the minister are not in accordance with the example of our Lord. The minister of Christ should possess sobriety, meekness, love, long-suffering, forbearance, pity, and courtesy. He should be circumspect, elevated in thought and conversation, and of
blameless deportment. This is gospel dignity. But if a minister comes to a family where he can wait on himself, he should do so by all means; and he should by his example encourage industry by engaging in physical labor when he has not a multiplicity of other duties and burdens. He will not detract from his dignity, and will better relate himself to health and life, by engaging in useful labor. The circulation of the blood will be better equalized. Physical labor, a diversion from mental, will draw the blood from the brain. It is essential for your husband to have more physical labor in order to relieve the brain. Digestion will be promoted by physical exercise. If he would spend a part of every day in physical exercise, when not positively urged by a protracted effort in a course of meetings, it would be an advantage to him, and would not detract from ministerial dignity. The example would be in accordance with that of our divine Master.
We love you, and want you to be successful in your efforts in striving for the better life.
Steamer "Keokuk," Mississippi River, Sept. 30, 1869.