Dear Sister E: I have been shown that you need a thorough conversion. You have accepted the truth, but have not received the blessings that the truth brings, because you have not experienced its transforming power. You are in danger of losing both worlds unless you have a more thorough work of grace in your heart and unless your will is brought into conformity to the mind and will of Christ.
You are not now on the right track to obtain that peace
and happiness which the true, humble, cross-bearing believer is sure to receive. You have the stamp of your father's character. You have a selfish disposition; you do not realize this, but it is true. Your principal thoughts are for yourself, to please yourself, to do those things which will be most agreeable to yourself, without reference to the happiness of those around you. You are making a mistake in searching for happiness. If you find it, it will be in the performance of duty and the forgetfulness of self. While your thoughts are so much upon yourself, you cannot be happy.
You neglect to cheerfully engage in the work which God has left you to do. You overlook the common, simple duties lying directly in your pathway, and your mind wanders off to some greater work, which you imagine will be more congenial to your taste, and which will supply the lack in your life, the barrenness in your soul. You will surely be disappointed here. The work which God has left you to do is to take up the common, everyday duties which are right around you and do the plain, homely duties of life cheerfully, not mechanically, but having your heart in what you do, performing with your heart, as well as with your hands, the simple duties which lie before you.
You do not study to make others happy; your eyes are not open, trying to discern what little things you can do, what little attentions in the daily courtesies of life you can show to your parents and the members of the household. You have felt too much that it was a virtue to shut yourself away from the family, and brood over your unhappy thoughts and unhappy experience, gathering thorns, and taking satisfaction in wounding yourself with them. You indulge in a dreamy habit, which must be broken up. You leave duties undone. Work which you ought to do to relieve others you neglect for the pleasure of indulging your own unhappy musings. You do not know yourself. Up to duty! Arouse yourself and take up your neglected duty. Redeem the past by future faithfulness. Take hold of the work before you, and, in the faithful performance of duty, you will forget yourself and will not
have time to muse and become gloomy, and feel disagreeable and unhappy.
You have almost everything to learn in the Christian experience. You are not improving as fast as you might, and as you must, if you ever obtain eternal life. You are now forming a character for heaven or one which will debar you from heaven. You have had your mind and thoughts so engrossed in yourself that you have not realized what you must do in order to become a true follower of the meek and lowly Jesus. You have neglected your home duties. You have been a cloud and a shadow in the family, when it was your privilege to shed light and be a blessing to the dear ones around you. You have been pettish, fretful, and unhappy, when there was, in reality, nothing to make you so. You have not been awake to see what you might do to lift the burdens from your mother and to bless your parents in every way possible. You have looked to your parents and sisters to help you to be happy and to minister to you, to do for you, while your thoughts have been centered upon yourself. You have not had the grace of God in your heart, while you have deceived yourself in thinking that you were really advanced in the knowledge of the divine will.
You have been ready to engage in conversation with those not of our faith, when it was impossible for you to present an intelligent reason of our faith before them. In this you do not rightly represent the truth and do much more injury to the cause of truth than you do good. If you should talk less in vindication of our faith and study your Bible more and let your deportment be of that character which would testify that the influence of the truth was good upon your heart and life, you would do far more good than by mere talk, while you lack faithfulness in so many things.
If you are careful to follow the example of our self-denying, self-sacrificing Redeemer, who was ever seeking to do good and to bless others, but not to find ease and pleasure and enjoyment for Himself, you will then bless others with your influence. In our mingling in society, in families or in whatever relations of life we are placed, either limited or extended,
there are many ways wherein we may acknowledge our Lord and many ways wherein we may deny Him. We may deny Him in our words, by speaking evil of others, by foolish talking, jesting and joking, by idle or unkind words, or by prevaricating, speaking contrary to truth. In our words we may confess that Christ is not in us. In our character we may deny Him by loving our ease, by shunning the duties and burdens of life which someone must bear if we do not, and by loving sinful pleasure. We may also deny Christ by pride of dress and conformity to the world, or by uncourteous behavior. We may deny Him by loving our own opinions and by seeking to maintain and justify self. We may also deny Him in allowing the mind to run in the channel of lovesick sentimentalism and to brood over our supposed hard lot and trials.
No one can truly confess Christ before the world unless the mind and spirit of Christ live in him. It is impossible to communicate that which we have not. The conversation and the deportment should be a real and visible expression of grace and truth within. If the heart is sanctified, submissive, and humble, the fruits will be seen outwardly and will be a most effectual confession of Christ. Words and profession are not enough. You, my sister, must have something more than this. You are deceiving yourself. Your spirit, your character, and your actions do not show a spirit of meekness, self-denial, and charity. Words and profession may express much humility and love; but if the conduct is not regulated daily by the grace of God, you are not a partaker of the heavenly gift, you have not forsaken all for Christ, you have not surrendered your own will and pleasure to become His disciple.
You commit sin and deny your Saviour by dwelling on gloomy things, by gathering trials to yourself, and by borrowing troubles. You bring the troubles of tomorrow into today, and embitter your own heart, and bring burdens and a cloud upon those around you, by manufacturing trials. The precious probationary time that God has given you in which to do good and become rich in good works you are very unwise
to employ in thinking unhappy thoughts and in airy castle-building. You suffer your imagination to run upon subjects that will bring you no relief or happiness. Your daydreaming stands directly in the way of your obtaining a sound, healthy, intelligent experience in the things of God and a moral fitness for the better life.
The truth of God received into the heart is able to make you wise unto salvation. In believing and obeying it you will receive grace sufficient for the duties and trials of today. Grace for tomorrow you do not need. You should feel that you have only to do with today. Overcome for today; deny self for today; watch and pray for today; obtain victories in God for today. Our circumstances and surroundings, the changes daily transpiring around us, and the written word of God which discerns and proves all things--these are sufficient to teach us our duty and just what we ought to do, day by day. Instead of suffering your mind to run in a channel of thought from which you will derive no benefit, you should be searching the Scriptures daily and doing those duties in daily life which may now be irksome to you, but which must be done by someone.
The beauties of nature have a tongue that speaks to our senses without ceasing. The open heart can be impressed with the love and glory of God as seen in the works of His hand. The listening ear can hear and understand the communications of God through the works of nature. There is a lesson in the sunbeam and in the various objects in nature that God has presented to our view. The green fields, the lofty trees, the buds and flowers, the passing cloud, the falling rain, the babbling brook, the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens, all invite our attention and meditation, and bid us become acquainted with God, who made them all. The lessons to be learned from the various objects of the natural world are these: They are obedient to the will of their Creator; they never deny God, never refuse obedience to any intimation of His will. Fallen beings alone refuse to yield full obedience to
their Maker. Their words and works are at variance with God and opposed to the principles of His government.
Your thoughts are not elevated. There is enough in the natural world to lead you to love and adore your Creator. There is food for thought without shutting yourself away to feed on disappointed hopes and perverted imaginings. Do not be ready to talk with unbelievers and to enter into argument with those who oppose the truth, for you are not furnished with Scripture knowledge to do this. You have neglected to study your Bible. You can best recommend the truth by the meekness of your life and the faithful discharge of your daily duties. If you are conscientiously strict to do your part, and are faithful and earnest to see what you can and should do for those for whom you labor, you will then better represent the truth. The best way in which you can recommend the truth is, not by argument, not by talk, but by living it daily, by leading a consistent, modest, humble life as a disciple of Christ.
It is a sad thing to be discontented with our surroundings or with the circumstances which have placed us where our duties seem humble and unimportant. Private and humble duties are distasteful to you; you are restless, uneasy, and dissatisfied. All this springs from selfishness. You think more of yourself than others think of you. You love yourself better than you love your parents, sisters, and brother, and better than you love God. You desire more congenial labor, for which you think you will be better fitted. You are not willing to work and wait in the humble sphere of action where God has placed you, until He proves and tests you, and you demonstrate your ability and fitness for a higher position. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." The spirit of meekness is not a spirit of discontent, but it is directly the opposite.
Those professed Christians who are constantly whining and complaining, and who seem to think happiness and a cheerful countenance a sin, have not the genuine article of religion. Those who look upon nature's beautiful scenery as
they would upon a dead picture, who choose to look upon dead leaves rather than to gather the beautiful living flowers, who take a mournful pleasure in all that is melancholy in the language spoken to them by the natural world, who see no beauty in valleys clothed with living green and grand mountain heights clothed with verdure, who close their senses to the joyful voice which speaks to them in nature and which is sweet and musical to the listening ear--these are not in Christ. They are not walking in the light, but are gathering to themselves darkness and gloom, when they could just as well have brightness and the blessing of the Sun of Righteousness arising in their hearts with healing in His beams.
My young sister, you are living an imaginary life. You can not detect or realize a blessing in anything. You imagine troubles and trials which do not exist; you exaggerate little annoyances into grievous trials. This is not the meekness which Christ blessed. It is an unsanctified, rebellious, unfilial discontent. Meekness is a precious grace, willing to suffer silently, willing to endure trials. Meekness is patient and labors to be happy under all circumstances. Meekness is always thankful and makes its own songs of happiness, making melody in the heart to God. Meekness will suffer disappointment and wrong, and will not retaliate. Meekness is not to be silent and sulky. A morose temper is the opposite of meekness; for this only wounds and gives pain to others, and takes no pleasure to itself.
You have but just entered the school of Christ. You have almost everything yet to learn. You do not now dress extravagantly, but you have pride of appearance. You desire to dress with less simplicity. You think considerably more of dress than you should. Christ invites you: 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. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Submit your neck to the yoke which Christ imposes and you will find in this submission the very happiness that you have tried to gain
to yourself in your own way by following your own course.
You may be cheerful if you will bring even your thoughts into subjection to the will of Christ. You should make no delay, but closely search your own heart and die to self daily. You may inquire: How can I master my own actions and control my inward emotions? Many who profess not the love of God do control their spirit to a considerable extent without the aid of the special grace of God. They cultivate self-control. This is indeed a rebuke to those who know that from God they may obtain strength and grace, and yet do not exhibit the graces of the Spirit. Christ is our model. He was meek and lowly. Learn of Him, and imitate His example. The Son of God was faultless. We must aim at this perfection and over come as He overcame, if we would have a seat at His right hand.
You have peculiarities of character which need to be sternly disciplined and resolutely controlled before you can with any safety enter the marriage relation. Therefore marriage should be put from your mind until you overcome the defects in your character, for you would not make a happy wife. You have neglected to educate yourself for systematic household labor. You have not seen the necessity of acquiring habits of industry. The habit of enjoying useful labor, once formed, will never be lost. You are then prepared to be placed in any circumstance in life, and you will be fitted for the position. You will learn to love activity. If you enjoy useful labor, your mind will be occupied with your employment, and you will not find time to indulge in dreamy fancies.
Knowledge of useful labor will impart to your restless and dissatisfied mind energy, efficiency, and a becoming, modest dignity, which will command respect. You know but very little of yourself; you know not the deceptions of your own heart. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Search your heart carefully, and take time for meditation and prayer. Unless you see the defects in your character and with genuine sincerity correct your errors, you cannot be a disciple of Christ.
You love to think and talk about young men. You interpret their civilities as a special regard for yourself. You flatter yourself that you are more highly esteemed than you really are. Your conversation should be upon subjects that will profit, that will refine and elevate. You are not, my dear child, cultivating habits of frankness and sincerity. Your heart is not right. Your influence is not good upon the young, for you have not the mind of Christ; yet you flatter yourself that you have made great advancement in the Christian life.
A reformation must commence in your father's family. You bear the stamp of your father's character. You should endeavor to shun his errors and his extremes. If you are truly a disciple of Christ you will see important work to do at your home. Every family may be a perpetual school. The elder sisters can exert a strong influence upon the younger members of the family. The younger, witnessing the example of the older, will be led more by the principle of imitation than by oft-repeated precepts. The eldest daughter should ever feel it a Christian duty devolving upon her to aid the mother in bearing her many toilsome burdens. Hours are worse than lost that are spent in bed, in sleep, or in gloomy musings, while the shoulders of some in the family are bowed to carry the heavy, toilsome load.
The elder daughters may assist in the education of the younger members of the family. Here is an excellent opportunity for you, kindly, diligently, and having the fear of the Lord before you, to teach those less advanced than yourself. You may gain the affections of those you try to help. You may here have one of the best of schools in which to exercise the Christian graces. You do not love children. In fact, you do not love anything which requires steady, earnest, persevering effort. You do not love steady application. You love change and variety, and are constantly seeking to find something that will please yourself and give you happiness. You need self-education, and you can obtain this better now than at any future time. You have almost every change to make in your life, and may God help you to take hold of the
work without delay. Only the pure, the good, and the holy will dwell with Christ when He cometh into His kingdom.
You cannot obtain heaven without earnest, persevering effort. As viewed in the light of heaven, your life hitherto has been aimless and nearly useless. You now have opportunity to redeem the time and to wash your robe of character in the blood of the Lamb. God will help you if you feel your need of His help. Your righteousness is of no value with God. It is only through the merits of Christ that you will be victor at last. And if you can be among those who shall be saved with an everlasting salvation, heaven will be cheap enough.