Dear Friends: I have been shown that as a family you experience much needless unhappiness. God has not designed that you should be miserable; but you have taken your minds from Jesus and centered them too much upon yourselves. The great sin of your family is that of needless repining over God's providences; your unsubmissiveness in this respect is indeed alarming. You have magnified small difficulties and have talked discouragements too much. You have a habit of draping everything about you in mourning and have made yourselves unhappy without cause. Your continued murmurings are separating you from God.
You should keep off from Satan's enchanted ground and not allow your minds to be swayed from allegiance to God. Through Christ you may and should be happy and should acquire habits of self-control. Even your thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God and your feelings under the control of reason and religion. Your imagination was not given you to be allowed to run riot and have its own way without any effort at restraint or discipline. If the thoughts are wrong the feelings will be wrong, and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character. When you decide that as Christians you are not required to restrain your thoughts and feelings you are brought under the influence of evil angels and invite their presence and their control. If you yield to your impressions and allow your thoughts to run in a channel of suspicion, doubt, and repining you will be among the most unhappy of mortals, and your lives will prove a failure.
Dear Sister F, you have a diseased imagination; and you dishonor God by allowing your feelings to have complete control of your reason and judgment. You have a determined will, which causes the mind to react upon the body, unbalancing the circulation and producing congestion in certain organs; and you are sacrificing health to your feelings.
You are making a mistake, which, if not corrected, will not end with wrecking your own happiness merely. You are doing positive injury, not only to yourself, but to the other members of your family, and especially your mother. She is very nervous and highly sensitive. If one of her children is suffering, she becomes confused and almost distracted. Her mind is becoming unbalanced by the frequent fits of hysteria which she is compelled to witness, and great unhappiness is brought upon all around you. And yet you are capable of controlling your imagination and overcoming these nervous attacks. You have will power, and you should bring it to your aid. You have not done this, but have let your highly wrought imagination control reason. In this you have grieved the Spirit of God. Had you no power over your feelings, this would not be sin; but it will not answer thus to yield to the enemy. Your will needs to be sanctified and subdued instead of being arrayed in opposition to that of God.
My dear friends, instead of taking a course to baffle disease, you are petting it and yielding to its power. You should avoid the use of drugs and carefully observe the laws of health. If you regard your life you should eat plain food, prepared in the simplest manner, and take more physical exercise. Each member of the family needs the benefits of health reform. But drugging should be forever abandoned; for while it does not cure any malady, it enfeebles the system, making it more susceptible to disease.
Man has been placed in a world of sorrow, care, and perplexity. He is placed here to be tested and proved, as were Adam and Eve, that he may develop a right character and bring harmony out of discord and confusion. There is much for us to do that is essential to our own happiness and that of others. And there is much for us to enjoy. Through Christ we are brought into connection with God. His mercies place us under continual obligation; feeling unworthy of His favors, we are to appreciate even the least of them.
For all that you have and are, dear friends, you are indebted to God. He has given you powers that, to a certain extent, are similar to those which He Himself possesses; and you should labor earnestly to develop these powers, not to please and exalt self, but to glorify Him. You have not improved your privileges to the best advantage. You should educate yourselves to bear responsibilities. Intellect must be cultivated; if left to rust from inaction it will become debased.
This earth is the Lord's. Here it may be seen that nature, animate and inanimate, obeys His will. God created man a superior being; he alone is formed in the image of God and is capable of partaking of the divine nature, of co-operating with his Creator and executing His plans; and he alone is found at war with God's purposes.
How wonderfully, with what marvelous beauty, has everything in nature been fashioned. Everywhere we see the perfect works of the great Master Artist. The heavens declare His glory, and the earth, which is formed for the happiness of man, speaks to us of His matchless love. Its surface is not a monotonous plain, but grand old mountains rise to diversify the landscape. There are sparkling streams and fertile valleys, beautiful lakes, broad rivers, and the boundless ocean. God sends the dew and the rain to refresh the thirsty earth. The breezes, that promote health by purifying and cooling the atmosphere, are controlled by His wisdom. He has placed the sun in the heavens to mark the periods of day and night, and by its genial beams give light and warmth to the earth, causing vegetation to flourish.
I call your attention to these blessings from the bounteous hand of God. Let the fresh glories of each new morning awaken praise in your hearts for these tokens of His loving care. But while our kind heavenly Father has given us so many things to promote our happiness, He has given us also blessings in disguise. He understands the necessities of fallen man; and while He has given us advantages on the one hand, on the other there are inconveniences which are designed to stimulate us to use the ability He has given us. These develop patient industry, perseverance, and courage.
There are evils which man may lessen but can never remove. He is to overcome obstacles and make his surroundings instead of being molded by them. He has room to exercise his talents in bringing order and harmony out of confusion. In this work he may have divine aid if he will claim it. He is not left to battle with temptations and trials in his own strength. Help has been laid upon One who is mighty. Jesus left the royal courts of heaven and suffered and died in a world degraded by sin, that He might teach man how to pass through the trials of life and overcome its temptations. Here is a pattern for us.
As the benefits conferred upon His creatures by our heavenly Father are recounted, do you not feel reproved for your ungrateful repinings? For a number of years He lent you a daughter and sister, until you began to regard her as yours and felt that you had a right to this good gift. God heard your murmurings. If there was a cloud in sight, you seemed to forget that the sun ever shone; and clouds and darkness were ever about you. God sent you affliction; He removed your treasure from you that you might discern between prosperity and real sorrow. But you did not subdue your hearts before Him and repent of the great sin of ingratitude which had separated you from His love. Like Job, you felt that you had cause for grief, and would not be comforted. Was this reasonable? You know that death is a power that none can resist; but you have made your lives nearly useless by your unavailing grief. Your feelings have been little less than rebellion against God. I saw you all dwelling upon your bereavement, and giving way to your excitable feelings, until your noisy demonstrations of grief caused angels to hide their faces and withdraw from the scene.
While thus giving way to your feelings, did you remember that you had a Father in heaven who gave His only Son to die for us that death might not be an eternal sleep? Did you remember that the Lord of life and glory passed through the tomb and brightened it with His own presence? Said the beloved disciple: "Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." The apostle well knew what he was talking about when he wrote these words; but when you give way to uncontrollable grief, is your conduct consistent with the comfort which they express?
The Lord is gracious, merciful, and true. He has permitted the one of your household band who was the most innocent and the best prepared to rest through the perils of the last days. Oh! do not shut up your souls against melody and joy, mourning as though there were to be no resurrection of the dead, but praise God that for her there is no more death, no more trial, no more sorrow. She rests in Jesus until the Life-giver shall call forth His sleeping saints to a glorious immortality.
F has a work to do, through the grace of God, to control her feelings. She knows that she is not in heaven, but in a world where death reigns and where our loved ones may be removed from us at any moment. She should feel that the great burden of life is to prepare for a better world. If she has a right hold on eternal life, it will not disqualify her for living in this world and nobly bearing life's burdens, but it will help her in the performance of self-denying, self-sacrificing duties.
As a family you have talked darkness and complaining until you are changed into the same image. You seem to work upon one another's sympathies and to arouse nervous excitability until you have a dark, sad, dismal time by yourselves. You have held mourning services, but these do not attract angels around you. If you do not change your course, God will come a little closer and deal with you in judgment. Is it not time that you hold thanksgiving services in your home and recount with rejoicing the blessings that have been bestowed upon you?
The power of the truth should be sufficient to sustain and console in every adversity. It is in enabling its possessor to triumph over affliction that the religion of Christ reveals its true value. It brings the appetites, the passions, and the emotions under the control of reason and conscience, and disciplines the thoughts to flow in a healthful channel. And then the tongue will not be left to dishonor God by expressions of sinful repining.
Our Creator justly claims the right to do as He chooses with the creatures of His hand. He has a right to govern as He will, and not as man chooses. But He is not a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He is the very fountain of love, the giver of blessings innumerable. It should cause you the deepest grief that you have disregarded such love, and have not let gratitude and praise well up in your hearts for the marvelous goodness of God. We do not deserve all His benefits; but they are continued to us, notwithstanding our unworthiness and cruel ingratitude. Then cease to complain as though you were bond servants under a hard taskmaster. Jesus is good. Praise Him. Praise Him who is the health of your countenance, and your God.