Letters to Young Lovers
Power in Christ for Self-control

All are accountable for their actions while in this world upon probation. All have power to control their actions if they will. If they are weak in virtue and purity of thoughts and acts, they can obtain help from the Friend of the helpless. Jesus is acquainted with all the weaknesses of human nature, and, if entreated, will give strength to overcome the most powerful temptations. All can obtain this strength if they seek for it in humility.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." [1 Cor. 10:31] Here is a principle which lies at the foundation of every act, thought, and motive; the consecration of the entire being, both physical and mental, to the control of the Spirit of God....You can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth you.

Before You Say "I Do!"

Early marriages are not to be encouraged. A relation so important as marriage and so far-reaching in its results should not be entered upon hastily, without sufficient preparation, and before the mental and physical powers are well developed.

Attachments formed in childhood have often resulted in very wretched unions, or in disgraceful separations. Early connections, if formed without the consent of parents, have seldom proved happy....After their judgement has become more matured, they view themselves bound for life to each other, and perhaps

52

not at all calculated to make each other happy. Then, instead of making the best of their lot, recriminations take place, the breach widens, until there is settled indifference and neglect of each other. To them there is nothing sacred in the word "home." The very atmosphere is poisoned by unloving words and bitter reproaches.

Broken Engagements

Even if an engagement has been entered into without a full understanding of the character of the one with whom you intend to unite, do not think that the engagement makes it a positive necessity for you to take upon yourself the marriage vow and link yourself for life to one whom you cannot love and respect. Be very careful how you enter into conditional engagements; but better, far better, break the engagement before marriage than separate afterward, as many do.

MARY ANNE SEEMS SELF-CENTRED AND WILFUL, NOT ALWAYS EXERCISING THE BEST JUDGEMENT IN CHOICE OF FRIENDS. THE YOUNG MAN OF HER SPECIAL CHOICE IS FROM A PROMINENT ADVENTIST FAMILY, AND YET IS IRRELIGIOUS, MAKING FUN OF THE CHURCH AND SPIRITUAL THINGS. HE IS DECEPTIVE, PUTTING ON A FRONT TO MARY, PRETENDING TO BE SOMETHING HE IS NOT, IN ORDER TO WIN HER HEART. ELLEN WHITE CONSIDERS THE ALMOST HYPNOTIC EFFECT SUCH A RELATIONSHIP CAN HAVE, AND ASKS SOME THINGS THAT GET RIGHT TO THE HEART OF THE SITUATION.

53

Essex Junction, Vermont August 22, 1875

Dear Mary Anne:

I have been shown some things in reference to you which I dare not withhold longer because I feel you to be in danger. God loves you and He has given you unmistakable evidences of His love. Jesus has bought you with His own blood, and what have you done for Him?

You love yourself, love to enjoy pleasure, and love the society of young men; and you fail to discriminate between the worthy and the unworthy. You have not experience and judgement and are in danger of taking a course which will prove to be all wrong and result in your ruin. You have strong affections, but your inexperience would lead you to have them placed upon improper objects. You should be guarded and not follow the bent of your own mind.

We are, my dear child, living amid the perils of the last days. Satan is intent upon corrupting the minds of youth with thoughts and affections and sympathies that they think are real genuine love which must not be interfered with. This I was shown is your case. You little know how very anxious and how great burdens your parents have borne for you.

You have not honoured your father and your mother as God requires of you. The sin which exists in this generation among children is that they are "disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." And this state of things exists to such an extent that it is made a subject of prophecy as one of the signs that we are living in the last days of time.

God has claims upon you. He has blessed you with life and with health and with capabilities and reasoning powers that you may, if you will improve, or you may greatly abuse by yielding these powers or qualities of mind to the control of Satan. You are responsible for the ability which God has given you.

You may, by making the most of your privileges, fit yourself for a position of influence and duty.

54

I was shown in my last vision that there are many of the young in Battle Creek who have not the fear of God before them, who are not at all religiously inclined. And there is still another class who are scoffers. Among the latter is Arthur Jones. He has all his life been rebellious. He has dishonoured his father and his mother. The restraint of home and parental authority he has despised and rebelled against. He has not been subdued. A rebellious spirit is as natural as his breath. He is quarrelsome at home, disobedient, heady, high-minded, unthankful and unholy. Such a spirit you are favouring. You are allowing your affections to go out after this boy. Stop just where you are. Do not allow this matter to go one step farther.

I was shown that he was a scorner of religion, a miserable unbeliever, a sceptic. He makes sport of religious things. He puts on a fair exterior to keep favour with you, but his entire life has been rebellious at home and rebellious against God.

No matter how he talks and deceives you, God looks upon him as he is, and I warn you not to cherish feelings of affection for this young man. Sever all intimate and close connection with the young man. He is unworthy of your love. He would not respect you if he will not respect and honour his parents.

You must not be ready to dispose of your heart's affections. You are young and you are unsuspecting. You will surely be deceived unless you are more guarded. God has purposes for you which Satan wishes to defeat. Give yourself unreservedly to God; connect with heaven.

Do not be led away from your Redeemer by an irreligious young man, a scorner of sacred things. Sever the intimacy existing between you at once. Do not follow your inclination, but follow your Saviour. Eternal life, my dear child, eternal life you want at any cost. Do not sacrifice this for your pleasure, to follow your own feelings, but give yourself to Jesus, love Him and live to His glory.

Take these words written, act upon them and God will bless you abundantly. Take reproof as from God, take counsel and advice given in love.

God has given you golden opportunities. Improve them. Make the most of the time you have now. Set your soul to seek God

55

earnestly. Humble your heart before Him and in the simplicity of humble faith, take up your cross and your responsibilities and follow the Pattern given you. Heaven will be cheap enough. The precious immortal life will be given to all who choose the path of humble obedience.

Will you from this time, make an entire change in your life and seek to know what is the will of God concerning you? Neglect not this time of privilege, but here, right here, lay all at the feet of Jesus and serve Him with your individual affections. God help you to break off the shackles Satan has sought to bind upon you.

In haste and much love, Ellen G. White.
Letter 30, 1875

56

THIS LETTER HAS SOME OF THE STERNEST WARNINGS AND COUNSELS FROM THE LORD'S PROPHET FOUND IN THIS BOOK. IT SEEMS THAT ELIZABETH HAS SO MANY PERSONAL PROBLEMS AND WEAKNESSES THAT HER CASE IS HOPELESS. THIS LETTER AT FIRST SOUNDS LIKE IT COULD BE CONSIDERED A FINAL JUDGEMENT FROM GOD, BUT RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THE REBUKE ARE THE FOLLOWING WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT;

"I DO NOT CONSIDER YOUR CASE HOPELESS; IF I DID, MY PEN WOULD NOT BE TRACING THESE LINES."  ELLEN WHITE CONCLUDES WITH A STRONG APPEAL FOR CONVERSION OF ELIZABETH.

57

Dear Elizabeth:

I was shown that you were in danger of being under the full control of the great adversary of souls. You have been opposed to restraint, have been headstrong, wilful, and stubborn, and have made your parents much trouble. They have erred. Your father has unwisely petted you. You have taken advantage of this and have become deceptive. You have received approbation which you did not deserve.

At school you had a good and noble teacher, yet you felt indignant because you were restrained. You thought that because you were the daughter of Elder Cole, your teacher should show a preference for you and should not take the liberty to correct and reprove you. While in school, you were sometimes troublesome, impudent, and defiant, and greatly lacked modesty and decorum. You were bold, selfish, and self-exalted, and needed firm discipline at home as well as at school.

You have received incorrect ideas in regard to girls' and boys' associating together, and it has been very congenial to your mind to be in the company of the boys. You have been injured by reading love stories and romances, and your mind has been fascinated by impure thoughts. Your imagination has become corrupt, until you seem to have no power to control your thoughts. Satan leads you captive as he pleases.

Your conduct has not been chaste, modest, or becoming. You have not had the fear of God before your eyes. My dear girl, unless you stop just where you are ruin is surely before you. Cease your day-dreaming, your castle-building. Stop your thoughts from running in the channel of folly and corruption.

If you indulge in vain imaginations, permitting your mind to dwell upon impure thoughts, you are, in a degree, as guilty before God as if your thoughts were carried into action. All that prevents the action is the lack of opportunity.

You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul.

The imagination must be positively and persistently controlled if the passions and affections are made subject to reason, conscience,

58

and character. You are in danger, for you are just upon the point of sacrificing your eternal interests at the altar of passion. Passion is obtaining positive control of your entire being- passion of what quality? of a base, destructive nature.

I appeal to you to stop where you are. Advance not another step in your headstrong, wanton course; for before you are misery and death. Unless you exercise self-control in regard to your passions and affections you will surely bring yourself into disrepute with all around you, and will bring upon your character disgrace which will last while you live.

I do not consider your case hopeless; if I did, my pen would not be tracing these lines. In the strength of God, you can redeem the past. You may even now gain a moral excellence so that your name may be associated with things pure and holy. You can be elevated. God has provided for you the necessary helps.

You have thought so much of yourself, of your own smartness, that it has led you to such affectation and vanity as to make you almost a fool. You have a deceitful tongue, which has indulged in misrepresentation and falsehood. Oh, my dear girl, if you could only arouse, if your slumbering, deadened conscience could be awakened, and you could cherish a habitual impression of the presence of God, and keep yourself subject to the control of an enlightened, wakeful conscience, you would be happy yourself and a blessing to your parents, whose hearts you now wound. You could be an instrument of righteousness to your associates. You need a thorough conversion, and without it you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity.

Put marriage out of your girl's head. You are in no sense fit for this. You need years of experience before you can be qualified to understand the duties, and take up the burdens, of married life.

You may become a prudent, modest, virtuous girl, but not without earnest effort. You must watch, you must pray, you must meditate, you must investigate your motives and your actions. Closely analyse your feelings and your acts. Would you, in the presence of your father, perform an impure action? No, indeed. But you do this in the presence of your heavenly Father,

59

who is so much more exalted, so holy, so pure. Yes; you corrupt your own body in the presence of the pure, sinless angels, and in the presence of Christ; and you continue to do this irrespective of conscience; irrespective of the light and warnings given you.

Yield yourself to Christ without delay; He alone, by the power of His grace, can redeem you from ruin. He alone can bring your moral and mental powers in a state of health. Your heart may be warm with the love of God; your understanding, clear and mature, your conscience, illuminated, quick, and pure; your will, upright and sanctified, subject to the control of the Spirit of God. You can make yourself what you choose. If you will now face rightabout, cease to do evil and learn to do well, then you will be happy indeed; you will be successful in the battles of life, and rise to glory and honour in the better life than this. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve."

Ellen G. White.
Letter in Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 558-565

60

Don't Be Squeezed into the World's Mould

Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices, must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy of souls may suggest. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness.

Those who would have that wisdom which is from God must become fools in the sinful knowledge of this age, in order to be wise. They should shut their eyes, that they may see and learn no evil. They should close their ears, lest they hear that which is evil and obtain that knowledge which would stain their purity of thoughts and acts. And they should guard their tongues, lest they utter corrupt communications and guile be found in their mouths.

We are commanded to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No, but put to death the temptation to sin. The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme; Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness.

Pornography and Your Mind

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. Photographs of females in a state of nudity are frequently circulated for sale.

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,

61

corrupt the morals and prepare the deluded, infatuated beings to give loose rein to lustful passions.

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.

Satan has come down with great power to work his deceptions. He fastens the mind or imaginations upon impure, unlawful things. Christians become like Christ in character by dwelling upon the divine Model. That with which they come in contact has a moulding influence upon life and character. I have read of a painter who would never look upon an imperfect painting for a single moment, lest it should have a deteriorating influence upon his own eye and conceptions. That which we allow ourselves to look upon oftenest, and think of most, transfers itself in a measure to us.