make others happy. You have not cultivated affection, tenderness, and love. Your wife has suffered all through her married life for sympathy. Your married life has been very much like a desert--but very few green spots to look back upon with grateful remembrance. It need not have been thus.
Love can no more exist without revealing itself in outward acts than fire can be kept alive without fuel. You, Brother C, have felt that it was beneath your dignity to manifest tenderness by kindly acts, and to watch for an opportunity to evince affection for your wife by words of tenderness and kind regard. You are changeable in your feelings, and are very much affected by surrounding circumstances. You have not felt that it was wrong, displeasing to God, to allow your mind to be fully engrossed with the world, and then bring your worldly perplexities into your family, thus letting the adversary into your home. It is very easy for you thus to open the door, but you will find it not so easy to close; it will be very difficult to turn out the enemy when once you have brought him in. Leave your business cares and perplexities and annoyances when you leave your business. Come to your family with a cheerful countenance, with sympathy, tenderness, and love. This will be better than expending money for medicines or physicians for your wife. It will be health to the body and strength to the soul. Your lives have been very wretched. You have both acted a part in making them so. God is not pleased with your misery; you have brought it upon yourselves by want of self-control.
You let feelings bear sway. You think it beneath your dignity, Brother C, to manifest love, to speak kindly and affectionately. All these tender words, you think, savour of softness and weakness, and are unnecessary. But in their place come fretful words, words of discord, strife, and censure. Do you account these as manly and noble? as an exhibition of the sterner virtues of your sex? However you may
consider them, God looks upon them with displeasure and marks them in His book. Angels flee from the dwelling where words of discord are exchanged, where gratitude is almost a stranger to the heart, and censure leaps like black balls to the lips, spotting the garments, defiling the Christian character.
When you married your wife, she loved you. She was extremely sensitive, yet with painstaking on your part, and fortitude on hers, her health need not have been what it is. But your stern coldness made you like an iceberg, freezing up the channel of love and affection. Your censure and faultfinding has been like desolating hail to a sensitive plant. It has chilled and nearly destroyed the life of the plant. Your love of the world is eating out the good traits of your character. Your wife is of a different turn and more generous. But when she has, even in small matters, exercised her generous instincts, you have felt a drawback in your feelings and have censured her. You indulge a close and grudging spirit. You make your wife feel that she is a tax, a burden, and that she has no right to exercise her generosity at your expense. All these things are of such a discouraging nature that she feels hopeless and helpless, and has not stamina to bear up against it, but bends to the force of the blast. Her disease is pain of the nerves. Were her married life agreeable, she would possess a good degree of health. But all through your married life the demon has been a guest in your family to exult over your misery.
Disappointed hopes have made you both completely wretched. You will have no reward for your suffering, for you have caused it yourselves. Your own words have been like deadly poison upon nerve and brain, upon bone and muscle. You reap that which you sow. You do not appreciate the feelings and sufferings of each other. God is displeased with the hard, unfeeling, world-loving spirit you possess. Brother C, the love of money is the root of all evil. You have loved money, loved the world; you have looked at the
illness of your wife as a severe, a terrible, tax, not realizing that it is your fault in a great measure that she is sick. You have not the elements of a contented spirit. You dwell upon your troubles; imaginary want and poverty far ahead stare you in the face; you feel afflicted, distressed, agonised; your brain seems on fire, your spirits depressed. You do not cherish love to God and gratitude of heart for all the blessings which your kind heavenly Father has bestowed upon you. You see only the discomforts of life. A worldly insanity shuts you in like heavy clouds of thick darkness. Satan exults over you because you will have misery when peace and happiness are at your command.
You listen to a discourse; the truth affects you, and the nobler powers of your mind arouse to control your actions. You see how little you have sacrificed for God, how closely self has been cherished, and you are swayed to the right by the influence of the truth; but when you pass from under this sacred, sanctifying, soothing influence, you do not possess it in your own heart, and you soon fall into the same barren, ungenial state of feeling. Work, work, you must work; brain, bone, and muscle are taxed to the utmost to get means which your imagination tells you must be obtained, or want and starvation will be your lot. This is a delusion of Satan, one of his wily snares to lead you to perdition. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." But you make for yourself a time of trouble beforehand.
You have not faith and love and confidence in God. If you had, you would trust in Him. You worry yourself out of the arms of Christ, fearing that He will not care for you. Health is sacrificed. God is not glorified in your body and spirit, which are His. There is not a sweet, cheering home influence to soothe and counteract the evil which is predominant in your nature. The high, noble powers of your mind are overpowered by the lower organs; the evil traits of your character are developed.
You are selfish, exacting, and overbearing. This ought not to be. Your salvation depends on your acting from principle--serving God from principle, not from feeling, not from impulse. God will help you when you feel your need of help and set about the work with resolution, trusting in Him with all your heart. You are often discouraged without sufficient reason. You indulge feelings akin to hatred. Your likes and dislikes are strong. These you must restrain. Control the tongue. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." Help has been laid upon One that is mighty. He will be your strength and support, your front guard and rearward.
What preparation are you making for the better life? It is Satan who makes you think that all your powers must be exercised to get along in this world. You are fearing and trembling for the future of this life, while you are neglecting the future, eternal life. Where is the anxiety, the earnestness, the zeal, lest you make a failure there and sustain an immense loss? To lose a little of this world seems to you a terrible calamity which would cost your life. But the thought of losing heaven does not cause half the fears to be manifested. Through your careful efforts to save this life, you are in danger of losing eternal life. You cannot afford to lose heaven, lose eternal life, lose the eternal weight of glory. You cannot afford to lose all these riches, this exceedingly precious, immeasurable happiness. Why do you not act like a sane man, and be as earnest, as zealous, and as persevering in your efforts for the better life, the immortal crown, the eternal, imperishable treasure, as you are for this poor, miserable life and these poor perishable, earthly treasures?
Your heart is on your earthly treasures, therefore you have no heart for the heavenly. These poor things which are seen --the earthly--eclipse the glory of the heavenly. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Your words
will declare, your acts will show, where your treasure is. If it is in this world, the little gain of earth, your anxieties will be manifested in that direction. If you are striving for the immortal inheritance with an earnestness, energy, and zeal proportionate to its value, then can you be a fair candidate for everlasting life, and heir of glory. You need a fresh conversion every day. Die daily to self, keep your tongue as with a bridle, control your words, cease your murmurings and complaints, let not one word of censure escape your lips. If this requires a great effort, make it; you will be repaid in so doing.
Your life is now miserable, full of evil forebodings. Gloomy pictures loom up before you; dark unbelief has enclosed you. By talking on the side of unbelief you have grown darker and darker; you take satisfaction in dwelling upon unpleasant themes. If others try to talk hopefully, you crush out in them every hopeful feeling by talking all the more earnestly and severely. Your trials and afflictions are ever keeping before your wife the soul-harrowing thought that you consider her a burden because of her illness. If you love darkness and despair, talk of them, dwell upon them, and harrow up your soul by conjuring up in your imagination everything you can to cause you to murmur against your family and against God, and make your own heart like a field which the fire has passed over, destroying all verdure, and leaving it dry, blackened, and crisped.
You have a diseased imagination and deserve pity. Yet no one can help you as well as yourself. If you want faith, talk faith; talk hopefully, cheerfully. May God help you to see the sinfulness of your course. You need help in this matter, the help of your daughter and your wife. If you suffer Satan to control your thoughts as you have done, you will become a special subject for him to use and will ruin your own soul and the happiness of your family. What a terrible influence has your daughter had! The mother, not receiving love and
sympathy from you, has centred her affections upon the daughter and has idolised her. She has been a petted, indulged, and nearly spoiled child through the exercise of injudicious affection. Her education has been sadly neglected. Had she been instructed in household duties, taught to bear her share of the family burdens, she would now be more healthy and happy. It is the duty of every mother to teach her children to act their part in life, to share her burdens, and not be useless machines.
Your daughter's health would have been better had she been educated to physical labour. Her muscles and nerves are weak, lax, and feeble. How can they be otherwise when they have so little use? This child has but little power of endurance. A small amount of physical exercise wearies her and endangers health. There is not elasticity in muscles and nerves. Her physical powers have so long lain dormant that her life is nearly useless. Mistaken mother! know you not that in giving your daughter so many privileges of learning the sciences, and not educating her to usefulness and household labour, you do her a great injury? This exercise would have hardened, or confirmed, her constitution and improved her health. Instead of this tenderness proving a blessing, it will prove a terrible curse. Had the family burdens been shared with the daughter, the mother would not have overdone, and might have saved herself much suffering and benefited the daughter all the time. She should not now commence to labour all at once and bear the burdens which one at her age could bear, but she can educate herself to perform physical labour to a much greater extent than she has ever done in her life.
Sister C has a diseased imagination. She has secluded herself from the air until she cannot endure it without inconvenience. The heat of her room is very injurious to health. Her circulation is depressed. She has lived in the hot air so much
that she cannot endure the exposure of a ride out of doors without realizing a change. Her poor health is owing somewhat to the exclusion of air, and she has become so tender that she cannot have air without making her sick. If she continues to indulge this diseased imagination, she will be able to bear scarcely a breath of air. She ought to have the windows lowered in her room all through the day, that there may be a circulation of air. God is not pleased with her for thus murdering herself. It is unnecessary. She has become thus sensitive through indulging a diseased mind. Air she needs, air she must have. She is destroying not only her own vitality, but that of her husband and daughter, and of all who visit her. The air in her room is decidedly impure and dead; none can have health who accustom themselves to such an atmosphere. She has petted herself in this matter until she cannot visit the houses of her brethren without taking cold. For her own sake and for the sake of those around her, she must change this; she should accustom herself to the air, increasing it a little every day, until she can breathe the pure, vitalizing air without injury. The surface of the skin is nearly dead, because it has no air to breathe. Its million little mouths are closed, because they are clogged by the impurities of the system, and for want of air. It would be presumption to let in a free draft of air at once from out of doors, all through the day. Let it in by degrees; change gradually. In a week she can have the windows down two or three inches day and night.
Lungs and liver are diseased because she deprives herself of vital air. Air is the free blessing of heaven, calculated to electrify the whole system. Without it the system will be filled with disease and become dormant, languid, feeble. Yet you have all been for years living with a very limited amount of air. In thus doing, your wife drags others into the same poisonous atmosphere with herself. None of you can possess
clear, unclouded brains while breathing a poisonous atmosphere. Sister C dreads to stir out to go anywhere because she must feel the change in the atmosphere and take cold. She can yet be brought into a much better condition of health if she rightly treats herself. Twice a week she should take a general bath, as cool as will be agreeable, a little cooler every time, until the skin is toned up.
She need not linger along as she does, always sick, if you will all as a family heed the instructions given of the Lord. "He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." A contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul. Nothing is so fruitful a cause of disease as depression, gloominess, and sadness. Mental depression is terrible. You all suffer from it. The daughter is fretful, partaking of the spirit of the father; and then the heated, oppressed atmosphere, deprived of vitality, benumbs the sensitive brain. The lungs contract, the liver is inactive.
Air, air, the precious boon of heaven which all may have, will bless you with its invigorating influence if you will not refuse it entrance. Welcome it, cultivate a love for it, and it will prove a precious soother of the nerves. Air must be in constant circulation to be kept pure. The influence of pure, fresh air is to cause the blood to circulate healthfully through the system. It refreshes the body and tends to render it strong and healthy, while at the same time its influence is decidedly felt upon the mind, imparting a degree of composure and serenity. It excites the appetite, and renders the digestion of food more perfect, and induces sound and sweet sleep.
The effects produced by living in close, ill-ventilated rooms are these: The system becomes weak and unhealthy, the
circulation is depressed, the blood moves sluggishly through the system because it is not purified and vitalised by the pure, invigorating air of heaven. The mind becomes depressed and gloomy, while the whole system is enervated; and fevers and other acute diseases are liable to be generated. Your careful exclusion of external air and fear of free ventilation leave you to breathe the corrupt, unwholesome air which is exhaled from the lungs of those staying in these rooms, and which is poisonous, unfit for the support of life. The body becomes relaxed, the skin becomes sallow, digestion is retarded, and the system is peculiarly sensitive to the influence of cold. A slight exposure produces serious diseases. Great care should be exercised not to sit in a draft or in a cold room when weary, or when in a perspiration. You should so accustom yourself to the air that you will not be under the necessity of having the mercury higher than sixty-five degrees.
You can be a happy family if you will do what God has given you to do and has enjoined upon you as a duty. But the Lord will not do for you that which He has left for you to do. Brother C deserves pity. He has so long felt unhappy that life has become a burden to him. It need not be thus. His imagination is diseased, and he has so long kept his eyes on the dark picture that if he meets with adversity or disappointment, he imagines that everything is going to ruin, that he will come to want, that everything is against him, that he has the hardest time of anyone; and thus his life is made wretched. The more he thinks thus, the more miserable he makes his life and the lives of all around him. He has no reason to feel as he does; it is all the work of Satan. He must not suffer the enemy thus to control his mind. He should turn away from the dark and gloomy picture to that of the loving Saviour, the glory of heaven, and the rich inheritance prepared for all who are humble and obedient, and who possess grateful hearts and abiding faith in the promises of God. This will cost him an effort, a struggle; but it must be done.
Your present happiness and your future, eternal happiness depend upon your fixing your mind upon cheerful things, looking away from the dark picture, which is imaginary, to the benefits which God has strewn in your pathway, and beyond these, to the unseen and eternal.
You belong to a family who possess minds not well balanced, gloomy and depressed, affected by surroundings, and susceptible to influences. Unless you cultivate a cheerful, happy, grateful frame of mind, Satan will eventually lead you captive at his will. You can be a help, a strength to the church where you reside, if you will obey the instructions of the Lord and not move by feeling, but be controlled by principle. Never allow censure to escape your lips, for it is like desolating hail to those around you. Let cheerful, happy, loving words fall from your lips.
Brother C, your organism is not the best for your spiritual advancement, yet the grace of God can do much to correct the defects in your character and strengthen and more perfectly develop those powers of mind which are now weak and need force. In so doing you will bring into control those lower qualities which have overpowered the higher. You are like a man whose sensibilities are benumbed. You need to have the truth take hold of you and work a thorough reformation in your life. "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." This is what you need, and what you must experience--the transformation which a sanctification through the truth will effect for you.
Do you believe that the end of all things is at hand, that the scenes of this earth's history are fast closing? If so, show your faith by your works. A man will show all the faith he has. Some think they have a good degree of faith, when if they have any, it is dead, for it is not sustained by works.
"Faith if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." Few have that genuine faith which works by love and purifies the soul. But all who are accounted worthy of everlasting life must obtain a moral fitness for the same. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." This is the work before you, and you have none too much time if you engage in the work with all your soul.
You must experience a death to self, and must live unto God. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." Self is not to be consulted. Pride, self-love, selfishness, avarice, covetousness, love of the world, hatred, suspicion, jealousy, evil surmisings, must all be subdued and sacrificed forever. When Christ shall appear, it will not be to correct these evils and then give a moral fitness for His coming. This preparation must all be made before He comes. It should be a subject of thought, of study, and earnest inquiry, What shall we do to be saved? What shall be our conduct that we may show ourselves approved unto God?
When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there. None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.
How long a time are you designing to take to prepare to
be introduced into the society of heavenly angels in glory? In the state which you and your family are in at present, all heaven would be marred should you be introduced therein. The work for you must be done here. This earth is the fitting-up place. You have not one moment to lose. All is harmony, peace, and love in heaven. No discord, no strife, no censuring, no unloving words, no clouded brows, no jars there; and no one will be introduced there who possesses any of these elements so destructive to peace and happiness. Study to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on everlasting life.
Forever cease your murmurings in regard to this poor life, but let your soul's burden be, how to secure the better life than this, a title to the mansions prepared for those who are true and faithful to the end. If you make a mistake here, everything is lost. If you devote your lifetime to securing earthly treasures, and lose the heavenly, you will find that you have made a terrible mistake. You cannot have both worlds. "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Says the inspired Paul: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
These trials of life are God's workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our characters, and fit us for the society of pure, heavenly angels in glory. But as we pass through these trials, as the fires of affliction kindle upon us, we must not keep the eye on the fire which is seen, but let the eye of faith fasten upon the things unseen, the eternal inheritance, the immortal life, the eternal weight of
glory; and while we do this the fire will not consume us, but only remove the dross, and we shall come forth seven times purified, bearing the impress of the Divine.
Greenville, Michigan, March 7, 1868.