You have fallen into the sad error which is so prevalent in this degenerate age, especially with women. You are too fond of the other sex. You love their society; your attention to them is flattering, and you encourage, or permit, a familiarity which does not always accord with the exhortation of the apostle, to "abstain from all appearance of evil."
You do not really understand yourself. You are walking in darkness. You have had something to do with matchmaking. This is most uncertain business; for you do not know the heart and may make very bad work, thereby aiding the great rebel in his work of matchmaking. He is busily engaged in influencing those who are wholly unsuited to each other to unite their interests. He exults in this work, for by it he can produce more misery and hopeless woe to the human family than by exercising his skill in any other direction.
You have written many letters, which has greatly taxed you. These letters have dwelt somewhat upon the subjects of our faith and hope; but mixed with this have been close inquiries and guesses in regard to whether this one or that one was about to marry, and suggestions relative to marriage. You seem to know considerable about anticipated marriages, and write and talk upon these things. This only causes dearth to your soul. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." You have done great injustice to yourself in permitting your mind and conversation to dwell upon love and marriage. You have not been happy, because you have been seeking after happiness. This is not profitable business. When you seek earnestly to do your duty, and arouse yourself to minister unto others, then you will find rest of spirit. Your mind dwells upon yourself. It needs to be drawn away from yourself by seeking to lighten the cares of others; and in making them happy, you will find happiness and cheerfulness of spirit.
You have a diseased imagination. You have thought
yourself diseased, but this has been more imaginary than real. You have been untrue to yourself. You have conversed with young men, and permitted a freedom in your presence which should only be permitted in a brother. I was shown that your influence at ----- was not what it might have been. You permitted your mind to take a low level. You could chat, and laugh, and talk cheap talk unworthy of a Christian. Your deportment was not as it should have been. You appeared like a person without a backbone. You were half reclining upon others, which is a wrong position for a lady to occupy in the presence of others. If you had only thought so, you could have walked as well, and sat as erect, as many others. The condition of your mind leads to indolence and to a dread of exercise, when this exercise would prove one of the greatest means of your recovery. You will never recover unless you lay aside this listless, dreamy condition of mind and arouse yourself to do, to work while the day lasts. Do, as well as imagine and plan. Turn your mind away from romantic projects. You mingle with your religion a romantic, lovesick sentimentalism, which does not elevate, but only lowers. It is not yourself alone who is affected; others are injured by your example and influence.
You are naturally devotional. If you would train your mind to dwell upon elevated themes which have nothing to do with yourself, but are of a heavenly nature, you could yet be of use. But much of your life has been wasted in dreaming of doing some great work in the future, while the present duty, small though it may appear to you, has been neglected. You have been unfaithful. The Lord will not commit to your trust any larger work until the work now before you has been seen and performed with a ready, cheerful will. Unless the heart is put into the work, it will drag heavily, whatever that work may be. The Lord tests our ability by first giving us
small duties to perform. If we turn from these with dissatisfaction and murmuring, no more will be entrusted to us until we cheerfully take hold of these small duties and do them well; then greater responsibilities will be committed to us.
You have been entrusted with talents not to be squandered, but to be put out to the exchangers, that at the Master's coming He may receive His own with usury. God has not distributed these talents indiscriminately. He has dispensed these sacred trusts according to the known capacity of His servants. "To every man his work." He gives impartially, and expects a corresponding return. If all do their duty according to the measure of their responsibility, the amount entrusted to them, be it large or small, will be doubled. Their fidelity is tested and proved, and their faithfulness is positive evidence of their wise stewardship, and of their worthiness to be entrusted with the true riches, even the gift of everlasting life.
At the conference in New York, October, 1868, I was shown many who are now doing nothing, who might be accomplishing good. There was presented before me a class who are conscious that they possess generous impulses, devotional feelings, and a love of doing good; yet at the same time they are doing nothing. They possess a self-complacent feeling, flattering themselves that if they had an opportunity, or were circumstanced more favourably, they could and would do a great and good work; but they are waiting the opportunity. They despise the narrow mind of the poor niggard who grudges the small pittance to the needy. They see that he lives for self, that he will not be called from himself to do good to others, to bless them with the talents of influence and of means which have been committed to him to use, not to abuse, nor to permit to rust, or lie buried in the earth. Those who give themselves up to their stinginess and selfishness are accountable for their niggardly acts and are responsible for
the talents they abuse. But more responsible are those who have generous impulses and are naturally quick to discern spiritual things, if they remain inactive, waiting an opportunity they suppose has not come, yet contrasting their readiness to do with the unwillingness of the niggard, and reflecting that their condition is more favourable than that of their mean-souled neighbours. Such deceive themselves. The mere possession of qualities which are not used only increases their responsibility; and if they keep their Master's talents unimproved, or hoarded, their condition is no better than that of their neighbours for whom their souls feel such contempt. To them it will be said: Ye knew your Master's will, yet did it not.
Had you trained your mind to dwell upon elevated subjects, meditating upon heavenly themes, you could have done much good. You could have had an influence upon the minds of others, to turn their selfish thoughts and world-loving dispositions into the channel of spirituality. Were your affections and thoughts brought into subjection to the will of Christ, you would be capable of doing good. Your imagination is diseased because you have permitted it to run in a forbidden channel, to become dreamy. Daydreaming and romantic castle-building have unfitted you for usefulness. You have lived in an imaginary world; you have been an imaginary martyr and an imaginary Christian.
There is much of this low sentimentalism mingled with the religious experience of the young in this age of the world. My sister, God requires you to be transformed. Elevate your affections, I implore you. Devote your mental and physical powers to the service of your Redeemer, who has bought you. Sanctify your thoughts and feelings that all your works may be wrought in God.
You have been in a sad deception. God would have you investigate closely every thought and purpose of your heart.
Deal truly with your own soul. Had your affections been centred upon God as He requires, you would not have passed through the trials you have. There is a restlessness of spirit with you which will not be relieved until your thoughts are changed; until daydreaming and castle-building cease, and you do the work of the present.
In your letter writing, leave matchmaking and guessing about the marriages of your friends. The marriage relation is holy, but in this degenerate age it covers vileness of every description. It is abused, and has become a crime which now constitutes one of the signs of the last days, even as marriages, managed as they were previous to the Flood, were then a crime. Satan is constantly busy to hurry inexperienced youth into a marriage alliance. But the less we glory in the marriages which are now taking place, the better. When the sacred nature and the claims of marriage are understood, it will even now be approved of Heaven, and the result will be happiness to both parties, and God will be glorified. May the Lord enable you to do the work before you to do.
I am about to write upon this wrong, deceptive work which is carried on under the cover of religion. The lust of the flesh has control of men and women. The mind has been depraved through a perversion of the thoughts and feelings, and yet the deceptive power of Satan has so blinded their eyes that poor, deceived souls flatter themselves that they are spiritually minded, especially consecrated, when their religious experience is composed of lovesick sentimentalism more than of purity, true goodness, and humility of soul; the mind is not drawn out of self, is not exercised and elevated by blessing others, by doing good works. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." True religion ennobles the mind, refines the taste, sanctifies the judgement, and makes its possessor partaker of
the purity and influences of heaven; it brings angels near, and separates more and more from the spirit and influence of the world.
Battle Creek, Michigan.