We are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them as Christ has promised.
Marriage is something that will influence and affect your life both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will not advance his plans in this direction without the knowledge that God approves his course. He will not want to choose for Himself, but will feel that God must choose for him. We are not to please ourselves, for Christ pleased not Himself. I would not be understood to mean that anyone is to marry one whom he does not love. This would be sin. But fancy and the emotional nature must not be allowed to lead on to ruin. God requires the whole heart, the supreme affections.
If men and women are in the habit of praying twice a day before they contemplate marriage, they should pray four times a day when such a step is anticipated. Marriage is something that will influence and affect your life, both in this world and in the world
to come. A sincere Christian will not advance his plans in this direction without the knowledge that God approves his course.
If there is any subject that should be considered with calm reason and unimpassioned judgement, it is the subject of marriage. If ever the Bible is needed as a counsellor, it is before taking a step that binds persons together for life.
Instituted by God, marriage is a sacred ordinance and should never be entered upon in a spirit of selfishness. Those who contemplate this step should solemnly and prayerfully consider its importance and seek divine counsel that they may know whether they are pursuing a course in harmony with the will of God. The instruction given in God's word on this point should be carefully considered. Heaven looks with pleasure upon a marriage formed with an earnest desire to conform to the directions given in the Scripture.
BELLE DOES NOT SEEM TO WANT COUNSEL FROM ANY SOURCE--EVEN FROM THOSE CLOSEST TO HER, AND MOST INTERESTED IN HER HAPPINESS. ELLEN WHITE SUGGESTS THAT SHE OUGHT TO LISTEN TO HER PARENTS, AND IN TURN IS DISAPPOINTED THAT HER OWN COUNSEL HAS BEEN IGNORED. SHE PLEADS THAT IF BELLE IS UNWILLING TO GO TO HUMAN HELP, SHE SHOULD CERTAINLY TURN TO GOD. HERE ARE TWO LETTERS MRS. WHITE WROTE TO HER.
Letter No. 1 Battle Creek, Mich. March 1, 1889
I hoped to meet you and talk with you. I greatly fear that you disregard the light which the Lord has been pleased to give you through me. I know that the Lord has tender, pitying love toward you, and I hope you will not under temptation be led to pursue a course to separate your soul from God. There are many who are ready to give advice and confuse the mind with counsel, who have not God for their counsellor, therefore all they may say will only make a mixed case of one that is already very trying.
Belle, your disposition and temperament is such that I greatly fear for your soul. I fear that you will not choose for your companions those who are discreet and wise and humble in heart, who love God and who keep His commandments.
Abstain from even the appearance of evil, is the exhortation of the inspired apostle. Have you done this? The sensational and emotional is more fully developed than the intellectual . Everything, Belle, should be avoided that would exaggerate this tendency into a predominating power. You have motive power; let it be uncorrupted and wholly devoted to God. God has bestowed upon you capabilities and powers to be sanctified and exercised to His glory.
You have a history and you are making history. The mind may in this crisis of your life take a turn, a bias of grossness rather than of refinement. The contaminating influences of the world may mould your habits, your taste, your conversation, your deportment. You are on the losing side. The precious moments, so solemn, fraught with eternal results, may be wholly on Satan's side of the question and may prove your ruin. I do not want it thus. I want you should be a Christian, a child of God, an heir of heaven.
You are in danger of giving up Christ, of becoming reckless and unwilling to listen to wise counsel. The counsel of parental affection is lost upon deaf ears. Will you, Belle, think seriously
whether you will receive advice from the experienced? Will you be guided by your friends? Will the parental counsel be unheeded? Will you take your case in your own hands?
I hope you will change your course of action, for if the Lord has ever spoken by me, He now speaks to you to retrace your steps. Your passions are strong, your principles are endangered, and you will not consider and will not follow advice which you know to be good and the only clear, safe, consistent thing for you to do. Will you resolve to do right, to be right, to heed the counsel I have given you in the name of the Lord? God has given you capabilities. Shall they be wasted at random?
Unguided efforts will go more often in the wrong direction than the right. Will you let years of waywardness, disappointment, and shame pass and you make so many wrong impressions on minds by your course of action that you can never have that influence which you might have had?
In order to gain that which you think is liberty you pursue a course which, if followed, will hold you in a bondage worse than slavery. You must change your course of conduct and be guided by the counsel of experience and through the wisdom of those whom the Lord teaches, place your will on the side of the will of God.
But if you are determined to listen to no counsels, but your own and you will work out every problem for yourself, then be sure you will reap that which you have sown. You will miss the right way altogether, or else, wounded, bruised, and dwarfed in religious character, you will turn to the Lord, humbled, penitent, and confessing your errors. You will become tired of beating the air.
Remember every action and every course of action has a two-fold character, be it virtuous or demoralising. God is displeased with you. Can you afford to pursue the course you are pursuing?
Ellen G. White.
Letter 47, 1889
Letter No. 2
Again my heart goes out to you. How is it with your soul? Have you a conscience void of offence toward God and man? Your associations, are they of that character to draw your mind to God and to heavenly things, to increase in you reverence for your parents, pure and holy aspirations? Do you love the truth and the right? Or are you indulging in a creative imagination that has no healthful influence upon the soul? Can you look back upon the last year of your life with satisfaction? Can you see a growth in spiritual power? Any low gratification, any self-indulgence, is a scar left upon the soul, and the noble powers of mind are corrupted. There may be repentance, but the soul is crippled, and will wear its scars through all time. Jesus can wash away the sin but the soul has sustained a loss.
I beg of you, Belle, to go to God for wisdom. The most difficult thing you will have to manage is your own self. Your own daily trials, your emotions, and your peculiar temperament, your inward promptings, -these are difficult matters for you to control, and these wayward inclinations bring you often into bondage and darkness.
Your only course is to give yourself unreservedly into the hands of Jesus-all your experiences, all your temptations, all your trials, all your impulses-and let the Lord mould you as clay is moulded in the hands of the potter. You are not your own and therefore there is the necessity of giving your unmanageable self into the hands of One who is able to manage you. Then rest, precious rest and peace will come to your soul.
Belle, it is not now too late for wrongs to be righted. It is not now too late to make your calling and your election sure. You may now begin to work upon the plan of addition. Add to your faith virtue, and knowledge, and temperance, and patience, and every Christian grace. Everything else will perish in the great day of conflagration, but the gold of holy character is enduring. It knows no decay. It will stand the test of the fires of the last day. My dear child, I wish you to remember that "God
shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecc. 12:14.
What are you doing, Belle? Have you, since you decided to discard counsel, to refuse advice, been growing into a firm, well developed Christian? Or have you, in choosing your own way, found it brings unrest, cares, and worries?
Why not listen to the advice of your parents? Before you is the path that leads to certain ruin. Will you turn while you can? Will you seek the Lord while Mercy's sweet voice is appealing to you, or will you still have your own way? The Lord pities you. The Lord invites you. Will you come?
May the Lord help you to choose to be wholly the Lord's.
I write because I love your soul.
Ellen G. White.
Letter 51, 1889
Parents Can Be of Help
If you are blessed with God-fearing parents, seek counsel of them. Open to them your hopes and plans; learn the lessons which their life experiences have taught.
Should a son or daughter select a companion without first consulting the parents, when such a step must materially affect the happiness of parents if they have any affection for their children? And should that child, notwithstanding the counsel and entreaties of his parents, persist in following his own course? I answer decidedly: No; not if he never marries. "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Here is a commandment with a promise which the Lord will surely fulfil to those who obey. Wise parents will never select companions for their children without respect to their wishes.
One of the greatest errors connected with this subject is that the young and inexperienced must not have their affections disturbed, that there must be no interference in their love experience. If there ever was a subject that needed to be viewed from every standpoint, it is this. The aid of the experience of others, and a calm, careful weighing of the matter on both sides, is positively essential. It is a subject that is treated altogether too lightly by the great majority of people. Take God and your God-fearing parents into your counsel, young friends. Pray over the matter.
If children would be more familiar with their parents, if they would confide in them, and unburden to them their joys and sorrows, they would save themselves many a future heartache. When perplexed to know what course is right, let them lay the matter just as they view it before their parents and ask advice of them. Who are so well calculated to point out their dangers as godly parents? Who can understand their peculiar temperaments so well as they? Children who are Christians will esteem above every earthly blessing the love and approbation of their God-fearing parents. The parents can sympathise with the children, and pray for and with them that God will shield and guide them.
THIS LETTER BRINGS INTO FOCUS THE THOUGHT OF RESPONSIBILITY TO PARENTS. IT IS CLEAR THAT HANS IS TRYING TO URGE HIMSELF UPON THE GIRL, AGAINST THE STRONG OPPOSITION OF HER PARENTS, AND WITHOUT CONCERN FOR THEIR FEELINGS AT ALL. THIS SITUATION RAISES THE QUESTION OF WHETHER PARENTS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN THE PROCESS OF CHOOSING A WIFE. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER SUCH A MARRIAGE AS FAR AS RELATIONS WITH THEM ARE CONCERNED? ELLEN WHITE POSES SUCH CONSEQUENCES WORTH CONSIDERING.
Geneva, Switzerland December 16, 1885
I understand that you have desired to have my judgement in regard to matters that trouble you in reference to marriage with Brother Meyer's daughter. I understand that the father of the one upon whom you have placed your affections is not willing that his daughter should connect with you in marriage. While I would feel due sympathy for you because of your disappointment, I would say, "Who should feel interested in his own child more than her own father; and also her mother?"
The very fact of your urgency of this matter against the wishes of the parents is evidence that the Spirit of God has not the first place in your heart and a controlling power upon your life. You have a strong will, a firm, persistent determination to carry out anything you have entered upon.
Will my brother please look to his own spirit and criticise his motives and see if he has a single eye in this matter to act in all things for the glory of God? I was shown the cases of several in Switzerland who were very much exercised upon the subject of marriage, that they had their minds so fully engrossed with this subject that they were disqualifying themselves to do the work God would have them to do.
There was a young man shown me who was seeking to become one of the family of Brother Meyer's whom he did not seem to accept. He was in great trial and worriment of mind. I cannot but think this applies to you. This brother was not fitted in any sense to take the responsibilities of a husband or of a family, and should the union be formed now there would be great unhappiness as the result.
Now, my brother, my advice is for you to give your mind and affections to God and lay yourself on the altar of God.
There is the fifth commandment that must be respected. Had this commandment been more respected than it has been,--had children been obedient to their parents and thus honoured them,-- how much suffering and misery would have been spared! The
inexperienced child cannot discern what is for her best good, and how to wisely choose a companion who will make her life pleasant and happy; and an unhappy marriage is the greatest calamity that can befall both parties.
Will my brother closely examine his heart and see whether he is in the love of God or not? Will he see what feelings are arising there against Brother Meyer because he cannot bring his mind to consent to there being a union between you and his daughter? If you were indeed learning in the school of Christ to wear His yoke, to lift His burdens, to learn of Jesus' meekness and lowliness of heart, you would not urge your will and your wishes so persistently.
Do not unfit yourself through your strong will to carry your points at all hazards. Stop where you are and inquire, "What is the spirit that controls me?" Are you loving God with all your heart? Are you loving your neighbour as yourself?
The very first duty that rests upon Brother Meyer's daughter is to obey her parents, to honour her father and her mother. This she can do if you will not keep her mind in a state so unsettled that she cannot do her duty to her parents.
The mother needs the help of her child, and when she will become a few years older, she will understand better how to choose a husband who will make her life smooth and happy. A woman who will submit to be ever dictated to in the smallest matters of domestic life, who will yield up her identity, will never be of much use or blessing in the world and will not answer the purpose of God in her existence. She is a mere machine, to be guided by another's will and another's mind. God has given each one, men and women, an identity, an individuality. All must act in the fear of God for themselves.
There are so many unhappy marriages. Can we be surprised that parents are cautious and want to guard their children from any connection which may not be wise and best?
Your sister in Christ
Ellen G. White.
Letter 25, 1885
Don't Keep It a Secret
A young man who enjoys the society and wins the friendship of a young lady unbeknown to her parents, does not act a noble Christian part toward her or toward her parents. Through secret communications and meetings he may gain an influence over her mind; but in so doing he fails to manifest that nobility and integrity of soul which every child of God will possess. In order to accomplish their ends, they act a part that is not frank and open and according to the Bible standard, and prove themselves untrue to those who love them and try to be faithful guardians over them. Marriages contracted under such influences are not according to the word of God. He who would lead a daughter away from duty, who would confuse her ideas of God's plain and positive commands to obey and honour her parents, is not one who would be true to the marriage obligations.
"Thou shalt not steal" was written by the finger of God upon the tables of stone; yet how much underhand stealing of affections is practised and excused. A deceptive courtship is maintained, private communications are kept up, until the affections of one who is inexperienced, and knows not whereunto these things may grow, are in a measure withdrawn from her parents and placed upon him who shows by the very course he pursues that he is unworthy of her love. The Bible condemns every species of dishonesty, and demands right doing under all circumstances.