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 centered her affections upon the daughter and has idolized 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 labor. 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 labor, 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 labor all at once and bear the burdens which one at her age could bear, but she can educate herself to perform physical labor 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 vitalized 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.
March 7, 1868
Chapter 119—The Husband’s Position
Dear Brother and Sister D,
While speaking in meeting Sunday afternoon, I could scarcely refrain from calling your names and relating some things which had been shown me. I saw that Brother D did not occupy that position in his family which God would have him. Sister D takes the lead; she possesses a strong will, which has not been subdued as God requires; and in order to please his wife and keep her from despondency, Brother D has yielded to her. Her judgment has swayed him, and he has not been a free man for years.
When Brother D first engaged in the work of teaching the truth, he was little in his own eyes, and God used him as His instrument. But I saw that for some time in the past he has not humbled himself under the hand of God. He has trusted to his own wisdom and weak judgment, and Satan has been obtaining an advantage over him. Instead of relying solely upon God, and staying himself upon His strength, he has had his judgment perverted by the influence of his wife. She has stood in a position to see, to hear, to understand, all that was going on around her. Did she possess a sanctified judgment and heavenly wisdom, then would she see through sanctified eyes, and hear through sanctified ears. She would make a right use of her eyes and ears. She has not done this. “Who is blind, but My servant? or deaf, as My messenger that I sent?” God does not wish us to hear all that is to be heard, or to see all that is to be seen. It is a great blessing to close the ears, that we hear not, and the eyes, that we see not. The greatest anxiety should be to have clear eyesight to discern our own shortcomings, and a quick ear to catch all needed reproof and instruction, lest by our inattention and carelessness we let them slip and become forgetful hearers and not doers of the work.
Brother D, for some time in the past your labors have not been as wisely and successfully directed as formerly. Your course of action has not borne the impress of God. Your wife has managed your temporal matters and borne burdens which were too heavy for her to bear, while you have been absent. This has excited your sympathy, and had a tendency to pervert your judgment, so that you have placed too high an estimate upon her qualifications because of her capability in managing your temporal matters. Satan has been watching his opportunity to make as much as possible to his own advantage of your confidence in your wife. He has purposed to trammel you and destroy you both. You have to a great degree thrown off your stewardship upon your wife. This is wrong; she will have all she can do to bear her share of the responsibility, without bearing that which comes upon you and for which God will hold you accountable.
Sister D has been deceived in some things. She has thought that God instructed her in a special sense, and you both have believed and acted accordingly. The discernment which she has thought she possessed in a special sense, is a deception of the enemy. She is naturally quick to see, quick to understand, quick to anticipate, and is of an extremely sensitive nature. Satan has taken advantage of these traits of character and has led you both astray. Brother D, you have been a bondman for quite a length of time. Much of that which Sister D has thought was discernment has been jealousy. She has been disposed to regard everything with a jealous eye, to be suspicious, surmising evil, distrustful of almost everything. This causes unhappiness of mind, despondency, and doubt, where faith and confidence should exist. These unhappy traits of character turn her thoughts into a gloomy channel, where she indulges a foreboding of evil, while a highly sensitive temperament leads her to imagine neglect, slight, and injury, when it does not exist. All these things stand in the way of the spiritual advancement of you both, and affect others to just that extent that you are connected with the cause and work of God. There is a work for you to do: Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that you may be exalted in due time. These unhappy traits of character, with a strong, set will, must be corrected and reformed, or they will eventually cause you both to make shipwreck of your faith.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 699-708