Letters to a Young Christian

There is a way of thinking, a thought process, by which one recognizes brethren who are “equally yoked”. While it’s wonderful when it occurs in one’s own designated time period of life, there’s even greater comfort when Brethren of the past are recognized through their writings. When I read writings which are tens of generations, or even centuries old, ranging from the 19th century to those of Psalms, I never fail to be humbled by the sameness, the continuity of the Lord. While we humans stumble about, changing our philosophical, ethical and political mores, the wisdom of the Lord is unchanging. It is a knowledge not of the natural mind, but rather, through the wisdom of Christ which makes those who are like-minded known to us. An example is a book I found online in the Making of America series, written in 1852 by Sarah Jackson. I probably shouldn’t be as surprised as I am when I run across writings from the 19th Century, such as Ms. Jackson’s, which have far more in common with today, sadly, than not.

I look upon those who are just entering on their religious course with a feeling almost of sadness, because they have so much to learn, and will find so much from without and from within, that may hinder their progress. It seems to me they do not generally receive from the pulpit all the specific instruction which they need. Most preachers are occupied with unfolding in a general way the doctrines and duties of religion, and attempting to awaken the impenitent.”

This is a wonderful read from a Sister in the Lord, over 150 years ago. Some day, I look forward to meeting her.

LETTERS TO A YOUNG CHRISTIAN

LETTER I. -Dear Euyenia,-You are now just starting in the Christian course; you have taken the vows of God upon you, and joined yourself to his people. Henceforth you will be regarded by the world as a Christian, and they will expect you to live accordingly. They have heard you solemnly promise, that, denying all ungodliness and every worldly lust, you will live soberly, godly, and righteously, and take the Lord for your portion. Many eyes will now be upon you; and Oh, that you may be enabled to walk worthy of the profession you have made! No doubt this is your desire and purpose; perhaps a few words of counsel from one who has been longer in the way may be acceptable to you.

I have been thinking it might be well to point out some of the difficulties and dangers which the young Christian has to meet, and to unfold the nature of a genuine Christian experience. I look upon those who are just entering on their religious course with a feeling almost of sadness, because they have so much to learn, and will find so much from without and from within, that may hinder their progress. It seems to me they do not generally receive from the pulpit all the specific instruction which they need. Most preachers are occupied with unfolding in a general way the doctrines and duties of religion, and attempting to awaken the impenitent.

After an individual is hopefully converted, and fairly within the fold, he seems to be left to take care of himself. But at this point he needs much instruction. Many questions of conscience arise; doctrines, duties, and Christian experience present three great fields, which he has but just begun to explore. He needs a guide through each.

I can never cease to regret the time lost in the earlier part of my Christian life for want of clear ideas on these subjects. I gave myself with sincerity to the service of God, but then I had no one to tell me how much was implied in this surrender, and therefore I endeavored to ascertain by observing the course of others who had taken the same vows. This was my first great mistake. What a fruitful source of error and evil it proved to me! I long to warn every young disciple against taking the example of older professors for their guide. Yet it is so natural, that they almost invariably do it, to a greater or less extent.

Another great difficulty with me was, that I had not correct ideas of what is implied in the life of faith. I understood very well that heaven was not to be purchased with penances, or merited by good works. Yet the spirit of legality lingered long in my heart, unperceived. I used to think it a mark of humility for a Christian to have doubts and fears about the reality of his conversion. If I happened to hear one speak with confidence as to his good estate, I thought it savored of self-complacency, and when that Christian could say with David, “My soul shall make her boast in the Lord, or "purchased in paperback"> it seemed to me that he was making his boast in himself. You see that by this false view I crippled myself completely; for without Christ I could do nothing in the way of spiritual advancement, and yet, not venturing to settle the question, whether I belonged to Christ, I could not be certain that any of his offers of aid were made to me. The promises might be ever so large and firee, yet if I was not certainly converted, what were they to me. As a consequence of this radical error, all my efforts for religious progress were made in my own strength, and of course I had only a mortifying succession of defeats. My path, instead of shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day, grew darker and darker-strewed all along with broken resolutions.

At length I lost all confidence in myself, without having gained any in God.

I thus allude to my own experience, dear Eugenia, to show why I think you, and other young Christians, may need particular instruction in regard to the inward life. I fervently desire for your own sake, and for the sake of those over whom you have an influence, and for the honor of the Master in whose service you are now enlisted, that you may avoid the mistakes into which I fell. At another time, if the Lord permit, we will resume this subject.

Meanwhile, I affectionately commend you to the care of the Good Shepherd, who carries the lambs in His bosom. Does not this convey to us a sweet impression of his tender interest in every young disciple? Yours in the bonds of Christian love. LETTER IT. ENTIRE CONSECRATION.

Dear Eugenia,-In a former letter I told you of some sad mistakes which I fell into in the earlier years of my Christian life. This I did, partly to explain my anxiety on your account, and partly to give you a clearer idea of your own dangers. .....


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