Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 9, 1864

Howland, Sister

Battle Creek, Michigan

March 20, 1864

Portions of this letter are published in UL 93; 10MR 24-25.

Dear Sister Howland:

Many years ago some things were presented before me in vision in relation to you and your family. One year ago last June, as different families were presented before me who erred in some things, you, in connection with your husband and children, were again presented before me, and I was referred back years in the past. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 1

I saw you watching your husband with a sort of jealous fear. His heart was devoted to you, yet you feared that he would think too much of others who had no claim to his affections. These words were then repeated to me: “There was great fear; no fear was.” That is, your fears were groundless. Yet this fear has been with you through your married life. You have passed through many hours of unnecessary suffering, scrutinizing the words and acts of your husband with a censuring mind, and putting a wrong construction upon them. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 2

Satan was ever ready to do his part to aid on the work and mar the happiness of a family which might be complete. I saw that this spirit of jealousy was cruel as the grave, and caused an estrangement of feeling between husband and wife. In time the children very often understood the mother’s feelings. Her sadness and trouble awakened sympathy in their hearts, and they see alike, generally, with the mother, and become separated in a greater or less degree from the father. All this unhappiness was borrowed. Satan has magnified innocent words and acts into a fault. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 3

I was shown that although a couple were married, gave themselves to each other by a most solemn vow in the sight of heaven and holy angels, and the two were one, yet each had a separate identity which the marriage covenant could not destroy. Although bound to one another, yet each has an influence to exert in the world and they should not be so selfishly engrossed with each other as to shut themselves away from society and bury up their usefulness and influence. Uriah and Harriett were reproved for this. They were narrowing down their society and influence to each other and were getting to be of but little use in the world. They were reproved for their selfishness and contracted influence. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 4

Many cases have been shown me in vision where the first evil seed sown in the family was an expression, look, or act of doubt on the part of the wife in regard to her husband’s love or his attentions. Nothing can wound a man of integrity like this—to know that she who has given him her hand and has given her life’s happiness into his keeping distrusts him, that he has not her entire confidence; that his words, his goings out and his comings in are watched with uneasiness and jealousy; that he cannot act without restraint in the society of friends who visit him; that he cannot be cheerful, happy, or social with his friends; that an eye is upon him and he must act guardedly and restrained. A barrier is soon formed between the two who should have perfect trust in each other; then coldness and neglect follow, and the husband is driven by the jealousy of his wife to find in other society that which he cannot find at home with his wife and children. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 5

Many a man who has left his wife has been driven away by a bitterness of feeling on her part toward him for a supposed wrong and neglect on his part, when he was entirely innocent and a wrong thought or feeling never entered his heart until put in his mind by his wife’s unjust suspicions. Much misery and suffering, Sister Howland, have you brought upon yourself by being jealous where there was no necessity for it. Days and weeks of real suffering have you brought upon yourself by cherishing feelings of distrust. Your children have partaken of the same feelings and have lacked confidence in their father and love for him. You could have influenced them and directed their minds differently. You all could have been a happy, united family. Your husband has been almost like one alone in the family, which is not right. God did not design it should be so. But Satan has controlled matters to suit himself. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 6

In regard to Brother Howland, he has not taken the wisest and best course for the happiness of his family. He has worked hard, and when he could as well as not, should have manifested a desire to meet the taste and wishes of his wife and children. There was a lack here which Satan has used to the greatest advantage. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 7

Since Brother Howland has been an Adventist he has been fearful of imitating the fashions of the world and being like them, and has carried the matter too far, and has not indulged his wife and children in making home pleasant and attractive. Considerable indulgence on the part of Brother Howland would not have been amiss as long as it was sufficiently balanced by good religious principles. The children have been kept from society, and therefore double pains should have been taken to make home cheerful and attractive. Their taste should have been more consulted as they approached an age when they were responsible. They should have a voice in all things connected with their home, its arrangements, its furniture, its surroundings, and Brother Howland should have delighted to gratify them and his wife. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 8

But the lack of confidence Sister Howland has had in her husband and the disposition of Brother Howland to carry out his ideas independent of wife and children has made an estrangement between the wife and the husband, and between the children and the father. Brother Howland has been too distant, has not come down enough to his children, has been too reserved. He should have been more cheerful and social in his family, laid aside his sternness, and in the childhood of his children when in his home, been a child again; come down from the stern man to a social companion. By doing this he could have gained the greater love, confidence, and deep, tender affection of his children. As they approached womanhood they would have felt free to advise with their father, to make him their counselor, to tell him their plans, to open their hearts to him and tell him their joys and sorrows. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 9

When you left your labor you should have left all your care with your labor and been free, happy, cheerful, and social in your family. You should not shut yourself too much up to yourself but endeavor to make your wife and children happy by your cheerful, happy conversation, instructive advice, and useful counsel. Open your plans to each other. Your children are now understanding, cautious, sensible girls. Throw off coldness and reserve, converse freely together in regard to your plans, your arrangements, improvements in the house and surroundings. This will inspire mutual confidence, union, and trust in each other. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 10

Your wife and children have fine taste. They, as well as yourself, love order and arrangement. If this is not carried too far it should be gratified. Your means cannot be put to a better use than in making your children happy, making home the happiest place in the world. There has been a mistake in your married life in the things I have mentioned. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 11

From what has been shown me, it would have been better for the whole family if you had changed your location ere this. You have deprived yourselves of society and privileges which you might have enjoyed and the life you have lived for years has not been as useful as might have been. Your influence has been narrowed down. No matter how great the gain from a worldly point of view, it is all a loss if by obtaining it the mind becomes dwarfed and the influence cramped. 1LtMs, Lt 9, 1864, par. 12