Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)



Lt 1, 1869

Stickney, John; Brother and Sister

Battle Creek, Michigan

March 22, 1869

This letter is published in entirety in 2T 431-436.

Dear Brother and Sister John Stickney:

I have been seeking opportunities to write to you, but I have been sick, unable to write to any one. But I will try to write a few lines this morning. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 1

As I was shown the duties resting upon God’s people in regard to the poor, especially the widows and orphans, I was shown that my husband and myself were in danger of taking upon us burdens which God has not laid upon us and thereby lessening our courage and strength by increasing our cares and anxiety. In your case, I saw that my husband went farther than it was his duty to go. His interest in your case led him to take a burden which was not his duty to take and which has been no benefit to you, but has encouraged in you a disposition to depend upon your brethren. You look to them to help and favor you while you do not labor as hard as they and economize at all times as they feel it your duty to do. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 2

I was shown that you, my brother and sister, have much to learn. You have not learned economy. You have not lived within your means. If you earn by labor high wages, you have not learned to economize what you have earned, and to make it go as far as possible. You consult your taste or appetite instead of prudence. At times you expend money for a quality of food that your brethren cannot afford to indulge in. Dollars slip away from your pocket very easily. You have both much to learn. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 3

Sister Stickney is in poor health. She indulges her appetite. She places too heavy a tax upon her stomach. She burdens her stomach by overeating. She places in her stomach food not of the best quality to nourish her system. Her food is taken in immoderate quantities, and she takes but little exercise; thus the system is severely taxed. According to the light the Lord has given us, simple food is the best to insure health and strength. Exercise is necessary for her health. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 4

Self-denial is a lesson you have both to learn. Restrict your appetite, Brother Stickney. God has given you a capital of strength. This is of more value to you, and should be more highly prized by you than money. Strength cannot be purchased with gold, silver, houses or lands. It is a great possession that you have. God requires you to make a wise and judicious use of the strength He has blessed you with. You are God’s steward with a capital of strength. You are just as much a steward as is a man who has a capital of money. It is wrong for you not to use your strength to the best advantage; as wrong as for a rich man to covetously retain his riches because it is agreeable to his nature to do so. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 5

You do not make the exertion that you should to support your family. You can and do work if work is conveniently prepared to your hand; but do not exert yourself to set yourself to work, feeling that it is a duty to use your time and strength to the very best advantage, and in the fear of God. You have been in a business which would at times yield you large profits at once. After you have earned means you have not studied to economize in reference to a time when means could not be obtained so readily, but have expended much for imaginary wants. Had you and your wife understood it to be a duty that God enjoined upon you to deny your taste and your desires, and make provision for the future instead of merely living for the present, you could now have a competency and your family have had the comforts of life. You have a lesson to learn which you should not be backward in learning. It is to make a little go the longest way. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 6

Sister Stickney has leaned her weight too heavily upon her husband. She has been all her life too dependent upon others for sympathy, thinking of herself, making herself a center. She has been petted too much. She has not learned to be self-reliant. She has not been the help to her husband that she might have been in temporal or spiritual [things]. She must learn to bear and not dwell upon bodily infirmities as she does. She has the battles of life to fight for herself. She has an individual responsibility resting upon her. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 7

Sister Stickney, your life has been a mistake. You have indulged in reading anything and everything. Your mind has not been benefited by this much reading. Your mind has been excited while hurriedly chasing through a story. If your children interrupt you, you speak fretfully, impatiently. You do not possess self-control, therefore fail to hold with a firm and steady hand control of your children. You move by impulse. You indulge and pet them and then fret and scold and are severe. This variable manner of governing is very detrimental to your children. They need a firm, steady hand, for they are wayward. They need regular, wise, judicious discipline. You might save yourself much perplexity if you would put on the woman and move from principle and not be governed by impulse. You have imagined that your husband must be with you, that you could not stay alone. You should see that it is his duty to labor to sustain his family. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 8

You should bring yourself to deny your desires and wishes, and not lead him to feel that he must accommodate himself to you. You have a part to act in bearing the burdens of life. You must put on courage and fortitude and be a woman, not a capricious child. You have [been] too long petted and had your burdens borne for you. It is now your duty to seek to deny yourself and act from principle for the present and future good of your family. You are not well; but if you would cultivate a cheerful, contented mind, it would help you to a better hold on this life and a better hold on eternal life. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 9

Brother Stickney, it is your duty to make a careful, judicious use of the capital of strength God has given you. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 10

Sister Stickney, your brain is wearied, taxed by reading. You should deny your propensity for crowding your mind with every thing it can devour. Your lifetime has not been put to the best use. You have not benefited yourself or others. Bear your own burdens as well as you can, and encourage your husband to bear his in doing his work. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 11

Sister Stickney, you have leaned on your mother more than has been for your good. If you had depended more upon the powers within you, you would have been more self-reliant, and you would have been happier. If you had denied your taste for reading and seeking to please yourself, and devoted more time to prudent, physical exercise, eating carefully of a proper, healthful diet, you would have kept free from much suffering which you have had. A part of this suffering has been imaginary. If you had braced your mind to resist the disposition to yield to infirmities, you would not have passed into nervous spasms in the past. Your mind needs to be drawn away from yourself to household duties, to keeping your house with order, neatness and taste. Reading much, and permitting your mind to be diverted upon small things has led to a neglect of your children and your household duties, [and] has led you to neglect the very duties God has given you to perform. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 12

You have had much sympathy for yourself. You have called your mind to yourself and dwelt upon your poor feelings. My sister, eat less. Engage in physical labor and devote your mind to spiritual things. Keep your mind from dwelling upon yourself. Cultivate a contented, cheerful spirit. You talk too much upon unimportant things. You gain no spiritual strength from this. If the strength spent in talking was devoted to prayer, you would receive spiritual strength, and you would make melody in your heart to the Lord. You have been controlled by feeling, not by duty and principle. You have given up to homesick feelings and injured your health by a spirit of unrest. Your habits in life are not healthful. You need to reform. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 13

You are neither of you willing to work as others work, or to eat as your brethren eat. If it [is] in your power to get things, you have them. It is your duty to study economy. In contrast with your case was presented the case of Sister Savage, with her two children to support with her feeble strength by her needle at the very low prices she received for her work. For years she received scarcely a farthing of help. She was suffering with ill health, yet she carried her own burdens. Here was an object of charity indeed. Now look at your case: a man with a good capital of strength, and a small family, constantly involved in debt, leaning upon others. Now this is all a mistake. You have lessons to learn. With Sister Savage, economy is the battle of life. Here are you with a man’s strong energies, and yet you are not self-sustaining. You have a work to do, live as simply as your brethren live at all times. You should have uniformity of diet. Live out the health reform. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 14

Jesus wrought a miracle and fed five thousand and then he taught an important lesson of economy: “Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.” [John 6:12.] 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 15

Duties are resting upon you—important duties. “Owe no man anything.” [Romans 13:8.] Were you infirm, were you unable to labor, then your brethren would be in duty bound to help you. As it is, all you needed from your brethren when changing your location, was a start at first. You can be free from embarrassment if you feel as ambitious to labor as you should, and bring your plans in life within your means. You will have to labor for small wages as well as large wages. Industry and a right use of means would have placed your family before this in a more favorable condition. God wants you to be a faithful steward of your strength. He wants you to use your strength to place your family above want and dependence. 2LtMs, Lt 1, 1869, par. 16