Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 65, 1874

Abbey, Brother and Sister


July 1874

Previously unpublished.

Brother and Sister Abbey:

I fear that Lillie’s influence at the Health Institute has been and will be bad. She has had her own way and ruled you both in her own way. She has made things appear smooth and innocent to you on her part, when she has understandingly worked to gratify herself. She cannot now be controlled by either of you. When in your sight, she may take a course not objectionable, but as soon as out of your sight, she has no principle and her influence, I fear on the helpers and patients, is demoralizing. Her influence cannot be good, for you have both spoiled her through indulgence. Whereas now she might have been a girl of sound principles and good influence, she is exactly the opposite. She cannot be trusted, and I greatly fear that she will not do justice to the position as bookkeeper but will do positively more harm than good. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 1

You have indulged and petted, and then scolded and censured, till your influence is of no weight. It is of the greatest importance that the children of the superintendent of the Health Institute, if brought into that building, should be right. And any course that is not right that one of them, known to be your daughter, shall take, will prove a serious injury. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 2

I now sincerely regret our urging Sister Abbey to go into the Health Institute. You, Brother Abbey, had reasons that we could not appreciate. Her going there has caused Lillie to go there, and her influence in that Institute, from what I can learn from every source, has been at least very objectionable. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 3

I arise this morning before day, for I am too much distressed to sleep. I have been feeling more and more distressed as I am thoroughly convinced of the state of things existing in the Health Institute. In short, God’s Spirit is grieved and cannot abide there. I have looked matters over and over. I have read the vision given me for Sister Chamberlain. I have called to mind the views given me for yourself and for Sister Abbey and for Lillie. I think now I can see that there has not been a carrying out of the testimonies given. But you have gone directly and decidedly contrary to them. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 4

Sister Abbey is anxious to keep Lillie with her, but she does her no good. Lillie should have employment each day in physical labor. Father, mother, and sisters have fretted and sympathized and favored and excused her until just as the twig was bent the tree inclines. She does not love labor and will not do it if she can get rid of it. She will excuse herself from useful employment because of her lungs and is constantly complaining. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 5

Her mother helps her in the matter, increasing the evil which God has noticed and condemned. She is not restrained but only fretted at and scolded, and then petted and excused. Sister Abbey, instead of laying responsibilities upon Lillie to care for her clothing and do for her as has been shown she should do, because she knows she has no heart in it, will relieve her and let it rest upon other children who are more willing and feel their obligations to their parents. Lillie will exert herself to do her pleasure, and tax herself to any amount to enjoy herself but will not work. She will row a boat which is more trying to the lungs than to wash or to iron. But you do not hear her complain of this. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 6

She will exert great physical strength when she wants to do so. She will play croquet [by] the hour in a stooping position, injurious to the lungs to roll the balls, but she makes no complaint of this. But when she wants to shirk work, she makes the pain in her lungs, as in her head, an excuse. If she had moral principle she would not do this, but she has not principle or religion. My soul is sad and sick as I review all the light given in her case. Were she a daughter of mine I could smile over her grave rather than a useless, frivolous life. I told the mother she was deceived in Lillie, long ago, but she did not believe me, for she had pursued the same course. She loved the society of men and boys, but the mother did not believe it. She has excused this. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 7

I have made the closest inquiry into these things, for it was my duty, and my surprise was great when I learned the course Lillie had taken at the Health Institute. Her mind is perfectly satisfied when she can get into the company of young men and lounge about where they are and dress and court their society. She encourages their company. This seems to be the aim and purpose of her life. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 8

When I heard that she had her picture taken with young men, and learned that this was encouraged by her mother, I thought it was time both left the Health Institute if there was anything sacred about it. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 9

Some young men, that Lillie thinks she is charming by her presence, read her superficial character like an open book. They are perfectly disgusted with her course of conduct. And yet the mother is really flattered, and, I fear, her father too, with the apparent capabilities of Lillie to gather about her young men of every class whom she or you know nothing about. What flirt cannot do this? 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 10

The reasons why men are sick who come to the Health Institute is because of their impure, corrupt habits and illegal associations. We are living in a corrupt age as existed before the flood. No power but the power of God can keep us from the pollutions of these last days. And yet how blind and inconsistent is our course in every respect. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 11

Others that have pursued the very course Lillie has taken have not been allowed for one moment. I have been shown that there should be with the patients and helpers no flirting with the men or remaining in their society or encouraging a disposition to seek their society, to chat with them in the parlor or to linger around where there would be an intimacy encouraged with them. There should not be first indulgence of anything like flirting and coquetry. The least signs of this should be put down at once, for serious evils would grow out of any such indulgence. But the very ones whom Lillie thinks she is charming see through the gloss of her character, and laugh and make her the butt of their ridicule. She is, in short, a byword. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 12

When I heard that Sister Abbey sanctioned her picture being taken with young men, I thought she must be insane. But no; it is the very weakness I told her she had in reference to her pet Lillie; her natural good sense has been overbalanced. Lillie’s real sense of propriety and real decency of behavior is greatly deficient. Oh, how contrary is all this to the light given me of the course Lillie should pursue. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 13

You have, Sister Abbey, talked of Lillie’s delicate appetite. So did the children of Israel when they loathed the light bread given them of heaven. Let her have useful, steady employment in active labor and she will have an appetite. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 14

You have fostered a perverted appetite by indulgence. You have allowed her to eat between meals, to fill her pockets with nuts and crackers, and to have the third meal, eating sometimes late at night. How can you expect her to have a healthy relish for coarse and healthful food? I understand her father has bought Lillie white baker’s bread to tempt her delicate appetite, and at night she has eaten this baker’s bread and butter in the cellar with Nellie Matthews. Is this in accordance with the principles of a health institute? 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 15

Lillie told Willie last night that she could not live on such food as they cooked at the Health Institute. Then let her go elsewhere. The helpers live on such food. Those who do the work subsist on the good healthful food prepared at the Health Institute and can accomplish hard labor upon it. Lillie said she was going downtown to get something to eat. Here is the appetite you both have indulged and educated, and this is the daughter of the superintendent of the Health Institute. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 16

The distress and grief, the knowledge of the state of things which have existed at the Health Institute, is an inexpressible grief to me. God is not there. He sanctions no such spirit as has prevailed there. I don’t want you to be deceived in this matter. I can see now that Sister Abbey has gone entirely contrary to the light God has given upon her diet and Lillie’s diet. God has been pleased to show that temperance in eating and the eating of plain, wholesome food was essential for the health of both Sister Abbey and her children. Has this been followed strictly? 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 17

These two, I believe, have had an influence to mold things in a great degree at that Institute to the present conditions. Of course, Sister Abbey thinks Lillie must be gratified and her delicate taste indulged, and the third meal given her. You have not, Brother and Sister Abbey, adapted yourselves to health reform intelligently from principle. You have eaten both your cheese and meat, and you have realized the result in your own bodies. The system has been clogged and the blood made impure. If you live at the Health Institute, you should be extremely careful that in your diet and in your actions, you carry out the principles which must be maintained at a health institute. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 18

I fear Sister Abbey has been officious about matters she had no business to meddle with. I was making inquiry in regard to the wages Sister Matthews has received for her labor and learned it was five or six dollars per week. I inquired the price the helpers and ironers had received and learned it was two dollars and a half. I asked what kind of equality or equity was there in that, who set these prices. I learned Sister Abbey had talked with Brother Abbey and brought around the raising of Sister Matthews’ wages, when every one who is acquainted with these things knows that ironing is far more taxing to the physical strength than washing. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 19

Sister Abbey’s judgment in these things should not have influence. She moves by impulse. She has strong feelings one way or the other, and her feelings should not have the least weight in controlling matters at the Health Institute. I think she should not be where these things will come under her eye or observation, for she will be in danger of talking out her feelings and her views to Brother Abbey, which influences him in the wrong direction. Sister Abbey was not to be [at] the Health Institute for this purpose. Her indulgence and weakness shown in Lillie’s case is enough to question her wise judgment in all these matters. But she has strong feelings and acts upon them. I think if things had been left a little longer to the molding influence of Sister Abbey, Brother Abbey, and Lillie, in a short time the supper would be deemed indispensable and meat highly essential for all the tables, and health reform would go to the winds. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 20

If Lillie cannot eat the wholesome food prepared for the tables at the Institute, her mother would pity the poor patients who had to live on such food. If Lillie had to have the third meal, her mother would think, Why [should] not all have to have it, especially those who are not able to idle and flirt away the time and play the lady as Lillie is allowed to do? Thus one undisciplined person like Lillie Abbey may unconsciously bring in an influence which would mold that institute in a short time to entirely another thing than that God designated should be. This is the crime and sin of indulging and petting our children. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 21

Had either of you seen the same course pursued by others [that] you have taken, you would be down on them at once. The least indulgence, had you seen in others as has been with Lillie, you would have condemned in the strongest terms. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 22

Lucinda forms a connecting link between you and us and this makes it all the harder for me to call things by their right name; but the jealousy I have for the cause of God has stirred me to the very depths. I cannot let the matters go on as they are. I am sorry that Lucinda is coming east to have her soul burdened and grieved to death by these things. If I can get a letter now to stop her, I shall do it. The cause of God is near and dear to her as her own life. Poor dear, precious child, a burdenbearer all her life, I want to shield her if I can from unnecessary trouble. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 23

I have been shown that Brother and Sister Abbey have been guilty of a great sin in praising and flattering and indulging Lillie. She has been so weakened by this, that she is lacking in real good sense how to carry herself with propriety. She makes herself a laughing stock and subject of remark for those who are fools themselves, as well as for sensible, discriminating minds. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 24

The education of Lillie in the school that she attended in New York was all superficial like the female schools and colleges in our land. We might conclude that the minds are educated in the institution of learning, but it is a mistake. These schools are in many cases mere shams. They do not educate and develop minds. The muscles of the mind are neglected for they are not trained to hard labor. The nerves are not disciplined to close application and these schools are merely gilding shops. Girls are here whitewashed and polished to order. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 25

To what are girls educated in the common schools in our day—for usefulness and duty? No; indeed, for nothing in particular, [but] to go home and sit in the parlor and read while the mother toils, to talk with young men and indulge in delicate idleness. God forgive the mothers of the present generation for [the] killing indulgences and for the dwarfing [of] the minds of their children to insipid uselessness. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 26

Oh, that Lillie could have had the education essential to the formation of a useful character. Lillie outwardly has not great beauty. She looks well enough, but she thinks she has a full knowledge of all the good looks she has, and [she] estimates them of greater value than [the] beautiful, symmetrical character that the good have and enjoy. Follies, foolish, fashionable follies occupy the mind so that Lillie has no appetite for serious thoughts. That which she sows she will also reap. Now is her sowing time and only a little ahead is the reaping coming. She will have a plentiful harvest. If she would cultivate the mind and seek for the inward adorning, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, she would receive not the flattery of fools, but the approval of God, her Creator. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 27

If Lillie would seek for beauty of spirit, beauty of hands in being useful, laboring for her mother, and bearing her burdens of responsibility in life, these useful hands would one day bear the palm branch of victory. Beauty of spirit, soul, heart, and life will never perish. These may not be appreciated here by a fashionable class, but will be appreciated of high heaven. There is a beauty which perishes not, such as angels wear. It forms the white robes of that company who stand before the throne of God, having come up through great tribulation. They washed their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. This beauty sets with a divine grace upon the countenance of every well-doer. It adorns [the] face [of] everyone whose life is virtuous and honest and true. This beauty molds the hands of charity and sweetens the voice of sympathy. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 28

If the features and form are not beautiful, the spirit may be beautiful by borrowing heaven’s light and grace. I am not half through with this subject but must cease my pen for the present. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 29

Wisdom and virtue are jewels which will not dim with age or lose their luster in sickness and affliction. O, of how little value will be the mere surface beauty in the time of trial and affliction! How soon will pride and thoughtlessness and outward clearness appear despicable in the presence of true goodness and real virtue. Pretty forms and pretty faces will bear no comparison with that beauty of spirit which is a fadeless power, the inward adorning which will never die. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 30

Must it be so that the rod of reproof must ever hang over these at the Health Institute when clear light has been given so explicitly time and again? Why not live it out? You must know, Sister Abbey, that you have gone contrary to the light God has given you in regard to your course with Lillie and your diet. I was shown that your ill health was more in consequence of little indulgences and imprudence in labor on your part than from other causes. You are liable to acute attacks, and it is your own course that brings these upon you and you too often lay it to a wrong cause. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 31

Sister Abbey, you are not a correct judge of moral worth. I have been shown that your heart, and also Brother Abbey’s, has been estranged from Rosetta. She has not done right, but she has the qualities and is susceptible of religious impressions far ahead of your pet, Lillie. You have been partial in your affection; [you have] loaded some with favors while others are not estimated as highly as they should be. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 32

Rosetta’s life has not been all useless, but you have been too severe with her and you have judged her too harshly. You have not prized her good qualities; you have not estimated aright the moral worth. You have overlooked Arthur’s sterling worth. A flashy, superficial character who could make a show would be more gratifying to your pride, and in you must surely hide a multitude of sins. But this is not good judgment. Your opinions and feelings in regard to Arthur have been the out-croppings of pride and unsanctified feelings. These wrong views and wrong ideas have warped your life and had an influence upon your children. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 33

Arthur is no hypocrite. He sees a wrong and speaks of it. This should make him more valuable in your eyes, but it has set you against him. Arthur has made his way in the world and is just as precious in the sight of God as your dear son, Samuel. Samuel is a good young man, but he has much to learn. He has no better qualities of character than Arthur. Had Arthur had the same chance as Samuel he would be far in advance of what Samuel is today. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 34

Your prejudices and your likes and dislikes are strong and they are felt. You have feelings that are the result of selfishness. You talk poverty, and this is not pleasing to God. You are encouraging in yourself a penurious spirit that is increasing upon you and will grow unless you subdue it at once. God has dealt very tenderly with you. You have no reason for your feelings of poverty and talking it. Put this all away. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 35

Your expressing your feelings to me in regard to Lillie’s washing pained me. You seemed to feel the girls who are taxed with labor constantly could be taxed with Lillie’s washing. What was she doing to soil six dresses? Does she have a thought to dress plainly so as to save work? I do not, in all my travels, permit myself to wear a white skirt or to put on light dresses because someone must be taxed to take care of these and keep them clean. I do not have ruffles because poor, tired hands must iron them and prepare them for my use. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 36

Again, I ask, What was Lillie doing to soil six dresses? If she should take a position of physical labor, she would not have time to lounge about with gentlemen in the parlor and talk flippant and trifling nonsense and make herself a simpleton, neither would she have time to spend rolling little balls on the croquet ground. It is because she has no labor assigned her as her daily task that she has so much time to dress for show, and wear white, and soil it for others to wash. All these things are morally wrong and need to be corrected. You are, Brother and Sister Abbey, responsible for the influence she has exerted at the Institute. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 37

Lillie has not moved blindfolded. I have sent her testimonies of warning time and again, but what does she care for the will of God to be done in her? 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 38

If she would enrich her heart and beautify her spirit, and be less anxious to beautify the outward, she would then be where God could help her to resist temptations. Beautiful in outward attire is of but little value. Lillie has yet to learn to distinguish between outward and inward attractions, and to cultivate the heart, have her spirit subdued, and her life right. She is dwarfing the intellect. In heaven, all will rate according to their real, moral worth according to the real, sterling wealth of true virtue and goodness. How does God regard the fooleries of Lillie’s life? Her dress and the company of young men who she can imagine admire her are of more importance than virtue, the form of the mind, or the beauty of character. She loves to consult her face more often than to read her Bible. She loves these better than the house of God and follows her course of folly as persistently as though she were after eternal life. What kind of a mother would Lillie make with such an education as she is getting? God help our youth, for Satan is determined to get them, and I think he will secure Lillie, for he has the assistance of the mother and father in the matter. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 39

We must all be measured by our merit. We are now in the school or workshop of God, to be fitted here for the heavenly temple above or to be laid aside as stubble for the fire of the last days. In this lower school in the world our position will be determined for the appointment above. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 40

The deeds done in the body, the words we utter, the actions we perform, will tell upon our future life. Wisdom gained in this life is not lost in the next. If we permit our minds to take a low level, if we talk common and cheap and relate large stories and let the mind run low, we shall never recover the loss to our self. Every word we utter is to be our justification or condemnation. Brother Abbey, you need to reform. In your talk, God is not honored by your conversation. Our characters are the workmanship of our own hands. We may wash our robes of character from every stain of pollution, if we will. We may be of worth if we will make ourselves so through Jesus. Our education in this life for the higher life is a personal matter, an individual work. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 41

God has placed us in this world not to idle away precious probation any time, but to improve the advantages He has provided us in our religious advantages, our Bibles, our teachers, our books, [and] in beautiful nature. He promises to be with us and superintend the work if we desire Him. We are without excuse if we neglect the heavenly privileges. Our minds may expand, be refined, ennobled, elevated. You have not lived up to your privileges, Brother Abbey, and been growing in grace and the knowledge of the divine will. 2LtMs, Lt 65, 1874, par. 42