Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 59, 1880

Levitt, James

Salem, Oregon

June 8, 1880

Portions of this letter are published in TSB 19-23; LYL 36-37.

Dear Brother James Levitt:

We left Portland yesterday for Salem. We found your father and Brother Donaldson waiting for us at the depot. We went directly to Brother Donaldson’s in the hack. We found letters waiting for us, among them was one from Virgil and you. I wrote Virgil yesterday and will write you today. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 1

I am sorry that you have entangled yourself in any courtship with Nellie Manuel. In the first place, your anxiety upon this question is premature. Sound judgment and discretion will bid you wait for one or two years. But for you to select one to be in your mind and affections that length of time would not be prudent for you, or just to the one to whom you pay your addresses. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 2

I speak what I know in this matter, that the very best course for you and for Nellie is to give this matter up entirely, for no good can come of it. In continuing your attentions to her, you will be unfitting yourself for your office duties and placing obstructions in your way for a thorough education, and for the habit of body and mind to become settled. Even to bind your affections prematurely is doing yourself and any young lady injustice. To do as Roberts has done, to rush prematurely into the responsibilities of taking a wife, is no more than we should expect of his temperament, but we ought to look for more caution in you and your companion Virgil, who have been favored with home influences of altogether a different character. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 3

I have been shown the evil of these early attachments, especially when a young man is away from the home roof and must select his companion without the discriminating eye of his mother. It is not safe for you to trust to your own judgment. Early anxiety upon the subject of courtship and marriage will divert your mind from your work and studies, and will produce in you and the one whom you flatter with your attentions a demoralizing influence. There will be in you both a vain forwardness in manners, and infatuation will seize you both, and you will be so completely blinded in regard to your influence and example that you will, if you continue in the course you have entered upon, expose yourselves to criticism and demand that censure should be passed upon your course. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 4

This courtship and marriage is the most difficult to manage, because the mind becomes so bewildered and enchanted that duty to God and everything else becomes tame and uninteresting, and calm and mature thought is the last thing to be exercised in this matter of the gravest importance. Dear youth, I speak to you as one who knows. Wait till you have some just knowledge of yourself and of the world, of the bearing and character of young women, before you let the subject of marriage possess your thoughts. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 5

I could cite you to many who are now mourning over their extreme folly and madness in their marriages, when mourning will avail them nothing. They find themselves exposed to temptations they never dreamed of; they find traits of character in the object of their choice above which they cannot elevate them, and therefore they accept the inevitable and come to their level. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 6

Nellie Manuel will never elevate you. She has not in her the hidden powers which, developed, would make a woman of judgment and ability to stand by your side, to help you in the battles of life. She lacks force of character. She has not depth of thought and compass of mind that will be a help to you. You see the surface and it is all there is. In a little while, should you marry, the charm would be broken. The novelty of the married life having ceased, you will see things in their real light, and find out you have made a sad mistake. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 7

Maturity of judgment will give you a much better discernment and power of discrimination to know the truth. Your character needs forming, your judgment needs strength before you entertain the thought of marriage. You are not now prepared to judge another, and do not be betrayed into committing a grievous indiscretion, if not crime, for which the bitter regrets and tears of afterlife will bring no relief. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 8

The child, the mere undisciplined immature schoolgirl, the Miss, dependent upon the discretion of parents and guardians, has no reason to listen to anything like courtship or marriage. She should decline all special attentions which would have the least likelihood to lead to any such results, and devote herself intently to making herself as perfect a woman as possible, that her life may be useful, and learn a trade that she will have employment and be independent. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 9

Love is a sentiment so sacred that but few know what it is. It is a term used, but not understood. The warm glow of impulse, the fascination of one young person for another is not love; it does not deserve the name. True love has an intellectual basis, a deep, thorough knowledge of the object loved. But this catching up with objects and bestowing on them the thoughts and affections, is without reason, without judgment, and is excessive, temporary, and sensual. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 10

Remember that impulsive love is perfectly blind. It will as soon be placed on unworthy objects as worthy. Command such love to stand still and cool. Give place to genuine thought and deep, earnest reflection. Is this object of your affection, in the scale of intelligence and moral excellence, in deportment and cultivated manners, such that you will feel a pride in presenting her to your father’s family, to acknowledge her in all society as the object of your choice? One whose society, conversational powers and manners will interest and satisfy your most grand expectations? Will Nellie [Manuel] fill this bill? I answer decidedly, “No, she will not.” 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 11

Let time teach you discretion, and what the genuine claims of love are before it is allowed to step one inch further. Ruin, fearful ruin, is before you in this life and the next, if you pursue the course you have been following. Look to the family history. Two families are to be brought into close and sacred connection. Perfection in all these relations is not, of course, to be expected, but you would make a most cruel move to marry a girl whose ancestry and relatives would degrade and mortify you, or tempt you to slight and ignore them. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 12

It is safe to make haste slowly in these matters. Give yourself sufficient time for observation on every point, and then do not trust to your own judgment, but let the mother who loves you, and your father, and confidential friends, make critical observation of the one you feel inclined to favor. Trust not to your own judgment, and marry no one whom you feel will not be an honor to your father and mother, [but rather, marry] one who has intelligence and moral worth. The girl who gives over her affections to a man, and invites his attention by her advances, hanging around where she will be noticed of him, unless he shall appear rude, is not the girl you want to associate with. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 13

Her conversation is cheap and frequently without depth. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 14

Nellie Manuel will not be as much prepared by cultivated manners and useful knowledge to marry at twenty-five as some girls would be at eighteen. But men generally of your age have a very limited knowledge of character, and no just idea of how foolish a man can make himself by fancying a young girl who is not fit for him in any sense. It will be far better not to marry at all, than to be unfortunately married, but seek counsel of God in all these things. Be so calm, so submissive to the will of God that you will not be in a fever of excitement and unqualified for His service by your attachments. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 15

I have been shown that your great duty now, at the present time, is to answer the claims of God upon you. He has made you His son, His soldier, and responsibilities rest upon you which you cannot throw off. God wants your service. He calls for the intellect and talents of young men. You can do a precious work for Jesus. Train the mind for God; let the affections center upon Jesus. Draw from Him strength and grace. Care less for yourself and more for others. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 16

Let it be your work to be faithful and true in the prayer meeting. Pray, O pray most earnestly to God that you may be kept from the snare of Satan. I beg of you to give all to Jesus. Invite and plead and agonize with God for the transforming influence of His Holy Spirit. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 17

Educate yourself for the practical duties of Christian life. Let your prayer be, 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 18

“Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.”
3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 19

We have but little time to lay up a treasure of good works in heaven; do not make any mistakes here. Serve God with your undivided affection. Be zealous, be wholehearted. Let your example be of such a character that you will help others to take their stand for Jesus. Young men do not know what a power of influence they may have. Work for time and work for eternity. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 20

Your adopted mother. 3LtMs, Lt 59, 1880, par. 21