Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 19 (1904)

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Lt 45, 1904

Harper, Walter

NP

January 19, 1904

Portions of this letter are published in 1MCP 322-323.

Mr. Walter Harper

My dear Brother,—

I have been reading over the letters sent you last July. I think the matter is plainly stated. You have neglected those duties that a husband can and should perform for his wife. This has made it very disagreeable for Sister Harper. You have thought that you must discipline her and teach her your ways. You have thought that as your wife she must follow out your ideas. But for her to have done this would have been to bind herself under a yoke, as a bondslave. I want you to understand that it is not your duty to try to blend your wife’s identity with yours, or to try to control her movements by your own. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 1

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.” [Matthew 6:22, 23.] 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 2

These words have a first and a second sense, a literal and a figurative meaning. They are full of truth in regard to the bodily eye, with which we see external objects. And they are true also in regard to the spiritual eye, the conscience, with which we estimate good and evil. If the eye of the soul, the conscience, is perfectly healthy, the soul will be taught aright. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 3

But when the conscience is guided by human perceptions, which are not subdued and softened by the grace of Christ, the mind is in a diseased condition. Things are not seen in their true bearings. The imagination is wrought upon, and the eye of the mind sees things in a false, distorted light. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 4

My brother, you need clear, sympathetic eyesight. Your conscience has been abused, and has become hardened, but if you will follow the right course, renewed sensitiveness will come to it. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 5

From the light given me by the Lord, I know that your ideas in regard to your wife’s obligations to you are greatly overstrained. Your unnatural course of action in trying to force her to fulfil the obligations that you say her marriage imposes upon her is weaning her affections from you. She cannot accept the suppositions or the conclusions that you urge upon her. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 6

Right or wrong, every one is guided by his own perceptions, by the use of such eyesight as he has. Your eyesight has been misleading you, and this has wrought harm to your wife. You have tried to force her to act according to the way in which you see things, instead of allowing her to act according to her own judgment. But she is very slow to blame you when she can honestly excuse you. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 7

Brother Harper, this I must say: if your judgment does not become more correct, more in harmony with the Word of God, it will be best for you and your wife to remain apart until a change takes place in your spiritual eyesight, and you can see things in a Bible light. You are in positive danger. But you will improve if your spiritual eyesight improves. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 8

Your disposition, greatly indulged since your marriage, leads you obstinately to maintain that you are right, and to refuse to examine or accept the conclusions of others. But if you will place yourself in subjection to God’s will, your spiritual eyesight will in time be healed. You will not view things in accordance with spasmodic impulse. The health of the whole being will be improved. In the case of self-induced disease, when a man fancies that he sees what does not exist, there is a parallel persuasion of all the other faculties. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 9

I have a deep interest in you and an earnest desire that you shall succeed in reaching a higher standard. If your wife ever returns to you, provide her with a home, comfortable and modest. Be liberal with her. Support her in a way that will give her no occasion to feel that she is a beggar. Do not destroy her courage and her love. She has a good mind, and will continue to have, unless by your unadvised movements you destroy it. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 10

January 24

I begin again this morning to write to you. In the night season I have had some very plain conversation with you. You will need to change your attitude toward your wife’s relatives, if you ever expect to be any help to them spiritually. This the Bible requires. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 11

Your happiness depends on yourself—on whether you will understand yourself, and improve your ways and manners, and blend with your wife. Whether you and your wife will ever live happily together depends largely on whether you change your overstrained ideas in regard to her obligations to you. It depends also on your attitude toward her mother. There are some things that your wife could not endure any better in the future than she has in the past. If you try to separate her from the duties that the Lord has given her, from the honor He expects her to pay to her mother, you will never succeed. If you will do your duty as a married man, and also as the son of your wife’s mother, the condition of things will be entirely changed. You are not to treat your wife’s relatives as if they were unworthy of your notice. Their defects are no more censurable than your defects. But you and your mother-in-law will never harmonize until both of you change the view that you have of each other. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 12

Since reading the letter that I sent you last July, I cannot urge your wife to return to you. I entreat you to make a decided change in your disposition and character. Do not act as an extremist at any time or in any place. Let a sense of righteousness lead you to be kind and thoughtful, instead of a thorn in your wife’s side. Never, never leave on her mind the slightest impression that she is in any way inclined to insanity. If she be, it is you who are responsible. Think of the good work that she has done in the Sanitarium here, and then think of how little encouragement she has received from you. At times you have oppressed her cruelly, in a way most painful to her feelings. Your spiritual eyesight is in great need of healing; for it is sadly impaired. Work with all your might for its recovery. 19LtMs, Lt 45, 1904, par. 13