A Solemn Appeal

Chapter 5—Sentimentalism

I am acquainted with a number of cases where the women have thought their marriage a misfortune. They have read novels until their imaginations have become diseased, and they live in a world of their own creating. They think themselves women of sensitive minds, of superior, refined organizations. They think themselves great sufferers, martyrs, because they imagine their husbands are not so refined, not possessing such superior qualities that they can appreciate their own supposed virtue and refined organizations. These women have talked of this, and thought of it, until they are nearly maniacs upon this subject. They imagine their worth is superior to that of other mortals, and it is not agreeable to their fine sensibilities to associate with common humanity. SA 157.1

The women of this class have had their imaginations perverted by novel-reading, day-dreaming, and castle-building; by living in an imaginary world. They do not bring their ideas down to the common, useful duties of life. They do not take up the life-burdens which lie in their path, and seek to make happy, cheerful homes for their husbands. They lean upon them without so much as bearing their own burden. They expect others to anticipate their wants, and do for them, while they are at liberty to find fault and to question as they please. These women have a sort of love-sick sentimentalism, constantly thinking they are not appreciated; that their husbands do not give them all that attention they deserve. They imagine themselves martyrs. SA 158.1

The truth of the matter is this: if they would show themselves useful, their value might be appreciated; but when they pursue a course to constantly draw upon others for sympathy and attention, while they feel under no obligation to give the same in return, and pass along, reserved, cold, and unapproachable, bearing no burden for others, or feeling for their woes, there can be but little in their lives precious and valuable. These women have educated themselves to think that it has been a great condescension in them to marry the men they have; and therefore that their fine organizations will never be fully appreciated; and they act accordingly. SA 158.2

They view things altogether in a wrong light. They are unworthy of their husbands. They are a constant tax upon their care and patience, when, at the same time, they might be helps, lifting at the burdens of life with their husbands, instead of dreaming over unreal life found in novels and love romances. May the Lord pity the men who are bound to such useless machines, fit only to be waited upon, to eat, dress, and breathe. SA 159.1

These women who suppose they possess such sensitive, refined organizations make very useless wives and mothers. It is frequently the case that the affections are withdrawn from their husbands, who are useful, practical men; and they show much attention to other men, and with their love-sick sentimentalism draw upon the sympathies of others, tell them their trials, their troubles, their aspirations to do some high and elevated work, and reveal the fact that their married life is a disappointment, a hindrance to their doing the work they have anticipated they might do. SA 159.2

Oh! what wretchedness exists in families that might be happy. These women are a curse to themselves, and a curse to their husbands. In supposing themselves to be angels, they make themselves fools, and are nothing but heavy burdens. They leave right in their path, the common duties of life, which the Lord has left for them to do, and are restless and complaining, always looking for an easy, more exalted, and more agreeable work to do. Supposing themselves to be angels, they are found human after all. They are fretful, peevish, dissatisfied, jealous of their husbands because the larger portion of their time is not spent in waiting upon them. They complain of being neglected when their husbands are doing the very work they ought to do. Satan finds easy access to this class. They have no real love for any one but themselves. Yet Satan tells them that if such an one were their husband, they would be happy indeed. They are easy victims to the device of Satan, easy to be led to dishonor their own husbands, and to transgress the law of God. SA 160.1

I would say to women of this description, You can make your own happiness, or you can destroy it. You can make your position happy, or unbearable. The course you pursue will create happiness or misery for yourself. Have these never thought that their husbands must tire of them in their uselessness, in their peevishness, in their fault-finding, in their passionate fits of weeping, while imagining their case so pitiful? Their irritable, peevish disposition is indeed weaning the affections of their husbands from them, and driving them to seek for sympathy, and peace, and comfort, elsewhere than at home. A poisonous atmosphere is in their dwelling. And home is anything but a place of rest, or peace and happiness to them. The husband is subject to Satan's temptation, and his affections are placed on forbidden objects, and he is lured on to crime, and finally lost. SA 161.1

Great is the work and mission of women especially of those who are wives and mothers. They can be a blessing to all around them. They can have a powerful influence for good. Woman may have a transforming influence if she will only consent to yield her way and her will to God, and let him control her mind, affections, and being. She can have an influence which will tend to refine and elevate those with whom she associates. But she is generally unconscious of the power she possesses. She exerts an unconscious influence. It seems to work out naturally from a sanctified life, a renewed heart. It is the fruit that grows naturally upon the good tree of divine planting. Self is forgotten and immerged in the life of Christ. To be rich in good works comes as naturally as her breath. She lives to do others good, and yet is ready to say, I am an unprofitable servant. SA 161.2

God has assigned woman her mission, and if she, in her humble way, to the best of her ability, makes a heaven of her home, faithfully and lovingly performing her home-duties to her husband and children, continually seeking to let a holy light shine from her useful, pure, and virtuous life, to brighten all around her, she is doing the work left her of the Master, and will hear from his divine lips, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” These women who are doing what their hands find to do with ready willingness, and with cheerfulness of spirit, aiding their husbands to bear their burdens, and training their children for God, are missionaries in the highest sense. They are engaged in an important branch of the great work to be done on earth to prepare mortals for a higher life. They will receive their reward. Children are to be trained for Heaven, and fitted to shine in the courts of the Lord's kingdom. When parents, especially mothers, have a true sense of the responsible work God has left for them to do, they will not be so much engaged in the business which concerns their neighbors, with which they have nothing to do. They will not engage in the fashionable gossip from house to house, dwelling upon the faults and inconsistencies of their neighbors. They will feel so great a burden of care for their own children that they can find no time to take up a reproach against their neighbor. Gossipers and news-carriers are a terrible curse to neighborhoods and churches. Two-thirds of all the church trials arise from this source. SA 162.1

God requires all to do the duties of today with faithfulness. This is much neglected by the larger share of professed Christians. Especially is present duty lost sight of by the class I have mentioned, who imagine that they are of a higher order of beings than their fellow-mortals around them. The fact of their minds’ turning in this channel, is proof that they are of an inferior order, narrow, conceited, and selfish. They feel high above the lowly and humble poor. Such, Jesus says he has called. They are forever trying to secure position, to gain applause, to obtain credit for doing a work that others cannot do, some great work. But it disturbs the fine grain of their refined organism to associate with the humble and unfortunate. They mistake the reason altogether. The reason they shun any of these duties not so agreeable, is because of their supreme selfishness. Dear self is the center of all their actions and motives. SA 163.1

The Majesty of Heaven, whom angels worshiped, who was rich in honor, splendor, and glory, came to the earth, and when he found himself in fashion as a man, he did not plead his refined nature as an excuse to hold himself aloof from the unfortunate. He was found in his work among the afflicted, the poor, distressed, and needy ones. Christ was the embodiment of refinement and purity. His was an exalted life and character, yet he was found in his labor, not among men of high-sounding titles, not among the most honorable of this world, but with the despised and needy. “I came,” says the divine Teacher, “to save that which was lost.” Yes, the Majesty of Heaven was ever found working to help those who most needed help. May the example of Christ put to shame the excuses of that class who are so attracted to their poor self that they consider it beneath their refined taste and their high calling to help the most helpless. Such have taken a position higher than their Lord, and in the end will be astonished to find themselves even lower than that class, to mingle with, and to work for whom, shocked their refined, sensitive natures. True, it may not always be agreeable or pleasant to unite with the Master and be co-workers with him in helping the very class who stand most in need of help. But this is the work Christ humbled himself to do. Is the servant greater than his Lord? He has given the example, and enjoins upon us to copy it. It may be disagreeable, yet duty demands that just such a work be performed. SA 164.1

I have felt deeply as I have seen the powerful influence animal passions have had in controlling men and women of no ordinary intelligence and ability. They are capable of engaging in a good work, of exerting a powerful influence, were they not enslaved by base passions. They have listened to the most solemn, impressive discourses upon the judgment, which seemed to bring them before the tribunal of God, causing them to fear and quake, yet an hour would hardly elapse before they have been engaged in their favorite, bewitching sin, polluting their own bodies. They were such slaves to this awful crime that they seemed devoid of power to control their passions. We have labored for some earnestly; we have entreated, we have wept and prayed over them, yet we have known that right amid all our earnest effort and distress, the force of sinful habit has obtained the mastery. These sins would be committed. The consciences of some of the guilty, through severe attacks of sickness, or by being powerfully convicted, have been aroused, and have so scourged them, that it has led to confession of these things, with deep humiliation. Others are alike guilty. They have practiced this sin nearly their whole lifetime, and with their broken-down constitutions, and, with their sieve-like memories, are reaping the result of this pernicious habit, yet are too proud to confess. They are secretive, and have not shown compunctions of conscience for this great sin and wickedness. They seem to be insensible to the influence of the Spirit of God. The sacred and common are alike to them. The common practice of a vice so degrading as polluting their own bodies has not led to bitter tears and heartfelt repentance. They feel that their sin is against themselves alone. Here they mistake. Are they diseased in body or mind, others are made to feel. Others suffer. Mistakes are made. The memory is deficient. The imagination is at fault. And there is a deficiency everywhere which seriously affects those with whom they live, and who associate with them. These feel mortification and regret because these things are known by another. SA 165.1

I have mentioned these cases to illustrate the power of this soul-and-body-destroying vice. The entire mind is given up to low passion. The moral and intellectual are over- borne by the baser powers. The body is enervated, the brain is weakened. The material there deposited to nourish the system is squandered. The drain upon the system is great. The fine nerves of the brain, by being excited to unnatural action, become benumbed and in a measure paralyzed. The moral and intellectual are growing weaker, while the animal passions are growing stronger, and being more largely developed by exercise. The appetite for unhealthful food clamors for indulgence. It is impossible to fully arouse the moral sensibilities of those persons who are addicted to the habit of self-abuse, to appreciate eternal things. You cannot lead such to delight in spiritual exercises. Impure thoughts seize and control the imagination, fascinate the mind, and next follows an almost uncontrollable desire for impure acts. If the mind were educated to contemplate elevating subjects, the imagination trained to reflect upon pure and holy things, it would be fortified against this terrible, debasing, soul-and-body-destroying indulgence. It would become accustomed to linger with delight upon the high, the heavenly, the pure, and the sacred, and could not be attracted to this base, corrupt, and vile indulgence. SA 167.1

What can we say of those who are living right in the blazing light of truth, yet daily practicing and following in a course of sin and crime. Forbidden, exciting pleasures have a charm for them, and hold and control their entire being. Such take pleasure in unrighteousness and iniquity, and must perish outside of the city of God, with every abominable thing. SA 168.1

I have sought to arouse parents to their duty, yet they sleep on. Your children practice secret vice, and they deceive you. You have such implicit confidence in them, that you think them too good and innocent to be capable of secretly practicing iniquity. Parents fondle and pet their children, and indulge them in pride, but do not restrain them with firmness and decision. They are so much afraid of their willful, stubborn spirits, that they fear to come in contact with them; but the sin of negligence, which was marked against Eli, will be their sin. The exhortation of Peter is of the highest value to all who are striving for immortality. Those of like precious faith are addressed: SA 168.2

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1-11. SA 168.3

We are in a world where light and knowledge abound; yet many, claiming to be of like precious faith, are willingly ignorant. Light is all around them; yet they do not appropriate it to themselves. Parents do not see the necessity of informing themselves, of obtaining knowledge, and putting that knowledge to a practical use in their married life. If they followed out the exhortation of the apostle, and lived upon the plan of addition, they would not be unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many do not understand the work of sanctification. It is a progressive work. It is not attained to in an hour or a day, and then maintained without any special effort on their part. Many seem to think they have attained to it when they have only learned the first lessons in addition. SA 169.1

Many parents do not obtain the knowledge that they should respecting the married life. They are not guarded lest Satan take advantage of them, and control their minds and their lives. They do not see that God requires them to control their married lives from any excesses. But very few feel it to be a religious duty to govern their passions. They have united themselves in marriage to the object of their choice, and therefore reason that marriage sanctifies the indulgence of the baser passions. Even men and women professing godliness give loose rein to their lustful passions, and have no thought that God holds them accountable for the expenditure of vital energy, which weakens their hold on life and enervates the entire system. SA 170.1

The marriage covenant covers sins of the darkest hue. Some men and women professing godliness debase their own bodies through the indulgence of the corrupt passions, which lowers them beneath the brute creation. They abuse the powers God has given them to be preserved in sanctification and honor. Health and life are sacrificed upon the altar of base passion. The higher, nobler powers are brought into subjection to the animal propensities. Those who thus sin are not acquainted with the result of their course. Could all see the amount of suffering they bring upon themselves by their own wrong and sinful indulgence, they would be alarmed. Some, at least, would shun the course of sin which brings such dreaded wages. A miserable existence is entailed upon so large a class that death to them would be preferable to life; and many do die prematurely, their lives being sacrificed in the inglorious work of excessive indulgence of the animal passions. Because they are married, they think they commit no sin. SA 171.1

These men and women will one day learn what lust is, and behold the result of its gratification. Passion may be found of as base a quality in the marriage relation as outside of it. The apostle Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” Ephesians 5:25, 28, 29. It is not pure love which actuates a man to make his wife an instrument to administer to his lust. It is the animal passions which clamor for indulgence. How few men show their love in the manner specified by the apostle: “Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might [not pollute it, but] sanctify and cleanse it,” “that it should be holy and without blemish.” This is the quality of love in the married relation which God recognizes as holy. Love is a pure and holy principle. Lustful passion will not admit of restraint, and will not be dictated or controlled by reason. It is blind to consequences. It will not reason from cause to effect. Many women are suffering from great debility, and with settled disease, brought upon them because the laws of their being have not been regarded. Nature's laws have been trampled upon. The brain nerve-power is squandered by men and women because called into unnatural action to gratify base passions; and this hideous monster, base, low passion; assumes the delicate name of love. SA 171.2

Many professed Christians are more animal than divine. They are, in fact, about all animal. A man of this type degrades the wife he has promised to nourish and cherish. She is made by him an instrument to minister to the gratification of his low, lustful propensities. Very many women submit to become slaves to lustful passion. They do not possess their bodies in sanctification and honor. The wife does not retain the dignity and self- respect she possessed previous to marriage. This holy institution should have preserved and increased her womanly respect and holy dignity. Her chaste, dignified, godlike womanhood, has been consumed upon the altar of base passion. It has been sacrificed to please her husband. She soon loses respect for her husband, who does not regard the laws to which the brute creation yields obedience. The married life become a galling yoke; for love dies out, and, frequently, distrust, jealousy, and hate, take its place. SA 173.1

No man can truly love his wife if she will patiently submit to become his slave, and minister to his degraded passions. She loses, in her passive submission, the value she once possessed in his eyes. He sees her dragged down from everything elevating, to a low level, and soon he suspects that she will, perhaps, as tamely submit to be degraded by another as by himself. He doubts her constancy and purity, tires of her, and seeks new objects which will arouse and intensify his hellish passions. The law of God is not regarded. These men are worse than brutes. They are demons in human form. They are unacquainted with the elevating, ennobling principles of true, of sanctified, love. SA 173.2

The wife becomes jealous of the husband. She suspects that he will just as readily pay his addresses to another as to her, if opportunity should offer. She sees that he is not controlled by conscience, nor the fear of God. All these sanctified barriers are broken down by lustful passions. All that is godlike in the husband is made the servant of low, brutish lust. SA 174.1

The world is filled with men and women of this order; and neat, tasty, yea, expensive houses contain a hell within. Imagine, if you can, what the offspring of such parents must be. Will not the children sink lower in the scale than their parents? Parents give the stamp of character to their children. Children that are born of these parents inherit qualities of mind from them which are of a low and base order. Satan nourishes anything tending to corruption. The matter now to be settled is, shall the wife feel bound to yield implicitly to the demands of her husband when she sees that nothing but base passions control him, and when her reason and knowledge are convinced that she does it to the injury of her body, which God has enjoined upon her to possess in sanctification and honor, and to preserve a living sacrifice to God? SA 174.2

It is not pure, holy love which leads the wife to gratify the animal propensities of her husband at the expense of health and life. If she possesses true love and wisdom, she will seek to divert the mind of her husband from the gratification of lustful passions, to high and spiritual themes, dwelling upon interesting spiritual subjects. It may be necessary to humbly and affectionately urge, even at the risk of his displeasure, that she cannot debase her body by yielding to sexual excess. She should, in a tender, kind manner, remind him that God has the first and highest claim upon her entire being, which claim she cannot disregard, for she will be held accountable in the great day of God. “What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23. SA 175.1

Woman can do much, if she will, through her judicious influence, by elevating her affections, and in sanctification and honor preserving her refined, womanly dignity. In thus doing, she can save her husband and herself, thus performing a double work, and fulfilling her high mission, sanctifying her husband by her influence. In this delicate, difficult matter to manage, much wisdom and patience are necessary, as well as moral courage and fortitude. Strength and grace can be found in prayer. Sincere love is to be the ruling principle of the heart. Love to God and love to your husband can be the only right ground of action. SA 175.2

Let the woman decide that it is the husband's prerogative to have full control of her body, and to mold her mind to suit his in every respect, and run in the same channel of his own, and she yields her individuality. Her identity is lost, submerged in that of her husband. She is a mere machine for him to move and control, a creature of his will and pleasure. He thinks for her, decides for her, and acts for her. She dishonors God in this passive position. She has a responsibility before God which it is her duty to preserve. SA 176.1

When the wife yields her body and mind to the control of her husband, being passive to his will in all things, sacrificing her conscience, her dignity, and even her identity, she loses the opportunity of exerting that mighty influence for good which she should possess to elevate her husband. She could soften his stern nature, and her sanctifying influence could be exerted in a manner to refine, purify, and lead him to strive earnestly to govern his passions, and be more spiritually minded, that they might be partakers together of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. The power of influence can be great to lead the mind to high and noble themes, above the low, sensual indulgences which the heart unrenewed by grace naturally seeks. If the wife feels that she must, in order to please her husband, come down to his standard, when animal passion is the principal basis of his love, controlling his actions, she displeases God; for she fails to exert a sanctifying influence upon her husband. If she feels that she must submit to the animal passions of her husband without a word of remonstrance, she does not understand her duty to him, nor to her God. Sexual excess will effectually destroy a love for devotional exercises, will take from the brain the substance needed to nourish the system, and will most effectually exhaust the vitality. No woman should aid her husband in this work of self-destruction. She will not do it if she is enlightened, and truly loves her husband. SA 176.2

The more the animal passions are indulged and exercised, the stronger do they become, and the more violent will be their clamors for indulgence. Let God-fearing men and women awake to their duty. Many professing Christianity are suffering with paralysis of nerve and brain because of their intemperance in this direction. Rottenness is in the bones and marrow of many who are regarded as good men, who pray and weep, and who stand in high places, but whose polluted carcasses will never pass the portals of the heavenly city. Oh! that I could make all understand their obligations to God to preserve the mental and physical organism in the best condition to render perfect service to God. SA 177.1

Let the Christian wife refrain, both in word and act, from exciting the animal passions of her husband. Many have no strength at all to waste in this direction. They have already, from their youth up, weakened their brains, and sapped their constitutions, by the gratification of their animal passions. Self-denial and temperance should be the watch-word in married life; then, when children are born to parents, they will not be so liable to have the moral and intellectual organs weak, and the animal strong. Vice in children is almost universal. Is there not a cause? Who have given them the stamp of character? SA 178.1

The mind of a man or woman does not come down in a moment from purity and holiness, to depravity, corruption, and crime. It takes time to transform the human to the divine, or to degrade those formed in the image of God, to brutes, or to the satanic. By beholding, we become changed. Man, formed in the image of his Maker, can so educate his mind that sin which he once loathed, will become pleasant to him. As he ceases to watch and pray, he ceases to guard the citadel, the heart, and engages in sin and crime. The mind is debased, and it is impossible to elevate it from corruption while it is being educated to enslave the moral and intellectual powers, and bring them in subjection to the grosser passions. It is constant war against the carnal mind, aided by the refining influence of the grace of God, which will attract it upward, and habituate it to meditate upon pure and holy things. SA 179.1

Many children are born with the animal passions largely in the ascendency, while the moral and intellectual are but feebly developed. These children need the most careful culture to bring out, strengthen and develop the moral and intellectual, and have these take the lead. Children are not trained for God. Their moral and religious education is neglected. The animal passions are being constantly strengthened, while the moral faculties are becoming enfeebled. SA 179.2

Some children begin to excite their animal passions in their infancy; and, as they increase in years, the lustful passions grow with their growth, and strengthen with their strength. Their minds are not at rest. Girls desire the society of boys; and boys, that of the girls. Their deportment is not reserved and modest. They are bold and forward, taking indecent liberties. Their corrupt habits of self-abuse have debased their minds, and tainted their souls. Vile thoughts, novel-reading, low books, and love-stories, excite the imagination, and just suit their depraved minds. They do not love work. They complain of fatigue when engaged in labor. Their backs ache. Their heads ache. Is there not sufficient cause? Are they fatigued because of their labor? No. Yet their parents indulge them in their complaints, and release them from labor and responsibility. This is the very worst thing they can do for them. They are removing almost the only barrier to Satan's having free access to their weakened minds. Useful labor would be a safeguard in some measure from his decided control of them. SA 180.1

The corrupting doctrine which has prevailed, that, as viewed from a health standpoint, the sexes must mingle together, has done its mischievous work. When parents and guardians manifest one tithe of the shrewdness which Satan possesses, then can this associating of sexes be nearer harmless. As it is, Satan is most successful in his efforts to bewitch the minds of the youth; and the mingling of boys and girls only increases the evil twentyfold. Let boys and girls be kept employed in useful labor. If they are tired, they will have less inclination to corrupt their own bodies. SA 180.2

E. G. W.