Letter xiii. Christian Activity.
"She hath done what she could." -- MARK 14:8.


You doubtless feel a deep interest in the great benevolent enterprises of the present day. No one who possesses the spirit of our Master can be indifferent towards them. It is important, then, that you should know what you can do towards moving forward these enterprises. For, remember that your obligation is as extensive as your ability. Christ commended the woman, referred to in the passage above quoted for doing "what she could." If you do more than any within the circle of your acquaintance, and yet leave undone anything that you can do, you do not discharge your obligations. You have entered into the service of the Lord, and he requires you to do what you can. It then becomes a matter of serious inquiry, "What can I do?" It is an interesting fact, that the great moral enterprises of the present day, both for the conversion of the world, and for ameliorating the temporal condition of the poor, are in a great measure sustained by the energy of female influence. This influence is felt in every department of society; and must be, wherever the principles of the gospel prevail, so as to elevate your sex to the station which properly belongs to them. I will endeavor to point out some of the principal channels through which it can be exerted.

I. You may make your influence felt in the Bible Society. You know the grand object of this society is to put a copy of the Holy Scriptures within the reach of every individual of the human race. The spirit of Christ is that of the most expansive benevolence. If you possess this spirit, and value the sacred treasure contained in God's word as you ought, you will feel a thrilling interest in this cause. Your heart will overflow with compassion for those poor souls who have not the word of life. What, then, must be your emotions, when you consider that more than six hundred millions of your fellow-beings, as good by nature as yourself, are destitute of the Bible? The population of the whole world is estimated at seven hundred and thirty-seven millions. Of these, five hundred and nine millions are heathen, and one hundred and fifty-six millions are Roman and Greek Catholics; nearly all of whom are destitute of the word of God. This leaves but seventy-two millions who are called Protestants; but a vast number of these, even in our highly favored land, are living without the Bible. Can you say with the Psalmist, "Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day"? How, then, must your heart bleed in view of these facts! "But," perhaps you reply, "what can I do for these perishing millions?" I answer, Do what you can. This is all that God requires of you. Although what you can do will be but as a drop of water in the ocean, compared with what is to be done, yet it may be the means of saving many perishing souls. You can become a member of the Bible Society. You can act as a visitor and collector, both to ascertain and supply those families which are destitute of the word of life, and to obtain the means of supplying others. And if no female Bible Society exists in the place where your lot is cast, you can exert your influence among the ladies of your acquaintance to form one. And in his measure I would advise you to persevere, even though you find at first only two or three to unite with you. All obstacles in the way of benevolent enterprises vanish before a spirit of prayerful perseverance, and untiring exertion.

II. You can make your influence felt in the Tract Society. The circulation of religious tracts has been abundantly owned and blessed of God's spirit. It seems to be almost the only means of reaching some particular classes of people, who never wait upon God in his house. It is a cheap method of preaching the gospel both to the rich and the poor. For a single cent, or even less, a sermon may be obtained, containing a portion of divine truth sufficient, with God's blessing, to lead a soul to Christ. Engage actively in the various forms of this department of benevolent labor. The distribution of a tract to every family in a town, once a month, when properly conducted, may be the means of doing great good. It furnishes an easy introduction into families where God is not acknowledged; and the matter contained in the tract will assist you to introduce religious conversation. It will enable you to ascertain and relieve the wants of the poor, without seeming to be obtrusive. It will soften your own heart, and excite your compassion, in view of the objects of distress with which you meet. It also furnishes a convenient opportunity for collecting children into Sabbath-schools. In distributing tracts, endeavor, as far as courtesy and propriety will admit, to engage those with whom you meet in direct personal conversation with regard to the concerns of their souls; and when you meet only with the female members of the family, and circumstances favor it, pray with them. By so doing, you may be the instrument of saving many precious souls. Your labor will also reflect back upon yourself, and warm your own heart. You will get a deeper sense of the dreadful condition of perishing sinners; and this will be the means of exciting a spirit of prayer in their behalf. Those engaged in this work should meet every month, after finishing the distribution, report all cases of interest, and spend a season in prayer for the divine blessing upon their labors. I would advise you to begin your distribution early in the month, and always finish it before the middle; and be sure you make a written report to the superintendent, as soon as you have finished it.

III. You can make your influence felt in the missionary cause. This is a cause which must be near the heart of every Christian. The spirit of missions is in unison with every feeling of the new-born soul. It is the spirit of universal benevolence; the same spirit which brought our Lord from the realms of glory, to suffer and die for perishing sinners. His last command to his disciples, before ascending up again into heaven, was, that they should follow his example, in the exercise of this spirit, until the whole world should be brought to a knowledge of his salvation. But more than eighteen hundred years have passed away, and yet at least two thirds of the inhabitants of this fallen world have never heard the gospel; and probably not more than one seventieth part of them have really embraced it. This is a mournful picture, and calculated to call forth every feeling of Christian sympathy, and awaken a burning zeal for the honor and glory of God. O, think how Jesus is dishonored by his own people, who thus disregard his last parting request! But here again you may inquire, "What can I do?" You can do much more than most people think they can do. Although you may not be permitted to go to the heathen yourself, yet you can help those that do go. I know that your means are limited; yet there are many ways in which you can do much for this cause with little means. By regulating all your expenses by Christian principle, you may save much, even of a small income, for benevolent purposes. But you may also exert an influence upon others. In all your intercourse with other Christians, especially ladies, you may stir up a missionary spirit. To aid you in this, become acquainted with what has been done, and what is now doing, for the conversion of the heathen. Make yourself familiar with the arguments in favor of this holy cause. By this means, you may become a zealous and successful advocate of the claims of five hundred millions of perishing heathen. As an opportunity occurs once a month for all to contribute to this cause, you know not what effect such efforts may have upon the purses of those whom God has blessed with an abundance of the good things of this life. Again; you may do much for the heathen, by forming a missionary association among the ladies where you reside. Let such an association employ their needless half a day in every week, and apply the avails of their labor to the missionary cause. This would enable every one to contribute something for sending the gospel to the heathen. But this is not all the benefit that would flow from it. Some member of the association should be appointed to read missionary intelligence, while the rest labor with their hands. This will be the means of exciting a missionary spirit, which may result in a much greater benefit than the amount of money contributed by the society. Another advantage of this plan is, that it furnishes an opportunity of social intercourse, with a great saving of time. Here you may meet your friends once a week, without being exposed to the dissipating influence of parties of pleasure. There is a little Sabbath-school book, published in Boston, entitled "Louisa Palston," which ought to be in the hands of every young lady. It presents the subject of missions to the heathen in a most interesting light, and also contains an excellent example of an association of the kind here recommended.

IV. You can make your influence felt in behalf of the poor. By frequenting the abodes of poverty and distress, you may administer to the wants of the afflicted, and call into active exercise the feelings of Christian sympathy in your own bosom. By this means, also, you will be prepared to enlist others in the same cause. Female benevolent societies, for assisting the poor, should be formed in all large towns; and in most places, much good may be done by forming societies for clothing poor children, to enable them to attend Sabbath-schools. But perhaps there is no way in which you can do so much for the poor, as by assisting them with your own hands, in their afflictions, and aiding them by your advice. Be careful, however, that you do not make them feel that you are conferring an obligation.

There is, at the present day, a very erroneous impression abroad, in relation to the poor. Many wealthy people, and many in moderate but comfortable circumstances, seem to think God has given them their property solely for their own gratification. Go to their houses, and you will find their tables groaning with luxuries, their rooms garnished with costly furniture, and their persons decorated with finery. But, if you ask them for a small contribution for suffering poverty, you will perhaps be compelled to listen to a long complaint against the improvidence of the poor; their want of industry and economy; and possibly be put off with the plea, that supplying their necessities has a tendency to make them indolent, and prevent them from helping themselves. This may be true to some extent; for intemperance has brought ruin and distress upon many families, and we cannot expect either industry, economy, or any other virtue, in a drunkard. But this is far from being a full view of the case. I know there is much suffering even among the virtuous poor. Sickness and misfortune often bring distress upon deserving people.

The only way we can realize the sufferings of the poor is to suppose ourselves in their situation. Let a wealthy gentleman and lady, with five or six small children, be suddenly deprived of all their property, and compelled to obtain a support for their family by daily labor, and the lowest employments. Would they think they could live comfortably upon perhaps no more than seventy-five cents a day, as the proceeds of the husband's labor? Yet such is the situation of thousands of families, even in this land of plenty. I have myself recently met with families of small children, in the severity of winter, destitute of clothing sufficient to cover them, and without shoes. And, upon inquiry into their circumstances and means of support, I could not see how the parents could make any better provision. Again; ever supposing that the wretchedness of the poor is brought upon them by their own vices, is it agreeable to the spirit of Christ to refuse to relieve their distresses? Has not sin brought upon us all our wretchedness? If the Lord Jesus had reasoned and acted upon this principle, would a single soul have been saved? But, he has commanded us to be merciful, even as our Father which is in heaven is merciful. And how is he merciful? "He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Again; "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And are we to suppose that the poor in our day are any worse than they were when Christ was upon earth? Yet we find him frequently exhorting the rich to give to the poor. This is one of the most common precepts of the New Testament. Indeed, our Lord has greatly honored the poor, in appearing himself in a condition of extreme poverty. At his birth, his parents could provide him no better bed than a manger; and while wearing out his life in the service of a lost world, he had no place to lay his head! Yet, poor as he was, he has set us an example of giving. At the last supper, when he told Judas, "That thou doest, do quickly," his disciples supposed he had sent him to give something to the poor. From this we may safely infer that he was in the habit of frequently doing so. For what else could have brought this thought to their minds?

A Christian has nothing that is his own. He is but the steward of God's property. By withholding it, when the kingdom of Christ or the wants of the suffering poor require it, and spending it in extravagance, or hoarding it up for himself and family. He robs God.

But, even on the principle upon which the world acts, shall we neglect the suffering of a deserving woman, because her husband is intemperate and vicious? Or, should we suffer the children to grow up without instruction, in ignorance and vice, because their parents are vicious? Be, then, my dear sister, the devoted friend of the poor; and seek to relieve distress wherever you find it, or whatever may be its cause.

V. You may make your influence felt in the cause of temperance. A false delicacy prevails among many ladies, in relation to this subject. They seem to think that, as intemperance is not a common vice of their own sex, they have no concern with it. But this is a great mistake. No portion of society suffers so much from the consequences of intemperance as females. On them it spends its fury. My heart sickens when I contemplate the condition of the drunkard's wife. I turn from the picture with horror and disgust. But, is there no danger that females themselves may become partakers of this monstrous vice? My soul would rejoice if it were so. But every town, and village, and hamlet, furnishes evidence to the contrary. Even while I am writing, I can almost hear the groans of a woman in an adjoining house, who is just on the borders of the drunkard's grave. But, independent of this, it is scarcely possible to dry up the secret elements of this wasting pestilence, without the aid of female influence. I have no doubt, if the curtain were lifted from the domestic history of the past generation, it would appear that most of the intemperate appetites which have exerted such a terrific influence upon society were formed in the nursery. But, besides the formation of early habits, females exert a controlling influence over the public sentiment of the social circle. Here is the sphere of your influence. If young ladies would, with one consent, set their faces against the use of all intoxicating liquors, their influence could not fail to be felt throughout society. Make yourself thoroughly acquainted with the subject, and lose no opportunity of advocating the cause in every circle in which you move; or, of doing whatever is right and proper for a lady to do, in advancing it.

VI. You may make your influence felt in every circle in which you move, by directing conversation towards profitable subjects. Here the honor of your Master is concerned. There is a lamentable tendency, even among professors of religion, when they meet for social intercourse, to spend, their time in light and trifling conversation. The consequence is, they bring leanness upon their own souls; and if any impenitent sinners witness their conduct, it helps to rivet upon them their carnal security. "Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel." And remember, Christ has declared that every idle word shall be brought into judgment. "Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be, in all holy conversation and godliness."

VII. You may make your influence felt in bringing people within the sound of the gospel. There are multitudes in this land of gospel light who live like the heathen. They do not appreciate the privileges which they might enjoy. They live in the habitual neglect of public worship, and the means of grace. This is especially the case with the poor in large towns. Poverty depresses their spirits, and they seem to feel that "no man cares for their souls." It is impossible to conjecture how much good one devoted female may do, by gathering these people into places of worship. A lady can much more readily gain access to such families than a gentleman; and, by a pleasing address, and an humble and affectionate demeanor, she may secure their confidence and persuade them to attend public worship. In this way she may be the means of saving their souls.

VIII. Lastly. You may make your influence directly felt by the impenitent. That it is the duty of Christians to warn impenitent sinners of their danger, and to point them to the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," will appear from several considerations: --

1. The Apostle Peter says, "Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps." Let us, therefore, inquire what was his example, with reference to the subject under consideration? The spirit of Christ, in the great work of redemption, manifests itself in COMPASSION FOR SINNERS, and ZEAL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And in the near prospect of his agonies, his prayer was, "Father, glorify thy name." It was that mercy might be extended to the guilty, consistently with the honor of God, that he laid down his life. Behold him, deeply feeling the dishonor done to God by ungrateful and rebellious men, constantly reproving sin, weeping over the impenitence and hardness of heart of his country-men, and even exerting his power to drive out those who were profaning the temple. And he says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." To follow Christ is to imitate his example. Hence, unless we follow Christ, in his general spirit, we have no right to be called after his name. And this we must do to the extent of our ability, and at the expense of any personal sacrifice, not excepting, if need be, even our own lives. This is the true spirit of the gospel; and if it were carried out in the life of every professor of the religion of Jesus, the millennial glory would soon appear.

2. We are required to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When we love a friend we are careful of his honor. If we hear him defamed, or lightly spoken of, or see him ill-treated, it gives us pain. We take part with him, and vindicate his character. But we see God dishonored, and his goodness abused, continually. Multitudes of impenitent sinners around us habitually cast off his authority, and refuse to honor him as the moral governor of the universe. What can we do more for his honor and glory than to reclaim these rebellious subjects of his government, and bring them back to loyalty and obedience?

3. We are required to love our neighbor as ourselves. We profess to have seen the lost condition of perishing sinners. We think God has taken our feet from the "horrible pit and miry clay." We profess to believe that all who have not embraced Christ are every moment exposed to the horrors of the second death. Can we love them as ourselves, and make no effort to open their eyes to their awful danger, and persuade them to flee from it? Said a young man, "I do not believe there is any truth in what they tell us about eternal punishment; nor do I believe Christians believe it themselves. If they did, they could not manifest so little concern about it."

4. The business of reclaiming a lost world is committed to the Church in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. It is the business of the Church to apply "the truth" to the consciences of lost sinners. It is the office of the Spirit to make it effectual to their salvation. "The Spirit and the bride [the Church] say, come." And even the hearer of the word is allowed to say, "come." The Scriptures recognize the conversion of the sinner as the work of the Christian. "He which converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." "Others save with fear; pulling them out of the fire." "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee." It is true, we cannot, of our own power, convert souls. But, if we are faithful in the use of the means of God's appointment, he may make use of us as instruments for accomplishing this great work. Every one who has truly come to Christ knows the way, and can direct others to him. And in no way, perhaps, can the truth be rendered more effectual, than by personal application to the conscience. David did not understand Nathan's parable, till the prophet said, "Thou art the man!"

As this is a plain, positive duty, it cannot be neglected with impunity. God will not bless his children while they refuse to obey him. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." You may spend all your time on your knees, while living in the neglect of a plain duty, and get no blessing. We cannot expect to enjoy the presence of God, while we refuse to point sinners to Christ. It is probable that the neglect of this duty is one of the principal causes of spiritual barrenness in the church. If, then, Christians wish their own hearts revived, they must try to persuade others to come to Christ. "He that watereth shall be watered also himself." If we wish to maintain constant communion with God, we must live in the habitual exercise of the spirit of Christ.

But many Christians content themselves with speaking to the impenitent whenever they meet them under favorable circumstances, in the ordinary intercourse of life. This is a duty; but it does not appear to be the extent of duty. It is only following part of the example of Christ. He came "to seek and to save that which was lost." "He went about doing good." Is it not, then, the obvious duty of every one of his followers, to seek opportunities of conversing with the impenitent upon the great subject of their soul's salvation? We are bound to labor for the conversion of every sinner, for whom we have an opportunity of laboring. God requires us to do all we can. The primitive Christians carried out this principle in its fullest extent. In the 8th chapter of Acts, we read that the church at Jerusalem were all scattered abroad except the apostles. "And they that were scattered abroad went everywhere, preaching the word." And afterwards, in the 11th chapter, 19th verse, we hear of them as far as Phenice and Cyprus, where they had travelled, preaching [in the Greek talking] the word as they went. It is to be particularly remarked that these, or at least most of them, were the private members of the church: for the apostles still remained at Jerusalem. And what was the result of these joint labors of the whole church? Revivals of religion immediately spread all over the land of Judea and its vicinity. And so might we see revivals spreading over this land, and continuing, with increasing power, and multitudes of sinners converted, if the church, as one, united in Christ, would come up to her duty. Nor would it stop here. The fire thus kindled would burn brighter and brighter, and extend with increasing rapidity, till it spread over the whole world. Should not all Christians, then, consider themselves placed, to some extent, at least, in the situation of watchmen upon the walls of Zion? If they neglect to warn sinners, will they be guiltless of the blood of souls? How can they meet them at the bar of God? Ezek.33:1-9.

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Few persons are aware of what they might accomplish, if they would do what they can. I once knew a young lady, who was the moving spring of nearly every benevolent enterprise, in a town of seven or eight thousand inhabitants. The Bible Society of the town appointed a number of gentlemen as visitors, to ascertain who were destitute of Bibles, and make collections to aid the funds of the society. But the time passed away in which the work was to have been accomplished, and nothing was done. The books were handed over to this lady. She immediately called in the assistance of a few pious friends; and in a very short time the whole town was visited, collections made, and the destitute supplied. She imparted life and energy to the Tract Society. She set on foot, and with the aid of a few friends, sustained the monthly distribution. There had been, for some time, a small temperance society in the town; but its movements were slow and inefficient. She undertook to impart to it new life and vigor. The plans and efforts which she, in conjunction with her friends, put in operation, produced a sensation which was felt in every part of the town, and in a few months the number of members was increased, from about fifty, to three hundred.

The amazing influence of one Christian, who lives out the spirit of Christ, is illustrated, in a still more striking manner, in the life of a lady, who died not long since, in one of the principal cities of the United States. I am not permitted to give her name, nor all the particulars of her life. But what I relate may be relied upon, not only as facts, but as far below the whole truth. She had been, for a long time, afflicted with a drunken husband. At length the sheriff came and swept off all their property, not excepting her household furniture, to discharge his grog bills. At this distressing crisis, she retired to an upper room, laid her babe upon the bare floor, kneeled down over it, and offered up the following petition: "O Lord, if thou wilt in any way remove from me this affliction, I will serve thee upon bread and water all the days of my life." The Lord took her at her word. Her besotted husband immediately disappeared, and was never heard of again till after her death. The church would now have maintained her, but she would not consent to become a charge to others. Although in feeble health, and afflicted with the sick headache, she opened a small school, from which she obtained a bare subsistence; though it was often no more than what was contained in the condition of her prayer -- literally bread and water. She had also another motive for pursuing some regular employment. She wished to avoid the reproach which would have arisen to the cause of Christ from her being maintained upon the bounty of the church, while engaged in the system of Christian activity which she adopted. She remembered the duty of being diligent in business, as well as fervent in spirit. She was a lady of pleasing address, and of a mild and gentle disposition. "In her lips was the law of kindness." Yet she possessed an energy of character, and a spirit of perseverance, which the power of faith alone can impart. When she undertook any Christian enterprise, she was discouraged by no obstacles, and appalled by no difficulties. She resided in the most wicked and abandoned part of the city, which afforded a great field of labor. Her benevolent heart was pained at seeing the grog-shops opened upon the holy Sabbath. She undertook the difficult and almost hopeless task of closing these sinks of moral pollution upon the Lord's day, and succeeded. This was accomplished by the mild influence of persuasion, flowing from the lips of kindness, and clothed with that power which always accompanies the true spirit of the gospel. But she was not satisfied with seeing the front doors and windows of these moral pest-houses closed. She knew that little confidence could be placed in the promises of men whose consciences would permit them to traffic in human blood. She would, therefore, upon the morning of the Sabbath, pass round and enter these shops through the dwellings occupied by the families of the keepers, where she often found them engaged secretly in this wickedness. She would then remonstrate with them, until she persuaded them to abandon it, and attend public worship. In this manner she abolished almost entirely the sale of liquors upon the Sabbath in the worst part of the city.

She also looked after the poor, that the gospel might be preached to them. She carried with her the numbers of those pews in the church which were unoccupied. And upon Sabbath mornings she made it her business to go out into the streets and lanes of the city, and persuade the poor to come in and fill up these vacant seats. By her perseverance and energy, she would remove every objection, until she had brought them to the house of God. She was incessant and untiring in every effort for doing good. She would establish a Sabbath-school, and superintend it until she saw it flourishing, and then deliver it into the hands of some suitable person, and go and establish another. She collected together a Bible class of apprentices, which she taught herself. Her pastor one day visited it, and found half of them in tears, under deep conviction. She was faithful to the church and to impenitent sinners. She would not suffer sin upon a brother. If she saw any member of the church going astray, she would, in a kind, meek, and gentle spirit, yet in a faithful manner, reprove him. She was the first to discover any signs of declension in the church, and to sound the alarm personally to every conscience. It was her habitual practice to reprove sin, and to warn sinners wherever she found them. At the time of her death, she had under her care a number of pious young men, preparing for the ministry. These she had looked after, and brought out of obscurity. As soon as their piety had been sufficiently tested, she would bring them to the notice of her Christian friends. She persuaded pious teachers to give them gratuitous instruction, and pious booksellers to supply them with books. In the same way, she procured their board, in the families of wealthy Christians. And she formed little societies of ladies, to supply them with clothing. There was probably no person in the city whose death would have occasioned the shedding of more tears, or called forth more sincere and heartfelt grief. Her memory is still deeply cherished in the heart of her pastor.[L] He has been heard to say, that he should not have felt as severely the loss of six of the most devoted men in his church.

[Footnote L: This was first written in 1832. He has since gone to that "better land," where he has no doubt met the hearty greetings not only of his dear fellow-laborer, but of scores whom he has been instrumental in plucking as "brands from the burning."]

Now, what hinders you to "go and do likewise"? It is amazing to see what can be accomplished by a single individual, by earnest effort and untiring perseverance, accompanied with a simple and hearty dependence upon God. If every member of the church would do what he or she can, what a tremendous shock would be felt in Satan's kingdom! What a glorious triumph would await the church! Therefore, "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."

But the work of directing sinners to Christ is one of vast responsibility. How distressing the consequences, when the weary traveller is directed in the wrong way! How deeply so, if his way lie through the forest, where he is exposed, if night overtake him, to stumble over precipices, sink in the mire, or be devoured by wild beasts! Yet, what is this, in comparison to leading astray the soul that is inquiring for the way of salvation? "He that winneth souls is wise." I cannot, however, pursue this subject here; but must refer you to a little work, entitled "Friendly Counsel," in which I have endeavored to give at length suitable directions for this work.

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In your active efforts, several cautions should be observed: -- 1. Avoid every appearance of ostentation. Suppress every rising of self-complacency, on account of what you do, and of the success which attends your efforts. Such feelings are abominable in the sight of God; and if indulged, will make you appear contemptible in the eyes of men. The Pharisees were active in many religious duties. They made long prayers, and were so particular in outward things as to pay tithes of the most common herbs. They also gave to the poor. But all this they did that they might have praise of men. They chose public places to pray; and when they were about to give anything to the poor, they caused a trumpet to be sounded before them, to give notice of their approach. All this was done to feed the pride of the carnal heart; and, notwithstanding their loud professions, and apparent good deeds, the heaviest curses the Lord Jesus ever pronounced were directed against them. Be modest, unobtrusive, and courteous, in all you do and say. Let the love of Jesus animate your heart, and the glory of God be your object. Make as little noise as possible, in everything you do. Never speak of what you have done, unless you see that some good can be accomplished by it. "When thou doest thine alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Keep yourself out of view, and give all the glory of your success to God.

2. Great prudence and discretion are necessary in everything. Do nothing rashly. When you have any enterprise in view, first sit down and consider the matter seriously. Pray over it. Look at it in all its bearings, and inquire what good will be likely to result from it. When you have satisfied yourself on this point, inquire whether you have reasonable ground to hope for success. Then summon all your wisdom to contrive a judicious plan of operations. When this is done, proceed with energy and perseverance, till you have either accomplished your object, or become convinced that it is impracticable. Pay especial regard to the feelings and advice of those who act with you. Keep as much in the back-ground as you can without embarrassing your efforts; and whenever you can do it, put others forward to execute the plans you have devised. This will save you from becoming the object of jealousy, and also serve to mortify your pride.

3. Be resolute and persevering. When satisfied you are in the way of duty, do not be moved by the scoffs and sneers of the giddy multitude. If some good people disapprove your conduct, thinking that you attempt too much, let it lead you to a candid and impartial reexamination of your course. If by this you become convinced that you are wrong, in the particular matter in question, confess it, and change your conduct. But, if this review of the affair confirms you in the opinion that your course is right, pursue it with decision and firmness. There are some well-meaning people, of limited views, and excessive carefulness, who disapprove of the best of measures, if they happen to be at variance with their long-established customs; or, more frequently, if they were not consulted before the particular enterprise was undertaken.

4. BE MUCH IN PRAYER. Upon this will greatly depend your success in all things. Feel that of yourself you can do nothing; but that you can do all things through Christ strengthening you. Before undertaking anything, pray that God would give you wisdom to direct and strength to perform; and if it is anything in which the efforts of others will be required, pray that he would incline their hearts to engage in the work. Before you go out on an errand of mercy, first visit your closet, and commit yourself to the direction of the Lord. Pray that he would give you wisdom, courage, and discretion; and that he would keep down the pride of your heart, and enable you to do all things for his glory.

Your affectionate Brother.

letter xii improvement of time
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