The Young Lady's Guide to the Harmonious
Development of Christian Character
by Harvey Newcomb, 1843
The spirit of Christianity, at the present day, is distinguished for its enterprises of benevolence. Whoever drinks deeply into the spirit of his Master, will find his soul going out in fervent desire for the melioration of human wretchedness, and the salvation of perishing souls. Whatever tends to the accomplishment of these objects will, therefore, be regarded as of deep interest. Indifference towards the enterprises of love, which the benevolent spirit of this age has brought into existence, must, therefore, indicate a destitution of the spirit of Christ, without which we are none of his. It is important, then, that we should know what we can do towards advancing these enterprises; for obligation is coextensive with ability. Christ commended the woman who poured the ointment on his head 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 benevolent operations to which I have alluded have, to a great extent, been sustained by the energy of female influence. This influence is felt in every department of society wherever Christianity has elevated your gender to the station which properly belongs to them. Yet, where correct principles prevail, it will be exerted in an unostentatious, noiseless manner, without assuming to act in a sphere which "nature itself teaches" does not belong to woman. I will, therefore, endeavor to point out some of the principal channels through which female influence may, with propriety, be put forth for the promotion of benevolent objects.
I. You may make your influence felt in the Bible Society.The object of this society is, as you know, to furnish the Holy Scriptures to the destitute. The spirit of Christ is a spirit of the most expansive benevolence. If you possess it, 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 do not possess the word of life. What, then, must be your emotions, when you consider that many hundreds of 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 million people. Of these, five hundred and nine million are heathen, and one hundred and fifty-six million are Roman and Greek Catholics; nearly all of whom are destitute of the word of God. This leaves but seventy-two million who are called Protestants; but a vast number of these, even in our own highly-favored land, are living without the Bible. Can you say, with the Psalmist, "O, how love I your 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. You can become a member of the Bible Society; you can contribute, at least, your mite; 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 you can exert an influence upon others, to induce them to enlist in this heavenly enterprise. This may seem to you very insignificant; but it will not appear so, if you contemplate the aggregate of similar benefactions.
In a mountainous region, in the south-western part of the state of New York, there are innumerable little rills, running in different directions, some, whose sources are within a mile of each other, taking opposite courses. Interspersed throughout the same region are a multitude of little lakes, opening their placid bosoms to the sun, as his rays fall obliquely upon them through the mountains, converting the little ripples which play upon their surface into the appearance of a thousand sparkling gems. The careless observer, as he gazes with rapture upon the broad surface of the lovely lake, takes no notice of the little rill that murmurs its quiet way through the forest. Yet, while the beautiful lake, in apparent self-delight, opens its fair bosom to the admiring gaze of the passing stranger, the modest rill is patiently pursuing its unwearied course along the sides of the mountains, through deep ravines, and across the verdant valley, mingling with sister rills, increasing in size, swelling into streams, until stream meets stream, and river meets river, forming, in one direction, the noble Susquehannah, in another, the majestic St. Lawrence, and, in a third, the mighty Mississippi—pouring incessantly a flood of waters into the ocean. So, while a few splendid acts of love may, like the quiet lake, contribute to the self-delight of their authors, and draw upon them the admiring gaze of the multitude, it is the aggregate of the little rills that must form the great streams of benevolence, which are to flow on and fertilize the earth, and fill it with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the face of the great deep.II. You can make your influence felt in the Tract enterprise. The circulation of Christian tracts has been greatly owned and blessed of God. 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 quarter of a cent, 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 in the introduction of religious conversation. It will enable you to ascertain and relieve the needs 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 own souls; and when you meet only with the female members of the family, and circumstances favor it, pray with them. Thus 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 impenitent 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. If you are a tract distributor, where the monthly distribution is sustained, begin your distribution early in the month, and always finish it before the middle; and never neglect to make a written report to the superintendent, as soon as you have finished it.
Endeavor always to have these little messengers of truth in your possession, whether at home, abroad, or on a journey, so that you may avail yourself of every opportunity that presents of scattering the "good seed." I was instructed, recently, by an anecdote of that benevolent lady, Mrs. Fry, who, having taken a coach to visit a friend, and forgetting her tract, stopped the coachman at her friend's door until she could obtain a tract for him. This shows the persevering principle with which she carried out her benevolent desires for the good of immortal souls.
III. You can make your influence felt in the Missionary cause.This cause 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 which brought our Lord from heaven 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. Perhaps you may go yourself on this errand of mercy; but, if not permitted this privilege, you can help those who do go. Although your means may be limited, yet there are many ways in which you can do much for this cause with little means. By regulating your expenses upon Christian principle, you may save much, even of a small income, for benevolent purposes. But you may also exert an influence upon others. In your fellowship with other Christians, 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. Read missionary reports. Make yourself familiar with the arguments in favor of the cause. By this means, you may become a zealous and successful advocate of the claims of hundreds of 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 amount contributed.
IV. You can make your influence felt in behalf of the poor.By frequenting the abodes of poverty and distress, you may minister to the needs of the afflicted, and call into 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. In large towns, much is done for the poor by the aid of benevolent associations; and you may assist in this department. But perhaps there is no way in which you can do so much for them as by assisting them with your own hands in their afflictions, and aiding them with your advice. Be careful, however, that you do not make them feel that you are conferring an obligation.
It is often objected against rendering assistance to the poor, that they are improvident, lacking in industry and economy; and that relieving 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 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, in the lowest employments; would they think they could live comfortably upon a laboring man's wages, with perhaps the addition of a trifle laboriously earned with the mother's needle? Yet such is the situation of thousands of families, even in this land of plenty. I have 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.
But, even supposing the wretchedness of the poor is brought on 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 who is in heaven is merciful. And how is he merciful? "He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." And are we to suppose that the poor in our day are any worse than they were when Christ was upon earth? Yet he 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 in a stable; 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 set an example of giving. At the last supper, when he told Judas, "what you do—do quickly," his disciples supposed he had sent him to give something to the poor; from which we may infer that he was in the habit of alms-giving. He also exhorted others to give to the poor; and similar exhortations are frequent in the apostolical writings. But, even on the principle upon which the world acts, shall we neglect the sufferings of a deserving woman, because her husband is intemperate and wicked? Or should we allow the children to grow up without instruction, in ignorance and vice, because their parents are wicked? Be, then, the devoted friend of the poor; and seek to relieve distress wherever you find it, or whatever may be its cause.
It may be necessary, however, to use some caution against indiscriminate giving; so as not thereby to encourage idleness and dissipation. As a general principle, it is not best to give to beggars; as, by so doing, we encourage a practice that is demoralizing in the extreme. The more deserving poor are retiring, and unwilling to make known their needs. It is better to seek out such, as the objects of your love, than to give indiscriminately to those that ask for it. Still, it may be well to follow those who seek your charity to their places of residence, and ascertain their circumstances, lest there might be suffering which you could relieve. But there is not much confidence to be placed in those whose sensibilities have been blunted by the habit of begging; and we are very liable to be imposed upon by them. The best way in which you can help such people is to furnish them with employment; and this will test their honesty. If they are deserving aid, they will be willing to labor for it.
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 gender, they have no concern with it. But this is a great mistake. No portion of society suffer so much from the consequences of intemperance as females. On them it spends its fury. The heart sickens when we contemplate the condition of the drunkard's wife. We turn from the picture with horror and disgust. But is there no danger that females themselves may fall under the power of this monstrous vice? Does not every town, village, and hamlet, furnish appalling evidence that they are not proof against it? But, independent of this, it is scarcely possible to dry up the secret elements of this wasting pestilence without the aid of female influence. If the curtain were lifted from the domestic history of the past generation, it would doubtless appear that many 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 acquainted with the subject, and lose no suitable opportunity of advocating the cause, 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.The ability to converse is a talent put into our hands to cultivate for the glory of God; and we shall be called to account for the manner in which we improve it. To be able to converse well upon important subjects is an attainment worthy of great effort. And to give a right direction to the conversation of any circle in which we move, requires some skill, along with a spiritual and prayerful frame of mind. It is well, before going into company, to seek the aid of the Holy Spirit, that our social fellowship may be profitable both to ourselves and others. And, by imitating the example of the Savior, we may improve circumstances and occasions, to direct the conversation in which we engage towards profitable subjects. Endeavor, by your own conversation, to give the lie to the sentiment that ladies cannot be interested in anything but frivolous chit-chat. But more of this hereafter.
VII. You may make your influence felt in bringing people within the sound of the gospel.There are multitudes, even in this Christian land, who live like the heathen. They do not appreciate the privileges 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 a humble and affectionate demeanor, she may secure their confidence, and persuade them to attend public worship. In this way she may be the means, under God, of saving their souls.
VIII. You may, with God's blessing, make your influence felt by those who are living in a careless state.That it is the duty of Christians to warn such of their danger, and direct them to the Savior, will appear from several considerations.
1. The apostle Peter says, "Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps." And 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 your 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 obstinacy of his countrymen, 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, who can estimate the results which would follow?
2. We are required to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, might, 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 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 seek 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 impenitent 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?
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 the impenitent. 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 who converts 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 your ways, and sinners shall be converted unto you." 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 employ us as instruments for accomplishing this great work. Everyone, 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 until the prophet said, "You are 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." Were you to spend all your time on your knees, while living in the neglect of a plain duty, I do not see how you could obtain a 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 persuade others to come to Christ. "He who waters, 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.
The primitive Christians carried out the example of Christ, in this particular, in a manner worthy of our imitation. In the eighth chapter of Acts, we read that the church at Jerusalem were all scattered abroad, except the apostles. "And those who were scattered abroad went everywhere, preaching the word." And afterwards, in the eleventh chapter, nineteenth verse, we hear of them as far as Cyprus, where they had traveled, preaching 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, until 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? And, 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.)
Few people 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 friends in whom she could confide; 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 cause, putting into operation and sustaining, with the aid of a few friends, 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 drinking-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 you will in any way remove from me this affliction, I will serve you, 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 until 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 ale-shops open on the holy Sabbath. She undertook the difficult and almost hopeless task of closing these sinks of pollution on 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 on 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 allow 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 was long and deeply cherished in the heart of her pastor;* who declared that he should not have felt as severely the loss of six of the most devoted men in his church.
* Mr. Patterson, of Philadelphia, who has gone to that "better land," where he has, no doubt, met the hearty greetings, not only of this dear fellow-laborer, but of scores whom he has been instrumental in plucking as "brands from the burning."
And why may you not "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 the individual members of the church would do what they can, what a tremendous shock would be felt in Satan's kingdom! What a glorious triumph would await the church! Therefore, "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go."
But the work of directing sinners to Christ is one of vast responsibility. How distressing the consequences, when the weary traveler is directed in the wrong way! How deeply so, if his way lie through the forest, where he is exposed, if night overtakes him, to stumble over precipices, sink in the mire, or be devoured by wild beasts! Yet what is this, in comparison with leading astray the soul that is inquiring for the way of salvation? "He who wins 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 given directions more in detail.
1. Avoid every appearance of ostentation.Suppress every rising of self-delight 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 you give your alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does." 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, until 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 background as you can without hindering 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 ridicule. 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 the best of measures, if these measures 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.
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